500.A15A4/1141: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Acting Chairman of the American Delegation (Gibson)


141. Following my telephone conversation with you this evening58 I am sending you herewith the text of the latest revision of the President’s proposed statement to be made here.

It contemplates that when you present to the Conference the proposal contained in this statement you should make at least the following explanation in detail.

As to cruiser strength—the 25 per cent reduction of the total tonnage of the United States and Great Britain shall be based upon the present total London treaty tonnage of Great Britain, namely, 339,000 tons. The total tonnage of 8-inch cruisers shall be limited to 150,000 tons each for the United States and Great Britain and 90,000 tons for Japan. For your information this cruiser proposal restores absolute parity between Great Britain and the United States while it preserves strictly the ratio between those powers and Japan.

In case this foregoing requirement which is approved by the Chief of Naval Operations should be facilitated in case of British objection by the use of the suggestions in your 262, June 20, 9 P.M., I see no objection at present to using your suggestion in connection therewith.

In addition to this change from the draft heretofore sent you as to cruisers you will note there is also a change in the limitation in the size of individual submarines from 250 to 1200 tons; also that France and Italy like the three London Treaty Powers are limited to an eventual submarine tonnage of 35,000 tons.

I have conveyed to the President your strong recommendations for further time. He points out that your interview with Herriot 59 and the likelihood of French attempts to backfire his proposal virtually makes any substantial delay impossible if the proposal is to be made [Page 196]at all. He is still inclined to proceed tomorrow, Tuesday evening. If you consider the situation to be so changed since your talk with the President as to make any proposal whatever inadvisable, you should inform me with the utmost promptness. You will be informed of the President’s final decision as early as possible. You should in any event lose no time in acquainting MacDonald of anything you deem necessary in the interest of fairness to him. This proposal was drawn upon the assumption that the method which you suggested yesterday of having it presented formally to the Conference by the American Delegation almost simultaneously with its publication here would be followed. I was unable to understand from our telephone conversation the nature of the new considerations which cause you now to feel that this presentation should not be made by you. I still feel that if the proposal is to be made at all official propriety requires that it be conveyed to the Conference by you and I fail to see how it could properly be made over your head from Washington. I will of course consider carefully any recommendation you may make as to the form, method, and time in which you will propose it to the Conference.

If you use the President’s statement in making your proposal to the Conference you should of course omit the last nine sentences beginning “for the information of our own countrymen.”60

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  1. Memorandum of conversation not printed.
  2. See telegrams Nos. 248 and 249, June 15, from the Acting Chairman of the American delegation, pp. 171 and 172.
  3. For the final text of this section, see footnote 82, p. 215.