800.515/12–1345: Circular telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic Missions 1

Please communicate the following to the Government to which you are accredited in the most expeditious manner possible:

“In view of the desirability of having the Bretton Woods Agreements2 signed by December 31, 1945, it is a matter of great importance that prior to that date those countries which intend to become original members of the Fund and the Bank comply with the procedures set forth in the Articles of Agreement.

“The US intends to sign the Agreements on Dec 27, 1945,3 and [Page 1385] your Govt is invited to join with the Govt of the US in the ceremony of signature which will take place on that day. All of the other nations which signed the Final Act of the Bretton Woods conference are being invited to participate in that ceremony.

“It it suggested that your Govt may wish to have someone in your Mission in Washington discuss at the earliest possible date matters respecting signature and acceptance of the agreement. Concerning matters not procedural in character information may be obtained from Mr. Emilio G. Collado of the State Dept or Mr. Ansel F. Luxford of the Treasury Dept. With respect to procedural questions relating to the signing ceremony and deposit of instruments inquiry can be made of Mr. Merrill S. Potts of the Treaty Branch of the State Dept.

“Your Govt should be prepared to take the following action with regard to signature of the agreements:

  • “(1) It should authorize a person in the US to sign the Articles of Agreement of the International Monetary Fund and the Articles of Agreement of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development which are deposited in the State Dept of the US at Washington.
  • “(2) It should deposit with the State Dept of the US an appropriate instrument of acceptance of the Articles of Agreement as provided for in Article XX, Section 2(a) of the Fund Agreement and Article XI, Section 2(a), of the Bank Agreement.
  • “(3) It should transmit to the Govt of the US 1/100 of 1 percent of its total quota to the Fund and 1/100 of 1 percent of its total subscription to the Bank. These payments are to be made in gold or in United States dollars. You will probably find it most desirable to have a check or draft in favor of the Govt of the US of America drawn on one of your Govt’s dollar accounts in the US. Such check should be delivered to the State Dept at or before the time of signature. For your Govt the payment required with respect to the Fund is . . . . . . . . and with respect to the Bank is . . . . . . . . Thus the check should be in the amount of . . . . . . . .”4

  1. Missions accredited to governments which had signed the Final Act of the Bretton Woods conference. On December 14, 1945, the Department sent a circular note which contained the substance of this telegram to the foreign missions, located in Washington, whose governments had been so informed.
  2. For documentation on these, as well as on Articles of Agreement of the International Monetary Fund, and the Articles of Agreement of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (hereafter called the Fund and Bank, respectively) and the conference itself see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. ii, pp. 106 ff. For other documents relating to the conference, see Department of State Publication no. 2866, Proceedings and Documents of the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, July 1–22. 1944 (2 vols; Washington, Government Printing Office, 1948). The Final Act is document 492 ibid., vol. i, p. 927. Each of the Bretton Woods institutions was of interest to the United States: Among the Fund’s objectives was the promotion of exchange stability, the expansion of international trade, the maintenance of high levels of employment, and the general promotion of international monetary cooperation.
  3. Actually when the Bretton Woods Act became law on July 31, 1945 (59 Stat. 512), President Truman was “authorized to accept membership for the United States” in the Fund and in the Bank.

    At about the same time, Department officials discussed the question as to when the United States ought to officially commit itself to membership in the Fund and in the Bank. In a memorandum, dated July 28, 1945 to Secretary Byrnes (800.515 BWA/7–3145) Assistant Secretary Clayton said:

    “Dean Acheson [Assistant Secretary] has called my attention to a problem in connection with the Bretton Woods agreements. As soon as the President signs the bill, the United States will be in a position to accept the agreements. It seems to Dean Acheson and me, however, that it would be better for us not to accept them until the other principal financial countries are also prepared to sign. In this way we would accomplish simultaneous acceptance by members having 65% of the quotas and the two institutions could be immediately organized.

    “If you and the President believe that this is the proper way to proceed, I can request Mr. Acheson to inquire of the principal financial countries when they will be able to accept the agreements and invite them to join the United States in signing.”

    In a handwritten note Secretary Byrnes added: “For the President. I have told Clayton to proceed, as suggested” signed J.F.B. The suggestion was approved by President Truman on July 31, 1945. This exchange took place at Potsdam, Germany, at the time of the Berlin Conference.

  4. Each message was transmitted with the appropriate quota items filled in. The amounts had been calculated on the percentage (cited above) of the original quotas listed in the schedules included in the Final Act of the Bretton Woods Conference.