The Secretary of State to Senator Couzens

Dear Senator Couzens: I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of December 4[3], 1923, in which you again discuss the question of the Salvador loan. You suggest that agreements like that entered into by the exchange of notes with Salvador should be submitted to the Senate for confirmation, and you inquire whether I have any objection to the approval by the Senate of these agreements, or whether their submission to the Senate would in any way unnecessarily handicap the work of this Department.

I fear that I have not made entirely clear in my previous letters the nature of the agreement which was entered into through notes exchanged with Salvador in connection with the recent loan. The exchange of notes was in no sense a treaty, requiring confirmation by the Senate, but simply an understanding between the executive branches of the two Governments by which the Secretary of State consented to do certain things which he might properly do within his authority and within the customary limits of diplomatic action. I may perhaps make this more clear by pointing out the exact nature [Page 830] of the undertakings assumed by this Department in connection with the loan. In the first place, the Secretary of State agrees that if the parties to the contract request him to act as intermediary in inviting a member of our federal judiciary to decide disputes arising under the contract, he will use his good offices in this manner. The Secretary of State might use his good offices in the same manner in a worthy case whether or not he had agreed to do so in advance. The Secretary of State further agrees that in the event of the nomination of a Collector General of Customs under the contract the bankers shall submit to him the names of two persons selected by them, in order that he may express his concurrence in their selection before the nominations are transmitted to the Government of Salvador, which will appoint one of the two as Collector General of Customs. Finally, the Secretary of State agrees that the rules and regulations and the reports of the Collector General shall be communicated to the Department of State as well as to the interested parties.

As you will perceive from the above analysis, the agreement in question is in no sense a treaty or convention, which would be constitutionally subject to approval by the Senate. In the ordinary course of the conduct of foreign relations this Government frequently finds it necessary or advisable to reach understandings with foreign Governments about questions involving the common interests of the two countries or the protection of the interests of American citizens, and these understandings in the great majority of cases, when they refer wholly to matters which are within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the Government, are expressed in exchanges of notes or memoranda. It would, to my mind, be difficult to conduct the foreign relations of the Government if it were necessary in each case to communicate these very numerous agreements to the Senate before they could take effect.

With respect to your suggestion that the agreement entered into with Salvador should be made public, I wish to say that there is nothing secret about the notes exchanged and that a summary of their contents has in fact been widely published. The text of the notes themselves was not made public, because I did not desire that this Government’s diplomatic correspondence should be used as advertising matter by bankers distributing the bonds of the loan. As I have already informed you, however, I shall be glad to arrange to have the notes made available for your inspection whenever you desire to see them.

I am [etc.]

Charles E. Hughes