Memorandum by the Secretary of State

The British Ambassador called upon my invitation. I remarked to him that he knew, of course, that Mr. Norman Davis is going to London as a Delegate to the International Sugar Conference; that I had requested the Ambassador to call in order that I might be helpful to the high British officials and to all concerned by offering brief comment touching upon Mr. Davis’ trip to London. I said that the press naturally would be filled with every kind of rumor and report about his visit, just as it was when Mr. Runciman7 came over here some weeks ago; and that I could clarify the chief phases of such reports and rumors in advance, by getting to the British high officials what I proposed briefly to say touching the Davis trip. I stated that in the first place Mr. Davis was not going to London with the slightest idea or purpose of suggesting an international naval conference, or economic conference, or general peace conference, or any other conference more than what might relate to his attendance upon the sugar conference and to the question of whether, as chairman of the naval committee at Geneva, he would attend the proposed meeting early in May;8 in fact, the only two decisions of any kind that Mr. Davis would have occasion to make while in London would be confined to his membership in the sugar conference and to his possible attendance upon the naval committee meeting at Geneva early in May; and that this latter question of his attendance would be determined after he had conferred with the British and with his own Government during his stay in London.

I then said that in addition to conferring with British officials touching the sugar conference and the possible naval committee meeting at London, which he would do within his own definite functions as an official of each, Mr. Davis would probably seek to cooperate with Ambassador Bingham and to supplement any statements of his to the British relative to the general economic conditions, problems and remedies, as they would involve or interest either Great Britain, or the United States, or both; that my idea was that neither he nor the Ambassador would get on each other’s toes in any instance, but that each would understand and cooperate with the other wherever it might be of special benefit to the United States Government; that, in brief, each of them is in the confidence of the President, each will avoid [Page 934] any conflict with the other in what he may say or do and the sum total of the information they may both secure, touching international affairs in which the United States Government is interested, would be considered equally trustworthy by this Government, much or most of which could and would be brought back to the President by Mr. Davis upon his return some weeks hence. I said that, in brief, Ambassador Bingham had recently been back to Washington and given the President and myself very elaborate information up to the time he left London; that Mr. Norman Davis was widely known and acquainted with statesmen and officials in London and was quite capable of assembling any important or desirable information touching world conditions generally and making it known to the President in a profitable way upon his return; and that I was thus undertaking to make clear, first, that the British high officials would not be confused or misled by the cloud of press rumors and reports about the Davis mission that would be going out from London and from Washington, so that on the contrary they might prevent many from going out from London; and, secondly, to make clear that no conflict between the official functions and prerogatives of Ambassador Bingham and Mr. Davis was contemplated, but, on the contrary, cooperative relations and efforts of the nature and to the extent already indicated, to the end that each of them might have an interchange of information with British officials touching matters in which the President is interested and pool the same up to date for its transmission through Mr. Davis back to the White House.

C[ordell] H[ull]
  1. Walter Runciman, President of the British Board of Trade; see vol. ii, pp. 1 ff.
  2. See pp. 1 ff.