The Ambassador in Mexico (Messersmith) to the Chief of the Division of Mexican Affairs (McGurk)

Dear Joe: I have to refer to your telephone call this morning in which you informed me that the railways were bringing great pressure on Kendall with regard to the number of freight cars in Mexico, etc. Just as you were calling me on the telephone on this matter I was signing a letter to you, dated March 17,5 which goes forward by the airmail this morning.

Immediately after your telephone call I got in touch with Stevens and we discussed this matter again, and I told him about your call. [Page 1243] Mr. Stevens is thoroughly understanding of this situation, as I am, and is doing everything in his power, but as we pointed out when Messrs. Kendall and King were here, there was going to be this temporary increase in cars, and as Stevens says over the telephone again this morning our railways will simply have to show some understanding and patience when they must realize the enormous efforts which are being made here. There is no use in our railways taking this attitude when every possible effort is being made here to alleviate the situation and when we are on the way towards making real progress. So far as I am concerned, I feel, as I have told you, utterly hopeless about these matters, because we simply cannot get any understanding of them, and if some one is trying to bring about a breakdown in Mexican-American relationships, or if these other people outside of the Department are utterly unconscious of the importance of these problems, then I suppose a breakdown can be facilitated, but, as I told you on the telephone this morning, the Department of State is responsible for the conduct of foreign relations, and if it cannot force certain situations and attitudes, then we are in a bad way indeed. If it is necessary for the Secretary or the President to give drastic instructions to some of these people, it has got to be done.

We have taken away from the Mexicans their ships and rail transport is all that there is left, and now our railways seem to be thinking in terms of nothing but constant threats of embargo and the Inter-State Commerce Commission seems to be willing to submit to these pressures from the railways and seems to be afraid of the Congress. All that is necessary to settle any of these things is a clear statement of some of these situations by the Department and, knowing Congress as I do, there will be no trouble there if there is an authoritative statement by the Department.

I myself cannot place all the responsibility for the things which are happening on the other agencies because the Department is responsible for the conduct of our relations with other States and is in a position to impose its will.

So far as the car situation is concerned, everything possible is being done, and the improvement will become felt in due course, but the railways don’t seem to take into account the increased movement in traffic recently, part of which grew out of the embargo itself. The Department certainly has all the facts necessary to counsel patience and understanding, which I am sure it is doing, and at the same time has the authority to state to those concerned that patience and understanding must be exercised.

With all good wishes,

Cordially and sincerely yours,

G. S. Messersmith
  1. Presumably a letter concerning the need for refrigerator cars or two sea-going barges to move the banana and pineapple crops which faced destruction as a result of freight car restrictions (800.8810/1904).