President Roosevelt to President Vargas47

My Dear Mr. President: I wish you to know of my particular personal regret that it has proved impossible to agree to the proposal suggested by your Government last January through Ambassador Aranha, that the United States sell to Brazil ten of its cruisers of the Omaha class, to be made available to the extent of one or two each year, as these cruisers were replaced by new vessels. When the proposal was first brought to my attention, I had the hope that a way might be found which would make it possible for this Government to adopt it, since such an arrangement appeared to me to be advantageous to both our Governments. The carrying out of this project would have tended towards a unification of standards in the navies of our two countries and would, at the same time, have promoted friendship between the officers of the Brazilian and United States Navies, which, I am happy to say, has always in the past been very marked. Finally, an arrangement of the character your Government proposed would have permitted the Government of Brazil to acquire serviceable naval vessels at a lower cost than that which would be involved in new construction, and if it had been possible for me to accede to the proposal made by your Government, I should have been glad to make available United States naval vessels to such other American republics as might desire them on similar terms, believing that in this manner closer relations between the navies of all of the American republics would have been encouraged.

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I may add that the highest officials of the United States Navy Department were unanimous in believing that the proposal made by the Government of Brazil would have been mutually advantageous to both countries.

Unfortunately, however, after the London Naval Conference, it became evident that for reasons of national defense, it would be impossible for this Government to relinquish any of the cruisers of the class desired by the Brazilian Government within the next few years and, consequently, solely for that reason, I have been obliged to inform your Ambassador that this Government finds itself unable to agree to the suggestion made by the Government of Brazil. It is possible, however, that some counter proposal can be found which might prove to be satisfactory to the Government of Brazil as an alternative to the original project. As soon as I can ascertain whether such a counter proposal is in fact feasible, I shall see that it is at once transmitted to you through Ambassador Aranha.

I have desired to write to you thus personally, Mr. President, in order that you might be advised of my own deep interest in this question, and in order that you might further know of my hope that some other means may be found by which this Government may be of service to the Government of Brazil.

May I ask you to convey the friendly greetings of Mrs. Roosevelt and of myself to Senhora de Vargas. It gave us both the greatest pleasure to have the opportunity of knowing her during her recent visit to Washington.

With the assurances [etc.]

Yours very sincerely,

Franklin D. Roosevelt
  1. Transmitted to the President of Brazil in covering letter of July 6 from the Assistant Secretary of State to the Brazilian Ambassador.