711.21/445a: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in Colombia (Philip)

Strictly confidential. For Minister Philip.

To be deciphered upon arrival of the Minister.7

On February 7 the Colombian Minister called at the Department. The statement which Mr. Polk had made to the Minister at his dinner on January 27 was reiterated to him. This statement was as follows. “That Mr. Polk had told the Minister that the Department felt that it was not possible to send Mr. Philip to Colombia until this time owing to the status of the Treaty but that it was now definitely known what the Republican senators would approve of and support and that Mr. Philip had been instructed to bring this to the attention of the Colombian Government; further that Mr. Polk knew definitely that the Republican senators were very uncompromising in their feelings and that he had just been able at this moment to obtain a statement of their maximum concessions”.

The Minister then asked to be informed what were the maximum concessions. He was told that the total elimination of Article 1 and certain other modifications were necessary. He then requested that he be informed as to these modifications as he knew his Government would inquire of him concerning his opinion as to all contemplated changes in the Treaty, going on to say that he desired to be fully informed as the Liberal Party in Colombia in addition to his Government would ask his advice in connection with Mr. Philip’s negotiations with Colombia. He stated that he was of the opinion that the Treaty should go through even though Article 1 is eliminated and that in view of the fact that he was convinced of the good feeling of the Administration in trying to do everything in its power to have the Treaty ratified as signed, he felt that this should be sufficient to satisfy Colombia even though political [Page 729]opposition in the United States Senate prevented ratification of the signed Treaty. He further said that he would counsel his Government and the Liberal Party along these lines and recommend acceptance of Treaty with the elimination of Article 1. The Department considered that it was advisable that the Minister be given the information requested and a statement of the maximum desires of the Republican senators and therefore such a statement was prepared embodying most of the modifications suggested by Senators Knox and Lodge and the Minister on February 15 was handed the following statement confidentially and informally and told that Mr. Philip had received more detailed instructions and that this statement could only be considered as an outline. “The entire Article 1 in the original text to be stricken out of the Treaty. ‘Article 2’ in original text to be changed to read Article 1. The words ‘Even in case of war between Colombia and another country’ in Paragraph 1 of Article 2 of original text to be striken out. The words ‘During the construction of the interoceanic canal and afterwards’ in Paragraph 4 of Article 2 of the original text to be stricken out. The words ‘Even in case of war between Colombia and another country’ in Paragraph 4 of Article 2 of the original text to be stricken out. The sentence ‘The provisions of this paragraph shall not however apply in case of war between Colombia and Panama’ in Paragraph 4 of Article 2 of the original text to be stricken out. The words for Colombian consumption to be inserted between the words ‘Colombia’ and ‘passing from’ in Paragraph 5 of Article 2 of the original text. The words Whenever traffic by the canal is interrupted to be inserted between the words ‘shall’ and ‘be transported’ in Paragraph 5 of article 2 of the original text.

[“]The words ‘Article 3’ in the original text to be changed to read Article 2. The original text of this said ‘Article 3’ to be stricken out and replaced by the following. The Government of the United States of America agrees to pay at the city of Washington to the Republic of Colombia the sum of $25,000,000, gold, United States money, as follows: The sum of $5,000,000 shall be paid within six months after the exchange of ratifications of the present Treaty, and reckoning from the date of that payment, the remaining $20,000,000 shall be paid in four annual installments of $5,000,000 each; it being understood by the high contracting parties that no attorney or other person shall be entitled to receive compensation from these moneys for legal or other fees incurred in the United States during the negotiations for or in connection with the ratification of the Treaty between them. The words ‘Article 4’ and ‘Article 5’ in the original text to be stricken out and replaced by the words Article 3 and Article 4 respectively”.

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After reading the above statement the Colombian Minister said in regard to the text of Article 2 as it stands modified at present that he considered the last Section beginning “It being understood” and ending “between them” as being a statement which would be resented by the Colombian people and by the President himself.

The Minister further stated that the Government of Colombia before his arrival in Washington had paid Hannis Taylor for all his legal services and upon Doctor Urueta’s arrival in Washington acting under the instructions of his Government he had officially advised Mr. Taylor that his services would be no longer required and that since this time no attorney or legal officer has been employed by the Colombian Legation in Washington.

The Minister feels that it would be most unwise to include this statement regarding legal fees in the Treaty and suggests that if possible the Government of Colombia send him instructions to present a formal note to the Government of the United States in the sense of his various statements to the Department in connection with the employment of attorneys.

The Minister feels that owing to the many conversations which he had at the Department in connection with Smith’s8 letters both to himself and to Mr. Polk that a note such as suggested could well be written at this time not necessarily having particular connection with the present status of the Treaty, and that this note would serve the same purpose. As the statement which was presented to the Minister is considered informal and only as a guide and particularly for his own information, he feels that it would be best for him not to include the portion of Article 2 which has been mentioned above in the cable which he will send his Government.

The Minister stated that he felt that the principal objection in the Colombian Congress would be to the elimination of Article 1 and that the other modifications suggested did not appear to be so essential or difficult with the exception of the matter of the attorney’s fees. He stated that he strongly hoped that the matter could be brought before the United States Senate before the fourth of March both on account of the complexion of the United States Senate and also in view of the fact that the Colombian elections will be held in the spring and it would be advisable to call a special session of the Colombian Congress to pass upon the Treaty in its modified form if agreed to by the Government of Colombia and ratified by the United States Senate before these elections, on account of party politics in [Page 731]Colombia. The Minister said that if his Government was willing to accept the modifications which Mr. Philip would suggest he trusted that an expression on the part of the Colombian Government that it approved of the modifications and would do all in its power to have them passed by the Colombian Congress, would be all that was necessary to have the matter brought up in the United States Senate. This would seem to be sufficient to the Department for it is obvious that the Colombian Government cannot officially guarantee the approval of the Colombian Congress to the modified Treaty. It is understood that the Minister is cabling his Government urging prompt action as soon as you have had time to present matters to them.

  1. Hoffman Philip was appointed Minister to Colombia Aug. 8, 1917, but did not assume charge until Feb. 22, 1919.
  2. Harry Worcester Smith, an American citizen, had proffered his services to the Colombian Government to act as “confidential adviser” with a view to bringing about a settlement, on a commission basis, of the pending question of a treaty between Colombia and the United States (File No. 711.21/432).