The Secretary of State to President Roosevelt

My Dear Mr. President: In the memorandum, in regard to cooperation with the Nye Committee, which I sent you on April 11, 1935, I referred to a Draft Bill to enable the Executive to exercise some measure of supervision over the export of arms. This Draft Bill was prepared at the request of the Committee by Mr. Green of the Department. Its provisions conform to the policy which this Government has followed in relation to the Arms Traffic Convention of 1925 and in relation to the Draft Convention for the Control of the Arms Traffic, which was presented to the Disarmament Conference by the American Delegation on November 20, 1934, and which recently passed its first reading by the Committees of the Conference which have been considering it. I am confidentially informed that the Nye Committee is favorably disposed to this Bill, and that it would probably report it to the Senate for action at this session if it were understood that the Bill would have the support of the Administration. Otherwise, the Committee will probably defer action on the Bill until the next session of Congress.

In the present international situation, the international traffic in arms is assuming greater and greater political importance. Although this Government has been foremost during the last two years in efforts to obtain an international agreement for the supervision of the arms traffic, we have lagged behind almost all the other civilized nations of the world in our domestic legislation. I enclose a copy of the Draft Bill.30 I believe that this Bill embodies the wisest and the most practical method of dealing with the evils inherent in the manufacture of and traffic in arms, and I am strongly convinced that the passage of legislation on this subject should not be longer delayed.

I, therefore, respectfully suggest that you inform the Committee that you have been informed that Mr. Green has, at the Committee’s request, presented a draft of legislation to establish some measure of supervision and control of the manufacture of and traffic in arms; that you understand that the Committee now has this legislation under consideration; that this legislation is based upon the same principles as the Draft Articles which are now under discussion in Geneva; that you hope that the Committee may decide to report favorably on legislation of this type in this session of Congress; and that if so you are prepared to give the Committee the backing of the Administration in this matter and, if circumstances appear to warrant it, to send an appropriate Message to Congress.

Faithfully yours,

Cordell Hull
  1. Ante, p. 336.