Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: I have submitted in the Senate12 an interpretive reservation to the Resolution of adherence to the World Court reading as follows:

“Resolved, further, That adherence to the said Protocol and Statute hereby approved shall not be so construed as to require the United States to depart from its traditional policy of not intruding upon, interfering with, or entangling itself in the political questions of policy or internal administration of any foreign state; nor shall adherence to the said Protocol and Statute be construed to imply a relinquishment by the United States of its traditional attitude toward purely American questions.”

You will immediately recognize this language. It is the precise language originally written by Senator Swanson as the fourth paragraph of the original Fifth Senate Reservation approved by the Senate on January 26th, 1926 by unanimous vote.13 It is the same language approved by the late Senator Walsh in connection with his report on the Resolution of adherence on June 1st, 1932. I assume it is a correct statement of the subsequent American status—and it is upon this theory that many of us are willing to vote to ratify. Yet to my amazement the paragraph was rejected two days ago in the Foreign Relations Committee by a vote of eleven to nine and apparently at the behest of the Administration. If it be not an impropriety I beg to ask of you wherein lies the reason for the rejection of this paragraph. Either it is the truth or it is an incorrect statement of the fact. If the latter, there are many of us who would like to know it before we vote. If the former, I confess my inability to understand why it should be rejected.

It is my view that the American status described in this paragraph is fully protected by the text of the proposed contract. If this is true, the reinactment of the paragraph involves no contradiction to the instruments themselves. If there is a contradiction—and if this is the reason for combating the paragraph—the American people [Page 388] should know it. If it is not the reason, then the only other possible reason for rejection would be that it is needless surplusage. I respectfully submit that while this might have been true if the subject matter never heretofore had been asserted by the Senate, it ceases to be true in the face of the record. In other words, the contemporary refusal to define and re-assert this status invites the highly unfortunate implication that in some unknown way our American status is changed by the pending formula.

I am persuaded that the action of the Committee was taken without full consideration of these implications; and that in the light of further consideration, any resistance to this paragraph will be withdrawn.

If I am entitled to seek an expression of your opinion upon this subject, I shall be greatly obliged for a letter at your earliest convenience.

With sentiments of great respect [etc.]

A. H. Vandenberg
  1. On January 10, 1935; see Congressional Record, vol. 79, pt. 1, p. 249.
  2. See Ibid., vol. 67, pt. 3, p. 2824.