The Secretary of State to Senator Wesley L. Jones

Sir: I have the honor to refer to your letter of March 9, 1920,1 requesting information regarding the activities of the Department of State in behalf of American oil companies, and expressing the hope that the Department is doing everything that it possibly can to aid American companies and American capital in securing oil properties.

The instructions transmitted by the Department to its diplomatic and consular officers abroad cover every important phase of the foreign mineral oil situation. The diplomatic and consular officers are awake to the importance of the oil question and are believed to be reporting promptly and intelligently on every significant phase of this question. All reports containing information relating to petroleum are transmitted to the Department of Commerce and to the United States Geological Survey; and such reports are also sent to the Bureau of Mines, the United States Shipping Board, and the Navy Department.

The Department of State does not appear to have in its possession any important means of stimulating activity in foreign countries on the part of American oil companies, of diverting American capital to foreign investment, or of checking the activities of foreign companies. The American diplomatic and consular officers have been instructed to lend all legitimate aid to reliable and responsible United States citizens or interests which are seeking mineral oil concessions or rights. They have been cautioned, however, to distinguish between United States citizens representing United States capital and United States citizens representing foreign capital; also between [Page 351] companies incorporated in the United States and actually controlled by United States capital and companies which are merely incorporated under United States laws but dominated by foreign capital.

I have [etc.]

Bainbridge Colby
  1. Not printed.