811.113 Senate Investigation/226

The Secretary of State to the British Ambassador ( Lindsay )

My Dear Mr. Ambassador: I am in receipt of your letter of March 20, 1935, concerning the subpoena issued by the Special Committee of the Senate Investigating the Munitions Industry to the Guaranty Trust Company of New York for the production of papers, in regard to the Pledge Agreement of November, 1916, between your Government and that Company.

I cannot refrain from expressing surprise at the position which you have taken in this matter as expressed in your letter. I do not feel that either international usage or courtesy require this Government to communicate to your Government the intention of any judicial or quasi-judicial body in this country to subpoena from the files of an American company documents which may relate to dealings between your Government and private American citizens. In fact, it would be impossible for me to carry out such an obligation if it were incumbent upon me to do so, as, in the ordinary course of events, I should have no knowledge of an intention to issue such a subpoena until it had been served and unless, as happened in this particular case, the persons on whom it was served brought the matter to my attention. Nor do I feel that either international usage or courtesy require this Government to obtain the consent of your Government prior to the examination of such documents by any judicial or quasi-judicial body within the competence of which such an investigation may fall.

Although I did not feel that I was under any obligation to do so, I did, nevertheless, after our conversations on this subject, approach the Chairman of the Committee informally, and I suggested to the [Page 366] President that he refer to this matter in his conference with the Committee. My motive in doing so was my desire to do anything in my power which I could properly do to prevent any action by the Committee which might create an embarrassment to your Government. I obtained from the Committee a delay of one week in the serving of the subpoena on the Guaranty Trust Company and I had hoped that you might take advantage of this delay to communicate with your Government and to ascertain whether it had any objection to the publication of the documents in question. In addition to this, I requested information from the Committee as to the purpose for which these documents were required and was informed that the Committee wishes to study them in connection with its investigation of war profits during the World War, with a view to the drafting of legislation dealing with war profits in any future war. The Committee has no present intention of publishing these documents and the Chairman has assured me that, should the Committee at any future time desire to make public any correspondence between your Government and any American company, he will, as a matter of courtesy, inform me so that I may be in a position to ascertain whether your Government would have any objection to their being made public.

I venture the hope that the arrangement I have made with the Chairman of the Committee will remove any cause for complaint which you may have felt that your Government had in connection with this matter.

I am [etc.]

Cordell Hull