Memorandum by the Secretary of State
The British Ambassador39 called at my request, and I showed him despatch dated July 4th from our representative, Mr. George, at Addis Ababa, containing a message from the Emperor of Ethiopia requesting the American Government to “examine means of securing Italy’s observance of engagements as signatory of the Kellogg Pact”. After the Ambassador had read this despatch I handed to him to read my proposed reply, which is hereto attached.40 After he had concluded his reading, I said that I desired to have the benefit of his judgment as to whether there was any reason why I should not send the reply as drafted. The Ambassador promptly replied that he knew of no reason why it should not be sent. He added that he felt we had gone further than he had expected in view of the difficult situation that this Government was in with respect to steps to promote peace in such circumstances. I thanked the Ambassador and then stated that the British Government of course had for some time been exerting itself to compose this controversy between Ethiopia and Italy and that of course the United States Government had no disposition to get in the way of the British Government but would let it proceed with the leadership it had already assumed. This seemed entirely agreeable to the Ambassador. He added that Italy was really black-mailing Great Britain, France and other countries, in her present steps to take advantage of conditions to encroach upon the territory of Ethiopia. I inquired of the Ambassador whether his [Page 725] Government would continue to go forward with every possible influence to settle this controversy. He replied that Great Britain would do all it could in its difficult situation; that it was not in a position to do as much as should be done, or as it would like to do. I inquired whether the French were disposed to cooperate. He replied that he had not yet been able to ascertain the true state of mind of the French Government, that is to say, whether they were assuming to be in worse humor towards Great Britain than they really were, on account of domestic politics. He said he did not believe the French were in a position to do much in bringing about a settlement of the Italian-Ethiopian controversy, and that therefore he did not think they would do much,—although the French were as much opposed to the Italian movement as the British. The Ambassador repeatedly characterized the movement as frightfully mad, in every way unjustifiable, and based more or less on black-mail.