The Acting Chairman of the American Red Cross (Fieser) to the Under Secretary of State (Phillips)

My Dear Mr. Phillips: Following the first news of the Japanese disaster last Saturday, the American Red Cross thru the State Department made an immediate offer of assistance to the Japanese Red Cross. One hundred thousand dollars was appropriated for this purpose which has since been transmitted thru the State Department to [Page 471] Tokyo. An additional $32,500.00 has been placed at the disposal of Ambassador Woods for the relief of Americans. The Chairman of the Red Cross Chapter at Manila has been directed by cable to make an immediate survey of food supplies particularly rice, and to purchase sufficient of these supplies to supplement the cargoes being shipped on army transports which were leaving Manila immediately for Japan.

These measures were taken after conferences with Treasurer Eliot Wadsworth and members of my executive staff and put into effect with the approval of President Coolidge.

On Monday, September 3rd, President Coolidge issued an appeal to the American people putting the responsibility on the American Red Cross for the collection of funds for Japanese relief. Immediately thereafter a conference was held at National Headquarters participated in by Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Eliot Wadsworth, members of our Executive Committee, Japanese Ambassador Hanihara and myself, as Acting Chairman in the absence of Judge Payne.

At this conference it was decided in general that the disaster was of such tremendous dimensions that the American Red Cross should make an appeal for at least five million dollars to provide money with which to purchase necessary hospital food and other emergency supplies. It was also determined that the State Department should be requested to secure the appointment by our Ambassador in Japan of a committee of leading American citizens, this committee to act as a liaison between the Japanese and American Red Cross societies. President Coolidge gave an immediate audience and heartily approved both steps. On appointment this committee will be available for information and contacts, but it is believed that the Japanese Red Cross, which is a very efficient organization, will handle all distribution of supplies and other general relief problems without outside aid. It was therefore presumed by the conference that it will be unnecessary to send American personnel to Japan. It was also determined that no attempt should be made to collect used clothing.

After the conference telegraphic instructions were sent to all Division Managers and definite quotas making up the five million dollar relief fund were set up. The response was immediate and each manager has given assurance that full return will be made. As an example of the responses which have come in, let me quote from a wire received from Mr. William M. Baxter, Jr., Manager of the Southwestern Division with headquarters at St. Louis:

“Executive Committee meeting St. Louis Chapter held with real war time spirit. Quota of $65,000 raised to $100,000 and banks and merchants pledged their organizations for definite amount.”

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In no instance has a Division manager considered his quota too large. On the contrary many consider the amount asked for too small.

Daily conferences are being held participated in by Mr. Hoover, Mr. Wadsworth, Ambassador Hanihara. Plans have been perfected to handle any kind of relief that may be suggested in answer to our cable to the Japanese Red Cross.

The headquarters staff has been augmented for the emergency by the addition of a special Japanese Relief Publicity group under the leadership of Mr. R. C. Mayer. Mr. W. Gordon Brown, former director of Purchases and Transportation of the American Relief Administration will handle the emergency supply bureau and Mr. Walter F. Rogers who has spent some time in Japan and Mr. E. J. Swift will act as special assistants to the Acting Chairman. Mr. John Poole, president of the Federal National Bank has been made director of Group Organization and is endeavoring to secure the cooperation of fraternal and civic bodies. Mr. D. H. Blake, a well known retired business man of Tokyo, whose long residence there has given him an intimate knowledge of Japan, has volunteered to act as a special councilor on Japanese conditions.

Closely following instructions to Division Managers telegrams to leading organizations of the country were sent with the result that the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, the Federated Council of Churches, the Jewish Welfare Board, Y. M. C. A., and other bodies have telegraphed their constituent societies to back up our local chapters to the limit of their resources in the drive for funds.

Every force in the country seems to have combined with the American Red Cross to raise a sum in excess of the amounts asked for and late returns indicate that this will be done. Yours very sincerely,

James L. Fieser