Paris Peace Conf. 182/10

Dr. S. E. Mezes to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: I have your note of April 17th with its valuable suggestion to the effect that there is urgent need for as careful a study along historical, ethnological, geographical, and economic lines of the problems involved in South and Central America as for those involved in the countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa.

We have had in mind the need of such additional studies, but in view of the financial budget on which we are operating, we had planned to postpone the South and Central American work until the European, Asian, and African work, and general studies in international economics and organization had progressed further; for on our present scale of expenditure it is only possible to take up our work serially, as a simultaneous investigation in all the fields would entail a larger monthly expenditure than we are now incurring. A consideration of the general scope of the work in brief outline will make the situation clearer.

In order to be prepared for possible eventualities when the conference assembles, facts bearing on the following problems should be gathered, digested, and held under such control that they can be promptly and compendiously presented:

Critical economic, political, and territorial problems in: a) Europe; b) The Near East; c) The Far East, including the Pacific Islands; and d) Africa.
Problems of international law, international business and economies, and international organization, which of course are world-wide.
Problems of the western hemisphere, which, though closely linked up with international law, economics and organization, and with the foreign relations, politics, and economics of the countries of the eastern hemisphere, also involve special studies.

1) and 2) above we have well in hand, though much remains to be done if our representatives at the conference are to be supplied with data which will enable them to maintain their positions as against those taken by representatives of the Central Powers, or even of our Allies, who have been in active and even bitter negotiation with one another on such subjects for so many years, and whose officials, travelers, and scholars have busied themselves with them and know the ins and outs of the problems involved with an intimate knowledge. All that remains to be done in 1) and 2), in addition to filling out in detail the data we have blocked out in substantially satisfactory general outlines, is to prepare maps and charts of the Atlantic Ocean basin, the Pacific Ocean basin, and the Indian Ocean basin, as it is over these oceans that the lines of communication run which tie together in relation to one another the eastern and the western hemispheres, and Eurasia with the continent of Africa. The omission just named we can supply before very long, and without adding to the present monthly rate of expenditure.

While on this subject, I may point out a factor in the situation that it is easy to overlook. If our government is to be prepared at the conference it will be necessary not only to accumulate an appreciable body of reports, maps, and graphic presentations of problems and possible solutions, but, even more important, to train a body of workers who can handle this mass of data and the research on which it is based, and draw out from them, as the conference progresses, just the facts that are needed to make clear the reach and significance of proposals that will be constantly made, and the exact nature of which it is quite impossible to anticipate. This means, of course, that even when the facts with regard to any problem or area have been gathered with approximate adequacy, the force must continue to deal with such data, and, by constant practice, to perfect itself in analyzing proposals of various kinds and presenting their significance in a compact and readily intelligible form, for in no other form can busy officials and conferees use them. This is the critical part of our task.

Coming specifically to the matter of expenditure, our last month’s budget shows that we spent some $7,000 for the salaries of men engaged in gathering historical, ethnographic, geographic, and economic data, and in administration; $3,000 for the salaries of the clerical force [Page 79] and for draftsmen to put the results of research in compact form on maps and diagrams; and $3,000 in addition for supplies and incidental expenses. The continuation of such a monthly expenditure of $13,000 (which may run to $15,000 if rush reports are called for) would enable us to complete the gathering of data in the first and second fields above mentioned and, incidentally, to give our force practice for the quick work we shall be called upon to do at the conference itself. The cost of printing, a sizable item, is not included in this estimate, nor is the cost of getting to and attending the conference. Moreover, I am, of course, omitting any estimate of the cost of gratuitous services and equipment, contributed by universities, societies and libraries, that total much more than $13,000 monthly.

And now as to South and Central America. We have made a careful study of the additional expenditure which would be necessary if we are to take on South and Central America at once, on top of what we are at present swinging, with the following result: We can get South and Central America up to the standard of adequacy we have attained in the European regions by August first if an additional expenditure of $20,000, to be scattered over the three months up to August first, is authorized, and can keep this additional data alive and train a staff to deal with it competently at the conference at a cost of about $5,000 a month from August first until the time of starting for the conference. This calculation is based on an estimate which shows that we will need for each of the additional areas—that is, for South and for Central America—about four draftsmen, one supervisor of draftsmen, a gatherer and digester of economic data, with two assistants, a gatherer and digester of political and social data, with two assistants, a man competent to make diagrams and graphs, and some additional clerical force, and expenditures for supplies and drafting expenses.

Of course I see the wisdom of your suggestion, and appreciate that in the case of certain eventualities we might proceed to the conference unprepared to deal at all adequately with problems in which Latin America would be vitally involved, and in which her support and co-operation would be of decided significance.

With cordial regards,

Very sincerely yours,

S. E. Mezes

Some of the Data Needed for South America

(Similar Data needed for Central America)

Natural Resources
  • Mineral
  • Vegetable
  • Animal
  • Water Power
  • Labor
Concessions and Investments
  • Existing
    • History
    • Legality
    • Scope
    • Nationality
      • of capital
      • of management
    • Terms
    • By what political faction granted
  • Desired
    • By whom
    • History and present status of negotiations
  • Unappropriated
  • Where floated
  • Where held
  • By whom
    • Nationality
    • Government participation
  • Debt Service
    • To what applied
Export Trade
  • Destination, volume and velocity, value
  • Character and nationality of commercial control
  • Bounties, laws, etc.
  • How financed
  • Firms engaged
Import Trade
  • Origin, route, volume, velocity, value, indispensability
  • How financed
  • Tariffs
  • Firms engaged, selling organization
European colonies and European settlements
Areas colonizable by Europeans, by Asiatics
Territorial disputes
Domestic Political Groups
  • Personalities
  • Social, financial, international affiliations
  • Control of Press
  • Attitude of Intellectuals, especially in University centers
  • The controlling classes, and their basis
Budget analyses and tax systems
Commercial probabilities, especially in their relation to European Needs
American assets and liabilities in each state
Exact account of participation by each state in the war
  • Neutrality awards
  • Damages suffered
  • Acts for which damages might be asked of them
The way government works
Ethnography and Population Distribution and Demography
International Law and Lawyers