810.20 Defense/83

Memorandum by the Assistant Chief of the Division of the American Republics (Bursley)97

Mr. Boal telephoned today that General Hay had expressed concern over reports he was receiving from a number of the American republics to the effect that there are some fears that if we are granted bases in those countries we may never be willing to get out. It is General Hay’s thought that the Secretary might issue a statement, perhaps referring to some of the moves to have us acquire Lower California and to say that as to Lower California in particular and the American republics in general, we have no desire to acquire any further territories. Mr. Boal suggests that we might refer to our treaty obligations, say that we are not interested in Lower California, and I think [Page 142] that we might go so far as to quote from President Wilson’s Mobile speech98 in the same sense.

If we issued such a statement General Hay would issue one on behalf of the Mexican Government to the effect that that Government has never had any doubts as to our intentions regarding Baja California or other territory—that Mexico is 100 per cent trustful of our motives. He would also say that Mexico wants to cooperate with the United States in defense.

I think we could find the occasion for such a statement and that it could be worked up with careful study in such a way as to contain no dangerous references or promises. In the drafting of such a statement thought would have to be given, of course, to the possibility that we may acquire some small islands by entirely peaceable and proper means.

In this instance again, the Mexican Foreign Minister is probably governed by mixed motives. Nevertheless, I can see that it could be very useful to the United States were a statement to be issued by General Hay more or less establishing his belief in our good faith, and, more importantly, from a practical view point, publicly promising a greater measure of cooperation with the United States.

There is attached a copy of H. J. Res. 38999 on which the Department made an unfavorable report. It might be desirable to arrange for a correspondent to inquire at the Secretary’s press conference what the Department’s views are on this matter in the light of present conditions; this would afford a basis for considerable reply by the Secretary.

  1. Addressed to Mr. Duggan and Mr. Welles.
  2. President Wilson in an address before the Southern Commercial Congress at Mobile, Alabama, October 27, 1913, stated that “the United States will never again seek one additional foot of territory by conquest.” For text, see Ray Stannard Baker and William E. Dodd (eds.), The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson: The New Democracy, vol. i, p. 64.
  3. Joint Resolution authorizing negotiations for the acquisition of Lower California was introduced October 9, 1939, and referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.