The Chairman of the American Red Cross (Payne) to the Under Secretary of State (Phillips)
My Dear Mr. Phillips: In his letter of September 6 , Mr. Fieser gave you a résumé of the Japanese Disaster relief operations. Today’s letter will bring the recital down to date.
From the beginning, we have aimed to coordinate all American Relief effort in fund raising, purchase and shipment of supplies from America, using Japanese agencies for distribution in the disaster areas. This has enabled us to save large sums for personnel and other expenses and to devote all collections to actual relief.
Early in the Campaign for funds, telegrams were sent to strong national organizations requesting assistance and in every case the response was most generous.
Dr. McFarland of the Federated Council of Churches of Christ in America sent a representative to arrange all details of cooperation. The American Legion offered its help. The Jewish Welfare [Page 476] Board responded by wiring its constituent bodies to get behind the campaign. Dr. Mott, Secretary of the International Y. M. C. A., had his personal representative, Mr. Phelps, confer with this office. The Knights of Columbus not only helped our Chapters but also made a substantial contribution from national funds.
Our second problem was to curb the desire of individual cities, particularly those on the western coast, to gather their own relief funds and to do their own purchasing and shipping. This action threatened at one time to cause a duplication of commodities shipped and to defeat the unity of control asked for in the President’s proclamation.
Now, however, practically all American purchasing for Japanese Relief is being handled by our Central Purchasing and Transportation Bureau and its branches throughout the country. These branches have been set up at our request by Chambers of Commerce and are supervised by committees of leading citizens. Our appointee handles finances at these points.
At the instance of President Coolidge all Departments of the Government are cooperating, particularly the Army and Navy, the latter placing its communication service and ships at our disposal. The Shipping Board, too, has made similar disposition of its steamers designating the American Red Cross as the agency to book all relief cargoes leaving the Pacific Coast for Oriental ports.
One striking difficulty has been the lack of information received from Japan. Altho numerous radios were sent to Ambassador Woods, no response came until September 10th when a direct reply was received27 advising that the Ambassador had followed our request to appoint an American Red Cross Relief Committee in Japan to act as Liaison between the Japanese and the American Red Cross Societies. This radio advised that Admiral Anderson had been appointed chairman of the Committee. Before receipt of this information I had designated John R. Geary, a well known and highly respected business man in Japan as Chairman of the Red Cross Committee in Japan and had so advised Ambassador Woods, it being the desire of the President that this Committee be composed entirely of civilians.
During the first days of the disaster there was a hysterical rush to all oriental chapters to send relief units to Japan. In most part these units were stopped by cables outlining the policy of the American Red Cross to offer relief to Japan only thru gifts of supplies and money to properly authorized Japanese agencies. To provide for cases where units might have been sent from Manila and Shanghai before receipt of our cables, we sent a radio to our Japanese Committee [Page 477] authorizing the use of or return of all personnel, as the situation required.
To date approximately ten thousand tons of food stuffs consisting of rice, milk, fish and flour, two cargoes of lumber and shelter supplies, two hundred thousand suits underwear, three hundred thousand pairs socks, medical and surgical supplies have been purchased and a large part are now on steamers en route to Japan. The total commitment of funds for supply purchases amounts to about $3,300,000.00. In addition $100,000.00 has been sent to the Japanese Red Cross, $32,000 to Consulates for relief of Americans and an additional credit of $1,000,000.00 has been placed at the disposal of the official Japanese Relief Bureau.
Today the Seattle Chapter has been instructed to send a relief unit to meet the Jefferson at Victoria, B. C., the first ship to arrive with American refugees. The same procedure will be followed in similar cases of need.
Reports from Divisions to date indicated that the quotas have been oversubscribed at all points, the actual figures on hand showing total collections of over five million and a half dollars.
- Not printed.↩