511.3 B 1/124

The Acting Secretary of Commerce (Drake) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: I beg to acknowledge your letter of July 2332 in which you have asked for an expression of the views of this Department concerning a communication forwarded to you under date of May 1, 1923 by the Acting President of the Council of the League of Nations, regarding the private manufacture of arms and the international control of the traffic in arms. I feel that prior communications forwarded by you to the League of Nations under date of July 28, 1922 and to the Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of Great Britain under date of August 5, 1922,33 have covered the situation so far as this Department is concerned.

In addition to the points you have mentioned, you may be interested in knowing that this Department has issued special instructions that no assistance is to be given by the Department of Commerce to private organizations in this country in selling to foreign governments or citizens thereof, or to foreigners in acquiring surplus American war material or any material of a similar nature, which might be used by governments of foreign countries or their nationals for the purpose of carrying on or encouraging warfare in any part of the world. The instructions of this Department are based on the [Page 38]President’s letter of April 23, 192334 to the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy, and on the covering memorandum forwarded by your Department to me in communicating to the Department of Commerce the instructions of the President to the War and Navy Departments.

I may also add that this Department has received information of the sale of war materials on the part of the nationals of several of the countries which have either ratified or have indicated their willingness to ratify the Saint Germain Convention to other governments on a basis which would seem to indicate that the objects of the Convention itself were being nullified or at least weakened.

Yours faithfully,

J. Walter Drake
  1. Not printed.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, pp. 550 and 554.
  3. Quoted in telegram no. 61, Sept. 27, to the Minister in Switzerland, p. 42.