36. Editorial Note

On February 4, 1965, in response to a question at a press conference, French President Charles de Gaulle called for a gradual return of the world monetary system to the gold standard. De Gaulle called for nations having international financial responsibilities to consider paying off their balance-of-payments debts solely in gold. Gold, he said, was the only “unquestionable monetary basis which did not bear the mark of any individual country,” and therefore the most equitable standard upon which to conduct international financial transactions. For text of his statement, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1965, pages 219–221.

A February 4 Treasury Department statement objected to President de Gaulle’s proposal to revert to the full gold standard, arguing that such a monetary system had “collapsed” in 1931 and was “incapable of financing the huge increase of world trade” that marked the 20th century. For text, see ibid., page 221. Secretary Dillon sent a copy of the press release under cover of a February 4 memorandum to President Johnson. (Johnson Library, Bator Papers, Balance of Payments Message, February 10, 1965, Memos [1 of 2], Box 16)