File No. 711.5914/14
Minister Egan to the Assistant Secretary of State
Copenhagen, September 20, 1910.
Sir: I am about to send to the Department what seems to me a very important and very audacious suggestion. It is a résumé and synthesis of propositions made, not hastily but very seriously, to me by persons of importance here. It would mean, if carried into effect, the acquisition on our part of both Greenland and the Danish West Indies. The West Indies do not, as you will observe, appear in the propositions which I have gathered for you, but they might be made to appear. Greenland is, as you know, a Danish monopoly. It has never been exploited, although the Norwegians are clever enough to see its possibilities, as they already see what might be done with a lesser opportunity in Iceland.
Greenland is looked on by the Danes very much as our people formerly looked on Alaska. The Government here is so much occupied with internal economic and political differences in Denmark that it gives very little attention to the development of the resources of Greenland, which is practically terra incognita.
The position of Germany in the Far East will soon, it seems to me, become untenable. I say this, with all due respect to the better information and the result of experience always at hand in the Department. It appears that if the Russian-Japanese-Chinese combination grows, we shall badly need an ally in the Philippine Islands.
The Russians, outside the court and the bureaucracy, insist that their alliance with Japan is only a matter of self-defense. They say that American and English feeling has not been with them and their only safety is to make terms with their late opponent, Japan. The synthesis which I am preparing for you implies nothing less than a cession of Mindanao to Denmark, for which Denmark will give us Greenland and (after certain pourparlers) the Danish West Indies. [Page 562] (Denmark having the right to cede Mindanao to Germany in return for Northern Schleswig.)
You may ask whether I consider this proposition feasible or not. I can only answer, that I have been so much engaged in discovering what is really in men’s minds over here that I have become, perhaps, a little too concentrated to take that broad view which is a habit with you, who are constantly facing many great questions and therefore it would be unreasonable for me to make an answer, that would imply a larger experience than I have.
I hold myself responsible for the analysis of the German Far East condition, but I offer the report, which I shall send you on Thursday, as only a synthesis of existing tendencies. I assure you that it represents the desires and the opinion of some of the best minds in Denmark, and some of them most highly placed. I write this, as I have said, in advance, that in the midst of so many important preoccupations, you may single out the coming synthesis of suggestions for particular attention.
I shall ask for a month’s leave of absence, with permission to visit America, in March or April, 1911, when, if the synthesis is considered at all by the Secretary of State, I shall be very glad to throw any light in my power upon the conditions that surround it.
I have [etc.]