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:
- that either of the disputants should have the right to present his case to world opinion through a Commission on which he was represented;
- 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”.
- Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, and the Chief of the American Division of the British Foreign Office, respectively.↩
- 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.↩
- Joseph P. Cotton, Under Secretary of State.↩
- See annex VIII to memorandum by the Secretary of State, October 9, p. 30.↩
- French Minister for Foreign Affairs.↩
- Treaty between the United States, the British Empire, France, and Japan, signed at Washington, December 13, 1921, Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, p. 33.↩
- Memorandum printed as revised, with no attempt to show where revisions occurred.↩
- Memorandum printed as revised, with no attempt to show where revisions occurred.↩
- The forthcoming conference on naval disarmament to be held in London in January 1930.↩
- Treaty for the limitation of naval armament, signed at Washington, February 6, 1922, Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, p. 247.↩
- Bracketed and stricken out either before or during the discussion.↩
- This point eliminated from the memorandum by agreement during the discussion.↩