033.4111 MacDonald, Ramsay/95⅕

Memorandum by the Secretary of State

Memorandum of Trip to Rapidan, October 5th to 7th

I left Washington about 2:30 with Sir Robert Vansittart and R. L. Craigie.3 We arrived about six o’clock at the camp. On the way we discussed:

I. The assistance required for prohibition enforcement.

They said this would be very difficult as it required legislation. They were willing to do everything that could be done without legislation. At the camp the Prime Minister confirmed this and said they would do everything possible and he included a treaty, which could be ratified more easily than legislation, as something they would be willing to do.

II. Free food supply.

When I put this to them the first time they took it rather, on the whole, favorably. Vansittart suggested that free food ships would not be any good to England unless accompanied by free ports. I answered with the suggestion that this could be accomplished in the same way that we protected Red Cross ships and hospitals; they could be given separate ports or separate portions of ports and be exempted from bombing parties. I repeated the conversations to the President that evening at camp and he adopted the analogy of Red Cross supplies. I don’t think he had heard it before.

The evening was spent in general conversation until ten o’clock when the President and Mrs. Hoover retired. Afterwards we remained [Page 4]talking with the British Party but without taking up anything special.

Sunday, at nine o’clock, immediately after breakfast, we began a full discussion; the President, the Prime Minister, Craigie, Vansittart and myself. It was an informal but interesting discussion, with the President and I sitting on one side of the fire and the others on the other side, taking up the subjects in the following order, the President leading the conversation, of course.

I. Assistance in preventing shipments of liquors and narcotics from Great Britain to America.

We proposed reciprocal action forbidding the clearance of ships loaded with cargoes of goods forbidden to enter either country, liquor and narcotics for us, and narcotics for Great Britain. (Note: On my talk with Craigie and Vansittart coming down they had suggested that the existing machinery of liaison between the two countries under which Great Britain notified us of any shipments of narcotics to this country might be considerably improved by better cooperation. This was brought up in this conference.) Informally it was agreed that at some future date representatives of both countries would meet to discuss the method of assisting in the enforcement of the prohibition and narcotic laws. The Prime Minister confirmed his associates’ statements that the punishment of false clearances would require legislation. They all admitted the objections to legislation would not apply to a treaty with the same strength.

II. Freedom of the seas.

This matter was carefully discussed with the reasons for it on our side and the dangers on theirs. I made as strong a presentation as I could of the importance of it to Great Britain and to the naval question. The President said it must come as an offer from us to Great Britain. The proposal finally boiled down to the recommendation that the matter should be examined into by jurists and then the President should make a statement, off his own bat, in favor of free food ships, with the Prime Minister to follow by another public statement; the President’s statement to be incorporated in our general announcement of the results of the Prime Minister’s visit. The Prime Minister analyzed the political situation in England as follows: Labor would support such a proposition; the Liberals would support it; the young Conservatives would support it; the old Conservatives would oppose it; the Naval people would oppose it; unorganized public opinion, in general, would be suspicious of it. Afterwards, Vansittart told me that the Prime Minister had been overoptimistic in his opinion; that it would be much more generally opposed than he thought. Craigie said that the Committee of Imperial Defense had been discussing the general subject “in and out” for two years. [Page 5]They felt pretty clearly that there was great danger of the matter causing an unfavorable reaction unless it was presented just right. If presented just right they agreed with us that it would command British support. For this reason they opposed the use in the first announcement of the expression “freedom of the seas” as this was associated in the British mind with attacks on their navy. Craigie suggested instead “rights and immunities at sea during war”.

III. The Kellogg Pact.

Throughout the talk it was agreed by everybody, and in fact, kept coming up for re-affirmation constantly, that the enactment of the Kellogg Pact4 created a new starting point for international negotiations for the preservation of peace.

IV. Amendment of the Kellogg Pact.

The President brought up the memorandum which he had dictated embodying his latest views on the proposition which Cotton5 and I had been urging on him of getting a new starting point by which all nations could agree on stamping out the conflagration of war and preventing it.6 I had brought up Philip Kerr’s article in Foreign Affairs for October and gave it to the Prime Minister to read. He knew of Kerr’s view and told me he agreed with him; I told him that I also agreed with him. He read the article while he was there and said he agreed with it.

The President was opposed to our proposition that any outside nation had a right to interfere in this subject of preventing a conflagration of war because of the political opposition which it would excite against having officious countries butt into our affairs. Ho stressed the point of view that the essence of our proposal should be that the parties to the controversy were entitled to have it investigated by a commission of their own choosing and on which they were represented. The memorandum which he presented embodied both our views. The question of whether it should be presented as an amendment to the Kellogg Pact was also argued. I had pointed out the danger of offending Mr. Briand7 by an attempted amendment of his treaty and this difficulty was recognized in the conference.

The President’s memorandum was talked over very fully during the morning and again in the evening. In this discussion these points came out very clearly: [Page 6]

  • First. The two separate amendments which we were trying to cover, both of which we agreed were important:
    (a)
    that either of the disputants should have the right to present his case to world opinion through a Commission on which he was represented;
    (b)
    in case neither disputant did so, that a neutral nation was interested in stopping the conflagration of war and should be allowed to do so.
  • Second. The difficulties which gradually emerged were that nearly all other nations are members of the League of Nations where the Council has the right to impose a conciliation with sanctions.

Again, there are many separate conciliation treaties between various nations which cover point (a) above. If we should propose a general multilateral treaty covering both (a) and (b) the nations who were members of the League would not be interested in doing it for us. Yet there is great need that it should be done in order to bring the great influence of the United States effectively to bear upon the settlement of controversies despite the fact that she is not a member and will not join the League. Also the general trend of public opinion now is in favor of the method of the Kellogg Pact of an appeal to world opinion rather than the method of the League with an appeal to force, after an investigation by a Superior Council.

After all these points had been discussed late in the evening we decided that, owing to these objections, it was unsafe to use this subject as one of the announcements of our meetings.

On the way home Monday morning driving with the President and MacDonald, I asked MacDonald whether, in case I should succeed in avoiding these difficulties and in negotiating successfully with Briand for a general pact would he, MacDonald, support it. He replied: “With open arms”.

V. Naval Bases.

The President presented our proposition to divide the world into two hemispheres in the western one of which the British will not maintain naval or military stations which are a menace to us and in the eastern one of which we shall not maintain such bases which are a menace to them. They said that they were certain their existing bases in the western hemisphere were not fortified enough to constitute such a menace. It was agreed that only armament should be affected and not supplies or repairs. They were willing that the armament should extend only to the ability to stand off raids of privateers and to do ordinary police work against internal troubles. Finally it was decided that the best way was to have our General Board advise us as to the truth of the British statement that their bases are thus innocuous and then to have them agree not to increase them so that [Page 7]they would become a menace to us. In the eastern hemisphere I pointed out the existence of the Pacific Treaty8 and the danger of making a new covenant within the scope of that treaty, particularly in reference to regulation in relation to Hawaii and Japan, and they agreed.

During the morning conference I suggested to the President that we send for Cotton and he arrived after luncheon at about two thirty.

After the morning conference, at about eleven o’clock we went for a walk and on our return at one o’clock the President and I retired and the President, with my assistance, dictated a memorandum which was used as the basis of the afternoon’s conference and which covered the subjects discussed in the morning. This is attached and marked “A” with red pencil. The interlineations are in the President’s handwriting.9 This was used as the basis of the afternoon conference. In the afternoon we went over it and then Cotton and I retired and dictated a new memorandum. A copy of this memorandum is attached marked “B” with red pencil. The interlineations on it are in my own handwriting.9 This was discussed all evening. Then we decided that we would eliminate the point about the amendment of the Kellogg Pact (marked I) in view of the difficulties above discussed, and modify the whole thing so as to confine it to the relations of the United States and Great Britain.

During our absence from the room two other memoranda were drafted by the President and they are attached hereto marked with red pencil “C” and “D”.

[Annex A]

Memorandum by President Hoover

We have engaged in an examination of the broad questions of reinforcing the peace of the world. The situation in the world has been importantly altered in consequence of the pact of Paris. The declaration of that pact, “that the world has renounced war as an instrument of national policy[”] and its undertaking that settlement or solution of disputes and conflicts of whatever origin shall never be sought except by pacific means re-orients all problems: of peace.

One of the important consequences is to reduce the purpose and use of military and naval power solely to that of national defense and to emphasize the necessity for removal of international friction. It is imperative to re-examine the international situation in these lights and to seek further means for the pacific settlement of international controversies, and measures in reduction of international frictions.

[Page 8]

In the furtherance of practical application of these ideas, we have examined the possibility of the extension of the pact of Paris to strengthen measures against the outbreak of war and to reinforce the machinery of pacific settlement of controversies.

I

We are united in the feeling that an advance step could be taken in development of pacific means for the settlement of controversies if an article, to be called “Article 3” could be added to the pact of Paris to the effect that in event of any controversy in which satisfactory settlement is not made by direct negotiation or agreed reference to arbitration or judicial decision, such controversy shall be investigated by a commission to be selected by the parties to the controversy, upon which commission the parties shall be represented together with impartial members; this commission to examine all the facts concerning the controversy, to endeavor to conciliate the difficulties and to publish the facts; that suggestion of the desirability of such action by nations strangers to the controversy would not be considered an unfriendly act.

In the field of reduction of international friction we have examined the broad problems of naval reduction and limitation. We have further examined the question of limitation upon construction of military bases and we have examined the question usually referred to under the heading of “freedom of the seas”.

(Rights and immunities at sea during war)

(Merchant trading during time of war)

The state of peace is recognized as normal by the Pact of Paris and war is outlawed. All nations have a legitimate interest in the preservation of peace, and all are injured by a breach of peace.

The United States, in numerous treaties of conciliation with the leading powers of Europe, in treaties with the Pan American nations, in its adhesion to the Hague treaties, has already accepted these principles. The covenant of the League of Nations provides that the counsel [Council?] of the League shall make such inquiry among its members. The principles of this suggestion, therefore, have been widely agreed to by the nations of the world.

This proposal however differentiates itself from those hitherto in that it would extend the number of nations adhering to these ideas; it undertakes to secure action by initiative of the parties to the controversy themselves; to secure to each nation the right to have the facts determined and an appeal to public opinion, and to arouse world opinion and world conscience that the facts shall be determined.

[Page 9]

II

Naval Reduction and Limitation

One of the primary necessities of the world for the maintenance of peace is the elimination of the frictions which arise from competitive armament and the further necessity to reduce armament in economic relief to the peoples of the world. The negotiations which have taken place between the United States and Great Britain have been based upon a desire on both sides to find solution to their peculiar problems which have hitherto stood in the way of world agreement on this question.

The negotiations which have taken place during the past three months have resulted in such an approximation of views as has warranted the calling of a conference of the leading naval powers10 in the belief that at such a conference all views can be reconciled. (Between ourselves we have agreed upon parity, category by category as a great instrument for removing the competition between us.) All the reconsideration of capital ship replacement programs provided in the Washington Arms Treaty,11 the limitation and reduction in the categories of cruisers, destroyers and submarines, yield strong hope of final agreement, and it has been agreed that we shall continue to mutually examine these questions involved prior to the conference. And we shall continue to exchange views upon questions and concurrently discuss these views with the other naval powers.

III

With further view to reducing friction and to minimize the possibility of conflicts, we believe that we should agree that Great Britain should not establish new or maintain fortified military bases in the Western Hemisphere, such area to be defined as that portion of the globe lying west of say 25° meridian to the 180° meridian, or thereabouts; and that the United States on the other hand should not establish or maintain military bases in the Eastern Hemisphere, except so far as that provided in the pacific treaties of 1922—the Eastern Hemisphere for this purpose to be defined as that area of the globe lying east of the 25° meridian to the 180° meridian.

IV

We recognize that one of the most troublesome questions in international relations is that of freedom of the seas. (Some other expression [Page 10]to be substituted). Not only does this subject arouse fear and stimulate naval preparation, but it is one of the pregnant causes of expansion of the area of war once it may have broken out, by dragging other nations in as the result of controversies with belligerents.

Misunderstandings arising out of these questions have been the most pregnant cause of controversies in the past between our two countries. We have resolved therefore that we will examine this question fully and frankly.

The President proposes, and he hopes the American people would support the proposal, that food ships should be declared free from interference during times of war, and thus to remove starvation of women and children from the weapons of warfare. That would reduce the necessity for naval arms in protection of avenues of food supplies. Such a proposal goes wider than the rights of neutrals in times of war and would protect from interference all vessels solely laden with food supplies in the same fashion that we now immunize hospital and medical supplies.

[Annex B]

Memorandum by the Secretary of State and the Under Secretary of State (Cotton)

We have engaged in an examination of the broad question of what steps are involved in re-enforcing the peace of the world. The situation has been vitally altered in consequence of the pact of Paris.

The declaration of that pact, that the nations of the world have renounced war as an instrument of national policy and have undertaken to settle all disputes and conflicts of whatever origin, by pacific means, furnishes a new starting point for all the problems of peace.

[By agreement upon this pact, the underlying causes which have led to competition in armaments, are ended and one of the great causes of war is eliminated.]12 It is therefore now imperative to re-examine the international situation in this light in order that we may find measures to strengthen pacific means to settle international controversies, to reduce international friction and thus prevent other causes which might still lead to war.

[Page 11]

I13

By the pact of Paris, it is recognized that in the public opinion of the world today the condition of peace is normal and the condition of war outlawed. Thus public opinion has become a new and vital factor underlying every international controversy. It is important to either party in every such controversy where the difficulty cannot be settled by direct negotiation or by an agreed reference to arbitration or judicial decision, that the dispute be impartially investigated and the facts thus brought out laid before the public opinion of the world, in order to secure for a righteous cause the support of the world’s approval.

Even before the ratification of the Pact of Paris, the United States had proposed and bound itself by this method in numerous treaties of conciliation with the leading powers of Europe and in recent treaties with other American nations. The Covenant of the League of Nations also provides that the Council of the League may make such inquiries and investigations among its members. The importance and value of this method of resolving differences has thus been widely accepted by the nations of the world.

It seems wise, therefore, that this right of a disputant nation to appeal to the public opinion of the world should be made universal. By a general treaty like the pact of peace, the disputant should have the right to call for the creation of an impartial commission, formed for this purpose, on which both sides should be represented, to investigate and report upon the facts of the controversy. Furthermore, as other nations have a legitimate interest in the preservation of peace, and may be injured or endangered by a breach thereof, they also, in cases where the usual means provided by treaties for direct negotiations or arbitral or judicial settlements are not invoked, should have the right to urge and require that such an investigation be made and the public opinion of the world be informed.

It may well be found that this end may be most appropriately accomplished by a third article to the pact of peace.

II

The most important concrete step to insure peace is to stop the race of competitive armament with its train of fear and friction and its economic burden on the people of the world. The negotiations which have taken place between the United States and Great Britain during [Page 12]the past summer have been based upon the desire of both sides to find a solution for the problems peculiar to them, which have hitherto stood in the way of world agreement on this question. These negotiations have resulted in such an approximation of views as to warrant the issue of invitations to a conference of the leading naval powers in the belief that the way is now prepared for a general agreement on naval reduction.

We have agreed upon the principle of parity between our two navies, category by category, believing that such an agreement alone will prevent competition in naval armaments between our two countries.

We have also agreed, if the other signatories are in accord, to a reconsideration of the capital ship replacement program provided in the Washington Arms Treaty; to limitation of cruisers and reduction in the categories of destroyers and submarines, and that we shall continue to mutually examine these questions prior to the conference, in the hope of achieving further reduction.

We shall continue to exchange views upon these questions and to concurrently discuss these views with the other naval powers.

III

With the further view to reducing fear and the friction that comes from fear, we have obtained the opinion of our General Board of the Navy, that the existing military and naval stations of Great Britain in the Western Hemisphere are not in a condition to be a menace to the U. S.

Great Britain will not hereafter establish any military or naval stations in her possessions in the Western Hemisphere nor alter any such existing stations in such a way as in either case to become a menace to the United States.

Reciprocally, the United States makes the same agreement as to the Eastern Hemisphere.

It is understood however by both of us that the above declaration does not supersede or alter the provisions of Article XIX of the Washington Treaty of 1922 for the Limitation of Naval Armament.

Such Western Hemisphere is to be defined as that portion of the globe lying west of the 25th meridian and east of the 180th meridian. The Eastern Hemisphere is the remainder of the globe.

IV

We recognize that one of the most vexed questions in international relations is that of rights and immunities at sea during war.

The controversies and disputes engendered by this subject have in the past been pregnant with the danger of aggravating or extending [Page 13]hostilities. Misunderstandings and fears arising from this source have been a frequent but we believe avoidable cause of friction between our two countries.

We have resolved, therefore, that we will examine this question fully and frankly.

The President hopes that food ships shall be declared free from interference in times of war, thus removing the starvation of women and children from the weapons of warfare, and reducing the necessity for naval arms for the protection of avenues of food supplies. Such a proposal would protect all vessels laden solely with food supplies in the same fashion that hospital ships are now protected.

[Annex C]

Memorandum by President Hoover

Preparatory to the January conference it is agreed that we shall further examine the following questions:

Capital ships

The British to formulate suggestions for replacement by ships limited to 12-inch guns, 25,000 tons.

The United States to formulate proposals for the deferment of replacements for a period of 5 years and for the dropping out of certain replacements altogether.

Cruisers

The United States to formulate a suggestion for creation of a class of police cruisers to be comprised of cruisers not in excess [omission?].

Destroyers

It is suggested that the maximum destroyer strength of each nation should be approximately . . . . . . . tons.

Submarines

While our action must be governed entirely by the attitude of the other powers, we suggest a maximum of . . . . . . . tons for submarines. We would, of course, be glad to abolish them altogether.

[Annex D]

Memorandum by President Hoover

We have reviewed the questions particularly affecting the United States and Great Britain in naval reduction and limitation. The following is the position of negotiations:

Battle Ships

We have agreed to continue the examination of how far we can defer or drop or modify the replacements required by the Washington Arms Treaty.

[Page 14]

Cruisers

We have agreed to continue the examination of the cruiser category with view to reducing the gross tonnage previously stated for this category.

Destroyers

We have agreed that the maximum tonnage for destroyers should be 190,000 tons but we shall further examine this with the intention of reduction at the conference.

Submarines

We are prepared to abolish all submarines. We shall, however, need to establish a tonnage at the conference based upon that required by other powers.

These accomplishments promise definite reduction in existing tonnage and prospective programs of the two countries.

As soon as the conference has been fixed we propose to exchange views with the other naval powers upon similar questions in a desire to advance problems as far as possible prior to the conference.

  1. Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, and the Chief of the American Division of the British Foreign Office, respectively.
  2. Treaty for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy, signed at Paris, August 27, 1928, Foreign Relations, 1928, vol. i, p. 153.
  3. Joseph P. Cotton, Under Secretary of State.
  4. See annex VIII to memorandum by the Secretary of State, October 9, p. 30.
  5. French Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  6. Treaty between the United States, the British Empire, France, and Japan, signed at Washington, December 13, 1921, Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, p. 33.
  7. Memorandum printed as revised, with no attempt to show where revisions occurred.
  8. Memorandum printed as revised, with no attempt to show where revisions occurred.
  9. The forthcoming conference on naval disarmament to be held in London in January 1930.
  10. Treaty for the limitation of naval armament, signed at Washington, February 6, 1922, Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, p. 247.
  11. Bracketed and stricken out either before or during the discussion.
  12. This point eliminated from the memorandum by agreement during the discussion.