Memorandum by Mr. Alger Hiss, Special Assistant to the Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Hornbeck)
A meeting was held today at the suggestion of Major General Lucius Clay in the office of Under Secretary Bell of the Treasury to discuss a secret War Department telegram of January 2259 which transmitted a message for the Department from Ambassador Gauss on the subject of the President’s reply to the Generalissimo. [The Ambassador apparently chose to use War Department facilities because of their greater speed. Both the Department and the War Department dispatched the President’s message on January 20. On January 22 Mr. Gauss had seen the War Department’s telegram but had not yet received this Department’s telegram.]60
Participating in the meeting in Mr. Bell’s office were (in addition to Mr. Bell and General Clay) Messrs. White and Friedman of the Treasury Department and Messrs. Ballantine, Hiss, Collado and McGuire61 of this Department. There was general agreement (1) with the Ambassador’s contention that the last paragraph of the President’s message might be misconstrued by the Chinese and (2) that it was therefore desirable that that paragraph be revised in the light of the Ambassador’s comments. There was thereupon drafted and approved by those present as a substitute for the last paragraph the text set forth in the attached draft telegram to Chungking.62
Mr. Bell, who had sent to the President for the latter’s approval the draft of message which was approved by the President on January 20 and sent to Mr. Gauss, decided that in view of the fact the redrafted paragraph involved no change in substance but only a change in form, it would not be necessary to clear the revised paragraph directly with the President. He accordingly requested, as did General [Page 862]Clay, that Department forward a revision promptly to Ambassador Gauss and authorize him to substitute it for the last paragraph in the text which was sent to him on January 20. Mr. Bell will notify the President of the action taken.