File No. 800.852/91

The French High Commissioner ( Tardieu) to the Counselor for the Department of State ( Polk)

My Dear Counselor: Following my conversation of yesterday, I have the honour to expose to you the following facts:

By letters dated respectively the 23d February, 13th March and 28th March,1 and in numerous conversations with Mr. Bainbridge Colby, I made known to the Shipping Board the views and propositions of the French Government as regards the signature of charters of neutral ships at the service of the Allies.

The prospects of the French Government are, being understood that the use of the ships in question will be made secure, in common accord, for the better prosecution of war, in conformity with the Paris conference of the 3d of December last, that the signature of said charters shall be distributed equally among the Allies.

The British Government, by an agreement of the 23d November with the Federal Government—agreement concluded previous to the inter-Allied Paris conference—had, at first, reckoned that this, signature would be distributed by reason of 50 per cent each between the United States and Great Britain, but now, since the month of February, shares the views of the French Government.

On the 13th March last, an agreement was arrived at, in London, between France, England and Italy, which resolves that:

The charters shall be signed by representatives of each power in proportions (as equal as possible) to be established by a subsequent arrangement.
These operations shall be managed by the Inter-Allied Chartering Committee, reorganized, and acting as representative of the Inter-Allied Maritime Council whereat Mr. Stevens; is acting in the name of the American Government.

Lord Reading has apprised the Shipping Board, last week, of the agreement entered into on the 13th March. But this agreement; shall only be practically feasible when the Federal Government shall be associated therein.

To hasten this solution which is indispensable to a logical use of neutral tonnage at the service of the Allies, I have the honour to ask you:

The adhesion of the Federal Government to the reorganization of the Inter-Allied Chartering Committee, guaranteeing-an equal representation of the inter-Allied countries in the midst of this committee. The French Government would see with [Page 509] pleasure the presidency of this committee given to Mr. Stevens, representing the United States at the Inter-Allied Maritime Council.
The adhesion of the Federal Government to the agreement of the 13th March above referred to.

My Government has requested me to lay stress on the importance of a prompt reply, and I would be very grateful if you would inform me of your decision as soon as you conveniently can.

I need hardly add that should you deem it necessary that a conference should take place between you, the Shipping Board and the Allied representatives, I am entirely at your disposal.

Believe me [etc.]

André Tardieu
  1. Not printed.