Memorandum by the Secretary of State

The British Ambassador75 came in at his own request. He had no particular business except some general comment upon the war situation. I had not conferred with him since his return from London some weeks ago.

As discreetly as possible, I made clear to the Ambassador that our Neutrality policy had been developed under our own separate, independent course and initiative and without the slightest relationship to sanctions or any other movements of other nations or peace agencies at Geneva; that we had an extreme state of sentiment in favor of isolation and every form of pacificism, while at the same time in violent opposition to any agreements with League agencies, especially with reference to sanctions; that when someone falsely sent news reports to London and other capitals intimating that this Government was “out on a limb” on account of the postponement of the oil sanctions by Geneva, and some British officials or newspaper men sent messages back here expressing regret that this Government was thus disappointed, I had at the time sought to disabuse their minds with regard [Page 867] to this entire matter and to let them thoroughly understand that our policy of opposition to the abnormal shipment of war materials, including oil, to belligerents was our own separate, independent policy and course, and as such we considered it in operation for the duration of the war, regardless of and without any particular thought of what might occur at Geneva in the way of oil sanctions or non-sanctions; and that while I greatly appreciated the kind consideration of our British friends in the above regard, there was really no occasion for them to feel thus or to imagine that we were in the least disappointed or our plans in the slightest interfered with.

The Ambassador said he thoroughly understood the strong opposition in this country to any contacts with League sanctions especially, and that he could see clearly how we had pursued our own separate course and built up our policies as we went along, and also that he could thoroughly understand there was no occasion for any solicitude abroad in case of such incidents as the oil sanctions postponement and its imaginary effects upon the policy of the United States Government in opposition to the abnormal shipments of oil to belligerents.

Cordell Hull
  1. Sir Ronald Lindsay.