800.515/564: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Matthews) to the Secretary of State

1898. For State and Treasury from Casaday.14 Embassy’s 1850, 16th and previous.15 For purposes of information and record, a recapitulation is given herewith of the Embassy’s activities in connection with the postwar currency conference held February 26, 1943 and developments growing out of it.

The Embassy’s telegram 1481, February 27, 10 p.m.,16 indicated the [Page 1060] general purpose and character of the meeting and, among other things, reported:

That Lord Keynes distributed to those present copies of a memorandum embodying the British proposals for an international clearing union;
That Lord Keynes mentioned the existence of an American paper on the same general subject;
That the meeting requested your observers to ascertain whether the American paper would be made available to the governments represented at the meeting;
That a further meeting was to be held if possible within about a fortnight.

Minutes of this meeting have been forwarded by air.18

Previous to the conference of February 26, the Embassy had heard indirectly from British sources that the American paper had already been made available to the British, Chinese and Russian representatives in Washington.

On March 3, the British Treasury, reportedly after contacting the Department through the British Embassy in Washington, issued a press communiqué concerning the February 26 meeting. This fact and the initial press reaction to the announcement were reported in the Embassy’s telegram 1610, March 5.18

Subsequent telegrams (1664, 8th, 1680, 9th, 1752, 11th, 1766, 12th, 1795, 13th, 1850, 16th)19 reviewed the continuing press comment and pointed out:

That there was considerable misleading speculation and rumor concerning both the British and American proposals;
That members of Parliament and others were urging that the British proposal be made public;
That the Chancellor of the Exchequer eventually announced that the British proposal would soon be published as a White Paper;
That speculation and curiosity as to the American proposal have persisted not only in the press but in the form of numerous inquiries received by this Embassy and by the British Treasury from daily and weekly press representatives and representatives of the various governments with headquarters in London.

Meanwhile, British Treasury officials expressed some concern that no reply had been received to our 1481 of February 27 asking whether the American proposal would be made available here. Accordingly, the Embassy repeated its request for information on this point in telegram 1652, March 8, 4 p.m.18 No reply was received to this or the preceding inquiry. Yesterday the Embassy learned from a British Treasury official that, according to a report the Treasury recently [Page 1061] received from Washington, the text of the American proposal was given to representatives of the Allied Governments in Washington as long ago as March 5. He expressed surprise that this Embassy had not been informed of this and considerable concern that the British offer to have the document printed in London in order to save time had been ignored. He stated that since it seems generally agreed that the American and British proposals must be considered together, the next conference of the Allied Finance Ministers, tentatively scheduled for last Friday, would be postponed until all had received a copy of the American paper and had had an opportunity to study it. He also wondered whether the American document, like the British, will be published at an early date or confined to the confidential use of the governments concerned, and suggested that any information the Embassy might obtain from Washington on this point would be appreciated.

Attention is respectfully called to the fact that during the course of the developments outlined above, this Embassy has received no word of information, advice or instruction from Washington and has been placed thereby in a position of some embarrassment.

Attention is also called to the fact that the latest version of the American document possessed by this Embassy (that brought over in January by Snider20) is somewhat different in substance and considerably different in arrangement from that possessed by the British Treasury which was given to Sir Frederick Phillips in Washington under a covering letter from Mr. Berle dated February 1, 1943. The Embassy would appreciate receiving copies of the latest revision available—that given to the British on February 1 or that given to the Allied Governments on March 5, if it is different. [Casaday.]

  1. Lauren W. Casaday, Treasury representative, special assistant to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed; it reported on an informal meeting held February 26 by Allied Finance Ministers, appropriate British authorities, and observers from the Dominions, the Soviet Union, and China, to receive and discuss a report of the subcommittee on postwar currency problems in occupied countries (840.50/1344).
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed.
  6. None printed.
  7. Not printed.
  8. Delbert Snider, assistant to Mr. Casaday.