Paris Peace Conf. 184.00101/11

Minutes of the Daily Meetings of the Commissioners Plenipotentiary, Thursday, February 13, 1919

  • Present:
    • Mr. Lansing
    • Mr. White
    • General Bliss
    • Mr. Herter

1. A memorandum from Captain Tyler dated February 12, 1919, was read regarding the confusion about the missions to Turkey and Syria. The Commissioners regretted that there should have been a misunderstanding in this matter, and expressed a wish that Mr. Dominian be requested to come to the Peace Commission in Paris at once. They wished to reserve a decision, however, about making Mr. Dominian head of a Commission to Turkey until he had arrived here and the whole matter had been thoroughly thrashed out in the light of what Mr. Barton and Mr. Howe have in the interval been able to accomplish.

2. A memorandum from Captain Tyler regarding the assignment of Mr. Philip Marshall Brown to the Peace Commission for service with Prof. Coolidge in German-Austria or Hungary was discussed. The Commissioners approved Mr. Brown’s assignment for this purpose.

3. The draft of a telegram which had been prepared in connection with Memorandum No. 64 regarding the opinion of the Commission with regard to the Prinkipo invitation and certain instructions that should be sent to the Consul-General at Omsk was approved.

4. Memorandum No. 65 was read, and the Commissioners opinion was asked in regard to the loan of $100,000,000. which the Czecho-Slovak Minister of Foreign Affairs had requested. Mr. Dulles’ views [Page 36] regarding this loan were explained, and the Commissioners felt that it was not within their province to express any opinion, and that all matters dealing with loans requested by foreign governments should be sent to the Department of State for disposition. They did not approve the recommendation that this request be sent to the President, but wished that it be sent direct to the Department of State without comment.

5. The revised telegram regarding the Lettish-Prinkipo business was read and highly approved.

6. Memorandum No. 66 was read and discussed. The Commissioners got rather twisted up in regard to the fine distinction between the Inter-Allied Aviation Conference and the Inter-Allied Aviation Committee. They had absolutely no recollection of ever having considered this matter before, except in connection with the question of sending representatives to the Conference, in which case they had returned a negative decision, which they found had been superseded by the action of the State Department in appointing representatives. Paragraph 4 under heading No. 2 confused them the most as they could not remember ever having expressed any views in the premises and therefore requested that before going further in this matter they would be glad to have it cleared up.

7. A letter to General McKinstry was read and highly approved by the Commissioners.

8. Memorandum No. 67 was read in regard to the assignment of Captain Lester W. Perrin to the Austro-Hungarian Division of the Peace Commission.

The Commissioners observed that there was nothing in this memorandum to indicate Captain Perrin’s qualifications for the position, and that before rendering any decision in the premises they would prefer to have some information in regard to his previous career and knowledge of Austro-Hungarian matters. They expressed the opinion that all recommendations for the attachment of new individuals to the Commission should be studied purely from the point of view of the qualifications of the individual and not from the point of view of the individual’s previous friendship or association with a present member of the Commission.

9. Memorandum No. 68 was read, containing a recommendation that Captain William Yale be assigned to work with the Division of Western Asia for a period of six weeks, and that he be granted the official commutation during this period, beginning with the morning of February 11th. This was approved.

10. Memorandum No. 69 was read. The draft of the telegram embodying Mr. McCormick’s views in regard to our submitting to the French government a listed statement of the military expense of the United States since mobilization was approved.

[Page 37]

This decision of the Commissioners supersedes the decision which they rendered on February 5th in regard to the same matter.34

11. Memorandum No. 70 was read. The question of the French Embassy in Berne refusing to visa the passports of American officials returning from the Central Empires without previous authorization from the French Foreign Office was discussed. The Commissioners felt very strongly that this was an absolutely unwarranted interference in the normal official duties of the American Peace Commission, and that a severe protest should be made. They believed that this protest should take the form of a letter to the American Embassy in Paris with a request that a copy be submitted to the Foreign Office. Mr. Lansing outlined approximately the statements which this letter should contain as follows:

We should first state the case very clearly, and mention the repeated efforts which we understand have been made to have the regulations changed. We should then emphasize the fact that the unnecessary delay entailed through this regulation is extremely serious and appears to be an unnecessary hampering of the official business of the American Peace Commission. We should then add that in view of the seriousness of the matter we cannot but presume that the refusal of the Foreign Office to make an exception in their regulation for American officials is due to the attitude of some under official, and could not possibly have received the consideration of Mr. Pichon or whoever the highest official of the Foreign Office is.

12. The draft of a telegram attached to Memorandum No. 71 regarding the attitude which we should assume towards the new states in the process of formation within the Central Empires as regarded matters of trade, passports, naturalization, mail censorship etc., was approved.

13. Memorandum No. 72 was read and it was decided that Mr. Gompers’ request for two Cadillac limousines from the Commission’s pool to be placed at his disposal to go to Brussels on Friday should be refused.

14. Memorandum No. 73 containing the application of Mr. Ray Stannard Baker for a temporary leave of absence was considered and approved. In this connection the Commissioners felt that Mr. Sweet-ser would be absolutely competent to carry on Mr. Baker’s work, and in view of the responsibilities which would be imposed upon him, their previous decision in regard to his salary should not hold. At Mr. Lansing’s suggestion, they approved of his receiving $300 per month plus the equivalent of the subsistence allowance of 40 francs a day, which would total $540 per month. This salary shall continue at least during the time which Mr. Sweetser is in charge, and probably after Mr. Baker’s return.

[Page 38]

15. Memorandum No. 74 was read. It was decided that none of the Commissioners should accompany the President to Brest, and that it would not be necessary for any member of the Secretariat to accompany him either.

[The minutes of the meeting of Friday, February 14, 1919, are missing from the Department’s files.]

  1. See minute 2, p. 17.