File No. 033.5611/24

The Netherland Minister ( Van Rappard) to the Secretary of State

No. 5538

My Dear Mr. Secretary: I had the honor to announce to you on September 7 the arrival of the Dutch special commission which my Government had sent to the United States in order to restore if possible normal commercial relations between our two countries and to find a way to provide employment for our ships, now lying idle in the U. S. harbors.1

You were so kind to inform me that Mr. Vance McCormick, chairman of the War Trade Board, had been designated by you as the authority with whom the Dutch commissioners had to negotiate and accordingly I had much pleasure in introducing my countrymen to that distinguished gentleman.

The Netherland commission has since that time done whatever it could to come to an understanding with the War Trade Board, but to its great disappointment has up to now not reached any result.

Mr. Taylor, one of the members of the War Trade Board, having expressed the wish to obtain several data on Netherland exports and imports, which were necessary in order to come to a definite arrangement, [Page 1144] those data were submitted to him October 24, whereas on November 1 still some supplementary figures were handed to him which, at his demand, had been forwarded to us from Holland.

Mr. Taylor was so kind to express his entire satisfaction with the accurate information given to him by the Netherland commission, and even informed the commission that he would be able to give an answer to them within a short period.

In the meantime the reports I get from my Government make it clear to me that the general conditions in my country become worse and worse and that the Netherland Government looks forward with great anxiety to a solution of the problem of getting raw materials either from America or from our own colonies, and to a means to find employment for the tied-up Netherland vessels.

The commission having left the Netherlands already three months ago, the situation in Holland having become much more serious, the commission having realized that the standpoint taken by the U. S. Government regarding the export to Holland from this country and regarding the delivery of bunker coal to ships, differs greatly from what the Netherland Government supposed it to be at the moment the commission left Holland, I have thought it advisable to send the president of our commission, Mr. van Vollenhoven, to Holland, in order to discuss with Her Majesty’s Government what might be done to come to the so much wished-for understanding with the U. S. Government.

As there was no certainty that any of our ships would be able to leave for Holland in the near future, I availed myself of the opportunity offered to me by the presence of Her Majesty’s battleship Tromp at New York, to convey Mr. van Vollenhoven to Holland on board this warship, which has left this morning. Mr. van Vollenhoven hopes to return to America at the first occasion that will present itself, and in the meantime the other members of the commission and myself are always ready and at your disposal to continue the impending negotiations with the War Trade Board or with whomsoever you will be kind enough to designate to this effect.

Believe me [etc.]

W. L. F. C. v. Rappard

[For a brief narrative of the discussion of Dutch rations and tonnage with Allied blockade authorities at London, November 8–22, 1917, see Mr. McCormick’s report to Colonel House, Volume I, page 400.

For the statement that, in the opinion of the Allied authorities, “the time has been reached to consider seriously requisition progressively and as required, at least, Dutch tonnage wherever situated,” see Mr. McCormick’s telegram No. 2, November 15, 1917, Volume I, page 636.]

  1. For members of commission see despatch No. 4189, of Sept. 3, from Netherland Minister, ante, p. 1129.