Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Cotton) of a Telephone Conversation With Senator William E. Borah 12 Regarding Mexican Claims Convention, August 7, 1929

Senator Borah telephoned me to say that after talking the matter over with Senator Swanson13 he felt sure that there would be no trouble from the Foreign Relations Committee if I should give a note to Mexico construing Clause 9 of the General Claims Convention in such a way that Mexico could feel sure there would be no embarrassment by demands for immediate payments in cash if they would at [Page 444] the same time execute an extension of the Claims Conventions for a couple of years.

This report followed a conversation which Mr. Lane14 and I had with Senator Borah yesterday on the subject in which we made clear to him that while the State Department was not expecting to ask him to share the responsibility for the action it contemplated taking, we were coming to him in advance and telling him of our proposed action so that he would not feel that such action as we saw fit to take was an attempt of an executive department to exercise power which it might be considered the legislative department had not granted. In this connection I pointed out to Senator Borah that the clause which we were construing was one which was not of immediate importance to the United States or the claimants as a method of getting money (in view of the present financial condition of Mexico) and that the gloss we are putting on it would operate reciprocally in the enforcement of Mexican claims against the United States.

At the time of our talk yesterday Senator Borah indicated that he thought there would be no objection from the Senate’s point of view. His telephone call today was to confirm that and to state that he had taken the matter up with Senator Swanson and found that he held a similar view.

J. P. C[otton]
  1. Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
  2. Claude A. Swanson, ranking Democratic member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
  3. Arthur Bliss Lane, Chief of the Division of Mexican Affairs.