File No. 763.72114/461
The Ambassador in Russia (Marye) to the President
[Received May 10.]
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that the letter written by you to His Majesty the Tsar and transmitted to me by Mr. Davis, Chief Clerk of the Department of State, reached me in due course, and that immediately on receiving it I sought an interview with Mr. Sazonov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to solicit the honor of an audience with His Majesty in order to hand him your letter in person in accordance with the instructions of the Department.
With Mr. Sazonov I had, as always, a very pleasant interview. I told him of the letter I had received from the Department and I informed him of the matter and substance of your letter to the Tsar. [Page 1019] He said His Majesty would be happy to receive it, but he seemed to think the request of the letter would impress the Tsar more favorably if it were accompanied with a suggestion that in some way the same things would be done in Germany by the same people, or by others acting along the same lines, to ameliorate the condition of Russian prisoners in Germany. He said, “German prisoners are better off here than our people who are held prisoners in Germany. The Germans with us are given enough to eat, but our men in Germany only get 200 grams a day of that K K bread which they can hardly eat. That is a severe hardship to them for our peasants are accustomed to all the black bread they want.” Mr. Sazonov then said that he would present my request for an audience and that the Tsar would receive me as soon as it could be arranged, which might be a day or two, as these were exceptionally busy times.
Yesterday I received notice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that His Majesty would receive me at noon to-day at Tsarskoe-Selo, and later, information was sent me to the same effect by the Grand Master of Ceremonies, and also notice when the special train to take me to Tsarskoe would leave and when return.
The Tsar received me in the kindliest and most gracious manner. I gave him your letter and he read it over, not hastily as one who wants to reserve for a later moment the serious perusal of a document, but deliberately as one who wants to discuss the matter. And we did discuss it. He expressed his approval and admiration of the spirit and motive of the letter, and I naturally acquiesced. He said, “I am going to grant this request. I want to do it, but don’t you think it ought to be coupled with some sort of assurance that the same thing would be done for my people in Germany?” And then he added, “Of course, the President says he doesn’t make that request in Germany because the United States does not represent Russia diplomatically, but that does not really make any difference. The reason for what it is proposed to do is just the same in one place as in the other.” I said, “Any suggestion by Your Majesty of equality of treatment will, I am sure, commend itself to the President’s sense of fairness.” After some further remarks he said, “I want to answer this in a way to be agreeable to the President,” and then a few moments later he continued, “I will have Sazonov (Mr. Sazonov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs) write you a letter telling just my feelings, and you can send that on to the President.”
That letter I have, of course, not yet received, but I will, no doubt, in a day or so, and I will then send it to Mr. Davis to be delivered to you.
My conversation with the Tsar was throughout most pleasant and cordial. After attending to the business of the letter which took me to him, I remarked, “After the war there will be a tremendous essor [soaring], a tremendous expansion of trade and commerce in Russia.” The Emperor interrupted me to say, “I hope so,” and I continued, “Well, I think there will be, and I want Americans to have some share in it. This great Empire would be benefited by American enterprise and initiative and by American money, and Americans would find this country with its many undeveloped resources a fine field for their activities.” The Emperor responded, “I think so too.”[Page 1020]
After quite a long, and as I have said, most agreeable interview, I shook hands and had virtually taken my leave when he reopened the conversation by saying, “I am going to the Army the day after to-morrow.” That brought up the subject of the war and after some remarks he said, “My information from all the fronts is that things are going on well.” I said, “That is what I hear, but of course you have far greater means of knowing than I have.” The conversation continued and a few moments later he said impressively, “This war is a great calamity and a great wrong and the Allies, Russia, England, and France (he enumerated the three), are firmly resolved to make no peace until it can be made on terms which will render it durable, terms which will free Europe from the constant threat of German aggression.” And then after some further conversation he gave me a most hearty shake of the hand and I took my leave.
I have [etc.]