Paris Peace Conf. 184.00101/18

Minutes of the Daily Meetings of the Commissioners Plenipotentiary, February 21, 1919

  • Present:
    • Mr. Lansing
    • Mr. White
    • General Bliss
    • Mr. A. W. Dulles

1. General Bliss remarked that there was a meeting of General Foch’s special committee which was studying military and naval terms, at 11 o’clock, at which he must be present.

2. Mr. Lansing stated that he had conferred with Mr. Davis and Mr. Strauss in regard to Mr. Oscar T. Crosby’s being attached to the Commission to study problems of Austro-Hungarian finance. Both Mr. Davis and Mr. Strauss felt that Mr. Crosby was the man for this investigation and strongly recommended his appointment. It was decided that Mr. Grew should write a letter to Mr. Crosby advising him that he was attached to the Commission for the above mentioned work, and that before sending the letter he should confer with Colonel House, in order to make sure that all the Commissioners were agreed on this point.

3. Mr. White referred to a letter which had been received from Mr. Howe, explaining the circumstances of his hasty return from Brindisi without carrying out his mission to Syria. …

4. Mr. Dulles read a telegram from Mr. Buckler in which he definitely declined the appointment to Warsaw. Mr. Lansing remarked that he had had a talk with Mr. Hugh Gibson, who had stated to him that he felt it was a mistake to send a diplomatic agent or Chargé d’Affaires to Prague, as the Czechs would be offended if they did not have a full Minister, and Mr. Gibson added that an American Chargé or Diplomatic Agent would be outranked by all Allied representatives. Mr. Lansing stated that on further consideration he shared Mr. Gibson’s views and felt that the same considerations applied to Warsaw. He believed therefore that no representatives should be sent until the bill now pending before Congress was passed, which would make it possible to send Ministers Plenipotentiary to both these posts. Mr. Lansing added that he had conferred in this matter with Colonel House.

5. Mr. White remarked that Mr. Buckler’s decision would leave him available to go to Syria to replace Mr. Howe. He added that Mr. Buckler was well qualified for such a mission, as he had spent a great deal of time in archeological work in Asia Minor. The Commissioners accepted Mr. White’s recommendation and decided that [Page 64] the question of sending Mr. Buckler to Syria should be taken up immediately. Mr. Dulles stated that Mr. Dominian had been sent for by the Commission for work in Asia Minor or Syria, that he was already on the ocean, and suggested that he be considered in connection with the sending of Mr. Buckler to Syria.

6. Mr. White referred to the report from Mr. Hoover regarding the difficulties which had been met in dealing with the Allies regarding the conditions of food distribution. Mr. White read parts of Mr. Hoover’s report, and his four recommendations of the action to be taken unless the Allies changed their present attitude. Mr. Lansing remarked that the Allies often seemed to desire America to pay, to arrange for transportation, and then to reserve for themselves the entire control over the distribution. General Bliss remarked that action on Mr. Hoover’s proposal would result in a show-down, and we would know where we stood. Mr. Lansing stated that there were certain financial difficulties which were sometimes overlooked, and that before action could be precipitated it would be necessary for Mr. Hoover’s memorandum to be studied by the financial experts of the Commission.

It was decided that Mr. White should personally take up Mr. Hoover’s memorandum with Messrs. Strauss, Lamont and Davis.

[7.] Mr. White stated that he had seen General Churchill, who had expressed the opinion that he should return to America. General Churchill stated that he had originally been sent over to be of possible service to the Secretary of War in case he came to Europe, and that now as he had no particular function, he had best return with the members of his immediate staff. General Churchill had stated that he could leave those of his staff who were necessary for the work of “The Inquiry”, and also possibly Captain Tyler.

The Commissioners took note of Mr. White’s report and agreed that it would be desirable to fall in with General Churchill’s desire that he return to the United States.

8. Mr. White referred to statements of Colonel Miles in yesterday’s meeting regarding the Carinthian boundary dispute, and read a proposed draft of a letter which should be submitted to Prof. Coolidge for his guidance. It was decided that the letter should be redrafted under Mr. White’s direction, and should merely state, in view of the protest of one of the parties to the dispute to the friendly unofficial assistance which they had requested, it was deemed best that the entire matter should be considered closed. (General Bliss withdrew.)

9. Indignation was expressed over Memorandum No. 97 regarding French interference with cipher telegraphic communication between the Coolidge party and the Mission. It was decided that the matter should be taken up immediately. The recommendation that it be taken up by the Peace Commission with the French Foreign [Page 65] Office was not approved, but instructions were given that a strong letter should be written to the Embassy, which the Embassy might show to the Foreign Office.

10. It was felt that it would be necessary to confer with Admiral Benson in regard to Memorandum No. 98 which contained recommendations in regard to the status of Admiral Bristol at Constantinople. With reference to the specific requests of Admiral Bristol, it was decided: one, that a telegram should be addressed to Mr. Heck to obtain his opinion in regard to permitting Admiral Bristol to make use of the Embassy; two, that Admiral Bristol should not be given credentials which would put him in control of the work of all American agencies in Constantinople. Mr. Lansing remarked that we were not at war with Turkey and that we should not therefore have a military or naval official as our chief representative there.

11. The attention of the Commission was called to Memorandum No. 99 regarding Colonel Cunningham’s alleged statements in Budapest that he represented Great Britain, France and the United States, and that unless the Hungarians stamped out Bolshevism the Entente would allow the Czechs, Servians and Roumanians to occupy all of Hungary. … It was decided that this telegram should be repeated to Ambassador Davis at London with a request that he take the matter up informally with the Foreign Office to ascertain whether the Government has any knowledge that Colonel Cunningham has made any such statements, and if so, on what authority.

12. Memorandum No. 100 was read. The Commissioners approved Admiral Benson’s report on the Jugo-Slavs’ protest against the pooling of their ships. Mr. Lansing felt that the correspondence should be filed without further action as Admiral Benson recommended, and that unless the matter was revived no letter should be addressed to Mr. Pichon.

13. With reference to Memorandum No. 101. The Commissioners did not know on what authority the French army in the Orient had been instructed to request the Servians to withdraw, and Mr. Lansing was not aware of any decision of the Supreme War Council which dealt with this question. It was decided that while Mr. Seymour might take up the matter informally at the next meeting of the Committee which was studying the Servian boundary question, it would be best that a formal inquiry should be made to the French Foreign Office through the Embassy.

[14.] Both Mr. Lansing and Mr. White approved heartily of coordinating the work of the Financial and Food representatives, and therefore approved the appointment of Major Benjamin C. Joy for this purpose.

15. Further information was desired in regard to the circumstances under which Mr. Henry E. Mills had been attached to Mr. McCormick, [Page 66] before passing upon the question of attaching him to the Commission.

16. In regard to Mr. Gompers’ request that Francis E. Adams report to him for duty as a translator, Mr. Lansing inquired whether there were not sufficient translators already attached to the Commission without adding another. Mr. White agreed that Mr. Gompers’ request should not be approved until it was ascertained that a translator could not be furnished him from the persons already attached to the Commission.

17. It was decided that the suggestion that an artist be attached to the Commission to execute a portrait of the Peace Conference should be referred to the Department of State as this was clearly a Governmental matter. If the Government desired a portrait of the Peace Conference they should make an appropriation for it.

18. It was unanimously decided that Washington’s birthday should be declared a full holiday for the staff of the Commission.