811.111 Quota—National Origins/68½

The Secretary of State to President Roosevelt

My Dear Mr. President: On numerous occasions during the past few years the Rumanian Government has urged that the United States recognize Rumanian sovereignty over Bessarabia. This territory, which was formerly a part of the Russian Empire, proclaimed its independence on December 2, 1917, and on November 26, 1918, its Supreme Council decided to unite with Rumania.

The union of Bessarabia with Rumania was recognized by the Principal Allied Powers in a treaty signed at Paris on October 28, 1920. This treaty has been ratified by all of the signatory Powers except Japan and it appears that no Power, except the United States and Soviet Russia, [Page 681]now questions Rumanian sovereignty over the territory. In reply to requests from certain of the Allied Powers as to the American attitude toward the question of Bessarabia, Mr. Colby stated in 1920 that the United States was of the opinion that all decisions of vital importance to Russia, and especially those concerning its sovereignty over the territory of the former Russian Empire, should be held in abeyance. Consequently this Government declined to be drawn into any discussion as to the Rumanian claim to Bessarabia. This attitude has been maintained up to the present time despite the fact that Rumania has continued to exercise sovereignty over the territory uninterruptedly and despite the fact that we have recognized the detachment from Russia of other territories such as the Baltic States.

The manner in which the American Government has manifested its unwillingness to recognize the de facto situation has been by the establishment of a separate immigration quota for the Bessarabian territory However, this Government has acquiesced in the situation to a certain extent by including Bessarabia in the jurisdiction of our consular representatives at Bucharest, by granting visas to natives of Bessarabia bearing Rumanian passports, and by other acts.

After a careful examination of the facts I have come to the conclusion that there is no longer any reason why we should continue to adhere to the doctrine enunciated by Mr. Colby in 1920. On the contrary, I feel that we should now recognize the de facto situation. This can be accomplished in the following way by a simple administrative act. A proclamation must in any case be issued in the near future to effect certain administrative changes in the immigration quotas for the year beginning July 1, 1933. It would be my idea to omit any reference to Bessarabia in this proclamation. The elimination of the Bessarabian quota and the inclusion of the territory within the Rumanian quota area would have the effect of according American recognition to Rumanian sovereignty over Bessarabia and would set at rest the contention of Rumania that the existence of the Bessarabian quota constitutes a “public discrimination” against that country.

If you approve of this proposal I shall make the necessary arrangements to have it put into effect.30

Faithfully yours,

Cordell Hull
  1. This paper bears the following endorsement by the President: “Approved—It is sensible. Franklin D. Roosevelt, April 15, 1933.”