861.77/97½

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador on Special Mission to Russia (Root)

My Dear Mr. Root: I took the first opportunity to lay before the President your letter of the 6th in regard to the Commission of Railroad Experts.

The President said that he had had a talk with Mr. Bertron who would doubtless repeat it to you which explained the provinces of the respective commissions.

His purpose is that the Railroad Commissioners are not going for the purpose of asking how the United States can aid Russia, but to put themselves at the disposal of the Russian Government to assist [Page 337]in solving the transportation problem, that is, they are delegated to do nothing but serve Russia on the ground.

In view of this particular field of service the President feels that it would be unwise to make the Railroad Commission subsidiary to your commission, which is essentially political in character. This would of course not debar conferences between the two commissions if it seemed advisable, although necessity would not appear to require them except of a most informal nature.

I can talk this matter over with you more fully when you come to Washington, which I hope will be soon, although one member of the Commission is still unnamed because of certain difficulties in finding the one best qualified. I will, however, advise you as soon as the list is complete and arrangements made for personnel and departure.

From every side I hear the strongest commendation of your willingness to serve as the head of this Commission. The only discordant note is from the pro-German element who dread your influence. As one man said to me today, “The best evidence of the wisdom of selecting Mr. Root is the character of those who oppose him.”

With high appreciation [etc.]

Robert Lansing