The Secretary of State to President Wilson

My Dear Mr. President: I enclose for your information a memorandum of an interview which I had yesterday with the Danish Minister. My own belief is that Denmark will come to the figure of $20,000,000 and that it will be possible to negotiate a treaty of cession with that amount as a consideration. I will advise you in case I hear further from the Danish Minister or from Mr. Egan.

Faithfully yours,

Robert Lansing

Memorandum by the Secretary of State of an Interview With the Danish Minister (Brun), December 27, 1915

The Danish Minister called on me this afternoon and stated that he had received word from his Government that they had made an offer to negotiate for the sale of the Danish West Indies on the basis of a hundred million kroner which, the Minister said, equal $27,000,000. I told Mr. Brun that this Government would consider such an amount too great a consideration for the Islands—that we were not good bargainers, and when I suggested that $20,000,000 might form a basis for negotiation I had stated the maximum sum which this Government was willing to consider—that he must understand, being here in America, the difficulties at the present time which the Government was having in raising sufficient funds for carrying out a policy of preparedness and that he must know that any such sum as $27,000,000 would, in all probability, be disapproved by Congress; that I hoped, therefore, he would explain this fully to his Government and I thought when they understood the situation they would be willing to modify their figures.

The Minister also spoke to me about the desire of his Government to obtain from this Government an agreement by protocol that it would not object to the extension of Danish occupation of Greenland. I told him that the Danish West Indies and Greenland should be combined in one negotiation; that Denmark had something which we desired, and that evidently we had something which Denmark desired; that it seemed to me it would be possibly the most advisable way to incorporate the two subjects in one treaty rather than to [Page 506] have a treaty of cession of the Danish West Indies and a protocol relating to Greenland. The Minister said he had no objection to adopting this course.

He also left with me a memorandum relative to Greenland7 which embodied instructions which he had received from his Government.

The Minister left with the understanding that he would communicate fully to his Government the views which had been expressed by me.

Robert Lansing
  1. Not printed.