462.00R296/3981: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Cheat Britain (Atherton)


166. Reference is made to your telegram No. 187 of June 15, 4 p.m. If Mr. MacDonald gained impression that this Government had yet reached any decision to take any step whatever in this matter, I should gravely regret it. I cautioned him that I did not desire any approach to the French on our behalf; that we were following this crisis with the keenest anxiety; and that we were considering various alternatives and the possible effectiveness of each, but that no decision could be reached for at least a week owing to the President’s absence.27 I said that under these circumstances whatever decision we made would be entirely independent of Europe. Our telephonic connection on Saturday evening was so imperfect that it makes it important that there should be no misunderstanding. It is felt by the President that this is primarily a European crisis in which the responsibility of the Continent should be further developed. The crisis in Austria appears so imminent as to permit no governmental action whatever. It would seem to depend solely upon whether the various banks can furnish the necessary support to the banking crisis in Austria. I agree fully with your suggestion that if any arrangement is eventually made for the suspension of governmental payments it must, in order to be effective, apply to all payments, and if there is to be, as you suggest, a strong French tendency to bargain for the continuance of the unconditional [Page 19] annuities it would seem to lead toward the conclusion that the situation may not be damaged by a delay which will bring the French Government face to face with its interest and responsibility in the initiation of relief.

Thus far our efforts here to sound out public opinion have only made it more evident that before American public opinion could be led to support relief measures in the shape of suspension of payments the desperateness of the situation in Europe must be shown by some action of the Continental nations themselves to be more real than has yet been indicated by their present attitude.

There is no basis for the Reuter despatch mentioned by you.

The foregoing views should be immediately conveyed to the Prime Minister.

  1. President Hoover had gone to Indianapolis to deliver a speech at a meeting of Republican editors; he returned to Washington on June 18.