Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Rogers)


The following is the substance from memory of the telephone conversation between Secretary of State Stimson and President-elect Roosevelt at noon, January 23:

S. Sorry to have to call you so soon and interrupt your vacation but some matters here have arisen on which I need to consult you.

R. That is all right. Glad to hear from you. Have you heard anything from the British?

S. Not a word except the speculation in the press. The first thing I want to talk to you about is the fact that we must say something to the other countries which have paid the December 15 installment. While Great Britain made the first request, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania and Latvia all paid. Italy paid very promptly; Czechoslovakia paid with great difficulty after a struggle to make it possible in her domestic currency situation; Lithuania and Latvia are of course little fellows. They are all pressing us for some attitude in view of the announcement that you would talk to the British. I have not said anything to any of them but I was planning, (if you approved but only if you approved) to say something to each of them to the effect that immediately after you had settled affairs with the British, you would take up the question with them in the order of their request.

R. Have they made formal requests?

S. Yes, all of them made requests for a discussion at the time they made the payments.

R. Well, I suppose you must say something to them. It must be put in such form that there is no implication that they are all together around the same table.

S. Suppose I say promptly, that is, that you will take up discussions with them promptly when you have finished with the British?

R. That seems to me all right. Yes, you can say that. All that I am concerned about is that we should avoid any implication of discussing things with all of them together.

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S. You may be sure I will protect you on that point. I have been watching it for three years. Very well, I will go ahead on that. You may be sure that I will completely safeguard you in the matter of separate discussion. Now there is a second thing. You remember that in the Mayflower7 I talked to you about the suggestion of sending a note to France. There is a feeling here among some of us that there might be a possibility of getting France to pay; that indeed there might be some criticism if we did not make an effort to get them to pay before March 4. I suggested to you the possibility of sending them a note in a very friendly tone. We did not continue the discussion of it or arrive at any conclusion. The President feels, particularly, that there may be a possibility of getting them to pay. At any rate while there is some division, there is certainly opinion here to that effect and I want you to consider it. I would not for a moment send a note if you disapproved of it or if it interfered in any way with the policies that you wanted to carry out. I have mailed you a letter containing a draft of a note8 and want your response to that.

R. Yes, I have some doubt about whether anything would be accomplished. Did I tell you that Claudel9 saw me in New York? He came in to tea. He said something in going away to the effect that he was very hopeful that things would be very rapidly cleared up with my administration. It may have been only general politeness but it may have had some meaning.

S. Well, what I have drafted is brief and very friendly but you can go over it and give me your views. There is a great deal that can be said for a move at this time and I wanted to put the matter before you in some form especially as we brought the matter up but arrived at no conclusion the other day.

R. Very well, I will go over it.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

J[ames] G. R[ogers]
  1. Mayflower Hotel, Washington.
  2. Post, p. 867.
  3. Paul Claudel, French Ambassador in the United States.