File No. 600.119/244a

The Secretary of State to the Diplomatic Representatives in All Latin American Countries except Haiti, Santo Domingo, and Venezuela

[Circular telegram]

Give publicity to following extracts from President’s statement regarding policy of export control.2 Repeat consuls.

[Page 886]

There will, of course, be no prohibition of exports. The normal course of trade will be interfered with as little as possible, and, so far as possible, only its abnormal course directed. The whole object will be to direct exports in such a way that they will go first and by preference where they are most needed and most immediately needed, and temporarily to withhold them, if necessary, where they can best be spared.

Our primary duty in the matter of foodstuffs and like necessaries is to see to it that the peoples associated with us in the war get as generous a proportion as possible of our surplus; but it will also be our wish and purpose to supply the neutral nations whose peoples depend upon us for such supplies as nearly in proportion to their need as the amount to be divided permits.

There will, thus, be little check put upon the volume of exports and the prices obtained for them will not be affected by this regulation.

This policy will be carried out, not by prohibitive regulations, therefore, but by a system of licensing exports, which will be as simply organized and administered as possible, so as to constitute no impediment to the normal flow of commerce. In brief, the free play of trade will not be arbitrarily interfered with; it will only be intelligently and systematically directed in the light of full information with regard to needs and market conditions throughout the world and the necessities of our people at home and our armies and the armies of our associates abroad.

The Government is taking, or has taken, steps to ascertain, for example, just what the available present supply of wheat and corn is remaining from the crops of last year; to learn from each of the countries exporting these foodstuffs from the United States what their purchases in this country now are, and where they are stored; and what their needs are, in order that we may adjust things so far as possible to our own needs and free stocks; and this information is in course of being rapidly supplied.

The case of wheat and corn will serve as an illustration of all the rest, of supplies of all kinds. Our trade can be successfully and profitably conducted now, the war pushed to a victorious issue, and the needs of our own people and of the other peoples with whom we are still free to trade efficiently met only by systematic direction; and that is what will be attempted. Woodrow Wilson.

  1. The only part omitted from the statement is the first paragraph which is as follows: “It is important that the country should understand just what is intended in the control of exports which is about to be undertaken, and since the power is vested by the Congress in the President I can speak with authority concerning it. The Exports Council will be merely advisory to the President.” The Official Bulletin, Washington, June 26, 1917 (Vol. 1, No. 40), p. 1.