811.113 Senate Investigation/241

Memorandum by Mr. Joseph C. Green of the Division of Western European Affairs

In the course of my conversation this morning with Senators Nye and Pope,4 in regard to the difficulties which have arisen concerning the files of the Guaranty Trust Company, both Senators told me at some length of the conference which the members of the Nye Committee had with the President yesterday. Senator Nye was particularly enthusiastic in regard to the attitude of the President. He told me that all the members of the Committee were present at the conference and that all of them were tremendously pleased to have this opportunity to discuss the work of the Committee with the President, and that they had left the President with the definite impression that he was disposed to cooperate with the Committee.

From the accounts which the Senators gave me of the conference, it would appear that the President in what he said to the Committee departed widely from the suggestions made in the Secretary’s memorandum of March 14.5 They told me that the only questions which were discussed at any length were methods of taking the profit out of war and American neutrality policy in case of a war between other powers. Senator Nye, speaking for the Committee, outlined to the President a scheme for taking profits out of war which had been drawn up for the Committee by Mr. John T. Flynn,6 and which had met with the general approval of the Committee. The President was stated to have expressed emphatically his approval of the several portions of that scheme. Senator Nye expressed his astonishment at the President’s attitude, as he felt that Mr. Flynn’s scheme was [Page 364] so radical that the approval of the Administration could hardly have been expected. The President added the suggestion that legislation to take the profits out of war should be drawn up to meet, not only the situation which would arise should we become involved in war, but the situation which would arise should other powers become involved in war while we remained neutral.

They said that the President then discussed our neutrality policy at some length, stating that he had come around entirely to the ideas of Mr. Bryan,7 in regard to that matter, and that he was preparing to propose legislation which would prohibit American ships or American citizens from visiting belligerent countries in time of war. According to the Senators’ statements, the President had encouraged the Committee to consider this question of our neutrality policy with a view to the introduction of appropriate legislation. He requested, however, that the Committee give him an opportunity to consult the draft of any legislation dealing with this question before introducing it into the Senate. The Committee readily acceded to the President’s request, and it was arranged that another conference between the President and the Committee should be held sometime before April 1st, when the Committee expects to make its preliminary report.

The Senators told me that the question of the control of the international arms traffic was referred to only incidentally during the conference.

The Senators told me also that the President did not refer during the conference to the Committee’s proposed investigation of the dealings between former allied governments and American banks during the early years of the World War.

Joseph C. Green
  1. James P. Pope of Idaho, member of the Special Committee.
  2. Ante, p. 318.
  3. Economic adviser to the Special Committee.
  4. William Jennings Bryan, Secretary of State, March 5, 1913, to June 9, 1915.