File No. 763.72/6033

The French, British, Italian, and Russian Ambassadors to the Secretary of State


Mr. Secretary of State: We have the honor to beg Your Excellency kindly to transmit to the Honorable the Secretary of the Treasury the enclosed letter which is a reply to that which he sent us last week through the Department of State.

We feel sure that the importance of the question put by the Honorable Mr. McAdoo, which touches upon the general conduct of the war and the coordinated action of our Governments cannot fail to arrest your most earnest attention.

Be pleased to accept [etc.]

  • Jusserand
  • Cecil Spring Rice
  • Macchi di Cellere
  • Boris A. Bakhmeteff
[Enclosure—Free translation]2

The French, British, Italian, and Russian Ambassadors to the Secretary of the Treasury

Mr. Secretary of the Treasury: We have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of July 18,3 and to inform you that we immediately telegraphed its contents to our respective Governments. As soon as we receive their answer, it will be transmitted to you.

We wish however to assure you immediately that all the Allied powers are thoroughly inspired by that feeling of solidarity, which you so justly consider indispensable for victory.

We are convinced that the same spirit inspires the Government of the United States in the prosecution of this war, into which they entered deliberately, in the exercise of their sovereign rights, and after weighing carefully the responsibilities entailed and the conditions under which the war is being fought. We also know that the United States Government are firmly resolved to carry on the struggle until their object has been attained in close cooperation with the European powers, who for so long have borne the burden of the common struggle against autocratic Germany.

[Page 556]

We therefore are convinced that the United States Government, when they indicated to our Governments a definite date by which the organisation now contemplated should be in working order (a highly desirable object), only wished to make clear—immediately to the Allied powers, and later on to Congress—the great importance they attach to the realisation of this object, which our Governments appreciate no less than that of the United States.

We thoroughly understand why you should have deemed it necessary for the conduct of this war, in which the United States and the Allied powers are alike resolved to bring their respective resources up to a maximum of efficiency, to secure that all our efforts should be more closely coordinated.

It cannot be denied that up to the present time this coordination may have been somewhat impeded both by the procedure followed by the Allied powers in their dealings with your Government, and by the conditions under which the new bodies, created in the United States to deal with war problems, have been working.

The scheme which you submitted to us aims at securing more thorough collaboration. The Allied powers are ready to devote all their experience to the accomplishment of that special task in the most effective way; they have been willing to do so from the very day when the United States entered the war, and we feel sure no difference of views can arise in principle as to the desirability of better coordination of the requirements arising out of the European war, and the corresponding demands made for the satisfaction of such requirements.

You will however not lose sight of the fact that the question raised by your letter calls for serious examination, the necessity for which is indicated to our respective Governments by their long experience in the war.

It is for our Governments to express their opinion as regards the ways in which this coordination can be effected, and as regards the powers and duties of the council to be established in Europe.

On the other hand, by the force of circumstances this question must be closely connected with the organisation of an executive committee in the United States; for the council to be set up in Europe would evidently lose greatly both in authority and efficiency, if the American committee happened not to answer exactly to the contemplated object.

Consequently, while we are awaiting the reply of our Governments on the first point we feel bound meanwhile to submit to you, with the concurrence of the High Commissioners for France and Great Britain the following observations on the second point, which forms the subject of the joint memo. The latter is of course in the nature of a mere suggestion.

[Page 557]

Primary importance attaches to war expenditure, for which payment is made in the United States out of funds advanced to the Allies by the United States Government under financial agreements fixing the rate of interest and the period within which repayment is to be made.

It is therefore clear that our Governments are responsible to their respective legislatures for the sums lent from the moment when they obtain possession of them, in accordance with their constitutions and rules governing public accounts.

It seems to follow that the Governments in question should have some means of controlling the use made of these funds, despite paragraph 6 which seems to assert the contrary; such control the memorandum does not provide, but the need for it is clearly indicated, because the United States Government in paragraph 10 express their unwillingness to incur any responsibility by the mere fact that this organisation is in existence.

If the Allied powers are to undertake not to place orders in the United States otherwise than through the committee to be set up in Washington (par. 3), it would seem equally necessary that, as a corollary to this undertaking, the Allies on their side should be assured that they will be able to place such orders under most favourable conditions, especially as regards the prices being the same as those paid by the United States Government for their own war orders.

The following point we consider equally essential. The Allied powers have in the course of three years, at the cost of the blood of their peoples, gained a thorough experience in all war problems; and it is indispensable that they should have some means of giving the benefit of all this experience to the new bodies to be set up at Washington, the method of accomplishing this must be determined later.

Long experience has proved the absolute need of an intricate organisation to cope with the execution of orders placed, their distribution among various factories, the unavoidable changes which may have to be made while contracts are in course of execution, supervision over the manufacture of the goods and acceptance of them on delivery. It will not be expected that the Allied Governments should give up control over this organisation.

Generally speaking, we feel confident that you will agree with us in thinking it is only fair that while on the one hand the Allied powers give undertakings as regards their war needs, the United States Government for their part should define what obligations they undertake to assume.

[Page 558]

It is in our opinion desirable that an agreement should be reached without delay upon the above points, and on others of secondary importance.

We feel therefore that we are falling in with your wishes in asking you to designate as soon as possible one or more delegates, with whom we can immediately begin to discuss what form our collaboration should take, and how the executive machinery at Washington is to be organised. The result of these negotiations will naturally have an immediate bearing on the final decisions of our Governments regarding the projected European council; for the activities of this council cannot be determined with precision or efficiency except in close connection with the organisation which it is proposed to establish in the United States.

We are convinced that you will appreciate the importance of the above considerations.

Finally, we are anxious to assure you once more of the great satisfaction given us by your letter, which paves the way for drawing still closer the bonds now uniting the United States with the Allied powers, and cementing more firmly that union of hearts and interests which so happily exists between your country and ours.

With sincere gratitude for all the generous help extended by the United States Government in the past, and keen appreciation of their present views as to the need of our relations becoming yet more intimate and cordial, we beg you, Mr. Secretary, to accept the assurance of our high consideration.

[No signatures indicated]
  1. Original text in French.
  2. Received so designated.
  3. Ante, p. 546.