The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in Switzerland (Wilson)
84. In the United States and elsewhere, the depreciation of silver as a factor in the depression continues to excite public discussion. Throughout the year the Department has given considerable attention [Page 621] to the subject. It is very important from several angles: a domestic issue in this country; a relationship to debt and trade affairs in the Far East; a politico-economic factor in Latin America, especially Mexico, and in India.
Although the Department has given every encouragement to the convening of a conference of experts abroad, and certainly would be responsible for American representation, it is not in favor of a meeting called by the United States or one held here. Aside from being a silver producing country, there are other deterring factors. French indifference to the movement, and the hesitancy of Great Britain to participate because the action might implicate its Indian silver policy have frustrated some efforts to have China or Japan take the initiative.
Monetary and financial experts offer no positive solution of the silver question. However, they view an international conference on the subject as a medium to ameliorate the condition of silver in the depression. The International Chamber of Commerce in Paris has recently appointed a special committee to explore the necessity of a general conference. This is the status of the conference movement at present.
An invitation to a conference extended by the League of Nations and American attendance thereat has been suggested by Senator Swanson of Virginia. We are inclined to favor his proposal. In view of these circumstances, you are requested, in pursuance of our previous relationships with the League, to make discreet inquiries with a view to learning the League’s attitudes and possible plans in this matter. If it should follow up the initiative taken by a member Government, what, if any, would be the chance of success? A conference sponsored by the League would meet with our approval, and we would work for participation by the United States.