441.11 W 892/52: Telegram

The Ambassador in Great Britain (Houghton) to the Secretary of State


128. I have carefully read your cables regarding Phenix’s visit. It seems to me, as it does to you, merely a logical continuation of the Washington negotiations. My interview with Chamberlain was carried on in the most friendly spirit, as I have previously stated. Had there been any suggestion of casting suspicion on your motives in sending Phenix here, I would have been the first to resent it. I feel, however, Chamberlain’s real attitude is this: he did not willingly [Page 237] enter upon these negotiations; he agreed to them partly to gain time and is now fearful lest, having agreed to an informal exploration, he may be unable to find a logical point at which to end these negotiations, before the whole subject of blockade restrictions becomes involved. Under these conditions, unless I make the initial move, I have some doubt if Chamberlain will again refer to the matter. He seems to fear most keenly a public demonstration and is unwilling to consider these claims at all because this doubtless would bring down on him a storm of protest. Unless he sends for me within the next two weeks, I suggest that I go to him and frankly say that if he does not permit Phenix to come as proposed, political conditions at home will force you, despite unavoidable publicity, to circularize the many hundreds or thousands of claimants to ascertain the facts; and repeat to him that many American claims had no connection with the blockade. It will probably be difficult for me to see Chamberlain within the next two weeks because of the approaching visit of the French President.