The Secretary of State to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (Stone)

My Dear Senator Stone: With respect to the proposed treaty with Denmark ceding the Danish West Indies to the United States, which is now before your Committee, perhaps I may be allowed to say that it is, to my mind, of the greatest importance that the treaty should be reported out of the Committee as soon as possible, so that the treaty can be considered by the Senate before adjournment. I have already stated to the Committee orally that while one of the prior treaties for the transfer of the Islands was based on strategic grounds, and the other on political grounds, the present treaty is based on both grounds. The particulars as to both of these grounds I need not mention, as Senators who have followed the progress of the international relations of the United States and the expansion of American interests in Central America will readily perceive the force of these grounds upon which I hesitate to write in detail.

As to immediate ratification of the treaty by the United States, I may add that when the treaty was signed it was agreed that it should be submitted at once to the Senate, and the Danish Parliament, and prompt action by them urged, in order to avoid a delay which might develop unforeseen difficulties in the consummation of the treaty. As I have told you, ratification of the treaty by Denmark has been deferred by the Danish Parliament until a new election can be held in October and November. This, however, should not, I think, cause the United States to delay its action on the treaty, for to do so would not only be contrary to the arrangement made with the Danish Government at the time of signature, but such action, as I understand the situation, could not be supported by any good reason. Certainly it could not, I think, be looked upon by Denmark, in view of the arrangement at the time of signature, as in any way bringing pressure to bear upon her to ratify the treaty. In fact, to defer the ratification here might give the opposition in Denmark some capital for arguing that the transfer could be deferred [Page 509] until the close of the present war, on account of the little interest shown in the matter by the United States. If it is the opinion of your Committee that the treaty should be favorably reported by it and passed upon by the Senate before adjournment, it seems to me wise that this action should be taken immediately, as otherwise opponents to the consummation of the treaty, if there are any—I know of none—will have opportunity to endeavor to show reasons why the treaty should not be ratified. What these grounds might be, I do not know, but it is conceivable that the terms of the treaty might become known through some source or other, and that as a result certain business interests in the Islands might feel dissatisfied with its provisions and might cause pressure to be brought to prevent the ratification of the treaty. You will doubtless be able to conceive of other conditions which might arise inimicable to the Convention.

On the whole, therefore, I am strongly of the opinion that your Committee and the Senate should act on this treaty at the earliest moment, as I can see no reasonable ground why such action should be postponed, while every reason persuades me that it should be immediate.

Believe me [etc.]

Robert Lansing