800.51W89 Great Britain/412

Memorandum by the Secretary of State

The British Ambassador called after his return from his mission to Great Britain. He seemed a little conservative at least as to his success, although he said he thought he had “at least made a dent on them.” But he was very evidently discouraged by the situation which he had now envisaged from both sides. He did not at all go into the facts or details. In order to check up my impressions, I said I was troubled myself; that I saw nothing but bad economic and financial conditions all around us and that it required much more than a mere debt settlement to adjust it. He agreed. I said that even if the absurd condition could be assumed that the American people would give up all their debts on their side or the British Government continue to pay all their debts on the other, and that either one of these absurd hypotheses should take effect—even then after a brief flurry perhaps of optimism the world would slump back into its present condition unless a good many more necessary steps were taken, such as the steps [Page 836]which were now envisaged in the Economic Conference. The Ambassador agreed with me emphatically. I told him that the debts were only a small part of these other necessary steps. He said he agreed and he thought that his government agreed, but the only thing that they had said was that the debt settlement was a necessary first step towards the others. I said, “Under these circumstances, do not let’s get into an impasse on a mere question of order. Let us try to find a compromise on that question, however difficult.” And with that he agreed.

H[enry] L. S[timson]