840.48/2930: Telegram

The Chairman of the United States Shipping Board ( Hurley ) to the Secretary of State

Hurley No. 2. Secret for the President. Pending recovery, House, who is improving but not yet able to give personal attention to Allied plans for world’s food control, feels I should inform you directly that shipping features in plans for Inter-Allied Director General of Relief, cabled yesterday,15 were not submitted to me and have not received my approval. My belief is that minor modifications British plans conflicts with your general policy and should be held in abeyance until you have opportunity to outline your program for League of Nations. Feeling in London is that this emergency plan for food control which [sic] is similar to British plan for removing chief incentives for League of Nations. British are willing to give us title of Directorship, but American Director would be under control and report to Inter-Allied War Council. In line with your instructions I have informed Reading that we cannot enter into agreement to yield control of my [our?] ships. Procedure outlined in cable signed House yesterday amounts to surrender control our ships to foreign bodies, to which I believe you are properly and unalterably opposed. Further, the plans would permit available funds of ships carrying our foodstuffs to be wasted through inefficient … control and management. We are rendering as much service in this manner as we have controlled ships for lifting cargoes required to be furnished by us. We should have unequivocally the temporary use of all enemy passenger steamers for the return of our troops, also cargo ships in enemy ports to lift all relief supplies controlled by us, but plans outlined to you yesterday would divide this tonnage without slightest hope of supplement from British tonnage for this imperative movement of troops. Believe present situation which British would like to cure with Committee and Director, is complete justification of League of Nations in that it amounts to the disregarding of small nations’ rights and yet concedes concerted action is necessary. For any Director General of Relief to control our shipping under European domination as proposed would tie our hands and would be first step to similar control raw materials. Matters can certainly wait until you arrive as in any [case] ships in enemy ports will require shipments for repairs and commissioning. In conference with French and British I will make no concessions without instructions from you.

  1. See telegram No. 188, Nov. 27, 1918, 11 p.m., from Colonel House, p. 636.