500.A15a3/79a: Telegram

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

190. The President made the following statement this afternoon after reading the Prime Minister’s statement.23 The President said:

“I have read with real satisfaction the statement which the Prime Minister has made in the House of Commons. The American people [Page 159] are greatly complimented by his proposed visit and he will find a universal welcome.

Mr. MacDonald’s statement marks a new departure in discussion of naval disarmament. The Prime Minister introduces the principle of parity which we have now adopted and its consummation means that Great Britain and the United States henceforth are not to compete in armament as potential opponents but to cooperate as friends in the reduction of it. The Prime Minister has stated clearly and unmistakably the principles on which he is acting. I cannot but be responsive to the generous terms in which he has spoken of the attitude and purpose of the United States. We join in his efforts in the same spirit.

Mr. MacDonald has indicated the good will and positive intention of the British Government by suspension of construction of certain portions of this year’s British Naval program. It is the desire of the United States to show equal good will in our approach to the problem.

We have three cruisers in this year’s construction program which have been undertaken in the Government Navy Yards, the detailed drawings for which are now in course of preparation. The actual keels would, in the ordinary course, be laid down some time this fall. Generally speaking, the British cruiser strength considerably exceeds American strength at the present time and the actual construction of these three cruisers would not be likely in themselves to produce inequality in the final result.

We do not wish, however, to have any misunderstanding of our actions and therefore we shall not lay these keels until there has been an opportunity for full consideration of their effect upon the final agreement for parity which we expect to reach, although our hopes of relief from construction lie more largely in the latter years of the program under the law of 1928.”24

  1. See telegram No. 201, July 22, 6 p.m., from the Ambassador in Great Britain, p. 153.
  2. 45 Stat. 624, “An Act Making appropriations for the Navy Department and the naval service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1929, and for other purposes.”