File No. 861.00/7412

The British Ambassador ( Reading ) to the Secretary of State

[Copies of the following paraphrase of a telegram and of the draft proclamation were handed by the Ambassador to the Acting Secretary of State on July 27, 1918:]

The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs ( Balfour ) to the Ambassador at Washington

I am to-day telegraphing to you the draft of a proclamation which has been prepared by a committee of experts having an intimate acquaintance with Russia. The committee believe that the proposed proclamation is an effective and suitable method of explaining the policy of the Allies to the Russian people themselves.

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You are authorized to communicate the draft to the Secretary of State and to ask his views upon it.1

draft proclamation

Peoples of Russia! Your Allies have not forgotten you. We remember all the services which you heroically rendered us in the early years of the war, and we are coming to your help. We are coming as friends to save you from dismemberment and disaster at the hands of Germany who is trying to enslave your people and to use the great resources of your country for their own ends.

But we wish solemnly to assure you that while our troops are entering Russia to assist you in your struggle against Germany, we shall not retain one foot of your territory. We deplore the civil war that divides you, and internal dissensions that facilitate German plans of conquest. The destinies of Russia are in the hands of the Russian people. It is for them and for them alone to decide their form of government and to find a solution for their social problems.

Peoples of Russia! Your very existence as an independent nation is at stake; the liberties you have won in revolution are threatened with extinction by the iron hand of Germany. Rally round the banner of freedom and independence that we, who are still your Allies, are raising in your midst, and secure the triumphs of those two great principles without which there can be no lasting peace or real liberty for the world.

Peoples of Russia! We want not only to stem the German penetration, but to bring economic relief to you and your country. Supplies accompany the military expedition, and there are more to follow. It is our wish to aid the development of the industrial and national resources of your country, not to exploit them for ourselves, to restore the exchange of goods, to stimulate agriculture, to reestablish Russia’s commercial integrity and to enable you to take your rightful place amongst the free nations of the world. All your chief allies are represented in the force that is coming to help you. As the Allies are united in defence of their ideals of liberty on the battle fronts of the West, so that [they] are united in their desire to deliver Russia from the German yoke.

Peoples of Russia! Unite with us in defence of your liberties. Our one desire is to see Russia strong and free, and then to retire and watch the Russian people work out its destinies in accordance with the free expression of the wishes of the people.

  1. A memorandum attached to the above reads as follows:

    July 29, 1918. According to the President’s [telephone] conversation, sent for Mr. Barclay and told him we think this proposal was inadvisable for many reasons and particularly because it promises too much to the Russians. We could not agree with the suggestion at all. F. L. P[olk].