740.00/118: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State

263. Continuing my 262, February 23, 8 p.m., Section 3.6 I asked Blum7 if he was satisfied with the general attitude of the United States at the present time. He said that he desired me to thank the President on his behalf most profoundly for the general support which his whole [Page 849] line of political activity was giving to the forces of democracy in France.

He then asked if it might not be possible for France to get some sort of a loan in the United States.

I told him that in my opinion and in the opinion of my Government any sort of a loan was excluded absolutely by the Johnson Act.8 He asked what would be the situation if France should make a debt settlement so that the Johnson Act would not come into play. I said that I could not give him an expert opinion on this subject but that I had talked recently with one of the partners of Morgan and Company who had said that in case France should pay her debt to the United States, a French loan in the United States would present an entirely different aspect.

Blum then said that he did not consider a debt settlement impossible. He had given Bonnet9 no instructions to try to make a debt settlement but only to try to develop further the existing trade agreement10 and the general collaboration between England, France, and the United States. Nevertheless, he believed that it ought to be possible to make a debt settlement in the near future.

I said that he must realize that the position of our Congress was extremely stiff and that I did not believe he could persuade the French Senate and the Chamber of Deputies to accept any settlement which would be acceptable to our Congress. He said that on the contrary he was confident that the French Parliament was beginning to realize that the existing danger of war in Europe made it absolutely essential to do everything possible to have the goodwill of the United States. He believed he could get through the French Chamber of Deputies and Senate a proposal for debt settlement which, by spreading out payments over a very large number of years, would satisfy our Congress. He said that he could not make a settlement which on its face would be illusory; he could not make a settlement which everyone would know surpassed France’s ability to acquire foreign exchange but he believed he could now get through the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies a serious debt settlement.

I then asked him if he had anything further to suggest in the present situation. He said that if the Germans should come to realize that their speculations on disorders in France were doomed to failure he believed that the moment would arrive when it would be possible to move with hopes of success in the field of limitation of armaments and he hoped that at that time he would have the support of the President and our Government.

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I replied that I was certain that at any time which appeared propitious to us we would cooperate fully in a movement for limitation of armaments.

Before I left, Blum again expressed his great gratitude for the general attitude of the Government of the United States. He said that he felt that America alone of the great powers was genuinely interested in the same policies that he was trying to put through. The British Government was working with him wholeheartedly and sincerely in certain fields but because it was a conservative Government it disapproved highly of his domestic policy and the sympathy he received from London was therefore halfhearted. Moreover, the British Government was always somewhat reluctant to see France and Germany begin to approach each other. He, therefore, counted greatly on our goodwill for the preservation of peace in Europe.

  1. For section 1 and 2, numbered as telegram 261–262, February 23, 7 p.m., see p. 54.
  2. Léon Blum, President of the French Council of Ministers.
  3. “An Act to prohibit transactions with any foreign government in default on its obligations to the United States”, approved April 13, 1934; 48 Stat. 574.
  4. Georges Bonnet, French Ambassador in the United States.
  5. See Foreign Relations, 1936, vol. ii, pp. 85 ff.