867.602 Ot 81/181
Memorandum by the Acting Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs, Department of State (Robbins)
Admiral Colby Chester called upon the Secretary of State this morning and brought attention to the fact that an agreement had been signed between the French Government and the Turkish Nationalists which he stated would mean the loss of the Chester concession rights in Mesopotamia.
The Admiral was informed by the Secretary of State that the Department was in receipt of information to the effect that the Franco-Turkish Agreement regarding Cilicia had not been ratified.
Admiral Chester then brought up again the question of his old project. The Secretary then requested him to be specific as regards the present situation. He asked him first, if he had a definite concession, [Page 922] to which the Admiral replied in the negative. The Secretary then commented that that being the case he considered that it would be difficult for the Government of the United States to claim that another Company, namely, the Turkish Petroleum Company had no rights in view of the fact that it had never obtained a concession if in turn it urged the rights of the Chester project who had not obtained a concession either. The Secretary then asked Admiral Chester from whom he expected to get the claim. The Admiral replied that he expected to get quit claims from English and French Governments as well as from the Arabs. The Secretary then asked him what his Company was and where the Company was incorporated, to which the Admiral replied, the Ottoman American Exploration Company; (the original Company as known to the Department was called the “Ottoman American Development Company”). He added that it was incorporated in 1911 in the State of Delaware and that the stock holders were the MacArthur Brothers, Arming-ton [Remington?], C. A. Moore, and E. C. Converse, the latter two both deceased. He stated that $100,000 had been already expended in efforts to obtain the concession and that the money had been put up by Moore, Armington, Converse and Admiral Chester’s son. The Secretary then stated that what appeared to be the Admiral’s desire was to obtain a confirmation of his old project or rather a concession now based on the old project. Admiral Chester made the statement that his project was prior to any other oil project and that it had been so recognized by all the European Governments. The Secretary suggested that he might have a prior moral claim but that moral rights to obtain a concession could not be considered, especially as the United States would take the attitude that the Turkish Petroleum Company’s rights did not hold.
The Secretary requested Mr. Robbins to look up the original letters of the State Department to the Powers as referred to by Admiral Chester and to ascertain whether definite requests were made and any assurances given.