867.602 Ot 81/162

Memorandum by the Assistant Foreign Trade Adviser, Department of State (Hall)

On June 9, 1920, Rear-Admiral Colby M. Chester, Retired, called at the Department and interviewed Mr. Frost,33 Mr. Dwight34 and Mr. Hall with reference to his memo of May 19, 1920, entitled “Oil Land and American Mineral Rights in Turkey.”35

Admiral Chester states that he has title to certain concessions in Turkey acquired in 1911 or 1912 and that after the conclusion of peace in Turkey he proposes to defend his claims.

He represents that the Turkish Government offered these concessions to his group just before the outbreak of the first Balkan war; that he agreed to commence operations on the concessions after the conclusion of peace, and that the Ottoman Government, as then constituted, understood this and consented to it.

He further represents that the Ottoman American Development Company, which was to take over the concession, has gone out of existence, but that the group of engineers and capitalists holding stock in that company is still being held together, informally. Mr. C. A. Moore, formerly president of Manning, Maxwell and Moore, Incorporated, Chicago, is deceased; but the Chesters, Mr. Laidlaw, Mr. Converse, Mr. Colt and Mr. MacArthur are still interested in the Chester project. Mr. Colt has been in Paris on general financial business most of the time since the armistice. Mr. Arthur T. Chester will soon sail for Constantinople, where he will be the official representative of the Shipping Board. (His wife is said to have had a heavy financial interest in the Ottoman American Development Company.) Admiral Chester’s daughter is still at Constantinople in connection with the relief work and is said never to have lost interest in the project.

The concession is alleged to be the property of Mr. Arthur T. Chester, son of the Admiral.

It was suggested to Admiral Chester in the course of the interview that a formal reply to his memorandum might be drafted, definitely [Page 918] stating the views of the Department as to the validity of the concessions. Admiral Chester responded that a formal statement of this kind is not necessary at present. Apparently he does not care to have such a statement until after the conclusion of peace in Turkey, when he proposes actively to urge his claims.

Admiral Chester stated that he was endeavoring to arrange an interview with President Wilson within a day or two.

R. O. H[all]
  1. Wesley Frost, Acting Foreign Trade Adviser.
  2. H. G. Dwight, Special Assistant, Department of State.
  3. Not printed.