500.A15a3/37: Telegram

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


175. I discussed with MacDonald this afternoon the terms of your telegram, No. 160, of June 27, 6 p.m. He entirely approves, generally speaking, giving emphasis to the fact that the only idea that was ever in his mind was a preliminary conference. MacDonald said that he had no hesitation in giving assurance on the question of parity, and upon grasping the complete import of your suggestions, he stated that they were so nearly in accord with his own views that he was desirous of discussing the question with his Cabinet and that, reenforced by their views, some time next week he would give me a statement from the British Government. Of course, this will dispose of the July 22 date about which I telegraphed you in my No. 171 of June 26. We discussed the questions which might arise in the proposed preliminary conference, especially the paragraph marked “First” in your telegram No. 160, June 27. It was apparent that the technical questions to be submitted to the experts were as a matter of fact “terms of reference” requiring in case of necessity careful technical consideration and complete and strictly confidential agreement between the United States and Great Britain before the preliminary conference was held or even the invitation was extended to the other interested powers. The Foreign Office in May, during a discussion with Atherton14 suggested that a naval mathematician, preferably without rank, having full cognizance of the figures of the American yardstick should confidentially meet his opposite number of the British Admiralty and that the two should place on the table side by side their two sets of figures and study how great the actual divergence was between the ideas of the American and British Governments. This matter was referred to the Prime Minister who said that should such a proposition be made to him he would be willing to meet it. Should such a method of approach to the Anglo-American accord seem satisfactory, I would suggest that such a meeting be held at Brussels as Gibson would then be closely in touch [Page 140] with their labors and they would be insured an absence of publicity. I discussed with Gibson when he was here the possibility of this confidential meeting as the next preliminary step and it met with his approval.

I shall probably hear from the Prime Minister again by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week and await any comment you may wish to make for my guidance. I have telegraphed the text of this message to Gibson requesting that he telegraph you his views on the matter also.

From the above it is apparent that our next conversation with the Prime Minister will be after he has consulted with his Cabinet concerning the matter. Acquiescence was expressed as to your suggestions concerning the place of meeting for any final conference.

  1. Ray Atherton, Counselor of the American Embassy.