Memorandum by the Adviser on International Economic Affairs (Feis) to the Secretary of State

Mr. Secretary: The French Ambassador31 delivered to the Secretary of the Treasury early this morning a note32 from the French Council of Ministers (1) greatly urging the need of a prompt reply to its approach in regard to franc devaluation; (2) stating that the [Page 277]French Government establishes the rate of 175 for itself as the last fall of the franc.

In view of all the circumstances, and the receipt of these assurances, the Secretary of the Treasury decided to make the following reply to the French Government (this is the text given you over the telephone):

“Consequent upon the consultation which the French Government has carried on with the American and British Governments, as provided by the Tri-Partite Accord, this Government regards the Accord as continuing in full operation.

“The assurances in the note of May 4, 1938 given by the French Government with respect to carrying out the letter and spirit of the Accord are noted with the greatest of interest.”

Before delivering the reply to the French Government, it was necessary, however, to secure the agreement of the British Government—which has been indicated by all their previous messages. A copy was immediately given to Mr. Bewley,33 and telephoned to Butterworth in London to present to the British Treasury. As soon as their reply is received it will be given to the French Government.

It is generally agreed that the hesitation and questioning entered into by the American Treasury has served a good purpose in making the French realize their responsibilities and begin concrete assurances—though it is also realized that circumstances may prove too strong for these assurances.

The Treasury notified me this afternoon that everything has now been satisfactorily adjusted.

H[erbert] F[eis]
  1. René Doynel de Saint-Quentin.
  2. Not printed; see telegram No. 683, May 2, supra.
  3. Thomas K. Bewley, Financial Attaché of the British Embassy.