Paris Peace Conf. 184.00101/5

Minutes of the Daily Meetings of the Commissioners Plenipotentiary, Wednesday, February 5, 1919

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

1. Mr. Herter read Memorandum prepared for Mr. Grew by Mr. Auchincloss stating that the President had requested Colonel House to advise the Commission that he had designated Professor Charles Seymour and Mr. M. A. Coolidge as the representatives of the United States on the Teschen Commission. Mr. Auchincloss requested Mr. Grew to notify the Commissioners of the above appointments in order that these gentlemen might be advised as soon as possible of their appointment.

Mr. Lansing stated that he understood that it was decided by the council of ten that only one representative from each of the Great Powers should be sent on the Teschen Commission. He requested that this matter be investigated at once. He further added that in his opinion it was a mistake for us to send our technical experts on foreign missions, particularly at a time when their services were greatly needed by the Commission. He therefore requested that no notification of the appointments in question be made until the question of the number of representatives had been settled and until he had had [Page 17] a chance to speak to the President about the appointment of a much needed technical expert.

2. Memorandum No. 34 was read regarding a request received by the Secretary of War from the French military representative on the Supreme War Council for a listed statement of the military expenses of the United States since mobilization. Mr. White observed that this request had probably been made by the French government in order to draw a comparison between the war expenses of the associated governments. Mr. Lansing stated that inasmuch as a listed statement of the expenses of the United States in the premises would undoubtedly have to be furnished to Congress in the near future, there would be no objection to furnishing it to the French government.

It was decided that a telegram should be sent to the Department of State declaring that in the opinion of the Commissioners there is no objection to furnishing the information in question to the French government from the point of view of the State Department, but that this was a matter for the War Department to decide finally.

3. Memorandum No. 35 was read regarding the manner in which the declaration which had been agreed to by the Commission and the President in respect to the welcoming [of] the union of the Jugoslavs should be made.18 The recommendations of the Secretariat in this matter were approved, and Mr. Lansing requested that he be furnished with a copy of the proposed statement as well as drafts of the suggested telegrams to the State Department and the American Legation at Belgrade indicating what action it was proposed to pursue in the premises. Mr. Lansing added that he would try to see Mr. Balfour and Mr. Pichon this afternoon and inform them of the statement which he was about to make.

4. Memorandum No. 36 was read recommending that a telegram be sent to Professor Coolidge in Vienna expressing the Commission’s appreciation of his work, and make [making?] two specific inquiries on which information was desired. It was decided that the draft telegram attached to Memorandum No. 36 should be dispatched to Professor Coolidge.

In discussing the above memorandum Mr. Lansing observed that he had received certain information in regard to the activities of Mr. Creel in the former territories of Austria-Hungary which had been rather disquieting. Mr. White stated that he had received similar information. Mr. White inquired just what position Mr. Creel held while traveling through German Austria, to which Mr. Lansing replied that he did not know but would be very interested to learn.

5. Memorandum No. 37 was read recommending that Mr. Beer be authorized to inform Mr. King the Liberian delegate to the Peace [Page 18] Conference that he (Mr. Beer) had been specifically designated by the Commission to examine any information that the Liberian delegates desired to lay before the American Commission. In the discussion on this memorandum Mr. Lansing observed that the question of Liberia’s frontiers should not be allowed to come before the Peace Conference, but that the question of the German cable certainly deserved consideration. In regard to the frontiers of Liberia Mr. Lansing expressed the opinion that Liberia was having trouble enough governing the territory which it now possessed. It was decided that Mr. Beer should be authorized in the sense of the recommendation contained in Memorandum No. 37.

. . . . . . .

7. Information Memorandum No. 3 was read regarding the indirect report which had been received that Mr. Hoover would be glad to be connected with the Commission on Ports, Waterways and Railways. Mr. Lansing stated that he considered it advisable that Mr. White should discuss this matter with Mr. Hoover in order to ascertain exactly how Mr. Hoover desired to be associated with the Commission in question. Mr. White agreed to this suggestion and added that he would be glad to see Mr. Hoover at once.

Mr. Lansing observed that inasmuch as army officers had been chiefly concerned in matters connected with the waterways and ports of the United States it might be well to ascertain which particular officer of the A. E. F. now in France would be well qualified to serve as a technical advisor to the Commission on Ports, Waterways and Railways.

7 [sic]. Memorandum No. 39 was read regarding the suggestion of the British government to the American government that the question of suppressing the illegal trade in opium and other habit forming drugs should be presented to the Peace Conference for disposition. Mr. Lansing observed that in his opinion this matter did not come within the competence of the Peace Conference. He recommended, however, that a telegram be sent to the Department of State indicating that the United States was heartily in sympathy with the idea, but that the question as to whether it was a matter that could be handled in the Peace Treaty could not be determined until the question was actually brought up in Paris. Mr. Lansing felt that we should not commit ourselves further than this.

In discussing this memorandum Mr. Lansing commented on the uncompromising and unpleasant attitude which Japan has adopted [Page 19] with regard to China. Mr. White agreed with that comment. Mr. Lansing then inquired whether Mr. White had any definite information regarding the reported secret arrangements between the French and the Japanese. Mr. White observed that he did not. Mr. Lansing then remarked that in his opinion we were not getting away very far from secret diplomacy.

8. Memorandum No. 40 was read regarding the payment of an allowance of 40 francs per diem for officers of General McKinstry’s staff.19 Mr. Lansing and Mr. White agreed they would be unable to render a decision in this matter without first receiving additional information as to the exact amount of subsistence which officers on duty in Paris or in the field are granted by the army. Mr. Lansing observed that he understood that Mr. McNeir was of the opinion that the per diem allowance of officers attached to the Commission was very high, that it should be reduced to 20 francs per diem. It was decided that this matter should be reconsidered after further information had been put at the disposal of the Commissioners.

9. Memorandum No. 41 was read regarding the shortage of rooms in the Hotel de Crillon and the necessity for adopting rules which could be enforced throughout the organization. It was decided that the technical advisors should be allowed only three rooms each as recommended, and that the Secretary be instructed to ask the chief of each office and the head of each department to inquire carefully into their personnel with the object of stating in writing which members of their staff could be housed outside of the hotel without detriment to their work, and the order in which these men should leave this hotel, if their bedrooms are required for office space.

Information Memorandum No. 4 was read with regard to the intention of President Cabrera to send a Commission to Paris headed by Toledo-Harrarte20 to represent Guatemala at the Conference. Mr. Lansing observed in regard to this matter that President Cabrera was undoubtedly the ablest politician in Central America and knew how to play the game beautifully.

Information Memorandum No. 5 was read regarding the points which the Siamese government would undoubtedly raise at the Peace Conference. Mr. Lansing observed that he agreed absolutely with the opinion of the American Chargé d’Affaires at Bangkok as to the attitude which the United States should maintain towards these points, but added that the British and French governments would undoubtedly take a different point of view inasmuch as they would accept territorial concessions in return for the modification of their extraterritorial [Page 20] privileges. He further observed that these matters had nothing to do with the Peace Treaty and that it looked as if everyone had the idea that the present Peace Conference was a panacea for all evils.

  1. See meeting of February 1, minute 8, p. 8.
  2. i. e., the War Damages Board.
  3. Luis Toledo-Herrarte.