800.51W89 Italy/280

The Ambassador in Italy (Long) to President Roosevelt 43


My Dear Chief: There are two things of a constructive nature I would like to do here before I leave—and I hope you are not going to leave me here long after the present difficulties smooth out.

  • First, I would like to induce the Italians to pay their war debt and to break the solid front in Europe which exists against the United States in that matter. And
  • Second, I would like to buy the house I now live in as a residence for the string of American Ambassadors who will follow me.

These two things are susceptible of combination.

One reason the Italians have not paid their debt is because of the transfer problem. As you know, they have had a very limited supply of gold, and it would have been at any time very difficult for them to have made payments in gold. They now owe us about $2,000,000[000].44 [Page 591] If we could buy this house—and it really makes the best Embassy in Rome, except the Farnese Palace, which is the French Embassy—at a cost of $800,000 or $1,000,000, we could deduct that from the sum which the Italians owe us. They could then pay us the balance and continue their other payments pending the possibility of some adjustment to be made of the whole question at some subsequent date.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Affectionately and respectfully,

Breckinridge Long
  1. Transmitted to the Department from the White House, February 15, 1936.
  2. The unpaid principal of the total funded indebtedness of Italy to the United States growing out of the First World War was $2,004,900,000; Treasury Department, Document No. 3079, Annual Report of the Secretary of the Treasury on the State of the Finances for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1936 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1937), Table 50, p. 470.