800.51 W 89Prance/319: Telegram

The Ambassador in France ( Herrick ) to the Secretary of State


232. Referring to your confidential telegram of June 7 concerning reports that reservations to the debt agreement might be attempted by the French Government, I have repeatedly warned the French that it was futile to make reservations as none would be accepted. As I have indicated in previous telegrams, however, I have been afraid that some such action might be taken and I had hoped that our Government might forestall such action by ratifying first. No propositions or [Page 96] suggestions regarding reservations have been or will be made to me in any event. My reference in a recent telegram to “conversations with various French politicians” did not mean interviews but what I heard in casual conversations in going about.

The political and financial situation is extremely complicated and the people of France are in a somewhat dangerous mood so that any course of action is possible. The feeling may be illustrated by an editorial on the proposed restriction of importations which appeared in today’s Rappel complaining that the people are told they must sweat blood and gold to pay for the cakes of the Americans and English while at the same time they are told to prepare to ration their own bread.

Opposition to the debt agreement is assuming formidable proportions and includes prominent bankers who might be expected to know better. Franklin-Bouillon9 who formerly favored a debt agreement without reservations is now outspoken in opposition to the present agreement since he had no hand in making it.

It is also to be noted that even official circles had had the mistaken idea that as soon as an agreement was reached large funds would be made available. This motive for ratification has been modified since it is now seen that this must come slowly and depend on national confidence. It is my opinion that Briand, if given time, and if he feels it is essential and is willing to risk his neck, can secure ratification. If he does not care to do this and if Parliamentary conditions look stormy he may propose reservations, which Parliament would adopt, or he might link the debt agreement with the Dawes annuities10 by some formal statement on behalf of the Government of which Parliament would take official cognizance. I say this because this line was taken by Bérenger in his speech to the Chamber of Commerce: that it was clearly understood in Washington that one international contract could not be violated without violation of all, as all were sacred.

  1. Telegram in two sections.
  2. President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, French Chamber of Deputies.
  3. For text of agreement regarding the distribution of the Dawes annuities, see Foreign Relations, 1925, vol. ii, p. 146.