The Secretary of State to the Minister in Costa Rica ( Hale )

No. 42

Sir: Strictly confidential. Reference is made to your despatch No. 88, of November 15, 1915, and to instruction No. 37, of January 20, 1916,40 as well as to your telegram of December 6, 1915, [Page 870] 4 p.m.,40 the Department’s telegrams of December 16, 1915, 4 p.m.,40 December 22, 1915, 11 a.m., your telegram January 7, 1916, 10 p.m., to your despatch No. 91, of January 8, 1916,40 and to the last paragraph of the Department’s telegram of March 4, 1916, 4 p.m., all relative to the desire of the interested parties that the assistance of your Legation be extended in behalf of a contract entered into between the Government of Costa Rica and Dr. Leo J. Greulich, for the exploitation of certain oil fields in Costa Rica.

It is a well-established custom of this Department to reserve its unofficial assistance and good offices for the support of such legitimate American interests as appear to encounter difficulties abroad. From the information in its possession, the Department does not perceive that this concession now stands in need of such assistance, particularly in view of the fact that an expression of the desire of this Government that it be submitted to an extra session of the Costa Rican Congress called for this purpose would establish an undesirable precedent.

To the unusually comprehensive nature of the original contract it is unnecessary at this time to allude, except as to the obstacle which its apparently exclusive character might oppose to the participation of other American interests in this field. In this connection you are advised that Mr. A. B. Butler, a capitalist of Washington, who is understood to possess a wide experience in oil development, has informed the Department of his desire and intention to submit to the Government of Costa Rica a contract for similar development in Costa Rican oil fields. Mr. Robert A. Crespi, of San José, whose New York address is care of Pruyn and Whittlesee, 2 Rector Street, New York City, a British subject, and brother-in-law of Mr. Minor C. Keith, of the United Fruit Company, and with whom you are acquainted, is understood to be actively interested in Mr. Butler’s behalf and, the Department has every reason to believe, has approached Minister Quesada in this connection. While the exclusive participation of British interests in Costa Rican development would be viewed with apprehension by the Department, there appears no reason to believe that Mr. Butler contemplates such participation or that British interests will be predominant in such contracts as he may submit or obtain.

As regards Dr. Greulich’s nationality, antecedents and interests, you are informed that Mr. Herbert Noble, a lawyer of New York, and attorney for Dr. Greulich, in the representations made by him to the Department in behalf of this concession stated that Dr. Greulich was born in Dayton, Ohio, and that he possessed no German [Page 871] antecedents. Confidential investigations by the Department, however, disclose the fact that Dr. L. J. Greulich when registering for elections in this country at Ossining, New York, in 1915, stated that he was 55 years of age, and but 24 years in the country, four in the State and four months in the county.

. . . . . . .

… you will refrain from facilitating in any way the concession above referred to, and, while observing caution in your treatment of the matter, you will report in detail developments as they occur. Your attention should be closely paid to other interests in this field, whose actions, principals, representatives, as well as all relevant information in connection therewith, should be immediately reported to the Department.

I am [etc.]

Robert Lansing
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