President Wilson to the Secretary of State
My Dear Mr. Secretary: I think that Mr. Root’s mistake about the character and functions of the commission of railway experts is a very natural one, but that it will be removed when Mr. Bertron repeats to him a conversation he (Mr. B.) and I had this afternoon.
This is my understanding of the mission of the railway experts: It bears no resemblance to that of the Commission of which Mr. Root is to act as chairman. It is not going to ask What can the United States do for Russia? but only to say We have been sent here to put our-selves at your disposal to do anything we can to assist in the working out of your transportation problem. They are to report nothing back to us. They are delegated to do nothing but serve Russia on the ground, if she wishes to use them, as I understand she does.
There would, therefore, be no propriety in making them subsidiary to the Commission or in giving them any connection with it of any kind.
If this is not clear to all concerned, I will of course take any course that may seem wise to make it clear.