The Secretary of State to the Chairman of the Republican National Committee (Butler)

My dear Senator Butler: In compliance with your request for a statement covering the activities of the Department of State for the past four years,1 I take pleasure in sending such a statement herewith, which I hope will meet your requirements.

Very sincerely yours,

Frank B. Kellogg

Statement Covering the Activities of the Department of State2


During the past four years the Government of the United States has maintained the position that it would be both futile and unwise to enter into relations with the Soviet Government so long as the Bolshevik leaders persist in aims and practices in the field of international relations which preclude the possibility of establishing relations on the basis of accepted principles governing intercourse between nations. It is the conviction of the Government of the United States that relations on a basis usual between friendly nations can not be established with a governmental entity which is the agency of a group who hold it as their mission to bring about the overthrow of the existing political, economic and social order throughout the world and who regulate their conduct towards other nations accordingly.

The experiences of various European Governments which have recognized and entered into relations with the Soviet regime have demonstrated conclusively the wisdom of the policy to which the Government of the United States has consistently adhered. Recognition [Page 823]of the Soviet regime has not brought about any cessation of interference by the Bolshevik leaders in the internal affairs of any recognizing country, nor has it led to the acceptance by them of other fundamental obligations of international intercourse. Certain European states have endeavored, by entering into discussions with representatives of the Soviet regime, to reach a settlement of outstanding differences on the basis of accepted international practices. Such conferences and discussions have been entirely fruitless. No state has been able to obtain the payment of debts contracted by Russia under preceding governments or the indemnification of its citizens for confiscated property. Indeed, there is every reason to believe that the granting of recognition and the holding of discussions have served only to encourage the present rulers of Russia in their policy of repudiation and confiscation, as well as in their hope that it is possible to establish a working basis, accepted by other nations, whereby they can continue their war on the existing political and social order in other countries.

Current developments demonstrate the continued persistence at Moscow of a dominating world revolutionary purpose and the practical manifestation of this purpose in such ways as render impossible the establishment of normal relations with the Soviet government. The present rulers of Russia, while seeking to direct the evolution of Russia along political, economic and social lines in such manner as to make it an effective “base of the world revolution”, continue to carry on, through the Communist International and other organizations with headquarters at Moscow, within the borders of other nations, including the United States, extensive and carefully planned operations for the purpose of ultimately bringing about the overthrow of the existing order in such nations.

A mass of data with respect to the activities carried on in the United States by various Bolshevik organizations, under the direction and control of Moscow, was presented by the Department of State to a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in January 1924.3 Since that time these activities have been developed and extended to include, for example, the stirring up of resentment against the Government and the people of the United States in the countries of Latin America and in the Far East; and the supervision by Moscow of the organizations through which these activities are carried on has become even more comprehensive and more pronounced. The Government of the United States feels [Page 824]no concern lest this systematic interference in our affairs lead in the end to a consummation of the Bolshevik plan to bring about the overthrow of our Government and institutions. The Government of the United States, however, does not propose to acquiesce in such interference by entering into relations with the Soviet Government. Nor can the Government of the United States overlook the significance of the activities carried on in our midst under the direction of Moscow as evidence of the continuation of the fundamental hostile purpose of the present rulers of Russia, which makes vain any hope of establishing relations on a basis usual between friendly nations.

In the view of the Government of the United States, a desire and disposition on the part of the present rulers of Russia to comply with accepted principles governing international relations is an essential prerequisite to the establishment of a sound basis of intercourse between the two countries. A clear and unequivocal recognition of the sanctity of international obligations is of vital importance, not only as concerns the development of relations between the United States and Russia, but also as regards the peaceful and harmonious development of relations between nations. No result beneficial to the people of the United States, or, indeed, to the people of Russia, would be attained by entering into relations with the present regime in Russia so long as the present rulers of Russia have not abandoned those avowed aims and known practices which are inconsistent with international friendship.

While the international aims and practices of the present rulers of Russia preclude the recognition of the so-called Soviet Government by the United States, the Government and the people of the United States are now, as in the past, animated by a sincere friendship for the Russian people. As President Coolidge stated in his annual message to the Congress of December 6, 1923: “We have every desire to see that great people, who are our traditional friends, restored to their position among the nations of the earth.”

As concerns commercial relations between the United States and Russia, it is the policy of the Government of the United States to place no obstacles in the way of the development of trade and commerce between the two countries, it being understood that individuals and corporations availing themselves of the opportunity to engage in such trade, do so upon their own responsibility and at their own risk. The Department of State has endeavored to reduce to a minimum difficulties affecting commercial relations. Visas are readily granted by American consular officers to Russian nationals, even if associated with the Soviet regime, provided that the real purpose of their visit to the United States is in the interest of trade and commerce and provided that they have not been associated with the international revolutionary [Page 825]activities of the Bolshevik regime. The American Government has interposed no objection to the financing incidental to ordinary current commercial intercourse between the two countries, and does not object to banking arrangements necessary to finance contracts for the sale of American goods on long term credits, provided the financing does not involve the sale of securities to the public. The American Government, however, views with disfavor the flotation of a loan in the United States or the employment of American credit for the purpose of making an advance to a regime which has repudiated the obligations of Russia to the United States and its citizens and confiscated the property of American citizens in Russia. Various Soviet commercial organizations have established branches in this country, and, as may be observed from the following table, a substantial trade has developed.

American-Russian Trade

(In dollars)

Imports from Russia Exports to Russia
1912 28,346,870 27,315,137
1923 1,481,699 7,308,389
1924 8,030,465 41,948,578
1925 13,001,731 68,873,019
1926 14,121,992 49,735,269
1927* 8,885,366 58,812,435

Not only has a substantial trade developed between the United States and Russia, but an examination of Russian trade statistics during the past three years shows that the total value of American exports to Russia in that period exceeds the total value of the exports to Russia from either Great Britain or Germany during the same period. (See Appendix A.) It is to be noted in this connection that Great Britain concluded a trade agreement with the Soviet regime in 1921 and accorded recognition in 1924, and Germany reestablished diplomatic relations in 1922 and concluded a comprehensive commercial treaty in 1925.

[Subenclosure—Appendix A]

Russian Imports

(In Rubles; 1 Ruble equals $.5146.)

From United States From Great Britain From Germany
1909–13* 80,261,337 150,448,418 497,078,481
1924–25 201,163,000 110,698,000 102,651,000
1925–26 122,127,000 129,536,000 176,057,000
1926–27** 143,400,000 97,100,000 157,700,000

The Soviet fiscal year begins October 1 and ends September 30.

  1. Butler’s letter containing the request, dated November 16, 1927. not printed.
  2. A copy of the complete text of the statement is filed under file No. 111/309. The extract concerning Russia, however, which is here printed, is filed separately under file No. 861.01/1310½ with the caption: “Excerpt From a Statement by the Honorable Frank B. Kellogg, Secretary of State, Entitled Foreign Relations,’ Published in 1928.”
  3. See letter dated Jan. 21, 1924, from the Secretary of State to Senator William E. Borah, Recognition of Russia: Hearings before a subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, 68th Cong., 1st sess., pursuant to S. Res. 50, declaring that the Senate of the United States favors the recognition of the present Soviet Government in Russia (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1924), pp. 159, 227 ff.
  4. Ten months.
  5. Average annual trade.
  6. European frontier only.