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Back Door to War
The Roosevelt Foreign Policy 1933-1941
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Dedication

TO
MY STUDENTS OF
MORE THAN THREE DECADES

Preface • 1,300 Words
ORDER IT NOW

THE armistice of November 11, 1918, put an end to World War I, but it ushered in a battle of the books that continues to the present day. Responsibility for the outbreak of that conflict was glibly placed by Allied historians upon the shoulders of the statesmen of the Central powers. German historians replied with a flood of books and pamphlets that filled the shelves of many libraries, and the so-called “revisionists” in many lands swelled this rising tide by adding monographs that challenged the Allied war-guilt thesis. While this historical argument was still being vehemently waged, World War II broke out in 1939 and academic attention was shifted to the question of the responsibility for this latest expression of martial madness.

There was little doubt in most American minds that Hitler had deliberately provoked World War II by his attack upon Poland. Since 1933 he had been caustically criticized in the American press. His unrestrained manner of speech, his dubious program for the regeneration of Germany, and the mad antics of some of his fanatical followers had created in numerous American circles a personal hatred of him that far exceeded the strong antipathy felt for Kaiser Wilhelm during the first decade of the twentieth century. There is no doubt that, as far as America was concerned, Hitler was a liability that all the good intentions and the best brains of Germany could never liquidate. The immediate blight that he inflicted upon German-American relations can be readily appreciated when we contrast the friendly press notices of the Brüning government with the sharp attacks made upon the Nazi political groups after February 1933.

Each item in the Hitler program of expansion evoked columns of recriminations in many American newspapers. Distrust of Germany went so deep and spread so far that every vestige of American good will vanished from the pages of periodicals that once had been friendly. Streams of refugees of different races and different creeds gave detailed testimony of widespread injustice and the denial of the freedoms that seemed so essential to the American way of life.

From 1933 to 1939 multitudes of Americans were being slowly conditioned for war along some foreign frontier. As Hitler rearmed Germany and prepared to put force behind his bold announcements, large numbers of persons in this hemisphere began to feel that his bid for power was a menace to them as well as to his European neighbors. The old followers of Woodrow Wilson had never renounced their allegiance to a one-world ideal, and they were fervent in their belief that America should take an active part in the preservation of world peace. They received strong support from many “liberals” and “intellectuals” who believed that modern science had banished the old barriers of time and space and had brought the peoples of the world into such close communion that some form of world government was an international imperative.

Some scholars like Charles A. Beard have pointed out that presidential pronouncements from 1933 to 1937 gave scant encouragement to ardent one-worlders, but they underestimated the importance of the Chief Executive’s conversion to the explosive nonrecognition doctrine so strenuously advocated by Henry L. Stimson. This was a bomb whose long fuse sputtered dangerously for several years and finally burst into the flame of World War II. It was entirely fitting that Stimson became Secretary of War in 1940; no one deserved that title quite as well as he. The entry in his Diary for November 25, 1941, is illuminating. With regard to Japan “the question is how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.” On the following day Secretary Hull answered this question by submitting an ultimatum that he knew Japan could not accept. The Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor fulfilled the fondest hopes of the Roosevelt Cabinet. It was easy now to denounce Japanese perfidy and to exult in the fact that the shock of the tragedy had erased all divisions of opinion in America. It was several years before inquiring minds began seriously to question the background of Pearl Harbor. When the report of the Army Pearl Harbor Board boldly pointed out the questionable conduct of General George C. Marshall, the Chief of Staff, Secretary Stimson rushed to his defense. On the convenient ground of ill-health he later refused to appear before the Joint Congressional Committee that investigated the tragedy of Pearl Harbor.

In preparing this record of American foreign policy during the prewar years I have been fortunate in securing access to the copious correspondence in the confidential files of the Department of State. Up to this time no other historian has fully utilized the same materials. I wish to express my appreciation of the helpful courtesies shown me by Dr. C. Bernard Noble, chief of the Division of Historical Policy Research in the Department of State, and his able assistants, Mr. Richard Humphrey and Dr. Taylor Parks.

In the Library of Congress I have immensely profited by the traditional helpful courtesy now personified by Dr. Luther Evans. I wish also to record my indebtedness to Mr. Verner W. Clapp, chief assistant librarian, Mr. David C. Mearns, chief of the Division of Manuscripts, Mr. Archibald B. Evans, Dr. Charles P. Powell, Dr. Elizabeth McPherson, Mr. John de Porry, Miss Katherine Brand, and Mr. David Cole.

In the National Archives I am indebted for assistance to the National Archivist, Mr. Wayne Grover, Dr. Philip Hamer, and Dr. Carl Lokke. I wish to record a particular debt of gratitude to Mrs. Kieran Carroll whose ability and gracious spirit have made the National Archives a most pleasant place in which to work. I wish also to mention Dr. Almon Wright, Mrs. Natalia Summers, and Mrs. William A. Dowling whose beauty and charm make it a little difficult to keep one’s mind upon archival research.

In Georgetown University my colleague, Dr. Tibor Kerekes, has assisted me in innumerable ways, while the librarian, Mr. Phillips Temple, has bent every effort to secure the documentary data on which some of my chapters have been based.

To my old friend, Dr. Harry Elmer Barnes, I am deeply indebted for inspiration and assistance in every stage of the preparation of my manuscript.

There are many personal friends who have been of great assistance: ex-Senator Burton K. Wheeler, Judge Bennett Champ Clark, Dr. Walter A. Foote, Captain Miles DuVal, Rev. Henry F. Wolfe, Dr. Louis M. Sears, Dr. Reinhard H. Luthin, Dr. Rocco Paone, Dr. Carmelo Bernardo, Colonel Joseph Rockis, Dr. John Farrell, Dr. Eugene Bacon, Mr. Edwin H. Stokes, Mr. Anthony Kubek, Mr. Louis Carroll, Miss Mary Ann Sharkey, Miss Susan Sharkey, Mr. William R. Tansill, Mr. Charles B. Tansill, Mr. Raymond T. Parker, Mrs. B. R. Parker, Miss Grace Lee Tansill, Mrs. Mary Ann Sharkey, Mrs. C. Bernard Purcell, Mr. Fred G. Tansill, Mrs. Grace M. Carpenter, Miss Hazell Harris, Miss Amy Holland, and Rev. Herbert Clancy, S.J.

I cannot forget the inspiration of my dear friend, Dr. Gerald G. Walsh, S.J., whose wide scholarship has often kept my feet on the path of objectivity.

I have dedicated this volume to my students of more than three decades. They have been a strong bridge that has carried me over many deep waters of discouragement.

Last, and most of all, I wish to thank my wife, Helen C. Tansill, who has walked with me along all the paths of research, interpretation, composition, and bookmaking which could have been inexpressibly dreary without the proper companionship.

Charles Callan Tansill

Georgetown University

Historical Introduction • 9,500 Words
a. The Rise of Anglo-American Friendship

THE MAIN OBJECTIVE in American foreign policy since 1900 has been the preservation of the British Empire. Intimate ties between Britain and the United States were first forged in 1898 when Britain realized that her policy of isolation had deprived her of any faithful allies upon whom she could depend in the event of war. The guns that brought victory to Admiral Dewey at Manila Bay sounded a new note of authority in the Far East and made the British Government aware of the fact that America could be made into a useful guardian of the life lines of empire. With John Hay as Secretary of State it was not difficult for the Foreign Office to arrive at an understanding with the United States that was as intimate as it was informal.

The first Open Door note of September 6, 1899, was an exercise in Anglo-American co-operation, with Alfred E. Hippisley giving an interesting demonstration of how helpful a British official could be in the drafting of American diplomatic notes. Theodore Roosevelt was evidently impressed with this growing Anglo-American accord, and when certain European powers threatened to intervene in the war Britain waged against the Boers in South Africa, he sounded a note that became very familiar in the eventful years that preceded the outbreak of World War II: “Real liberty and real progress are bound up with the prosperity of the English-speaking peoples. . . . I should very strongly favor this country taking a hand . . . if the European continent selected this opportunity to try and smash the British Empire.”[1]John H. Ferguson, American Diplomacy and the Boer War (Philadelphia, 1939), pp. 208-9.

b. Japan Is Given a Green Light to Expand in Manchuria

In the Far East this Anglo-American parallel policy had a definite pro-Japanese inclination, with the Anglo-Japanese alliance of January 30, 1902, as the cornerstone of an imposing imperialistic structure. It was inevitable that the Department of State would favor Japan in a struggle which it assumed would result in the emancipation of North China from Russian shackles. The American press was equally pro-Japanese.

On the night of February 8, 1904, Japan launched a surprise attack upon the Russian fleet in the harbor of Port Arthur and thus started the war upon the same pattern she employed against the United States in December 1941.

It was a “sneak attack” upon the Russian fleet, but in 1904 the American press had no criticisms of this Japanese stratagem. The New York Times praised “the prompt, enterprising and gallant feat of the Japanese,”[2]February 10, 1904. while the St. Louis Globe-Democrat warmly commended the “dash and intelligence” of the resourceful sons of Nippon.[3]February 10, 1904. The Cleveland Plain Dealer grew lyrical in its description of this Japanese exploit: “As Drake in the harbor of Cadiz singed the beard of the King of Spain, so the active island commanders have set the Czar’s whiskers in a blaze.”[4]February 11, 1904. Other American newspapers expressed similar sentiments and public opinion moved swiftly to the support of Japan. This support remained unswerving until the peace conference at Portsmouth revealed the ambitious character of the Japanese terms.

Although Japan gained substantial advantages through the terms of this treaty which established her as the dominant power in the Far East, the Japanese public was indignant that no indemnity had been secured. Rioting broke out in several Japanese cities, and Americans had to be carefully guarded against violence.[5]Tatsuji Takeuchi, War and Diplomacy in the Japanese Empire (New York, 1936), pp. 155-57. Britain had been too astute to lend a helping hand to Roosevelt in arranging peace terms. The role of peacemaker had no attractions for the British Foreign Secretary.

President Roosevelt soon discovered that his policy of “balanced antagonisms” in the Far East was a flat failure.[6]Edward H. Zabriskie, American-Russian Rivalry in the Far East 1895-1914 (Philadelphia, 1946), pp. 101-60. Japanese statesmen were too clever to keep alive their diplomatic differences with Russia. The British Foreign Office, moreover, smiled upon an understanding between Japan and Russia. Britain was girding for an eventual conflict with Germany and it was to her obvious advantage to have strong allies whose assistance could be paid for in terms of Chinese territory. On July 30, 1907, Japan and Russia concluded important public and secret treaties which delimited their respective spheres of influence in Manchuria and Mongolia.[7] Ernest B. Price, The Russo-Japanese Treaties of 1907-1916 Concerning Manchuria and Mongolia (Baltimore, 1933), pp. 34-38. As political control over these two Chinese provinces was gradually extended by Russia and Japan, the Open Door began to creak on its rusty hinges. President Roosevelt had no desire to keep them well oiled with American support. Indeed, as far as he was concerned, the Open Door was largely a fiction. In order to confirm this fact, he concluded with Japan the Root-Takahira Agreement (November 30, 1908). The most important article in this agreement was dedicated to the maintenance of the “existing status quo . . . in the region of the Pacific Ocean.” In Manchuria the status quo meant only one thing to Japan—eventual political and economic control. To President Roosevelt this expansive phrase must have had a similar meaning, and it is the opinion of an outstanding scholar that the Root-Takahira Agreement gave Japan “a free hand in Manchuria” in return for a disavowal of aggressive intentions towards the Philippines.[8]A. Whitney Griswold, The Far Eastern Policy of the United States (New York, 1938), pp. 129-34.

It is obvious that the President, gravely concerned over our dispute with Japan relative to immigration into California, was ready to purchase peace by acquiescing in Japanese domination of a large area in North China. In a letter to President Taft in December 1910 he frankly stated that the Administration should take no step that would make Japan feel that we are “a menace to their interests” in North China. With special reference to Manchuria he remarked: “If the Japanese choose to follow a course of conduct to which we are adverse, we cannot stop it unless we are prepared to go to war. . . . Our interests in Manchuria are really unimportant, and not such that the American people would be content to run the slightest risk of collision about them.”[9]Theodore Roosevelt to President William H. Taft, December 22, 1910. Knox MS, Library of Congress.

The Theodore Roosevelt viewpoint in 1910 with reference to Manchuria was a realistic one which could have been followed with profit by the Taft Administration. But Taft had his own ideas about what should be done in the Far East. As a firm believer in “dollar diplomacy” he adopted an ambitious program for increasing American interest and prestige in the Orient by building a firm financial flooring under American policy. He endeavored to push “big business” into placing large investments in China, and as one important item in this plan he proposed in November 1909 to put the railways in Manchuria under international control with the United States as one of the powers in this consortium.[10] John G. Reid, The Manchu Abdication and the Powers, 1908-1912 (Berkeley, 1935), chaps. 4-10.

This proposal put the British Foreign Office “on the spot” and Sir Edward Grey’s polite rejection of it clearly indicated that the so-called Anglo-American parallel policy in the Far East could be invoked only when it helped to achieve British objectives. But the British Foreign Secretary had to make some gestures of conciliation. America was too strong to be continually rebuffed. In 1909, after a series of notes in which Grey moved from one position to another with equal impudence, the British Government finally accepted arbitration of the age-old quarrel with America concerning the North Atlantic fisheries. Two years later he responded to American pressure and helped to write a profitable conclusion to the long story of the fur-seal dispute.[11]Charles Callan Tansill, Canadian-American Relations, 1875-1911 (New York, 1944), chaps. 1-4, 10-12. Apparently he was clearing the decks of the British ship of state for a possible conflict with Germany. Friendly relations with the United States became a national necessity.

c. Sir Edward Grey Scores a Diplomatic Success

In his relations with the United States, Sir Edward Grey was singularly successful. He did not owe his brilliant record to any fluency of speech or unusual ability to draft cogent diplomatic notes. He moved right into American hearts because he seemed to have honesty written in large letters across his pleasant face. There was no trace of subtlety in his open countenance; no lines of cunning that pointed to a scheming mind. He made an instant appeal to most Americans who thought they saw candor and character in eyes that seldom wavered during long diplomatic conversations. To Theodore Roosevelt he appeared as a fellow naturalist who cared more for the pattern of wild life on his country estate than for the intricate web of international intrigue that covered so many of the walls in No. 10 Downing Street. To Colonel House he seemed to be a man of simple tastes and quiet pleasures. In the eyes of the American public he was a man who could be trusted. When the great storm of 1914 blew across the fields of Europe he was widely regarded as a fearless figure who boldly defied the Kaiser’s lightning even though its bolts might blast all Britain. But the British people grew tired of a glorified lightning rod, so in 1916 he was retired from his perilous position.

During the early years of the Wilson Administration he was an astounding success with amateur diplomats like Bryan, Secretary Lansing, and Colonel House. He was quick to see the importance of extending British support to the Bryan conciliation treaties and thereby he not only won the admiration of the “Great Commoner” but he also placed a large anchor to windward in case of a heavy American blow at some future time.[12]Merle E. Curti, “Bryan and World Peace,” Smith College Studies in History, XVI (Northampton, 1931). In this regard he was immeasurably smarter than the German Foreign Secretary who had little liking for the Bryan “cooling off” treaties. If such a convention has been concluded by the German Foreign Office, there would have been no American intervention in 1917 and the history of American foreign policy would not have been marred by the many mistakes of President Wilson before and during the conference at Versailles.

It was fortunate for Britain that the Germans were so inept as diplomats, and it was doubly fortunate that Sir Edward Grey was a great favorite with so many Americans. This cordial regard paid good dividends in the summer of 1914 when the shadows of war began to fall across the European landscape. It was obvious that American public opinion was friendly to both Britain and France while Germany was regarded with deep distrust. The many ties that bound us to Britain were easily discernible to multitudes of Americans. The political concert of recent years, even though on British terms, was a factor that could not be disregarded. Political accord was supplemented by intimate business connections that drew thousands of Americans into profitable relations with Britons throughout the vast regions of the Empire. The American political system traced its roots to British practices, and our legal institutions bore a definite British imprint. But the intellectual ties were far more potent than connections of any other character. Shakespeare, Milton, Scott, Dickens, Burns, Wordsworth, and a host of other British men of letters had knocked on the door of the American heart and had received a warm welcome. There had never been an American tariff on British intellectual goods nor any embargoes on British ideals. In the American mind in 1914 there was a deep substratum of British thought and it was easy for British propaganda to convince the average American that Britain’s war was “our war.”

Skillfully using this friendly American attitude as a basis for far-reaching belligerent practices, the British Government, after August 1914, began to seize American vessels under such specious pretexts that even our Anglophile President lost his patience and called for some action that would protect American rights. In 1916 legislation was enacted that provided for the construction of a navy second to none, but President Wilson had no real disposition to employ our naval strength as a weapon that would compel Britain to respect the historic American principle of the freedom of the seas. Instead of exerting pressure upon Britain, the President drifted into a quarrel with Germany over the conduct of submarine warfare.

d. The Department of State Strikes a False Note

It is apparent that the United States drifted into war with Germany because the Department of State condemned German submarine warfare as inhuman and illegal. It is not so well known that Robert Lansing, the counselor of the Department of State, was badly confused in his controversy with the German Government concerning this submarine warfare. On February 4, 1915, the German Foreign Office announced the establishment of a war zone around the British Isles. In this war zone after February 18 all “enemy merchant vessels” would be destroyed without much regard for the safety of the passengers and the crew. In a sharp note of February 10, 1915, the Department of State protested against the sinking of any merchant ships without the usual preliminary visit and search, and it gave a distinct warning that the German Government would be held to a “strict accountability” for every injury inflicted upon American citizens.[13]Charles Callan Tansill, America Goes to War (Boston, 1938), chaps. 2-6.

Professor Borchard has clearly demonstrated that this acrid note of February 10 was based upon an incorrect interpretation of international law. After discussing the background of the submarine controversy, he remarks: “It is thus apparent that the first American protest on submarines on February 10, 1915, with its challenging ‘strict accountability,’ was founded on the false premise that the United States was privileged to speak not only for American vessels and their personnel, but also on behalf of American citizens on Allied and other vessels. No other neutral country appears to have fallen into this error.”[14]Edwin Borchard and William P. Lage, Neutrality for the United States (New Haven, 1937), p. 183.

It is remarkable that Mr. Lansing, as the counselor of the Department of State, should have drafted a note that was so patently incorrect in its interpretation of the law of nations. Before entering upon his official duties in the Department of State, he had for many years been engaged in the practice of international law. He was quite familiar with American precedents and practices, and it is quite mystifying to find that at one of the great crossroads in American history a presumably competent lawyer should give the President and the Secretary of State a legal opinion that would have shamed a novice.

Having made a fundamental error in his interpretation of international law with reference to submarine attacks upon unarmed merchant vessels of the Allied powers, he then hastened to make another error with regard to attacks upon armed merchantmen. It was Mr. Lansing’s contention, and therefore that of President Wilson, that German submarines should not sink Allied armed merchant ships without first giving a warning that would permit the passengers and crew ample time to disembark with safety. The German Foreign Office hastened to point out that armed merchantmen would take advantage of this procedure to fire upon and destroy the undersea craft. For a brief period in January and February 1916, Mr. Lansing, Secretary of State since June 1915, accepted the German contention and the Department of State was ready to insist that Allied merchant ships either go unarmed or take the consequences. But Lansing, upon the insistence of Colonel House, retreated from the sound position he had temporarily assumed and once more asserted with vehemence that armed merchantmen were not vessels of war that could be sunk at sight.[15]Tansill, op. cit., pp. 459-60. Thus, by reason of Secretary Lansing’s final opinion, the President “and the House and Senate also, were misled into taking a position which had no foundation either in law or in common sense. Yet on that hollow platform Wilson stood in defending the immunity from attack of British armed merchantmen and of American citizens on board.”[16]Borchard and Lage, op. cit., p. 88. It is interesting to note that in the eventful days that just preceded America’s entry into the World War, President Wilson had so little regard for Secretary Lansing that he complained bitterly to Colonel House about his shortcomings: “I [House] was surprised to hear him [the President] say that Lansing was the most unsatisfactory Secretary in his Cabinet; . . . that he had no imagination, no constructive ability, and but little real ability of any kind. He was constantly afraid of him because he often undertook to launch policies himself which he, the President, had on several occasions rather brusquely reversed.” House Diary, March 28, 1917. House MS, Yale University Library.

It is thus clear that America drifted into war in 1917 either because the chief legal adviser in the Department of State made fundamental errors of interpretation which a mere student of international law would have easily avoided, or because the adviser wanted a war with Germany and therefore purposely wrote erroneous opinions. These facts completely destroy the old popular thesis that America went to war in protest against German barbarities on the high seas.

American intervention in World War I established a pattern that led America into a second world war in 1941. If we had not entered the war in Europe in 1917, World War I would have ended in a stalemate and a balance of power in Europe would have been created. Our intervention completely shattered the old balance of power and sowed the seeds of inevitable future conflict in the dark soil of Versailles. We had a deep interest in maintaining the political structure of 1919. Thousands of American lives and a vast American treasure had been spent in its erection. We could not see it demolished without deep concern. When dictators began to weaken its foundations, the Roosevelt Administration voiced its increasing disapproval of these actions. The bungling handiwork of 1919 had to be preserved at all costs, and America went to war again in 1941 to save a political edifice whose main supports had already rotted in the damp atmosphere of disillusion. The dubious political structure of 1919 is the subject of the next section of this chapter.

e. The Allies Violate the Pre-Armistice Contract

In the period immediately preceding the outbreak of World War II it was the habit of President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull to talk constantly about the sanctity of treaties. They were international contracts that should never be broken. In this regard they were merely repeating an essential part of the ritual that became quite popular after 1919. But in Germany numerous persons could not forget the fact that the Treaty of Versailles was the cornerstone of a structure that had been built upon the dubious sands of betrayal. Lloyd George and Clemenceau had reluctantly agreed to a pre-Armistice contract that bound them to fashion the treaty of peace along the lines of the famous Fourteen Points.[17]President Wilson did not have a clear idea of the actual meaning of the Fourteen Points. In his Diary, December 20, 1918, Secretary Lansing makes the following significant comments: “There are certain phrases in the President’s ‘Fourteen Points’ [Freedom of the Seas and Self-Determination] which I am sure will cause trouble in the future because their meaning and application have not been thought out. . . . These phrases will certainly come home to roost and cause much vexation. . . . He [the President] apparently never thought out in advance where they would lead or how they would be interpreted by others. In fact he does not seem to care just so his words sound well.” Lansing Papers, Library of Congress. The Treaty of Versailles was a deliberate violation of this contract. In the dark soil of this breach of promise the seeds of another world war were deeply sown.

It should be kept in mind that Woodrow Wilson acquiesced in this violation of contract. His ardent admirers have contended that he was tricked into this unsavory arrangement by Lloyd George and Clemenceau who were masters of the craft sinister. Ben Hecht, in his Erik Dorn, accepts this viewpoint and pungently refers to Wilson in Paris as a “long-faced virgin trapped in a bawdy house and calling in valiant tones for a glass of lemonade.”[18]Oscar Cargill, Intellectual America: Ideas on the March (New York, 1941), p. 504. In truth, Wilson ordered his glass of lemonade heavily spiked with the hard liquor of deceit, and the whole world has paid for the extended binge of a so-called statesman who promised peace while weaving a web of war.

The story of this betrayal began on October 5, 1918, when Prince Max of Baden, addressed a note to President Wilson requesting him to negotiate a peace on the basis of the Fourteen Points. Three days later the President inquired if the German Government accepted these points as the basis for a treaty. On October 12, Prince Max gave assurance that his object in “entering into discussions would be only to agree upon practical details of the application” of the Fourteen Points to the terms of the treaty of peace. Two days later President Wilson added other conditions. No armistice would be signed which did not insure “absolutely satisfactory safeguards for the maintenance of the present military supremacy” of the Allied and Associated armies. Also, a democratic and representative government should be established in Berlin. When the German Government accepted these conditions, the President informed Prince Max (October 23) that he was now prepared to discuss with the Associated governments the terms of the proposed armistice. This discussion led to an agreement on their part to accept the Fourteen Points with two exceptions. With reference to “freedom of the seas” they reserved to themselves “complete freedom” when they entered the Peace Conference. In connection with the matter of reparations they understood that compensation would be made “by Germany for all damage done to the civilian population of the Allies, and their property, by the aggression of Germany by land, by sea, and from the air.” These terms were conveyed to the German Government on November 5 and were promptly accepted by it. On November 11 an armistice placing Germany at the mercy of the Allied powers was signed in the Forest of Compiegne. With the cessation of hostilities the question of a treaty of peace came to the fore.[19]The correspondence dealing with the pre-Armistice agreement is printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1918, Supplement, I, The World War, I (Washington, 1933), 337-38, 343, 357-58, 379-81, 382-83, 425, 468-69.

The good faith of the Allied governments to make this treaty in conformity with the Fourteen Points had been formally pledged. But hardly was the ink dry on the Armistice terms when Lloyd George openly conspired to make the pre-Armistice agreement a mere scrap of paper. During the London Conference (December 1-3) the wily Welshman helped to push through a resolution which recommended an inter-Allied Commission to “examine and report on amount enemy countries are able to pay for reparation and indemnity.” The word “indemnity” could easily be stretched to cover the “costs of the war.” Although such a move was “clearly precluded by the very intent of the Pre-Armistice Agreement,” Lloyd George showed an “apparent nonchalance about principle and contract,” and started on a slippery path that “led rapidly downhill into the morasses of the December British elections.”[20]Paul Birdsall, Versailles Twenty Years After (New York, 1941), pp. 35-36.

f. Reparations and Rascality

In his pre-election promises Lloyd George revealed a complete disregard of the pre-Armistice contract. His assurances to the British electorate were in direct contradiction to his pledge to Colonel House that he would be guided by the Fourteen Points. At Bristol (December 11, 1918) he jauntily informed his eager audience that “we propose to demand the whole cost of the war [from Germany].”[21]David Lloyd George, Memoirs of the Peace Conference (New Haven, 1939), I, 306-9. The spirit that animated the election was stridently expressed by Eric Geddes in a speech in the Cambridge Guildhall: “We shall squeeze the orange until the pips squeak.”[22]Harold Nicolson, Peacemaking, 1919 (New York, 1939), p. 18.

At the Paris Peace Conference, Lloyd George (January 22, 1919) suggested the appointment of a commission to study “reparation and indemnity.” President Wilson succeeded in having the word “indemnity” deleted but it was merely a temporary victory. The French gave ardent support to the position assumed by Lloyd George. Their schemes for the dismemberment of Germany would be promoted by an exacting attitude on the part of Britain. This concerted action against the pre-Armistice agreement was strongly contested by John Foster Dulles, the legal adviser of the American members on the Reparation Commission. He insisted upon a strict adherence to the pre-Armistice promises and was supported by President Wilson who unequivocally stated that America was “bound in honor to decline to agree to the inclusion of war costs in the reparation demanded. . . . It is clearly inconsistent with what we deliberately led the enemy to expect. . . .”[23]The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, ed. Charles Seymour (Cambridge, 1928), IV, 343.

But Lloyd George and Clemenceau quietly outflanked the American position by the simple device of expanding the categories of civilian damage so that they could include huge sums that properly belonged to the categories of “war costs.” Lloyd George insisted that pensions and separation allowances should be included in the schedule of reparations, and Clemenceau hastened to his support. It was evident to both of them that these items were excluded by the express terms of the preArmistice agreement. If President Wilson adhered to the assurances he had given to his financial experts he would immediately reject this transparent scheme to violate the pledge of the Allied powers. But when these same experts indicated the obvious implications of the Lloyd George proposals and stated that they were ruled out by logic, Wilson profoundly surprised them by bursting out in petulant tones: “Logic! Logic! I don’t give a damn for logic. I am going to include pensions.”[24]Philip M. Burnett, Reparation at the Paris Peace Conference (New York, 1940), I, 63-64. Not content with adding an undeserved burden that helped to break German financial backs, Wilson followed the lead of Lloyd George along other roads of supreme folly. At the meeting of the Council of Four (April 5, 1919), the British Prime Minister suggested that in the treaty of peace the Allies should “assert their claim” and Germany should recognize “her obligation for all the costs of the war.” When Colonel House remarked that such an assertion would be contrary to the pre-Armistice agreement, Clemenceau reassuringly murmured that it was largely “a question of drafting.”[25]Ibid., p. 69.
(Philip M. Burnett, Reparation at the Paris Peace Conference (New York, 1940), I, 63-64.)

This experiment in drafting turned out to be the bitterly disputed Article 231 which placed upon Germany the responsibility “for causing all the loss and damage to which the Allied and Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany.” This so-called “War Guilt Clause” aroused a deep and widespread hatred in all classes in Germany against a decision that was regarded as fundamentally unfair. And then to add insult to injury, Article 232 repeated the language of the pre-Armistice agreement with its fake formula which limited reparations to civilian damages. The ease with which this language had been twisted to Allied benefit had clearly indicated that it would be no protection to Germany.

These two American surrenders were followed by a third which meant a complete abandonment of the position that no “punitive treaty” should be imposed upon Germany. The American experts had placed much reliance upon the creation of a Reparation Commission which would have far-reaching powers to estimate what Germany could afford to pay on Allied claims and to modify the manner and date of these payments. But Clemenceau wanted this commission to be nothing more than a glorified adding machine designed merely to register the sums Germany should pay. It was to have no right to make independent judgments. The American contention that the payment of reparations should not extend more than thirty-five years was vetoed by the French who thought that fifty years might be required.[26]Ibid., pp. 832-33.
(Philip M. Burnett, Reparation at the Paris Peace Conference (New York, 1940), I, 63-64.)

During the heated discussions in the meeting of the Council of Four (April 5, 1919), Colonel House was so obtuse that he did not realize that the French were storming the American position until one of the French experts informed him of that fact. Norman Davis shouted to him that the French banners bore the legend: “Allied claims and not German capacity to pay should be the basis for reparations.” Although this French slogan was in direct violation of the principles which the American experts had been fighting for during three long months, the confused Colonel tore down the American flag and hoisted the dubious French tricolor. By this action he flouted “both the letter and the spirit of the Pre-Armistice Agreement.”[27]Birdsall, op. cit., p. 258. When President Wilson confirmed this surrender he thereby extended a favor to Adolf Hitler who warmly welcomed illustrations of Allied bad faith as one of the best means of promoting the Nazi movement.

The financial experts at Versailles failed to fix any particular sum as the measure of German liability for having caused the World War. In 1921 the Reparation Commission remedied this omission by computing the amount to be approximately $33,000,000,000. One third of this sum represented damages to Allied property, “and one-half to two thirds, pensions and similar allowances. In short, Wilson’s decision doubled and perhaps tripled the bill.”[28]Thomas A. Bailey, Woodrow Wilson and the Lost Peace (New York, 1944), p. 240. Germany might have been able to pay a bill of not more than ten billion dollars, but when Wilson consented to play the part of Shylock and helped perfect a plan that would exact a pound of flesh from the emaciated frame of a war-wasted nation, he pointed the way to a financial chaos that inevitably overwhelmed Germany and Europe. He also helped to write several chapters in Mein Kampf.

g. The Colonial Question

The colonial question was dealt with in the fifth of the Fourteen Points. It provided for a “free, open-minded and absolutely impartial adjustment of colonial claims.” At the Paris Peace Conference there was no attempt to arrive at this “absolutely impartial judgment.” Long before the conference convened there had developed in the minds of prominent publicists in Britain, France, and the United States the opinion that Germany had forfeited all rights to her colonial dominion that had been conquered by Allied forces during the war. The usual argument in favor of this forfeiture was that German colonial administrators had cruelly mistreated the natives. Professor Thorstein Veblen wrote on this topic with his accustomed pontifical certitude: “In the [German] colonial policy colonies are conceived to stand to their Imperial guardian or master in a relation between that of step-child and that of an indentured servant; to be dealt with summarily and at discretion and to be made use of without scruple.”[29]Thorstein Veblen, The Nature of Peace (New York, 1917), p. 261. Secretary Lansing did not share the viewpoint that the Germans had forfeited their colonies through maladministration. In his Diary, January 10, 1918, he remarked: “This purpose of the retention of conquered territory is prima facie based upon conquest and is not in accord with the spirit of a peace based upon justice. . . . it is necessary for peace that the adjustment should be equitable.” Lansing Papers. Library of Congress. In Britain, Edwyn Bevan argued that the return of her colonies would not “be to content Germany but to keep up her appetite for colonial expansion; it would be to restore a condition of things essentially unstable.”[30]Edwyn Bevan, The Method in the Madness (London, 1917), pp. 305-6.

In 1917 the American Commission of Inquiry, under the direction of Dr. Sidney E. Mezes, asked Dr. George L. Beer to prepare a series of studies on the colonial question with special reference to German colonial policy. Beer had long been regarded as an outstanding expert on the commercial policy of England during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. In an imposing series of volumes he had “presented the English point of view” with regard to colonial administration.[31]Arthur P. Scott, “George Louis Beer,” in the Marcus W. Jernegan Essays in American Historiography, ed. W. T. Hutchinson (Chicago, 1937), p. 315. After the outbreak of the World War “his sympathies were very decidedly with the Allies, and particularly with the British empire.”[32]Ibid., p. 319.
(Arthur P. Scott, “George Louis Beer,” in the Marcus W. Jernegan Essays in American Historiography, ed. W. T. Hutchinson (Chicago, 1937), p. 315.)

It was only natural that Dr. Beer, despite his alleged historical objectivity, should strongly condemn German colonial policy. In February 1918 he turned over to Dr. Mezes his manuscript on the German Colonies in Africa. After weighing a considerable amount of data he came to the conclusion that Germany had totally failed to “appreciate the duties of colonial trusteeship.”[33]George L. Beer, African Questions at the Paris Peace Conference, ed. L. H. Gray (New York, 1923), pp. 58-60. Therefore, she should lose her colonial dominions.

Dr. Beer accompanied the American delegation to the Paris Peace Conference as a colonial expert and it is evident that he influenced the opinions of President Wilson who stated on July 10, 1919, that the German colonies had not “been governed; they had been exploited merely, without thought of the interest or even the ordinary human rights of their inhabitants.”[34]Bailey, op. cit., p. 163.

This accusation of the President was quite groundless. A careful American scholar who made a trip to the Cameroons in order to get an accurate picture of the prewar situation, summarizes his viewpoint as follows: “My own conclusion is that Germany’s colonial accomplishments in thirty short years constitute a record of unusual achievement and entitle her to a very high rank as a successful colonial power, a view quite different from that reached in 1919. . . . I feel that if Germany had been allowed to continue as a colonial power after the war, her civil rule would have compared favorably with the very best that the world knows today.”[35]Harry R. Rudin, Germany in the Cameroons, 1884-1914 (New Haven, 1938), pp. 11, 414, 419.

The Germans were deeply incensed because the Allied governments refused to count the colonies as an important credit item in the reparation account. Some Germans had estimated the value of the colonies at nine billion dollars. If this estimate had been cut in half there would still have been a large sum that could have been used to reduce the tremendous financial burden imposed upon weary German backs. Such action would have “spared Germany the additional humiliation of losing all her overseas possessions under the hypocritical guise of humanitarian motives.”[36]Bailey, op. cit., p. 167. These needless humiliations prepared the way for the tragedy of 1939. It is obvious that the revelations in the Nürnberg documents concerning Hitler’s design for aggression are merely the last chapter in a long and depressing book that began at Versailles.

h. The Problem of Poland: Danzig—The Polish Corridor—Upper Silesia

In the discussion of questions relating to Poland, President Wilson had the advice of Professor Robert H. Lord, whose monograph on the Second Partition of Poland was supposed to make him an authority on the problems of 1919. His lack of objectivity was as striking as that of Professor Beer. It was largely a case of hysterical rather than historical scholarship.[37]It is significant that most of Professor Lord’s colleagues on the Inquiry thought that his zeal for Poland was “excessive.” Birdsall, op. cit., p. 178. See also, Hunter Miller, My Diary at the Conference of Paris (privately printed, 1928), I, 289.

While the President was formulating his Fourteen Points, some of the experts on the American Commission of Inquiry suggested that an independent Polish state be erected with boundaries based upon “a fair balance of national and economic considerations, giving due weight to the necessity for adequate access to the sea.”[38]Ray S. Baker, Woodrow Wilson and World Settlement (Garden City, 1922), III, 37-38. In the thirteenth of the Fourteen Points, President Wilson changed the phraseology of this suggestion so that more stress would be laid upon ethnographic factors: “An independent Polish State should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea.”

(1) Danzig

If Poland were to be given access to the Baltic Sea the port of Danzig would be of fundamental importance. In order to guide the President in this difficult matter of Polish boundaries, the American experts prepared two reports (January-February 1919).[39]Miller, op. cit., IV, 224-26. In dealing with Danzig they granted it to Poland because of economic considerations. They conveniently overlooked the fact that from the viewpoint of population Danzig was 97 per cent German. On February 23, while Wilson was in the United States, Colonel House cabled to him concerning the disposition of Danzig: “Our experts also believe this [the cession of Danzig to Poland] to be the best solution.”[40]Seymour, op. cit., IV, 334-35. But the President was unwilling to confirm this suggestion, so the question of Danzig was postponed until March 17 when Lloyd George carried on a brisk exchange of opinions with Colonel House and Clemenceau. Two days later the British Prime Minister flatly refused to accept the proposal to cede both Danzig and the German Kreis of Marienwerder to Poland. He was not greatly impressed with the fact that the members of the Polish Commission and a large array of experts were in favor of this decision.[41]Lloyd George, op. cit., II, 637-42.

Despite pressure from Colonel House and Dr. Mezes (the brother-in-law of Colonel House), President Wilson (March 28) rushed to the support of Lloyd George. On April 5 he and Lloyd George reached an understanding that the city and area of Danzig should become a free city with local autonomy under a commissioner of the League of Nations but connected with Poland by a customs union and port facilities. The foreign relations of the free city were to be under Polish control.[42]René Martel, The Eastern Frontiers of Germany (London, 1930), pp. 49-50.

To the Germans this large measure of Polish control over the city of Danzig was profoundly irritating, and at times the actions of the Polish authorities in connection with foreign relations and the establishment of export duties seemed unnecessarily provocative. From the viewpoint of economics, Polish control over Danzig had the most serious implications. By altering the customs tariff Poland could adversely affect the trade of the free city, and through control over the railways could extend important favors to the competing port of Gdynia.[43]William H. Dawson, Germany Under the Treaty (London, 1933), pp. 149-52.

This situation led Gustav Stresemann, one of the most moderate of German statesmen, to remark in September 1925 that the “third great task of Germany is the . . . recovery of Danzig.”[44]Diaries, Letters and Papers (London, 1935-37), II, 503. In 1931 the quiet, unaggressive Centrist leader, Heinrich Brüning, sounded out certain European governments in order to ascertain whether they would favor territorial revision at the expense of Poland. But this pressure to recover lost territory suddenly ended in Germany on January 26, 1934, when Marshal Pilsudski concluded with Hitler the well-known nonaggression treaty.[45]Documents on International Affairs, 1934, ed. John W. Wheeler-Bennett and Stephen Heald (New York), p. 424. The price Poland paid for this agreement was an immediate acquiescence in a German program aimed at the nazification of Danzig. When Polish statesmen, after Pilsudski’s death, tried to reverse this movement by courting British and French favor, they opened the floodgates that permitted the Nazi-Soviet tide to inundate all of Poland.

(2) The Polish Corridor

A Polish Corridor through German territory to the Baltic Sea was distinctly forecast in the thirteenth point of the Wilson program which expressly declared that Poland should be granted “free and secure access to the sea.” This wide “right of way” was to go through territory inhabited by “indisputably Polish populations.” The American experts in their reports of January-February 1919, outlined a broad Polish path to the sea through the German provinces of Posen and West Prussia. They admitted the hardships this action would entail upon some 1,600,000 Germans in East Prussia but they regarded the benefits conferred upon many millions of Poles as of more significance.[46]Miller, op. cit., IV, 224-28; VI, 49-52.

When the reports of these experts were accepted by the Polish Commission and were written into the text of the Treaty of Versailles, it meant that the valley of the Vistula had been placed under Polish control. In order to shut the Germans of East Prussia away, from any contact with the Vistula, “a zone fifty yards in width along the east bank was given to Poland, so that along their ancient waterway the East Prussians have no riparian rights. Though the river flows within a stone’s throw of their doors, they may not use it.”[47]E. Alexander Powell, Thunder Over Europe (New York, 1931), p. 62.

The Corridor itself was a wedge of territory which ran inland from the Baltic Sea for 45 miles, with a width of 20 miles at the coast, 60 miles in the center, and 140 miles in the south. Transportation across it was made difficult by Polish authorities who “instead of maintaining and developing the existing excellent system of communications by rail and road, river and canal . . . at once scrapped a large part of it in the determination to divert the natural and historical direction of traffic.” With reference to conditions in the Corridor in 1933, Professor Dawson wrote as follows: “It is true that a few transit trains cross the Corridor daily, but as they may neither put down nor pick up traffic on the way, this piece of now Polish territory, so far as provision for communication and transport goes, might be unpopulated.”[48]Dawson, op. cit., pp. 102-9. See also, I. F. D. Morrow and L. M. Sieveking, The Peace Settlement in the German Polish Borderlands (London, 1936). Traffic along the highways crossing the Corridor was also very unsatisfactory. In 1931, Colonel Powell discovered that only the main east-and-west highways were open for vehicular traffic and this was “hampered by every device that the ingenuity of the Poles can suggest. Here I speak from personal experience, for I have driven my car across the Corridor four times.”[49]Powell, op. cit., p. 66.

In 1938 and 1939, Hitler tried in vain to secure from the Polish Government the right to construct a railway and a motor road across the Corridor. Relying upon British support, the Polish Foreign Office in the spring of 1939 rejected any thought of granting these concessions. This action so deeply angered Hitler that he began to sound out the Soviet Government with reference to a treaty that would mean the fourth partition of Poland. Polish diplomats had not learned the simple lesson that concessions may prevent a catastrophe.

(3) Upper Silesia

During the sessions of the Paris Peace Conference the decision with reference to Upper Silesia was one of the clearest indications that hysteria and not objective history guided the conclusions of some of the American experts. This was particularly so in the case of Professor Robert H. Lord. He was strongly of the opinion that Upper Silesia should go to Poland without a plebiscite to ascertain the desires of the inhabitants. When the treaty was turned over to the German delegation the Upper Silesian article was subjected to a great deal of cogent criticism. Lloyd George was convinced by the German arguments, but President Wilson still gave some heed t0 Professor Lord who complained that Germany had been sovereign over Upper Silesia for only two centuries. Even though Mr. Lamont countered with the remark that this territory had not “belonged to Poland for 400 years,” the President retained a lingering faith in the vehement protestations of Professor Lord. But this faith received a further shock when the learned professor opposed the holding of a plebiscite in Upper Silesia. Lloyd George then pertinently inquired why plebiscites were to be held in “Allenstein, Schleswig, Klagenfurt but not in Silesia.”[50]Baker, op. cit., pp. 482-84. Apparently, Henry White did much to give President Wilson the correct view of the situation in Upper Silesia. See Allan Nevins, Henry White (New York, 1930), p. 423. There was no real answer Professor Lord could give to sustain his position so a provision was inserted in the treaty with reference to a plebiscite in Upper Silesia.

But this plebiscite was held in an atmosphere of terror. The International Commission that took over the administration of the voting area consisted of three members: General Le Rond (France); Colonel Sir Harold Percival (Britain); and General de Marinis (Italy). France immediately sent 8,000 troops to maintain French domination over Upper Silesia and then procured the appointment of General Le Rond as the head of the civil administration. Although the Allied governments had assured the German delegation at Paris (June 16, 1919) that the International Commission would insist upon the “full impartiality of the vote,” they broke faith in this regard as well as in others. Every possible concession was given to the Poles in the plebiscite area, but when the votes were taken on March 20, 1921, the results were a great shock to the French and Poles: 707,554, or 59.6 per cent, voted to remain under German control, while 478,802, or 40.4 per cent, voted to be placed under Polish administration.[51]In the learned account written by Georges Kaeckenbeeck, The International Experiment of Upper Silesia (London, 1942), p. 6, the vote is given as 707,605 for Germany; 479,359 for Poland.

When one considers the indefensible tactics of the French before the plebiscite was held, it is surprising that the vote was so pro-German. One of the best accounts of the situation in Upper Silesia in 1919-1920 is given in the monograph by Professor René Martel, The Eastern Frontiers of Germany:

On April 4, 1919, the Polish Supreme National Council of Upper Silesia got into touch with Korfanty. Adelbert Korfanty, a former journalist and a popular leader, was the man of action for whom Dmowski was looking to prepare and organize the rising. . . . On May 1, 1919, the Polish secret societies . . . demonstrated their patriotic sentiments by pursuing the Germans. The Terror had begun. . . . The secret organizations which he [Korfanty] had built up . . . continued to exist until the plebiscite. . . . The Germans were tortured, mutilated, put to death and the corpses defiled; villages and chateaux were pillaged, burnt or blown up. The German Government has published on the subject a series of White Papers, illustrated by photographs. . . . The scenes which have thus been perpetuated pictorially surpass in horror the worst imaginable atrocities.[52](London, 1930), pp. 79-88.

When these bloody Polish outbreaks were finally suppressed, the League of Nations entrusted the task of partitioning Upper Silesia to a commission composed of representatives of Belgium, Brazil, China, Japan, and Spain. The unneutral composition of this commission is worth noting, and their decision reflected their prejudices. Under its terms Poland received nearly five-sixths of the industrial area in dispute. She also was granted “80 per cent of the coal-bearing area . . . besides all the iron ore mines; nearly all the zinc and lead ore mines and a large majority of the works dependent on the primary industries.”[53]Dawson, op. cit., pp. 206-9.

In commenting upon the farce of this plebiscite, Sir Robert Donald remarks: “Harder to bear than the material loss were the exasperating and cruel moral wrongs and injustices inflicted upon the German community. It is possible enough that had the Allies transferred Upper Silesia to Poland, basing their action upon no other law than brute force, Germany would have resigned herself to the inevitable. . . . But to inflict upon her the tragic farce of the plebiscite, with all its accompaniments of deceit, broken pledges, massacres, cruel outrages, carried out in an atmosphere of political putrescence, was to add insult to injury, moral torture to robbery under arms.”[54]Sir Robert Donald, The Polish Corridor and the Consequences (London, 1929), pp. 197-98. See also, Sarah Wambaugh, Plebiscites Since the World War (Washington, 1933); W. J. Rose, The Drama of Upper Silesia (Brattleboro, 1936); Colonel E. S. Hutchinson, Silesia Revisited—1929 (London, 1930).

Despite Wilson’s reassuring words about a peace that should not be punitive, Germany had been stripped and severely whipped. After these impressive examples of Allied ill faith it was not difficult for Nazi statesmen to plan for expansion without much thought about the usual principles of international law. Law is based upon logic, and, at Versailles, Woodrow Wilson had frankly condemned the science of right reasoning: “Logic! Logic! I don’t give a damn for logic.” Hitler could not have made a more damning pronouncement.

i. The Occupation of the Rhineland

President Wilson was not always on the wrong side of the diplomatic fence at Paris. In the matter of the Rhineland occupation he adopted a vigorous role which completely blocked the execution of an ambitious French program. One of the main French objectives in 1919 was the separation of the entire left bank of the Rhine from Germany and the establishment of autonomous republics friendly to France. Wilson refused to accept this program even though it was ardently advocated by Colonel House.[55]Seymour, op. cit., IV, 347, 349, 383. With the support of Lloyd George he was able to write into the Treaty of Versailles a moderate provision: “German territory situated to the west of the Rhine, together with the bridgeheads, will be occupied by Allied and Associated troops for a period of fifteen years from the coming into force of the present treaty.”[56]Articles 428-432 of the Treaty of Versailles, The Treaties of Peace, 1919-1923 (New York, 1924), I, 254-55.

The last contingent of the American Army of Occupation left the Rhineland in February 1923; some of the Allied troops remained until 1930. The mere fact that German soil was occupied for a decade aroused resentment in most German minds. This resentment was turned into a feeling of outrage when France quartered a considerable number of her Negro colonial troops in private residences in parts of the Rhine territory. Their insulting and at times brutal conduct towards the German women was regarded as an indication that France would go to extreme lengths to humiliate Germany. In December 1921, General Henry T. Allen sent to Secretary Hughes a complaint that had been filed with the High Commission by a delegation of German workingmen: “We fear to leave our homes and go to work leaving our wives and daughters in our houses with these men. This question troubles us more than houses and more food.”[57]General Henry T. Allen to Secretary Hughes, December 22, 1921. 862T.01/346, MS, National Archives. Felix Morley, during a vacation in France, was sharply critical of French behavior: “If England and America would leave France to herself, there wouldn’t be a Frenchman on German soil after a week.”[58]Ambassador Wallace to Secretary Hughes, Paris, April 27, 1920. 862.00/921, MS, National Archives. Three years later the American consul at Cologne wrote to Secretary Hughes a bitter indictment of French practices in the Rhineland. He reported that once in a while German officials were handcuffed and the German police “beaten and kicked.” At Aachen civilians and officials were “horsewhipped.”[59]Emil Sauer to Secretary Hughes, Cologne, February 16, 1923. 862.00/1215, MS, National Archives. Memories of these insults lingered in German minds and helped to produce a climate of opinion that justified many of the items in Hitler’s program of expansion and revenge.

j. The Starvation Blockade

The armistice of November 11, 1918, did not put an end to the Allied blockade of Germany. For many months after the war was over the Allied governments did not permit food shipments to the millions of hungry persons in Germany. This callous attitude on the part of the Allied delegations in Paris shocked the Labour Party in England which sponsored the humane “save the children” movement. Funds were raised to buy food “when owing to the blockade, starvation stalked gaunt and livid through the streets of thousands of German towns.”[60]Dawson, op. cit., p. 84.

In Paris, President Wilson appealed “again and again for a free exportation of foodstuffs to the half-starving populations of Central Europe, but always the French Government thwarted him. This French policy filled [Henry] White, who had small grandchildren in Germany and heard much from his daughter of the desperate plight of the people, with futile indignation.”[61]Nevins, op. cit., p. 372.

The impact of the blockade upon the German people was described by George E. R. Gedye who was sent in February 1919 upon an inspection tour of Germany:

Hospital conditions were appalling. A steady average of 10 per cent of the patients had died during the war years from lack of fats, milk and good flour. . . . We saw some terrible sights in the children’s hospital, such as the “starvation babies” with ugly, swollen heads. . . . Our report naturally urged the immediate opening of the frontiers for fats, milk and flour . . . but the terrible blockade was maintained as a result of French insistence.[62]G. E. R. Gedye, The Revolver Republic (London, 1930), pp. 29-31.

This graphic description by Gedye receives strong confirmation in a recent account written by ex-President Hoover who, in 1919, had been placed by President Wilson in charge of food distribution to the needy population of Europe. When Hoover arrived in London he suffered a severe shock:

I met with Allied ministers to discuss programs and organization. The session was at once a revelation in intrigue, nationalism, selfishness, heartlessness and suspicion. . . . Much as I am devoted to the English, they had one most irritating quality—they were masters at wrapping every national action in words of sanctity which made one really ashamed not to support it all. . . . Within a few hours I found that the greatest famine since the Thirty Years’ War did not seem to be of any great immediate concern. . . . They [the Allied governments] were determined to keep the food blockade not only on Germany and the other enemy states but also on the neutrals and liberated nations. . . . On February 1st [1919] . . . I gave him [President Wilson] the following: “Dear Mr. President: There is no right in the law of God or man that we should longer continue to starve people now that we have a surplus of food.” . . . The President duly took up the question . . . [and] the Big Four ordered my proposed agreement with the Germans applied forthwith.

To present the formula to the Germans they appointed a delegation to be headed by a British admiral, Sir Rosslyn Wemyss. . . . He said to me arrogantly, “Young man, I don’t see why you Americans want to feed these Germans.” My impudent reply was: “Old man, I don’t understand why you British want to starve women and children after they are licked.” . . . When the door for food to Germany opened, I promptly found hate so livid on the Allied side and also in some parts of America as to force me to issue a statement justifying my actions. . . . We had lost four months’ time, and the problems in Germany had in the meantime multiplied. . . . The maintenance of the food blockade until March, 1919—four months after the Armistice—was a crime in statesmanship, and a crime against civilization as a whole. . . . Nations can take philosophically the hardships of war. But when they lay down their arms and surrender on assurances that they may have food for their women and children, and then find that this worst instrument of attack on them is maintained—then hate never dies.[63]Herbert Hoover, “Communism Erupts in Europe,” Collier’s, CXXVIII (September 8, 1951), pp. 26-27, 68-71.

Finally, under the terms of the Brussels Agreement (March 14, 1919) provision was made for the shipment of food to Germany, but before these supplies were made available thousands of Germans had gone through the tortures of slow starvation. At Versailles the beads in a long rosary of hatred and despair had been forged for the Germans by the Big Four. After 1919 they were counted over numberless times by large groups of unfortunate persons whose health had been wrecked by malnutrition. They neither forgot nor forgave.

k. German Reaction to the Treaty of Versailles

On May 7, 1919, the German delegation in Paris was formally presented with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. When Johann Giesberts read through the long bill of indictment he burst out with vehemence: “This shameful treaty has broken me, for I had believed in Wilson until today. I believed him to be an honest man, and now that scoundrel sends us such a treaty.”[64] Alma Luckau, The German Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference (New York, 1941), p. 124. On May 12 at a great mass meeting in Berlin, Konstantin Fehrenbach, one of the leaders of the Centrist Party, alluded to the attitude that future generations in Germany would adopt relative to the treaty and ended his speech with words of warning that later were implemented by Hitler: “The will to break the chains of slavery will be implanted from childhood on.”[65]Ibid., pp. 98-100.
( Alma Luckau, The German Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference (New York, 1941), p. 124.)

These chains were confirmed by the Kellogg-Briand Pact which bestowed a formal blessing upon the injustices of Versailles. They could be broken only by force. When Hitler began to snap them, one by one, the noise was heard round the world and the American public was solemnly informed by Secretaries Stimson and Hull that a wild German bull was breaking the choicest dishes in the china shop of world peace. At Nürnberg men were hanged because they had planned to break these vessels filled with national hatreds. Nothing was said of the pseudo-statesmen who prepared at Paris the witches’ brew that poisoned German minds. The results of their criminal bungling will be told in succeeding chapters.

Footnotes

[1] John H. Ferguson, American Diplomacy and the Boer War (Philadelphia, 1939), pp. 208-9.

[2] February 10, 1904.

[3] February 10, 1904.

[4] February 11, 1904.

[5] Tatsuji Takeuchi, War and Diplomacy in the Japanese Empire (New York, 1936), pp. 155-57.

[6] Edward H. Zabriskie, American-Russian Rivalry in the Far East 1895-1914 (Philadelphia, 1946), pp. 101-60.

[7] Ernest B. Price, The Russo-Japanese Treaties of 1907-1916 Concerning Manchuria and Mongolia (Baltimore, 1933), pp. 34-38.

[8] A. Whitney Griswold, The Far Eastern Policy of the United States (New York, 1938), pp. 129-34.

[9] Theodore Roosevelt to President William H. Taft, December 22, 1910. Knox MS, Library of Congress.

[10] John G. Reid, The Manchu Abdication and the Powers, 1908-1912 (Berkeley, 1935), chaps. 4-10.

[11] Charles Callan Tansill, Canadian-American Relations, 1875-1911 (New York, 1944), chaps. 1-4, 10-12.

[12] Merle E. Curti, “Bryan and World Peace,” Smith College Studies in History, XVI (Northampton, 1931).

[13] Charles Callan Tansill, America Goes to War (Boston, 1938), chaps. 2-6.

[14] Edwin Borchard and William P. Lage, Neutrality for the United States (New Haven, 1937), p. 183.

[15] Tansill, op. cit., pp. 459-60.

[16] Borchard and Lage, op. cit., p. 88. It is interesting to note that in the eventful days that just preceded America’s entry into the World War, President Wilson had so little regard for Secretary Lansing that he complained bitterly to Colonel House about his shortcomings: “I [House] was surprised to hear him [the President] say that Lansing was the most unsatisfactory Secretary in his Cabinet; . . . that he had no imagination, no constructive ability, and but little real ability of any kind. He was constantly afraid of him because he often undertook to launch policies himself which he, the President, had on several occasions rather brusquely reversed.” House Diary, March 28, 1917. House MS, Yale University Library.

[17] President Wilson did not have a clear idea of the actual meaning of the Fourteen Points. In his Diary, December 20, 1918, Secretary Lansing makes the following significant comments: “There are certain phrases in the President’s ‘Fourteen Points’ [Freedom of the Seas and Self-Determination] which I am sure will cause trouble in the future because their meaning and application have not been thought out. . . . These phrases will certainly come home to roost and cause much vexation. . . . He [the President] apparently never thought out in advance where they would lead or how they would be interpreted by others. In fact he does not seem to care just so his words sound well.” Lansing Papers, Library of Congress.

[18] Oscar Cargill, Intellectual America: Ideas on the March (New York, 1941), p. 504.

[19] The correspondence dealing with the pre-Armistice agreement is printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1918, Supplement, I, The World War, I (Washington, 1933), 337-38, 343, 357-58, 379-81, 382-83, 425, 468-69.

[20] Paul Birdsall, Versailles Twenty Years After (New York, 1941), pp. 35-36.

[21] David Lloyd George, Memoirs of the Peace Conference (New Haven, 1939), I, 306-9.

[22] Harold Nicolson, Peacemaking, 1919 (New York, 1939), p. 18.

[23] The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, ed. Charles Seymour (Cambridge, 1928), IV, 343.

[24] Philip M. Burnett, Reparation at the Paris Peace Conference (New York, 1940), I, 63-64.

[25] Ibid., p. 69.

[26] Ibid., pp. 832-33.

[27] Birdsall, op. cit., p. 258.

[28] Thomas A. Bailey, Woodrow Wilson and the Lost Peace (New York, 1944), p. 240.

[29] Thorstein Veblen, The Nature of Peace (New York, 1917), p. 261. Secretary Lansing did not share the viewpoint that the Germans had forfeited their colonies through maladministration. In his Diary, January 10, 1918, he remarked: “This purpose of the retention of conquered territory is prima facie based upon conquest and is not in accord with the spirit of a peace based upon justice. . . . it is necessary for peace that the adjustment should be equitable.” Lansing Papers. Library of Congress.

[30] Edwyn Bevan, The Method in the Madness (London, 1917), pp. 305-6.

[31] Arthur P. Scott, “George Louis Beer,” in the Marcus W. Jernegan Essays in American Historiography, ed. W. T. Hutchinson (Chicago, 1937), p. 315.

[32] Ibid., p. 319.

[33] George L. Beer, African Questions at the Paris Peace Conference, ed. L. H. Gray (New York, 1923), pp. 58-60.

[34] Bailey, op. cit., p. 163.

[35] Harry R. Rudin, Germany in the Cameroons, 1884-1914 (New Haven, 1938), pp. 11, 414, 419.

[36] Bailey, op. cit., p. 167.

[37] It is significant that most of Professor Lord’s colleagues on the Inquiry thought that his zeal for Poland was “excessive.” Birdsall, op. cit., p. 178. See also, Hunter Miller, My Diary at the Conference of Paris (privately printed, 1928), I, 289.

[38] Ray S. Baker, Woodrow Wilson and World Settlement (Garden City, 1922), III, 37-38.

[39] Miller, op. cit., IV, 224-26.

[40] Seymour, op. cit., IV, 334-35.

[41] Lloyd George, op. cit., II, 637-42.

[42] René Martel, The Eastern Frontiers of Germany (London, 1930), pp. 49-50.

[43] William H. Dawson, Germany Under the Treaty (London, 1933), pp. 149-52.

[44] Diaries, Letters and Papers (London, 1935-37), II, 503.

[45] Documents on International Affairs, 1934, ed. John W. Wheeler-Bennett and Stephen Heald (New York), p. 424.

[46] Miller, op. cit., IV, 224-28; VI, 49-52.

[47] E. Alexander Powell, Thunder Over Europe (New York, 1931), p. 62.

[48] Dawson, op. cit., pp. 102-9. See also, I. F. D. Morrow and L. M. Sieveking, The Peace Settlement in the German Polish Borderlands (London, 1936).

[49] Powell, op. cit., p. 66.

[50] Baker, op. cit., pp. 482-84. Apparently, Henry White did much to give President Wilson the correct view of the situation in Upper Silesia. See Allan Nevins, Henry White (New York, 1930), p. 423.

[51] In the learned account written by Georges Kaeckenbeeck, The International Experiment of Upper Silesia (London, 1942), p. 6, the vote is given as 707,605 for Germany; 479,359 for Poland.

[52] (London, 1930), pp. 79-88.

[53] Dawson, op. cit., pp. 206-9.

[54] Sir Robert Donald, The Polish Corridor and the Consequences (London, 1929), pp. 197-98. See also, Sarah Wambaugh, Plebiscites Since the World War (Washington, 1933); W. J. Rose, The Drama of Upper Silesia (Brattleboro, 1936); Colonel E. S. Hutchinson, Silesia Revisited—1929 (London, 1930).

[55] Seymour, op. cit., IV, 347, 349, 383.

[56] Articles 428-432 of the Treaty of Versailles, The Treaties of Peace, 1919-1923 (New York, 1924), I, 254-55.

[57] General Henry T. Allen to Secretary Hughes, December 22, 1921. 862T.01/346, MS, National Archives.

[58] Ambassador Wallace to Secretary Hughes, Paris, April 27, 1920. 862.00/921, MS, National Archives.

[59] Emil Sauer to Secretary Hughes, Cologne, February 16, 1923. 862.00/1215, MS, National Archives.

[60] Dawson, op. cit., p. 84.

[61] Nevins, op. cit., p. 372.

[62] G. E. R. Gedye, The Revolver Republic (London, 1930), pp. 29-31.

[63] Herbert Hoover, “Communism Erupts in Europe,” Collier’s, CXXVIII (September 8, 1951), pp. 26-27, 68-71.

[64] Alma Luckau, The German Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference (New York, 1941), p. 124.

[65] Ibid., pp. 98-100.

Chapter I • American Relations with the Weimar Republic • 10,400 Words
a. America Rejects Trials of War Criminals

IN THE YEARS immediately after the close of the World War the attitude of the American Government towards the Weimar Republic was one of watchful waiting. In the Department of State there was a definite fear that sparks from Soviet Russia might find an easy lodgment in the broken structure of Germany and thus start a fire that would consume all the landmarks of the old German way of life. This fear was increased by the remarks of certain Germans who had held important diplomatic posts under the Kaiser. In October 1919, Count von Bernstorff stressed the importance of establishing close connections between Germany and Russia: “Russia is the country which we can most conveniently exploit. Russia needs capital and intelligence which our industry can provide. Above all, now that Bolshevism is beginning in Germany we are becoming ‘cousin germains’ of the Russians. We must come to terms with the Bolsheviks.”[1]American Embassy (Paris) to the Secretary of State, October 24, 1919. 862.00/754, MS, National Archives.

The mounting unrest in Germany had many unpleasant expressions. In November 1919 there was a large demonstration in Heidelberg in which anti-Semitism and a spirit of excessive nationalism were clearly in evidence.[2]Dyar to the Secretary of State, Berlin, December 31, 1919. 862.00/776, MS, National Archives. By April 1921 anti-Semitism reached a peak in certain German cities, although it was strongly opposed by Catholic prelates like the Cardinal of Munich.[3]R. D. Murphy to the Secretary of State, January 5, 1924. 862.4016/12, MS, National Archives. After 1933, Hitler merely played upon prejudices that had long existed in Germany.

Fervid expressions of nationalism were in part caused by the loud talk of certain Allied statesmen with reference to holding trials for many prominent German leaders as war criminals. This talk led the ex-Kaiser, Wilhelm II, to write to President Wilson and offer to serve as a victim in place of other Germans: “If the Allied and Associated Governments want a victim let them take me instead of the nine hundred Germans who have committed no offence other than that of serving their country in the war.”[4]Ex-Kaiser Wilhelm II to President Wilson, February 9, 1920. 763.7219/9116, MS, National Archives. There was no real need for the ex-Kaiser to make this offer. The American Government was strongly opposed to any war-criminal trials. On February 6, 1920, Secretary Lansing sent a significant instruction to the American Embassy in Paris: “This Government has not yet ratified the Treaty; it is not joining in the demand of the Allies, and it is in no way backing the insistence of the Allies in the immediate carrying out of the demand [for the delivery of German war criminals].”[5]Secretary Lansing to the American Embassy in Paris, February 6, 1920. 763.7219/8941a, MS, National Archives.

b. The Allies Balk at the Payment of American Army of Occupation

The Allies soon abandoned the project of trying Germans as war criminals. Apparently they strongly resented the attitude of Secretary Lansing in this matter because they showed a most non-co-operative spirit with regard to the payment of the costs of the American Army of Occupation. The Wilson Administration had expected the payments to be made promptly out of German reparations, but this action was blocked for several years. In 1923 the British representative on the Reparation Commission expressed a doubt whether the United States, having rejected the Treaty of Versailles, could assert any just claim to be paid for the Rhineland occupation.[6]Mr. Wadsworth to Secretary Hughes, Paris, May 16, 1923. 462.00R294/210, MS, National Archives. Similar statements deeply angered George B. Lockwood, secretary of the Republican National Committee, who wrote to Secretary Hughes to express his indignation at the situation. He was certain that the “haggling and pettifogging, duplicity and downright dishonesty that has characterized the attitude of Great Britain and the other Allied Powers in their treatment of America’s claims” indicated a strong desire to “bilk” the United States out of any payment for occupation costs.[7]George B. Lockwood to Secretary Hughes, May 24, 1923. 462.00R.293/232, MS, National Archives.

On May 25, 1923, the governments of Belgium, Britain, France, and Italy signed an agreement with the United States providing for the reimbursement of the costs of the American Army of Occupation. This reimbursement was to be paid out of German reparations over a period of twelve years.[8] Foreign Relations, 1923, II, 180. Although the Allied governments had finally consented to this long-range schedule of payments, Secretary Hughes noted that in their own case they had insisted that the payments for occupation be “met practically in full as they fell due.” It seemed to him that “they should have distributed the money received for these arms costs equitably; instead, they kept these moneys and left us out.”[9]Secretary Hughes to Ambassador Herrick, February 23, March 15, 1924. 462.00R-296/176, 212, MS, National Archives.

c. France Moves into the Ruhr

In the matter of reparations the French Government proved exceedingly difficult to satisfy. Under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles provision was made for the appointment of a Reparation Commission which should determine the amount owed by Germany and prepare a schedule for “discharging the entire obligation within a period of thirty years from May 1, 1921.” Up to that date the German Government was to pay the equivalent of five billion dollars. Early in 1921, Germany claimed that she had completed this payment in the form of gold, securities, coal, and other commodities, but the Reparation Commission declared that less than half of the required sum had really been paid. The German Government then appealed to the United States to “mediate the reparations question and to fix the sum to be paid . . . to the Allied Powers.”[10]Commissioner Dresel to Secretary Hughes, Berlin, April 20, 1921. 462.00R29/649, MS, National Archives. Secretary Hughes refused to be drawn into this dispute, but he did admonish the Weimar Republic to make “directly to the Allied Governments clear, definite and adequate proposals which would in all respects meet its just obligations.”[11]Secretary Hughes to the American Mission in Berlin. April 22, 1921. 462.00R29/684, MS, National Archives.

On April 28, 1921, the Reparation Commission announced that the total German indemnity had been fixed at 132,000,000,000 gold marks or approximately $33,000,000,000. The schedule of payments was forwarded to Germany on May 5 and was promptly accepted.[12] Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, XIII, 862-67. Although the first installment of $250,000,000 was paid on August 31, the decline in the value of the mark indicated fundamental financial difficulties in Germany. During 1922 the German Government asked for a moratorium extending two and one-half years. Britain was inclined to favor this request; France was bitterly opposed to it. Under French pressure the Reparation Commission finally declared that Germany was in default and Poincaré insisted upon reprisals.

The American Government was deeply interested in this German problem. Peace between Germany and the United States had been effected under the terms of a joint resolution signed by President Harding on July 2, 1921.[13]Ibid., pp. 18-19.
( Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, XIII, 862-67.)
This action had been followed by a treaty (August 25, 1921) which went into effect on November 11 of that year.[14]Ibid., pp. 22-25.
( Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, XIII, 862-67.)
Under the terms of these instruments all the rights, privileges, indemnities, and reparations to which the United States was entitled under the Armistice and the Treaty of Versailles were “expressly reserved.” Separate peace with Germany would not mean the loss of any of America’s hard-won rights.

These rights would have no value in a Germany whose economic structure was destroyed. Therefore, American representatives abroad looked with strong disapproval upon Poincaré’s determination to press for prompt payment of impossible reparations. In Rome, Ambassador Child talked the situation over with Barthou, the mouthpiece of Poincaré. He reported to Secretary Hughes that this conversation revealed that Barthou had “an anti-German prejudice so strong as to vitiate sound judgment.” He thought it might be necessary for the “world to weigh the necessity of acting independently of the French Government in joint appeals to public opinion.”[15]Ambassador Child to Secretary Hughes, Rome, October 24, 1922. 462.00R296/5, MS, National Archives.

The following month Ambassador Herrick, who was usually quite Francophile, wrote to Secretary Hughes and deprecated the attitude of Poincaré with reference to pressure upon Germany: “There is now definitely no hope of making any impression on Poincaré personally. He has learned nothing and forgotten nothing, not from lack of intelligence but rather from definite purpose. . . . He has staked his political life and reputation on his aggressive policy. If you want to do anything effective to stop this, you must in my judgment make some public utterance with the idea of helping reasonable French opinion.”[16]Ambassador Herrick to Secretary Hughes, Paris, November 22, 1922. 462.00R-29/2184, MS, National Archives. But Hughes replied that an appeal to the French people over the head of their government was a dangerous proceeding: “Previous efforts of this sort have caused more trouble than they cured.”[17]Secretary Hughes to Mr. Boyden, November 24, 1922. 462.00R29/2187, MS, National Archives.

In January 1923, French troops moved into the Ruhr as far east as Dortmund. The British Government regarded this action as illegal and refused to support it. Occupation of the Ruhr would paralyze German industry and seriously affect reparations and British trade with Germany. In order to counter this French policy of pressure, German workers in the Ruhr laid down their tools. Mines and factories shut down and telephone, telegraph, and railways services were discontinued. All reparation payments to the Allied governments ceased.

The American commercial attaché in Berlin looked at this French invasion of the Ruhr as an attempt permanently to “emasculate Germany as a Great Power.”[18]C. E. Herring to Secretary Hughes, Berlin, September 10, 1923. 462.00R.29/3333, MS, National Archives. The American Ambassador reported in a similar vein: “The people have been treated as a subject and alien race; their trade has been harassed and largely destroyed; ineffectual troops have been quartered here and there in their villages. Apparently everything that would arouse hostility, and nothing that would conciliate, has been done. As a result, the Rhineland population today is savagely anti-French.”[19]Ambassador Houghton to Secretary Hughes, Berlin, July 27, 1923. 462.00R29/2923, MS, National Archives.

To Herbert Hoover the repressive policy of the French had a world impact. French interference with the coal trade of the Ruhr would upset “the entire coal market of the world and would make life more difficult everywhere.”[20]Interview between W. R. Castle and Herbert Hoover, March 7, 1923. 862T.01/687, MS, National Archives. The most graphic description of French terrorism in the Ruhr is given by George E. R. Gedye in The Revolver Republic:

In Essen I saw a boy, one morning, sobbing bitterly after being thrashed by a French officer for failing to yield the pavement to him, and in Recklinghausen the French pursued with their riding-whips into the theatre some men who had taken refuge there, stopped the performance of “King Lear,” and drove out the whole audience. . . . On the night of nth March the bodies of a French chasseur subaltern and a Régie station master were found near Buer. . . . The next morning a seven o’clock curfew was proclaimed in Buer. . . . The order to be indoors by seven had been issued on a Sunday after many people had gone off on excursions for the day. On their return, all-unwitting, they were beaten with riding-whips, struck with rifle butts, chased through the streets by French soldiers, and shot at. A workman named Fabeck was shot dead as he stood with his young wife waiting for a tram.[21]Ibid., pp. 102, 119-21.
(Interview between W. R. Castle and Herbert Hoover, March 7, 1923. 862T.01/687, MS, National Archives.)

These repressive tactics finally bore fruit in the agreement of September 26, 1923, when Germany promised to abandon the policy of passive resistance. But the price of victory had been high. The British Government had not looked with favor upon the occupation of the Ruhr with the consequent collapse of Germany’s economic structure, and opinion in neutral countries was sharply critical. In France the fall in the value of the franc caused milder counsel to prevail. The way was thus prepared for discussions that led to the adoption of the Dawes Plan. The Inter-Allied Agreement providing for this plan was signed in London, August 30, 1924, and the evacuation of French troops from the Ruhr began immediately.[22] Foreign Relations, Paris Peace Conference, XIII, 899-902. See also, Charles G. Dawes, A Journal of Reparations (London, 1939).

d. President Hoover Suggests a Moratorium on Reparations

The Dawes Plan was merely a financial sedative and not a cure for the ills of Germany. It was silent with reference to the total reparations bill. Therefore, in a technical sense, the old total bill of $33,000,000,000 fixed by the Reparation Commission was still in force. But it should have been evident to the so-called financial experts that Germany could not continue making huge annual reparations payments for an indefinite period. They should also have realized that no great power would be content to remain in the financial and political chains that were riveted upon Germany under the terms of the plan. In this regard the Commercial and Financial Chronicle made some highly pertinent remarks:

Nothing like the proposed procedure is to be found in history. Germany is to be taken over and administered in the same way as a corporation no longer able to meet its obligations is taken over by the law and transferred to the hands of the bankruptcy commissioners. . . . In reality a foreign control of internal affairs has been imposed such as never before existed either in our times or in the past. . . . Never before has it been proposed to take such complete possession of the wealth of a nation.[23]Quoted in Max Sering, Germany Under the Dawes Plan (London, 1929), pp. 64-65.

Payments under the Dawes Plan increased each year until they reached (in the fifth year) 2,500,000,000 marks. The German Government was able to make them only because of the large volume of foreign loans. These loans began in 1924 when American financial promoters were scouring Europe in a fervid search for borrowers. According to Dr. Koepker-Aschoff, Prussian Minister of Finance during the years 1925-26, every week some representative of American bankers would call at his office and endeavor to press loans upon him. German officials were “virtually flooded with loan offers by foreigners.”[24]Max Winkler, Foreign Bonds, An Autopsy (Philadelphia, 1933), pp. 86-87. It made little difference whether a loan was actually needed. In Bavaria a little hamlet wished to secure $125,000 in order to improve the town’s power station. An American promoter soon convinced the mayor that he should apply for $3,000,000 which would provide not only for the expansion of the power plant but would also finance the construction of various nonproductive projects. The possibility of repayment was given little thoughtful consideration.[25]Ibid.
(Max Winkler, Foreign Bonds, An Autopsy (Philadelphia, 1933), pp. 86-87.)

But reparation payments had to be made and this was possible only through foreign loans. From 1924 to June 30, 1931, the following loans were advanced by American bankers:

Reichsmarks
The Dawes and Young loans875,000,000
States and Municipalities860,000,000
Public utilities1,073,000,000
Municipal Banks188,000,000
Private borrowers2,269,000,000
5,265,000,000

These large American loans represented 55 per cent of the total amount loaned to Germany during these years. It is obvious that American businessmen had a very important stake in continued German solvency, and they scanned with deep interest the manner in which these loans were used in Germany. Her greatest achievement in the sphere of reconstruction was the entire remodeling of her iron and steel industry. Significant technical progress was made in the coal industry, and enormous strides were made in the production of coke and gas and the utilization of by-products. The chemical industry increased its prewar output by at least 25 per cent, and the electrical industries had a similar mushroom growth.[26]On the whole matter of the financial situation in Germany in the pre-Hitler period see C. R. S. Harris, Germany’s Foreign Indebtedness (London, 1935).

But the tremendous burden of reparation payments and interest charges on foreign loans was too much for the shaky German financial structure.[27]J. W. Angell, The Recovery of Germany (New Haven, 1932), pp. 170 ff. Another financial palliative was now tried. On June 7, 1929, a group of financial experts headed by Owen D. Young handed to the Reparation Commission, and the governments concerned, a financial agreement that was conveniently called the Young Plan. Under its terms the total indemnity bill was reduced to $8,032,500,000 and was capitalized at 5 1/2 per cent. The period for its payment was limited to fifty-eight and one-half years. The Reparation Commission was abolished in favor of a Bank for International Settlements which would enjoy broad powers. As a concession to Germany, the extensive financial and political controls outlined under the Dawes Plan were abandoned.[28]John W. Wheeler-Bennett and H. Latimer, Information on the Reparation Settlement (London, 1930).

The Young Plan went into effect in 1930, but it was a panacea that failed to cure the ills of a world that was on the brink of a breakdown. Some ascribed this desperate situation to an inadequate gold supply; others thought in terms of a surplus of silver. Technology was blamed because it had enabled man to multiply the output of industrial and agricultural products to the point where the world market was flooded with cheap commodities. Aristide Briand pointed to an economic federation of Europe as the best means of surmounting the difficulties that threatened to engulf the Continent, but the Austrian Foreign Minister, Dr. Johann Schober, expressed the opinion that it would not be expedient to push things too fast. Perhaps the best step along the road to eventual European federation would be an Austro-German customs union! In March 1931 this proposed union was formally announced by the governments of Austria and Germany with a cogent explanation of its objectives.

Although Britain was not opposed to this arrangement, France affected to see political motives back of it and expressed vehement disapproval. Her refusal to grant a much-needed loan to the principal bank in Austria (the Kredit Anstalt) helped to undermine confidence in the stability of that institution. This, in turn, had its effect upon the German economic structure that was already tottering under the weight of a large unfavorable trade balance.[29]P. Einzig, The World Economic Crisis, 1929-1931 (New York, 1932); F. W. Lawrence, This World Crisis (London, 1931); League of Nations, World Production and Prices, 1925-1933 (Geneva, 1934). The following table will indicate the rapid decline in German exports:

(TABLE)

Realizing that Austria and Germany were going through a period of frenzied finance, President Hoover (June 20) proposed a one-year world moratorium, from July 1, with reference to “all payments on inter-governmental debts, reparations and relief debts, both principal and interest. . . not including obligations of governments held by private citizens.” He made it clear, however, that this action would not mean “the cancellation of the debts” due to the United States.[30]New York Times, June 21, 1931.

When France delayed acceptance of this proposal the situation in Europe grew rapidly worse. During the seventeen days “that France held up the Hoover Plan, a run on the German banks and the calling in of short-term credits drained the country of some $300,000,000. All banks in Germany for a time were closed. The Hoover Plan would have saved Germany $406,000,000 this year.”[31]Sherwood Eddy to Secretary Stimson, Berlin, September 1, 1931. GK 862.00/2616, MS, Department of State.

e. Chancellor Brüning Is Compelled to Resign

With Germany in financial chaos, Secretary Stimson decided to pay a visit to Berlin in order to get a close-up of the situation. The German press, “without a single discordant note,” gave him a “hearty welcome and the occasion was seized to express in front-page editorials the gratitude felt for America’s . . . friendliness towards Germany.”[32]Frederick M. Sackett to Secretary Stimson, Berlin, July 30, 1931. 033.1140 Stimson, Henry L./144, MS, Department of State. Stimson had a long conversation with Dr. Brüning, the German Chancellor. It was not long before they discovered that they had fought along the Western Front in opposing forces that had repeatedly clashed. The warrior tie drew them at once close together and with President Hindenburg it was much the same thing. To Stimson, the President of the Weimar Republic was an “impressive, fine old man.”[33]Memorandum of a conversation between Secretary Stimson and President von Hindenburg, Berlin, July 27, 1931. 033.1140 Stimson, Henry L./142 1/2, MS, Department of State.

But it required more than Stimson’s good will to save the Weimar Republic. The failure of the Allied governments to carry out the disarmament pledges of the Treaty of Versailles, the heavy burden of the Young Plan with its consequent crushing taxation, and the difficulties in securing a market for manufactured goods made the situation in Germany seem almost hopeless. In the spring of 1932, Brüning realized that generous concessions on the part of the Allies were badly needed in order to check the tide of National Socialism that was beginning to rise in a menacing manner.

The only way to banish the shadow of Hitlerism was to strengthen the supports of the Brüning Government. But France refused to see this plain fact. Indeed there is evidence to indicate that certain French statesmen conspired to destroy the Brüning Government. According to Brüning himself, “one major factor in Hitler’s rise . . . was the fact that he received large sums of money from foreign countries in 1923 and later [France, Poland, and Czechoslovakia], and was well paid for sabotaging the passive resistance in the Ruhr district. . . . In later years he [Hitler] was paid to excite unrest and encourage revolution in Germany by people who imagined that this might weaken Germany permanently and make the survival of any constitutional, central government impossible.”[34]Dr. Heinrich Brüning to Rev. Edward J. Dunne, S.J., cited in E. J. Dunne, The German Center Party in the Empire and the Republic, MS, dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Georgetown University library.

In partial support of this statement by Dr. Brüning there is the following paragraph from Louis P. Lochner’s intriguing book, What About Germany?:

If there was one foreign statesman who thoroughly misjudged Hitler and his movement, it was André François-Poncet, the French Ambassador to Berlin. From what I know of behind-the-scenes activities towards the end of the Bruening era in 1932, I am forced to conclude that no other diplomat is more directly responsible for the elevation to power of Adolf Hitler than this brilliant, forever-wisecracking French politician. According to François-Poncet, the incorruptible Chancellor, Heinrich Bruening, was too brainy and experienced in the wily game of international politics. Hitler, on the other hand, was a fool and a political dilettante. . . . With the Nazi leader in power, he thought it would be much easier to effect deals which would be favorable to France.[35](New York, 1942), pp. 42-43.

At any rate, the French Government in the spring of 1932 greatly helped to bring about Brüning’s fall. When the Disarmament Conference met in Geneva in February 1932, Brüning presented a program that he thought would find favor in Germany. Ramsay MacDonald and Secretary Stimson expressed their approval of the Brüning proposal, but Tardieu, of France, resorted to the usual French tactics of delay. When Brüning returned to Berlin with empty hands, Hindenburg summoned him to the President’s office and criticized him so sharply that resignation was the only course left open to him.[36]John W. Wheeler-Bennett, Hindenburg: Wooden Titan (New York, 1936), pp. 368-85.

When Brüning fell the fate of the Weimar Republic was sealed. And the fault did not lie solely on the shoulders of France. Walter Lippmann summarized the situation in a lucid commentary:

Now that he [Brüning] has fallen, tributes will be paid . . . all over the world, and everywhere there will be great regret that so experienced and upright a statesman is no longer the German spokesman. He is the best liked and most trusted man in Europe. . . . He has lacked only men of equal stature in other countries with whom he could work. . . . Though it appears that he has fallen because of intrigues by the Nationalists [in Germany], what undermined him and made the intrigues possible was the failure of France, Great Britain and the United States to take a single constructive step toward the restoration of international confidence and of the trade and credit which would depend upon it.[37] New York Herald-Tribune, June 1, 1932.

f. The Disarmament Problem Remains a Challenge

The fall of the Brüning Government emphasized the difficulties surrounding the problem of disarmament. It was the same old story of broken pledges by the Allied governments. They had the plausible excuse that the phraseology of Article 8 of the Covenant of the League of Nations was ambiguous: “The Members of the League recognize that the maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety and the enforcement by common action of international obligations.” In discussing this phraseology, Lord Davies makes the following pertinent comment: “Here is an attempt to compromise, to square the circle, to combine as a basis for reduction two incompatible principles, namely the old doctrine of absolute self-defence . . . and the alternative idea of a police function.”[38] The Problem of the Twentieth Century: A Study in International Relationships (London, 1934), p. 227.

It was inevitable that statesmen would differ with reference to the interpretation of this article. André Tardieu asserted that its language did not bind France to any plan for disarmament. Although there was a “legal obligation” to which Germany had subscribed, there was nothing to which France was bound except a “desire” to reduce her armaments.[39]Léon Blum, Peace and Disarmament (London, 1932), pp. 88-89. Aristide Briand did not agree with Tardieu in this matter. He argued that France was bound by Article 8 to agree to some plan for disarmament. She had partly carried out this pledge by making substantial reductions in her armaments, but was unable to go any further unless other nations took adequate steps to insure French security.[40]Ibid., pp. 90-91.
(Léon Blum, Peace and Disarmament (London, 1932), pp. 88-89.)

The American view relative to disarmament was clearly stated by Professor James T. Shotwell: “Germany had been disarmed with the understanding . . . that the other signatories would also voluntarily limit their armaments with due regard to what Germany was forced to do.”[41]James T. Shotwell, On the Rim of the Abyss (New York, 1936), p. 269. In 1933 the American position was given cogent expression by Norman H. Davis, who told the Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments that

it would neither have been just or wise, nor was it intended, that the Central Powers should be subject for all times to a special treatment in armaments. There is and has been a corresponding duty on the part of the other Powers, parties to the peace treaties, that by successive stages they too would bring their armaments down to a level strictly determined by the needs of self-defence.[42]John W. Wheeler-Bennett, Documents on International Affairs, 1933 (London, 1934), p. 209.

In March 1933, Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald presented his plan to the Disarmament Conference. The proposed size of European armies was bound to arouse resentment in Germany: Czechoslovakia, 100,000; France, 200,000 for home country, 200,000 for overseas; Germany, 200,000; Italy, 200,000 for home country, 50,000 for overseas; Poland, 200,000; Russia, 500,000.[43] Foreign Relations, 1933, I, 45.

In order to ascertain with precision the viewpoint of Chancellor Hitler on the matter of disarmament, President Roosevelt decided to send Norman H. Davis to Berlin for a conversation that would explore the situation. On the afternoon of April 8, 1933, Davis had a long conference with Hitler who immediately referred to the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles which he regarded as “designed to keep Germany forever in a state of inferiority and to discredit them in the eyes of the world.” He thought it was ridiculous for France to have any fear of Germany. France was the most heavily armed nation in the world; Germany had the pitiful force allowed her under the terms of Versailles. The only reason why “France could have any apprehension of Germany was because she knew she was doing an unjust thing in trying to force Germany forever to live under treaty conditions which no self-respecting nation could tolerate.” In conclusion Hitler remarked that while he did not want “war, the Germans could not forever live under the terms of a Treaty which was iniquitous and based entirely upon false premises as to Germany’s war guilt.”[44]Memorandum of a conversation between Norman H. Davis and Chancellor Hitler, Berlin, April 8, 1933. Ibid., p. 107.
( Foreign Relations, 1933, I, 45.)

With these ominous words ringing in his ears, Davis hurried to the Disarmament Conference at Geneva to discuss the MacDonald Plan with its proposed army limitations that Germany would never accept. On April 25 he received definite instructions from Secretary Hull:

Please be guided by the broad policy of United States in consistently pressing for immediate and practical actual disarmament. Our ultimate goal is twofold: First, reduction of present annual costs of armament maintenance in all national budgets and, Second, arrival at a goal of domestic policing armaments in as few years as possible. . . . We regard the MacDonald Plan as a definite and excellent step towards the ultimate objective, but that it is a step only and must be followed by succeeding steps.[45]Secretary Hull to Norman H. Davis, April 25, 1933. Ibid., p. 107.
( Foreign Relations, 1933, I, 45.)

In hurried attempts to expedite a solution of the disarmament problem, Prime Ministers MacDonald and Herriot paid visits to Washington, but they accomplished little. On April 26, President Roosevelt had an extended conference with Herriot during which many important topics were discussed. Herriot expressed the opinion that the most “dangerous spot in Europe” was the Polish Corridor. The President immediately observed that he could “not understand why some mechanical arrangement could not be made by which Germany and East Prussia could be more closely united either by air communication, by elevated train service or, if necessary, by underground tunnels.” But Herriot quickly responded with warm praise of the existing train and highway service between the two frontiers. He then, unwittingly, put his finger upon the real difficulty in arriving at any understanding between Germany and Poland by discussing the “artistic qualities of the Poles, how difficult they were to negotiate with and how even the French . . . found them exceedingly difficult to restrain and quiet whenever they became excited.” At the end of the conference Herriot “did not offer any suggestion for overcoming the Polish Corridor danger spot nor did he seem to feel that there was any solution to the problem.”[46]Memorandum of a conversation between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Herriot, April 26, 1933. Ibid., pp. 109-11.
( Foreign Relations, 1933, I, 45.)

It was this “danger spot” that in 1939 was one of the prime causes of conflict. In 1933, Herriot realized that the “artistic qualities” of the Poles made it impossible to suggest to them a realistic solution of the Corridor question. These same qualities were even more in evidence in the summer of 1939 when the Polish Ambassador in Paris was not on speaking terms with either Bonnet or Daladier. Whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad!

In 1933, Hitler regarded the Polish demands for an army of 200,000 as an evident indication of madness. He remembered only too well the bloody forays carried on by Korfanty’s irregulars both before and after the plebiscite in Upper Silesia. A Polish army of 200,000, together with a Russian army of 500,000, constituted a most dangerous threat to Germany’s Eastern Front. The MacDonald Plan was not welcomed in Berlin. It would have to be amended in favor of a larger German army.

But any arguments for an increase in Germany’s military forces met with instant opposition in Washington. On May 6, Dr. Schacht had a conference with President Roosevelt who quickly informed him that the “United States will insist that Germany remain in statu quo in armament.” At the same time he was informed that the American Government would “support every possible effort to have the offensive armaments of every other nation brought down to the German level.” At the conclusion of the conference the President intimated “as strongly as possible” that he regarded “Germany as the only possible obstacle to a Disarmament Treaty and that he hoped Dr. Schacht would give this point of view to Hitler as quickly as possible.”[47]Ibid., pp. 130-31. Secretary Hull to the ambassador in Great Britain (Bingham), May 8, 1933.
( Foreign Relations, 1933, I, 45.)

Hitler responded by calling a meeting of the Reichstag on May 17 to hear his address on the question of disarmament. In order to influence the remarks of the German Chancellor upon that occasion, President Roosevelt hurriedly issued (May 16) a statement to the “Chiefs of State of all countries participating in the General Disarmament or International Monetary and Economic Conferences.” He stressed the hope that peace might be assured “through practical measures of disarmament and that all of us may carry to victory our common struggle against economic chaos.” These practical measures included the “complete elimination of all offensive weapons.” In addition to this momentous step all nations “should enter into a solemn and definite pact of nonaggression.”[48]President Roosevelt to various chiefs of state, May 16, 1933. Ibid., pp. 143-45.
( Foreign Relations, 1933, I, 45.)

On May 17, Hitler answered the Roosevelt proposals in a very general manner. He professed to find in the suggestions of the President some items he could support as a means of overcoming “the international crisis.” Although Germany would still insist upon “actual equality of rights as regards disarmament,” she would not resort to force in order to achieve her objectives.”[49]New York Times, May 18, 1933.

These conciliatory remarks of the Führer brought instant relief to many Americans. The Cincinnati Enquirer thought that Hitler had thrown upon other shoulders the responsibility for real disarmament,[50]May 18, 1933. while the Christian Science Monitor expressed the belief that the movement for world peace had been greatly strengthened.[51]May 18, 1933.

Encouraged by these signs of agreement, Norman H. Davis announced on May 22 that the American Government was ready to consult with other nations in the event of a threat to world peace and would take no action to hinder the efforts of other nations to restrain the activities of aggressor nations.[52]Department of State, Press Releases, May 22, 1933. America was moving down the road to collective security.

g. American Press Opinion of Hitler in 1933

While the Department of State was moving down the road of German-American relations with great caution, the American press was divided in its comments upon Hitler. After the Führer had been elevated to the office of Chancellor (January 30, 1933), some papers expressed the opinion that the conservative elements in the German Cabinet would dampen Hitler’s ardor for any radical action. In this regard the following excerpt from the New York Times is typical:

It would be useless to try to disguise the qualms which the news from Berlin must cause to all friends of Germany. At the head of the German Republic has been placed a man who has openly scorned it and vowed that he would destroy it as soon as he could set up the personal dictatorship which was his boasted aim. A majority of the Cabinet, which he, as Chancellor, has been forced to accept would be strongly opposed to him if he sought to translate the wild words . . . of his campaign speeches into political action. . . . Best assurance of all is that President Hindenburg will retain supreme command and be prepared to unmake Hitler as quickly as he made him.[53]January 31, 1933.

The Boston Evening Transcript leaned toward the view that responsibility had already sobered the new Chancellor: “The more power passes into Hitler’s hands, the more sobriety enters his mind.”[54]February 2, 1933. The eagerness to see a silver lining to the clouds over Germany was evident in many newspaper editorials after the German election of March 5 had assured Hitler of a majority in the Reichstag. The New York Sun believed this majority was an indication of the yearning of the German people for a ruler with a “strong hand.”[55]March 6, 1933. The Philadelphia Public Ledger[56]March 7, 1933. and the Los Angeles Times[57]March 7, 1933. sought comfort from the fact that Hitler would suppress any internal disorder, while the Milwaukee Journal inclined toward the view that the Hitler majority might be a good thing for “the German people.”[58]March 7, 1933. The Atlanta Constitution was disposed to think that the Hitler victory at the polls might help stabilize conditions on the continent of Europe.[59]March 7, 1933.

But there were many papers that expressed deep misgivings. Paul Block’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gloomily commented on the passing of democracy in Germany.[60]March 7, 1933. The Nashville Banner rejected the view that the election of March 5 was a true reflection of German sentiment,[61]March 6, 1933. and the Washington News flatly declared that the election was a “fake.”[62]March 15, 1933.

The hope that President Hindenburg might prove a restraining force that would curb any radical moves by Hitler was soon dissipated when the Führer pressed for the enactment of an Enabling Bill that would transfer the legislative power to the Chancellor and thus permit him to relieve “the President of unnecessary work.” On the morning of March 23 (1933) this Enabling Bill came before the Reichstag, then sitting in the Kroll Opera House. While the bill was being discussed the incendiary chant of the Storm Troopers who surrounded the building came clearly to the ears of the anxious legislators: “Give us the Bill or else fire and murder.” When the bill was finally passed by an overwhelming majority in the Reichstag, Hindenburg was prevailed upon to sign it and thus he gave clear evidence of his willingness to destroy the Weimar Republic he had sworn to uphold.[63]Wheeler-Bennett, Wooden Titan, pp. 446-49.

The reaction of certain newspapers to the passage of the Enabling Bill was immediate and bitterly critical. Their viewpoint was trenchantly expressed by the Baltimore Sun: “There is no escape from the conclusion that the Hitler dictatorship is an evil, sadistic and brutal affair, with most of whose declared aspirations it is impossible to sympathize.”[64]March 25, 1933.

h. American Diplomats Regard Germany with Misgivings

Some of the dispatches from American representatives in Berlin confirmed the dark suspicions of pessimistic American newspapers. The consul general in Berlin was George S. Messersmith who wrote many long accounts that were critical of the Nazi regime. On the evening of May 10 some twenty thousand books by “Jewish and Marxistic authors” were burned in the great square between the State Opera House and the buildings of the University of Berlin. This pyrotechnic display was followed by pressure that compelled large numbers of persons with Jewish blood to retire from important public and semipublic positions. Authors, artists, educators, physicians, and scientists began to flee from Germany in increasing numbers. Concentration camps for political prisoners made their appearance in certain parts of Germany, but Mr.

Messersmith hastened to add that there was “no reason to believe that the persons in these camps were . . . mistreated.”[65]George S. Messersmith to Secretary Hull, Berlin, May 12, 1933. 862.00/2984, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

These critical comments of Mr. Messersmith were supplemented by the less acidulous remarks of George A. Gordon, the American chargé d’affaires in Berlin. Mr. Gordon feared that the German Foreign Office was due for a “shakeup” which might have some unpleasant aspects. He then commented upon the rapprochement between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Both Goebbels and Göring were working hard to make this accord firm and lasting. With reference to Russia the situation was quite different. There was a fundamental antagonism between

Hitlerism and Bolshevism. Bolshevism is essentially an international movement, based on a single class—the Proletariat—and on the international solidarity of the Proletariat. Its final goal is world revolution and the establishment of a communistic world-state. Hitlerism is an essentially national movement. . . . It believes that friendly international relations and universal peace cannot be secured by co-ordinating all nations on a proletarian basis and by wiping out their national differences.[66]George A. Gordon to Secretary Hull, Berlin, May 22, 1933. 862.00/2985-86, MS, Department of State.

By the middle of June the dispatches from Mr. Gordon took on a distinctly somber tinge. There were indications that the Nazi leaders believed that the time had arrived “for the complete absorption of all political parties in accordance with their philosophy of a ‘total state’ in which there can be no room for any party other than the Nazi Party. . . . Arrests of Catholic leaders and the suppression of Catholic journals have been reported from various parts of the country.”[67]George A. Gordon to Secretary Hull, Berlin, June 17, 1933. 862.00/3010, MS, Department of State.

On the evening of June 22, Dr. Brüning paid a visit to the American Embassy and expressed his profound concern at the “recent events and especially by the apathetic attitude evinced by President Hindenburg and his immediate entourage.” The President had “done nothing whatever” about numerous outrages and it was Brüning’s fear that the lawless elements in the Nazi Party would always “prevail over Hitler in the long run.”[68]George A. Gordon to Secretary Hull, Berlin, June 23, 1933. 862.00/3017, MS, Department of State.

But the Führer soon showed surprising strength in his resistance to the clamor of the Nazi clique that was trying to speed the movement of the revolutionary tide that was sweeping over Germany. He rebuked Goebbels “who had recently been indulging in more than the usual inflammatory talk concerning the imminence of a Second Revolution.” Hitler was strongly opposed to such a movement which he believed would lead to nothing but “chaotic results.” It seemed apparent that he had “decided to take the bolder and more statesmanlike line of trying to curb the illegalities and excesses of his followers.”[69]George A. Gordon to Secretary Hull, Berlin, July 10, 1933. 862.00/3028-29, MS, Department of State.

Mr. Messersmith shared Gordon’s opinion that Hitler was determined to check the excesses of his restless followers. His assurances to German businessmen had been definite and forceful. The dissolution of political parties might have some good results. One could only say “that for the present time the outlook is decidedly more optimistic and encouraging than it has been at any time since March 5.”[70]George S. Messersmith to Secretary Hull, July 10, 1933. 862.00/3033, MS, Department of State.

i. President Roosevelt “Torpedoes” the World Economic Conference

After the fall of the Brüning Government the Allies realized that the system of reparations was at an end. At the Lausanne Conference (June 16-July 8, 1932) this fact was frankly recognized. The new German Chancellor, Franz von Papen, offered to pay a reasonable sum in order to liquidate all reparation claims. This suggestion was adopted with certain reservations, and the amount was fixed at $714,000,000.[71]The Final Act of the Lausanne Conference, July 9, 1932 (London, 1932), Cmd. 4126.

After this important item had been settled, the German Government next turned to the task of finding some means of meeting the payments on the large public and private debts contracted before the banking crisis of July 1931. The “reflationary policy” of Hitler had resulted in an impressive increase in the production of coal and iron, and an equally impressive decline in unemployment, but despite these favorable factors the German export surplus was constantly dwindling, thus destroying any possibility of making payments on foreign loans. As the economic situation in Germany grew worse, Dr. Schacht, president of the Reichsbank, on May 29, 1933, had a conference with the representatives of Germany’s creditors in six countries.[72]The countries represented at this conference in Berlin were France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. After five days of discussion these representatives issued a statement which agreed that a continued decline in the Reichsbank’s reserves might impair its functions and that an increase in reserves was required to strengthen the bank “in its successful endeavors to maintain the stability of the German currency.”

The statement concluded with a strong expression of hope that the permanent solution of the German transfer problem would be made “one of the most important and most urgent objectives of the World Economic Conference” soon to be held in London.[73]New York Times, June 3, 1933.

It was apparent to banking circles that Dr. Schacht was about to take some temporary step to protect the reserves of the Reichsbank. He could then wait and see what solution would be offered by the World Economic Conference. On June 9 he finally issued a regulation which decreed a transfer moratorium on the interest and sinking fund payments on foreign debts estimated at approximately 17,000,000,000 reichsmarks.[74]The United States was deeply concerned about this transfer moratorium because about 40 per cent of the German external debt, approximately $1,800,000,000, was owed to American creditors. For a different estimate see Cleona Lewis, America’s Stake in International Investments (Washington, 1938), p. 414. John Foster Dulles, as the representative of American bankers, sent Dr. Schacht a telegram of sharp protest.[75]New York Times, June 21, 1933. Schacht, in turn, waited to see what the World Economic Conference would do with reference to the economic ills that were plaguing Europe. He did not have to spend much time in contemplation. When the conference convened on June 12, the representatives of Britain, France, and Italy were anxious as an initial step for President Roosevelt to agree upon a mild declaration of financial policy. Raymond Moley regarded the declaration as “wholly innocuous.” It was merely a statement that “gold would ultimately be reestablished as a measure of international exchange value, but that each nation reserved the right to decide when it would return to a gold standard and undertake stabilization.”[76]Raymond Moley, After Seven Years (New York, 1939), p. 247.

When this declaration was placed before President Roosevelt he abruptly declined to accept it and thereby “torpedoed” the conference. All Europe “exploded with resentment and wrath” at the President’s action,[77]Ibid., pp. 261-62.
(Raymond Moley, After Seven Years (New York, 1939), p. 247.)
and the delegations of experts dejectedly left London. On July 27 the conference formally adjourned without having reached any agreement on the important questions of credit policy, price levels, limitation of currency fluctuations, exchange control, tariffs, quotas, subsidies, and the resumption of foreign lending.[78]The documents dealing with the London Economic Conference are given in great detail in Foreign Relations, 1933, I, 452-762. If one may borrow a familiar phrase of Woodrow Wilson used in a different connection, President Roosevelt “broke the heart of the world” and spent the rest of his life trying to put it together again.

After the failure of the World Economic Conference to find some answer to the questions that clamored for settlement, Dr. Schacht carried on negotiations with the representatives of American bankers and finally reached a compromise whereby the Dawes loan (1924) and the Young loan (1930) would be exempted from the scope of the moratorium he had announced on June 9. Other concessions were made to American banking interests, but the situation remained distinctly unsatisfactory. The collapse at London was a serious blow to the plans of European statesmen for a satisfactory adjustment of political and economic difficulties.

j. The Four Power Pact Proves a Failure

The collapse of the London Economic Conference had an immediate effect upon the political situation on the Continent, because it helped to sabotage the political accord arrived at in the Four Power Pact signed at Rome on July 15, 1933. The concept of this Four Power Pact appears to have originated with Prime Minister MacDonald who talked the matter over at Geneva in March 1933. Mussolini then took up the matter and on March 18 transmitted to the British, French, and German ambassadors at Rome a tentative outline of a Four Power agreement. The draft not only provided for the collaboration of the powers in the preservation of European peace but recognized the need for a revision of the peace treaties concluded at the close of the World War. Particular reference was made to the need of some settlement of the colonial aspirations of Germany and Italy. With reference to the Polish Corridor the draft provided for the return to Germany of a strip of territory which would connect East Prussia “with the rest of the Reich.” The British Government frowned upon these provisions and they were finally deleted.[79]Memorandum by the chief of the Division of Western European Affairs (Moffat), March 24, 1933. Ibid., pp. 396-98.
(The documents dealing with the London Economic Conference are given in great detail in Foreign Relations, 1933, I, 452-762.)

As the negotiations for the Four Power Pact slowly proceeded at the different European capitals, the Italian Ambassador in London (Grandi) had a conversation with Norman Davis, with reference to the problem of disarmament. He expressed the opinion that the best way to speed an accord on the matter of disarmament and other questions was to have a meeting between Daladier, Hitler, MacDonald, and Mussolini. This could be brought about only on the initiative of the United States.[80]Ibid., pp. 409-11. Atherton to Secretary Hull, London, May 12, 1933.
(The documents dealing with the London Economic Conference are given in great detail in Foreign Relations, 1933, I, 452-762.)
The President failed to respond to this overture, but the negotiations proceeded so rapidly that the Four Power Agreement was initialed in Rome on June 7. Its provisions were a confirmation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. The four powers would “consult together as regards all questions which appertain to them,” and would “make every effort to pursue, within the framework of the League of Nations, a policy of effective co-operation between all Powers with a view to the maintenance of peace.” The high contracting parties would also “make every effort to ensure the success of the Disarmament Conference and, should questions which particularly concern them remain in suspense on the conclusion of the Conference, they reserve the right to reexamine these questions between themselves in pursuance of the present agreement.” This consultative arrangement also included “all economic questions which have a common interest for Europe and particularly for its economic restoration.”[81]Ibid., pp. 417-19. Agreement of understanding and co-operation.
(The documents dealing with the London Economic Conference are given in great detail in Foreign Relations, 1933, I, 452-762.)

A week after the agreement had been initialed in Rome, Lord Tyrrell, the British Ambassador in Paris, had a conversation with Ambassador Jesse Straus. After an extended eulogy of Daladier, Tyrrell then expressed “great fear of the future.” Hitler was faced with a tremendous task in Germany and would “lose out, unless he found means of carrying out his many promises which were to result from an Organized Germany. . . . Then the great danger of a communistic uprising might threaten the peace of Europe.” He was distressed over the fact that a dictatorship existed in Germany because the only stable form of government was “the democratic form, and that the sort of medieval rule that Germany was now suffering from could not last. . . . He expressed the opinion that. . . both England and the United States are responsible for the rise of Hitlerism.”[82]Memorandum by the ambassador in France (Straus) of a conversation with the British Ambassador in France (Tyrrell), June 15, 1933. Ibid., pp. 420-21.
(The documents dealing with the London Economic Conference are given in great detail in Foreign Relations, 1933, I, 452-762.)

The fears of Lord Tyrrell were felt by many other statesmen who did not have much faith in the Four Power Pact that was formally signed at Rome on July 15, 1933. In confirming the Kellogg-Briand Pact, it merely guaranteed the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles which few recognized as a perfect treaty. Mussolini had been realistic in including in his first draft provisions to deal with the Polish Corridor and the colonial aspirations of the German and Italian governments. The refusal of Britain and France to agree to this draft made the Four Power Pact a scrap of worthless paper.

k. William E. Dodd Goes to Germany as U.S. Ambassador

There is ample evidence in the Colonel House Papers in the Yale University library that the selection of William E. Dodd as the American Ambassador to Germany was made upon the strong recommendations of Colonel House and Daniel C. Roper, one-time commissioner of internal revenue.[83]Ambassador Dodd’s Diary, 1933-1938, pp. 9-10. For July 4, 1933, Dodd records a conversation with Colonel House in which the aging colonel remarked: “I sent two nominations to the President, your’s and Nicholas Butler’s, but I felt that you ought to be given precedence.” Also, there is no doubt that this selection was an unfortunate one. The Colonel did not realize that Dodd knew little about American foreign policy and even less about the problems of Europe. His knowledge of the German language was so limited that his conversations in that tongue were as full of pauses as a hesitation waltz. In Berlin he was always uncomfortable. As an American liberal he had a deep-seated dislike for every aspect of the Nazi movement. If he had been as fluent as George Bancroft he would have had to watch his words so that some sharp edge of criticism did not thrust its way through the wide-spaced texture of his discourse.

It is evident that a bigger man would have done a better job. Diplomacy is a profession that requires keen eyes that read between the lines of international relations, and sensitive ears that quickly detect the undertones of intrigue. With his second-rate mind that had mastered merely the dubious fundamentals of how to get ahead in the historical profession, Dodd was really a babe-in-the-woods in the dark forests of Berlin. Colonel House had moved with safety through those same deep shadows, but the Nazi wolf was far more dangerous than the Hohenzollern eagle. In the pages of Dodd’s diary one gets occasional glimpses of the torments that flitted through his mind as he endeavored to size up a situation that defied definition. He was constantly hoping to discover some common denominator of culture that would solve all difficulties without seeming to realize that he and the Nazi leaders looked at culture through very different eyes. He was a tragic misfit in Berlin in the prewar years, and his selection as ambassador was one of the first mistakes of the Roosevelt Administration.

l. The President Tells a Spurious Story

Inasmuch as Ambassador Dodd would have to have frequent conferences in Berlin with reference to the payment of American loans, President Roosevelt thought it expedient to invite him to the White House and regale him with an anecdote that Dodd did not suspect was spurious. He was informed that in the spring of 1933, Schacht had paid a visit to the United States to confer with American officials concerning the matter of the repayment of loans that had been extended to the German Government, German municipalities, German corporations, and German nationals. When Schacht called at the White House to talk with the President, he was treated with Hyde Park courtesy. After detailing with relish that example of boorishness, the President told the following story which was patently untrue:

He described the arrogant bearing of Dr. Hjalmar Schacht in May when he was threatening, as head of the German Reichsbank, to cease paying interest and principal on debts of more than one billion dollars due to American creditors next August. The President said he had told Secretary Hull to receive Schacht, but to pretend to be deeply engaged in looking for certain papers, leaving Schacht standing and unobserved for three minutes, with Hull’s secretary watching the German’s nervous reactions. Then Hull was to discover a note from the President which indicated serious opposition to any such defaults of German debtors. He was to turn to Schacht and hand him the document and watch the changing color of the German’s face as he, Hull, greeted him. This, the President said, was to take a little of the arrogance out of the German’s bearing, and he added that the effect was even more marked, as reported from Hull, than had been expected.[84]Ibid., p. 5.
(Ambassador Dodd’s Diary, 1933-1938, pp. 9-10. For July 4, 1933, Dodd records a conversation with Colonel House in which the aging colonel remarked: “I sent two nominations to the President, your’s and Nicholas Butler’s, but I felt that you ought to be given precedence.”)

In the Memoirs of Cordell Hull this story is repeated with some additions. It is easy to demonstrate its falsity.

On May 8, Dr. Schacht, head of the German Reichsbank, who was in Washington on an official visit . . . announced that his Government would cease payments abroad on Germany’s external debts, totaling $5,000,000,000, of which nearly $2,000,000,000 were held by Americans. The following day I called Dr. Schacht into my office, determined to speak some bare-fisted words. I found Schacht simple and unaffected, thoroughly approachable. . . . The moment Schacht sat down alongside my desk, I went right to the point and said, with some anger: “I was never so deeply surprised as I was yesterday afternoon by your announcement. My Government is exercising every ounce of its power to bring the nation out of the depths of awful panic conditions. . . . Just as real progress is being made, you come over here and, after sitting in confidential conferences with our officials . . . suddenly let it be given out from our doorstep that Germany has suspended these payments. . . .” I felt outraged at such a bald attempt to involve this Government in so odious an act by Germany. I said: “Any person ought to realize the serious possibilities of such steps.” Dr. Schacht kept protesting that he had not foreseen or grasped these reactions, “I am extremely sorry,” he said. I gave Dr. Schacht a written memorandum which stated: “The President has directed me to say to you in regard to your communication as to the decision of the German Government to stop transfers on obligations externally sold or externally payable, that he is profoundly shocked.”[85]Cordell Hull, Memoirs (New York, 1948), I, 237-38.

As one reads the Memoirs of Secretary Hull, it is noticeable that he makes no reference to the “arrogant bearing” of Dr. Schacht as described by the President to Dr. Dodd. Instead, he speaks of Dr. Schacht as “simple and unaffected.” There is no confirmation of the President’s story of the discourteous manner in which Schacht was supposed to be treated in the office of Secretary Hull. But the Memoirs of the Secretary are just as fictional, in places, as the story of President Roosevelt. As a matter of fact, Secretary Hull, or his genial “ghost,” Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Berding, became badly confused when writing about this “Schacht incident.” First of all, Dr. Schacht did not announce on May 8 that “his Government would cease payments abroad on Germany’s external debts.” That announcement came a month later (June 9). As early as January 19, 1933, Herr Wambold, Minister of Economics in the Reich, announced that repayments “of the principal of foreign private debts will be impossible in 1933.”[86]New York Times, January 19, 1933. Dr. Schacht countered this statement by an assurance that all “foreign commercial debts will be fully paid.”[87]New York Times, March 19, 1933. On May 8 an announcement appeared in the American press to the effect that the German “debt service is imperiled by drop in exports.”[88]New York Times, May 8, 1933. A similar announcement had been previously made on January 19 and April 10. Schacht was not ready to take any definite action until he returned to Berlin and had a conference with the representatives of the principal creditor countries (May 29-June 2).

On May 9 there was no reason for Secretary Hull to call Dr. Schacht to his office and assault him with some “bare-fisted words” with reference to Germany’s default on her obligations to American creditors. There had been no announcement of such a proposed default, and the highly colored stories told by President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull are mere flights of imagination.

Ambassador Dodd was not sufficiently acquainted with the President to be able to draw the line between truth and mendacity, so he duly recorded the story for posterity and thereby afforded another illustration of the moral make-up of the Chief Executive. After listening to the President’s dubious discourse on Dr. Schacht, Dodd went to New York City (July 3) for a conference with a group of prominent bankers who had no glib prescription with reference to a settlement of financial difficulties with Germany. They merely expressed the hope that the American Ambassador might be able to keep the German Government from “defaulting openly.” As an inducement to this end they were willing to reduce the rate of interest on their loans from seven to four per cent.[89]Dodd, op. cit., p. 9.

After receiving these official and unofficial instructions with regard to proposed German defaults on American loans, Dodd then had to listen to advice on many other problems that vexed the course of German-American relations. One of the most important irritants that pointed to future trouble was the anti-Semitic campaign that had been launched by the Nazi Government. During his conversation with Dodd at the White House the President had remarked: “The German authorities are treating the Jews shamefully and the Jews in this country are greatly excited. But this is . . . not a governmental affair. We can do nothing except for American citizens who happen to be made victims. We must protect them, and whatever we can do to moderate the general persecution by unofficial and personal influence ought to be done.”[90]Ibid., p. 5.
(Dodd, op. cit., p. 9.)

On the following day Dodd met Raymond Moley who apparently held “entirely different views from the President about the American attitude toward the Jews in Germany.” After listening to Moley’s remarks for some moments, Dodd countered with an unrelated question about the operation of the Walker tariff of 1846. Moley was thrown off mental balance by this sudden shift in subject, and when he fumbled around for an answer that was not on the tip of his tongue, Dodd decided that he was an intellectual lightweight who “could not long hold his confidential relations with Roosevelt.”[91]Ibid., pp. 6-7.
(Dodd, op. cit., p. 9.)

In the first week in July, Dodd was in New York City preparing to take the boat for Germany. He had a long conference with some outstanding Jews, including Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and Felix Warburg. They strongly urged him to press for an immediate change in the repressive policy that had been adopted by the Nazi Government towards the Jews, and Dodd assured them that he would “exert all possible personal influence against unjust treatment” of that unfortunate minority.[92]Ibid., p. 9.
(Dodd, op. cit., p. 9.)

Dodd then hurried to keep an engagement with Colonel House at Beverly Farms near Boston. With reference to the Jewish question, the Colonel remarked: “You should try to ameliorate Jewish sufferings. They are clearly wrong and terrible; but the Jews should not be allowed to dominate the economic or intellectual life in Berlin as they have done for a long time.” In New York City, at the home of Charles R. Crane, Dodd listened to a new viewpoint concerning anti-Semitism in Germany. Crane, though old and feeble, showed surprising animation against all Jews. His concluding words to Dodd were sharply sanguinary: “Let Hitler have his way.”[93]Ibid., pp. 10-11.
(Dodd, op. cit., p. 9.)

One of Dodd’s last visitors before his departure for Berlin was George Sylvester Viereck. Viereck was known to Dodd as a German propagandist during the years from 1914 to 1917, and he was held at arm’s length as a “curious sort of journalist with whom one would best not be too free.” After leaving Viereck he was driven to the steamboat pier where insistent reporters kept clamoring for photographs. Reluctantly, Dodd posed for a picture. Perhaps the “curious” personality of Viereck pursued him, for unfortunately, “unaware of the similarity of the Hitler salute . . . we raised our hands.”[94]Ibid., p. ix.
(Dodd, op. cit., p. 9.)
In months to come, in Berlin, he would frequently raise his hands, not as a salute to Hitler, but by way of imprecation against a regime he quickly grew to loathe.

Footnotes

[1] American Embassy (Paris) to the Secretary of State, October 24, 1919. 862.00/754, MS, National Archives.

[2] Dyar to the Secretary of State, Berlin, December 31, 1919. 862.00/776, MS, National Archives.

[3] R. D. Murphy to the Secretary of State, January 5, 1924. 862.4016/12, MS, National Archives.

[4] Ex-Kaiser Wilhelm II to President Wilson, February 9, 1920. 763.7219/9116, MS, National Archives.

[5] Secretary Lansing to the American Embassy in Paris, February 6, 1920. 763.7219/8941a, MS, National Archives.

[6] Mr. Wadsworth to Secretary Hughes, Paris, May 16, 1923. 462.00R294/210, MS, National Archives.

[7] George B. Lockwood to Secretary Hughes, May 24, 1923. 462.00R.293/232, MS, National Archives.

[8] Foreign Relations, 1923, II, 180.

[9] Secretary Hughes to Ambassador Herrick, February 23, March 15, 1924. 462.00R-296/176, 212, MS, National Archives.

[10] Commissioner Dresel to Secretary Hughes, Berlin, April 20, 1921. 462.00R29/649, MS, National Archives.

[11] Secretary Hughes to the American Mission in Berlin. April 22, 1921. 462.00R29/684, MS, National Archives.

[12] Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, XIII, 862-67.

[13] Ibid., pp. 18-19.

[14] Ibid., pp. 22-25.

[15] Ambassador Child to Secretary Hughes, Rome, October 24, 1922. 462.00R296/5, MS, National Archives.

[16] Ambassador Herrick to Secretary Hughes, Paris, November 22, 1922. 462.00R-29/2184, MS, National Archives.

[17] Secretary Hughes to Mr. Boyden, November 24, 1922. 462.00R29/2187, MS, National Archives.

[18] C. E. Herring to Secretary Hughes, Berlin, September 10, 1923. 462.00R.29/3333, MS, National Archives.

[19] Ambassador Houghton to Secretary Hughes, Berlin, July 27, 1923. 462.00R29/2923, MS, National Archives.

[20] Interview between W. R. Castle and Herbert Hoover, March 7, 1923. 862T.01/687, MS, National Archives.

[21] Ibid., pp. 102, 119-21.

[22] Foreign Relations, Paris Peace Conference, XIII, 899-902. See also, Charles G. Dawes, A Journal of Reparations (London, 1939).

[23] Quoted in Max Sering, Germany Under the Dawes Plan (London, 1929), pp. 64-65.

[24] Max Winkler, Foreign Bonds, An Autopsy (Philadelphia, 1933), pp. 86-87.

[25] Ibid.

[26] On the whole matter of the financial situation in Germany in the pre-Hitler period see C. R. S. Harris, Germany’s Foreign Indebtedness (London, 1935).

[27] J. W. Angell, The Recovery of Germany (New Haven, 1932), pp. 170 ff.

[28] John W. Wheeler-Bennett and H. Latimer, Information on the Reparation Settlement (London, 1930).

[29] P. Einzig, The World Economic Crisis, 1929-1931 (New York, 1932); F. W. Lawrence, This World Crisis (London, 1931); League of Nations, World Production and Prices, 1925-1933 (Geneva, 1934). The following table will indicate the rapid decline in German exports:

(Rm. Millions)
Monthly averageImportsExportsBalance
1931560.7799.8239.1
1933350.3405.955.6
1934371.0347-2-23.8

[30] New York Times, June 21, 1931.

[31] Sherwood Eddy to Secretary Stimson, Berlin, September 1, 1931. GK 862.00/2616, MS, Department of State.

[32] Frederick M. Sackett to Secretary Stimson, Berlin, July 30, 1931. 033.1140 Stimson, Henry L./144, MS, Department of State.

[33] Memorandum of a conversation between Secretary Stimson and President von Hindenburg, Berlin, July 27, 1931. 033.1140 Stimson, Henry L./142 1/2, MS, Department of State.

[34] Dr. Heinrich Brüning to Rev. Edward J. Dunne, S.J., cited in E. J. Dunne, The German Center Party in the Empire and the Republic, MS, dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Georgetown University library.

[35] (New York, 1942), pp. 42-43.

[36] John W. Wheeler-Bennett, Hindenburg: Wooden Titan (New York, 1936), pp. 368-85.

[37] New York Herald-Tribune, June 1, 1932.

[38] The Problem of the Twentieth Century: A Study in International Relationships (London, 1934), p. 227.

[39] Léon Blum, Peace and Disarmament (London, 1932), pp. 88-89.

[40] Ibid., pp. 90-91.

[41] James T. Shotwell, On the Rim of the Abyss (New York, 1936), p. 269.

[42] John W. Wheeler-Bennett, Documents on International Affairs, 1933 (London, 1934), p. 209.

[43] Foreign Relations, 1933, I, 45.

[44] Memorandum of a conversation between Norman H. Davis and Chancellor Hitler, Berlin, April 8, 1933. Ibid., p. 107.

[45] Secretary Hull to Norman H. Davis, April 25, 1933. Ibid., p. 107.

[46] Memorandum of a conversation between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Herriot, April 26, 1933. Ibid., pp. 109-11.

[47] Ibid., pp. 130-31. Secretary Hull to the ambassador in Great Britain (Bingham), May 8, 1933.

[48] President Roosevelt to various chiefs of state, May 16, 1933. Ibid., pp. 143-45.

[49] New York Times, May 18, 1933.

[50] May 18, 1933.

[51] May 18, 1933.

[52] Department of State, Press Releases, May 22, 1933.

[53] January 31, 1933.

[54] February 2, 1933.

[55] March 6, 1933.

[56] March 7, 1933.

[57] March 7, 1933.

[58] March 7, 1933.

[59] March 7, 1933.

[60] March 7, 1933.

[61] March 6, 1933.

[62] March 15, 1933.

[63] Wheeler-Bennett, Wooden Titan, pp. 446-49.

[64] March 25, 1933.

[65] George S. Messersmith to Secretary Hull, Berlin, May 12, 1933. 862.00/2984, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

[66] George A. Gordon to Secretary Hull, Berlin, May 22, 1933. 862.00/2985-86, MS, Department of State.

[67] George A. Gordon to Secretary Hull, Berlin, June 17, 1933. 862.00/3010, MS, Department of State.

[68] George A. Gordon to Secretary Hull, Berlin, June 23, 1933. 862.00/3017, MS, Department of State.

[69] George A. Gordon to Secretary Hull, Berlin, July 10, 1933. 862.00/3028-29, MS, Department of State.

[70] George S. Messersmith to Secretary Hull, July 10, 1933. 862.00/3033, MS, Department of State.

[71] The Final Act of the Lausanne Conference, July 9, 1932 (London, 1932), Cmd. 4126.

[72] The countries represented at this conference in Berlin were France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.

[73] New York Times, June 3, 1933.

[74] The United States was deeply concerned about this transfer moratorium because about 40 per cent of the German external debt, approximately $1,800,000,000, was owed to American creditors. For a different estimate see Cleona Lewis, America’s Stake in International Investments (Washington, 1938), p. 414.

[75] New York Times, June 21, 1933.

[76] Raymond Moley, After Seven Years (New York, 1939), p. 247.

[77] Ibid., pp. 261-62.

[78] The documents dealing with the London Economic Conference are given in great detail in Foreign Relations, 1933, I, 452-762.

[79] Memorandum by the chief of the Division of Western European Affairs (Moffat), March 24, 1933. Ibid., pp. 396-98.

[80] Ibid., pp. 409-11. Atherton to Secretary Hull, London, May 12, 1933.

[81] Ibid., pp. 417-19. Agreement of understanding and co-operation.

[82] Memorandum by the ambassador in France (Straus) of a conversation with the British Ambassador in France (Tyrrell), June 15, 1933. Ibid., pp. 420-21.

[83] Ambassador Dodd’s Diary, 1933-1938, pp. 9-10. For July 4, 1933, Dodd records a conversation with Colonel House in which the aging colonel remarked: “I sent two nominations to the President, your’s and Nicholas Butler’s, but I felt that you ought to be given precedence.”

[84] Ibid., p. 5.

[85] Cordell Hull, Memoirs (New York, 1948), I, 237-38.

[86] New York Times, January 19, 1933.

[87] New York Times, March 19, 1933.

[88] New York Times, May 8, 1933.

[89] Dodd, op. cit., p. 9.

[90] Ibid., p. 5.

[91] Ibid., pp. 6-7.

[92] Ibid., p. 9.

[93] Ibid., pp. 10-11.

[94] Ibid., p. ix.

Chapter II • The Far East in Ferment • 12,000 Words
a. A Triple Offensive Is Launched against Japan

WHILE the Roosevelt Administration was putting its diplomatic house in order with reference to Nazi Germany, the situation in the Far East constantly threatened to get out of hand. The heritage of the Stimson policy was an unfortunate one. But the policy of pressure upon Japan antedated Stimson some two decades. Dollar diplomacy under Taft challenged Japan’s position in Manchuria, and under Woodrow Wilson a three-pronged offensive was launched against Nippon. The first phase of this offensive began when Japan presented to China in January 1915 the famous Twenty-One Demands. In connection with these demands the American Minister at Peking, Paul Reinsch, sent to the Department of State a series of dispatches so critical in tone that they helped to create in American minds a fixation of Japanese wickedness that made eventual war a probability.[1]Paul W. Reinsch, An American Diplomat in China (New York, 1922), chap. 12; Thomas E. La Fargue, China and the World War (Stanford, 1937), chap. 3. This probability was increased when Secretary Bryan (May 11, 1915) sent to Tokyo a nonrecognition note that was later exhumed from the old files of State Department correspondence by Secretary Stimson and fashioned into a hand grenade that shattered all hope of peaceful relations between Japan and the United States.

In 1917, when America intervened in World War I, the single-track mind of President Wilson was directed towards Europe. Japan suddenly became our little brown brother in a crusade against the sinister designs of the Central Powers. She was to be courted instead of criticized and her help to the Allies could be paid in terms of a new understanding of Japan’s special position in North China. Britain, France, and Russia had already in the early months of 1917 signed secret treaties with Japan which pledged their support of her claims to the retention of the German rights in Shantung and the German islands north of the equator.[2]F. Seymour Cocks, The Secret Treaties and Understandings (London, 1918), pp. 84-88; J. V. A. MacMurray, Treaties and Agreements with and Concerning China (New York, 1921), II, 1168-69. When America entered the war Balfour paid a visit to Washington and informed both President Wilson and Secretary Lansing of the terms of the secret treaties.[3]Blanche E. Dugdale, Arthur James Balfour (New York, 1936), II, 145-46. See also, Balfour to President Wilson, January 31, 1918, File 2, Box 135. Wilson Papers, Library of Congress; and Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, November 18, 1918, File 2, Box 156. Ibid.
(F. Seymour Cocks, The Secret Treaties and Understandings (London, 1918), pp. 84-88; J. V. A. MacMurray, Treaties and Agreements with and Concerning China (New York, 1921), II, 1168-69.)
As Professor Griswold sagely remarked: “It is hard to escape the conclusion that those [treaties] relating to Shantung were among Balfour’s revelations.”[4]A. Whitney Griswold, The Far Eastern Policy of the United States (New York, 1938), p. 219. As a matter of fact, Lansing, in his Diary, frankly admits that he knew the terms of the secret treaty between Britain and Japan: “The problem of the final disposition of Germany’s colonial possessions should be considered as unsettled. . . . In the case of the Pacific islands I learned last summer that Japan and Great Britain have a secret agreement by which Japan shall retain after the war the German territories north of the equator.”[5]Lansing Diary, January 10, 1918. Lansing Papers, Library of Congress.

On November 2, 1917, Lansing and Viscount Ishii signed the well-known Lansing-Ishii Agreement which specifically stated that “territorial propinquity creates special relations between countries, and consequently, the Government of the United States recognizes that Japan has special interests in China, particularly in the part to which her possessions are contiguous.” With reference to this agreement, Professor Griswold makes the following comment:

Established diplomatic usage has endowed the phrase “special interests” with political as well as economic connotations. . . . The situation in world politics at the time the agreement was being negotiated was such as to suggest that Lansing realized the political character of his concession and concealed it. . . . The fact is, Lansing knew of the existence of the secret treaties, with which his phrase was pale in comparison and which rendered fantastic the expectations implicit in the rest of the agreement. . . . Given Lansing’s knowledge of the Allied commitments to Japan, even the phrase “special interests” implied at least tentative recognition of them.[6]Griswold, op. cit., pp. 218-19.

When one keeps these facts in mind, it is evident that the policy of the President at Paris was a most dubious one. During the sessions of the Peace Conference he led a determined assault upon the Japanese position in Shantung in the face of his acquiescence in the secret treaty that bound Britain to support the Japanese claims to economic domination of that province. The Lansing-Ishii Agreement had formally recorded this acquiescence. Wilson’s action, therefore, and his subsequent denial of any knowledge of the secret treaties must have convinced Japanese statesmen that he was implementing the maxims of Machiavelli.

Another aspect of the President’s offensive against Japan had to do with Allied intervention in Siberia in 1918. During the spring of that year the Allied governments kept urging the United States to consent to a proposal to have Japan send an expeditionary force into Siberia as “a mandatory of the Powers.” On March 19, Lansing opposed this intervention in a strong memorandum: “In view of the almost certain hostility of the Russian people to Japanese occupation of Siberia and the pro-German sentiment which would result . . . it would seem unwise and inexpedient to support the request for Japanese intervention.”[7]Lansing, op. cit. Memorandum by Secretary Lansing, March 18, 1918. On April 10, Lansing states in another memorandum that “I am entirely responsible for the present policy which is opposed to intervention by the Japanese in a mandatory capacity.”[8]Ibid., April 10, 1918.
(Lansing, op. cit. Memorandum by Secretary Lansing, March 18, 1918.)
Two months later Lansing continues to remark: “It would be a grave error for Japan to send an expedition alone. I feel that it ought not to be permitted if it can be prevented.”[9]Ibid., June 12, 1918.
(Lansing, op. cit. Memorandum by Secretary Lansing, March 18, 1918.)

It was soon apparent, however, that it would be necessary to send some type of expeditionary force into Siberia to co-operate with Czechoslovak troops who were making their way to Vladivostok. Inasmuch as Japan was dose to that port it was obvious that she should be asked to contribute a considerable number of troops. On July 6 an important conference was held at the White House with the President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, General March, and Admiral Benson in attendance. After a detailed discussion of the situation in the Far East it was decided that a “military force” should be assembled at Vladivostok composed of “approximately 7,000 Americans and 7,000 Japanese to guard the line of communication of the Czecho-Slovaks proceeding toward Irkutsk.”[10]Lansing, op. cit. Memorandum of a conference at the White House, July 6, 1918.

On the same day Colonel House had a conversation with Viscount Ishii with regard to the Siberian situation. At the close of this conference House wrote a letter to President Wilson in which he made the following comment: “It has been my opinion for a long time that unless Japan was treated with more consideration regarding the right of her citizens to expand in nearby Asiatic undeveloped countries, she would have to be reckoned with—and rightly so.”[11]Colonel House to President Wilson, July 6, 1918. House Papers, Yale University Library.

As a result of numerous conferences dealing with the Far East it was finally decided to send General William S. Graves with a small army (9,014 officers and men) to Siberia to co-operate with an Allied expeditionary force. The duties assigned to this force were to assist the Czechs, help steady genuine Russian efforts at self-government and self-defense, and to guard Allied military stores. The force under Graves stayed in Siberia from August 1918 until April 1920. Its sole achievement was to save the maritime provinces of Siberia for the ruthless rule of Red Russia.[12]General William S. Graves, America’s Siberian Adventure (New York, 1931); Pauline Tompkins, American-Russian Relations in the Far East (New York, 1949), pp. 47-141; John A. White, The Siberian Intervention (Princeton, 1950), pp. 270-74.

The third thrust of the Wilson offensive against Japan took the form of financial pressure. During the Taft Administration certain American banks were high-pressured into participating in the Chinese Hukuang Railways loan. This action meant American membership in a four-power banking consortium. The status of this participation was carefully defined in the agreements of November 10, 1910, and May 20, 1911.[13]Frederick V. Field, American Participation in the China Consortiums (Chicago, 1931), pp. 14-66; John G. Reid, The Manchu Abdication and the Powers, 1908-1912 (Berkeley, 1935), pp. 36-241, 258-99. In 1912 (June 18-20) Japan and Russia joined this banking group making it a six-power consortium. But American bankers were “disgruntled” that they were “not yet in a position to make any profit out of their endeavors.” They made it clear to the Wilson Administration in the early days of March 1913 that they would not be satisfied with the “mere approval” of the Department of State. As a necessary condition “to their staying in the business with China they must be asked to do so by the American Government.”[14]MacMurray, op. cit., p. 1024; Griswold, op. cit., pp. 172-73. Instead of extending this invitation, President Wilson favored American abstention from the consortium on the ground that concerted banking pressure “might conceivably go to the length in some unhappy contingency of forcible interference in the financial, and even the political affairs of the great oriental State [China].”[15] Foreign Relations, 1913, pp. 170-71.

The outbreak of the World War eliminated Germany and Russia from the consortium, and Britain and France were so heavily burdened by the costs of war that they were unable to extend any loans to China. Japan quickly moved into this financial vacuum and loaned to China more than 320,000,000 yen.[16]Ibid., 1918, pp. 167-68.
( Foreign Relations, 1913, pp. 170-71.)
The political implications of these loans were so evident that the British and French governments intimated to the Department of State that it would be advisable for the United States to re-enter the consortium.[17]Ibid., 1917, pp. 144-45; 154-55. British Embassy to Secretary Lansing, October 3, 1917; Ambassador Jusserand to Secretary Lansing, November 19, 1917.
( Foreign Relations, 1913, pp. 170-71.)
Secretary Lansing countered with an important suggestion. In a letter to President Wilson he outlined the financial straits of China and then remarked that, “in view of the present circumstances and of the situation in China,” it was probably wise to organize a new four-power banking consortium.[18]Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, June 20, 1918. 893.51/2512, MS, Department of State. On the following day the President approved this suggestion with the proviso that care should be taken to prevent the possibility of any “unconscionable arrangements” like some of the ones that had been contemplated under the terms of the former consortium.[19]President Wilson to Secretary Lansing, June 21, 1918. 893.51/2513, MS, Department of State.

On June 22, Secretary Lansing invited the representatives of important banking groups to discuss with him the formation of a new consortium. They promptly accepted this invitation and on October 8 the Department of State formally outlined to the governments of Britain, France, and Japan a detailed proposal for a new consortium.[20]Secretary Lansing to Ambassador Jusserand, October 8, 1918. 893.51/20426, MS, Department of State. On March 17, 1919,[21]British Foreign Office to the American Embassy, London, March 17, 1919. The Consortium, The Official Text of the Four-Power Agreement for a Loan to China and Relevant Documents (Washington, 1921), No. 5, p. 15. the British Government accepted the American proposal, but France and Japan delayed favorable action. The Japanese press was opposed to the new consortium on the ground that it would mean the loss by Japan of the “fruits she had amassed” in the past few years.[22]Ambassador Morris to Secretary Lansing, Tokyo, May 28, 1919. 893.51/2241, MS, Department of State. The Japanese Government entertained similar fears and Mr. Odagiri, the Japanese financial representative at Paris, was instructed to inform Mr. Thomas W. Lamont, chief American financial representative, that “all rights and options held by Japan in the regions of Manchuria and Mongolia, where Japan has special interests, should be excluded from the arrangement.”[23]J. W. Davis to Acting Secretary Polk, London, June 18, 1919. 893.51/2268, MS, Department of State.

Lamont immediately informed Odagiri that any attempt to exclude Manchuria and Mongolia from the scope of the new consortium would be “inadmissible.”[24]J. P. Morgan and Company to Dept, of State, June 25, 1919. 893.51/2282, MS, Department of State. He also wrote to J. P. Morgan and Company and expressed the opinion that there was no hope that Japan would recede from her position unless “the United States and Great Britain will assume a very rigorous position in the matter.”[25]T. W. Lamont to J. P. Morgan and Company. 893.51/2268, MS, Department of State. From Peking the American Minister warned that the Japanese were playing their “usual game” of deceit. Probably “you are being assured that they are favorable to the consortium and will join it in due course. Meanwhile influence is exerted to stir up the Chinese against it.”[26]Reinsch to Secretary Lansing, Peking, June 26, 1919. 893.51/2284, MS, Department of State.

In order to exert pressure upon the Japanese Government the Department of State toyed with the idea of a three-power consortium, but Britain and France were opposed to such a move.[27]Ambassador Wallace to Breckinridge Long, Paris, July 13, 1919. 893.51/2308, MS, Department of State. Undue pressure upon Japan might propel her into an alliance with Germany.[28]Ambassador Wallace to Secretary Lansing, Paris, September 16, 1919. 893.51/2425, MS, Department of State.

In an endeavor to explain their desire to exclude Manchuria and Mongolia from the scope of this proposed consortium, the Japanese Government pointed out that those regions were of vital interest from the viewpoint of national defense. Recent developments in Russia were a matter of “grave concern.” The situation in Siberia might take a sudden turn that would threaten “the safety of Japan,” and ultimately all eastern Asia might become the victim of the “sinister activities of extremist forces.”[29]Japanese Embassy to the Department of State, March 2, 1920. 893.51/2695, MS, Department of State.

Secretary Lansing could understand this Japanese fear of the onward tide of bolshevism. With reference to Japan’s desire to station adequate forces in Siberia for the purpose of checking that tide he made the following comment in his diary:

My belief is that they [the Japanese] will send reinforcements to Siberia and attempt to strengthen Seminoff’s force [of White Russians]. I cannot see how the Japanese Government can adopt any other policy in view of the very real peril to Japan if the Bolsheviks should gain a foothold in Manchuria and co-operate with the Korean revolutionists. Certainly in the circumstances we ought not to raise any objection to Japan sending a sufficient force to check the Bolshevik advance, for the spread of Bolshevism in the Far East would be a dreadful menace to civilization.[30]Lansing, op. cit., November 30, 1918.

During the very months while the consortium negotiations were going on, Lansing made another illuminating entry in his diary:

I have little patience with these people who are forever on the verge of hysterics about the deep and wicked schemes of Japan. They imagine some of the most preposterous things and report them as facts. I would be inclined to think that some of these enemies of Japan were mentally unbalanced but for their sanity on all other subjects. Unfortunately, they are listened to by many Americans whose reason ought to warn them against believing such tales without better evidence.[31]Ibid., July 31, 1919.
(Lansing, op. cit., November 30, 1918.)

Ambassador Morris, in Tokyo, joined with Secretary Lansing in lending a sympathetic ear to Japanese representations concerning their need to build strong bastions of defense in North China. He believed that the “strong, fundamental, tenacious purpose” of the Japanese Government was to assure protection of their lines of communication with sources of raw materials and foodstuffs. America should give “consideration” to the Japanese viewpoint: “Unless we do so the likelihood of solving the existing problems is scant.”[32]Ambassador Morris to Acting Secretary Polk, March 11, 1920. 893.51/2707, MS, Department of State.

Financiers talk more abruptly than diplomats. Mr. Lamont thought that it would be

poor policy to give the Japanese Government any further leeway in this matter. In my judgment they ought to be down on their knees in gratitude to the American, British and French groups for inviting the Japanese group to become a partner and for being so patient in the matter. My associates and I are agreed that the best thing is to bring them up with a round turn and if they do not like it, let them go their way.[33]Ambassador Morris to Secretary Colby, Tokyo, April 8, 1920, with inclosures. 893.51/2765, MS, Department of State.

The Department of State swung round to the viewpoint of Mr. Lamont and the British Foreign Office did the same. In the face of this pressure the Japanese Government made some concessions and the new consortium agreement was finally signed on October 15, 1920.[34]In a letter to Nakaji Kajiwara, president of the Yokohama Specie Bank, May 11, 1920, Mr. Lamont listed the terms agreed upon: “(1) that the South Manchuria Railway and its present branches, together with mines which are subsidiary to the railway, do not come within the scope of the Consortium; (2) that the projected Taonan-fu-Jehol Railway and the projected railway connecting a point on the Taonanfu-Jehol Railway with a seaport are to be included within the terms of the Consortium.” The number of exceptions that Japan insisted upon were significant and this fact made the Chinese Government lukewarm in its attitude towards the consortium. In January 1921 the Chinese Foreign Office was notified of the new consortium agreement but no answer to this notification was ever sent from Peiping. In his Preliminary Report on the New Consortium for China, Mr. Lamont spoke in his usual blunt fashion:

If . . . the leading Powers, under whose approval the New Consortium has been organized, should make to the present Peking Government, to the Southern Government and to all factions in China including the Tuchuns, strong diplomatic representations stating that all this nonsense of an opera bouffe warfare must be dropped and the Government must get down to business, I am inclined to believe that the result would be surprising in its effectiveness.[35]Pp. 14-15.

But the four powers represented in the new consortium were not inclined to accept the forthright advice of Mr. Lamont. They were content to remain on the sidelines while rival factions in China feverishly undermined the national structure. If Mr. Lamont’s bold words had been implemented by some form of effective intervention there may have been some chance for Chinese salvation, but the consortium Powers merely waited for opportunities that never came. Shunned by the rapidly changing governments in China, the consortium accomplished nothing. Nationalist China rejected with hot contempt any thought of surrendering the slightest portion of her sovereignty to international bankers. Moreover, a powerful communist leaven was busily working in China, and the most powerful leader in turbulent Canton was Sun Yat-sen who had a strong leftist inclination. The Kremlin lost no time in exploiting this inclination.

b. Sun Yat-sen Gives the Chinese Revolution a Red Tinge

When the Washington Conference (1921-22) refused to accept the program presented by the Chinese delegation, a feeling of deep resentment became manifest in many parts of China. The political division between the north and the south did not mean that Canton and Peking had different viewpoints relative to the demands that should be pressed upon the powers. There was a common denominator of hostility towards America and Europe that could be used by skillful statesmen to solve the problem of Chinese disunity. Moscow quickly perceived this fact and sent able agents to exploit the situation for Russian benefit. In August 1922, Adolf Joffe was dispatched to China with instructions to cultivate intimate relations with the intellectuals and to thunder against the “capitalistic Powers” and the “imperialistic nations.” He pledged Russian assistance whenever China thought that the moment had arrived to get rid of “foreign imperialism.”[36]Lyon Sharman, Sun Yat-sen: His Life and its Meaning (New York, 1934). p. 247; M. T. Z. Tyau, China Awakened (New York, 1922), chap. 9. Joffe met Sun Yat-sen in Shanghai in January 1923 and soon had the credulous Chinaman in his control.[37]Secretary Lansing had little regard for Sun Yat-sen. In a letter to President Wilson, November 25, 1918, he remarked: “I would not go further than this in regard to this man [Sun Yat-sen] as there are some very ugly stories about him in regard to his acceptance of bribes and his readiness to serve the highest bidder. I believe that the evidence on this subject . . . is of a very conclusive sort.” Wilson op. cit., File 2, Box 157. It was a part of the Soviet technique to blame China’s woes upon the wickedness of Western imperialism. Sun Yat-sen quickly learned this lesson and on July 22, 1923, during an interview with Fletcher S. Brockman, he vehemently denounced the ways of the West.[38]New York Times, July 22-23, 1923.

Joffe’s propaganda was seconded by another astute communist agent, Mikhail Borodin, who arrived in Canton in October 1923. His keen intellect compensated for his unprepossessing personal appearance, and his career as a communist agitator in Scotland and as a teacher in a commercial college in Chicago had given him an insight into Western habitudes of thought. In China he was intent upon increasing the authority of Sun Yat-sen by converting the unwieldy Kuomintang into an effective and centralized political machine. Party membership would be a restricted privilege and party discipline would be rigidly enforced. The real reins of authority would be in the hands of the Central Executive Committee which would organize and control the national government.

The creed of Sun Yat-sen and his circle of followers was given inflammatory expression in the “Declaration of the First National Congress” issued in January 1924. It read like a real Muscovite memorandum. Armed plundering and shameless exploitation by foreign imperialistic nations had reduced China to a semicolonial status. The main instruments of subjection had been the unequal treaties, foreign control of the customs, the practice of extraterritoriality, and the division of China into spheres of influence. All these special privileges would have to be abandoned and the unequal treaties abrogated.[39] T. C. Woo, The Kuomintang and the Future of the Chinese Revolution (London, 1928), Appendix C.

With the aid of Russian rubles and Russian military instructors Sun Yat-sen established the Whampoa Military Academy for the training of officers to lead his projected army. As a first step in this direction he created “Labor bands” that crushed in a ruthless manner the merchant volunteer organizations in Canton. From Russia he learned that proletarian reforms move faster when they ride on the wings of bullets. His debt to his Soviet masters he freely acknowledged in the fulsome phraseology of ardent converts to communism: “Russia believes in benevolence and righteousness, not in force and utilitarianism. She is an exponent of justice and does not believe in the principle that a minority should oppress a majority.”[40]Harley F. MacNair, China in Revolution (Chicago, 1931), p. 77.

This flamboyant expression of faith in Moscow did not prevent Soviet agents from having relations with Peking. Their activities in the North led to the treaty of May 31, 1924, in which Russia renounced the special rights and privileges enjoyed in China by the Czarist Government, including Russia’s share of the Boxer indemnity and the right of extraterritoriality.[41]Harriet L. Moore, Soviet Far Eastern Policy, 1931-1945 (Princeton, 1945), pp. 156-64.

But this treaty of May 1924 with Peking was merely an empty gesture. While representatives of Moscow were negotiating a treaty with Peking, other agents were grooming Sun Yat-sen for an invasion of the North. Borodin was feverishly pushing plans for a unification of China through the armed forces of the Kuomintang. Red Russia and Red China would soon be able to face the Western powers and compel compliance with their demands. This close association between Borodin and Kuomintang leaders was clearly indicated in Sun Yat-sen’s “Message to Soviet Russia,” written shortly before Sun’s death: “I leave behind me a Party which, as I always hoped, will be bound up with you [Soviet Russia] in the historic work of the final liberations of China and other exploited countries from the yoke of imperialism. . . . Therefore I charge the Kuomintang to continue the work of the revolutionary nationalist movement so that China . . . shall become free. With this object I have instructed the Party to be in constant contact with you.”[42]Sharman, op. cit., pp. 308-9. The close connection between Sun Yat-sen and the Communists was indicated in a dispatch from Consul John K. Davis, United States consul at Nanking to Secretary Kellogg, July 6, 1925: “There is little doubt that but for Sun’s illness and death he and Feng Yu-hsiang would have shortly sprung a coup in the capital with Soviet assistance, and once in power instead of asking for treaty revision would have simply announced that all of the so-called ‘unequal treaties’ had been abolished.” 893.00/6465, MS, Department of State.

After the death of Sun Yat-sen on March 12, 1925, the influence of Borodin increased to a point where he largely directed the course of the revolutionary movement in South China. In September 1925 he inspired a coup which placed Chiang Kai-shek in command of the Kuomintang military forces. In 1923, Chiang had been sent to Moscow to study bolshevist ideology and revolutionary techniques. He had returned to China as a protégé of Sun Yat-sen and later was a close associate of Borodin. This meant that in 1925 he was both antiforeign and anti-Christian. During 1926-27 as the Kuomintang armed forces moved northward, this anti-Christian inclination became more manifest in Nationalist attacks upon Christian institutions and converts.

Missionaries were denounced as “imperialists” while their converts were cursed as the “running dogs of the imperialists.”[43]McNair, op. cit., pp. 100-107. This language of vituperation was the specialty of Eugene Ch’en, the Soviet-Kuomin-tang Minister of Foreign Affairs, whose active tongue never tired of flaying foreigners.

The tinder of resentment at foreign privileges in China was ignited into flames by the communist-incited Shanghai Incident, May 30, 1925. This was precipitated by student agitators who entered the International Settlement to file a protest against the alleged harsh treatment of Chinese employees in Japanese mills. When the mob got out of hand it was fired upon by Sikh and Chinese constables under the orders of the police inspector at the Louza Station. The small number of casualties indicated the restraint of the police, but communist elements magnified the incident into major proportions.

The background of the incident was sketched by the American consul at Nanking in a dispatch to Secretary Kellogg:

A few weeks prior to the incident of May 30th an American college professor, who had just completed a tour in Russia, delivered a series of lectures in Nanking upon Bolshevism in which he pictured Communism in the most roseate hues and virtually stated that while the system has as yet not been perfected, it gives evidence of being the most ideal from an economic and social standpoint that has yet been evolved by the human race. . . . As he was introduced under American missionary auspices and gave many lectures to, and had conferences with, numerous Chinese, his pronouncements had a very unfortunate effect.

In his final pronouncement on the causes of the May 30th incident, Consul Davis remarks: “The present movement is believed to have been directly and deliberately caused by Soviet Russia fanning into flame the smoldering embers of antiforeign feeling in China, which, but for their nefarious activity, would in all probability have gradually tended to become more and more quiescent.”[44]Consul John K. Davis to Secretary Kellogg, Nanking, July 6, 1925. 893.00/6465, MS, Department of State.

In London the financial circles were alarmed at this outbreak of violence and Sir Charles Addis, who was the head of the British group of the Chinese consortium, thought that “immediate concerted action by the Powers” was “imperative.”[45]E. C. Grenfell to T. W. Lamont, London, June 25, 1925. 893.00/6364, MS, Department of State. Mr. Lamont was not so positive in writing a prescription for the occasion. He assured the representative of the Morgan interests in London that he had been maintaining “fairly close contact with Washington” but he had made no “specific suggestions, for while we agree that the situation is grave, we do not feel competent to indicate a way out.”[46]T. W. Lamont to E. C. Grenfell, June 26, 1925. 893.00/6364, MS, Department of State.

c. Senator Borah Attacks Foreign Imperialism in China

Close students of Far Eastern affairs were just as hesitant as Mr. Lamont in writing and recommending broad prescriptions that would fit every contingency in China. Thomas F. Millard, who had served for a while as an adviser to the Chinese Foreign Office, was fearful that the Chinese radicals were pushing things too fast. In a letter to W. W. Yen he outlined his viewpoint:

I arrived in China in December and at once began to study the situation. I had hoped before leaving America that the reorganization at Peking which followed the coup détat of last autumn would provide a chance for something constructive to be done; but after I was out here a while I perceived that was not the case. . . . Now it appears that political tendencies in China are toward something like an estrangement with America, whereby all that was accomplished at Washington will be lost, and perhaps the American Government will be forced by circumstances to alter its China policy in some particulars. . . . I am somewhat puzzled as to what China’s intellectual men are thinking of—where do you think you are going? . . . I find that many Chinese intelligentsia seem to have gone over to the idea of abrogating the special position (extraterritorial) treaties by ultimatum, hoping to “get away” with it as Turkey did. . . . I ask you men who ought to be able to see a little ahead to ponder the situation. If you repudiate of course you need not be concerned about your credit, for that will absolutely vanish with such action. But if you intend to try to stay inside the ring of responsible governments you require considerable financial help from abroad. Where can that be obtained now? Only in one place—America.[47]Thomas F. Millard to W. W. Yen, Shanghai, June 11, 1925. Borah MS, Library of Congress.

Mr. Millard then wrote to Senator Borah and advised him against supporting the idea of abolishing at once extraterritorial rights in China. He felt that China was

now unprepared for this change, and it is almost certain that a sudden transition will add to the existing confusion. . . . It is doubtful now if the radical elements here will be willing to stop short of complete and immediate abrogation: they are smart enough to know that just now they have the Powers by the short hair. . . . The present diplomatic body at Peking is almost pitiable in its bewilderment and fatuity.[48]Thomas F. Millard to Senator Borah, Shanghai. June 18, 1925. Ibid.
(Thomas F. Millard to W. W. Yen, Shanghai, June 11, 1925. Borah MS, Library of Congress.)

Borah wrote back that he was merely in favor of “relinquishing extraterritorial rights in China as soon as practicable. . . . I realized, and realize now, that this cannot be accomplished outright and over night.”[49]Senator Borah to Thomas F. Millard, Boise, Idaho, July 20, 1925. Ibid.
(Thomas F. Millard to W. W. Yen, Shanghai, June 11, 1925. Borah MS, Library of Congress.)
But Borah was fundamentally opposed to foreign imperialism in China and he embraced every opportunity to denounce it. When the Hankow Chamber of Commerce cabled to the Department of State that the Moscow Third International was “admittedly concentrating in the East with a view to creating chaos,” he vehemently expressed the opinion that the trouble in China stemmed from Western imperialism: “The American Chamber of Commerce in China is a part of the imperialistic combine which would oppress and exploit the Chinese people.”[50]New York Times, June 16, 1925.

On August 21, Secretary Kellogg wrote to Senator Borah and reviewed the background of the May 30th incident in a competent and comprehensive manner. In conclusion he observed: “The shooting was, of course, a very unfortunate affair. It is impossible for me to say at this distance exactly where the responsibility lies. It was not, of course, entirely on the police authorities as, undoubtedly, the mob was bent on mischief.”[51]Secretary Kellogg to Senator Borah, August 21, 1925, Strictly Confidential. Borah, op. cit. Borah sharply dissented from this view: “From the facts which have been presented to me, I feel the shooting cannot in any sense be justified. It seems to me that this whole affair was treated at first with regret and disregard, and finally with brutality.”[52]Senator Borah to Secretary Kellogg, Boise, Idaho, August 26, 1925. Ibid. In a letter to Bishop William F. McDowell, August 18, 1925, Borah makes the following critical comment: “I think the course of conduct of the Western nations in China [is] indefensible.” Ibid.
(Secretary Kellogg to Senator Borah, August 21, 1925, Strictly Confidential. Borah, op. cit.)

While Senator Borah kept closing his eyes to the activities of Soviet agents and continued to belabor the wicked nations of the West for the sins of imperialism, the Shanghai Municipal Council issued a manifesto which stated that the riot of May 30 had been inspired by students and other “disaffected persons” who had made inflammatory speeches. At the trial held in Shanghai the prosecution charged that the students who had started “all this trouble all came from a Bolshevik University—the Shanghai University of Seymour Road.”[53] Dorothy Borg, American Policy and the Chinese Revolution. 1925-1928 (New York, 1947), pp. 24-25. Ferdinand L. Mayer, the chargé at the American Legation in Peking, also emphasized the dangers of Soviet intrigues. He was confident that the situation in China was being “exploited in every manner possible” by “the Soviets.”[54]Ferdinand L. Mayer to Secretary Kellogg, June 19, 1925. Foreign Relations, 1925, I, 667. On one point all American observers were in agreement—the antiforeign movement was rapidly spreading in China and it carried implications of grave danger to the vested interests of the Western powers.

d. Causes of the Antiforeign Movement in China

Minister MacMurray, after a survey of the situation in China, came to the conclusion that much of the unrest in China was produced by an “inferiority complex” that afflicted large numbers of the intellectuals. They are aware of the “failure they are making in the organization of their national life and morbidly conscious of the poor showing that they have made in the eyes of foreign nations.”[55]Minister MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, July 28, 1925. Ibid., pp. 799-802.
(Ferdinand L. Mayer to Secretary Kellogg, June 19, 1925. Foreign Relations, 1925, I, 667.)

Senator Borah thought that this “inferiority complex” came from the fact that the Western powers had imposed “unequal treaties” upon China with special reference to extraterritoriality and tariff autonomy. This situation should be rapidly remedied by sweeping concessions to China. In a letter to the editor of the Baltimore Sun, August 11, 1925, he outlined his position with vigor:

Extraterritoriality is contrary to the spirit of the age and in conflict with the principles of sovereignty. . . . What is proposed and what is to be seriously urged is that the foreign powers shall in good faith . . . aid in bringing about a condition wherein extraterritoriality may be abolished. These steps should be taken at once and unmistakably. . . .

Foreign interests in China are exploiting human life . . . beyond the power of human language to portray. There is no place where the blood of helpless children is coined into dollars and cents as in China.[56]Borah, op. cit.

In a letter to the Foreign Minister of the Nationalist Government, Borah expressed the opinion that the “situation in China is not due to temporary causes but to the nationalistic feeling upon the part of China that she is entitled to equal treatment among the nations.”[57]Senator Borah to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canton Government, September 26, 1925. Ibid.
(Borah, op. cit.)
In order to pave the way for the best expression of this nationalistic feeling, Senator Borah thought that the American Government should adopt an independent policy and no longer be a member of the concert of powers:

In my opinion the objects and aims and standards of the United States on the one hand and Great Britain and Japan upon the other are so different and diverse that it is utterly impossible to move in accord with them and at the same time protect our own interests and do justice to China. On the other hand, by a bold, independent course, based upon sound principles of justice and fair dealing, the United States can mold public opinion to such an extent as to force a reasonable policy in the Far East.[58]Senator Borah to Thomas F. Millard, September 15, 1925. Ibid.
(Borah, op. cit.)

It is difficult to estimate the influence of Borah upon the Chinese intellectuals who were making a strong fight for tariff autonomy and the abolition of extraterritoriality. There is no doubt that many of them read his statements with deep interest and took courage from his sharp denunciation of the “unequal treaties.” Chungting T. Wang, of the Directorate-General of Sino-Russian Negotiations, wrote to assure Borah that the “voice of a great statesman of a great country, advocating international justice and humane principles cannot but be a tremendous encouragement in our fight to recover our lost rights.”[59]Ibid. Chungting T. Wang to Senator Borah, Peking, September 28, 1925.
(Borah, op. cit.)
In a similar vein Harry Hussey, prominent architect in Peking, sent a very appreciative letter to Borah: “Your remarks did more than anything else to restrain the Chinese when things looked very dangerous here in China. Until you spoke the Chinese were desperate. . . . Your speech showed them that they had a friend in America and this fact was so used by the conservative element that they were able to control the others.”[60]Harry Hussey to Senator Borah, Peking, June 23, 1925. Ibid.
(Borah, op. cit.)

e. The Kuomintang Demands Tariff Autonomy

The Shanghai Incident was merely the first of a series of antiforeign riots that broke out in China in the summer of 1925. Along with this violence the Kuomintang leaders organized a boycott against British goods which lasted from June 1925 to October 1926.[61] C. F. Remer and William B. Palmer, A Study of Chinese Boycotts with Special Reference to their Economic Effectiveness (Baltimore, 1933), pp. 95-102. The Governor of Hong Kong believed that a great deal of the unrest directed against the British was caused by “Bolshevik intrigue.”[62] China Year Book, 1926-27, p. 982. It was certainly true that the left-wing element of the Kuomintang was especially active in the South at this time, and the conservatives in the party began to grow apprehensive with regard to the future in China.

In order to provide a popular basis for their drive to secure control over China, the Kuomintang leaders adopted a program whose chief items were a demand for tariff autonomy and the abolition of extraterritoriality. In 1928 the American Government concluded an agreement with China whereby tariff autonomy would go into operation on January 1, 1929. With reference to the abolition of extraterritoriality the record was one of failure and this fact added volume and violence to Chinese denunciations of Western imperialism.

f. American Missionaries Help to Mold United States Policy

In 1925 there were nearly five thousand American Protestant missionaries living in China. The annual expenditures of American mission societies in that country was approximately $10,000,000 and the lowest estimate of mission property holdings was $43,000,000.[63]China Year Book, 1928, p. 4; Julean Arnold, “The Missionaries’ Opportunity in China,” Chinese Recorder, October 1925, p. 639; C. F. Remer, Foreign Investments in China (New York, 1933), p. 308. It was evident that this important group of very vocal Americans had a definite influence upon the policy of the Department of State. During the Coolidge Administration, missionary opinion was strongly pro-Chinese, and numerous memorials were sent to Washington for the purpose of molding official viewpoints. The religious press was also active in this pro-Chinese campaign.

On August 20, 1925, the Christian Century deprecated the alleged fact that the Far Eastern policy of the Department of State was largely controlled by a “little coterie of professional experts.” It was hoped that the Coolidge Administration would finally reject the counsel of this small band of biased experts and adopt the pro-Chinese policy of Senator Borah.[64]Pp. 1041-43. In September the same magazine came out strongly in favor of the abolition of extraterritoriality which was the “fruit of western imperialism” and which could be maintained only by armed force.[65]Ibid., September 10, 1925, p. 114.
(Pp. 1041-43.)
Rev. J. L. Stuart, president of Yenching University, gave this viewpoint immediate support.[66] American Relations with China: A Report of the Conference Held at the Johns Hopkins University, September 17-20, 1925 (Baltimore, 1925), p. 39. Soon the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America and most of the large mission boards were ardently advocating action to end the ancient practice of extraterritoriality.[67]Borg, op. cit., pp. 76-82.

This pro-Chinese missionary opinion evoked sharp criticism in some quarters. In June 1926, George Bronson Rea, the editor of the Far Eastern Review, expressed the opinion that missionary influence in America was so strong that the “selection of our Minister to Peking is determined by qualifications that meet the endorsement of missionary Boards.” He was certain that these boards exerted at Washington an “influence that no President, statesman, or politician would dare to antagonize. The successful development of their plans can be attained only by maintaining a sympathetic atmosphere in America towards China, for should popular opinion . . . become hostile, it would automatically shut off the stream of voluntary contributions upon whose continuous and increasing flow depends the very existence of the movement.” This missionary influence had not only been a decided detriment to American trade but it was really responsible for the antiforeign unrest that was spreading throughout China: “Every close student of Chinese affairs traces the present outburst of anti-foreign sentiment to the emotional hysteria set in movement by overzealous missionary and educational uplifters.”[68]Far Eastern Review, June 1926, pp. 242-43.

Rodney Gilbert, a well-known American newspaperman in China, shared Mr. Rea’s viewpoint. A change in the missionary attitude from one of friendship to one of a more critical character would quickly mean that the “tide of unspeakable drool which has been going home for a year about China’s rights and aspirations” would be “abruptly stemmed in both America and England.”[69] North China Herald, July 10, 1926.

g. Evolution of U.S. Policy towards Nationalist China

As political, economic, and social conditions in China grew progressively worse after 1925, it became more difficult for pro-Chinese missionary opinion to have an important influence upon the policy of the Department of State. The political factor was particularly disturbing in the Chinese equation. When the Special Tariff Conference met in Peking on October 25, 1925, the regime of President Tuan Ch’i-jui was distinctly shaky. The Peking Government was largely controlled by Chang Tso-lin and Marshal Fêng Yü-hsiang. Chang was master of Manchuria while Fêng was dominant in Northwest China. But other war lords soon challenged their position when it became evident that any favorable decisions of the Special Tariff Conference would mean increased revenues for the Peking Government. Wu P’ei-fu and Sun Ch’uan-fang promptly protested against the negotiations between the powers and the “illegal” Peking Government. Chang Tso-lin was compelled to retreat to Mukden and, despite the provisions of the Boxer Protocol, communications between Peking and the sea were severed by the troops of the contesting war lords. The military situation in China, however, remained remarkably fluid. In March 1926, Chang Tso-lin joined forces with his recent bitter foe Wu P’ei-fu and soon their armies were in occupation of Peking. The President, Tuan Ch’i-jui, promptly retired from office and for several months there was no semblance of a central government in China. Faced with this political uncertainty, on July 3, 1926, the Special Tariff Conference adjourned and the powers were warned by contending factions against any attempt to resume discussions.[70]Robert T. Pollard, China’s Foreign Relations, 1917-1931 (New York, 1933), pp. 275-79.

The minatory message from the Foreign Minister of the Canton Government was an acrid attack upon the “phantom government in Peking,” which he described as the creation of “a brace of medieval militarists and a bunch of Mandarin statesboys and statescoolies.”[71]Eugene Ch’en to the American Consul General Jenkins, Canton, July 14, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 845. Two weeks later he turned his guns upon American policy because it had failed to recognize the fact that the situation in China was “revolutionary” and not “evolutionary.” Remedies in China would have to be drastic. The old “unequal treaties” would have to be abrogated and new agreements negotiated which would be “consistent with the real independence and sovereignty of China.”[72]Eugene Ch’en to the American Consul General Jenkins, Canton, July 28, 1926. Ibid., pp. 851-53.
(Eugene Ch’en to the American Consul General Jenkins, Canton, July 14, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 845.)

In reply to these blasts from the excitable and impudent Ch’en, the American Minister in Peking sent to the Department of State a long note which carefully reviewed the situation in China. Since 1918 there had been at Peking “no regime asserting an even plausible claim to being a legitimately constituted government.” Nevertheless the powers had found it advantageous hitherto to grant “at least de facto recognition to each group succeeding to control of the capital and offering to carry out the obligations of the Government of China.” It had obviously been worth while to deal with a “central government which we clearly understood to be a fiction,” so long as it continued to be a “conservative force” which safeguarded legitimate foreign interests. But the situation in China had recently disintegrated to the point where the powers could not expect “that a conservative or even friendly influence will characterize any new regime.” The Central Administration in Peking was nothing more than a “pawn used in a fantastic game being played among military rivals having no loyalties and no principles.” It would be idle, therefore, to expect anything from a Special Tariff Conference. The decisions of such a conference could not be carried out by a “central administration which is and for years must be a political nonentity.”

It should also be kept in mind that the Red shadow of Russia was encroaching upon North China. Marshal Fêng Yü-hsiang, “freshly schooled in Moscow in revolutionary methods,” might at any time return to Peking, and his first move would be to have all existing treaties with the United States and other “capitalistic Powers” canceled by “a declaration he would cause to be made.” It would probably be wise for the American Government frankly to “discard the fiction that a central government exists in Peking.”[73]Minister MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, August 14, 1926. Ibid., pp. 671-80.
(Eugene Ch’en to the American Consul General Jenkins, Canton, July 14, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 845.)

Secretary Kellogg was not inclined to accept MacMurray’s suggestions that the Department of State should abandon any hope of results from a Special Tariff Conference. Moreover, he believed that it would be a mistake to issue a “public notification to China that she has no government.” Such action would “bring the hostility of the Chinese people upon us and give to other nations an opportunity to lay the blame upon us for the failure of the Conference and furnish them . . . with a sought-for excuse for abandoning the Conference. . . . The action you suggest, I feel certain, would fail to be understood in the United States and would meet quite likely with disfavor.”[74]Secretary Kellogg to MacMurray, August 24, 1926. Ibid., p. 682.
(Eugene Ch’en to the American Consul General Jenkins, Canton, July 14, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 845.)

h. The Kuomintang Armies Employ Red Advisers

While Secretary Kellogg and Minister MacMurray were exchanging notes with reference to American policy in China, the rapid advance of Kuomintang armies promised a profound change in the political picture in the Far East. By October 1926 the important cities of Hankow, Hanyang, and Wuchang had been captured, and in December preparations were pushed for a drive against Shanghai.

It was significant that the plan of campaign of the Kuomintang military forces had been prepared by the Bolshevik General Blücher (called General Ga-Lin by the Chinese) and his staff. In each of the ten corps of the armies “one or more Russians held strategic positions for military or propaganda purposes.” The advance of the soldiers was preceded by “plain-clothes propagandists who preached to peasants and townsmen the principles of Dr. Sun and Lenin; scattered vast quantities of placards, pamphlets, and handbills; organized the people, willing and unwilling, into peasants’ and workers’ unions; and set up soviet local governments.”[75]McNair, op. cit., pp. 108-9.

This Red complexion of the Kuomintang’s northward thrust seemed to give the British Government little real concern. As early as February 1926 the Foreign Office appeared to be “gravitating in the direction of the early recognition of the Canton Government.” MacMurray thought that this inclination was due primarily to commercial considerations. By placating the Red regime at Canton the “strike and boycott” against British goods would be “terminated.”[76]Borg, op. cit., p. 120. In September, when the British Foreign Office raised this question of recognition, Secretary Kellogg replied that the American Government was ready to enter “into relations and negotiate with any Government representing China which appears to be capable of fulfilling the obligations which it may undertake.” It had no intention, however, of initiating negotiations with “individual provinces or groups of provinces.”[77]The Department of State to the British Embassy, October 5, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 855.

i. Peking and Canton Demand Revision of Existing Treaties

In the summer of 1926 the Canton Government was ready to take far-reaching action against the so-called “unequal treaties” with the Western powers. In September 1926 it was learned that the first move in this direction would be the levying of surtaxes on foreign goods imported into South China. MacMurray thought that such a measure should produce concerted and “resolute action” by the powers against this “method of indirect repudiation of treaties.”[78]Minister MacMurray to Ferdinand L. Mayer, September 30, 1926. Ibid., p. 868.
(The Department of State to the British Embassy, October 5, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 855.)
The American chargé at Peking was in agreement with MacMurray. Perhaps a “naval blockade or some feasible measure of force” might bring the Canton Government to its senses.[79]Ferdinand L. Mayer to Secretary Kellogg, October 3, 1926. Ibid., p. 869.
(The Department of State to the British Embassy, October 5, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 855.)

But Secretary Kellogg was opposed to any collective intervention to compel adherence to existing treaties. He would go no further than a formal protest to the Canton Government.[80]Secretary Kellogg to Mayer, October 5, 1926. Ibid., p. 871.
(The Department of State to the British Embassy, October 5, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 855.)
Even this protest would have to be lukewarm because the British Government, continuing its appeasement of the Red Nationalist administration at Canton, favored the acceptance of the Kuomintang decision to collect surtaxes. Downing Street proposed that the notes from the powers should merely insist upon guarantees against any increase in the rates of taxation. This was going too far for even the pacific Department of State, which refused to adopt the British suggestion. On November 3 the American consul general at Canton was instructed to file a protest against the legality of the new surtaxes. The other Western powers promptly followed suit.[81]Ferdinand L. Mayer to Secretary Kellogg, November 3, 1926. Ibid., pp. 896-97.
(The Department of State to the British Embassy, October 5, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 855.)

This bold action by Canton was followed by a similar move on the part of the Peking Government, which in October 1926 informed both Belgium and Japan of its determination to demand a revision of existing treaties with those powers. On November 6, Peking announced that the Sino-Belgian Treaty of 1865 was abrogated.[82] China Year Book, 1928, p, 782.

To MacMurray in Peking it was evident that this procedure would be invoked against existing treaties with the United States unless in the “meantime our intention not to tolerate such treatment of our rights has been made very clear.”[83]MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, November 12, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 996-97. MacMurray then developed the thesis that in China there were two rival schools of thought with reference to a revision of the “unequal treaties”—one evolutionary, the other strongly revolutionary. The first school adhered to the belief that treaty revision should be carried out through joint action by China and the Western powers, and its members also thought that China should prove to the world that it was capable of bearing the responsibilities of a sovereign nation. This had been the theory upon which the Washington Conference had acted and it was the “inspiration of the Special Conference on the Tariff and of the Commission on Extraterritoriality.” But the failure of China to use her “opportunities effectively,” combined with the reluctance of the powers to implement the Washington treaties, had opened the way “for the Soviet’s disruptive influences” with the revolutionary school of thought. China had already taken a significant step along the Russian road to repudiation of treaty obligations. Before she took another step down this dubious path it would be expedient for the United States to speak “some friendly words of warning.”[84]MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, November 16, 1926. Ibid., pp. 897-99.
(MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, November 12, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 996-97.)

Secretary Kellogg was not disposed to direct any real threat either to Canton or Peking, with the result that the matter of surtaxes was not settled by conferences between representatives of the two governments in China and the ministers of the Western powers. The Peking Government then showed its contempt for Western thought by dismissing Sir Francis Aglen from the office of inspector-general of Customs. This action spurred MacMurray to send a cablegram to Secretary Kellogg in which he stressed the dangerous implications that lay behind this dismissal. It should be apparent that further weak protests against treaty violations would be “fruitless; and foreign commerce will henceforth have no safeguards against the arbitrary exactions of the local authorities.”[85]MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, February 7, 1927. Foreign Relations, 1027, II, 379-81.

This dark prospect was not deeply disturbing to Secretary Kellogg. The Department of State had already realized the “increasing difficulty of obtaining complete recognition of the rights of United States nationals in China.” Moreover, it was not possible to employ the “military and naval forces of the United States to enforce the rights guaranteed under existing treaties.” The only policy for America to follow with regard to China was one of “patience and watchfulness.”[86]Secretary Kellogg to MacMurray, February 15, 1927. Ibid., pp. 382-83.
(MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, February 7, 1927. Foreign Relations, 1027, II, 379-81.)

j. Britain Challenges American Leadership in China

The Canton and Peking governments wanted more from Washington than mere patience and watchfulness. They desired effective mediation between the powers and China in the direction of large concessions relative to tariff autonomy and the abolition of extraterritoriality. The British Foreign Office perceived the direction of political winds in China and decided to engage in an experiment in diplomatic kiteflying. On December 24, 1926, the British Ambassador in Washington handed to Secretary Kellogg a copy of a telegram that had been sent to the British Minister in Peking. This telegram contained a statement of principles that the British Foreign Office thought should in the future guide the policy of the Western powers in China. The first item emphasized the importance of abandoning the idea “that the economic and political development of China can be only secured under foreign tutelage and [the powers] should declare their readiness to recognize her right to the enjoyment of tariff autonomy as soon as she herself has settled and promulgated a new national tariff.” After this deep bow to the irresponsible elements that then made up China, the memorandum went on to say that the powers should “expressly disclaim any intention of forcing foreign control upon an unwilling China.” A final injunction was to the effect that the powers should also “modify their traditional attitude of rigid insistence on the strict letter of treaty rights.”[87]British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to the British Ambassador in China, December 2, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 923-29.

The Department of State was painfully surprised at this British attempt to steal the “American thunder” with regard to China,[88]London Times, January 5, 1927. and it was fearful of American criticism of the failure of the Secretary to outline and follow an effective policy. MacMurray, in Peking, was caustic in his comments on the British memorandum. While it might be advisable for the powers to adopt towards China a less “querulous and petty attitude,” yet the broad formula proposed by the British with regard to “condoning disregard of their obligations by the Chinese in all matters which the Powers may not unanimously consider vital, is . . . an invitation to the Chinese to carry the principle of repudiation to whatever may prove to be the limit of tolerance on the part of the Powers.” But the mere fact that such radical concessions had been proposed by the nation which was still predominant in the trade of China would compel the United States to adopt a similar attitude.[89]MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, December 22, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 919-21.

In this estimate of the situation MacMurray was soon proved to be entirely correct, for Secretary Kellogg immediately fell in line with British action. Peking was informed that the British recommendations had “formed part of the United States Government’s policy for a long time.” The Department of State was ready to embrace the first opportunity to “negotiate with a Government representing China for the purpose of revising the existing American treaties in the directions of relinquishing the extraterritorial privileges of Americans in China and of granting China the right to establish her own tariff rates on products of American origin.”[90]Secretary Kellogg to Minister MacMurray, December 23, 1926. Ibid., p. 922.
(MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, December 22, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 919-21.)

MacMurray begged Secretary Kellogg not to move so fast in the matter of granting important concessions to irresponsible political groups in China. Such a policy would “gain us no consideration or respect on the part of the [Chinese], . . . Indeed it would give them courage to deprive us and other foreigners of all special privileges and ordinary rights as well.”[91]MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, December 28, 1926. Ibid., p. 929.
(MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, December 22, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 919-21.)
Kellogg rejected this wise counsel and formulated American policy in strict conformity with Chinese desires as expressed to him in daily conferences with Dr. Alfred Sze, the Chinese Minister in Washington. On January 27, 1927, he finally announced that the American Government was fully prepared to “continue the negotiations on the entire subject of the tariff and extraterritoriality” and to begin these negotiations “on behalf of the United States alone.”[92]Secretary Kellogg to the American chargé in China (Mayer), January 25, 1927. Foreign Relations, 1927, II, 350-53. Discussions were expected to be with the representatives of both the Canton and Peking governments. It was not long, however, before the success of the northern thrust of the Nationalist armies made it unnecessary to consider the desires of Peking.

k. Congress Supports a Policy of Treaty Revision

The pro-Chinese policy of Secretary Kellogg received strong support in congressional circles. The Porter Resolution of January 1927 requested the President forthwith to enter into negotiations with the “duly accredited agents of the Republic of China” with a view to concluding treaties that would establish relations between the two countries upon an “equal and reciprocal basis.” Members of both political parties favored this resolution. Mr. Connally, of Texas, expressed the opinion that the unrest in China went back “as far as the Opium War in 1842.

. . . From that day until this . . . the Powers of the world have imposed their will on China.”[93]Congressional Record, January 26, 1927, LXVIII, pt. II, 2324. Mr. Carroll L. Beedy, of Maine, was equally sympathetic towards China: “I want my country to do her utmost to free China from the curse of unequal treaties and foreign misrule.”[94]Ibid., LXVIII, pt. II, 4388.
(Congressional Record, January 26, 1927, LXVIII, pt. II, 2324.)
On February 21, 1927, the resolution passed the House of Representatives by the overwhelming vote of 262 ayes to 43 nays.[95]Ibid., February 21, 1927, LXVIII, pt. III, 4389.
(Congressional Record, January 26, 1927, LXVIII, pt. II, 2324.)
It was then sent to the Senate where it languished in a pigeonhole in the office of the Committee on Foreign Relations.

While the Porter Resolution was being debated in the House of Representatives, American press opinion in many quarters was vehemently in support of its adoption. The Baltimore Sun was especially active in pressing for immediate and favorable consideration of the resolution. The people of China had been “bullied and outraged” in every possible manner by the Western powers. The long day of oppression was now over and China would at last secure her just position among the nations of the world.[96]January 8-10, 23-24, 29, 1927. The Washington Post thought that the only honorable course for America to follow was to “befriend the Chinese nation and deal with it as an equal.”[97]January 9, 1927. The New York World,[98]January 25, 1927. the Louisville Courier-Journal,[99]March 17, 1927. and the Kansas City Star,[100]January 21, 26, 1927. echoed these sentiments of friendship. But the Chicago Tribune challenged these pro-Chinese attacks upon the “unequal treaties.” The outcry against “foreign exploitation” of the Chinese was “largely a matter of domestic politics and a dangerous device.” The Porter Resolution indicated either an “abysmal ignorance of the notorious facts of Chinese conditions” or it was a “play of cheap politics to conciliate a sentimentalism in this country which has no respect for the facts.”[101]January 23, 28, 30; February 3, 5, 9, 1927.

The Chicago Tribune was particularly concerned over the Red tinge of the Canton Government. The Cantonese had the “closest relations with Moscow,” and Americans should realize that Sun Yat-sen in his last years had been closely associated with communist agents.[102]March 22, 1927. The New York Times was equally critical of Canton. Foreign domination in China was a myth except “in so far as the Cantonese are under the influence of Soviet Russia.”[103]January 25, 1927.

l. The Nanking Incident and Its Repercussions

As the armies of the Canton Government under Chiang Kai-shek moved northward in the spring of 1927, the antiforeign spirit that had been developing for some years broke through all barriers of restraint. On March 24, 1927, at Nanking, a major incident occurred. As some of the Nationalist soldiers passed by the American Legation, John K. Davis, the American Consul, addressed them. They replied by cursing him in the “most savage manner,” and a petty officer shouted: “You are all alike. . . . You Americans have drunk our blood for years and become rich. We are busy now killing Fengtien soldiers but we will soon begin killing all foreigners in Nanking regardless of what country they are from.”[104]Consul John K. Davis to Secretary Kellogg, Nanking, March 28, 1927. Foreign Relations, 1927, II, 151-63.

This threat was soon carried out. Dr. John E. Williams, the vice-president of the University of Nanking, was “wantonly” shot through the head and instantly killed. Seven American missionaries arrived at the consulate with grim stories of unprovoked attacks. Consul Davis decided to lead the Americans at the consulate to the Standard Oil property known as Socony Hill where some measure of protection could be given by gunboats in the river. Shortly after they arrived at their destination, a band of Nationalist soldiers arrived and were appeased with some difficulty. Other bands opened fire upon the refugees on Socony Hill who would soon have been killed if the gunboats had not been able to protect them with a “curtain of shells.” The following morning the entire group was able to board vessels waiting in the river and was taken to safety.

The number of foreigners killed during the Nanking Incident was six: one American, three Englishmen, one Italian, and one French priest. Ten mission buildings were burned and the residences of the missionaries were looted. The American, British, and Japanese consulates were ruined.

The American Consul at Nanking reported to the Department of State that the soldiers responsible for the attacks were “regular Kuomintang troops who were operating under orders.” Minister MacMurray was “absolutely convinced” that this “campaign of terrorism and insult to foreigners was not only officially countenanced by and directed but even prearranged” by the Canton Government.[105]MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, March 28, 1927. Ibid., p. 151.
(Consul John K. Davis to Secretary Kellogg, Nanking, March 28, 1927. Foreign Relations, 1927, II, 151-63.)

From Tokyo came word that the outrages at Nanking were merely an item in an extended radical program designed to ruin Chiang Kai-shek. The Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs expressed to Ambassador MacVeagh the belief that it would be inexpedient for the powers to take “oppressive measures” against Chiang because such action would play into the hands of the “radicals among the Cantonese.”[106]Ambassador MacVeagh to Secretary Kellogg, Tokyo, March 28, 1927. Ibid., p. 164.
(Consul John K. Davis to Secretary Kellogg, Nanking, March 28, 1927. Foreign Relations, 1927, II, 151-63.)
The British Foreign Office agreed with this Japanese viewpoint. Support should be given to Chiang in the hope that he would be able to form a “nucleus of a moderate element directed against the extremist faction of the Nationalist Government.” Demands for redress should first be presented to Eugene Ch’en, the leftist Minister of Foreign Relations of the Canton Government. This move would necessitate previous consultations among the representatives of the powers with reference to the application of sanctions against Canton.[107]British Ambassador (Howard) to Secretary Kellogg, April 5, 1927. Ibid., pp. 179-81.
(Consul John K. Davis to Secretary Kellogg, Nanking, March 28, 1927. Foreign Relations, 1927, II, 151-63.)

When the shadow of sanctions fell across the desk of Secretary Kellogg, he was instantly alarmed at the possibility of a real storm in the Far East. His first reaction was to instruct MacMurray that the Department of State was not in favor of applying “drastic sanctions to the Nationalists.”[108]Memorandum by the Secretary of State, April 6, 1927. Ibid., pp. 182-83.
(Consul John K. Davis to Secretary Kellogg, Nanking, March 28, 1927. Foreign Relations, 1927, II, 151-63.)
He would go only so far as to present to Ch’en identic notes of protest from the American, British, French, Italian, and Japanese governments concerning the outrages committed in Nanking. These notes were finally presented simultaneously on April 11 by the consuls of the five powers at Hankow. In the event that the “Nationalist Authorities” failed to “comply promptly” with these terms, the powers would find themselves compelled to take “such measures” as they considered “appropriate.”[109]Consul General at Hankow (Lockhart) to Eugene Ch’en, April 11, 1927. Ibid., pp. 189-90. These demands included the following items: (1) adequate punishment of commanders of the troops responsible for the murders, personal injuries, and indignities and the material damage done as also of all persons found to be implicated; (2) apology in writing by the Commander in Chief of the Nationalist Army including an express written undertaking to refrain from all forms of violence and agitation against foreign lives and property; (3) complete reparation for the personal injuries and material damage done.
(Consul John K. Davis to Secretary Kellogg, Nanking, March 28, 1927. Foreign Relations, 1927, II, 151-63.)

When the powers agreed that the replies of Eugene Ch’en were not “satisfactory,” the question of sanctions once more came to the front. Secretary Kellogg recoiled before such a suggestion and anxiously sought some alternative. The Japanese Foreign Office supplied one by asserting a belief that the time was ripe for promoting a split between Chiang Kai-shek and the belligerent Eugene Ch’en. Kellogg quickly grasped this diplomatic lifesaver and announced that the best policy to follow would be to let “Eugene Ch’en’s note remain unanswered and await developments.” No action should be taken that would embarrass Chiang.[110]Memorandum by the Secretary or State, April 20, 1927. Ibid., 204-5.
(Consul John K. Davis to Secretary Kellogg, Nanking, March 28, 1927. Foreign Relations, 1927, II, 151-63.)

MacMurray hoped that these fears of the Department of State would not lead to any break in the collective policy of applying pressure upon the Canton Government. If America withdrew from the concert of powers, the inevitable result would be a new Anglo-Japanese alliance which would dominate the situation in the Far East.[111]MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, April 23, 1927. Ibid., pp. 209-10.
(Consul John K. Davis to Secretary Kellogg, Nanking, March 28, 1927. Foreign Relations, 1927, II, 151-63.)
Kellogg replied that he had not decided to “withdraw entirely” from co-operation with the powers in the matter of dealing with the Nationalist Government. The Department of State would still honor the commitments made at the Washington Conference concerning extraterritoriality and the revision of the Chinese tariff, but it would also insist upon a policy of “moderate action” in China. The time had passed when foreign countries could “take over Chinese territory or maintain by force special spheres of influence in trade.”[112]Secretary Kellogg to MacMurray, April 25, 1927. Ibid., pp. 210-11.
(Consul John K. Davis to Secretary Kellogg, Nanking, March 28, 1927. Foreign Relations, 1927, II, 151-63.)

When the representatives of the powers in Peking prepared a memorandum which still voiced acceptance of the “principle of sanctions” in connection with the proposed policy to be followed in China, Secretary Kellogg lectured them upon the folly of considering the employment of force to compel the Canton Government to agree upon reparations. America was opposed to “drastic action” and would not even go as far as joining with the powers in the presentation of another identic note to Eugene Ch’en.[113]Secretary Kellogg to MacMurray, April 28, 1927. Ibid., pp. 215-16.
(Consul John K. Davis to Secretary Kellogg, Nanking, March 28, 1927. Foreign Relations, 1927, II, 151-63.)

In the face of this American policy of inaction the plans of the powers for vigorous action against the Nationalist Government quickly collapsed. This was the signal for Chiang Kai-shek in April 1927 to break with the communist elements in the Kuomintang and to lay plans for the establishment of a more conservative government that would be more favorably regarded by the Western powers.

m. Secretary Kellogg Is Indifferent to Red Menace in China

Until April 1927 when Chiang Kai-shek rejected the leadership of Mikhail Borodin and other communist leaders, the Nationalist Party in China had been following a line laid down by Moscow. This was apparent to seasoned observers in the Far East, but President Coolidge and the Department of State appeared indifferent to the communist menace. The President himself continued to sound the note of friendship towards China no matter what complexion the leading faction assumed. On April 25, 1927, at a dinner of the United Press Association, he insisted that his Administration did not “wish to pursue any course of aggression against the Chinese people.” Ultimately the turmoil in China would “quiet down and some form of authority will emerge which will no doubt be prepared to make adequate settlement for any wrongs we have suffered.”[114] United States Daily, April 26, 1927.

This “Pollyanna” attitude was distinctly distasteful to American businessmen in Chinese treaty ports. In April 1927, the American Chamber of Commerce at Shanghai issued a statement that called attention to the union of Chinese nationalism and Russian communism:

Militarism, brigandage and Bolshevism have destroyed all semblance of law and order throughout the greater part of China. . . . We believe that immediate concerted action by the Powers to restore a condition of security for foreign lives and property in all treaty ports . . . will have a far-reaching influence throughout China to the ultimate benefit of the Chinese people.[115]North China Herald, April 30. 1927.

Rodney Gilbert agreed with the views of the American Chamber of Commerce at Shanghai and lamented the fact that the Coolidge Administration had abandoned the policy of collective pressure upon China. Writing from Peking he remarked: “This whole community, official as well as commercial, is disgusted and discouraged beyond expression.”[116]Borg, op. cit., p. 344.

In October 1927, George Bronson Rea, in a speech before the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, presented the specter of bolshevism stalking through large parts of China: “If we admit that Soviet Russia has a right to intervene in the internal affairs of China and use the Chinese armies . . . to carry forward its warfare against the interests of other Powers, then the Powers . . . have the same right to intervene in the internal affairs of China for the protection of their interests.”[117]Ibid., p. 351.
(Borg, op. cit., p. 344.)

The American Chamber of Commerce at Shanghai was confident that the Chinese Nationalist movement had been “Soviet-managed and engineered.”[118]Bulletin of the American Chamber of Commerce of Shanghai, August, 1927. The same opinion was expressed by the North China Herald in its special supplement entitled China in Chaos: “Whoever calls for negotiations [between the Powers and China] calls forward self-appointed representatives who are the notorious wreckers and looters of this wretched land, while immediately behind them stand the Bolshevist agitators.”[119] China in Chaos, p. 2.

Because of Chiang’s bolshevist background, the North China Herald was deeply suspicious of his break (April 1927) with the Communists:

Those foreigners who see in the revolt against Soviet dictation or in the ruthless suppression of Communist labor groups, evidence of a sincere change of heart. . . are blind to the fundamental motives behind these changes. Neither in the forwarding of the Bolshevist program nor in the revolt against it have we ever been able to see anything but cold, calculating hypocrisy.[120]June 18, 1927.

But these charges of hypocrisy against Chiang Kai-shek received little support in the United States. The Coolidge Administration was determined to believe the best of him and in the spring of 1928 it was ready to recognize his government. On March 30, 1928, by an exchange of notes, the Nanking Incident was settled. The next step would be formal recognition. MacMurray warned the Department of State against such a move: “As to the probability of establishment by the Nationalists of a responsible government, in the sense of having a serious capability of fulfilling its responsibilities, domestic and international, it is my opinion that this is extremely problematical, nor do I expect it within any predictable future.”[121]MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, June 20, 1928. Foreign Relations, 1928, II, 184-85.

Secretary Kellogg seldom paid any attention to the advice of Minister MacMurray. In this case he merely moved ahead and on July 25, 1928, he concluded a treaty with the government of Chiang Kai-shek in which definite provision was made for Chinese tariff autonomy.[122]Ibid., pp. 475-77.
(MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, June 20, 1928. Foreign Relations, 1928, II, 184-85.)
When MacMurray requested instructions concerning the status of Chiang’s Government, Secretary Kellogg promptly informed him that the “signing of the treaty of July 25 with representatives of the Nationalist Government constitutes technically recognition of that Government and ratification by the Senate is not necessary to give effect to the recognition.”[123]Secretary Kellogg to MacMurray, August 10, 1928. Ibid., pp. 192-93.
(MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, June 20, 1928. Foreign Relations, 1928, II, 184-85.)

The bitter struggle to achieve Chinese unification and to secure the recognition of the Nationalist Government by the Western powers had won apparent success. But the Red leaven that Chiang himself had planted deep in the heart of the Chinese political loaf never ceased its work of fermentation. In the end it would destroy not only Chiang but all China.

Footnotes

[1] Paul W. Reinsch, An American Diplomat in China (New York, 1922), chap. 12; Thomas E. La Fargue, China and the World War (Stanford, 1937), chap. 3.

[2] F. Seymour Cocks, The Secret Treaties and Understandings (London, 1918), pp. 84-88; J. V. A. MacMurray, Treaties and Agreements with and Concerning China (New York, 1921), II, 1168-69.

[3] Blanche E. Dugdale, Arthur James Balfour (New York, 1936), II, 145-46. See also, Balfour to President Wilson, January 31, 1918, File 2, Box 135. Wilson Papers, Library of Congress; and Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, November 18, 1918, File 2, Box 156. Ibid.

[4] A. Whitney Griswold, The Far Eastern Policy of the United States (New York, 1938), p. 219.

[5] Lansing Diary, January 10, 1918. Lansing Papers, Library of Congress.

[6] Griswold, op. cit., pp. 218-19.

[7] Lansing, op. cit. Memorandum by Secretary Lansing, March 18, 1918.

[8] Ibid., April 10, 1918.

[9] Ibid., June 12, 1918.

[10] Lansing, op. cit. Memorandum of a conference at the White House, July 6, 1918.

[11] Colonel House to President Wilson, July 6, 1918. House Papers, Yale University Library.

[12] General William S. Graves, America’s Siberian Adventure (New York, 1931); Pauline Tompkins, American-Russian Relations in the Far East (New York, 1949), pp. 47-141; John A. White, The Siberian Intervention (Princeton, 1950), pp. 270-74.

[13] Frederick V. Field, American Participation in the China Consortiums (Chicago, 1931), pp. 14-66; John G. Reid, The Manchu Abdication and the Powers, 1908-1912 (Berkeley, 1935), pp. 36-241, 258-99.

[14] MacMurray, op. cit., p. 1024; Griswold, op. cit., pp. 172-73.

[15] Foreign Relations, 1913, pp. 170-71.

[16] Ibid., 1918, pp. 167-68.

[17] Ibid., 1917, pp. 144-45; 154-55. British Embassy to Secretary Lansing, October 3, 1917; Ambassador Jusserand to Secretary Lansing, November 19, 1917.

[18] Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, June 20, 1918. 893.51/2512, MS, Department of State.

[19] President Wilson to Secretary Lansing, June 21, 1918. 893.51/2513, MS, Department of State.

[20] Secretary Lansing to Ambassador Jusserand, October 8, 1918. 893.51/20426, MS, Department of State.

[21] British Foreign Office to the American Embassy, London, March 17, 1919. The Consortium, The Official Text of the Four-Power Agreement for a Loan to China and Relevant Documents (Washington, 1921), No. 5, p. 15.

[22] Ambassador Morris to Secretary Lansing, Tokyo, May 28, 1919. 893.51/2241, MS, Department of State.

[23] J. W. Davis to Acting Secretary Polk, London, June 18, 1919. 893.51/2268, MS, Department of State.

[24] J. P. Morgan and Company to Dept, of State, June 25, 1919. 893.51/2282, MS, Department of State.

[25] T. W. Lamont to J. P. Morgan and Company. 893.51/2268, MS, Department of State.

[26] Reinsch to Secretary Lansing, Peking, June 26, 1919. 893.51/2284, MS, Department of State.

[27] Ambassador Wallace to Breckinridge Long, Paris, July 13, 1919. 893.51/2308, MS, Department of State.

[28] Ambassador Wallace to Secretary Lansing, Paris, September 16, 1919. 893.51/2425, MS, Department of State.

[29] Japanese Embassy to the Department of State, March 2, 1920. 893.51/2695, MS, Department of State.

[30] Lansing, op. cit., November 30, 1918.

[31] Ibid., July 31, 1919.

[32] Ambassador Morris to Acting Secretary Polk, March 11, 1920. 893.51/2707, MS, Department of State.

[33] Ambassador Morris to Secretary Colby, Tokyo, April 8, 1920, with inclosures. 893.51/2765, MS, Department of State.

[34] In a letter to Nakaji Kajiwara, president of the Yokohama Specie Bank, May 11, 1920, Mr. Lamont listed the terms agreed upon: “(1) that the South Manchuria Railway and its present branches, together with mines which are subsidiary to the railway, do not come within the scope of the Consortium; (2) that the projected Taonan-fu-Jehol Railway and the projected railway connecting a point on the Taonanfu-Jehol Railway with a seaport are to be included within the terms of the Consortium.”

[35] Pp. 14-15.

[36] Lyon Sharman, Sun Yat-sen: His Life and its Meaning (New York, 1934). p. 247; M. T. Z. Tyau, China Awakened (New York, 1922), chap. 9.

[37] Secretary Lansing had little regard for Sun Yat-sen. In a letter to President Wilson, November 25, 1918, he remarked: “I would not go further than this in regard to this man [Sun Yat-sen] as there are some very ugly stories about him in regard to his acceptance of bribes and his readiness to serve the highest bidder. I believe that the evidence on this subject . . . is of a very conclusive sort.” Wilson op. cit., File 2, Box 157.

[38] New York Times, July 22-23, 1923.

[39] T. C. Woo, The Kuomintang and the Future of the Chinese Revolution (London, 1928), Appendix C.

[40] Harley F. MacNair, China in Revolution (Chicago, 1931), p. 77.

[41] Harriet L. Moore, Soviet Far Eastern Policy, 1931-1945 (Princeton, 1945), pp. 156-64.

[42] Sharman, op. cit., pp. 308-9. The close connection between Sun Yat-sen and the Communists was indicated in a dispatch from Consul John K. Davis, United States consul at Nanking to Secretary Kellogg, July 6, 1925: “There is little doubt that but for Sun’s illness and death he and Feng Yu-hsiang would have shortly sprung a coup in the capital with Soviet assistance, and once in power instead of asking for treaty revision would have simply announced that all of the so-called ‘unequal treaties’ had been abolished.” 893.00/6465, MS, Department of State.

[43] McNair, op. cit., pp. 100-107.

[44] Consul John K. Davis to Secretary Kellogg, Nanking, July 6, 1925. 893.00/6465, MS, Department of State.

[45] E. C. Grenfell to T. W. Lamont, London, June 25, 1925. 893.00/6364, MS, Department of State.

[46] T. W. Lamont to E. C. Grenfell, June 26, 1925. 893.00/6364, MS, Department of State.

[47] Thomas F. Millard to W. W. Yen, Shanghai, June 11, 1925. Borah MS, Library of Congress.

[48] Thomas F. Millard to Senator Borah, Shanghai. June 18, 1925. Ibid.

[49] Senator Borah to Thomas F. Millard, Boise, Idaho, July 20, 1925. Ibid.

[50] New York Times, June 16, 1925.

[51] Secretary Kellogg to Senator Borah, August 21, 1925, Strictly Confidential. Borah, op. cit.

[52] Senator Borah to Secretary Kellogg, Boise, Idaho, August 26, 1925. Ibid. In a letter to Bishop William F. McDowell, August 18, 1925, Borah makes the following critical comment: “I think the course of conduct of the Western nations in China [is] indefensible.” Ibid.

[53] Dorothy Borg, American Policy and the Chinese Revolution. 1925-1928 (New York, 1947), pp. 24-25.

[54] Ferdinand L. Mayer to Secretary Kellogg, June 19, 1925. Foreign Relations, 1925, I, 667.

[55] Minister MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, July 28, 1925. Ibid., pp. 799-802.

[56] Borah, op. cit.

[57] Senator Borah to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canton Government, September 26, 1925. Ibid.

[58] Senator Borah to Thomas F. Millard, September 15, 1925. Ibid.

[59] Ibid. Chungting T. Wang to Senator Borah, Peking, September 28, 1925.

[60] Harry Hussey to Senator Borah, Peking, June 23, 1925. Ibid.

[61] C. F. Remer and William B. Palmer, A Study of Chinese Boycotts with Special Reference to their Economic Effectiveness (Baltimore, 1933), pp. 95-102.

[62] China Year Book, 1926-27, p. 982.

[63] China Year Book, 1928, p. 4; Julean Arnold, “The Missionaries’ Opportunity in China,” Chinese Recorder, October 1925, p. 639; C. F. Remer, Foreign Investments in China (New York, 1933), p. 308.

[64] Pp. 1041-43.

[65] Ibid., September 10, 1925, p. 114.

[66] American Relations with China: A Report of the Conference Held at the Johns Hopkins University, September 17-20, 1925 (Baltimore, 1925), p. 39.

[67] Borg, op. cit., pp. 76-82.

[68] Far Eastern Review, June 1926, pp. 242-43.

[69] North China Herald, July 10, 1926.

[70] Robert T. Pollard, China’s Foreign Relations, 1917-1931 (New York, 1933), pp. 275-79.

[71] Eugene Ch’en to the American Consul General Jenkins, Canton, July 14, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 845.

[72] Eugene Ch’en to the American Consul General Jenkins, Canton, July 28, 1926. Ibid., pp. 851-53.

[73] Minister MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, August 14, 1926. Ibid., pp. 671-80.

[74] Secretary Kellogg to MacMurray, August 24, 1926. Ibid., p. 682.

[75] McNair, op. cit., pp. 108-9.

[76] Borg, op. cit., p. 120.

[77] The Department of State to the British Embassy, October 5, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 855.

[78] Minister MacMurray to Ferdinand L. Mayer, September 30, 1926. Ibid., p. 868.

[79] Ferdinand L. Mayer to Secretary Kellogg, October 3, 1926. Ibid., p. 869.

[80] Secretary Kellogg to Mayer, October 5, 1926. Ibid., p. 871.

[81] Ferdinand L. Mayer to Secretary Kellogg, November 3, 1926. Ibid., pp. 896-97.

[82] China Year Book, 1928, p, 782.

[83] MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, November 12, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 996-97.

[84] MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, November 16, 1926. Ibid., pp. 897-99.

[85] MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, February 7, 1927. Foreign Relations, 1027, II, 379-81.

[86] Secretary Kellogg to MacMurray, February 15, 1927. Ibid., pp. 382-83.

[87] British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to the British Ambassador in China, December 2, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 923-29.

[88] London Times, January 5, 1927.

[89] MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, December 22, 1926. Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 919-21.

[90] Secretary Kellogg to Minister MacMurray, December 23, 1926. Ibid., p. 922.

[91] MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, December 28, 1926. Ibid., p. 929.

[92] Secretary Kellogg to the American chargé in China (Mayer), January 25, 1927. Foreign Relations, 1927, II, 350-53.

[93] Congressional Record, January 26, 1927, LXVIII, pt. II, 2324.

[94] Ibid., LXVIII, pt. II, 4388.

[95] Ibid., February 21, 1927, LXVIII, pt. III, 4389.

[96] January 8-10, 23-24, 29, 1927.

[97] January 9, 1927.

[98] January 25, 1927.

[99] March 17, 1927.

[100] January 21, 26, 1927.

[101] January 23, 28, 30; February 3, 5, 9, 1927.

[102] March 22, 1927.

[103] January 25, 1927.

[104] Consul John K. Davis to Secretary Kellogg, Nanking, March 28, 1927. Foreign Relations, 1927, II, 151-63.

[105] MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, March 28, 1927. Ibid., p. 151.

[106] Ambassador MacVeagh to Secretary Kellogg, Tokyo, March 28, 1927. Ibid., p. 164.

[107] British Ambassador (Howard) to Secretary Kellogg, April 5, 1927. Ibid., pp. 179-81.

[108] Memorandum by the Secretary of State, April 6, 1927. Ibid., pp. 182-83.

[109] Consul General at Hankow (Lockhart) to Eugene Ch’en, April 11, 1927. Ibid., pp. 189-90. These demands included the following items: (1) adequate punishment of commanders of the troops responsible for the murders, personal injuries, and indignities and the material damage done as also of all persons found to be implicated; (2) apology in writing by the Commander in Chief of the Nationalist Army including an express written undertaking to refrain from all forms of violence and agitation against foreign lives and property; (3) complete reparation for the personal injuries and material damage done.

[110] Memorandum by the Secretary or State, April 20, 1927. Ibid., 204-5.

[111] MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, April 23, 1927. Ibid., pp. 209-10.

[112] Secretary Kellogg to MacMurray, April 25, 1927. Ibid., pp. 210-11.

[113] Secretary Kellogg to MacMurray, April 28, 1927. Ibid., pp. 215-16.

[114] United States Daily, April 26, 1927.

[115] North China Herald, April 30. 1927.

[116] Borg, op. cit., p. 344.

[117] Ibid., p. 351.

[118] Bulletin of the American Chamber of Commerce of Shanghai, August, 1927.

[119] China in Chaos, p. 2.

[120] June 18, 1927.

[121] MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, June 20, 1928. Foreign Relations, 1928, II, 184-85.

[122] Ibid., pp. 475-77.

[123] Secretary Kellogg to MacMurray, August 10, 1928. Ibid., pp. 192-93.

Chapter III • Continued Friction with Japan Points towards Inevitable War • 10,100 Words
a. Congress Enacts an Exclusion Law Which Angers Japan

AS AMERICAN STATESMEN looked from the troubled scenes in China to the quiet landscapes in Japan, it was not with relief but with suspicion that they viewed the placid picture of Old Nippon. The orderly ways of empire grated upon the sensibilities of many Americans who preferred the uneasy atmosphere of democracy to the regulated rhythm of the Mikado’s Government. Since 1913, Japan had been under almost constant attack by the Department of State. The Wilson Administration had led a sustained assault against Japan along several fronts, and the inauguration of a Republican Administration in 1921 had led to the calling of the Washington Conference for the express purpose of checking Japanese plans for expansion. The climate of opinion in the United States was definitely hostile to Japan, and it was inevitable that clouds of misunderstanding between the two countries should gather along the diplomatic horizon. The first threat of a storm came in connection with the immigration question.

After the close of the World War there was an increasing fear in the United States that the war-impoverished countries of Europe would send a huge wave of immigration to American shores. On May 19, 1921, in order to prevent such a contingency, Congress enacted a law that limited the number of aliens of any particular nationality that would be granted admission to the United States in any one year to 3 per cent of the “number of foreign-born persons of such nationality resident in the United States” in the year 1910. Some months later a new act was framed which reduced the annual admission of any nationality to 2 per cent of the foreign-born population of that nationality resident in the United States in 1890.[1]A. Whitney Griswold, The Far Eastern Policy of the United States (New York, 1938), pp. 369-70. A high dyke had been erected against the expected wave of immigration.

It was soon apparent that this new legislation would not be used merely to supplement the gentlemen’s agreement with Japan which since 1907 had controlled the immigration of laborers from that country. In 1921 a movement began in the Far West to exclude by legislation any further immigration of Japanese laborers. This could be accomplished by employing a phrase suggested in 1922 by the Supreme Court when it ruled that Japanese were ineligible for citizenship by naturalization. Federal legislation could be framed so that it would apply solely to Japanese immigrants.[2]Ibid., p. 369.
(A. Whitney Griswold, The Far Eastern Policy of the United States (New York, 1938), pp. 369-70.)

In December 1923, bills were introduced in Congress prohibiting the admission of aliens ineligible for citizenship. The Japanese Ambassador promptly voiced a strong protest. In the eyes of the Foreign Office it was necessary to know “whether Japan as a nation is or is not entitled to the proper respect and consideration of other nations.”[3]The Japanese Embassy to the Department of State, January 15, 1924. 711.945/1063, MS, Department of State.

On February 8, Secretary Hughes sent a long letter to Representative Albert Johnson, chairman of the House Committee on Immigration, in which he criticized the proposed legislation as inconsistent with the treaty of 1911. It would also “largely undo the work of the Washington Conference on Limitation of Armament, which so greatly improved our relations with Japan.” He was certain that it was not “worth while thus to affront a friendly nation with whom we have established the most cordial relations.”[4]Secretary Hughes to the chairman of the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization of the House of Representatives, February 8, 1924. 150.01/778, MS, Department of State.

While this letter of protest was resting quietly in a pigeonhole in Mr. Johnson’s desk, Secretary Hughes and Ambassador Hanihara were exchanging notes on the immigration issue. Hanihara insisted that his country had no intention of “questioning the sovereign right of any country to regulate immigration to its own territories.” He could not, however, understand the need for a measure that would “not only seriously offend the just pride of a friendly nation . . . but would also involve the question of the good faith and therefore of the honor of their government.” The enactment of the proposed legislation might lead to “grave consequences” which he hoped might be avoided by another type of restriction.[5]Ambassador Hanihara to Secretary Hughes, April 10, 1924. 711.945/1043, MS, Department of State.

When Secretary Hughes sent this correspondence to Congress, Senator Lodge declared that the phrase “grave consequences” was a “veiled threat” which should be answered by the immediate passage of the exclusion law. When this suggestion was acted upon by both houses of Congress, Hanihara wrote to Secretary Hughes and asserted that he was “unable to understand how the two words, read in their context, could be construed as meaning anything like a threat.”[6]Ambassador Hanihara to Secretary Hughes, April 17, 1924. 711.945/1051, MS, Department of State. President Coolidge signed the Exclusion Act on May 26, 1924. Hughes agreed with the ambassador’s viewpoint and then wrote to Senator Lodge to express the opinion that an irreparable injury had been done, “not to Japan but to ourselves.” It had been most unwise to arouse in the minds of large numbers of Japanese a feeling of bitter resentment against the United States: “I dislike to think what the reaping will be after the sowing of this seed.”[7]Secretary Hughes to Senator Lodge, April 17, 1924. Calvin Coolidge MS, Library of Congress.

b. Japan Invites United States Capital to Invest in Manchuria

Many American newspapers were not deeply concerned about the crop of hatred America was sowing in Japanese minds by the passage of the exclusion law. According to the San Francisco Examiner, California felt an “intense and triumphant satisfaction” that the interests of the West Coast had apparently secured protection.[8]April 17, 1924. Other papers in the West and in the Rocky Mountain states expressed similar sentiments. This feeling of hostility towards Japan was so deep and so widespread that it colored Japanese-American relations down to the tragedy at Pearl Harbor. A good indication of how this adverse public opinion helped to continue tension between the two countries was clearly revealed in the negotiations between the Japanese Government and the House of Morgan with reference to a loan to develop the facilities of the South Manchuria Railway.

On October 29, 1927, there was a report in the New York Journal of Commerce that the South Manchuria Railway was seeking an American loan of $40,000,000. The proceeds of this loan would be applied to the enlargement of the Fushun colliery and to the improvement of certain fertilizer projects. It would also assist in certain refunding operations. Arthur N. Young, in the Office of the Economic Adviser to the Secretary of State, wrote at once to Mr. Kellogg and to Nelson T. Johnson, chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, to call their attention to this item in the Journal of Commerce. He then remarked that the

Department has taken a position previously of objecting to such financing on the ground that it amounted to the utilization of American capital to promote Japanese penetration in Manchuria, and that we stated that we did not view with favor the use of American funds for promoting in third countries activities that might be disadvantageous to American interests.[9]Arthur N. Young to Secretary Kellogg and to Nelson Johnson, November 1, 1927. 894.51 So 8/1, MS, Department of State.

Nelson Johnson made an immediate reply to Mr. Young. He had seen Secretary Kellogg who had assured him that he had “remembered quite clearly the attitude which we had taken with regard to the question of financing the South Manchuria Railway and that if the matter should come up we would continue to take this attitude.”[10]Nelson T. Johnson to Arthur N. Young, November 1, 1927. 894.51 So 8/1, MS, Department of State.

T. W. Lamont, of the House of Morgan, believed that the Department of State should revise its practice concerning the approval of loans for the development of the facilities of the South Manchuria Railway. In a letter to Mr. Olds, the Under Secretary of State, he discussed his recent trip to Manchuria and the general outlook in that province:

My own observation . . . is that today Manchuria is about the only stable region in all China and that with the Japanese there it is likely to be more of a stabilizing force in Chinese affairs than it is to be a disturbing element. The Japanese are developing Manchuria not chiefly in the military sense but in an economic way. They are doing this not for the benefit of the Japanese colonists who go to Manchuria in only small numbers. As a matter of fact, development is working out in the interest of the Chinese. With the unsettled and belligerent conditions covering so large a part of China, the Chinese are now pouring by the thousands into South Manchuria in order to escape the banditry, looting and despoiling to which they are subjected elsewhere.[11]T. W. Lamont to R. E. Olds, the Under Secretary of State, New York, November 11, 1927. 894.51 So 8/48, MS, Department of State.

When Chiang Kai-shek heard of the proposed loan for the development of the facilities of the South Manchuria Railway, he was deeply disturbed. Mayer, the counselor of the Embassy in Peking, was informed that the “Chinese generally would consider a loan of the above description as a departure from American traditional attitude toward China since this action would be of direct assistance to Japan in her efforts to dominate in Manchuria.” Chiang then indicated that he would “more than welcome American capital seeking proper investment in Manchuria for which he would afford every possible facility.”[12]Ferdinand L. Mayer to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, November 19, 1927. 894.51 So 8/1, MS, Department of State.

Inasmuch as Chiang Kai-shek had no control over Manchuria, his offer to welcome the investment of American capital was a little premature. It was significant that Mr. Lamont discovered that Manchuria was the only province in China where lives and property were safe. How quickly this situation would deteriorate under the rule of Chiang the events at Nanking, Hankow, and Tsinan had clearly demonstrated.

On November 21, Secretary Kellogg sent an instruction of inquiry to the American Legation in Peking. He was particularly anxious to ascertain “what the reaction would be in China to the Japanese Government making such a loan in the United States for the Manchurian Railway and any further information you may have in relation to discrimination against American commerce and opposition of Japan to the construction of railways by China in Manchuria.” The reply of Mayer was particularly significant. From a

purely humanitarian viewpoint it would be advantageous for China to have America participate indirectly in Japanese development of Manchuria. With our national ideals . . . it seems inevitable that if we had certain creditor controls we would exert upon Japan an influence beneficent for China. . . . I would submit that Japan is going ahead anyway in Manchuria consolidating her position there with an eye to an ultimate conflict with Russia. . . . The Powers cannot, and I firmly believe will not, be able to let China drift on in her present anarchy indefinitely and even more disastrously for them—particularly if the Russian influence is not curbed. It is too dangerous internationally. . . . We cannot oppose Japanese plans in Manchuria ethically in view of measures we have taken in our correspondingly vital zone—the Caribbean.[13]Ferdinand L. Mayer to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, November 22, 1927. 894.51 So 8/4, MS, Department of State.

Three days later, Mr. Mayer sent a second note to Secretary Kellogg. Once more he sounded a note of realism that must have disturbed the sentimental Secretary of State. With specific reference to the reaction in China to the granting of a loan to develop the South Manchuria Railway, he acidly remarked:

There would probably be considerable disillusionment throughout China regarding the United States but after all what has the so-called especially friendly attitude of the Chinese ever meant to us? It has not furthered our commercial interests . . . nor has it saved us from the horrors and insults of Nanking.[14]Ferdinand L. Mayer to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, November 25, 1927. 894.51 So 8/8, MS, Department of State.

From Tokyo, Secretary Kellogg received some more realistic advice. Ambassador MacVeagh feared that the Japanese Government would

consider refusal of Department to pass loan as evidence of distrust of Japan’s intentions in Manchuria. . . . Japan is extremely anxious to obtain from America rather than from other sources, financial assistance needed and believes that to have American people financially interested in Manchuria will help her to develop the country along lines of making it desirable and safe place for all nationals including Chinese. . . . I have long felt that we should use the first opportunity to convince the Japanese of our honest desire to help them when we can legitimately do so. . . . I think that Lamont was impressed with the sincere desire of the Japanese bankers to put their affairs on a sound basis. . . . Lamont also seemed to me to be convinced that Japan was earnestly and sincerely trying to find a way by which she could assist China in solving her own problems.[15]Ambassador MacVeagh to Secretary Kellogg, Tokyo, November 21, 1927. 894.51 So 8/2, MS, Department of State.

Some American newspapers openly favored the loan to the South Manchuria Railway. The New York Times pointed to the excellent record of railway management and made the comment that few American transportation systems could do any better.[16]November 25, 1927. Even the San Francisco Chronicle could see no reason for the Department of State to oppose the loan.[17]November 25, 1927.

But the strong protests of the different factions in China against the loan influenced American opinion so adversely that Mr. Lamont informed the Department of State that it would be unwise to continue the negotiations.[18]Secretary Kellogg to Ambassador MacVeagh, December 10, 1927. 894.31 So 8/20, MS, Department of State. As an offset to this Chinese opposition the Japanese Government invited international investment in the many industries operated by the South Manchuria Railway. Jotaro Yamamoto, the president of the South Manchuria Railway, expressed the opinion that this move should clearly indicate to the world the sincerity of Japan’s assurances that she had no territorial designs upon Manchuria. The time had come when it was important to “translate words into deeds and to dispel suspicion.”[19]Memorandum of Division of Far Eastern Affairs, 894.51 So 8/61a.

Peking entered a prompt protest against this second attempt to secure the investment of American capital in Manchuria.[20]New York Times, October 28, 1928. Once again American banking interests were influenced by Chinese official opposition and the opportunity for guiding Japanese policy by means of “credit controls” was allowed to slip by. War-ravaged, revolutionary China still had a potent appeal to American sympathies.

c. Chinese Soldiers Provoke the Tsinan Incident

On a few occasions Americans did view China through realistic eyes. This was particularly true with reference to the Tsinan Incident. On May 3, 1928, when Chinese Nationalist soldiers began widespread looting in the city of Tsinan, Japanese troops went into action against them. Four days later the Japanese commander in Tsinan sent an ultimatum to Chiang Kai-shek demanding the immediate withdrawal of Chinese armed forces from the city.[21]Ambassador MacVeagh to Secretary Kellogg, Tokyo, May 4, 5, 1928. 893.00 Tsinan/2-7, MS, Department of State. When Chiang failed to comply with this demand, Japanese troops in Tsinan launched an attack upon the Chinese Army which resulted in considerable loss of life and property.

The Nationalist Government sent an appeal to the League of Nations declaring Japan to be the aggressor. In reply, Japan indicated her large interests in Shantung province and the considerable number of Japanese nationals who needed protection.[22]Ambassador MacVeagh to Secretary Kellogg, Tokyo, June 6, 1928. 893.00 Tsinan/93, MS, Department of State. The Peking and Tientsin Times was favorably impressed with this Japanese statement: “It is a model of what such statements should be. . . . China has lost a great deal of the faith once reposed in her veracity by the false propaganda in which her immature and excited emissaries indulged.”[23]June 1, 1928.

While the League was considering this dispute, the Japanese Government issued to the powers assurances that as soon as order was restored in Shantung province she would withdraw her troops. Everything depended upon the course of the negotiations between Japan and Nationalist China. These were carried on with many interruptions until an agreement was finally signed on March 28, 1929. The result was a diplomatic victory for China. Japan consented to withdraw her troops from Shantung within two months and the question of damages resulting from the Tsinan Incident would be settled by a Sino-Japanese Commission.[24]Ambassador MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, March 26, 1929. 893.00 Tsinan/127, MS, Department of State.

The attitude of a large section of the American press concerning the Tsinan Incident was significantly pro-Japanese. The Washington Post thought it would be expedient, before people grew excited over alleged Japanese aggression in China, to “inquire how and when the Nationalist faction acquired the right to call itself the government of China.”[25]May 13, 1928. The New York Herald-Tribune believed that the incident indicated the “disappearance in China of even the semblance of national control and responsible government.”[26]May 11, 1928. The Philadelphia Inquirer was of the opinion that “Tsinan had emphasized the lesson taught by Nanking. . . .

Every Power concerned should show a firm front.”[27]May 7, 1928. The San Francisco Chronicle expressed the view that was commonly held throughout the United States: “Japan was forced to protect her people and property in Shantung.”[28]May 22, 1928.

d. Russia Teaches the War Lord of Manchuria a Lesson

The Nanking and Tsinan incidents were produced by the high tide of Chinese nationalism that flowed northward as Chiang Kai-shek endeavored to unify China by means of armed force. Checked by American and Japanese military strength, the tide was diverted towards the Russian position in Manchuria. Once more it was turned back after a small advance.

Friction between China and Russia developed out of conflicting claims concerning the administration of the Chinese Eastern Railway. The Sino-Soviet agreements of 1924 provided for the joint administration of the railway as a commercial enterprise. There was also a clause forbidding the dissemination of propaganda inimical to the political and social institutions of either country. In January 1926 a quarrel broke out between Chang Tso-lin, war lord of the Three Eastern Provinces, and Ivanoff, the general manager of the Chinese Eastern Railway. The dispute at first dealt with Ivanoff’s insistence upon the prompt payment by Chang of transportation charges for his troops. In the spring of 1927, Chang was informed that the Russians were breaking the agreement of 1924 by spreading propaganda favorable to bolshevism. On April 6, 1927, his troops raided the Soviet embassy in Peking and discovered a large number of documents that “abundantly proved that members of the Embassy staff” were distributing communistic literature in violation of treaty obligations.[29]Robert T. Pollard, China’s Foreign Relations, 1917-1931 (New York, 1933), p. 391.

The Soviet Minister left Peking in a rage after this raid but Soviet consulates remained in Manchuria and North China. They continued to be focal points from which communist propaganda could be spread in North China, but before Chang could take further action he was mortally wounded by a bomb on June 4, 1928. His son, Chang Hsueh-liang, nursed deep suspicions of communist activities, so on May 27, 1929, his troops made a raid upon the Soviet Consulate in Harbin and arrested forty-two consular officials. Documents seized in the consular buildings confirmed Chinese suspicions that Soviet officials of the Chinese Eastern Railway were busily spreading bolshevik literature.[30] China Year Book, 1929-1930, p. 1217.

On June 1, 1929, the Soviet Government denied that any meetings of the Third International had been held in the cellar of the consulate. The Chinese police were denounced for their “stupidity and shamelessness” and their actions were declared to be in accordance with “jungle law.” The Soviet Government, “with inexhaustible patience” was awaiting a note with the proper explanations.[31]Pravda, June 1, 1929. For a translation of Russian documents published in Pravda I am indebted to Mr. Frederick L. Hetter. Chang replied with new raids. On July 10 the telegraph system of the Chinese Eastern Railway was taken over, Soviet unions were dissolved, the offices of the Soviet Mercantile Fleet and the Far Eastern Trading Organization were closed, and the Russian general manager of the railway was replaced by a Chinese appointee.

On July 13 the Soviet Foreign Office criticized these raids as an “outrageous violation of the Sino-Soviet Treaty of 1924,” and the government of Chang Hsueh-liang at Mukden and the Nationalist Government of Chiang Kai-shek were warned that an “extremely serious situation has arisen.” A demand was then made that a conference be called “for the settlement of all questions connected with the Chinese Eastern Railway.”[32]Pravda, July 14, 1929.

In a note to the Soviet Government (July 16) explaining the reasons for these drastic measures, the Chinese Foreign Office stressed the fact that for years Soviet officials in China had been engaged in spreading communist propaganda in violation of the treaty of 1924.[33]China Year Book, 1929-1930, pp. 1217-20. Moscow immediately replied that these Chinese charges were false and the note “unsatisfactory in content and hypocritical in tone.” All means had “already been exhausted for settling by negotiation the controversial questions and conflicts concerning the Chinese Eastern Railway.” It would be necessary, therefore, for the Soviet Government to recall all representatives from Chinese territory and to “sever all rail links between China and the USSR.”[34]Pravda, July 18, 1929.

It was now apparent that unless some formula for peace could be quickly found there would be war in North China. To Secretary Stimson, the very thought of war was profoundly disturbing. Both China and Russia had adhered to the Kellogg-Briand Pact outlawing war as an instrument of national policy. Although the pact contained no provision for international consultation and no requirement that any nation or combination of nations should attempt to keep the peace of the world, Stimson was determined to infuse a vital spark into its lifeless phrases. He was eager to play the role of policeman in the dark jungles of international intrigue. His club would be the awakened opinion of mankind, which he regarded as one of the most potent sanctions in the world.[35]Henry L. Stimson, “The Pact of Paris,” an address delivered before the Council on Foreign Relations, New York City, August 8, 1932 (Washington, 1932).

On July 18 he called the attention of the Chinese and Russian governments to the obligations they had assumed under the Kellogg-Briand Pact.[36]Stanley K. Hornbeck, “American Policy and the Chinese-Russian Dispute,” Chinese Social and Political Science Review, XIV (January, 1930), 56-60. It was obvious to the rest of the world that Chinese and Russian statesmen could read the text of the treaty as easily as Secretary Stimson, and there was no doubt that they were thoroughly acquainted with all of its implications. The Chinese Foreign Minister quickly assured Mr. Stimson that his Government had “no intention of using force in the present controversy.” The Russian answer to the Stimson admonition was equally reassuring. “Our signature of the Kellogg Pact was not just a diplomatic gesture. When we talk peace we mean peace.”[37]Russell M. Cooper, American Consultation in World Affairs (New York, 1934), p. 91.

But despite this pacific talk there was continued friction concerning the administration of the Chinese Eastern Railway. Finally, after a series of minor incidents, a Russian army marched into Manchuria on November 17 and soon imposed its will upon Hsueh-liang, who received no assistance from Chiang Kai-shek. There had been no declaration of war, but the peaceful play upon the plains of North China had been exceedingly rough even for Red Russians.[38]Eugene Lyons, Assignment in Utopia (New York, 1938), chap. 14.

Stimson was a stickler for the proper form of international conduct. He was resolute in his refusal to regard the Russian military movements in Manchuria as mere playful pranks. If he were not careful the merry Muscovites might overrun all of North China under the guise of a game. In order to dampen these high spirits and to restrain these wild antics, he entered into consultations with France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and Japan in an endeavor to exert collective pressure upon Russia. Germany and Japan declined Stimson’s invitation, but France, Great Britain, and Italy consented to follow Stimson’s lead and a joint note was presented to the disputants on December 2, 1929.[39]Department of State, Press Releases, December 7, 1929. China gave prompt assurance that she had never departed from the letter or the spirit of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. The Russian reply indicated a strong belief that the Stimson action had been much ado about nothing. The dispute with China would be settled by “direct negotiations” between the two powers. As far as the United States was concerned, the commissar expressed great indignation that Stimson had assumed the right to invoke the Pact of Paris. That treaty did not “give any single State or group of States any rights of enforcement.” Moreover, the Soviet Government could not forbear to express its amazement that the “Government of the United States, which by its own will has no official relations with the Soviet, deems it possible to apply to it with advice and counsel.”[40]John Wheeler-Bennett, Documents on International Affairs, 1929 (London, 1930), pp. 278-80.

Stimson refused to permit this Russian rebuff to cool his ardor for peace. He was so anxious for peace that he was ready to fight for it. He clearly realized that his defense of the Pact of Paris was merely a battle of the books. In the near future any further intervention into disputes that were constantly arising in the Far East might mean armed conflict. That contingency could never be overlooked by any statesman, and in 1931 Stimson directed a long verbal barrage against Japanese intervention in Manchuria which sounded to many persons like a call to arms. A decade later these same strident accents found expression in a chorus of war.

e. Background of the Manchurian Incident
(1) Japan Is Worried Over the Spread of Communism in China

The outcome of the conflict between China and Soviet Russia in 1929 had important implications for Japan. First of all, it was clear that Russia had violated the provisions of the Sino-Russian agreement of 1924 which prohibited the spread of communistic propaganda in China. The vast amount of data seized by Chinese police in the Harbin Consulate left no doubt on this point. Russian denials carried no conviction to Japanese minds, and the fact that Chang Hsueh-liang had to fight alone against Soviet armed forces indicated that Chiang Kai-shek was either too weak to guard the frontiers of Manchuria effectively or was not deeply disturbed by the Russian chastisement of the war lord of the Three Eastern Provinces. The Japanese bastions of defense in North China were in evident danger.

This fact seemed apparent to Japanese statesmen when they looked at the ominous failure of Chiang Kai-shek to cope with communist armies. In December 1930, Chiang mobilized troops from Hunan, Hopeh, and Kiangsi provinces and sent them against the Communists.

The Reds soon annihilated the Eighteenth Corps under General Chang Huei-tsan and caused the rapid retreat of the Fiftieth Corps. In February 1931, General Ho Ying-chin was given three army corps to attack the Reds but by May his forces were compelled to withdraw. In July, Chiang Kai-shek himself led a large army to the Nanchang front but accomplished nothing decisive.[41]Communism in China, Document A, Appendix No. 3 (Tokyo, 1932), pp. 3-5. This document was published by the Japanese Government as a part of the case of Japan. For a sympathetic account of the struggle of Chiang Kai-shek with the Chinese Communists see T’ang Leang-li, Suppressing Communist Banditry in China (Shanghai, 1934), chap. 5. The Red menace was daily becoming more formidable and Japanese fears rapidly increased. The only way to insure Japanese security was through adequate measures of defense in Manchuria. These might violate some shadowy rights of sovereignty that China had over Manchuria, but these rights had not been successfully asserted since 1912 and would soon be extinguished by Russia if Japan took no action. For Japan, expansion in Manchuria was a national imperative.

(2) Difficulties Concerning the Railways in Manchuria

Expansion in Manchuria might mean war with China and eventually conflict with Russia. These possibilities profoundly disturbed Japanese statesmen, who realized the fact that 75 per cent of the employees of the Chinese Eastern Railway were “Russians and they held all the controlling posts.”[42] Max Beloff, The Foreign Policy of Soviet Russia, 1929-1941 (New York, 1947), I, 71. This firm control over the operation of the railway gave Russia a commercial and military advantage in North China that constituted an obvious threat to Japanese interests. Ultimately the road would have to be purchased or taken by force.

Railroads were the lifelines of empire in North China and this fact had been obvious to Japanese statesmen as early as 1905. Under the terms of the secret protocol to the Sino-Japanese Treaty of December 22, 1905, the Chinese Government promised it would not construct any railway “in the neighborhood of and parallel to” the South Manchuria Railway.[43] J. V. A. MacMurray, Treaties and Agreements with and Concerning China, I, 554. For many years Japan claimed that this prohibition prevented the building of any parallel lines closer than two hundred miles on each side of their trunk line. But when the sovereignty of China over Manchuria was reduced to a fiction by war lords like Chang Tso-lin and his son, Chang Hsueh-liang, the Japanese Government abandoned its negative attitude and entered into a transportation deal with them. The South Manchuria Railway and certain Japanese banks advanced loans to the Changs and supplied engineers who built railways that produced rich returns.[44]The Ssupingkai-Chenchiatun-Taonan line (with the Piayantala branch) 264 miles, and the Taonan-Anganchi (Tsitsihar) railway, 141 miles. See K. K. Kawakami, “Manchurian Backgrounds,” Pacific Affairs, V (February, 1932), 111-30. With these funds the Changs then proceeded to construct lines that were parallel to the South Manchuria Railway.[45]The Kirin-Hailung-Mukden lines (295 miles); the Piayantala-Takushan line (134 miles), and the partly-built Taonan-Piayantala line. In December 1930 the Japanese Government took the position that it would not object to these parallel lines as long as they did not adversely affect their large trunk line.[46]New York Times, December 10, 1930.

But this conciliatory attitude was modified after Chang Hsueh-liang, in disregard of Japanese warnings, declared his allegiance to Chiang Kai-shek. Japan was not inclined to welcome any wave of nationalism in Manchuria with attendant outbreaks of violence like those in Hankow, Nanking, and Tsinan. In 1927, Mr. Lamont had reported that Manchuria was “about the only stable region in all China” and that large numbers of Chinese were pouring into that region to escape the “banditry, looting and despoiling to which they are subjected elsewhere.”[47]See ante, p. 83. Manchuria had become a sanctuary where multitudes of immigrants found safety under a war lord who obeyed Japanese mandates. When this irresponsible war lord had provoked a Soviet invasion by seizing control over the Chinese Eastern Railway, it was high time that Japan took steps to safeguard her vast economic interests in Manchuria.[48]Edith E. Ware, Business and Politics in the Far Hast (New Haven, 1932), p. 213, estimates Japanese investments in Manchuria at 2,147,000,000 yen. Moreover, this same war lord had shown no disposition to repay the large Japanese loans (143,000,000 yen) that had made it possible for him and his father to construct the railway lines that brought in much-needed revenue. It was difficult to continue friendly relations with a ruler whose actions were becoming increasingly inimical to Japan.

(3) Friction with Reference to the Nishihara Loans

One of the important factors that promoted friction between Japan and China was the failure of the Chinese Nationalist Government to repay the large loans that had been advanced to China by Japanese financiers. By 1930, Japan’s unsecured loans to China had reached the large sum of $953,000,000 (including interest). The Nationalist Government viewed a large part of this indebtedness with indifference. This was particularly true of the so-called Nishihara loans of 1917-1918.[49] Leading Cases of Chinese Infringement of Treaties, Document A, Appendix, No. 6, (Tokyo, 1932), pp. 105-7. See also, Thomas E. LaFargue, China and the World War (Stanford, 1937), p. 112. These loans were spent by the Chinese Government on the construction of railways, the extension of telegraph systems, the reorganization of the Bank of Communications, the discharge of the military expenses required for China’s participation in the World War, and for other similar items. The Nationalist Government refused to recognize this indebtedness and paid little heed to Japanese pressure. Japan was not rich enough to write off a total unsecured Chinese debt of close to a billion dollars ($953,000,000). Official Chinese indifference to this obligation was a source of increasing irritation in many Japanese circles and was bound to lead to serious difficulties.

(4) Anti-Japanese Educational Programs in China

The Japanese Government was deeply disturbed by the anti-Japanese educational programs inspired by the Nationalist Government of China. They would lead not only to increasing bitterness between the two nations but to eventual war. It was especially irritating to have this hostile program pushed vigorously in Manchuria. In the primary schools in Shanghai the pupils were indoctrinated by the following method: “(a) composition: children shall be required to write anti-Japanese essays and verses; (b) penmanship: children shall be required to copy anti-Japanese slogans; (c) drawing: children shall be required to draw pictures representing atrocities committed by Japanese and tragic scenes at Tsinan.”

With reference to propaganda the following prescription was required: (a) teachers and pupils shall organize anti-Japanese patriotic propaganda parties in squads of five to deliver open-air speeches; (b) the masses shall be taught to consider Japan their lifelong and greatest enemy; (c) the masses shall be called upon to pledge themselves to the work of blotting out national disgrace and saving the country.[50]Anti-Foreign Education in China, Document A, Appendix No. 5 (Tokyo, 1932), pp. 28-37. For a different viewpoint see T’ang Leang-li, The Puppet State of Man-chukuo (Shanghai, 1935), pp. 263-72.

During the decade 1930-40 this anti-Japanese program was pushed with increasing intensity and Japanese statesmen made its suspension one of the cardinal items in their lists of requirements for better relations between China and Japan. These lists received scant consideration in China.

(5) The Legality of the Treaties of May 25, 1915

The refusal of the Chinese Nationalist Government to accept as legal the treaties that were signed on May 25, 1915, was a fundamental cause of the deep bitterness that finally led to the outbreak of hostilities on September 18, 1931. These treaties which resulted from the Twenty-One Demands had given Japanese interests in Manchuria a firm foundation.[51]Under the treaties of May 25, 1915, Japan secured the following advantages: (a) the lease of the Kwantung Peninsula, including Port Arthur and Dairen, was extended from 1923 to 1997; (b) the lease of the Antung-Mukden Railway was extended from 1923 to 2007; (c) the lease of the Dairen-Changchun Railway was extended to 2002; (d) the right to lease land in South Manchuria for industrial uses and agricultural purposes was expressly granted. Nanking claimed that they were invalid because the government of Yüan Shih-k’ai had signed them under duress. Tokyo insisted upon their legality and cogently argued that German hatred of Versailles as a dictated treaty did not invalidate its stringent provisions.

To Japan it appeared obvious that Manchuria was essential to her as a bastion of defense and as the keystone of her economic structure. Her statesmen hoped that the Department of State would recognize that North China was just as important to Japan as the Caribbean area was to the United States. The American Government had sent military forces to Haiti and to the Dominican Republic for the purpose of establishing administrations that would be responsive to American desires.[52]Hallett Abend, New York Times, November 4, 1931. This armed intervention had been so recent and so effective that it led the American chargé in Peking to send a dispatch to Secretary Kellogg which ended on a significant note: “We cannot oppose Japanese plans in Manchuria ethically in view of measures we have taken in our correspondingly vital zone—the Caribbean.”[53]Ferdinand L. Mayer to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, November 22, 1927. 894.51 So 8/4, MS, Department of State.

In 1931, Japan felt that she was being pushed to the wall by Chinese Nationalists in Mukden and Nanking. A concerted attempt was being made to reduce the treaties of 1915 to scraps of paper. These treaties were essential to the defense of her tremendous interests in Manchuria and she would fight rather than give them up. She did not realize how close she was to conflict.

In 1930 a large part (17.7%) of the export trade of Japan went to China, and thus any interference with this trade would seriously affect the national economy of the Japanese Empire. In 1923, 1925, 1927, and 1928, Chinese boycotts were declared against Japan, and after the Mukden Incident in the late summer of 1931 another boycott was launched.[54]On the general subject of Chinese boycotts see C. F. Remer and William B. Palmer, A Study of Chinese Boycotts (Baltimore, 1933). The organizing force behind most of these boycotts was the Kuomintang which made effective use of anti-Japanese propaganda. According to the Lytton Report, a large number of “illegal acts” were committed by the Chinese during these periods when trade with Japan was prohibited. Inasmuch as the Kuomintang and the Chinese Government were largely identical, Japan held that Chiang Kai-shek and his advisers were really responsible for the economic pressure that was exerted upon the empire.

The Lytton Commission in weighing the evidence concerning the use of boycotts did not deny the right “of the individual Chinese to refuse to buy Japanese goods, use Japanese banks or ships, or to work for Japanese employers,” but it did raise the question whether the use of these economic weapons was “consistent with friendly relations.”[55] Report of the Commission of Enquiry Appointed by the League of Nations on Manchuria (Washington, 1932), (hereafter referred to as the Lytton Report), p. 120. It is certain that Chinese economic reprisals against Japan helped to widen the breach between the two countries.

(6) The Murder of Captain Nakamura

In the hostile atmosphere that had developed in the summer of 1931 it required merely a spark to start an explosion. This spark was provided by the murder of Captain Nakamura on June 27, 1931. The captain, accompanied by three interpreters and assistants, was sent into Manchuria, during the summer of 1931, on a military mission. At Harbin, where his passport was examined by Chinese authorities, he represented himself as an agricultural expert. After proceeding some distance on the Chinese Eastern Railway, he was “placed under detention by Chinese soldiers under Kuan Yuheng, the Commander of the Third Regiment of the Reclamation Army.” On June 27 he and his companions “were shot by Chinese soldiers and their bodies were cremated to conceal evidence of the deed.”[56]Ibid., pp. 63-64.
( Report of the Commission of Enquiry Appointed by the League of Nations on Manchuria (Washington, 1932), (hereafter referred to as the Lytton Report), p. 120.)

The Japanese insisted that the

killing of Captain Nakamura and his companions was unjustified and showed arrogant disrespect for the Japanese Army and nation; they asserted that the Chinese authorities in Manchuria delayed to institute official enquiries into the circumstances, were reluctant to assume responsibility for the occurrence, and were insincere in their claim that they were making every effort to ascertain the facts in the case.[57]Ibid., p. 64.
( Report of the Commission of Enquiry Appointed by the League of Nations on Manchuria (Washington, 1932), (hereafter referred to as the Lytton Report), p. 120.)

It is certainly true that long delays did occur in trying to “ascertain the facts in the case,” and there is no doubt that they “put a severe strain on the patience of the Japanese.” It is also true that this Nakamura case, “more than any other single incident, greatly aggravated the resentment of the Japanese and their agitation in favour of forceful means to effect a solution of outstanding Sino-Japanese difficulties in regard to Manchuria.”[58]Ibid., p. 65.
( Report of the Commission of Enquiry Appointed by the League of Nations on Manchuria (Washington, 1932), (hereafter referred to as the Lytton Report), p. 120.)

While the Lytton Commission was studying the situation in China, it noted with concern the increasing strength of communism. In 1930 armies of the Nationalist Government had been unsuccessful in operations against communist forces, and during the following year Chiang Kai-shek was reported to be driving the Communists back in full retreat towards Fukien when the Mukden Incident occurred. But they were elusive and resourceful antagonists. During the autumn of 1931 they resumed their offensive and soon “large parts of the provinces of Fukien and Kiangsi, and parts of Kwantung were reliably reported to be completely sovietized.”[59]Ibid., p. 22.
( Report of the Commission of Enquiry Appointed by the League of Nations on Manchuria (Washington, 1932), (hereafter referred to as the Lytton Report), p. 120.)

Japan was well aware of the danger that this Red tide might roll over most of China. In the documents presented to the Lytton Commission in 1932, emphasis was placed upon this communist menace and upon the apparent inability of the Chinese Nationalist Government to control it.[60] Communism in China, Document A, Appendix No. 3 (Tokyo, 1932). It seemed to Tokyo that Japanese interests in North China were about to be crushed between the millstones of Chinese nationalism and Russian bolshevism. An appeal to the League of Nations would accomplish little. Chinese nationalism had found a sympathetic audience in the Western powers. Most of them were inclined to accept the fictions and pretensions put forward by the Nanking Government. The Japanese position in North China was in grave danger of being infiltrated by Reds or successfully attacked by fervent Chinese Nationalists whose patriotism had turned into a “flame of hatred.”[61] Lytton Report, op. cit., p. 19.

The dilemma that faced Japan is clearly and cogently stated by George Sokolsky who was used as an intermediary between China and Japan in 1931:

It needs to be recalled here that in 1931 the last efforts were made to reconcile these countries [China and Japan]. Actually, I was an instrument in that attempted reconciliation, going to Japan from China to hold meetings with Baron Shidehara, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and others. I can say that the Japanese attitude was conciliatory; the Chinese, on the whole, antagonistic. . . . Two forces were at work to keep China and Japan quarreling: Soviet Russia and the League of Nations. Soviet Russia had been engaged since 1924 in an active program of stirring hate among the Chinese people against all foreigners except the Russians, but particularly against the British and the Japanese. The League of Nations secretariat was developing in China a field of widespread activity through its agent, Dr. Ludwic Rajchmann, who was spending most of his time in China. Rajchmann was violently anti-Japanese, although Japan was a member of the League of Nations and Rajchmann an employee. Rajchmann is a Pole and is now associated with the United Nations.[62]George Sokolsky, “These Days,” Washington Times-Herald, March 14, 1951.

f. Secretary Stimson Prepares a Path to War

One of the reasons why Japan was “conciliatory” towards China in 1931 was because of the shaky structure of Japanese finance. A war with China might lead to very serious consequences. On September 18, 1931, the American press published a summary of a report made by Dr. Harold G. Moulton, of the Brookings Institution, on economic conditions in the Japanese Empire. This survey had been undertaken upon the invitation of the Japanese Minister of Finance. In conclusion the summary stated that “military retrenchment, continuation of peaceful relations with the United States, and sharp restriction of the present rates of population are all essential if serious economic and financial difficulties in Japan are to be averted. . . . A balanced budget and tax reduction can be accomplished only if military outlays are curtailed.”[63]Ware, op. cit., p. 206.

It was only with the greatest reluctance, therefore, that Japanese statesmen consented to support a program of expansion in Manchuria. After it was apparent that the Japanese Kwantung Army had seized certain cities in North China, Hugh Byas, writing from Tokyo, reported that the sudden movement of troops had not been “foreseen” by the Japanese Government and had not been preventable.[64]New York Times, September 19, 1931. Byas, as well as many other veteran observers in the Far East, had great confidence in the pacific disposition of Baron Shidehara, the Japanese Minister of Foreign Relations. Secretary Stimson shared this view and at first he was anxious to refrain from exerting too much pressure upon the Japanese Government because he feared such a policy would play into the hands of the militarists.

Three days after the clash between Japanese and Chinese troops at Mukden, Sir Eric Drummond, Secretary General of the League of Nations, asked Hugh Wilson (the American Minister at Geneva) to ascertain the views of Secretary Stimson with special reference to the “involvement of the Kellogg Pact in this matter.”[65]Hugh Wilson to Secretary Stimson, Geneva, September 21, 1931. Foreign Relations, 1931, III, 22. Stimson gave a cautious reply. He was “insufficiently informed of the facts of the situation,” but he did think it was advisable that no steps be taken that would arouse Japanese nationalistic feeling “against the Foreign Office.” The Department of State was “watching with concern the development of events” and the relationship of these events “to the Nine-Power Treaty and to the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact.”[66]Secretary Stimson to Hugh Wilson, September 22, 1931. Ibid., p. 26.
(Hugh Wilson to Secretary Stimson, Geneva, September 21, 1931. Foreign Relations, 1931, III, 22.)

On September 23, Norman H. Davis, at Geneva, became a little hysterical over the situation in Manchuria and tried to talk with President Hoover over the trans-Atlantic telephone. Secretary Stimson was placed on the line and Davis expressed his fears that the situation in the Far East was “loaded with dynamite” which might explode any moment if great care were not exercised by the statesmen of the great powers. Davis was full of suggestions. First, he believed that it was important for the “United States to take a very drastic step and to come and sit on the Council of the League and help compose this thing.” Next he would have the Department of State support a resolution calling for a committee of investigation to be appointed by the Council for the purpose of looking into the Manchurian incident.

Stimson was cold to both of these proposals. He was not in favor of authorizing an American representative to sit with the Council of the League and he would “not dream” of appointing any representative to sit with the proposed committee of investigation.[67]Memorandum of a trans-Atlantic telephone conversation among Secretary Stimson, Norman H. Davis, and Hugh Wilson, September 23, 1931. Ibid., pp. 43-47.
(Hugh Wilson to Secretary Stimson, Geneva, September 21, 1931. Foreign Relations, 1931, III, 22.)

Although Stimson was not ready to adopt these far-reaching proposals of Norman Davis, he was anxious to give ample evidence of a co-operative spirit, so on September 24 he sent some identic notes to China and Japan in which the ardent hope was voiced that they would refrain from “activities” that would prejudice a pacific settlement of the Manchurian dispute.[68]Secretary Stimson to Minister Johnson and to the United States charge d’affaires in Tokyo, September 24, 1931. Ibid., p. 58.
(Hugh Wilson to Secretary Stimson, Geneva, September 21, 1931. Foreign Relations, 1931, III, 22.)
After waiting ten days for this note to take effect, Stimson then advised Drummond to see to it that the League used all “the authority and pressure within its competence” to compel Japan to keep the peace in the Far East. On its part the American Government would “endeavor to reinforce League action and will make clear that the American Government’s interest in the matter has not been lost.”[69]Secretary Stimson to the consul at Geneva (Gilbert), October 5, 1931. Ibid., pp. 116-17.
(Hugh Wilson to Secretary Stimson, Geneva, September 21, 1931. Foreign Relations, 1931, III, 22.)
The bombing of Chinchow by Japanese planes on October 8 provoked Stimson to take more vigorous action to preserve peace. He now began to consider the employment of sanctions against Japan in order to compel her to “respect the great peace treaties.”[70] Henry L. Stimson, The Far Eastern Crisis: Recollections and Observations (New York, 1936), pp. 51-57. On October 10 he secured the President’s approval of a suggestion to have an American representative participate in all the sessions of the League Council which dealt with the enforcement of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Next, he authorized Prentiss Gilbert, American Consul at Geneva, to take part in these sessions if an invitation were extended to him. Before he could receive an answer from the League in this regard, he requested Gilbert to place before Sir Eric Drummond the suggestion that the Council invoke the Kellogg Pact.[71]Secretary Stimson to Consul Gilbert, October 10, 1931. Foreign Relations, 1931, III, 154.

Drummond neatly countered by indicating how effective it would be for the United States to take this step, but Stimson insisted that the League should take the initiative in invoking the pact. The American Government should “keep in the background” and not serve as a lightning rod that would invite the full discharge of Japanese resentment. With reference to Japanese assurances of good will towards the United States, he applied to them the vulgar but descriptive epithet—“eyewash.”[72]Memorandum of a trans-Atlantic telephone conversation between Secretary Stimson and Prentiss Gilbert, October 16, 1931. Ibid., pp. 203-7.
(Secretary Stimson to Consul Gilbert, October 10, 1931. Foreign Relations, 1931, III, 154.)

On October 17, with Mr. Gilbert in attendance, the Council of the League decided upon a joint invocation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. After Stimson had been assured that the League would take action he sent (October 20) identic notes to China and Japan reminding them of their obligations under the pact.[73]Secretary Stimson to the American Minister in China and to the American chargé d’affaires in Japan, October 20, 1931. Ibid., p. 275.
(Secretary Stimson to Consul Gilbert, October 10, 1931. Foreign Relations, 1931, III, 154.)
The Council took the further step (October 24) of calling upon Japan to “begin immediately with the withdrawal of its troops into the railway zone” of the South Manchuria Railway. This withdrawal should be completed by November 16.[74] Foreign Relations, Japan: 1931-1941, I, 29-30.

Edwin Neville, the American chargé at Tokyo, regarded this directive of the League as inopportune and ineffective and he requested the Department of State to refrain from giving it any support. American co-operation in this particular case would “weaken American influence in Japan” and would not “accomplish anything” in settling the Manchurian dispute.[75]Chargé in Japan (Neville) to Secretary Stimson, Tokyo, November 4, 1931. Foreign Relations, 1931, III, 366-67.

Stimson paid scant attention to this advice. On November 5, Ambassador Forbes handed to the Japanese Foreign Minister a memorandum which closely followed the phraseology of the League resolution with the exception that no time limit was set for the withdrawal of the Japanese troops.[76]Memorandum of a conversation between Ambassador Forbes (Tokyo) with the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs (Shidehara), November 5, 1931. Ibid., pp. 375-80.
(Chargé in Japan (Neville) to Secretary Stimson, Tokyo, November 4, 1931. Foreign Relations, 1931, III, 366-67.)
On November 19 he fired another shot in this barrage against Japan. In a conversation with Debuchi he warned him that the American Government might publish the diplomatic correspondence that had passed between the Foreign Office and the Department of State and thus mobilize world opinion against the actions of Japanese militarists.[77]Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a conversation with the Japanese Ambassador (Debuchi), November 19, 1931. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 44-46.

After this thrust against Japan, Stimson once more turned to the League and explained the basis of American action. Pressure from President Hoover had softened the tone of his notes. When Stimson in Cabinet meetings began to talk about coercing Japan by all “means short of actual use of armed force,” the President informed him that “this was simply the road to war itself and he would have none of it.”[78]Ray L. Wilbur and Arthur M. Hyde, The Hoover Policies (New York, 1937), p. 603.

Stimson, therefore, instructed Ambassador Dawes to tell certain members of the League Council that, while the American fleet would not take any adverse action against any embargo that would be enforced against Japanese commerce, it should be clearly understood that the United States would not participate in any economic sanctions. America would assist in mobilizing public opinion against Japan and would refuse to recognize “any treaties that were created under military force.”[79]Memorandum of a trans-Atlantic telephone conversation between Secretary Stimson and Ambassador Dawes, November 19, 1931. Foreign Relations, 1931, III, 488-98.

Under the impact of this American pressure, Shidehara desoerately strove to modify the policy of the militarists in Tokyo and on November 27 he was able to put a brief stop to the Manchurian advance. But the Japanese Cabinet fell two weeks later and these futile peace gestures ceased. On January 2, 1932, Chinchow was captured and the Japanese conquest of Manchuria was complete.

Before this took place Elihu Root, thoroughly alarmed by the active measures Secretary Stimson was taking to stop Japanese expansion in Manchuria, wrote the Secretary a long letter of protest. Root had been Secretary of State from 1905 to 1909 and had negotiated the Root-Takahira Agreement that had given Japan a green light in Manchuria. He now warned Stimson about “getting entangled in League measures which we have no right to engage in against Japan.” He also alluded to Japan’s special interests in Manchuria through a long period of years, and spoke of the need for Japan to protect herself in a political sense against “the dagger aimed at her heart.”

Root was a realist who did not want war with Japan. Stimson was a pacifist who loved peace so much he was always ready to fight for it. He wholeheartedly subscribed to the slogan—perpetual war for perpetual peace. In his answer to Root he expressed the belief that his intervention in the Manchurian muddle was necessary to save the whole structure of the peace treaties. He was the Atlas on whose stooping shoulders world peace was precariously balanced. A “new advance by Japan” would “undoubtedly create much adverse and even hostile sentiment in this country and much pressure upon us for some kind of action.” As a man of action he was not inclined to draw back into any shell of neutrality.[80]Secretary Stimson to Elihu Root, December 14, 1931, Strictly Personal and Confidential, Box 129, Root Papers, Library of Congress.

Perhaps his best policy would be to strive for some kind of tripartite (Britain, France, and the United States) pressure upon Japan. After acquainting the governments of these powers with the outline of this new offensive against Japan, and without waiting for formal replies to his overture, he dispatched identic notes (January 7) to China and Japan in which he developed the theory of nonrecognition. The American Government would not recognize any agreement that “would impair the treaty rights of the United States or its citizens in China, including those which relate to the sovereignty, the independence, or the territorial and administrative integrity of the Republic of China or to the international policy relative to China, commonly known as the Open-Door policy.”[81]Secretary Stimson to Ambassador Forbes, January 7, 1932. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 76. This nonrecognition would also extend to any changes in the Far East which had been effected by “means contrary to the covenants and obligations of the Pact of Paris.”

After firing this sharp volley in the direction of Japan, Stimson waited for the response of the British Government. He was confident that the Foreign Office would answer with a shot that would be heard around the world. This expectation was fulfilled but the guns of the Foreign Office blasted at American suspicions of Japanese policy in the Far East: “His Majesty’s Government have not considered it necessary to address any formal note to the Japanese Government on the lines of the American Government’s note.”[82]The chargé in Great Britain (Atherton) to Secretary Stimson, London, January 9, 1932. Foreign Relations, 1932, III, 19. The attitude of the Foreign Office was praised by the London Times which remarked: “Nor does it seem the immediate business of the Foreign Office to defend the ‘administrative integrity’ of China until that integrity is something more than an ideal. It did not exist in 1922 and it does not exist today.”[83]January 11, 1932.

Delighted with this latest demonstration of the absurdity of the idea that Britain and the United States usually followed a parallel policy in the Far East, the Japanese Foreign Office, on January 16, 1932, sent a note to Stimson which used “almost literally” the phraseology of the critical paragraphs in the London Times.[84]Robert Langer, Seizure of Territory (Princeton, 1947), p. 60.

Stung by these words of calculated impudence, Stimson reached for the trans-Atlantic telephone and began a series of conversations with Sir John Simon, the British Foreign Secretary. He was exceedingly anxious to secure British co-operation in a joint invocation of Article 7 of the Nine-Power Treaty.

Sir John was not accustomed to discuss state secrets over the telephone, and at Geneva he had to “receive one of the calls in a booth at the League of Nations.” He had not been able to “arrange for stenographic notes to be taken of the conversations, and so could not study the precise words of what had been said and weigh their implications.”[85]Raymond Gram Swing, “How We Lost the Peace in 1937,” Atlantic Monthly, CLXXIX (February 1947), 34. The whole thing was so informal and unusual that Sir John refused to respond to Stimson’s strongly worded importunities, and the Secretary of State finally realized that the old slogan “Hands across the Sea” is the exclusive property of the Foreign Office. It is properly used only when Uncle Sam can give John Bull a lift.[86]Memoranda of trans-Atlantic conversations between Secretary Stimson and Sir John Simon, February 15, 24, 1932. Foreign Relations, 1932, III, 335-40, 341-45, 432-36.

For the next two months Stimson had to stand responsible for the nonrecognition policy without any help from Great Britain, but there were certain factors that slowly pushed the Foreign Office into line with the Department of State. Britain had extensive business interests in Shanghai, and when the Japanese, on January 28, 1932, opened an offensive against the Chinese Nineteenth Route Army stationed in that city, the situation took on a new aspect. The Foreign Office, however, did not at once take action to avert this threat to British big business. Stimson for a while had to continue his one-man offensive against Japan. On February 23 this took the form of a long letter to Senator Borah, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Once more the nonrecognition theory was given vehement expression and it was extended to cover violations of the Nine-Power Treaty as well as of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.[87]Secretary Stimson to Senator Borah, February 23, 1932. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 83-87.

The Stimson letter met with a cool reception in Tokyo. Ambassador Forbes reported that the British and French ambassadors felt that its effect had been “extremely injurious.” It had certainly tended to silence “for the present the influences working from within for the correction of this difficult situation.” Many newspapers looked upon the letter as “distinctly provocative,” and in the talk of “another world war” the United States was regarded as “the probable enemy.” The British and French ambassadors expressed the strong hope that Stimson would cease writing letters of such a “provocative nature,” and Ambassador Forbes frankly indorsed their viewpoint.[88]Ambassador Forbes to Secretary Stimson, Tokyo, February 27, 1932. Foreign Relations, 1932, III, 457-58.

But Stimson, clad in his usual armor of righteousness, gave little heed to this sharp shaft from his own ambassador in Tokyo. Time and British big business were working on his side. On February 16 the League Council sent an appeal to Japan for the purpose of dissuading her from making a full-scale attack upon Shanghai. In this appeal Japan was pointed out as the responsible party in the Far Eastern conflict, and she was reminded of her obligations under the Covenant of the League of Nations and under the provisions of the Nine-Power Treaty.[89]Irving S. Friedman, British Relations With China, 1931-1939 (New York, 1940), P. 33 On March 11 the Assembly of the League took a bolder step when it adopted a resolution which declared that it was “incumbent upon the members of the League of Nations not to recognize any situation, treaty or agreement which may be brought about by means contrary to the Covenant of the League of Nations or to the Pact of Paris.”[90]The consul at Geneva (Gilbert) to Secretary Stimson, Geneva, March 15, 1932. Foreign Relations, 1932, III, 585-86. Westel W. Willoughby, The Sino-Japanese Controversy and the League of Nations (Baltimore, 1935), pp. 299-301.

Secretary Stimson had at last maneuvered the League of Nations into a formal approval of the nonrecognition theory. It was a fateful step along a “dead-end” street of fear and frustration, and its inevitable consequence was America’s involvement in World War II.[91]The dangers that were inherent in the Far Eastern situation were discussed at length by the British Prime Minister (Ramsay MacDonald) in a conversation with Mr. Atherton, the American chargé d’affairs at London, on April 4, 1932: “In substance the Prime Minister said that it was foreseen some time ago by critics of the League that members might well be actually in a state of war without a formal declaration of war, in order to escape the penalties placed upon war by the Covenant. This was in fact what had happened in the present instance, although the Chinese had almost ‘put the fat in the fire.’ During the last Far Eastern discussions in Geneva the Chinese had drawn up a resolution which a League representative agreed formally to present. This resolution declared that Japan by her actions was in fact in a state of war with members of the League.

“The League representative showed this resolution to Sir John Simon who said that he would have nothing to do with it and that if it were presented he would deny all knowledge of it. Eventually the resolution just escaped presentation, but the Prime Minister said that this showed how near Japan had been to open conflict with members of the League.” 793.94/4965. Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

Footnotes

[1] A. Whitney Griswold, The Far Eastern Policy of the United States (New York, 1938), pp. 369-70.

[2] Ibid., p. 369.

[3] The Japanese Embassy to the Department of State, January 15, 1924. 711.945/1063, MS, Department of State.

[4] Secretary Hughes to the chairman of the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization of the House of Representatives, February 8, 1924. 150.01/778, MS, Department of State.

[5] Ambassador Hanihara to Secretary Hughes, April 10, 1924. 711.945/1043, MS, Department of State.

[6] Ambassador Hanihara to Secretary Hughes, April 17, 1924. 711.945/1051, MS, Department of State. President Coolidge signed the Exclusion Act on May 26, 1924.

[7] Secretary Hughes to Senator Lodge, April 17, 1924. Calvin Coolidge MS, Library of Congress.

[8] April 17, 1924.

[9] Arthur N. Young to Secretary Kellogg and to Nelson Johnson, November 1, 1927. 894.51 So 8/1, MS, Department of State.

[10] Nelson T. Johnson to Arthur N. Young, November 1, 1927. 894.51 So 8/1, MS, Department of State.

[11] T. W. Lamont to R. E. Olds, the Under Secretary of State, New York, November 11, 1927. 894.51 So 8/48, MS, Department of State.

[12] Ferdinand L. Mayer to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, November 19, 1927. 894.51 So 8/1, MS, Department of State.

[13] Ferdinand L. Mayer to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, November 22, 1927. 894.51 So 8/4, MS, Department of State.

[14] Ferdinand L. Mayer to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, November 25, 1927. 894.51 So 8/8, MS, Department of State.

[15] Ambassador MacVeagh to Secretary Kellogg, Tokyo, November 21, 1927. 894.51 So 8/2, MS, Department of State.

[16] November 25, 1927.

[17] November 25, 1927.

[18] Secretary Kellogg to Ambassador MacVeagh, December 10, 1927. 894.31 So 8/20, MS, Department of State.

[19] Memorandum of Division of Far Eastern Affairs, 894.51 So 8/61a.

[20] New York Times, October 28, 1928.

[21] Ambassador MacVeagh to Secretary Kellogg, Tokyo, May 4, 5, 1928. 893.00 Tsinan/2-7, MS, Department of State.

[22] Ambassador MacVeagh to Secretary Kellogg, Tokyo, June 6, 1928. 893.00 Tsinan/93, MS, Department of State.

[23] June 1, 1928.

[24] Ambassador MacMurray to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, March 26, 1929. 893.00 Tsinan/127, MS, Department of State.

[25] May 13, 1928.

[26] May 11, 1928.

[27] May 7, 1928.

[28] May 22, 1928.

[29] Robert T. Pollard, China’s Foreign Relations, 1917-1931 (New York, 1933), p. 391.

[30] China Year Book, 1929-1930, p. 1217.

[31] Pravda, June 1, 1929. For a translation of Russian documents published in Pravda I am indebted to Mr. Frederick L. Hetter.

[32] Pravda, July 14, 1929.

[33] China Year Book, 1929-1930, pp. 1217-20.

[34] Pravda, July 18, 1929.

[35] Henry L. Stimson, “The Pact of Paris,” an address delivered before the Council on Foreign Relations, New York City, August 8, 1932 (Washington, 1932).

[36] Stanley K. Hornbeck, “American Policy and the Chinese-Russian Dispute,” Chinese Social and Political Science Review, XIV (January, 1930), 56-60.

[37] Russell M. Cooper, American Consultation in World Affairs (New York, 1934), p. 91.

[38] Eugene Lyons, Assignment in Utopia (New York, 1938), chap. 14.

[39] Department of State, Press Releases, December 7, 1929.

[40] John Wheeler-Bennett, Documents on International Affairs, 1929 (London, 1930), pp. 278-80.

[41] Communism in China, Document A, Appendix No. 3 (Tokyo, 1932), pp. 3-5. This document was published by the Japanese Government as a part of the case of Japan. For a sympathetic account of the struggle of Chiang Kai-shek with the Chinese Communists see T’ang Leang-li, Suppressing Communist Banditry in China (Shanghai, 1934), chap. 5.

[42] Max Beloff, The Foreign Policy of Soviet Russia, 1929-1941 (New York, 1947), I, 71.

[43] J. V. A. MacMurray, Treaties and Agreements with and Concerning China, I, 554.

[44] The Ssupingkai-Chenchiatun-Taonan line (with the Piayantala branch) 264 miles, and the Taonan-Anganchi (Tsitsihar) railway, 141 miles. See K. K. Kawakami, “Manchurian Backgrounds,” Pacific Affairs, V (February, 1932), 111-30.

[45] The Kirin-Hailung-Mukden lines (295 miles); the Piayantala-Takushan line (134 miles), and the partly-built Taonan-Piayantala line.

[46] New York Times, December 10, 1930.

[47] See ante, p. 83.

[48] Edith E. Ware, Business and Politics in the Far Hast (New Haven, 1932), p. 213, estimates Japanese investments in Manchuria at 2,147,000,000 yen.

[49] Leading Cases of Chinese Infringement of Treaties, Document A, Appendix, No. 6, (Tokyo, 1932), pp. 105-7. See also, Thomas E. LaFargue, China and the World War (Stanford, 1937), p. 112.

[50] Anti-Foreign Education in China, Document A, Appendix No. 5 (Tokyo, 1932), pp. 28-37. For a different viewpoint see T’ang Leang-li, The Puppet State of Man-chukuo (Shanghai, 1935), pp. 263-72.

[51] Under the treaties of May 25, 1915, Japan secured the following advantages: (a) the lease of the Kwantung Peninsula, including Port Arthur and Dairen, was extended from 1923 to 1997; (b) the lease of the Antung-Mukden Railway was extended from 1923 to 2007; (c) the lease of the Dairen-Changchun Railway was extended to 2002; (d) the right to lease land in South Manchuria for industrial uses and agricultural purposes was expressly granted.

[52] Hallett Abend, New York Times, November 4, 1931.

[53] Ferdinand L. Mayer to Secretary Kellogg, Peking, November 22, 1927. 894.51 So 8/4, MS, Department of State.

[54] On the general subject of Chinese boycotts see C. F. Remer and William B. Palmer, A Study of Chinese Boycotts (Baltimore, 1933).

[55] Report of the Commission of Enquiry Appointed by the League of Nations on Manchuria (Washington, 1932), (hereafter referred to as the Lytton Report), p. 120.

[56] Ibid., pp. 63-64.

[57] Ibid., p. 64.

[58] Ibid., p. 65.

[59] Ibid., p. 22.

[60] Communism in China, Document A, Appendix No. 3 (Tokyo, 1932).

[61] Lytton Report, op. cit., p. 19.

[62] George Sokolsky, “These Days,” Washington Times-Herald, March 14, 1951.

[63] Ware, op. cit., p. 206.

[64] New York Times, September 19, 1931.

[65] Hugh Wilson to Secretary Stimson, Geneva, September 21, 1931. Foreign Relations, 1931, III, 22.

[66] Secretary Stimson to Hugh Wilson, September 22, 1931. Ibid., p. 26.

[67] Memorandum of a trans-Atlantic telephone conversation among Secretary Stimson, Norman H. Davis, and Hugh Wilson, September 23, 1931. Ibid., pp. 43-47.

[68] Secretary Stimson to Minister Johnson and to the United States charge d’affaires in Tokyo, September 24, 1931. Ibid., p. 58.

[69] Secretary Stimson to the consul at Geneva (Gilbert), October 5, 1931. Ibid., pp. 116-17.

[70] Henry L. Stimson, The Far Eastern Crisis: Recollections and Observations (New York, 1936), pp. 51-57.

[71] Secretary Stimson to Consul Gilbert, October 10, 1931. Foreign Relations, 1931, III, 154.

[72] Memorandum of a trans-Atlantic telephone conversation between Secretary Stimson and Prentiss Gilbert, October 16, 1931. Ibid., pp. 203-7.

[73] Secretary Stimson to the American Minister in China and to the American chargé d’affaires in Japan, October 20, 1931. Ibid., p. 275.

[74] Foreign Relations, Japan: 1931-1941, I, 29-30.

[75] Chargé in Japan (Neville) to Secretary Stimson, Tokyo, November 4, 1931. Foreign Relations, 1931, III, 366-67.

[76] Memorandum of a conversation between Ambassador Forbes (Tokyo) with the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs (Shidehara), November 5, 1931. Ibid., pp. 375-80.

[77] Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a conversation with the Japanese Ambassador (Debuchi), November 19, 1931. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 44-46.

[78] Ray L. Wilbur and Arthur M. Hyde, The Hoover Policies (New York, 1937), p. 603.

[79] Memorandum of a trans-Atlantic telephone conversation between Secretary Stimson and Ambassador Dawes, November 19, 1931. Foreign Relations, 1931, III, 488-98.

[80] Secretary Stimson to Elihu Root, December 14, 1931, Strictly Personal and Confidential, Box 129, Root Papers, Library of Congress.

[81] Secretary Stimson to Ambassador Forbes, January 7, 1932. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 76.

[82] The chargé in Great Britain (Atherton) to Secretary Stimson, London, January 9, 1932. Foreign Relations, 1932, III, 19.

[83] January 11, 1932.

[84] Robert Langer, Seizure of Territory (Princeton, 1947), p. 60.

[85] Raymond Gram Swing, “How We Lost the Peace in 1937,” Atlantic Monthly, CLXXIX (February 1947), 34.

[86] Memoranda of trans-Atlantic conversations between Secretary Stimson and Sir John Simon, February 15, 24, 1932. Foreign Relations, 1932, III, 335-40, 341-45, 432-36.

[87] Secretary Stimson to Senator Borah, February 23, 1932. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 83-87.

[88] Ambassador Forbes to Secretary Stimson, Tokyo, February 27, 1932. Foreign Relations, 1932, III, 457-58.

[89] Irving S. Friedman, British Relations With China, 1931-1939 (New York, 1940), P. 33

[90] The consul at Geneva (Gilbert) to Secretary Stimson, Geneva, March 15, 1932. Foreign Relations, 1932, III, 585-86. Westel W. Willoughby, The Sino-Japanese Controversy and the League of Nations (Baltimore, 1935), pp. 299-301.

[91] The dangers that were inherent in the Far Eastern situation were discussed at length by the British Prime Minister (Ramsay MacDonald) in a conversation with Mr. Atherton, the American chargé d’affairs at London, on April 4, 1932: “In substance the Prime Minister said that it was foreseen some time ago by critics of the League that members might well be actually in a state of war without a formal declaration of war, in order to escape the penalties placed upon war by the Covenant. This was in fact what had happened in the present instance, although the Chinese had almost ‘put the fat in the fire.’ During the last Far Eastern discussions in Geneva the Chinese had drawn up a resolution which a League representative agreed formally to present. This resolution declared that Japan by her actions was in fact in a state of war with members of the League.

“The League representative showed this resolution to Sir John Simon who said that he would have nothing to do with it and that if it were presented he would deny all knowledge of it. Eventually the resolution just escaped presentation, but the Prime Minister said that this showed how near Japan had been to open conflict with members of the League.” 793.94/4965. Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

Chapter IV • Secretary Stimson Produces a Pattern of War • 7,900 Words
a. American Press Opinion of the Stimson Doctrine

WHEN SECRETARY STIMSON boldly announced on January 7, 1932, his nonrecognition policy, he felt confident that he could rely upon a large section of the American press for support. The old tradition of isolation had been slowly and steadily undermined by ardent one-worlders who were desperately anxious for America to bear a larger share of the burdens that the World War had thrust upon the weakened back of Europe. The New York press had led the assaults of these journalistic saboteurs with the Times as the leader of the offensive. Stimson had carefully watched this conflict and had come to the conclusion that the old American order had collapsed. His nonrecognition note would serve as a stirring call to all internationalists to build a new political edifice whose ample dimensions would require enormous supplies of American materials and whose maintenance would impose a staggering load upon the American taxpayer.

The New York Times was quick to answer the summons of Mr. Stimson. It candidly admitted that in former years “frank communication by Mr. Stimson would have been regarded as indelicate and undiplomatic.”[1]January 9, 1932. In the new international era that had just been ushered in, the Stimson note was a cordial invitation for concerted action against the wickedness that had raised its ugly head in Manchuria. The Richmond Times-Dispatch gave expression to this sentiment and was certain that the doctrine of nonrecognition would make Japan a “pariah nation.”[2]January 12, 1932. The Pittsburg Post-Gazette echoed this viewpoint[3]February 18, 1932. with the Los Angeles Times humming the same blithe melody.[4]January 9, 1932. The Indianapolis News stressed the “timeliness” of the Stimson note,[5]January 9, 1932. while the Boston Daily Globe burst into ecstasy that Stimson had given voice to the sentiment that “every friend of peace throughout the world has been awaiting.”[6]January 8, 1932.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer was outspoken in its praise of the policy expressed by Secretary Stimson,[7]January 9, 1932. while the Chicago Daily News[8]January 9, 1932. and the Kansas City Star[9]January 8, 9, 1932. added their voices to this chorus of approval. But the Chicago Tribune could not approve the manner in which the Secretary of State had moved in concert with the League of Nations, and it feared that we had given “Japan a grievance which could have been avoided.”[10]January 9, 1932. The Philadelphia Record and the Washington Post also recorded apprehensions concerning any intimate association with the League.[11]January 9, 1932.

In the South the Atlanta Constitution threw out a hint of warning. “The United States is treading on dangerous ground in becoming involved in the Manchurian situation to the extent of joining other nations in notes of warning to Japan which are tantamount to threats. It is none of our business until some of our rights have been infringed upon.”[12]January 9, 1932.

The Hearst press was quick to point out the dangers of the knight errantry of Mr. Stimson: “The Asiatic treasure house need not agitate us or the State Department. Japan is only doing in Manchuria what the United States did when it took Texas away from Mexico.[13]The San Francisco Examiner, January 10, 1932. The New York Daily News was equally critical: “When Frank B. Kellogg was Secretary of State he used to be known as Meddlesome Mattie. In justice to Mr. Kellogg it must now be admitted that never in his palmiest days did he equal Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson as a giver of advice.”[14]January 8, 1932.

Some periodicals representing the so-called “liberal elements” in the East were sharply critical of the Stimson note. The New Republic thought that the doctrine of nonrecognition would be as “effective as saying to a man who has burned down his neighbor’s house: ‘I refuse to take cognizance of the conflagration and shall continue to send letters to the old address.’ ” The implication of war was clearly recognized. “If Mr. Hoover and Secretary Stimson persist in this course and Japan does not yield, we are likely to be faced with the bald choice of fighting or suffering a thumping diplomatic defeat.”[15]January 27, 1932.

The Communist Party organ, the Daily Worker, was certain that the Stimson policy had the ultimate aim of crushing the communist movement in China. On February 22 the Daily Worker published a manifesto addressed to the American working class: “Workers! War in the Far East means a war against the toiling masses of the world! It means the danger of a world war in the interests of the profiteers! Hands off China! Defend the Soviet Union!”[16]January 9, February 20-23, 1932.

When the crisis in the Far East became more acute with the Japanese attack upon Shanghai (January 28), American press opinion reached a higher pitch of excitement. College professors who are so often invincible in peace and invisible in war, rushed to the linotype front and began firing verbal barrages at the Japanese Government. At Harvard this professorial pugnacity was especially apparent. President Lowell and twenty members of his faculty organized a sniping party which raked the Japanese position from every angle. Lowell was especially anxious to have the League of Nations impose economic sanctions upon the wayward men of Nippon, and he nursed the hope that the American Government would support this action with enthusiasm and efficiency.[17] Christian Science Monitor, February 18, 1932. From Princeton came a demand that President Hoover take appropriate action “regardless of material cost or political position.”[18]New York Times, February 4, 1932. Cornell and Johns Hopkins universities added to this babble for a boycott,[19]Ibid., February 28, 1932.
(New York Times, February 4, 1932.)
and then President Lowell and Newton D. Baker sponsored a giant petition of college presidents and professors in which a strident note was sounded in favor of collective economic pressure upon Japan.[20]New York Times, February 22, 1932.

It was not long before the Committee on the Far Eastern Crisis took an active part in this pastime of heckling Japan. Their main contribution was a petition with some ten thousand signatures, and Professor Tyler Dennett became their spokesman in a statement that contained a dire warning that unless the Japanese march into Manchuria was effectively checked, civilization itself would be dragged back “toward the Dark Ages.”[21]Ibid., February 26, 1932.
(New York Times, February 22, 1932.)

In the South the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Raleigh News and Observer were strongly in support of these petitions for economic sanctions.[22]February 21, 24, 1932. In other sections of the country the Boston Herald, the Milwaukee Journal, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer stressed the same viewpoint.[23]February 18, 20, 21, 1932. The Scripps-Howard chain of newspapers expressed “hearty agreement” with the spirit of these petitions but issued a warning that the Department of State should secure definite assurances of Anglo-French co-operation before taking any positive steps towards the application of economic pressure upon Japan.[24] New York World-Telegram, February 22, 1932.

It was soon evident, however, that these voices in favor of economic sanctions were lost in the chorus of disapproval that swelled throughout the land. The New York Sun denounced sanctions as an “invitation to war.”[25]February 23, 1932. The Herald-Tribune compared the proposed boycott to poison gas which could be aimed in the direction of the enemy but which might be blown back in the faces of its sponsors.[26]March 19, 1932. Walter Lippmann, writing in the Herald-Tribune, feared that further pressure upon Japan might lead to war: “The idea of war should be renounced clearly and decisively, even to the point of evacuating American citizens from the theater of war if that is deemed necessary.”[27]February 26, 1932.

The New York Daily News was vehement in its denunciation of the petitions in favor of sanctions: “We hope that the American people will insist that their government. . . pay no attention to this foolish and provocative petition of Mr. Baker and the assorted college presidents.”[28]February 21, 1932. The New York Evening Tost struck a similar note: “There seems to us something wrong in the fact that a handful of doctrinaire citizens can thus go about framing diplomatic proposals that may get the rest of the United States into war.”[29]February 22, 1932.

In Philadelphia the Evening Bulletin entered a spirited protest against the boycott;[30]February 23, 1932. the Record expressed the view that there had never been a more “thoughtless and dangerous movement” in the long record of American history;[31]February 27, 1932. while the Public Ledger pointed out that an effective boycott would be a prelude to war against Japan.[32]February 24, 1932. The Boston Evening Transcript was fearful that President Lowell would have the United States assume the role of policeman “of the universe,”[33]February 18, 1932. and the Washington Post emphasized the perils of such a role: “The proposed commitment would involve the United States in foreign entanglements that might cost the lives of an untold number of American sons.”[34]February 24, 1932.

The Frank E. Gannett chain of newspapers in upstate New York was sharply hostile to the idea of economic sanctions,[35]Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, February 26, 1932. with the Hearst press warmly supporting the same viewpoint.[36]Washington Times, March 7, 1932. In the Middle West the Chicago Tribune feathered some sharp shafts for American pacifists who were “running amuck.” The “Ph.D.’s and the Pacifists” were getting America into a most dangerous position.[37]March 9, 1932. The Detroit Free Press regarded the boycott movement as “futile, criminal and dangerous,”[38]February 21, 1932. while the Cincinnati Enquirer thought that the “United States should attend strictly to her proper business.”[39]February 21, 1932. In the Far West the Spokane Spokesman Review had an editorial with the descriptive title: “Are They Itching for Another War?”[40]February 23, 1932. The San Francisco Examiner matched this editorial with a flashy one of its own: “Baker’s Japanese Boycott a Sure Way to War.”[41]February 25, 1932.

The “liberal press” was openly hostile to the imposition of economic sanctions against Japan. The Nation believed that a boycott was “too explosive a device to be trifled with,”[42]March 9, 1932. and it carried in its columns an able article by Professor Edwin M. Borchard who expressed the firm conviction that “there is no peace in such a program.[43]March 9, 1932. The New Republic had nothing but sharp criticism for anything approaching a boycott. America could not “co-operate with the League in an effort to discipline Japan without going to war.”[44]February 10, March 9, 1932.

The business press had no hesitation in joining this outcry against economic pressure upon Japan. The Commercial and Financial Chronicle thought that the demand in certain quarters for economic sanctions was one that should be “both reprobated and deplored.”[45]February 27, 1932. Bradstreet’s denounced the “loose talk” about a boycott,[46]March 5, 1932. while other business periodicals like the Journal of Commerce and Commerce and Finance echoed these critical remarks.[47]February 24, March 9, 1932.

This barrage of criticism made little impression upon Secretary Stimson who continued his policy of baiting Japan. He persuaded the President to send the fleet to the Pacific during the winter months of 1931-32 where it engaged in elaborate maneuvers between California and the Hawaiian Islands. This show of strength apparently nerved the Assembly of the League of Nations on March 11, 1932, to adopt a cautious nonrecognition resolution.[48]Robert Langer, Seizure of Territory (Princeton, 1947), pp. 62-66. But this belated action had slight influence upon Japan’s policy in Manchuria. Although the Japanese Government had signed on May 5 an agreement that led to the withdrawal of her armed forces from Shanghai, no effort was made to move out of Manchuria. The Stimson doctrine had not only failed to stem the Japanese tide in North China but it was producing an anti-American sentiment that would make the maintenance of good relations a difficult task. To Japanese statesmen it seemed apparent that the situation in the Far East presaged an inevitable conflict between capitalism and communism, and they could not understand why the Department of State insisted upon following a policy which might preclude Japanese assistance in this struggle. In this regard the words of Admiral Toyoda had special significance. In a letter to Ambassador Forbes he commented on the serious condition of affairs in China and then expressed the opinion that the Pacific area would witness some of the more important clashes between capitalism and communism. The nature of this conflict would exclude any idea of compromise:

We, or our near posterity, will have to decide between Sino-Russian communism or the Anglo-Saxon capitalism. If China should fall under the rule of communism, and if Japan keep up her present policy, which she certainly will, the chance is she will be forced to play the role of Iki and Tsushima as the advance posts of the Anglo-Saxon capitalism.[49]Admiral Tejiro Toyoda to Ambassador William Cameron Forbes, Tokyo, March 3, 1932. 793.94/4877, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

b. Stimson Helps to Push Japan out of the League

Stimson always closed his eyes to any evidence of the real conflict of interests in the Far East, and he completely ignored the wise words of Admiral Toyoda. He was bent upon castigating Japan for her defensive moves in Manchuria which in his eyes were merely part of a program of expansion. On April 4 he had a long talk with the Japanese Ambassador (Debuchi) in which he sharply criticized the manner in which Japan had extended her frontiers in Manchuria. His main purpose in holding this conversation was to “take a pretty stiff position” with Debuchi, so “that he could not report to his government that I had shown any signs of yielding to the steps that they were taking or the arguments they were putting up.”[50]Memorandum by the Secretary of State, April 4, 1932. 793.94/4968, MS, Department of State. Some weeks later (June 10) Debuchi had to listen to another long lecture on the misdeeds of his government in North China. The Foreign Office was evidently laying plans to extend recognition to the puppet government of Manchukuo, and as a preliminary step in this direction it had given orders for the assumption of control over the Chinese Maritime Customs Service within that area. This step was viewed by Secretary Stimson with “great concern.”[51]Memorandum by the Secretary of State, June 10, 1932. 693.002 Manchuria/77, MS, Department of State.

As one means of coping with the Japanese advance in North China, Stimson sent Joseph C. Grew to Tokyo as the American Ambassador. When Grew arrived in Japan in June 1932, the press was friendly and the Emperor was as agreeable as Mr. Grew’s deafness permitted him to be. But the shadows of the Manchurian adventure fell across the threshold of the American Embassy and Grew soon realized that they would probably deepen and lengthen despite all his efforts to banish them with the bright light of some new Japanese-American understanding.

The main barrier across the road to friendly relations was the Stimson doctrine itself. The Japanese Government was determined to recognize Manchukuo in defiance of adverse opinion in the United States and in Europe. Secure control over North China appeared to Japanese statesmen, regardless of party affiliations, as a national necessity. As a source of essential raw materials and as a market for manufactured goods, Manchuria had special importance for Japan. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson had been willing to regard certain portions of North China as a Japanese sphere of influence, and the language of the Root-Takahira and the Lansing-Ishii agreements was so vaguely fertile that Japanese aspirations had enjoyed a rapid growth. Theodore Roosevelt, after boldly plucking the Panama pear, could not turn a deaf ear to Japanese pleas for a bite of Manchurian melon. And Woodrow Wilson, deep in his preparations for a crusade against wicked Germany, could not look too closely into Japanese motives in Manchuria. Encouraged by these friendly gestures of American Presidents, Japanese armies moved into many parts of North China. When Stimson suddenly flashed a red light of warning against any further advance, the Japanese Government made no real effort to obey the signal. Their Manchurian machine had gained too much momentum to be stopped by an American traffic cop who merely blew a tin whistle of nonrecognition.

The efforts of European statesmen were just as futile as those of Secretary Stimson. The Lytton Commission, appointed under the terms of the League resolution of December 10, 1931, reached Tokyo on February 29, 1932, for a series of conferences with Japanese statesmen and with representatives of various Japanese organizations. From April 20 to June 4 the commission took testimony in Manchuria, and then returned to Tokyo for a brief sojourn. It finally moved to Peiping to complete the task of drafting a formal report.

While the commission was in Tokyo, Major General Frank R. McCoy talked freely to Ambassador Grew. He assured the ambassador that the commission was of the opinion that Japan’s action in Manchuria was based on two false premises: the argument of self-defense and the argument of self-determination. The commission was also convinced that the erection of a puppet state like Manchukuo “would result in a festering sore which will inevitably lead to future wars.” Although Mr. Grew shared these viewpoints, he warned Secretary Stimson that any protest from the United States concerning Japanese recognition of Manchukuo would play right into the hands of the military clique in Tokyo. Silence would pay good diplomatic dividends.[52]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Stimson, Tokyo, July 16, 1932. Foreign Relations: Japan, 1931-1941, I, 93-95. On June 21, 1932, Viscount Ishii had made a speech before the America-Japan Society of Tokyo in which he gave assurances that Japan would leave “no stone unturned in order to remove all possible causes of friction with her great neighbor.“ Shanghai Evening Post and Mercury, June 21, 1932.

But the task of silencing Stimson was as difficult as stopping the rush of waters over Niagara Falls. He was so full of righteous indignation that he had to deliver a new blast against Japan on August 8 in an address before the Council on Foreign Relations (New York City). As Grew had anticipated, the reaction in Japan to this latest Stimson attack was widespread and bitter. Its violence caused Grew to warn Stimson that “we should have our eyes open to all possible future contingencies.”[53]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Stimson, Tokyo, August 13, 1932. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 100. The policy of constantly pricking Japan might eventually lead to a dangerous outburst.

On September 3, Grew sent another telegram of warning. The Japanese Government firmly intended to see “the Manchuria venture through.” The Japanese public was convinced that the “whole course of action in Manchuria is one of supreme and vital national interest,” and it was determined to meet, if necessary with arms, “all opposition.”[54]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Stimson, Tokyo, September 3, 1932. Ibid., p. 102.
(Ambassador Grew to Secretary Stimson, Tokyo, August 13, 1932. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 100.)
After sending this telegram to the Department of State, Grew confided to his Diary that Japanese resentment was really focused upon only one American—Secretary Stimson. Everyone he met in Japan was “thoroughly friendly” and his personal relations with Japanese officials were of “the best.” But Stimson had enraged all Japan with his policy of constant hostile pressure.[55]Joseph C. Grew, Ten Years in Japan (New York, 1944), p. 40. It was not hard for a diplomat to see the inevitable result of these tactics.

In some circles in Japan the hope was expressed that a change in the Administration in Washington would bring a change in Far Eastern policy. But Stimson still had some six months to serve as Secretary of State, and there was the ominous possibility that during the period he would so firmly fix the pattern of policy that a new Secretary would be unable to alter it. Of one thing everyone in Japan could be certain—Stimson would not recede from the stand he had taken, no matter what the result. America might not be pushed to the point of actual conflict with Japan, but the road to war would be wide open and an invitation to hostilities would be ready for the anxious consideration of the President-elect.

In order to make sure that this invitation would be no empty affair, Stimson had consented to have Major General Frank R. McCoy serve as a member of the Lytton Commission of Enquiry. If this commission denounced Japanese aggression in North China in acidulous terms, General McCoy would bear a portion of the responsibility for such an indictment.

On October 1, 1932, the report of the Lytton Commission was published in Geneva. It made some interesting admissions. The rapid growth of the Communist Party was briefly described and the inability of Chiang Kai-shek to suppress it was clearly indicated.[56]Lytton Report (Washington, 1932), pp. 20-23. But nothing was said about Soviet infiltration of Sinkiang and the absorption of Outer Mongolia. Japan was to be the culprit in China, not Russia. In order to prove this point the report expressed in very positive terms the belief that Japan made use of the Mukden Incident of September 18 to carry out a far-reaching plan of expansion in North China. It was admitted that Japan had “special interests” in Manchuria but these interests did not justify the erection of a semi-independent state like Manchukuo which would be under Japanese control. The report therefore recommended that Manchuria should enjoy “a large measure of autonomy” consistent “with the sovereignty and administrative integrity of China.”[57]Ibid., p. 130.
(Lytton Report (Washington, 1932), pp. 20-23.)

The report mentioned the fact that the Japanese had erected the new state of Manchukuo on March 9, 1932, and had installed Henry Pu-yi, the boy Emperor of China, as the regent. It did not indicate who was to dethrone the regent or who was to assume the grave responsibility of pushing the large Japanese Army out of Manchukuo and thus permit Manchuria to resume its former status. Indirectly, this assertion of continued Chinese sovereignty over the Three Provinces was an endorsement of the Stimson nonrecognition principle. The commission conveniently closed its eyes to the fact of Japanese control over Manchukuo and assumed that the farce of nonrecognition would bring Japan to heel. It was a little shocked when Japan formally recognized Manchukuo on September 15, and Secretary Stimson felt outraged at this defiance of his doctrine.

Two months later (November 19) Matsuoka, the head of the Japanese delegation at Geneva, whispered some warning words to Hugh Wilson and Norman Davis. The hostility of the Japanese public towards the United States was “dangerous.” There was a growing belief that several attempts had been made by the American Government to “check Japanese development in Manchuria and to get control of the railway situation in that area.” The large body of influential Japanese opinion that heretofore had been friendly was “rapidly diminishing.” The Japanese people had been very patient, but a point had been reached where this quality was no longer a virtue and the repressed irritation against America might break through all bonds with “suddenness and violence.”[58]Secretary Stimson to Ambassador Grew, Washington, November 21, 1932. Japan and the United States: 1931-1941, I, 104-5.

Matsuoka had spent many years in the United States as a student and was known among the Japanese as “thinking and conducting himself like an American.”[59]Frederick Moore, With Japan’s Leaders (New York, 1942), pp. 130-31. His words of warning would have had some influence upon the average Secretary of State, but Stimson refused to heed them. He carelessly boasted to Hugh Wilson that he was acquainted with the “personality and methods” of Matsuoka and had anticipated that he would assume the airs of a “clever advocate.”[60]Secretary Stimson to Hugh Wilson, November 21, 1932. Japan and the United States, 1931-1941, I, 105. If Stimson had been blest with a more perceptive mind, he would have realized that Matsuoka was not indulging in idle threats. His words were freighted with wisdom, but Stimson still clung to the idea that he could beat the Japanese Foreign Minister into submission with the club of nonrecognition. It gave him small concern if the Foreign Minister squirmed under this punishment and if the Japanese press grew violent in its denunciations of his policy. The Japanese would have to take their medicine no matter how bitter it tasted.

To some American publicists the Stimson policy seemed distinctly ill-advised. Raymond L. Buell was sharply critical of the attitude of the Hoover Administration towards Japan. If the United States “in its righteousness attempts to deny Japan the opportunity of obtaining necessary resources by a policy of force, will it lower its tariffs so that Japan may solve its population problems by means of industrialization?” Mr. Buell thought that the government of the United States should take steps to call a tariff “parley” that would consider some adjustment of existing high rates, and as a concession to Japanese opinion it should cease the elaborate naval maneuvers in Pacific waters.[61] New York Herald-Tribune, November 20, 1932.

These suggestions of Mr. Buell failed to awaken any favorable response in the Department of State.[62]Memorandum of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, November 25, 1932. F/G 711.94/751, MS, Department of State. The memorandum expressed the opinion that a revision of tariff duties in favor of Japanese products would have the unfortunate effect of assisting “the Japanese military to retain their power longer.” Stimson was opposed to any cessation of pressure upon Japan. Fortunately, this unfriendly attitude did not evoke in Japan a correspondingly hostile feeling. Quite the opposite! Japan was anxious to be conciliatory. On December 29 the Japanese Ambassador informed Mr. Hornbeck, chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, that “all the bankers, and merchants and industrialists” were intent upon “cordial and friendly relations with the United States.” No one in Japan “would dare to think that war with the United States is possible.” In conclusion the ambassador remarked that the “new rapprochement between Russia and China causes the Japanese to look more than ever to the United States for friendship and cordial relations.”[63]Conversation between Mr. Hornbeck and the Japanese Ambassador, December 29, 1932. F/HS 711.94/758, MS, Department of State.

In the meantime the League of Nations was giving extended consideration to the implications of the Lytton Report. On December 6 the League Assembly referred the report to a Committee of Nineteen. The representatives of several small nations on this committee were profoundly provoked with Japan because of her military operations in Manchuria. They made up for their military weakness in cascades of strong words of criticism. Stimson’s quick ear caught these caustic accents and he repeated them to the Japanese Ambassador. On January 5, 1933, he talked with Debuchi, and after reviewing Japanese disregard of certain treaty obligations, he acidly observed that really there was “no other course” for Japan to follow but “to get out of the League of Nations and the Kellogg Pact.”[64]Conversation between Secretary Stimson and Ambassador Debuchi, January 5, 1933. 793.94/5709, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

After reading this stiff lecture to the Japanese Ambassador, Stimson found time to visit Hyde Park on January 9 where he found President-elect Roosevelt in a very receptive mood. He had no trouble in convincing Roosevelt that the Stimson doctrine should be one of the pillars of the foreign policy of the new Administration. Three days later he informed Ambassador Debuchi that the President-elect would adhere to the Stimson policy.[65]Conversation between Secretary Stimson and Ambassador Debuchi, January 12, 1933. Japan and the United States, 1931-1941, I, 108-9. On January 16 this news was sent to our diplomatic representatives abroad, and on the following day Roosevelt, at a press conference at Hyde Park, insisted that America must stand behind the principle of the “sanctity of treaties.”[66]New York Times, January 18, 1933. Stimson had already assured the British Foreign Secretary, Sir John Simon, that the President-elect was committed to the Stimson doctrine. Sir John replied, January 14, that the British Government would adhere to the same doctrine. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 89. Party lines in America had disappeared when it came to imposing discipline upon Japan.

On the day following this important announcement, the Japanese Ambassador had a conversation with Under Secretary of State William R. Castle. After the usual exchange of courtesies, Debuchi ventured the statement that he had planned to discuss “the irritation to Japanese feelings over the fact that our [the American] fleet remained in the Hawaiian Islands.” Castle had caught the accent of no compromise with Japan so he coldly remarked that “the disposition of the American fleet was a matter solely for the decision of the American Government.” Debuchi quickly conceded this fact and then amicably added that his main desire in this matter was to secure a “diminution of anti-American feeling in Japan” and that the presence of the American fleet in Hawaiian waters “kept this feeling going.” Castle “ignored this remark” and then fired another verbal broadside at the retreating ambassador: “I told him it seemed to me that the Japanese were doing everything in their power to stir up anti-Japanese feeling in this country.”[67]Conversation between William R. Castle and the Japanese Ambassador, January 18, 1933. 793.94/6063, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

It is evident that the prevailing mood in the Department of State was one of thinly veiled hostility towards Japan, and this fact is given additional illustration in a memorandum prepared by Mr. Hornbeck. After alluding to the friction between the United States and Japan, Hornbeck then discusses certain suggestions relative to improving this ominous condition of affairs. It had been suggested “that a meeting should be arranged, preferably at some point between the continental United States and Japan, such as Honolulu, between some prominent American statesman and a prominent Japanese, for example, the Secretary of State and the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs.” These two statesmen could discuss “fully and frankly the relations between the two countries and effect some arrangement which would tend to assure the maintenance of peace.”

This suggestion, which inevitably reminds one of the suggestion made by Prince Konoye in the summer of 1941, was rejected by Mr. Hornbeck because it “would in all probability be abortive” and therefore would do more harm than good. But Secretary Stimson was momentarily intrigued with the idea of this suggested meeting. On the Hornbeck memorandum he made the following endorsement, January 28, 1933: “This is a very useful analysis and I agree with most of it. The only point that I am inclined to disagree with is what I consider its rather ultra-conservatism in the latter portion. I am turning over in my own mind the possibility of a gesture to either immigration or a meeting.”[68]Endorsement of Secretary Stimson upon the Hornbeck memorandum, January 28, 1933. 793.94/6063, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

Even if Secretary Stimson had been sincere in his desire to make some gesture of conciliation towards Japan, it was apparent that time was against him. In a few weeks the Roosevelt Administration would take office and it would be most unusual for an outgoing Secretary of State to take a major diplomatic step which might not be in complete agreement with the policy already outlined by his successor in office after March 4, 1933. At any rate Stimson did nothing to conciliate Japanese statesmen who were now determined to take some radical action at Geneva. The Roosevelt statement at Hyde Park on January 17 in favor of the “sanctity of treaties” failed to make much of an impression upon them. They knew that the British and French empires had been built by the blood, sweat, and tears of millions of persons in conquered countries. Why all this sudden show of international virtue? As Matsuoka sagely remarked: “The Western Powers taught the Japanese the game of poker but after acquiring most of the chips they pronounced the game immoral and took up contract bridge.”[69]Moore, op. cit., pp. 38-39. It was obvious to most Japanese statesmen that the conscience of the Western powers barked only at strangers.

c. Matsuoka Marches Out of the League

At Geneva, Matsuoka was not inclined to listen to lectures in the League Assembly on public morals, and Ambassador Grew on February 23, 1933, informed Secretary Stimson that the Japanese Cabinet was in entire agreement with the viewpoint of their chief delegate. They regarded their position in Manchuria as an essential link in the “life line” of the Japanese Empire. They were determined to fight rather than yield to League pressure.[70]Japan and the United States: 1931-1941, I, 110-12. On February 7, 1933, with his tongue in his cheek, Stimson instructed Hugh Wilson, United States Minister at Geneva, to make it clear that he was not in any way attempting “to guide or to influence or prejudice the League in its deliberations.” Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 153. In the face of this resolute Japanese attitude, the League went ahead and on February 24 it formally approved by an overwhelming vote the report of the Committee of Nineteen which had implemented the Lytton Report.[71] Russell M. Cooper, American Consultation in World Affairs, pp. 268-69.

This critical action on the part of the Assembly of the League of Nations provoked an immediate response from Matsuoka. After gravely stating that his government had “reached the limit of its endeavors to co-operate with the League,” he marched stiffly from the hall of the Assembly. The rest of the Japanese delegation with the exception of Frederick Moore followed Matsuoka. Moore remained for a brief period in his seat while members of the Assembly and the spellbound spectators waited to see what he would do. Growing tired of the strain of being the sole representative of Japan in the Assembly, he slowly walked from the room, realizing all the while that a grave crisis had been reached in world affairs.[72]Moore, op. cit., p. 133.

Hugh Wilson, representing the United States, was also in the Assembly as Matsuoka walked out. Like Frederick Moore he also realized that a crisis had been reached in world politics, and this crisis he knew had been precipitated by Stimson’s nonrecognition policy. In his memoirs, Wilson tells the story of that fateful march of Matsuoka:

The final session of the Assembly remains indelibly printed on my mind. . . . Matsuoka’s speech on that day in the Assembly was delivered with a passionate conviction far removed from his usual businesslike manner. He pointed out the danger of pillorying a great nation. He warned that the Assembly was driving Japan from its friendship with the West toward an inevitable development of a self-sustaining, uniquely Eastern position. . . . For the first time the gravest doubts arose as to the wisdom of the course which the Assembly and my country were pursuing. I began to have a conception of the rancor and resentment that public condemnation could bring upon a proud and powerful people, and I began to question, and still do question whether such treatment is wise. . . . Condemnation creates a community of the damned who are forced outside the pale, who have nothing to lose by the violation of all laws of order and international good faith. . . . Not only did such doubts regarding arraignment arise in me, but for the first time I began to question the non-recognition policy. More and more as I thought it over I became conscious that we had entered a dead-end street.[73]Hugh R. Wilson, Diplomat Between Wars (New York, 1941), pp. 279-81.

Professor Borchard, of Yale, agreed completely with Hugh Wilson. To him, and to Phoebe Morrison, the doctrine of nonrecognition amounted to

a rather churlish refusal to face unpleasant facts, giving to political judgments a fictitious legal justification. International law makes no place for a doctrine so destitute of constructive value. . . . The doctrine of non-recognition would seem to make no constructive contributions to a disordered world, but on the contrary embodies potentialities for further disequilibrium.[74]Edwin M. Borchard and Phoebe Morrison, Legal Problems in the Far Eastern Conflict (New York, 1941), pp. 157-78.

To President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt, however, Stimson looked like some modern Lancelot engaged in a desperate combat with the forces of evil and the doctrine of nonrecognition was a most potent spear. Roosevelt regarded himself as a twentieth-century King Arthur, and his Round Table was crowded with knights who were ready to sally forth and impose a New Deal upon a credulous American public. It was not long before Irvin S. Cobb began to whisper ominously about a Double Deal, but there were few ears that cared to listen to such evil accents.

This New Deal was supposed to have a domestic emphasis, and some of the Roosevelt knights were fearful of far-flung adventures along the distant Far Eastern horizon. Rexford G. Tugwell was not a typical knight because he had in his heart both reproach and fear. He violently reproached his associates for not warning Roosevelt about the obvious dangers of the Stimson doctrine, and he greatly feared that war lurked behind every line of the nonrecognition policy.[75]Rexford G. Tugwell, The Stricken Land (New York, 1947), p. 177.

Raymond Moley was another Roosevelt favorite who warned his chief against any acceptance of the Stimson doctrine. But the Presidentelect speedily silenced Moley with the remark: “I have always had the deepest sympathy for the Chinese. How could you expect me not to go along with Stimson on Japan?”[76]Raymond Moley, After Seven Years (New York, 1939), pp. 94-95.

When one reads the colorful columns of Westbrook Pegler’s “Fair Enough” and ponders the repeated assertions that the wealth of the Delano family was partly gained from dubious smuggling operations along the coasts of China, it would seem all too true that Roosevelt’s roots went very deep into the dark soil of the Orient. The Delano money had helped to furnish him with luxurious living, and it had provided him with the social and financial background that was so helpful to a Presidential aspirant. It is possible that he did feel some spark of gratitude towards the Chinese who had been exploited for his benefit. Of one thing we may be certain: he started his first term as President with a definite suspicion of Japan’s policy in North China. This fact was given clear expression during a Cabinet meeting held on March 7, 1933, when the possibility of American involvement in war in the Far East was definitely envisaged.[77]James Farley MSS, in the possession of Walter Trohan. The new Administration was already taking its first steps down the road to war with the Stimson banner of nonrecognition flying high.

d. President Roosevelt Regards with a Friendly Eye the Principle of Collective Security

In the development of a detailed critique of the nonrecognition doctrine of Secretary Stimson, it is essential that emphasis be placed upon the dangerous implications that he wished to read into the pious phraseology of the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact. The general principle of non-recognition may be traced back, as far as the Department of State is concerned, to numerous diplomatic notes which expressed an ideal Pan-American policy. It received its classic formulation in the well-known note that Secretary Bryan sent to Japan on May 11, 1915, which gave warning that the American Government would not recognize any agreement or understanding between China and Japan which impaired the treaty rights of the United States, or which adversely affected the political or territorial integrity of China or the international policy of the Open Door.[78]Secretary Bryan to Ambassador Guthrie (Tokyo), May 11, 1915. Foreign Relations, 1915, p. 146. The Pact of Paris, and the important treaty (January 5, 1929) which provided for an inter-American court of arbitration, had specifically outlawed war and had given definite support to the nonrecognition policy. They were followed by the Stimson note of January 7, 1932, with respect to the Far East, and by the Declaration of August 3, 1932, in which the United States and eighteen other republics in the New World announced that they would not recognize the validity of territorial acquisitions which might be obtained through conquest.[79]Samuel F. Bemis, The Latin American Policy of the United States (New York, 1943). Cf. chaps. 12, 13, 16. The Hoover Administration was prepared to give substance to these declarations by terminating the imperialistic programs of previous administrations with reference to Latin America. After the withdrawal of American armed forces from Latin America, it was merely a short step to the Roosevelt acceptance in 1936 of the doctrine of absolute non-intervention in Latin-American affairs.

But the nonrecognition principle announced by Secretary Bryan in 1915 had no implication of war, and in 1928 there were few persons who believed that the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact could be used as an instrument to propel nations into war. It took the belligerent eyes of Secretary Stimson to see a martial meaning in the pacific phrases of the Pact of Paris, and it took his aggressive mind to twist the inoffensive statement of Secretary Bryan (May 11, 1915) into a clarion call to arms.

It was apparent to seasoned diplomats that the manner in which Stimson endeavored to apply the nonrecognition formula was so provocative that war and not peace would be the result of his efforts. The world was not ready to purchase future peace at the price of immediate war. In Tokyo, Ambassador Grew became increasingly dubious with regard to the frenzied actions of Stimson to stop the Japanese advance into Manchuria. It seemed to him that the “peace machinery which the world has been trying. . . to erect these last fourteen years” was basically “unsound.” How could statesmen really expect to halt the tides of national ambition by the paper dykes of peace treaties like the Pact of Paris? Could such a pact have stopped the movement that pushed America into conflict with Spain in 1898? Moral sanctions would have little effect upon nations that had completed their blueprints for plunder. And if moral ostracism were “ineffective,” how could America “implement the Kellogg Pact?” Certainly not by the force of arms which would be “contrary to the very principle for which the Kellogg Pact stands.” Neither the severance of diplomatic relations nor the imposition of economic boycotts would check nations that were moving down the broad highway to war. The future peace of the world could be preserved only by removing the causes of conflict and not by trying to restrict its scope or to soften its impact.[80]Grew Diary, February 23, 1933; Ten Years in Japan, pp. 78-80.

At the same time that Ambassador Grew was recording in his diary these sapient observations, he was writing a dispatch to Secretary Stimson in a very different vein. Japan was essentially a wicked nation with no real understanding of moral obligations. This being so it “would seem that the world was hardly justified in taking for granted that Japan would observe the letter and spirit of international agreements.” This “callous disregard of the pledged word” was the “growth of centuries” and could be traced to the fact that in Japan “there was nothing to correspond to the rules of abstract justice contained in the old Roman law.” As a result of this lack of knowledge of Roman law the “Japanese naturally do not look upon contracts and agreements as do Occidental peoples.”[81]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Stimson, February 21, 1933, 793.94/6026. MS, Department of State.

While Mr. Grew was writing this critical commentary upon the “unmoral” Japanese, his counselor of Embassy, Mr. Neville, was writing an equally caustic memorandum upon the faithless Chinese. It was apparent to him that the Chinese Government had failed to carry out many of the engagements undertaken at the Washington Conference of 1921-22. Moreover, the menace of Red Russia was growing more formidable every day:

In this atmosphere of distrust and suspicion, aggravated by the world-wide economic collapse and internal problems of industrial and social discontent, the Japanese looked about them. In addition to the normal difficulties in China, the Japanese were subjected to an intense boycott; the situation in Manchuria appeared worse than ever as the Chinese had used borrowed money to operate railways to the detriment of the Japanese line; their various agreements with the Chinese remained unimplemented and in the background was Soviet Russia, apparently once more a Power. The Washington undertakings were unfulfilled, and the Conference called to supplement the Naval Treaty had ignored the actual conditions that Japan had to face. So in 1931 Japan acted alone. . . . The British had acted alone in Shanghai and the British and Americans had acted together at Nanking in 1927. . . . After the Japanese action in September, 1931, the Chinese appealed to the League of Nations, alleging aggression on the part of Japan and asking redress under the Covenant. . . . The Chinese are in no position to bring up any of the Washington settlements. They have defaulted on their obligations thereunder and do not come into court with clean hands.[82]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Stimson, Tokyo, February 24, 1933, with inclosure by Mr. Neville, counselor of the Embassy. 793.94/6031, MS, Department of State.

Secretary Stimson would not have agreed with this indictment of the government of China, and the Division of Far Eastern Affairs continued to needle Japan. On his way home from the debacle at Geneva, Matsuoka passed through the United States and hoped to have a conference with President Roosevelt. When this news came to the Department of State, Mr. Hornbeck immediately wrote a memorandum indicating that it “would be undesirable to have the new President grant Mr. Matsuoka an interview.” If he [Matsuoka] were “to speak with the President it would be only natural for the public to assume that Matsuoka had endeavored to convince the President of the justice of the Japanese case.”[83]Memorandum by Mr. Hornbeck, Division of Far Eastern Affairs, February 28, 1933. 811.4611 Japan/24, MS, Department of State. On March 31, 1933, Matsuoka had a brief interview with Secretary Hull. He was “very affable” and “urged that Japan be given time in which to make herself better understood.” With reference to this conversation, Mr. Hull remarks: “I was courteous but virtually silent while he was offering these parting remarks.” Foreign Relations, 1933, p. 264. For some reason that is not clear, Mr. Hornbeck believed that the American public should not be placed under the strain of having to follow the arguments of Matsuoka. There was a chance that they might be too cogent and thus defeat the repressive policy of the Department of State. As a result of Mr. Hornbeck’s advice, Matsuoka did not have an opportunity to present in private the case of Japan relative to Manchukuo.

While the Department of State was striving to check any conciliatory gestures in the direction of Japan, the student body of Meiji University, in Tokyo, was extending to the President-elect their “heartfelt congratulations” upon his election: “The fact that our Japanese public rejoiced over your victory, we believe is a clear evidence of the great significance we are placing upon your Administration. . . . We hope that you will reweigh the Manchurian troubles and try and comprehend that the cause is not so simple as one might think.”[84]Memorial from the editorial staff of the Sundai Shimpo, student publication of Meiji University, Tokyo, Japan, to President Roosevelt, February 22, 1933. 711.94/792, MS, Department of State.

The Japanese press also expressed an ardent desire that the Roosevelt Administration would take an understanding view of the Manchurian situation and thereby lay the basis for “a restoration of friendly relations between the two nations.” Matsuoka himself was quite optimistic with reference to Japanese-American relations. He thought that all talk of war between the two countries was “ridiculous.” If Japan went to war in the near future, it would be with Soviet Russia, and Matsuoka expressed the view that in that event “he would not be surprised to see the United States on Japan’s side.”

There was no doubt that Japan had no wish for a war with the United States. Matsuoka was correct in his belief that the logical opponent for Japan in her next war would be Russia, but logic was not the basis for the foreign policy of the Roosevelt Administration. The wish that was closest to Stalin’s heart was to involve Japan and the United States in a war that would remove the Japanese barrier that prevented the Red tide from overflowing the wide plains of China. The way that wish was gratified is the story of the succeeding chapters on Japanese-American relations.

Footnotes

[1] January 9, 1932.

[2] January 12, 1932.

[3] February 18, 1932.

[4] January 9, 1932.

[5] January 9, 1932.

[6] January 8, 1932.

[7] January 9, 1932.

[8] January 9, 1932.

[9] January 8, 9, 1932.

[10] January 9, 1932.

[11] January 9, 1932.

[12] January 9, 1932.

[13] The San Francisco Examiner, January 10, 1932.

[14] January 8, 1932.

[15] January 27, 1932.

[16] January 9, February 20-23, 1932.

[17] Christian Science Monitor, February 18, 1932.

[18] New York Times, February 4, 1932.

[19] Ibid., February 28, 1932.

[20] New York Times, February 22, 1932.

[21] Ibid., February 26, 1932.

[22] February 21, 24, 1932.

[23] February 18, 20, 21, 1932.

[24] New York World-Telegram, February 22, 1932.

[25] February 23, 1932.

[26] March 19, 1932.

[27] February 26, 1932.

[28] February 21, 1932.

[29] February 22, 1932.

[30] February 23, 1932.

[31] February 27, 1932.

[32] February 24, 1932.

[33] February 18, 1932.

[34] February 24, 1932.

[35] Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, February 26, 1932.

[36] Washington Times, March 7, 1932.

[37] March 9, 1932.

[38] February 21, 1932.

[39] February 21, 1932.

[40] February 23, 1932.

[41] February 25, 1932.

[42] March 9, 1932.

[43] March 9, 1932.

[44] February 10, March 9, 1932.

[45] February 27, 1932.

[46] March 5, 1932.

[47] February 24, March 9, 1932.

[48] Robert Langer, Seizure of Territory (Princeton, 1947), pp. 62-66.

[49] Admiral Tejiro Toyoda to Ambassador William Cameron Forbes, Tokyo, March 3, 1932. 793.94/4877, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

[50] Memorandum by the Secretary of State, April 4, 1932. 793.94/4968, MS, Department of State.

[51] Memorandum by the Secretary of State, June 10, 1932. 693.002 Manchuria/77, MS, Department of State.

[52] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Stimson, Tokyo, July 16, 1932. Foreign Relations: Japan, 1931-1941, I, 93-95. On June 21, 1932, Viscount Ishii had made a speech before the America-Japan Society of Tokyo in which he gave assurances that Japan would leave “no stone unturned in order to remove all possible causes of friction with her great neighbor.“ Shanghai Evening Post and Mercury, June 21, 1932.

[53] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Stimson, Tokyo, August 13, 1932. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 100.

[54] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Stimson, Tokyo, September 3, 1932. Ibid., p. 102.

[55] Joseph C. Grew, Ten Years in Japan (New York, 1944), p. 40.

[56] Lytton Report (Washington, 1932), pp. 20-23.

[57] Ibid., p. 130.

[58] Secretary Stimson to Ambassador Grew, Washington, November 21, 1932. Japan and the United States: 1931-1941, I, 104-5.

[59] Frederick Moore, With Japan’s Leaders (New York, 1942), pp. 130-31.

[60] Secretary Stimson to Hugh Wilson, November 21, 1932. Japan and the United States, 1931-1941, I, 105.

[61] New York Herald-Tribune, November 20, 1932.

[62] Memorandum of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, November 25, 1932. F/G 711.94/751, MS, Department of State. The memorandum expressed the opinion that a revision of tariff duties in favor of Japanese products would have the unfortunate effect of assisting “the Japanese military to retain their power longer.”

[63] Conversation between Mr. Hornbeck and the Japanese Ambassador, December 29, 1932. F/HS 711.94/758, MS, Department of State.

[64] Conversation between Secretary Stimson and Ambassador Debuchi, January 5, 1933. 793.94/5709, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

[65] Conversation between Secretary Stimson and Ambassador Debuchi, January 12, 1933. Japan and the United States, 1931-1941, I, 108-9.

[66] New York Times, January 18, 1933. Stimson had already assured the British Foreign Secretary, Sir John Simon, that the President-elect was committed to the Stimson doctrine. Sir John replied, January 14, that the British Government would adhere to the same doctrine. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 89.

[67] Conversation between William R. Castle and the Japanese Ambassador, January 18, 1933. 793.94/6063, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

[68] Endorsement of Secretary Stimson upon the Hornbeck memorandum, January 28, 1933. 793.94/6063, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

[69] Moore, op. cit., pp. 38-39.

[70] Japan and the United States: 1931-1941, I, 110-12. On February 7, 1933, with his tongue in his cheek, Stimson instructed Hugh Wilson, United States Minister at Geneva, to make it clear that he was not in any way attempting “to guide or to influence or prejudice the League in its deliberations.” Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 153.

[71] Russell M. Cooper, American Consultation in World Affairs, pp. 268-69.

[72] Moore, op. cit., p. 133.

[73] Hugh R. Wilson, Diplomat Between Wars (New York, 1941), pp. 279-81.

[74] Edwin M. Borchard and Phoebe Morrison, Legal Problems in the Far Eastern Conflict (New York, 1941), pp. 157-78.

[75] Rexford G. Tugwell, The Stricken Land (New York, 1947), p. 177.

[76] Raymond Moley, After Seven Years (New York, 1939), pp. 94-95.

[77] James Farley MSS, in the possession of Walter Trohan.

[78] Secretary Bryan to Ambassador Guthrie (Tokyo), May 11, 1915. Foreign Relations, 1915, p. 146.

[79] Samuel F. Bemis, The Latin American Policy of the United States (New York, 1943). Cf. chaps. 12, 13, 16.

[80] Grew Diary, February 23, 1933; Ten Years in Japan, pp. 78-80.

[81] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Stimson, February 21, 1933, 793.94/6026. MS, Department of State.

[82] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Stimson, Tokyo, February 24, 1933, with inclosure by Mr. Neville, counselor of the Embassy. 793.94/6031, MS, Department of State.

[83] Memorandum by Mr. Hornbeck, Division of Far Eastern Affairs, February 28, 1933. 811.4611 Japan/24, MS, Department of State. On March 31, 1933, Matsuoka had a brief interview with Secretary Hull. He was “very affable” and “urged that Japan be given time in which to make herself better understood.” With reference to this conversation, Mr. Hull remarks: “I was courteous but virtually silent while he was offering these parting remarks.” Foreign Relations, 1933, p. 264.

[84] Memorial from the editorial staff of the Sundai Shimpo, student publication of Meiji University, Tokyo, Japan, to President Roosevelt, February 22, 1933. 711.94/792, MS, Department of State.

Chapter V • Secretary Hull Spurns a Japanese Olive Branch • 8,600 Words
a. America Makes a Friendly Bow to League of Nations

JAPANESE gestures of friendship toward the United States did not evoke any similar action on the part of the United States. It was soon apparent that the Roosevelt Administration was prepared for limited co-operation with the League of Nations that had just censured Japanese conduct in North China. Secretary Hull had no hesitation in accepting an invitation from the League to appoint a representative to participate in the deliberations of the Advisory Committee which would deal with questions concerning the Far East. Hugh Wilson, at Geneva, helped the committee to formulate certain recommendations for the application of the nonrecognition policy to Manchukuo. Secretary Hull gave his approval to these recommendations with a few exceptions. In this indirect manner the Department of State indicated its acceptance of the Stimson policy. It was careful not to emphasize this acceptance with a loud fanfare of explosive notes that had been characteristic of the Stimson practice in 1931-32.

In connection with the problem of disarmament, President Roosevelt showed a definite inclination to work with the League he had so publicly scorned in 1932. During his press conference on May 10, 1933, he candidly admitted that his Administration was ready “to take its part in consultative pacts” which would help to insure “the safety of threatened Nations against war.” He regarded this move as a “very considerable advance” over the policy of Secretary Stimson. The State Department was now prepared to move forward to the point of “making its obligations quite definite and authoritative.”[1] The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, ed. Samuel I. Rosenman (New York, 1938), II, 169 ff.

This revealing Presidential declaration was followed by a statement of Norman Davis, chairman of the American delegation to the Geneva Disarmament Conference, to the effect that the United States was ready not only to make a “substantive reduction of armaments” but was also willing to consult with other states in case of a real threat to world peace. If the League, as a result of these consultations, should decide to invoke economic sanctions against an aggressor nation, the American Government would refrain from “any action tending to defeat such collective effort.”[2] Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, 1943), pp. 186-91.

b. Japan Earmarks Jehol as a Part of Manchukuo

While the Roosevelt Administration was indicating a co-operative attitude towards the League of Nations, Japanese troops began to move into Jehol. This movement had been anticipated by a Japanese attack upon Shanhaikwan which appeared “designed to shut out from Jehol the Chinese forces recently sent North.” From the viewpoint of the British Foreign Office the province of Jehol was “covered by the original proclamation of the Manchukuo state, to which the Governor of the Province was a party.” For this reason Sir John Simon, the British Foreign Secretary, was not sure whether the formal incorporation of Jehol into Manchukuo would be regarded “by the League as more than part and parcel of their [the Japanese] action in converting Manchuria into a new state.”[3]Sir John Simon to Ambassador Mellon, London, January 13, 1933. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 88-90.

It was apparent to Sir John Simon and to Secretary Hull that there was no real central government in China. The Lytton Commission could talk in general terms about this government and could condemn Japan for the erection of Manchukuo, but it was evident to realistic observers that Japan was the only stabilizing force in North China. With China in chaos it had been necessary for Japan to protect her interests against the menacing Red tide of communism and against the outrageous demands of competing Chinese war lords. In Peiping, Ambassador Johnson saw the situation in a clear perspective and informed Secretary Hull that China had “no real national army capable either of making effective the Government’s writ throughout the country or of effective resistance under unified control against a modern power despite the fact that over two million men are under arms. They are the tools of rival militarists who have repeatedly plunged the nation into civil war and whose most solemn pledges to support the National Government are usually worthless.”[4]Ambassador Johnson to Secretary Hull, Peiping, February 13, 1933. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 171-72.

When these Chinese militarists, whose armies had brought devastation to large areas in China, moved into Jehol, the Japanese Government decided to expel them. According to Matsuoka there were more than 100,000 Chinese troops stationed in this territory claimed by Manchukuo. If they did not consent to immediate withdrawal, they would have to be ejected by force.[5]Hugh Wilson to Secretary Hull, Geneva, February 13, 1933. Ibid., pp. 174-75.
(Ambassador Johnson to Secretary Hull, Peiping, February 13, 1933. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 171-72.)

In the Department of State, the Division of Far Eastern Affairs prepared a special memorandum on the “Possibility of Chinese-Japanese Hostilities in Tientsin-Peiping Area.” After discussing the activities of Chinese troops along the frontiers of Manchuria, the memorandum remarks: “The Japanese not unnaturally declare that China’s activities in that connection are provocative and, if continued, must be met by Japanese military operations in China proper.” In answer to the question about what America should do in this situation, the memorandum continued: “It is believed that there is no initiative which the American Government might advisedly take in this connection. The foreign power which has the most at stake in that area is Great Britain.”[6]Memorandum prepared by the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, March 16, 1933. 793.94/6065, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

While British and French interests were seriously affected by the Japanese advance into North China, it seemed very difficult to secure agreement on the bases of a joint policy. Europe continually turned to the United States for leadership in this Far Eastern crisis, but the Roosevelt Administration refused to crawl far out on a diplomatic limb in the manner that was so characteristic of Secretary Stimson. On April 22 the French Foreign Office indicated to Mr. Marriner, the American chargé d’affaires in Paris, that it would be advisable for the United States, England, and France to “confer with a view of determining what should be done” with reference to the Japanese advance in North China. It was “vital” that the three powers should “act together.”[7]Mr. Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, April 22, 1933. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 286.

Secretary Hull was not ready to subscribe to a joint policy in the Far East and he was definitely opposed to taking the initiative in this regard. In view of “Great Britain’s membership in the League and extensive interests in North China, leadership in any action of the powers in capacity of a go-between should advisedly be left to the British.”[8]Secretary Hull to Ambassador Johnson (China), Washington, April 25, 1933. Ibid., p. 290.
(Mr. Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, April 22, 1933. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 286.)
This decision of Secretary Hull was strongly supported by Mr. Hornbeck, chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs. In a penetrating memorandum dealing with the crisis in China he showed that chaos continued to prevail in large areas in that unfortunate country. “China’s leaders, both political and military,” had not yet “given evidence of having arrived at any position of unity or solidarity among themselves.” A “five-fold revolution” was in progress throughout the land and this had prevented the officials from showing any “sign of firmness in terms of singleness of purpose and centralization of authority and responsibility on their own part.” In the face of this official incapacity it was not worth while to attempt mediation.[9]Memorandum by Mr. Hornbeck, chief, Division of Far Eastern Affairs, April 26, 1933. Ibid., pp. 293-94.
(Mr. Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, April 22, 1933. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 286.)

The European powers with extensive interests in the Far East were not discouraged by the negative attitude of Secretary Hull relative to co-operation. They kept pressing for some international action to stop the Japanese armies from moving ahead in Manchuria, but the Department of State remained noncommittal. In another memorandum Mr. Hornbeck again defined the policy of the Roosevelt Administration:

The material interests most menaced by the Japanese advance in the area now under attention are British interests. Next, French. The initiative toward concerted action, if to be taken by any of the major powers without reference to the League of Nations, might best be taken by the British Government. Next best, by either the French or the Italians. . . . We have repeatedly stated that initiative should come from them rather than from us. . . . From time to time since September 18, 1931, we have . . . taken the initiative toward inducing action. . . . Very seldom have we had favorable responses from the other major powers concerned.[10]Memorandum by Mr. S. K. Hornbeck, May 16, 1933. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 327-28.

It was obvious that European and Chinese attempts to draw the United States into some form of concerted action against Japan were futile. Having failed even to elicit from the Secretary of State a note denouncing Japanese aggression in North China, the Chinese Government decided to sign the well-known Tangku Truce of May 31, 1933. At the time the truce was signed, Japanese troops were in secure control of Jehol Province and occupied most of Northeast Hopeh. Under the terms of the agreement (1) Chinese troops were to withdraw from Northeast Hopeh Province. The boundary of this area, subsequently referred to as the “demilitarized zone,” extended roughly in a northwest-southeast direction some miles “northeast of the railway connecting Peiping and Tientsin.” (2) The Japanese Army was to have the right to conduct inspections to ascertain whether the Chinese Government was fulfilling this stipulation. (3) The Japanese Army was to withdraw to the Great Wall and Chinese police organizations were to undertake the maintenance of order in the “demilitarized zone.”[11]Memorandum by Mr. S. K. Hornbeck, July 15, 1937. 793.94/9195, MS, Department of State. In a concluding paragraph of this memorandum Mr. Hornbeck remarks: “The Japanese Army has from time to time put forth claims that there were certain secret agreements embodied in or supplemental to the Tangku Truce, such as provision for through postal, railway and airway communications between North China and Manchuria. Although the Chinese have denied the existence of any secret agreements, actually postal, railway and airway communications have been opened between Manchuria and North China.”

The result of the Tangku Truce was the extension of Japanese control, not only over Jehol, but also over Northeast Hopeh Province. While nominally the “policing” of this part of Hopeh Province was entrusted to Chinese forces, it was realized that Japanese authority in that area would be paramount. This arrangement was merely a prelude to the creation in the autumn of 1935, under Japanese direction, of the East Hopeh Anti-Communistic Autonomous Government which will be discussed in another section.

c. Secretary Hull Rejects Idea of Japanese Good-will Mission

The fact that Secretary Hull did not issue a statement condemning the Tangku Truce was interpreted by some Japanese statesmen as an indication that the Roosevelt Administration would not continue the hostile attitude toward Japan so often assumed by Secretary Stimson. As early as May 2, Ambassador Grew had a friendly conversation with Matsuoka who “observed that in his opinion the development of good relations between the United States and Japan should be the cornerstone of Japanese policy.”[12]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, May 8, 1933. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 307. In the following month there were indications that the Japanese public shared the feelings of the Foreign Office. When Admiral Montgomery M. Taylor, in command of the United States Asiatic Fleet, paid a visit to Japan, he was greeted with unusual cordiality by everyone. This warm welcome was regarded by the American Embassy as strong evidence of the “marked improvement in the Japanese attitude toward the United States.” Japan was turning from Britain to America: “For many years the Japanese have apparently considered the British their best friends in the family of nations. Many of them now have . . . decided that a conflict of commercial interests will always prevent a continuance of their friendship and they are consequently looking to the United States to take the place of their former Allies.”[13]Monthly report of the American Embassy in Tokyo, June, 1933. 894.00 P.R./67, MS, Department of State.

In its earnest desire to improve relations with the United States the Japanese Foreign Office as early as December 1932 had been considering the dispatch of a good-will mission to the United States, and in September 1933 when Ambassador Grew had a formal conversation with Hirota, he found the Foreign Minister in a most friendly mood. Hirota had just succeeded the undemonstrative Uchida, and he made a special effort to convince Grew that the polar star of his policy would be the establishment of cordial relations with the United States. Grew was certain that these assurances were sincere. He discovered it was a pleasure to meet a Foreign Secretary with whom he could “really talk things out.”[14]Grew Diary, September 18, 1933; Ten Years in Japan (New York, 1944), pp. 99-100.

The opportunity for a frank discussion of affairs came a few days later when Grew called at the residence of the Foreign Minister. Hirota immediately intimated that he was contemplating the dispatch of a good-will mission to the United States as an evidence of his desire to “develop closer relations between the United States and Japan.” Grew at once discouraged such a step. He believed that informal visits by distinguished Japanese statesmen like Prince Tokugawa would accomplish far more than the proposed good-will mission.[15]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, October 3, 1933. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 123-24. Secretary Hull agreed with this opinion and he suggested that the best way for Japan to win American friendship was through the removal of any possibility of discrimination against American interests in Manchukuo.[16]Secretary Hull to Ambassador Grew, October 6, 1933. Ibid., pp. 125-26.
(Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, October 3, 1933. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 123-24.)

d. Friction in Far East Points to Eventual Russo-Japanese War

One of the reasons for this Japanese approach to the United States was the belief that war between Japan and Russia was almost inevitable. By 1933, Outer Mongolia was so completely dominated by Russia that it could be used as a base for further Russian infiltration of North China. The Russian menace to Japanese interests in Inner Mongolia and Manchukuo was assuming clearer outlines each day. In order to meet it with assurance, it would be expedient for Japan to cultivate friendly relations with the United States. The American Government should be able to perceive the dangers of expanding communism and present with Japan a common front against the great enemy of capitalism.

The desire immediate to the heart of Joseph Stalin was some means of preventing any close attachment between the United States and Japan. Such a union could erect an effective barrier against the Red tide that had already rolled into Outer Mongolia and Sinkiang. The fate of China would be decided by the attitude of the United States, and Russia knew that a friendly nod from the United States would weight the scales in her favor.

In the early part of March 1933, Ambassador Grew received from “a reliable Soviet source” an outline of Soviet-Japanese relations. The Embassy’s “informant” assured Mr. Grew that Japan was pushing preparations for “a war with the Soviets, with the United States, or with both.” As a bulwark against this threatened war the “Soviet Union badly needs the resumption of diplomatic relations with the United States. It is able, but cannot agree, to repay the old Russian debts owing to American citizens, because to repay one set of debts would make it necessary to repay all.” The Russian Government was willing, however, to give economic favors in “return for the cancellation of the old debts.”[17]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, March 9, 1933. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 228-30.

Four months later the Russian Government made another approach to the United States. M. Bogomolov, the Soviet Ambassador to China, expressed to Ambassador Johnson the opinion that the “absence of friendly relations between Soviet Russia and the United States” made the position of Russia in the Far East “very weak.” He then confidentially added that this same absence of friendly relations “was also a factor of weakness in the position of the United States in the Far East.” The intimation was very clear: America should resume diplomatic relations with Soviet Russia lest the Japanese Government, in the event of war, would be able to persuade the American public that the armies of Japan were “fighting, not Soviet Russia, but the Soviet regime.”[18]Memorandum by the United States Minister to China (Johnson), Peiping, July 20, 1933. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 377-78.

In October 1933, Ambassador Grew sent to the Department of State a careful estimate of the situation in the Far East and came to the conclusion that it was “not unlikely” that Japan was determined “to remove the Russian obstruction from the path of her ambitions at an advantageous moment.” This moment might occur in 1935. One of the main reasons for this clash between Japan and Russia was the Japanese fear of communism. “Communistic thought” was regarded in Japan with the utmost aversion and drastic measures were being taken “to stamp it out of the country. Japan considers herself as the bulwark against the spread of communism southward and eastward. Given sufficient provocation, the Japanese could readily be aroused to enter Siberia with the intention of completely destroying a regime which it fears and detests.”[19]Ambassador Grew to the Under Secretary of State (Phillips), Tokyo, October 6, 1933. Ibid., pp. 421-24.
(Memorandum by the United States Minister to China (Johnson), Peiping, July 20, 1933. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 377-78.)

This fear of communism, which so strongly colored the relations between Japan and Soviet Russia, was not felt by the Roosevelt Administration which decided to court rather than repel the advances from the Russian Foreign Office. Despite the Russian absorption of Outer Mongolia and the infiltration of Sinkiang, the Department of State refused to regard Japan as a bulwark against any further Russian movement into North China. Instead, it decided to recognize Soviet Russia and thus give the cause of communism in China a tremendous boost. On November 16, 1933, recognition was formally extended to Soviet Russia with all its wide implications of a joint policy against Japan. The Roosevelt Administration had made it clear that it had turned its back upon a Japanese bid for a rapprochement based upon a common hostility towards communism. Apparently, in the Far East, Japan, rather than Russia, was the nation to be disciplined.

e. Japanese Gestures of Friendship are Rebuffed by the U.S.

The President’s decision to favor Russia rather than Japan in the Far East was in defiance of the opinions of some American diplomats in that area. Mr. Edwin L. Neville, counselor of the American Embassy in Tokyo, wrote a long memorandum in October 1933 which gave a realistic summary of the situation in China. It was apparent that the

establishment of the present regime in Manchuria is to place the Japanese and Russians face to face over a long frontier. They need no longer consider any Chinese political interest in that region. . . . So long as the Soviet Government was not a military power the Japanese felt that their national interests in Manchuria were not seriously menaced. When, however, Soviet military prowess was added to the problems which the Japanese had to confront on the mainland, they came to the conclusion that Chinese political complications, at least, should be eliminated in that region. . . . So far as the United States is concerned, there seems no probability that the American people would be willing to engage in any new ventures in this part of the world. . . . In the light of Russian activities in Outer Mongolia and the behavior of Soviet agents in intramural China, it is open to question whether a Russian military victory . . . would be of any value in preserving or restoring the political and administrative integrity of China.[20]Memorandum written by Mr. Edwin L. Neville on the situation in the Far East, Tokyo, October 6, 1933. 793.94/6495, MS, Department of State.

Mr. Neville saw clearly the menace of the Russian advance in North China and indicated the fallacy of any belief that a Russian military victory over the Japanese would restore the political and administrative integrity of China. But Ambassador Grew closed his eyes to the implications that lay behind the Roosevelt Administration’s policy of extending recognition to Soviet Russia. In his diary he made the following comments which illustrate his narrow vision: “The President has played his cards well: he said not a word about Manchuria but started building up the fleet and recognized Soviet Russia; as a result he gets an entirely new and more friendly orientation of Japanese policy toward the United States.”[21]Grew Diary, November 30, 1933; Ten Years in Japan, p. 108.

It is quite surprising that Mr. Grew could seriously confide to his diary on November 30 that the Roosevelt recognition of Russia had compelled the Japanese Government to adopt an “entirely new and more friendly orientation” in its policy towards the United States. Since March 1933 the Japanese Government had gone out of its way to conciliate America and to win the approval of the Department of State. It is something of a shock, therefore, to find Ambassador Grew refusing to read the abundant evidence that revealed this Japanese good will and to strike a note of unfairness that was soon sounded with more emphasis by Secretary Hull.

But Hirota was so profuse in his friendly gestures that Grew had to admit that the Foreign Minister was “genuinely doing his best to improve Japan’s relations with foreign countries all along the line.” In the face of this amicable attitude it would be inexpedient for Secretary Hull to issue any new note with reference to the Stimson doctrine of nonrecognition. America would “sacrifice no principle by silently” maintaining its position.[22]Ibid., January 23, 1934; ibid., pp. 115-16.
(Grew Diary, November 30, 1933; Ten Years in Japan, p. 108.)

As the weeks went by, Grew became more and more impressed with the pacific dispositions of Japan’s leaders. The Emperor was a man of “mild and peaceful character.” Prince Saionji, Count Makino, and many members of the Genro were profoundly imbued with the “horrors of war.” The Prime Minister was “more peaceful than bellicose,” while Hirota was doing all he could to improve Japan’s relations with other countries. At a recent dinner at the Tokyo Club, Baron Hayashi, one of the Emperor’s favorites, had voiced with impressive earnestness the desire of the Japanese Government to avoid war: “We want peace.”[23]Ibid., February 8, 1934; ibid., pp. 117-19.
(Grew Diary, November 30, 1933; Ten Years in Japan, p. 108.)

As an important gesture along this line, Hirota sent a new ambassador to the United States. Hiroshi Saito, who began his duties as ambassador on February 13, 1934, had made an intensive study of American history and was certain that he “knew the American people.” His previous experience in consulates on the Pacific Coast and as secretary of the Embassy in Washington had given him an intimate acquaintance with American habitudes of thought. According to Frederick Moore, “no American career diplomatist was his equal.”[24]Frederick Moore, With Japan’s Leaders (New York, 1942), pp. 70-77.

Saito’s first task in Washington was to endeavor to persuade Secretary Hull to negotiate a new treaty with Japan. In the course of these negotiations some formula might be found that would eliminate the causes of future friction between the two countries. At least these conversations would afford an opportunity frankly to discuss all questions at issue. They might lead to a Japanese-American understanding of tremendous importance to the preservation of peace in the Orient. Japan was gravely concerned about Russian objectives in North China. Using this Japanese apprehension as a convenient diplomatic tool, Hull would have a chance to shape the situation in the general direction of American desires. Such a procedure would call for diplomatic skill of a high order. It seems probable that Secretary Hull regarded the task as too difficult for him to handle because he flatly refused to open negotiations looking towards a new treaty with Japan[25]Ibid., pp. 85-86.
(Frederick Moore, With Japan’s Leaders (New York, 1942), pp. 70-77.)
that might have led to a friendly accord.

Hull finally consented to an exchange of diplomatic notes which contained the usual aspirations. Hirota tried to show an amicable spirit by referring to the fact that for eighty years Japan and the United States had “always maintained a relationship of friendliness and cordiality.” After alluding to the increasingly important trade relations, he expressed the conviction that “all issues pending between the two nations will be settled in a satisfactory manner.” It was the sincere desire of the Japanese Government that a “most peaceful and friendly relation will be firmly established between her and her great neighbor across the Pacific, the United States.”

The reply of Secretary Hull was cordial on the surface, but behind each paragraph lurked the shadow of the Stimson doctrine.[26]Hirota’s note was handed to Secretary Hull on Feb. 21, 1934; Hull’s note was handed to the Japanese Ambassador on March 3, 1934. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 127-29. If he had encouraged lengthy diplomatic conversations in preparation for a formal treaty with Japan, he might have found some answer to the questions that found a thunderous expression in the attack upon Pearl Harbor. His note to Hirota was couched in friendly phraseology, but it dodged the issue of Japanese expansion in North China. Hull knew that this issue was like a small cancer deep in the delicate tissue of Japanese-American relations. It could be removed by the radical procedure of war or it could be checked by the X rays of a friendly understanding. He chose to let it grow until war was the only remedy, and his responsibility for that result is obvious to any student who carefully examines the diplomatic correspondence.

f. Japan Proclaims a Monroe Doctrine for the Far East

The most important question that disturbed the course of Japanese-American relations was the one dealing with the status of Manchukuo. When the Japanese Foreign Office received word from Saito that Secretary Hull would not discuss in detail the outstanding issues pending between the two countries, Hirota reluctantly realized that it was in vain to hope for any understanding that would remove all causes of friction. He still persisted, however, in making friendly gestures in the direction of the United States. One of the most significant of these was his decision to pay a warm tribute to the memory of Townsend Harris, the first American Consul to Japan. On April 22, Grew was taken on a Japanese destroyer to the port of Shimoda where long lines of school children greeted him with loud shouts of “banzai.” There were many speeches that stressed the long tradition of cordial relations between Japan and the United States, and the ceremony impressed Grew as a very “moving one.”[27]Grew Diary, April 22, 1934; Ten Years in Japan, pp. 125-27.

But this glow of friendly relations was soon extinguished by the reaction produced by a statement issued by Mr. Amau, the chief of the Bureau of Information and Intelligence of the Japanese Foreign Office. On April 17, 1934, Amau issued to the Japanese press a statement of the foreign policy, formulated by the Foreign Office with reference to China. Its terse phraseology sounded like a challenge to all the powers that had large interests in China. After a declaration that Japan had “special responsibilities in East Asia,” the statement went on to say that in order to fulfill those responsibilities it might be necessary at times for Japanese armed forces to act on their own initiative and not to seek the co-operation of other nations. It was only natural, therefore, for Japan to “oppose any attempt on the part of China to avail herself of the influence of any other country in order to resist Japan.” Loans for political purposes or shipments of munitions of war would be regarded with suspicion.[28]Ibid., April 28, 1933; ibid., pp. 128-33.
(Grew Diary, April 22, 1934; Ten Years in Japan, pp. 125-27.)

Ambassador Grew immediately sent a telegram to Secretary Hull relative to the Amau statement, and Maxwell M. Hamilton, of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, hurriedly prepared a memorandum on the situation. In the event that the Japanese Government sent to the Department of State a copy of the Amau statement, the acknowledgment of the receipt of that document should be “very brief and should indicate merely that we purpose to continue in our traditional and consistent course of conducting foreign relations in accordance with the developing principles of international law and the treaties to which the United States is a party.”[29]Memorandum prepared by the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, April 20, 1934. 793.94/6700. Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

On April 20, Ambassador Grew sent to Secretary Hull a dispatch dealing with the issuance of the Japanese Monroe Doctrine for the Far East and he inclosed a copy of the unofficial statement issued by the Japanese Foreign Office on April 17.[30]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, April 20, 1934. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 223-25. An interpretation of this statement was made by Ambassador Saito in an interview with Constantine Brown on April 21. The Japanese Government would consider extending loans or selling aircraft to China as “an unfriendly act.” The Western nations did not have the “remotest idea” of how “to deal with the Chinese. . . . The Japanese Government . . . has decided to prevent the furtherance of the present trouble by the loans which Western nations are giving the various Chinese leaders to further their own ambitions.”[31] Washington Evening Star, April 22, 1934.

These Japanese statements of policy in the Far East rang like an alarm along the quiet corridors of the Department of State, and Under Secretary of State Phillips requested the Japanese Ambassador to pay a formal call and present some explanation of the action by the Foreign Office. Mr. Saito was disturbingly vague in his answers to the questions of Mr. Phillips. He doubted whether the statement made by Mr. Amau had been made in “any precise form” and therefore it was difficult to give any adequate explanation of it. Phillips complained that Mr. Saito was not of “much help” in this situation, and the interview ended on a distinctly unsatisfactory note.[32]Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Phillips), April 24, 1934. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 225-26.

From April 21 to April 24 some British newspapers expressed opinions that were strongly pro-Japanese. The London Daily Mail emphatically stated that it was difficult to see “why Japan’s preponderance of interest in China should be disputed,”[33]April 21, 1934. and the London Morning Post acidly observed that “the interventions both in Shanghai and in Manchuria, whatever may be thought of the methods employed, were invited by China, if not forced upon Japan through the anarchy and misrule which threatened every foreign interest.”[34]London Morning Post, April 24, 1934.

Sir John Simon, the British Foreign Secretary, had been far more cautious than the British press in expressing his opinion. His public statement appeared to Mr. Hornbeck, chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, as “somewhat ambiguous,” and the British Ambassador, during a conversation with Mr. Hornbeck, admitted that the Foreign Secretary when under verbal fire was “very cagey” in his language. When the ambassador (Sir Ronald Lindsay) made an inquiry concerning American policy, Mr. Hornbeck replied that “we feel that action by the various governments concerned on parallel lines and with the appearance of a common front would have obvious advantages but that we did not intend to assume or be placed in a position of leadership in initiating proposals for joint or concurrent action.”[35]Memorandum of a conversation between the British Ambassador, Sir Ronald Lindsay, and Mr. Hornbeck, April 24, 1934. 793.94/6617, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

While the Department of State was seeking some formula that would fit the situation in the Far East, Ambassador Grew had an interview with Hirota who tried to quiet any suspicions by giving explicit assurances that there “was no intention on the part of Japan to claim a privileged position in derogation of the rights and responsibilities to which the signatories of the Nine-Power Treaty are entitled.” The Foreign Office was endeavoring faithfully to “follow the policy of the Emperor,” and was anxious to “achieve with all countries, and especially with the United States, relations of friendliness.”[36]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, April 25, 1934. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 227-28.

Mr. Grew was not deeply impressed with these friendly words, and he confided to his diary the opinion that the Amau statement “accurately expresses the policy which Japan would like to pursue.”[37]Grew Diary, April 28, 1934; Ten Years in Japan, p. 130. Mr. Hornbeck agreed with this viewpoint,[38]Memorandum prepared by Mr. Hornbeck and addressed to Mr. Phillips, April 25, 1934. 793.94/6669, Confidential file, MS, Department of State. but he prepared a memorandum in which he advised the Secretary of State to follow a policy of caution: “In the light of what has happened up to the present, I personally favor making no reply to the Japanese statement. . . . It appears that no other government is prepared to take a strong position against the Japanese statement. . . . American interests in China are not, in my opinion, any more important than, if as important as, the interests of Great Britain, Russia and possibly France. I do not think that the United States should ‘stick out its neck’ and become the spearhead in opposition to Japan.”[39]Memorandum prepared by Mr. Hornbeck on Amau statement, April 25, 1934. 793.94/6700, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

Secretary Hull paid little attention to this warning memorandum by Mr. Hornbeck. On April 28 he sent to Tokyo an aide-mémoire which clearly outlined the viewpoint of those persons in the Department of State who favored exerting constant pressure upon Japan. He referred to the treaties which defined America’s rights in China and then bluntly stated that the treaties themselves could be modified or terminated only by “processes prescribed or recognized or agreed upon by the parties to them.”[40]Secretary Hull to Ambassador Grew, April 28, 1934. Japan: 1031-1941, I, 231-32.

This aide-mémoire reached Tokyo on July 29. Although it was Sunday and was also the Emperor’s birthday, Grew sent a hurried note to Hirota and requested an immediate audience. The Foreign Minister at once acceded to this request, and after slowly reading the Hull statement, he remarked that Amau’s ill-chosen words had caused “great misunderstanding.” His manner was “perfectly friendly,” and he betrayed no sign of displeasure because the statement of the spokesman of the Foreign Office had been so directly challenged.[41]Grew Diary, April 29, 1934; Ten Years in Japan, pp. 133-34.

It is evident that Hirota was still trying desperately to court American good will in the face of the growing Russian menace to Japanese dominance in Manchuria. Japan was deeply concerned over the communist threat to one of the main life lines of her empire, and she had directed the implications of the Amau statement at Russia and not at the United States. The establishment of bolshevik control over Russia in 1917 had been viewed by Japan with anxious eyes, and her invasion of Siberia had been prompted by the necessity of stemming the communist tide. As the Bolsheviks strengthened their hold upon Russia, Japanese fears deepened. These fears had been readily recognized in the report of the Lytton Commission:

As the Soviet Government and the Third International had adopted a policy opposed to all imperialist powers which maintained relations with China on the basis of existing treaties, it seemed probable that they would support China in the struggle for the recovery of sovereign rights. This development revived all the old anxieties and suspicions of Japan toward her Russian neighbor.[42]Lytton Report, League of Nations, Geneva, October 1, 1932, pp. 36-37.

These suspicions were confirmed when Russia and China signed a treaty on December 12, 1932, which restored diplomatic relations between the two nations. This agreement, it was feared, might be the signal for joint Russian and Chinese pressure upon the Japanese position in North China. Uchida, the Japanese Foreign Minister, recognized this possibility. In a speech in the Diet he ominously remarked: “Should the Red movement in the Yangtze Valley and South China, which have long suffered from the activities of Communists and the depredations of Communist armies, gain in strength as a result of the Sino-Russian rapprochement, that would be a serious menace to peace in the Orient against which Japan must certainly be on guard.”[43]Contemporary Japan, published by the Foreign Affairs Association of Japan, Tokyo, March, 1933, I, No. 4, pp. 766-67.

The establishment of the Japanese-controlled state of Manchukuo was one of the means devised in Tokyo to meet this Russian threat. In order to improve her position in Manchuria, Japan raised Henry Pu-yi from Regent to Emperor and formally crowned him at Hsinking on March 1, 1934.[44]The United States in World Affairs, 1934-35, ed. W. H. Shepardson and W. O. Scroggs (New York, 1935), pp. 152-53. Henry Pu-yi was appointed regent of Manchukuo on March 9, 1932. He was born in 1906 and was designated by the Empress Dowager of China as the successor to the throne under the title, Emperor Hsuan Tung. After the overthrow of the Manchu dynasty in 1912 he remained for a while in Peking, but in 1924 he went to live in the Japanese concession at Tientsin. During the years from his abdication to his appointment as regent of Manchukuo he assumed the name of Henry Pu-yi. This was an obvious bid for international recognition of the government of Manchukuo. The London Times responded with a statement that some countries with large business interests in the Far East would soon find it necessary “to reconcile their trading activities in Manchuria with the policy of recognition.”[45]May 4, 1934. The New York Journal of Commerce expressed hearty agreement with this viewpoint and praised the government of Manchukuo as the “most stable and efficient that any portion of China has enjoyed for a long time past.”[46]March 5, 1934. Mr. T. J. League, who had spent many years in China, wrote to Mr. Hornbeck to advise him of the exact status of Manchukuo:

Manchuria has never at any time been part of the “Chinese body-politic.” It stands now as it has done, as a unit distinct and entirely separate from China. . . . I should like to suggest to you the wisdom of discrediting entirely the Russian propaganda against Japan, which is, and has been for some time past, virulent. . . . Recognition of Manchukuo would alleviate most of this and put the whole situation in an entirely different and more favorable atmosphere. Personally, I believe that Japan is sincere in her presentations and purposes.[47]T. J. League to Mr. Hornbeck, March 23, 1934. 793.94/6572, MS, Department of State.

While the great powers hesitated about granting recognition to the state of Manchukuo, Russia was rapidly strengthening her position in the Far East. First she adopted special measures to encourage migration to the maritime provinces of Siberia. Next, collective farmers were granted exemptions from agricultural taxes; wages for workers were raised to inviting new levels, while prices paid by the government for the products of the fisheries were increased in a significant manner.[48] Economic Review of the Soviet Union, January, 1934, p. 23.

Japan regarded these Russian moves with sharp suspicion and she redoubled her efforts to purchase the Chinese Eastern Railway. When the Soviet Government fixed the price at 160,000,000 yen, Hirota spurned that sum and offered only 120,000,000 yen. In August 1934 the negotiations completely broke down and left relations between the two countries seriously strained.[49]Harriet L. Moore, Soviet Far Eastern Policy, 1931-1945 (Princeton, 1945), p. 37. Lieutenant-Colonel Seiichi Aoki, in a popular Japanese magazine, published an article which indicated the imminence of war.[50]Tyler Dennett, “America and Japanese Aims,” Current History, XXXIX (March, 1934), 767. Stalin answered this challenge with a defiant declaration: “We do not fear threats and are ready to give blow for blow.”[51]New York Times, January 28, February 4, 1934.

In anticipation of actual warfare in the near future, Japan completed in 1933 some 1,060 miles of new railway in North China and then pushed some new military highways to the borders of Manchukuo.[52]H. J. Timperley, “Japan in Manchuria,” Foreign Affairs, XII (January, 1934), 295-305. In November 1934 the Japanese Cabinet approved the largest military budget on record. Russia met this action by increasing her army appropriation from 1,573,000,000 rubles in 1933 to 1,795,000,000 rubles in 1934.[53]League of Nations, Armaments Year Book, 1934, pp. 441, 725.

It was widely recognized that President Roosevelt’s recognition of Russia had added considerable strength to the Muscovite position in the Far East, thereby increasing Japan’s difficulties in her endeavor to dominate Manchuria. It was apparent to Japan that Russia had long-range plans to communize China and thus eventually to control a large portion of eastern Asia. The very nature of international communism made it impossible to have stable relations with Russia, so Japan again turned to the United States in May 1934 in the hope of erecting a common front against the foes of capitalism. Knowing that the Roosevelt recognition of Russia would make inexpedient any reference to the dangers of communism, the Japanese Ambassador addressed to Secretary Hull a note which explored the bases upon which a Japanese-American understanding could be built. Emphasis was placed upon the importance of adopting a policy which would prevent China from relying upon her ancient stratagem of playing off America against Japan.

It was important to have some joint “governmental action” that would dissipate the “suspicion and fear between the United States and Japan.” This could take the form of a joint declaration which would stress a desire to “promote trade to the mutual advantage of the two countries and to make secure the principle of equal opportunity of commerce in the Pacific regions.” The declaration could also include a pledge binding each nation to “respect the territorial possessions and the rights and interests of the other,” and it would “restate their determination that the two countries should ever maintain a relationship of peace and amity.”[54]Ambassador Saito to Secretary Hull, May 16, 1934. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 232-33.

g. The State Department Frowns upon an Understanding with Japan

It was obvious that Ambassador Saito was angling for some joint statement of policy like the Root-Takahira or the Lansing-Ishii agreements of 1908 and 1917, but Hull did not regard Japanese friendship as worth-while bait. He had already rejected formal negotiations looking towards a treaty between the two nations, and he now refused to be drawn into an executive agreement that would announce American acceptance of Japan’s special position in North China. Such an agreement would have changed the history of our Pacific relations and would have eliminated the tragedy of Pearl Harbor. But once more the barrier of the Stimson doctrine held the two nations apart and prevented an accommodation that would have pointed towards peace.[55]Mr. Phillips, the Acting Secretary of State, to Ambassador Grew, June 18, 1934. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 237-39.

Rebuffed for a second time by Secretary Hull, Japan now turned to Germany. In the summer of 1934 a Japanese naval squadron paid a good-will visit to German waters, and this gesture was followed by the dispatch of Japanese military and naval experts to Germany. Trade agreements were the next item in this catalogue of friendship.[56]Moore, op. cit., pp. 38-39. As the courtesy list lengthened and commercial advantages became manifest, Poland took an active interest in this Japanese-German rapprochement. Trade possibilities with Manchukuo led many statesmen in Europe to ponder whether it was worth while to adhere to the Stimson doctrine of nonrecognition.

There were other economic factors that disturbed the equation of international friendship. In 1933, Japanese textiles began to flood the markets in which British goods had long held a dominant place. This was particularly true with reference to the markets in India, Egypt, and East Africa. In 1934 the situation was so serious that a conference was held in London between British and Japanese manufacturers for the purpose of allocating the textile trade of the two countries. No agreement could be reached and this impasse led Mr. Walter Runciman, president of the British Board of Trade, to issue a statement that seemed equivalent to a declaration of economic warfare upon Japan.[57]Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, May 7, 1934, CCLXXXIX, 718. Trade wars are often the prelude to armed conflict.

The United States experienced this Japanese commercial invasion in 1934 when imports of cotton cloth from Japan rose from 1,116,000 square yards in 1933, to 7,287,000 square yards in 1934. In the first three months of 1935 these imports reached the startling figure of 12,771,000 square yards, and the owners of the New England cotton mills saw bankruptcy just around the corner of another year. But the general picture of American commercial relations with Japan was distinctly reassuring. Japan’s total exports to the United States in 1934 were considerably less than in the previous year, while American exports to Japan rose from $143,000,000 in 1933 to $210,000,000 in 1934. This rapidly increasing trade with Japan was partly explained by the fact that Japanese mills were consuming a large portion of the American cotton crop. The percentage of the crop that went to Japan rose from 15 per cent in 1929 to 30 per cent in 1934. While many countries were reducing their imports of American cotton, Japan was constantly increasing her purchases of this important raw product, thus adding another link in the economic chain that bound the two countries together. In comparison with this fast-growing trade, the Open Door in China was like the entrance to the cupboard of Old Mother Hubbard.[58]Shepardson and Scroggs, op. cit., pp. 174-78.

h. Closing the Open Door in Manchuria?

With Japanese markets expanding each year and with Japanese mills consuming American cotton in a constantly increasing volume, it seemed as though the economic basis for a Japanese-American accord had been firmly established. But Secretary Hull could not keep his eyes from the Manchurian scene where, it was widely alleged, the Open Door was being slowly closed by Japanese pressure. Japan regarded Manchukuo as her first line of defense against Russian aggression. This aggression would not come in the immediate future, but the communist currents in China would gradually be merged into a mighty stream that would surge against all Japanese outposts in Manchukuo in a tide that would be difficult to stem. If these bastions of defense were not carefully prepared to meet these rapidly rising waters, they would be engulfed and the creative work of several decades would be destroyed.

This pressing problem of national defense was the one that gave Japanese statesmen their greatest concern, and it was the real reason why the Japanese Foreign Office announced in April 1934 its Monroe Doctrine for eastern Asia. Hirota knew that the American Monroe Doctrine had always rested upon the broad basis of national defense. He also knew that the primary reason behind Theodore Roosevelt’s predatory policy in Panama was this same factor of defense. Even as late as 1912 the American Government had invoked the Monroe Doctrine as a deterrent against the acquisition, by a Japanese corporation, of a large tract of land in the vicinity of Magdalena Bay. This bay was in Mexican territory, but if it were controlled by a Japanese corporation, it might be used as a naval base for future operations against the United States. Under pressure from the Department of State the Japanese corporation abandoned its project, and the Senate of the United States, as a warning to other Japanese corporations, passed a resolution opposing the transfer of strategic areas in the Americas to non-American corporations which might be acting as agents for a foreign power.[59]Thomas A. Bailey, “The Lodge Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine,” Political Science Quarterly, XLVIII (1933), 235ff.

The Japanese Government in 1912 had readily recognized the fact that the American Government could not permit any part of the Mexican borderlands to pass under the partial control of foreign corporations. Considerations of national defense were of paramount importance to every American statesman, and this factor had outweighed any regard for the feelings of Mexican politicians who might resent Yankee dictation with reference to business dealings with the nationals of other countries. In April 1934, Japan merely took a leaf from the book of American national defense and announced indirect control over the petroleum resources of Manchukuo. China would not like this action and neither would other countries that had hoped to exploit the riches of North China, but for Japan this control took on the aspect of a national imperative.

The first item in this program of control was the issuance by the government of Manchukuo of a charter to the Manchuria Petroleum Company (February 21, 1932). This charter provided that the new company would have a monopoly control over the sale and distribution of petroleum in Manchukuo. The capital stock of the company was owned entirely by the government of Manchukuo and by Japanese interests. There was no possibility that any foreign oil company could share in the management or the profits of the Manchuria Petroleum Company.

This secure control over the oil business in Manchukuo might adversely affect the oil companies of foreign nations by depriving them of the retail trade which they had developed over a long period of years. In 1932 about 55 per cent of the oil imported into Manchuria was handled by the American Standard Vacuum Oil Company and by the Texas Oil Company. British, Russian, and Dutch interests controlled 35 per cent of the remaining oil imports with Japan having only 10 per cent for her share.[60]Shepardson and Scroggs, op. cit., pp. 156-59. It is apparent that the Japanese Government was determined to adjust this balance of business so that it would incline in favor of her nationals. Oil is an essential commodity in modern warfare. It was only common sense for the government of Manchukuo to insist upon control over the oil resources within its borders.

Although the restrictive policy of the government of Manchukuo was criticized as being inconsistent with the Open-Door policy, it was soon obvious that American petroleum interests would not be seriously injured. American exports of petroleum to Manchukuo increased from $782,000 in 1936 to $3,436,000 in the following year. In 1938 these exports continued to increase, but the Department of State explained this favorable factor by asserting that Manchukuo was building up reserves for war purposes. This may have been true in 1938, but it was not true in the early thirties. In 1932, American exports to Manchuria were valued at only $1,186,000. After the erection of Manchukuo into a Japanese dependency, American trade rose to $2,691,000 in 1933, and in 1935 reached the respectable figure of $4,188,000. If the Open Door was slowly being closed in Manchukuo, there still remained a crack wide enough to permit a growing American trade.[61]Department of State, Press Releases, April 6, 1939; Japan: 1931-1941, I, 155-56. Ralph Townsend, The High Cost of Hate (San Francisco, 1939), pp. 24-25, gives the following table based upon official figures:

(TABLE)

But the Department of State was not satisfied with these favorable trade statistics. Secretary Hull sent a series of strong protests to Japan with reference to the monopoly given to the Manchuria Petroleum Company,[62] Japan: 1931-1941, I, 130-57. and American public opinion was aroused over the preferences given to Japanese nationals in their business enterprises within Manchukuo. Since 1899 many Americans had tickled their fancies with warm visions of a great export trade to China’s teeming millions.[63]It had long been apparent to realistic diplomats that the trade between the United States and China would never be large. As Dr. Jacob Schurman remarked to Mr. Hamilton of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs: “China has never been a great market for American goods and there is little reason to suppose that she ever will be.” 793.94/6686, MS, Department of State. Although this trade never developed, they continued to cherish their illusions and they overlooked the far larger trade opportunities with Japan. The friction between the United States and Japan over Japanese commercial policies in Manchukuo was entirely needless. Secretary Hull was determined to press for the continuance of a trade principle (Open Door), even when its partial abrogation meant an increased volume of American trade. He seemed to be unaware of the ominous fact that his notes were creating a backlog of ill will that might later burst into the flames of war.

Footnotes

[1] The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, ed. Samuel I. Rosenman (New York, 1938), II, 169 ff.

[2] Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, 1943), pp. 186-91.

[3] Sir John Simon to Ambassador Mellon, London, January 13, 1933. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 88-90.

[4] Ambassador Johnson to Secretary Hull, Peiping, February 13, 1933. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 171-72.

[5] Hugh Wilson to Secretary Hull, Geneva, February 13, 1933. Ibid., pp. 174-75.

[6] Memorandum prepared by the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, March 16, 1933. 793.94/6065, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

[7] Mr. Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, April 22, 1933. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 286.

[8] Secretary Hull to Ambassador Johnson (China), Washington, April 25, 1933. Ibid., p. 290.

[9] Memorandum by Mr. Hornbeck, chief, Division of Far Eastern Affairs, April 26, 1933. Ibid., pp. 293-94.

[10] Memorandum by Mr. S. K. Hornbeck, May 16, 1933. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 327-28.

[11] Memorandum by Mr. S. K. Hornbeck, July 15, 1937. 793.94/9195, MS, Department of State. In a concluding paragraph of this memorandum Mr. Hornbeck remarks: “The Japanese Army has from time to time put forth claims that there were certain secret agreements embodied in or supplemental to the Tangku Truce, such as provision for through postal, railway and airway communications between North China and Manchuria. Although the Chinese have denied the existence of any secret agreements, actually postal, railway and airway communications have been opened between Manchuria and North China.”

[12] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, May 8, 1933. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 307.

[13] Monthly report of the American Embassy in Tokyo, June, 1933. 894.00 P.R./67, MS, Department of State.

[14] Grew Diary, September 18, 1933; Ten Years in Japan (New York, 1944), pp. 99-100.

[15] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, October 3, 1933. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 123-24.

[16] Secretary Hull to Ambassador Grew, October 6, 1933. Ibid., pp. 125-26.

[17] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, March 9, 1933. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 228-30.

[18] Memorandum by the United States Minister to China (Johnson), Peiping, July 20, 1933. Foreign Relations, 1933, III, 377-78.

[19] Ambassador Grew to the Under Secretary of State (Phillips), Tokyo, October 6, 1933. Ibid., pp. 421-24.

[20] Memorandum written by Mr. Edwin L. Neville on the situation in the Far East, Tokyo, October 6, 1933. 793.94/6495, MS, Department of State.

[21] Grew Diary, November 30, 1933; Ten Years in Japan, p. 108.

[22] Ibid., January 23, 1934; ibid., pp. 115-16.

[23] Ibid., February 8, 1934; ibid., pp. 117-19.

[24] Frederick Moore, With Japan’s Leaders (New York, 1942), pp. 70-77.

[25] Ibid., pp. 85-86.

[26] Hirota’s note was handed to Secretary Hull on Feb. 21, 1934; Hull’s note was handed to the Japanese Ambassador on March 3, 1934. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 127-29.

[27] Grew Diary, April 22, 1934; Ten Years in Japan, pp. 125-27.

[28] Ibid., April 28, 1933; ibid., pp. 128-33.

[29] Memorandum prepared by the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, April 20, 1934. 793.94/6700. Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

[30] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, April 20, 1934. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 223-25.

[31] Washington Evening Star, April 22, 1934.

[32] Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Phillips), April 24, 1934. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 225-26.

[33] April 21, 1934.

[34] London Morning Post, April 24, 1934.

[35] Memorandum of a conversation between the British Ambassador, Sir Ronald Lindsay, and Mr. Hornbeck, April 24, 1934. 793.94/6617, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

[36] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, April 25, 1934. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 227-28.

[37] Grew Diary, April 28, 1934; Ten Years in Japan, p. 130.

[38] Memorandum prepared by Mr. Hornbeck and addressed to Mr. Phillips, April 25, 1934. 793.94/6669, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

[39] Memorandum prepared by Mr. Hornbeck on Amau statement, April 25, 1934. 793.94/6700, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

[40] Secretary Hull to Ambassador Grew, April 28, 1934. Japan: 1031-1941, I, 231-32.

[41] Grew Diary, April 29, 1934; Ten Years in Japan, pp. 133-34.

[42] Lytton Report, League of Nations, Geneva, October 1, 1932, pp. 36-37.

[43] Contemporary Japan, published by the Foreign Affairs Association of Japan, Tokyo, March, 1933, I, No. 4, pp. 766-67.

[44] The United States in World Affairs, 1934-35, ed. W. H. Shepardson and W. O. Scroggs (New York, 1935), pp. 152-53. Henry Pu-yi was appointed regent of Manchukuo on March 9, 1932. He was born in 1906 and was designated by the Empress Dowager of China as the successor to the throne under the title, Emperor Hsuan Tung. After the overthrow of the Manchu dynasty in 1912 he remained for a while in Peking, but in 1924 he went to live in the Japanese concession at Tientsin. During the years from his abdication to his appointment as regent of Manchukuo he assumed the name of Henry Pu-yi.

[45] May 4, 1934.

[46] March 5, 1934.

[47] T. J. League to Mr. Hornbeck, March 23, 1934. 793.94/6572, MS, Department of State.

[48] Economic Review of the Soviet Union, January, 1934, p. 23.

[49] Harriet L. Moore, Soviet Far Eastern Policy, 1931-1945 (Princeton, 1945), p. 37.

[50] Tyler Dennett, “America and Japanese Aims,” Current History, XXXIX (March, 1934), 767.

[51] New York Times, January 28, February 4, 1934.

[52] H. J. Timperley, “Japan in Manchuria,” Foreign Affairs, XII (January, 1934), 295-305.

[53] League of Nations, Armaments Year Book, 1934, pp. 441, 725.

[54] Ambassador Saito to Secretary Hull, May 16, 1934. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 232-33.

[55] Mr. Phillips, the Acting Secretary of State, to Ambassador Grew, June 18, 1934. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 237-39.

[56] Moore, op. cit., pp. 38-39.

[57] Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, May 7, 1934, CCLXXXIX, 718.

[58] Shepardson and Scroggs, op. cit., pp. 174-78.

[59] Thomas A. Bailey, “The Lodge Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine,” Political Science Quarterly, XLVIII (1933), 235ff.

[60] Shepardson and Scroggs, op. cit., pp. 156-59.

[61] Department of State, Press Releases, April 6, 1939; Japan: 1931-1941, I, 155-56. Ralph Townsend, The High Cost of Hate (San Francisco, 1939), pp. 24-25, gives the following table based upon official figures:

Total U. S. sales in Manchukuo by years
1931$2,176,000
19321,186,000
19332,691,000
19343,398,000
19354,188,000
19363,542,000
193716,061,000

[62] Japan: 1931-1941, I, 130-57.

[63] It had long been apparent to realistic diplomats that the trade between the United States and China would never be large. As Dr. Jacob Schurman remarked to Mr. Hamilton of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs: “China has never been a great market for American goods and there is little reason to suppose that she ever will be.” 793.94/6686, MS, Department of State.

Chapter VI • Moscow Molds the Political Pattern in the Far East • 8,600 Words
a. Secretary Hull Overlooks a Diplomatic Opportunity

WHEN SECRETARY HULL rejected in June 1934 the proffer of a Japanese olive branch, he clearly indicated his strong disinclination to have it cultivated in the friendly soil of American good will so that it would bear the rich fruit of a permanent accord. But despite this lack of response from the Department of State, the Japanese Government still strove for an intimate understanding with the United States. Hirota remained as Foreign Secretary in the Okada Cabinet which took office on July 8, and Saionji, Makino, and other moderates were “clearly in the saddle.” An eminent Japanese liberal expressed to Ambassador Grew the opinion that “if the United States had had the privilege of choosing the Cabinet in its own interest, it could not have done better.”[1]Grew Diary, July 6, 1934; Ten Years in Japan (New York, 1944), pp. 139-40.

These favorable factors were entirely overlooked by Secretary Hull who at times liked to flavor the ointment of diplomacy with a dash of strong vinegar. This Hull formula finally grew so distasteful to Prime Minister Okada that he decided it was useless to continue to make friendly gestures in the direction of the United States. He might just as well surrender to the demands of a powerful pressure group in Japan that kept clamoring for naval parity with the United States and Great Britain.

b. Japan Denounces the Washington Naval Treaty

The Washington Naval Treaty of February 6, 1922, had never been popular with Japanese militarists who deeply resented the ratio of inferiority that had been imposed upon their naval establishment. Moreover, they realized that parity with the United States and Great Britain would greatly reduce the likelihood of armed intervention by either of these powers to block Japanese expansion in North China.

For a decade after the Washington Conference the situation in China had been a big question mark to the statesmen of the great powers. For a while it had appeared that Chiang Kai-shek might be able to bring some measure of peace to a country that had been in chaos since the last days of the empire. But the whirlwind of nationalism had been too strong for the successor of Sun Yat-sen to harness, and Americans at Nanking in 1927 and Russians along the Chinese Eastern Railway in 1929 had felt its destructive force. In 1931, Japan had decided to convert Manchuria into a glorified cyclone cellar that would be safe against any adverse wind from China or even from the steppes of Siberia. Stimson, however, was unduly suspicious of Japanese weather maps and he sharply protested against the precautions taken by the watchful men of Nippon. Japanese statesmen not only resented his repeated protests but regarded American naval maneuvers in Hawaiian waters as a covert threat to their position in the Far East. If naval parity were attained it might act as a gag upon American secretaries of state who talked of peace while walking down the road to war.

It is interesting to note that while Stimson was engaged in his favorite pastime of sending irritating notes to Japan, American naval construction was permitted to fall far below the limits permitted by the Washington Naval Treaty. On March 4, 1933, the American Navy was approximately at 65 per cent of treaty strength, while the navy of Japan had mounted to 95 per cent of treaty limits. If Japan, by denouncing the Washington Naval Treaty, could eliminate all limitations upon its naval armament, and if the United States continued its policy of indifference to naval construction, it would not be long before actual parity could be reached. In that event the Stimson policy would no longer be invoked by American statesmen.

But President Roosevelt defeated these hopes of Japanese navalists by allocating in June 1933 the large sum of $238,000,000 from the National Industrial Recovery Act appropriations for the construction of new warships. This action confronted Japanese admirals with a formidable dilemma: they now had the “unenviable task of deciding whether to abrogate the treaties next year [1934] and start a hopeless competition with far wealthier nations for naval supremacy, or else accept a continuance of the present ratios and face an outraged public.”[2]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, September 15, 1933. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 249-50. The naval leaders in Japan felt that they could not “lose face” by continuing to accept the existing ratios. Their pressure upon Hirota grew so strong that on September 17, 1934, he informed Ambassador Grew that Japan had definitely decided “to give notice before December 31, 1934, to terminate the Washington Naval Treaty.”[3]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, September 18, 1934. Ibid., pp. 253-54.
(Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, September 15, 1933. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 249-50.)

When preliminary conversations began in London in October 1934 relative to the renewal of the Naval Treaty of 1930, the Japanese delegates promptly introduced their demand for parity. Their arguments were based upon the grounds of “prestige and manifest destiny.” Manifest destiny had been a favorite American watchword during many decades of the nineteenth century, but Secretary Hull felt outraged when Japanese statesmen began to apply it to their expansion in Manchuria. He was certain that the real reason for Japanese parity demands was the desire to “obtain overwhelming supremacy in the Orient” and thus secure “preferential rights and privileges.”[4]Secretary Hull to Norman Davis (at Geneva), November 13, 1934. Ibid., pp. 259-60.
(Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, September 15, 1933. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 249-50.)
He did not share the “deep concern” of the British Foreign Office to arrive at some solution satisfactory to Japan, and he was cool to the suggestion of a tripartite nonaggression treaty to cover the situation in the Far East. It would be best for the American delegation at Geneva to give no encouragement to the Japanese to “expect any concessions or to expect the conclusion of a new treaty in substitution for the Washington Treaty.”[5]Secretary Hull to Norman Davis, November 22, 1934. Ibid., pp. 262-63.
(Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, September 15, 1933. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 249-50.)

Norman Davis discovered that the British were not in favor of the stand-and-deliver attitude of Secretary Hull. They were anxious to continue the “talks with the Japanese” even though there was no solution in sight. Hull reluctantly responded to this British pressure and agreed that the “conversations should not be broken off right away,” but he instructed Davis to “refrain from doing anything which would diminish the embarrassment of the Japanese as the time of the denunciation approaches.” Hull had developed an ardent dislike for the Japanese and was now conducting relations with them in a thoroughly feudist manner.[6]Secretary Hull to Norman Davis, November 26, 1934. Ibid., pp. 266-67.
(Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, September 15, 1933. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 249-50.)

In the face of this uncompromising attitude there was nothing left for the Japanese Foreign Office to do but inform Hull on December 29, 1934, of its decision to denounce the Washington Naval Treaty of February 6, 1922. The limitations imposed by that treaty would expire on the last day of December 1936. There was still a small chance that conversations at Geneva could lead to some path of accommodation and cause the Japanese Cabinet to reconsider its decision. British statesmen favored further attempts to discover some common denominator of agreement in the matter of naval ratios, but Hull believed that lessons of diplomacy to the Japanese should be taught to the tune of verbal spankings rather than by words of encouragement.[7]Cordell Hull, Memoirs (New York, 1948), I, 290-91. It is to be regretted that President Roosevelt felt the same way.

In this regard his viewpoint differed fundamentally from that of his cousin, Theodore Roosevelt. In the winter of 1910, after a mature consideration of all the factors in the Far Eastern situation, Theodore Roosevelt gave President Taft some sound, realistic advice relative to the Japanese advance into Manchuria:

Our vital interest is to keep the Japanese out of our country and at the same time to preserve the good will of Japan. The vital interest of the Japanese, on the other hand, is in Manchuria and Korea. It is therefore peculiarly our interest not to take any steps as regards Manchuria which will give the Japanese cause to feel, with or without reason, that we are hostile to them, or a menace, in however slight a degree, to their interests.[8]Theodore Roosevelt to President Taft, December 22, 1910. Knox Papers, Library of Congress.

c. Japan Promotes Autonomy Movement in North China

It had been very clear to Theodore Roosevelt during his administration as President that Japan regarded Manchuria as a bulwark of defense and as the keystone in the economic structure of the empire. Japan could not retire from her position in that province and any attempt to force her withdrawal would lead to open warfare. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Secretary Hull by adopting the Stimson formula of nonrecognition had opened a Pandora’s box of troubles in the Far East. When they applied the formula to Japan and remained silent concerning Russia’s absorption of Outer Mongolia, they emptied every evil in the box and led them to stalk along the Manchurian frontier stirring up discontent.

Chaos and communism are close companions and as Japan looked over the unsettled condition of affairs in North China, it was apparent that Russian agents were busily at work in fomenting discord. They would turn the peasants against the tottering regime of Chiang Kai-shek, and when the fires of revolution had destroyed the weak fabric of the Nationalist Government, communist armies under Mao Tse-tung or Chu Teh would quickly extinguish them under a heavy iron curtain. The formula was simple and very effective. If Japan remained inactive in North China, it would not be long before Manchuria and Korea would be closely besieged by great masses of fanatical Reds. Japan must either extend her frontiers in China or see her troops pushed into the sea.

Under the terms of the Tangku Truce, May 31, 1933, Chinese troops had been withdrawn from Northeast Hopeh Province which was converted into a “demilitarized zone” under the nominal control of China. Order in this area had been insufficiently maintained by organizations “under the control of Chinese” officials who were “not unsympathetic to the Japanese.”[9]Memorandum written by Stanley K. Hornbeck of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, July 15, 1937. 793.94/9195, MS, Department of State. As conditions continued unsettled the Japanese decided to restore order by force and to extend the area under her control. In May 1935, Japanese armies moved into the demilitarized zone of Hopeh and some weeks later compelled Chinese officials to consent to a new truce. Under the terms of the Ho-Umedzu Agreement, July 6, 1935 (signed by General Umedzu, commander of the Japanese Army in North China and by General Ho Ying-chin, Chinese Minister of War), Chinese troops would be withdrawn from Hopeh Province and this would be followed by the “dissolution and suppression of certain Chinese organizations to which the Japanese objected.” Another important item provided for the prohibition “of all anti-foreign and anti-Japanese activities in China generally.”[10]Memorandum by Stanley K. Hornbeck, chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, July 15, 1937. 793.94/9194, MS, Department of State.

This important agreement was one expression of the policy stressed by Hirota in the late summer of 1935. After having removed one possibility of friction with Soviet Russia by the purchase of the Chinese Eastern Railway (March 23), Hirota concentrated his attention upon North China. In October he announced three basic principles of accommodation with China: (1) recognition of Manchukuo; (2) suppression of anti-Japanese activities; (3) collaboration in an anti-Communistic program. When the Nanking Government refused to give serious consideration to these proposals, Japan announced on November 24 the existence of a strong independence movement that aimed at the autonomy of the five northern provinces of Chahar, Hopeh, Shansi, Shantung, and Suiyuan. The consolidation of these five provinces into an autonomous unit was not accomplished, but the Japanese did organize the “East Hopeh Anti-Communistic Autonomous Government.” This was placed under the control of a Chinese named Yin Ju-keng who was sympathetic with Japanese aspirations. Next, the Hopeh-Chahar Political Council was established “under the nominal control of the Chinese Government.” The Japanese puppet in this case was General Sung Che-yuan. Finally, the Japanese erected in “Chahar Province north of the Great Wall (about nine-tenths of the Province) an ‘independent’ Mongolian regime under the nominal leadership of the Mongolian prince Teh Wang.”[11]Ibid. In this memorandum Dr. Hornbeck makes the following comments: “Although the Chinese state that no such agreement [Ho-Umedzu Agreement] exists, our Embassy at Peiping states that ‘circumstantial evidence inclines one to believe in the genuineness of the documents’ comprising the agreement. Whether or not the Chinese actually accepted the Japanese demands, ‘subsequent actions of the Chinese authorities have not run counter to the Japanese desires.’ ”
(Memorandum by Stanley K. Hornbeck, chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, July 15, 1937. 793.94/9194, MS, Department of State.)
These political moves were apparently merely a prelude to the establishment of a real autonomous government in the five northern provinces.

d. America and Britain Protest against Japanese Policy

Britain viewed with evident alarm this sudden expansion of Japanese influence in North China. James L. Garvin, noted British political analyst, called attention to the fact that something “significant and sinister” had taken place in the Far East,[12]New York Times, December 1, 1935. while Sir Samuel Hoare, speaking for the Foreign Office, lamented that events had taken place “which, whatever the truth of the matter may be, lend color to the belief that Japanese influence is being exerted to shape Chinese internal political developments and administrative arrangements.”[13]Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, December 5, 1935, CCCVII, 336.

Secretary Hull went far beyond the cautious language of the British Foreign Secretary. On December 5 he issued a press release which indicated the attitude of the Department of State:

There is going on in and with regard to North China a political struggle which is unusual in character and which may have far-reaching effects. . . . Unusual developments in any part of China are rightfully and necessarily of concern not alone to the Government and people of China but to all of the many powers which have interests in China. . . . Political disturbances and pressures give rise to uncertainty and misgiving. . . . They make difficult the enjoyment of treaty rights and the fulfillment of treaty obligations. . . . In international relations there must be . . . faith in principles and pledges.[14]Department of State, Press Releases, December 5, 1935. Japan, 1931-1941, I, 240-41.

e. American Purchases of Silver Adversely Affect China

While Secretary Hull was talking on this high plane with reference to help for China, the actions of United States Treasury officials under the Silver Purchase Act of 1934 were helping to undermine Chinese opposition to Japanese expansion in North China. American purchases of silver caused a large flow of that metal from China to the United States, thus leading to a serious depletion of bank reserves and a consequent decline in commodity prices. The Chinese Government countered with a tax on silver exports, but large quantities were smuggled out of the country and foreign trade was soon demoralized.[15]Parliamentary Debates, loc. cit. Statement of Sir Samuel Hoare. After vainly waiting for an expected loan, China was finally compelled to issue on November 3 a decree nationalizing silver. All holders of that metal were ordered to exchange it for legal-tender notes issued by three government banks.

America’s silver policy had caused serious economic distress in large areas in China, had weakened her resistance to Japanese encroachments, and had made many of her “responsible business leaders to feel that their economic interests would perhaps be safer if entrusted to Japanese control than they would be if they were left to be played upon by the hocus-pocus of fourteen American Senators.”[16] The United States in World Affairs, 1936, p. 78. Instead of increasing American exports to China, the Silver Purchase Act led to a sharp drop in this current of trade.[17]Exports from the United States to China in 1934 amounted to $68,667,000. In 1935 they dropped to $38,156,000.

Secretary Hull admits that the operations of the Treasury Department led to a “disastrous flight of silver from China to the United States,” and he laments the fact that it was not until May 1936 that any real relief was afforded by Secretary Morgenthau.[18]Hull, op. cit., p. 446. During these months of financial dislocation in China, Japan moved forward to a more secure control over large portions of North China.

f. Japan Again Asks for Naval Parity

Under the provisions of the London Naval Treaty of 1930 arrangements were outlined for a conference to meet in 1935 for the purpose of drafting a convention that would settle all questions relating to naval limitations. When this convention met in London, December 9, 1935, the Japanese delegates presented their usual plea for parity. This stressed the importance of establishing a “common upper limit” by reducing the existing ration of 5-5-3 to one of 3-3-3. This could be accomplished by destroying a large number of American and British warships.[19]New York Times, December 10, 1935.

Admiral Nagano defended the Japanese position by asserting that the common upper limit desired did not “envisage giving Japan any opportunity for aggression; on the contrary, Japan wanted to make aggression by any power impossible.” Under the 5-5-3 ratio the American Navy, concentrated in Oriental waters, could “threaten Japanese security.” Norman Davis replied that he did not think that the Japanese proposals were “very fair.” After discussing the reasons for the establishment of the 5-5-3 ratio he then remarked that it was essential to find some modus vivendi which would “avoid both the common upper limit and the ratio.” Admiral Standley thought that a satisfactory temporary arrangement might be effected by taking the existing naval establishments with certain qualitative limitations and add a preamble stating that “an adequate navy was the sovereign right of everybody.” This suggestion was accepted by the Japanese delegates for further consideration.[20]Memorandum of conversation between the American and the Japanese delegations at the London Naval Conference, December 17, 1935. Japan, 1931-1941, I, 285-89.

During the course of his remarks Norman Davis had expressed his gratification at the “improvement in Japanese-American relations in the past three years.“ He paid tribute to the Japanese people and to their urge for progress which the United States admired but which it desired to see “exercised in a peaceful manner.” Mr. Phillips also adverted to the “rapidly growing friendship” between the United States and Japan and spoke of his fears that “parity would certainly set us back and breed suspicion.”[21]Ibid., pp. 288-89.
(Memorandum of conversation between the American and the Japanese delegations at the London Naval Conference, December 17, 1935. Japan, 1931-1941, I, 285-89.)

But the Japanese delegates continued to insist upon parity and refused to discuss the new building programs presented by France, Great Britain, and Italy. On January 15, 1936, when the other powers rejected the parity request, Japan formally withdrew from the conference.[22]The chairman of the Japanese delegation (Nagano) to the chairman of the conference (Monsell), London. January 15, 1936. Ibid., p. 297.
(Memorandum of conversation between the American and the Japanese delegations at the London Naval Conference, December 17, 1935. Japan, 1931-1941, I, 285-89.)
Collective security in the Pacific was crumbling even before Mussolini’s legions in Africa proved that it was hopelessly out of date.

g. President Roosevelt Delivers a Lecture to Wicked Dictators

As the system of collective security was rapidly breaking down in Africa and in China, it occurred to President Roosevelt that he might check this disintegration by some words of warning to dictators in Germany, Italy, and Japan. In 1936 the Nazi regime in Germany was distasteful to multitudes of Americans and Mussolini’s march into Ethiopia had given deep offense to a large and influential group of publicists and professors who believed that the frontiers of America had gradually been extended into every continent on the globe. The Japanese movement into North China had been particularly disturbing to these ardent one-worlders who conveniently forgot that Russia had really taken over Outer Mongolia and was rapidly infiltrating Sinkiang. The Department of State in 1935 had protested to Russia against communist propaganda in the United States, but it had evinced no interest in the advance of the Red tide over the plains of North China. Russia, with its vast reservoir of strength in limitless Siberia, was a far more serious threat to China than the armies of Japan that had to fight a desperate battle to be able to cling to the fringes of the continent of China. But President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull kept looking at the problems of eastern Asia through the myopic eyes of Henry L. Stimson who had bedeviled the situation in 1931-32 and who still muddled the minds of high officials who held the reins of authority.

On January 3, 1936, the President delivered an address to Congress in which he sounded a sharp challenge to wicked dictators who were engaged in aggressions that might lead to World War II. After congratulating his Administration upon the adoption of a “good neighbor policy,” he belabored other national leaders who had failed to “demonstrate that patience necessary to attain reasonable and legitimate objectives by peaceful negotiation or by an appeal to the finer instincts of world justice.” Fully aware that the injustices of Versailles could never be rectified through any agency of the League of Nations, the President must have pressed his tongue hard in his cheek when he uttered such sonorous nonsense. But he relished his role as lecturer to errant nations, and he hurried on to further words of castigation: “They [Germany, Italy, and Japan] have . . . impatiently reverted to the old belief in the law of the sword, or to the fantastic conception that they, and they alone, are chosen to fulfill a mission. . . . I recognize that these words which I have chosen with deliberation will not prove popular in any nation that chooses to fit this shoe to its foot.”[23] Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, 1943), pp. 304-7.

In distant Tokyo, Ambassador Grew regarded these minatory words of the President as an exercise in “courageous statesmanship.” He realized that this pointed admonition would not stop the “Japanese push into China,” but he hoped that it might retard its progress.[24]Grew Diary, January 5, 1936; Ten Years in Japan (New York, 1944), pp. 162-63. He was not honest enough to admit that it was another step in the direction of war with Japan.

Japanese reaction to the President’s address was given significant expression in a speech made by Hirota who deprecated the fact that American statesmen constantly talked as though they had a mandate from God: “It is to be regretted that there are abroad statesmen of repute who seemed determined to impose upon others their private convictions as to how the world should be ordered, and who are apt to denounce those who oppose their dictates as if they were disturbers of peace.”[25]Ibid., January 21, 1936, p. 164.
(Grew Diary, January 5, 1936; Ten Years in Japan (New York, 1944), pp. 162-63.)

In New York, Ambassador Saito, speaking before the Japan Society, endeavored to justify Japanese policy in China by comparing it with the American Monroe Doctrine.[26] The United States in World Affairs, 1936, p, 66. This statement aroused the ready ire of Senator Pittman who vehemently denied the validity of such a comparison. “We are seeking to preserve the republics of Latin America, not to destroy them.”[27] Congressional Record, LXXX, 1703.

Although Ambassador Grew recognized that the much-quoted utterance of Pittman was “utterly jingoistic,” he did not regret it because he believed that “its net result will be helpful.” The Japanese Government should be made to realize that there has always been a limit to American patience. Indeed, if they looked into the history of the United States, they would discover that “the American people are among the most inflammable in the world.” Some little incident in the Far East might easily ignite the tinder of American resentment and thus produce a long and devastating war. Grew overlooked the fact that utterances like those of Senator Pittman greatly helped to prepare in Japanese minds a pile of ardent dislike that could be enkindled into flames of conflict by sparks of caustic criticism on the part of American officials.[28]Grew Diary, February 11, 1936; Ten Years in Japan, pp. 164-65.

h. Chinese Nationalism Makes a Common Cause with Communism

While jingoists in the United States were denouncing Japanese policy in China, the Japanese Cabinet was doing its best to maintain friendly relations with the United States. In the first week in March 1936, Hirota was commanded by the Emperor to assume the post of Prime Minister. This selection pleased Grew who looked upon Hirota as a “strong and safe” man. In response to a series of questions from Grew, the new Prime Minister repeated the items in his policy towards China which he had announced during the preceding October: (1) Chinese recognition of Manchukuo; (2) suppression of anti-Japanese activities; (3) collaboration in an anti-communistic program. In its execution of this policy Japan would not “interfere with foreign rights and interests including the principle of the Open Door.” In conclusion, Hirota again emphasized his warm desire to make “good relations” with the United States the most important item in his program of peace.[29]Ibid., March 13, 1936; ibid., pp. 179-81.
(Grew Diary, February 11, 1936; Ten Years in Japan, pp. 164-65.)

This same note of friendly feeling for the United States was echoed by Mr. Yoshida, the Japanese Ambassador to Britain who was visiting Washington. At the conclusion of his friendly remarks he expressed the hope that the American people would soon recognize the need of the “immense and rapidly growing population of Japan” for more territory.[30]Memorandum of Secretary Hull after a conversation with Ambassador Yoshida, June 12, 1936. Japan, 1931-1941, I, 241-44. This land hunger could best be satisfied by a large slice of North China.

Secretary Hull reduced Yoshida’s fervor of expression by coolly remarking that the American people were getting the impression that Japan “sought absolute economic domination, first of eastern Asia, and then of other portions as she might see fit.” This would eventually mean “political as well as military domination,” and that the upshot of “the entire movement would be to exclude countries like the United States from trading with all of those portions of China thus brought under the domination . . . of Japan.” Hull then discoursed at length upon the beneficent aspects of his reciprocal trade program which aimed at breaking down tariff barriers and thus making it possible for “some 20 billions of dollars of international trade by degrees to be restored.” If the Japanese Government would abandon its selfish policy of imperialism in North China and follow American tutelage in the matter of reciprocal trade, it would soon be vastly benefited by the strong new currents of rich commerce.[31]Ibid., I, 241-44.
(Memorandum of Secretary Hull after a conversation with Ambassador Yoshida, June 12, 1936. Japan, 1931-1941, I, 241-44.)

Japanese statesmen were well acquainted with all the items in the Hull program of reciprocal trade, and they had weighed with care most of the arguments in favor of unrestricted trade. But their problem in North China was primarily one of defense against Russia. The importance of Manchuria as a source of raw materials and as a market for Japanese manufactures was obvious. Less obvious was the importance of that province as a bulwark that would stem the Red tide that had already covered the entire province of Outer Mongolia. The Soviet Army in the Far East during the years 1936-38 increased to an imposing force of more than 300,000 seasoned troops.[32]General Lushkov, who escaped from Russia to Japan in June 1938, estimated the Red Army in the Far East at 400,000 infantry. Japanese estimates were somewhat lower. New York Times, July 3-14, 1938. See N. Hidaka, Manchukuo-Soviet Border Issues (Sinkiang, 1938), p. 260. Not only could this army use Mongolia as a springboard for offensive action, but after 1935, Red forces could recruit further strength in the province of Sinkiang. According to Alexander Barmine, who was in charge of the supply of Soviet arms to military forces in that province, it was evident that all vestiges of Chinese control had vanished. In 1935, Sinkiang had become “a Soviet colony in all but name.”[33]Alexander Barmine, One Who Survived (New York, 1945), pp. 231-32. On January 1, 1936, Russian agents signed an agreement which established a very close political bond between Russia and Sinkiang. See also, Martin R. Norins, Gateway to Asia: Sinkiang (New York, 1944).

It is significant that the American Government never addressed a note to Soviet Russia protesting against the absorption of these provinces. American concern relative to the preservation of Chinese territorial integrity had its sole expression in acrid notes to Japan. Faith in Russia’s good intentions was an important item in the Far Eastern policy of the Roosevelt Administration.

Officials in the Department of State not only overlooked the rapid extension of Russian power through control over Outer Mongolia and Sinkiang, but they deliberately closed their eyes to the implications that lay behind the establishment of the Communist Army in the province of Shensi. After the communist debacle in 1927, Mao Tse-tung and Chu Teh retreated to convenient rural areas in Kiangsi and Kwan-tung provinces and carefully recruited new strength. In August 1931 a mandate was received from Moscow instructing Chinese Communists to create a full-fledged Soviet government: “In the shortest possible period, a central Soviet government must be formed in the most secure region.” In accordance with this directive the First Congress of Chinese Soviets assembled in Juichin, Kiangsi, in November 1931 and promulgated a constitution along Russian lines. Before closing its sessions this Congress elected a permanent Central Executive Committee which immediately chose a Cabinet that included such loyal communist leaders as Mao Tse-tung, Chu Teh, and Chou En-lai. This Cabinet was empowered to rule by decrees which were to have the force of law. The program formulated by the Congress had a definite communist inclination: the confiscation of the estates of landlords and the nationalization of all industries belonging to foreigners.[34]David J. Dallin, Soviet Russia and the Far East (New Haven, 1948), pp. 108-9.

By September 1932 the Communist Party in China proudly reported to the Comintern that it had organized a Red Army of twenty-six corps and fifteen local divisions. It had also introduced a “well-armed GPU detachment” in order to suppress any “counterrevolutionary movements.” In the following year the Chinese delegate, Wang Ming, stated that the Red military forces had grown to an army of 350,000 trained troops with an irregular force approximating 600,000. This military establishment had under its domination a total population of nearly sixty million people.[35]Ibid., pp. 111-12.
(David J. Dallin, Soviet Russia and the Far East (New Haven, 1948), pp. 108-9.)

But the Red Army in China felt insecure in the provinces of Kiangsi and Kwantung, so in October 1934 it began the Long March that finally took it into Kansu and Shensi.[36]Edgar Snow, Red Star Over China (New York, 1939), pp. 189-218. In northern Shensi a new Soviet area was rapidly organized in 1935. For Russia the new location for the Chinese Communist Army was of great importance. Bordering on Inner Mongolia, it would provide a bulwark against the projected Japanese advance in that region. Close to the territory of Soviet Russia, it could draw from that area much-needed supplies for warlike operations. As an instrument of Russian policy it was admirably located and was ready to strike upon orders from Moscow.

The Kremlin, however, was too canny to use the Chinese Red Army as an offensive force at that time. It would be better strategy to arrange a truce with the Nationalist armies of Chiang Kai-shek and then preach a crusade against the Japanese invaders. When they were turned back the truce could be conveniently broken and the armed forces of Chiang Kai-shek, war-weary and shattered, could be crushed. All China would then be inundated by the Red tide.

It would, therefore, be smart politics for the Chinese Communists to arrange a hurried understanding with the Nationalist Government and use Chiang Kai-shek as an unwitting tool to further their ends. The first move in this game of wits was to implement a motto forged by Mao Tse-tung: “All parties and classes unite to fight the Japanese and the traitors. . . . We are against civil war.”[37]Dallin, op. cit., p. 131. Other communist leaders echoed this clarion call of Mao Tse-tung, and when Chiang Kai-shek was taken prisoner at Sian in December 1936 by Chang Hsueh-liang, Moscow quickly intervened and secured his release.[38]Ibid., pp. 67-70.
(Dallin, op. cit., p. 131.)
For the time being he was an important Soviet asset that had to be carefully exploited. When his usefulness was over he could be shot as a “fascist-militarist.”

i. Japan Draws Closer to Germany

In the face of this growing accord between Chiang Kai-shek and the communist leaders in China, Japan concluded the well-known anti-Comintern Pact of November 25, 1936. This was a consultative convention which bound the contracting parties to “keep each other informed concerning the activities of the Communistic International.”[39]The text of the treaty is given in United States and Japan, 1931-1941, II, 153-55. There was also a secret “additional agreement” which provided that in the event “one of the High Contracting Parties” should “become the object of an unprovoked attack or threat of attack by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,” the other contracting party would “take no measures which would tend to ease the situation” of Soviet Russia. This secret treaty also made provision for consultations between the contracting parties to safeguard “common interests.”[40] Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918-1945, I (Washington, 1949), 734.

In a statement explaining the purpose of the anti-Comintern Agreement, the Japanese Foreign Office indicated the extent of communist propaganda and the efforts of communist agents to promote world-wide revolution in order to establish Red control over every part of the globe. Attention was called to the devious means by which the Russian Government had acquired a dominant influence in the Chinese provinces of Outer Mongolia and Sinkiang. In order to meet this growing threat to Japanese security, it had been found necessary to enter into the anti-Comintern Pact with Germany. But this step was merely a preliminary move in the direction of attempting to prove to other powers the importance of becoming parties to a general anti-Comintern pact.[41]Statement of the Japanese Foreign Office, November 25, 1936. Japan, 1931-1941, II, 155-57.

During a conversation with the American chargé d’affaires, Mr. Dickover, Horinouchi, the Japanese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, gave an assurance that “no secret military . . . arrangement of any kind was included in the agreement.”[42]Grew Diary, December 3, 1936; Ten Years in Japan, p. 191. The Russian Government, however, was confident that some kind of a military alliance had been arranged between Germany and Japan, and the Soviet Ambassador in Tokyo informed Ambassador Grew, “with considerable heat,” that this alliance was also directed against the rich British and Dutch colonial empires in the Far East. There was no real foundation for this statement, and Ambassador Grew himself discounted such talk.

j. Japan Seeks an Accommodation with China

Ambassador Grew was not disturbed by the ominous assurances of the Russian Ambassador that Japan and Germany had signed an agreement which aimed at eventual absorption of some of the choice British and Dutch possessions in the East Indies. He was happy that on New Year’s Day 1937 there were no “current controversies of prime importance” between Japan and the United States.[43]Ibid., January 1, 1937; ibid., p. 192.
(Grew Diary, December 3, 1936; Ten Years in Japan, p. 191.)
A few weeks later Grew had a “long and intimate” conversation with Amau, the spokesman of the Foreign Office. The burden of their talk was the satisfactory state of Japanese-American relations.[44]Ibid., February 12, 1937; ibid., pp. 205-6.
(Grew Diary, December 3, 1936; Ten Years in Japan, p. 191.)
But Grew was afraid that the situation was too good to last. In Japan one felt a “little like living on a volcano, never knowing when an explosion is going to occur.”[45]Ibid., March 19, 1937; ibid., p. 207.
(Grew Diary, December 3, 1936; Ten Years in Japan, p. 191.)

Grew believed that Prime Minister Hirota was largely responsible for this improvement in Japanese-American relations. He had made strenuous efforts to curb hostile comments in the Japanese press, and Amau had struggled valiantly to have the Japanese public see America in a more friendly light. But the most important factor in this uncertain equation of good relations was the status of North China. Faced with a rapidly growing communist menace, Japan had attempted to extend her influence in some areas of North China, and this had led to increased friction with the government of Chiang Kai-shek. The situation could easily develop into armed conflict unless some formula of accommodation could be found. For many months successive Japanese ministries endeavored to find this formula.

In the summer of 1936, Hirota made special efforts to conciliate China at a time when Chinese mobs were maltreating Japanese nationals. At Chengtu, on August 24, two Japanese newspaper reporters were murdered and two other Japanese nationals were “dragged from their hotel and brutally beaten.”[46]R. Y. Jarvis to Secretary Hull, Hankow, September 8, 1936. 893.00 P.R./Hankow/112, MS, Department of State. It seemed evident to the Japanese Foreign Office that this mob action was the result of the “anti-Japanese agitation instigated by the Kuomintang and tolerated by the National Government.” The Chengtu Incident was soon followed by many other unfortunate occurrences of a similar nature. On September 17 at Swatow a hand grenade was thrown into a restaurant owned by a Japanese; at Hankow on September 18 a Manchukuo official “was molested on a train by a mob and some of his valuables were taken away.” On the same day at the same place a Japanese consular policeman was killed by some Chinese while he was “patrolling the border of the Japanese concession at Hankow.” A few days later (September 23) at Shanghai one Japanese bluejacket was killed and two were wounded by Chinese gunmen. As a result of these unprovoked attacks upon Japanese nationals, the Japanese Foreign Minister issued a statement (September 28) that negotiations with China “could not be left to drift.” China was “now at the cross-roads where it must decide whether or not to shake hands with Japan.”[47]E. R. Dickover to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, October 1, 1936. 793.94/8272, MS, Department of State.

The Chinese Government responded to this statement by asking Secretary Hull to request Japan “to be moderate and conciliatory toward China,”[48]Memorandum prepared by Maxwell M. Hamilton, Division of Far Eastern Affairs, October 2, 1936. 793.94/8260, Confidential file, MS, Department of State. and the British Government instructed its ambassador in Tokyo to present a similar request to Foreign Minister Arita.[49]Memorandum prepared by Mr. Hamilton recounting a conversation with André de Laboulaye, the French Ambassador, October 2, 1936. 793.94/8266, MS, Department of State. The Foreign Office endeavored to quiet the situation by announcing on October 2 the decision to send Mr. Kuwashima, director of the East Asiatic Bureau, to China for conferences with Ambassador Kawagoe. In explaining this step the Foreign Office spokesman remarked that it was important for Japan to convey to Chiang Kai-shek its “real intentions.”[50]E. R. Dickover to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, November 25, 1936. 894.00 P.R./107, MS, Department of State.

According to the Chinese ambassadors to France and Great Britain the real intentions of the Japanese Foreign Office were divulged in a series of “demands” or “requests” which were far-reaching in their scope. The Japanese Government attached special importance to the “demands” dealing with action against communism and with the autonomy movement in five northern provinces.[51]These so-called Japanese “demands” were listed as follows: (1) autonomy of the five northern provinces; (2) economic co-operation with the whole of China; (3) joint measures for defense against communism; (4) appointment of Japanese advisers to the Chinese Government; (5) establishment of air communications between Japan and China; (6) a preferential tariff agreement; (7) the complete suppression of anti-Japanese propaganda in China. See memorandum by Maxwell M. Hamilton, of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, October 3, 1936. 793.94/8234, MS, Department of State.

On October 1 the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs informed the British Ambassador that “Japan was determined to make North China safe for Manchukuo.”[52]Memorandum of conversation between Mr. Mallet, British chargé d’affaires at Washington, and Mr. Hornbeck, October 6, 1936. 793.94/8254, MS, Department of State. Two days later the Foreign Office advised the American Embassy in Tokyo that the “only demand upon which they will insist is the suppression of anti-Japanese propaganda and agitation because of the danger of further incidents.”[53]E. R. Dickover to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, October 3, 1936. 793.94/8218, MS, Department of State. But this agitation against the Japanese grew in intensity, fanned doubtless by Communists who wished to exclude any thought of compromise between Chiang Kai-shek and the Japanese Government. On October 30, David Berger wrote to Secretary Hull to impart stray bits of information he had gleaned from a “local Chinese official of the Nanking Ministry of Finance.” According to this official, in Nanking there was “now a desire to bring about what might be called a Soviet orientation in Chinese foreign affairs.”[54]David Berger to Secretary Hull, October 30, 1936. 793.94/8451, MS, Department of State.

A Soviet orientation in Chinese foreign affairs meant a widening breach between China and Japan. On December 3, Mr. Suma, first secretary of the Japanese Embassy in Nanking, confided to Ambassador Johnson that during the last month he had noticed a “distinct change for the worse in the attitude of the Chinese toward the Japanese, and even the soldiers and officers of General Chiang’s own troops were now urging a more anti-Japanese attitude.”[55]Interview between Ambassador Johnson and Mr. Suma, Nanking, December 3, 1936. 793.94/8481, MS, Department of State.

This belligerent attitude on the part of the Chinese gave deep concern to the British Foreign Office. Anthony Eden called on the Chinese Ambassador in London and requested him to “urge his Government not to overplay its hand.” If Nanking proved “completely recalcitrant to all overtures, the result will tend to solidify and unify Japanese public opinion in favor of stronger measures.” In Tokyo the Chinese Ambassador talked to Grew in such a boastful manner that he gave the impression that “China is at present ‘feeling its oats’ and is very likely to overplay its hand in resisting Japanese overtures.”[56]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, December 14, 1936. 793.94/8437, MS, Department of State.

k. Chiang Kai-shek Welcomes Communist Help against Japan

One of the main elements in producing this Chinese boastfulness was the union of the Nationalists and the Communists. This union contributed additional military strength to the Chinese position but the initiative would lie with the communist forces. They would fight only on their own terms and only for communist objectives. This fact was clearly perceived in Japan where the advancing Red tide was viewed with increasing alarm. According to Ambassador Grew the idea was taking root that the government required “but one principle in dealing with China: to oppose any movement in China which is definitely Communist and to assist any movement in China which is definitely anti-Communist. Increasingly, policy toward China appears as simply part of the larger question of the Russian and Communist menace.”[57]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, December 31, 1936. 793.94/8501, MS, Department of State.

This viewpoint was understood by Mr. Hornbeck who prepared many memoranda for the Division of Far Eastern Affairs. On January 16 he discussed the situation in Shensi Province and then remarked: “There is serious danger that the rebellious troops at Sian (and Kansu provincial troops) may join forces with the large Communist armies occupying nearby regions and create a formidable Communist front in Northwest China. Such a development would jeopardize internal peace in China and disturb Sino-Japanese relations.”[58]Memorandum prepared by Stanley K. Hornbeck, January 16, 1937. 793.94/8505, MS, Department of State.

There was little doubt that the Nationalists and the Communists had reached some satisfactory understanding about objectives and procedures. Although Chiang Kai-shek had demanded that the Communists meet his rigorous conditions for joint operations, there were “reliable indications” that a “reconciliation was proceeding along lines privately agreed upon.”[59]Ambassador Johnson to Secretary Hull, Nanking, February 23, 1937. 893.00/14016, MS, Department of State. This fact gave Japanese statesmen further fears of the communist menace.

l. Japan Tries to Conciliate China

The Japanese Diet had not been satisfied with the efforts of the Hirota Ministry to find some solution for the impasse in Japanese-Chinese relations. On January 23, 1937, the Hirota Government went out of office, and on February 2 General Hayashi assumed the duties of Prime Minister. In the Diet, Hayashi immediately gave assurances of a pacific policy towards China: “I have no faith in a pugnacious foreign policy.” In elaborating his viewpoint he further remarked: “It is greatly to be regretted if China makes the mistake of thinking Japan is wedded to a policy of aggression.”

There were indications that the Hayashi Ministry would not press the far-reaching “demands” of the preceding administration. New negotiations with China would stress only two points: (1) the reduction of the Chinese tariff, and (2) the establishment of an air service between China and Japan. This program of conciliation had the support of the Japanese press which insisted that the government had “no wish to infringe on the territorial integrity of China as an independent State. Thus the contrast between the present tone of the press and its former tone is patent.”[60]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, February 25, 1937. 793.94/8546, MS, Department of State.

When Mr. Grew went to talk with the new Japanese Foreign Minister (Naotake Sato) who took office on March 3, he was informed that a special effort would be made to bring about a “marked improvement” in Sino-Japanese relations. As far as America was concerned, Grew knew Sato “fairly well” and believed that relations “will be of the best.”[61]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, March 5, 1937. 894.00/706, MS, Department of State. One of the first expressions of this Japanese conciliatory policy towards China was the dispatch of an economic mission under the chairmanship of Kenji Kodama, former president of the Yokohama Specie Bank. Kodama was reputed to be an authority on Chinese affairs and also was popular in China. This Japanese mission spent two days in Nanking (March 16-17) and was received by Chiang Kai-shek who gave assurances that he desired “the friendly help and advice of Japan.” Chiang further stated that Chinese industrialists would “unquestionably” accept the advice of Japanese industrial experts and would “follow their footsteps so that China’s culture and economy may rise on the same plane with Japan for the stability of oriental peace and welfare.”[62]Ambassador Johnson to Secretary Hull, Nanking, March 18, 1937. 793.94/8543, MS, Department of State.

But these friendly words had little meaning when the Japanese endeavored to have them translated into favorable action. On March 24, Ambassador Johnson reported that the Japanese economic mission had accomplished nothing because the “Chinese appear to have insisted that a readjustment of the political relations of the two countries is necessary before any concrete program of ‘economic cooperation’ can be agreed upon.”[63]Ambassador Johnson to Secretary Hull, Nanking, March 24, 1937. 793.94/8554, MS, Department of State. In April, Ambassador Johnson was frankly pessimistic about an improvement in Japanese-Chinese relations. The Chinese attitude towards Japan had distinctly “stiffened” in recent months, and the Foreign Office would insist upon a fundamental change in the Japanese political position in North China before conducting negotiations of an economic character.[64]Ambassador Johnson to Secretary Hull, Nanking, April 12, 1937. 893.00 P.R./135, MS, Department of State.

The Nationalist Government in China knew that Japan was in no position to abrogate the Tangku Truce of May 31, 1933, or to abolish the Hopeh-Chahar Political Council of 1935. These measures had been taken as a means of defense against the rapidly increasing influence of Soviet Russia in North China. To Japan it was significant that the Nationalist Government was not at all worried about Russian control of the provinces of Outer Mongolia and Sinkiang. Why should Chinese nationalism bitterly oppose any Japanese expansion in North China while regarding with apparent indifference Russian imperialism in the same area? If Chiang Kai-shek had fallen under the domination of Russia, it would be highly dangerous for Japan to make any concessions to him.

But Prime Minister Hayashi still hoped for some satisfactory arrangement with China and he believed that economic adjustments might be the prelude to a political understanding. This friendly attitude, however, failed as bait for Chinese good will. As Ambassador Grew reported from Tokyo: “China’s attitude has stiffened as a result of Japan’s conciliatory gestures.”[65]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, April 30, 1937. 793.94/8632, MS, Department of State. These gestures did not cease when China refused to reciprocate. On May 10, Foreign Minister Sato assured foreign newspaper correspondents in Tokyo that Japan “does not demand exclusive rights, and believes that it can live peacefully side by side [with China] in the economic world.”[66]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, May 10, 1937. 793.94/8643, MS, Department of State.

Ambassador Grew noted in May that the Japanese “conciliatory program met with setbacks during May and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the chief proponent of the policy, found it necessary to issue statements showing a firmer stand on the part of Japan. . . . There was a recurrence of anti-Japanese agitation in North China and there occurred several incidents which were said to have caused serious concern to the Japanese authorities.”[67]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, report on political conditions in Japan for May 1937. 894.00 P.R./114, MS, Department of State. These difficulties were magnified by General Sung Che-yuan’s non-co-operative attitude with reference to East Hopeh. In the early autumn of 1936 he had promised “the Japanese economic co-operation but has delayed signing a number of Japanese-prepared agreements for such co-operation. The Japanese desire certain preliminary economic developments such as railway construction, iron mining and cotton growing in order to pave the way for Japanese industrial establishments.” Chiang Kai-shek himself desired “to maintain the status quo in North China” and not challenge the Japanese position there, but the opposition of his “subordinates” was making his position “difficult.”[68]Ambassador Johnson to Secretary Hull, Peiping, June 17, 1937. 793.94/8721, MS. Department of State.

In the last week in May 1937 the Hayashi Ministry went out of office with its program of economic adjustments with China unfulfilled. On June 4, Prince Konoye assumed the duties of Prime Minister and Hirota once more became Foreign Minister. During a conversation with Ambassador Grew on June 7, Hirota stated that his former three points of accommodation with China “were too abstract for present circumstances, and that he therefore proposed to find concrete solutions of the various problems outstanding between Japan and China.”[69]Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, June 24, 1937. 793.94/8725, MS, Department of State. Mr. Grew thought that China was in “the fortunate position of being able to refuse the granting of economic concessions which Japan urgently needs but for the attainment of which Japan is apparently not desirous of using armed forces.”[70]Ibid.
(Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, June 24, 1937. 793.94/8725, MS, Department of State.)

m. Soviet Russia Promotes a War between China and Japan

It is apparent from the diplomatic correspondence that came to the Department of State from Nanking and Tokyo that in the summer of 1937 many Chinese officials were spoiling for a fight between Japan and China. In June 1937, Mr. Andrews, second secretary of the American Embassy in Tokyo, had a conversation with Dr. Mar who held a similar position in the Chinese Embassy. After Ambassador Grew read a report of this conversation he noted that Dr. Mar’s attitude was “one of truculence and undue optimism, thus reflecting the enhanced sense of security that has been developed in a section of Chinese officialdom as a consequence of the development of the past year.”[71]Ibid.
(Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, June 24, 1937. 793.94/8725, MS, Department of State.)
China, and not Japan, was ready for the outbreak of hostilities.

In China the Japanese Ambassador kept speaking in a conciliatory vein which stressed the idea that “the time would come when there would be ‘understandings’ between China and Japan.” As a result of these pacific words Mr. Gauss, the American Consul-General at Shanghai, reported that in informed quarters it was believed that “the Japanese are unlikely to display a strong attitude or to take any aggressive measures in North China while the question of an Anglo-Japanese understanding is being explored.”[72]C. E. Gauss to Secretary Hull, Shanghai, June 30, 1937. 793.94/8992, MS, Department of State.

It is evident that many foreign observers in June-July 1937 regarded an outbreak of war between China and Japan as quite improbable. The Konoye Ministry seemed intent upon carrying out the pacific policy of the preceding administrations. It was with distinct surprise, therefore, that the governments of the major powers heard that armed hostilities had taken place near Peiping. On the night of July 7, in the vicinity of the famous Marco Polo bridge, some Japanese troops became involved in a sharp fight with some units of the Chinese Twenty-ninth Army.[73]Walter H. Mallory, “Japan Attacks, China Resists,” Foreign Affairs, XVI (October 1937), 129-33; T. A. Bisson, “Origins of Sino-Japanese Hostilities,” Foreign Policy Reports, XIII (March 1, 1938), 291-300, A new drama that would end on a curtain line announcing Russian domination of the Far East, had opened with an ominous fanfare. The whole world became an interested audience with few of the spectators realizing that the progress of the play was pointed towards a Russian conclusion. Chinese, Japanese, and Americans would move across the Far Eastern stage in intricate patterns that finally proclaimed a definite Muscovite motif. The Moscow theater never staged a more effective puppet show.

Footnotes

[1] Grew Diary, July 6, 1934; Ten Years in Japan (New York, 1944), pp. 139-40.

[2] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, September 15, 1933. Japan: 1931-1941, I, 249-50.

[3] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, September 18, 1934. Ibid., pp. 253-54.

[4] Secretary Hull to Norman Davis (at Geneva), November 13, 1934. Ibid., pp. 259-60.

[5] Secretary Hull to Norman Davis, November 22, 1934. Ibid., pp. 262-63.

[6] Secretary Hull to Norman Davis, November 26, 1934. Ibid., pp. 266-67.

[7] Cordell Hull, Memoirs (New York, 1948), I, 290-91.

[8] Theodore Roosevelt to President Taft, December 22, 1910. Knox Papers, Library of Congress.

[9] Memorandum written by Stanley K. Hornbeck of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, July 15, 1937. 793.94/9195, MS, Department of State.

[10] Memorandum by Stanley K. Hornbeck, chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, July 15, 1937. 793.94/9194, MS, Department of State.

[11] Ibid. In this memorandum Dr. Hornbeck makes the following comments: “Although the Chinese state that no such agreement [Ho-Umedzu Agreement] exists, our Embassy at Peiping states that ‘circumstantial evidence inclines one to believe in the genuineness of the documents’ comprising the agreement. Whether or not the Chinese actually accepted the Japanese demands, ‘subsequent actions of the Chinese authorities have not run counter to the Japanese desires.’ ”

[12] New York Times, December 1, 1935.

[13] Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, December 5, 1935, CCCVII, 336.

[14] Department of State, Press Releases, December 5, 1935. Japan, 1931-1941, I, 240-41.

[15] Parliamentary Debates, loc. cit. Statement of Sir Samuel Hoare.

[16] The United States in World Affairs, 1936, p. 78.

[17] Exports from the United States to China in 1934 amounted to $68,667,000. In 1935 they dropped to $38,156,000.

[18] Hull, op. cit., p. 446.

[19] New York Times, December 10, 1935.

[20] Memorandum of conversation between the American and the Japanese delegations at the London Naval Conference, December 17, 1935. Japan, 1931-1941, I, 285-89.

[21] Ibid., pp. 288-89.

[22] The chairman of the Japanese delegation (Nagano) to the chairman of the conference (Monsell), London. January 15, 1936. Ibid., p. 297.

[23] Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, 1943), pp. 304-7.

[24] Grew Diary, January 5, 1936; Ten Years in Japan (New York, 1944), pp. 162-63.

[25] Ibid., January 21, 1936, p. 164.

[26] The United States in World Affairs, 1936, p, 66.

[27] Congressional Record, LXXX, 1703.

[28] Grew Diary, February 11, 1936; Ten Years in Japan, pp. 164-65.

[29] Ibid., March 13, 1936; ibid., pp. 179-81.

[30] Memorandum of Secretary Hull after a conversation with Ambassador Yoshida, June 12, 1936. Japan, 1931-1941, I, 241-44.

[31] Ibid., I, 241-44.

[32] General Lushkov, who escaped from Russia to Japan in June 1938, estimated the Red Army in the Far East at 400,000 infantry. Japanese estimates were somewhat lower. New York Times, July 3-14, 1938. See N. Hidaka, Manchukuo-Soviet Border Issues (Sinkiang, 1938), p. 260.

[33] Alexander Barmine, One Who Survived (New York, 1945), pp. 231-32. On January 1, 1936, Russian agents signed an agreement which established a very close political bond between Russia and Sinkiang. See also, Martin R. Norins, Gateway to Asia: Sinkiang (New York, 1944).

[34] David J. Dallin, Soviet Russia and the Far East (New Haven, 1948), pp. 108-9.

[35] Ibid., pp. 111-12.

[36] Edgar Snow, Red Star Over China (New York, 1939), pp. 189-218.

[37] Dallin, op. cit., p. 131.

[38] Ibid., pp. 67-70.

[39] The text of the treaty is given in United States and Japan, 1931-1941, II, 153-55.

[40] Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918-1945, I (Washington, 1949), 734.

[41] Statement of the Japanese Foreign Office, November 25, 1936. Japan, 1931-1941, II, 155-57.

[42] Grew Diary, December 3, 1936; Ten Years in Japan, p. 191.

[43] Ibid., January 1, 1937; ibid., p. 192.

[44] Ibid., February 12, 1937; ibid., pp. 205-6.

[45] Ibid., March 19, 1937; ibid., p. 207.

[46] R. Y. Jarvis to Secretary Hull, Hankow, September 8, 1936. 893.00 P.R./Hankow/112, MS, Department of State.

[47] E. R. Dickover to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, October 1, 1936. 793.94/8272, MS, Department of State.

[48] Memorandum prepared by Maxwell M. Hamilton, Division of Far Eastern Affairs, October 2, 1936. 793.94/8260, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

[49] Memorandum prepared by Mr. Hamilton recounting a conversation with André de Laboulaye, the French Ambassador, October 2, 1936. 793.94/8266, MS, Department of State.

[50] E. R. Dickover to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, November 25, 1936. 894.00 P.R./107, MS, Department of State.

[51] These so-called Japanese “demands” were listed as follows: (1) autonomy of the five northern provinces; (2) economic co-operation with the whole of China; (3) joint measures for defense against communism; (4) appointment of Japanese advisers to the Chinese Government; (5) establishment of air communications between Japan and China; (6) a preferential tariff agreement; (7) the complete suppression of anti-Japanese propaganda in China. See memorandum by Maxwell M. Hamilton, of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, October 3, 1936. 793.94/8234, MS, Department of State.

[52] Memorandum of conversation between Mr. Mallet, British chargé d’affaires at Washington, and Mr. Hornbeck, October 6, 1936. 793.94/8254, MS, Department of State.

[53] E. R. Dickover to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, October 3, 1936. 793.94/8218, MS, Department of State.

[54] David Berger to Secretary Hull, October 30, 1936. 793.94/8451, MS, Department of State.

[55] Interview between Ambassador Johnson and Mr. Suma, Nanking, December 3, 1936. 793.94/8481, MS, Department of State.

[56] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, December 14, 1936. 793.94/8437, MS, Department of State.

[57] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, December 31, 1936. 793.94/8501, MS, Department of State.

[58] Memorandum prepared by Stanley K. Hornbeck, January 16, 1937. 793.94/8505, MS, Department of State.

[59] Ambassador Johnson to Secretary Hull, Nanking, February 23, 1937. 893.00/14016, MS, Department of State.

[60] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, February 25, 1937. 793.94/8546, MS, Department of State.

[61] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, March 5, 1937. 894.00/706, MS, Department of State.

[62] Ambassador Johnson to Secretary Hull, Nanking, March 18, 1937. 793.94/8543, MS, Department of State.

[63] Ambassador Johnson to Secretary Hull, Nanking, March 24, 1937. 793.94/8554, MS, Department of State.

[64] Ambassador Johnson to Secretary Hull, Nanking, April 12, 1937. 893.00 P.R./135, MS, Department of State.

[65] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, April 30, 1937. 793.94/8632, MS, Department of State.

[66] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, May 10, 1937. 793.94/8643, MS, Department of State.

[67] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, report on political conditions in Japan for May 1937. 894.00 P.R./114, MS, Department of State.

[68] Ambassador Johnson to Secretary Hull, Peiping, June 17, 1937. 793.94/8721, MS. Department of State.

[69] Ambassador Grew to Secretary Hull, Tokyo, June 24, 1937. 793.94/8725, MS, Department of State.

[70] Ibid.

[71] Ibid.

[72] C. E. Gauss to Secretary Hull, Shanghai, June 30, 1937. 793.94/8992, MS, Department of State.

[73] Walter H. Mallory, “Japan Attacks, China Resists,” Foreign Affairs, XVI (October 1937), 129-33; T. A. Bisson, “Origins of Sino-Japanese Hostilities,” Foreign Policy Reports, XIII (March 1, 1938), 291-300,

Chapter VII • Mussolini Looks upon Ethiopia with Acquisitive Eyes • 9,100 Words

WHILE JAPAN was moving ahead in Manchuria in a sustained drive to expand the limits of the Japanese Empire, Mussolini was scrutinizing most carefully the map of Africa in order to plan a drive that would give imperial frontiers to Italy. These Italian dreams of empire did not begin with Mussolini. They began in the latter decades of the nineteenth century and they could be realized only if some of the great powers supported Italian aspirations.

a. Britain Recognizes Italian Aspirations in Northeast Africa

Italian colonial aspirations found their first expression in the activities of the missionary Sapeto who landed at Massaua in 1838. After a careful examination of the territory near the straits that separate the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aden, he acquired for the Rubbatino Company of Italy a concession on the Bay of Assab (November 15, 1869). In March 1882 this commercial company agreed to sell its rights to the Italian Government, and when this contract was approved by Parliament on July 5, 1882, Italy formally adopted a policy of colonial expansion in Africa.[1]Maxwell H. H. Macartney and Paul Cremona, Italy’s Foreign and Colonial Policy, 1914-1937 (New York, 1938), p. 276; Charles F. Rey, The Real Abyssinia (Philadelphia, 1935), p. 139.

After the British Government recognized (1882) Italian sovereignty over Assab, the Italian Foreign Office elevated its gaze to other African horizons and in February 1885 the port of Massaua was occupied. Using this port as a wedge for further penetration, the Italian sphere of influence grew rapidly in size until in May 1889, under the terms of the Treaty of Ucciali, a nominal protectorate over Abyssinia was established. The legal basis for this protectorate was Article 17 of the treaty, but the Amharic text of that document differed from the Italian version and did not specifically place Abyssinian foreign affairs under the control of Italy. Inasmuch as the Amharic text was the only one that was actually signed, the Emperor Menelik’s vigorous assertions of independence had a firm legal basis.[2]William L. Langer, The Diplomacy of Imperialism (New York, 1935), I, 109, 272; Elizabeth P. McCallum, “Rivalries in Ethiopia,” World Affairs Pamphlets, No. 12 (World Peace Foundation, Boston, 1935), p. 28.

The British Government supported Italian claims. On March 24 and April 15, 1891, an Anglo-Italian arrangement was concluded which recognized Italian control over a large portion of Northeast Africa.[3]Augustus B. Wylde, Modern Abyssinia (London, 1901), chap. 9. But the French Government was strongly opposed to the Italian advance in Abyssinia, so they prompted Menelik to protest against the Italian interpretation of the Treaty of Ucciali and to assert his claims to territory as far as Khartoum. This aggressive attitude led the British to conclude another agreement with Italy (May 5, 1894) which placed the Province of Harar under Italian control. This action was in direct defiance of the Anglo-French Treaty of 1888 which related to this same territory.[4]Leonard Woolf, Empire and Commerce in Africa (New York, 1920), pp. 211 ff.

b. Italy Deserts the Triple Alliance

British recognition of Italian aspirations to control large portions of Ethiopia was followed by French and Russian efforts to preserve the independence of that empire. Munitions of war from France began to pour into Ethiopia and Menelik was emboldened in February 1893 to denounce the Treaty of Ucciali. In 1894, Italian troops advanced into Tigre, and for a time were highly successful. But this aggression was merely a prologue to the crushing defeat at Aduwa (March 1, 1896). In the Treaty of Addis Ababa, Italy recognized the independence of Ethiopia. Nevertheless, Italian hopes for eventual control over that vast region were still nursed by ambitious statesmen in Rome. These hopes could be realized only if France and Britain regarded them with friendly eyes. In Paris, Delcassé made some diplomatic gestures that resulted in the secret Franco-Italian convention of December 1900. As far as France was concerned, Tripoli was earmarked as a future Italian colony.[5]A. F. Pribram, The Secret Treaties of Austria-Hungary (Cambridge, 1920), II, 227, 240-45. Two years later (November 1, 1902) this political flirtation assumed a more serious character when Italy promised to be neutral in the event that France was involved in a war she did not provoke.[6] Livre-Jaune: Les Accords Franco-ltaliens de 1900-1902 (Paris, 1920), pp. 7-9.

In the spring of 1906, during the sessions of the Algeciras Conference, this Franco-Italian entente paid good dividends to both France and Britain. They responded by concluding with Italy (December 13, 1906) a tripartite arrangement which apparently recognized the independence of Ethiopia. But behind a bold facade of diplomatic doubletalk, French and British statesmen gave a friendly nod towards the old Italo-British accord of 1891 with its implications of Italian control over Ethiopia. When Russia followed their example by concluding with Italy the Racconigi bargain of October 1909, the road to Tripoli was open.[7]Sidney B. Fay, Origins of the World War (New York, 1929), I, 406-11. Strengthened by this series of diplomatic deals, Italy provoked war with Turkey in 1911, and in October of the following year she concluded this conflict by securing the cession of Libya.[8]Macartney and Cremona, op. cit., p. 279.

By balancing the Triple Entente against the Triple Alliance, Italy had been able to gain her diplomatic objectives. But her intervention in the World War failed to bring any rich spoils of victory. In 1919, at Versailles, Allied statesmen unwittingly prepared the way for the subsequent development of fascism in Italy. When Orlando and Sonnino temporarily left the Peace Conference in high dudgeon because of President Wilson’s appeal to the Italian people, “the British and French arranged to divide up Germany’s African colonies, leaving the Italians completely out in the cold. Italy later accepted these arrangements with the understanding that she would receive compensations elsewhere, but these were never satisfactorily forthcoming. Here we find one basis for Italy’s enduring bitterness over the final settlement, for the rape of Ethiopia in 1935, and for Mussolini’s ‘stab in the back’ of 1940.”[9]Thomas A. Bailey, Woodrow Wilson and the Lost Peace (New York, 1944), p. 266. Luigi Villari, in his Expansion of Italy (London, 1930), p. 41, discusses the Allied division of the spoils of war and points out how Great Britain received some 989,000 square miles of territory, France about 253,000 square miles, while Italy was awarded a small tract amounting to a mere 23,737 square miles.

c. Britain Moves to Conciliate Mussolini

In November 1919 the Italian Government made a strong effort to extract from Britain some territorial compensations in Africa that would help to sweeten the bitter draught forced upon Italy during the Paris Peace Conference. In the proposed arrangement Britain would receive a concession to construct a barrage on Lake Tana even though that body of water would be within the Italian sphere of influence in Ethiopia. Britain would also have the right to build a motor road from that lake to the Sudan. For her part of the bargain Italy would be given a right to build and operate a railway connecting Eritrea and Somaliland. This line would run to the west of Addis Ababa. Italy would also have the exclusive right to the economic exploitation of western Ethiopia.

The British Government rejected this Italian proposal because it was opposed to any sort of Italian control over the headwaters of the Nile.[10]Macartney and Cremona, op. cit., pp. 289-90. But in 1925 the British Foreign Office experienced a change of heart and notes were exchanged between Sir Ronald Graham, the British Ambassador in Rome, and Mussolini (December 14, 20, 1925) in which the Italian proposals of 1919 were accepted. This meant British support of an Italian railway from Eritrea across Ethiopia to Somaliland, and British recognition of Italy’s exclusive right to exploit the resources of western Ethiopia. Apparently, the British Government regarded the Anglo-Italian protocols of 1891 as still in force.[11]Robert G. Woolbert, “Italy in Abyssinia,” Foreign Affairs, XIII (1935), 499-508.

The French Government immediately entered a protest against this Anglo-Italian accord. Britain and Italy then hurriedly addressed notes to the Secretary-General of the League of Nations which contained ample assurances of their innocent intentions towards Ethiopia. But it was obvious that the exchange “of Anglo-Italian notes of 1925 . . . remained in force also after the explanations furnished by the two Governments to Abyssinia, . . . and that the exclusive economic rights which Italy claimed in regard to Abyssinia before 1923 . . . were fully confirmed first by Great Britain and subsequently by France.”[12]Macartney and Cremona, op. cit., p. 293. With reference to the Italo-British understanding of 1925, Gaetano Salvemini remarks: “It can surely not have escaped the notice of the Foreign Office that Abyssinia would be reluctant to consent to the construction of such a railway [joining Eritrea and Italian Somaliland], which would therefore lead to military occupation and some sort of political control. The 1925 agreement could only mean that the Foreign Office was giving Mussolini a free hand in a large portion of Abyssinia.” “Mussolini, the Foreign Office and Abyssinia,” Contemporary Review, CXLVIII (September 1935), 271.

Encouraged by this British support, Mussolini went ahead and concluded with Ethiopia a pact of friendship (August 2, 1928) and an additional convention which provided for the construction of a motor road from the port of Assab to Dessie. But work on this road was halted when it reached the boundary of Ethiopia. The Italian Government soon discovered that the “1928 Treaty remained . . . an absolutely dead letter except for the clause regarding conciliation and arbitration. . . . The non-fulfillment by Abyssinia of her economic engagements towards Italy has been one of the strongest grievances of the Italian Government against Abyssinia.”[13]Macartney and Cremona, op. cit., pp. 294-95; MacCallum, op. cit., pp. 39-40.

d. Italy’s Alleged Need for Colonial Outlets

Italian interest in Ethiopia was based upon the alleged need for colonies that would serve first of all as outlets for the overcrowded conditions in the Italian peninsula. In 1913 more than 700,000 Italians had left their native land to seek homes abroad, and the average annual emigration approximated half a million. The remittances which these emigrants sent home had constituted an important item in the Italian balance of international payments. But this large emigration with its golden flood of remittances had been checked by restrictive legislation enacted by the United States and many other countries. With these ordinary outlets no longer available for her surplus population, Italy became vitally interested in acquiring colonies that would not only welcome immigrants but would also produce essential raw materials needed for home manufacture. Ethiopia, with its large population, could be developed into an important market for Italian goods.

e. The Walwal Incident Points in the Direction of War

One factor that constantly disturbed the delicate Ethiopian equation was the aggressive attitude shown at times by the tribesmen of Emperor Haile Selassie in their relations with Italian nationals along the frontiers of Eritrea and Somaliland. Even after her entry into the League of Nations in 1923, Ethiopia had “remained a bad neighbour for all the bordering countries and for Italy in particular. . . . That the Italian colonies had suffered from the incursions of Abyssinian bands cannot be doubted.”[14]Macartney and Cremona, op. cit., p. 285. In the event that Italy were involved in a war in Europe, these restive bands could be a real menace to the Italian colonial empire. This danger was emphasized by Mussolini on May 14, 1935, when he stated that he did not wish Ethiopia to be a “pistol that would be eternally pointed against us, and which in the case of European trouble would render our position in East Africa untenable.”

From the viewpoint of Italian imperialists the case against Ethiopia was strong enough to justify war, and the profits that would accrue from such a conflict were carefully weighed. It would require only a spark to ignite the tinder that had been accumulating since 1896, and that tiny bit of fire was generated in the friction caused by the Walwal Incident in December 1934.

This incident had its origin in a dispute about the ownership of the wells at Walwal. It is worthy of note that the “Italians had for some years been in possession of Walwal which they had fortified without any protest from Ethiopia.”[15]E. W. Poison Newman, Italy’s Conquest of Abyssinia (London, 1937), p. 17. Although the Emperor claimed that Walwal was within the boundary of Ethiopia, it was evident that Italian forces had occupied that strategic spot for at least five years.[16] Publications of the League of Nations, Official Document C, 49, M. 22, 1935, VII.

Hostilities at Walwal could have led to an immediate outbreak of actual war, but there were several barriers along the road to conflict. As far as Italy was concerned these barriers were formidable: (1) the obligations imposed upon her by the League Covenant; (2) the obligations contained in the Pact of Paris; (3) the pledges freely given in the Three-Power Treaty of 1906; (4) the procedures outlined in the Italo-Ethiopian Arbitration Treaty of 1928. But Mussolini was not deeply concerned over these paper blockades. Since 1933 he had contemplated eventual war with Ethiopia and had been making preparations for it.[17]General Emilo de Bono, Anno XIII (London, 1937), pp. 1-17, 55-89. For the time being, however, he would make a bow in the direction of a pacific settlement of the dispute. While he was making ready for conflict, he would find some plausible excuse for it.

The Emperor Haile Selassie was eager to upset Mussolini’s plans in this regard, so he promptly offered arbitration in accordance with the terms of the treaty of 1928. When the Italian Foreign Office rejected this offer and demanded immediate reparation, Ethiopia directed the attention of the League of Nations to the implications of the Walwal Incident (December 14). On December 16, Italy supplied the League with her version of the incident. Some three weeks later (January 3, 1935) Ethiopia made a formal appeal to the League and invoked the application of Article 11 of the Covenant.[18]According to Article 11 any war or threat of war was a ‘matter of concern to the whole League, and the League shall take any action that may be deemed wise and effectual to safeguard the peace of nations.” At the next meeting of the Council (January 11) some action would have to be taken on the Italo-Ethiopian dispute.

In order to anticipate League action, and in an effort to secure Italy’s support in eventual pressure upon Germany, Pierre Laval made a visit to Rome and arrived at an accord with Mussolini. In agreement with the terms of this treaty of January 7, 1935, Italy made some concessions with reference to Tunis. In return she received 2,500 shares in the Djibouti Railroad, a considerable strip of territory to add to Italian Libya, a similar increase of territory to be joined to Eritrea, and a final gift of the island of Dumeira in the Red Sea. For these favors Mussolini agreed to consult with France in the event of any threat to the status quo in Europe.

But the published terms of this agreement told only half the story. It is evident that a secret understanding was reached between Mussolini and Laval on January 7, 1935. When Mussolini was asked by Ward Price if he had been given a free hand in Ethiopia by his accord with Laval, he gave the ambiguous answer: “It is correct that all disputes between ourselves and France were settled by the agreement of 7 January.”[19]London Daily Mail, August 24, 1935. The comments of General de Bono were not so Delphic: “The conversations with M. Laval led us to hope that, so far as France was concerned, no obstacles would be placed in our path in any eventual action we should take against Abyssinia.”[20]Macartney and Cremona, op. cit., pp. 299-300. The implications of the Franco-Italian treaty were abundantly clear: “In return for Italian cooperation in Europe, Laval was willing to sacrifice anything, even the League of Nations itself, as events proved. Mussolini understood this to be the case and was prepared to exploit all of its possibilities.”[21]C. Grove Haines and Ross J. S. Hoffman, The Origins and Background of the Second World War (New York, 1943), pp. 378-79.

When the Council of the League of Nations met on January 11, Mussolini was ready with certain tactics of delay. He adopted a conciliatory tone with reference to difficulties with Ethiopia and appeared to be ready to proceed in accordance with the provisions of the Italo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1928. During the next two months there was a good deal of diplomatic sparring with no real action towards a settlement of the dispute. On March 17, Ethiopia submitted an appeal to the League of Nations requesting a full investigation of the situation under the terms of Article 15 of the Covenant. But the League was gravely disturbed about other matters. On March 16, Germany had abrogated the clauses of the Treaty of Versailles which limited her armed forces. This defiant step led to the conference at Stresa where Britain, France, and Italy sought some formula to preserve the peace of Europe. There was no time for any protracted discussion of the Italo-Ethiopian dispute. But as the weeks passed and no progress was made in connection with the arbitration of the Walwal Incident, the Council of the League was compelled to adopt two resolutions (May 25). One called upon the two powers in dispute to name the Conciliation Council of four arbitrators (according to the provisions of the treaty of 1928) and to arrive at some settlement by August 25. The other resolution provided for a meeting of the Council in the event that the arbitral proceedings failed to arrive at an acceptable result.[22] Survey of International Affairs, 1935, pp. 143-65.

As many statesmen had anticipated, the attempt to arbitrate the Walwal Incident ended in a dismal failure on July 9 when the counsel for Ethiopia referred to Walwal as situated within Ethiopian territory. As soon as this statement was made, the Italian representative left the meeting in evident anger and the dispute took on a more serious aspect. For several weeks the Italian Government had been rushing military supplies to Africa in preparation for eventual hostilities. An early outbreak of war was indicated by Mussolini in an address at Cagliari to the Black Shirts leaving for Africa (June 8): “We have old and new accounts to settle; we will settle them. We shall take no account of what may be said beyond our frontiers, because we ourselves, we alone and exclusively, are the judges of our interests and the guarantors of our future.”[23]Ibid., p. 159.
( Survey of International Affairs, 1935, pp. 143-65.)

f. Secretary Stimson Enjoys Friendly Relations with Mussolini

The progress of the Italo-Ethiopian dispute was followed with great interest by President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull. In Rome the American attitude towards this African adventure was studied with equal interest, and it was soon evident that the Italian Government was extremely anxious to preserve the friendly relations that had been so carefully established by Secretary Stimson during the Hoover Administration. In July 1931, Stimson paid a visit to Rome for talks with Mussolini and Dino Grandi concerning disarmament. On July 3, Grandi, the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, made a statement to the Associated Press with reference to this visit: “I met Mr. Stimson in London during the Naval Conference and our relations were always most cordial. . . . There is no prearranged program of conversations. There will be a friendly exchange of ideas. Italy has never been very favorable to the idea that the world is divided into geographical sectors. . . . Europe cannot get along without America.”[24]Statement to the press made by Dino Grandi, July 3, 1931. 033.1140 Stimson, Henry L./137, MS, Department of State.

Stimson arrived in Rome on July 8, and on the following day he had a conference with Mussolini in the Venezia Palace. There was the predicted “friendly exchange of ideas.” When Stimson emphasized the importance of pushing a program of disarmament, Mussolini indicated his ardent agreement with this viewpoint and stated “emphatically that everybody knew where Italy stood: she was for disarmament and peace.”[25]Memorandum of a conversation with Signor Benito Mussolini, head of the Italian Government, at Rome, Thursday, July 9, 1931. 033.1140 Stimson, Henry L./141, MS, Department of State.

After a pleasant week end at Nettuno with Grandi, including a somewhat terrifying speedboat trip with Mussolini, Stimson returned to Rome for further conversations with Italian leaders. Grandi made it clear that Italy feared and opposed “French hegemony” in Europe. She stood for a “balance of power,” side by side “with Great Britain.”

Mussolini showed to Stimson and his wife “his attractive side” and they grew to like him “very much.”[26]Henry L. Stimson and McGeorge Bundy, On Active Service in War and Peace (New York, 1948), pp. 268-69. Grandi made an equally good impression upon them, and when Stimson was about to leave Rome, he issued a very friendly statement to the press (July 14): “We shall bear away with us a memory of the kindness expressed to us not only by the Italian Government but by her people everywhere which has convinced us of the essential sympathy which exists between the people of Italy and America. This common understanding augurs well for the future relations of the two countries.”[27]John W. Garrett to the Secretary of State, Rome, July 16, 1931. 033.1140 Stimson, Henry L./137, MS, Department of State.

In order to confirm these cordial relations, in November 1931, Dino Grandi decided to pay a brief visit to the United States. On the eve of his sailing for New York, the London Times published a penetrating survey of Italo-American relations. It pointed out that Grandi had made an “excellent personal impression” when he went to Washington after the close of the World War as a member of the Italian delegation which had been sent to settle the problem of war debts. In 1931 it was fortunate for Grandi that there were “no outstanding disputes between Italy and the United States.” Recent restrictions on Italian immigration into the United States might have caused some unfriendly feeling, but Mussolini had prevented this by indicating his opposition to the old system whereby Italy was losing each year a large part of her population. In order to keep Italians home he had launched new projects “for more intensive and scientific farming and land reclamation plans.” On the whole, therefore, there was quite a “satisfactory background for that political co-operation which Signor Mussolini, especially since last January 1, is anxious to promote between the two countries.”[28]London Times, November 5, 1931.

Dino Grandi informed American press correspondents that he was going to the United States as an “Ambassador of my country, but also as an Italian to interpret to the great American people the sentiments of deep and unchanging friendship of all Italians.”[29]Alexander Kirk to Secretary Stimson, November 10, 1931, inclosure No. 2. 033.6511 Grandi, Dino/87, MS, Department of State. He landed in New York on November 16 and was met by Under Secretary of State William R. Castle. On the train ride to Washington, Grandi expressed his viewpoints freely to Castle. With regard to France he remarked that her statesmen wished “absolute security” but that was a goal most difficult to attain. Disarmament was a question with so many complexities that he felt it wise to visit Washington to discover how far the American Government wanted “to go at the [next Geneva] Conference.” Italy would go “as far” as America in that regard.

Castle informed Grandi that Secretary Stimson felt that “there is little hope of any success [in disarmament] unless first the political questions of Europe can be settled, beginning with the Polish Corridor.” Grandi agreed with this viewpoint but feared that they could not be settled “now without war.” Italy took a revisionist attitude towards the peace treaties of 1919, but any important revisions would have to be postponed for some years. He had informed Chancellor Brüning of this fact and had suggested that he enter into a formal engagement with France to that effect, but Brüning said that any such arrangement would mean his speedy fall from office. He (Brüning) would make an effort, however, to stop “the talk about these hoped-for revisions.”

Grandi was inclined to “agree with the French that perhaps it might be just as well to have the Nazis in for a time as they would not dare . . . seriously to change the German foreign policy, and if the rest of Germany saw that even they would have to appeal for outside help, the people might settle down and try to make the best of things.”[30]Memorandum of a conversation between Signor Grandi and William R. Castle, November 16, 1931. 033.6511 Grandi, Dino/99, MS, Department of State.

Grandi had a three-hour conference with President Hoover soon after he reached Washington, and they discussed many details concerning reparations and disarmament. The cordial spirit in which these conversations were conducted made a great impression in Italy. Virginio Gayda was certain that this friendly atmosphere was “another proof that Italian and American foreign policy happily coincide on the general matters now at issue.” Much satisfaction was felt at the “unlimited scope of the Washington conversations, and the Secretary’s phrase, ‘the sky is the limit,’ is echoed through the Italian press.”[31]Alexander Kirk to Secretary Stimson, November 19, 24, 1931. 033.6511 Grandi, Dino/85-86, MS, Department of State.

When Grandi sailed for Italy on November 27 he could find “no words to express” the “deep impressions and dear remembrances” he took back with him.[32]Dino Grandi to Secretary Stimson, November 27, 1931. 033.6511 Grandi, Dino/88, MS, Department of State. A brief Italo-American understanding had been established, and during the sessions of the Disarmament Conference in Geneva during the spring of 1932, Grandi played his role according to schedule. But France blocked the agreement so desperately needed and thus prepared the way for the fall of the Brüning Ministry and the eventual elevation of Hitler to the office of Chancellor.[33]See ante, p. 34-35.

The failure of the Disarmament Conference to settle the pressing problems before it was deeply discouraging to Secretary Stimson, but he had no fault to find with the attitude of Italy. During the last days of Stimson’s term of office as Secretary of State, Signor Augusto Rosso, the Italian Ambassador, went to the Department of State to convey farewell greetings. After the usual salutations, Stimson “thanked the Ambassador and said that, in the case of Italy” his satisfaction at the good relations between the two countries was “accompanied by the personal pleasure he had received in his personal contacts not only with Signor Mussolini but with those gentlemen who represented him.”[34]Memorandum of a conversation between Secretary Stimson and the Italian Ambassador, Signor Augusto Rosso, February 23, 1933. 711.65/42, MS, Department of State. Apparently, Stimson never felt any delicacy in meeting and conversing with the Italian dictator, and when he left office on March 4, 1933, American relations with Italy were of a most cordial character. Under the Roosevelt Administration they soon underwent a complete change.

g. General Johnson Creates Tension in Italian-American Relations

The Italo-American accord erected by Secretary Stimson quickly dissolved under the warmth of Secretary Hull’s idealistic fervor. The first hint of difficulty came when the irrepressible General Hugh S. Johnson delivered a typical speech before the National Association of Manufacturers (December 7, 1933). During the course of his colorful remarks, Johnson told with great zest of an Italian official who approached Alexander Legge (who had charge of Allied purchasing during the World War) with the usual request in mind. Before he could express it, Legge burst out with vehemence: “Good morning, Sunny Italy! When are those wops of yours going to stop running and start fighting?” The official was nonplussed for a moment and then excitedly murmured: “You wait—zey play treek.”

The Italian Ambassador regarded this story as a serious reflection upon the record of Italy during the World War and he asked the Acting Secretary of State for an explanation.[35]Augusto Rosso to William Phillips, Acting Secretary of State, December 8, 1933. 711.65/44, MS, Department of State. All that Mr. Phillips could do was to send a lame reply that General Johnson “may not have been accurately quoted.” In any event, Mr. Phillips was certain that the ebullient General had not intended to offend the Italian Government or “the Italian people.”[36]William Phillips to Signor Augusto Rosso, December 12, 1933. 711.65/44, MS, Department of State.

These ill-considered remarks of General Johnson had little effect upon the course of Italo-American relations, but the incident reflected a definite change in the climate of opinion in Washington after the inauguration of President Roosevelt. During the Administration of President Hoover there had been no important officials prone to shoot from the lip. After March 4, 1933, something new and crude had been added to the picture in Washington.

h. Beginnings of the Rome-Berlin Axis

In Rome, in the early years of the Roosevelt reign, there were some innovations in the diplomatic picture that matched the changes in Washington. On June 14-15, 1934, there was an important conference between Hitler and Mussolini at Venice. Many observers believed that these conversations had a definite connection with the bloody purge of the Nazi Party two weeks later. The American Ambassador was inclined to the view that “Mussolini had no doubt advised Hitler that it would be necessary to take drastic steps to maintain his authority.”[37]Breckinridge Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, July 5, 1934. 862.00/3308, MS, Department of State. It is quite probable that the Duce did advise the adoption of stern measures to enforce party discipline, but it is not likely that he counseled the bloody procedure followed by Hitler. Liquidation can be effected without adverse publicity and without the sanguinary excesses committed by the Nazi leaders.

While some statesmen indulged in speculation about the degree of responsibility which rested upon Mussolini’s shoulders for the Nazi purge of June 30, every official in Europe realized that the meeting of June 14-15 signalized the beginnings of an accord that carried a grave threat to the peace of the Continent. In the United States there were many misgivings concerning this new relationship, and they helped to undermine the Italo-American understanding so painstakingly erected by Stimson. American dislike of Hitler had been rapidly increasing since he assumed the office of Chancellor, and it reached a high point after the party purge. Any friendly gestures of Mussolini in the direction of the German dictator would be certain to arouse deep dissatisfaction in many American circles. It would not be long before Mussolini and Hitler were regarded as two peas in the same black pod. The Italo-Ethiopian dispute prepared the way for this change in American opinion.

i. Anthony Eden Whispers a Few Confidences to Hugh Wilson

On May 25 the Council of the League of Nations had adopted two resolutions which it had hoped would provide a formula for the settlement of the Italo-Ethiopian dispute. But Anthony Eden had serious doubts about arriving at an early solution of this problem. During the course of a dinner he had with Ambassador Hugh Wilson at Geneva, he and Lord Cranborne (Eden’s Parliamentary assistant) became quite voluble. Eden was in a difficult position. British public opinion was in favor of a stern attitude towards Italy, but Eden was fearful that vigorous action might endanger the stability of the Stresa accord. Moreover, Eden had to deal with Pierre Laval who could not “understand Eden’s insistence in the Abyssinian matter and seemed willing to adopt a formula face-saving for the League and leaving Italy a free hand.”

Eden was particularly disappointed in the attitude of Beneš. He had discovered that the Czechoslovakian statesman was “concerned only with the Austrian question, was unwilling to bring pressure upon Italy or to do anything which would run the slightest risk of upsetting the Continental alignment.”

Eden’s attitude towards Hitler and Germany was significant. While he was imbued with a “profound skepticism” of the program outlined in Hitler’s recent speech, he was determined to go ahead and “explore fully” the possibilities for peace. He was anxious to have Germany reenter the League, and in his conversation with Hitler he had given assurances that “the British were willing to have the Treaty of Versailles separated from the Covenant if the German so desired.” This comment, said Mr. Wilson, was so radical that it should be kept “extremely confidential.”

From close observation of the scene in Geneva, Ambassador Wilson had come to the conclusion that Laval and Eden were an “excellent team.” He had the impression that Laval was “developing into the type of Foreign Minister that Briand was, with perhaps a greater sense of political realism and a more practical method of achieving and applying his policies. Both he and Eden are on the up-grade politically [and] they have a decided esteem for each other.”[38]Ambassador Hugh Wilson to Secretary Hull, Geneva, May 29, 1935. 862.20/1058, MS, Department of State.

j. The Walwal Arbitration Encounters a Delay

In Geneva it was evident to Prentiss B. Gilbert that the arbitration of the Walwal Incident would encounter a lengthy delay. The Ethiopian Government had named its representatives on the arbitral board, but these selections had not impressed Mr. Gilbert very favorably. M. de la Pradelle did not enjoy “the best of reputations,” while Pitman Potter had little ability to handle “matters having to do with actual foreign affairs in the practical realm.” To Gilbert he appeared as the “sort of man who believes in Santa Claus.”[39]Prentiss B. Gilbert to Wallace Murray, June 1, 1935. 765.84/501, MS, Department of State. It is interesting to note that Professor Pitman B. Potter has written a monograph on the Wal Wal Arbitration (Washington, 1938), which reviews the evidence in the case and presents the more important documents. It is significant that the arbitral commission dodged the essential point at issue in the dispute: in whose territory was Walwal located in December 1934?

This generous attitude should have appealed to the Italian Government but it was soon obvious that the Walwal Incident was given scant consideration by Mussolini. He had larger objectives in mind. These were partially disclosed during a conversation between Ambassador Long and Signor Suvich, the Italian Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. The Italian diplomat freely confided his hope that the “League of Nations, through its powers of arbitration, should see fit to offer Italy a mandate for Abyssinia. This would be the best thing for Abyssinia which was an undeveloped and lawless country. . . . Italy could not afford to withdraw her soldiers from there; as a matter of fact it was necessary to send more soldiers to protect Italian colonists” from the raids of armed Ethiopians.[40]Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, June 10, 1935. 765.84/528, MS, Department of State.

These raids from Ethiopia into adjacent Italian colonial territory were the subject of some trenchant editorials by Virginio Gayda in the Giornale dItalia, June 18-20. The Italian public was informed that they could not be permitted to continue indefinitely. Apparently, war or a mandate over Ethiopia were the only alternatives.[41]Alexander Kirk to Secretary Hull, Rome, June 20, 1935. 765.84/434, MS, Department of State.

k. Mussolini Rejects a Proposal of Anthony Eden

Anthony Eden did not agree with Virginio Gayda that war or an Italian mandate over Ethiopia were the only alternatives in the Italo-Ethiopian dispute. A mandate over Ethiopia would offer entirely too much incentive to Mussolini to push his far-reaching plans for colonial expansion. Perhaps the Duce would be satisfied with merely a big bite out of the Ethiopian apple. With this idea in mind, Eden had a momentous interview with the Italian dictator in Rome. Under the terms of his proposal, Britain would offer Ethiopia an outlet to the sea at Zeila, in British Somaliland, together with a narrow strip of land that would connect that port with Ethiopian territory. Ethiopia would then cede to Italy a part of the Ogaden and would also grant certain economic concessions to Italian nationals.

Mussolini immediately rejected the proposals of Eden. In any settlement of the dispute with Ethiopia he would insist upon the annexation of all “those parts of Abyssinia which did nqt form part of Abyssinia proper.” In addition he wished to “control Abyssinia.” If he had to go to war to attain his objectives he would endeavor “to wipe the name of Abyssinia from the map.”[42]Macartney and Cremona, op. cit., p. 303.

The reaction of Eden to these frank statements is not clearly revealed. In Rome, Italian officials attempted to establish the fiction that Eden’s visit had been in the nature of a “conciliatory ‘pat on the back’ intended to assuage any ill-feeling that might have been caused by England’s independent negotiations of naval agreements with Germany. . . . The Mussolini-Eden exchange of views is generally believed to have proved satisfactory on both sides.”[43]Alexander Kirk to Secretary Hull, Rome, June 28, 1935. 765.84/479, MS, Department of State.

The American chargé at Geneva hurriedly telegraphed that he had learned from authoritative sources that Mussolini had decided to “establish a protectorate over Abyssinia,” and Eden had been informed of that indention. He had also heard a Russian official remark that “while his Government had originally felt Mussolini was ‘playing poker’ they had now changed their ideas and believed he meant business.’ ”[44]Mayer to Secretary Hull, Geneva, June 29, 1935. 765.84/419, MS, Department of State.

The Italian press had criticized Eden’s proposals as inadequate, while French press opinion was hostile because Zeila would be in competition with the port of Djibouti and this would violate the tripartite treaty of 1906. In Rome, Virginio Gayda complained that Eden’s concessions “neither corresponded to the avowed purposes of the British Government nor answered Italy’s requirements for security and economic expansion.”[45]Alexander Kirk to Secretary Hull, Rome, July 2, 1935. 765.84/429, MS, Department of State.

Kirk, the American chargé in Rome, discussed the situation with Chambrun, the French Ambassador, who confided that before “leaving for his recent trip to Paris he had been authorized by Mussolini to state to the French Government that he [the Duce] was definitely in favor of a peaceful solution of the conflict with Abyssinia if Italy’s prestige and interests could be safeguarded.” It was Chambrun’s belief that some “gesture was essential to vindicate the honor and prestige of Italy and this could be effected by the cession of Adowa which would enable Mussolini to advertise the triumph of his regime over the defeat of the previous government.”[46]Alexander Kirk to Secretary Hull, Rome, July 2, 1935. 765.84/427, MS, Department of State.

l. The Emperor of Ethiopia Seeks American Intervention

While the principal European powers were anxiously seeking some solution of the Italo-Ethiopian dispute, Emperor Haile Selassie handed to the American chargé at Addis Ababa a note which requested the American Government to invoke the Pact of Paris as a means of arresting the Italian advance into Ethiopia. Secretary Hull answered this request in a note that was cool and cautious: “My Government hopes that the . . . arbitral agency dealing with this controversy may be able to arrive at a decision satisfactory to both of the Governments immediately concerned. . . . My Government would be loath to believe that either of the Powers [Italy and Ethiopia] would resort to other than pacific means as a method of dealing with this controversy.”[47]Secretary Hull to American chargé at Addis Ababa, July 5, 1935. 765.84/432, MS, Department of State.

This instruction was given to the press on July 6 and it gave birth to many rumors concerning American policy in Ethiopia. Secretary Hull was making his viewpoint very clear to the major powers in Europe but he was not doing it in the spectacular manner of Secretary Stimson, Some students of international law thought he was being too cautious in his handling of the matter. Professor Quincy Wright hurriedly wrote to Hull and expressed the opinion that “a failure on our part to do anything would be such a severe blow to the cause of peace and respect for the Pact of Paris that I hope you will find it possible to accept an invitation to consult, if offered, by the League of Nations.”[48]Quincy Wright to Secretary Hull, July 8, 1935. 765.84/469, MS, Department of State.

Under pressure of enthusiasts like Professor Wright, Secretary Hull requested the Italian Ambassador to call at the Department of State. When Signor Rosso arrived he was informed that the American Government was “deeply interested in the preservation of peace in all parts of the world.” For this reason Mr. Hull felt “impelled to impress upon the Italian Ambassador our increasing concern over the situation arising out of Italy’s dispute with Ethiopia and our earnest hope that a means may be found to arrive at a peaceful . . . solution of the problem.”[49]Statement of Secretary Hull to the Italian Ambassador, July 10, 1935. 765.84/479A, MS, Department of State. On the following afternoon both the British and French ambassadors paid formal visits to the Department of State and received statements similar to the one given to Ambassador Rosso. Mr. Phillips, during a long conversation with the British Ambassador, drew attention to an article in the Boston Evening Transcript which stated that “it is nearly the unanimous conclusion of London opinion that the Briand-Kellogg Pact is dead owing to the brusque refusal of the American Government to invoke that pact.” It was important, Mr. Phillips emphasized, for the British Government to realize that “this impression is entirely contrary to the sense of our note to the Emperor.”[50]Memorandum of a conversation between Mr. Phillips and the British Ambassador, July 11, 1935. 765.84/611, MS, Department of State.

In order to make the viewpoint of the Department of State entirely clear in this regard, Secretary Hull issued on July 12 a statement to the effect that “the Pact of Paris is no less binding now than when it was entered into by the 63 nations that are parties to it. . . .The United States and the other nations are interested in the maintenance of the Pact and the sanctity of international commitments assumed thereby.”[51]Department of State, Press Release, July 13, 1935, pp. 53-54.

Newton D. Baker, former Secretary of War, was delighted with this press statement of July 12. He had long been of the opinion that it would be “highly desirable to have our country notify the League of Nations that the United States would co-operate with it in any measures it found desirable to take, short of war, to enforce its covenants among its own members.” It was apparent to him that caution would never save the day for world peace. He was persuaded that “if the world is to be saved, it must be by daring.”[52]Newton D. Baker to Secretary Hull, July 12, 1935. 765.84/626, MS, Department of State.

m. Italy Is Anxious to Assume the White Man’s Burden in Africa

It was soon apparent to Secretary Hull that a policy of “daring” might involve the United States in war. Mussolini was determined to enjoy his adventure in Africa no matter how high the cost might run. From London the word came that there was little hope of preserving the peace of Europe. Of course Britain would continue her “efforts to prevent war,” but there was small chance that these would be successful.[53]Ambassador Bingham to Secretary Hull, London, July 16, 1935. 765.84/541, MS, Department of State. In Paris, Straus saw Laval who gave assurances that he was “anxious to avoid war” between Italy and Ethiopia. This anxiety led him to propose a formula whereby Italy would be given a mandate over Ethiopia. Under its terms the Italian Government would receive not only territorial concessions and economic advantages but would also be given some form of “administrative control” over Ethiopia. If these concessions were not made at once, Mussolini would move towards war. When asked what effect these belligerent moves of Mussolini would have upon Europe, Laval bluntly replied: “That is Mussolini’s business—not mine.”[54]Straus to Secretary Hull, Paris, July 13, 1935. Urgent and Confidential, 765.84/524, MS, Department of State.

From Rome indirect news came from Mr. H. V. Kaltenborn that Mussolini had informed him that there was still a possibility of peace, but this peace must be on his terms. He was really planning a “colonial enterprise on a large scale rather than a campaign of conquest.” This colonial enterprise might involve some “military operations” to satisfy Italy’s “prestige and enable her to weaken the power of the Negus,” but after these ends had been accomplished the “process of colonial enterprise will be gradually carried out.”[55]Alexander Kirk to Secretary Hull, Rome, July 17, 1935. Confidential file, 765.84/556, MS, Department of State.

The Japanese Government, apparently impressed with the beneficent aspects of Italian “colonial enterprise,” immediately announced an attitude of neutrality with reference to the situation in Ethiopia. The Italian press acclaimed this “unequivocal” declaration as a gesture of friendship towards Italy, and it was widely interpreted as an indication of a new political alignment.[56]Alexander Kirk to Secretary Hull, Rome, July 18, 1935. Confidential file, 765.84/567, MS, Department of State.

Further news from Rome came in the form of a series of answers that Mussolini gave to some questions that had been formulated by Mrs. William B. Meloney, of the New York Herald-Tribune. In his answers Mussolini stated that “good will on the Italian side has been met by Abyssinia with stubborn obstruction. The treacherous attack on Walwal. . . has been nothing but the latest proof of a spirit of persistent hostility which has lasted for half a century.” It was obvious that the frontiers of the Italian colonial empire would have to be defended. Italy, moreover, had now arrived at a clear realization of the “mission of civilization that she has to accomplish in Abyssinia, not only on her own behalf but also on that of the whole western world.”[57]Alexander Kirk to Secretary Hull, Rome, July 18, 1935. Strictly Confidential, 765.84/568, MS, Department of State.

Some nations in the Western world were a little suspicious that Mussolini was unduly anxious to bear the White Man’s burden in Ethiopia. In order to meet their objections, the Duce gave an interview to one of the correspondents of the Echo de Paris (July 16) in which he crisply remarked that he “was seeking for Italy in Abyssinia what British and French colonizers had sought for their countries.” Then as a sop to French and British statesmen, he gave the assurance that he would “continue to consider Austrian independence as the dominating factor in his foreign policy.”[58]Alexander Kirk to Secretary Hull, Rome, July 23, 1935. 765.84/602, MS, Department of State. Germany was not disturbed by this thrust at Nazi ambitions, and von Bülow, in Berlin, informed Dodd that he thought that pressure upon Italy “for the application of the Kellogg Pact might do harm.” Hitler’s Government was careful to take no step that would cause friction with Italy.[59]Ambassador Dodd to Secretary Hull, Berlin, July 18, 1935. 826.00/3539, MS, Department of State.

n. President Roosevelt Urges Mussolini to Accept Arbitration

The League of Nations, like France and Germany, was distinctly cautious in its handling of the Italo-Ethiopian dispute. Although the council adopted a resolution which provided for a general examination of the Ethiopian situation at the meeting scheduled for September 4, it also adopted another resolution which sharply limited the scope of the Walwal arbitration. In order to give some strength to this action of the League, President Roosevelt made a public statement on August 1 in which he voiced the hope “of the people and the Government of the United States that an amicable solution will be found [for the settlement of the Italo-Ethiopian controversy] and that peace will be maintained.”[60]Department of State, Press Release, August 10, 1935, p. 119.

Emperor Haile Selassie was delighted with this Presidential expression of a hope for peace, but diplomatic circles at Addis Ababa were of the opinion that the government of the United States had “adopted a very cautious attitude, calculated to avoid at all cost any action or positive intervention in the Italo-Ethiopian controversy.”[61]C. Van H. Engert to Secretary Hull, Addis Ababa, August 9, 1935. 765.84/1075, MS, Department of State. This viewpoint nettled Secretary Hull who instructed our ambassadors in London and Paris to send “all information possible to enable our Government to determine whether any further action by it. . . as a signatory of the Pact of Paris would . . . have a beneficial rather than a disadvantageous effect.”[62]Cordell Hull, Memoirs (New York, 1948), I, 421.

When the American chargé at Paris responded with a statement that both the French and British governments were of the opinion that some positive action by the United States would be of real assistance in halting the aggressive plans of Mussolini, a conference was held at the White House. The President suggested an immediate message to Mussolini, so on August 18, Hull instructed Mr. Kirk, the American chargé at Rome, to convey to the Duce the earnest hope of the American Chief Executive that “the controversy between Italy and Ethiopia will be resolved without resort to armed conflict.”[63]Secretary Hull to Alexander Kirk, August 18, 1935; Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, 1943), p. 266.

When Mr. Kirk delivered this message the following day, Mussolini assured him that he appreciated the “character of the message and its expression of friendliness,” but he had already mobilized one million men for conflict with Ethiopia which was now inevitable. Regardless of League action, Italy would proceed with her plans. If the opposition of other countries developed to the point of actual intervention, Italy would “take steps accordingly.”[64]Hull, op. cit., p. 422.

In the face of this Italian defiance, France and Britain worked feverishly to find some solution short of war. At Paris, during August 15-18, tripartite negotiations had been carried on with reference to the Ethiopian situation, and proposals had been made to Mussolini which reduced the sovereignty of Ethiopia to a shadow. But the Duce wanted the whole Abyssinian apple, core and all. After he had rejected the patchwork prepared by Eden and Laval, Ramsay MacDonald startled Europe by a statement that the situation was the “most serious we have had to face since 1914.”[65]The United States in World Affairs, 1934-35, ed. W. H. Shepardson and William O. Scroggs (New York, 1935), p. 245.

The verity of MacDonald’s statement was not questioned in most European circles, and it was obvious that Britain was the chief disturbing factor in the explosive international situation. The Italians were “unalterably convinced” that Britain was actuated “only by selfish interests,” and that her “professed anxiety for the League is pure hypocrisy.”[66]Alexander Kirk to Secretary Hull, Rome, August 23, 1935. 765.84/1032, MS, Department of State. Virginio Gayda, in the Giornale d’ltalia, ran a series of articles accusing Britain of bad faith with reference to the terms of the tripartite treaty of 1906,[67]See particularly the issues of August 16-17, 1935. and the Italian press was filled with similar charges.

o. The White House Denounces Dollar Diplomacy

The situation was suddenly made more complicated when news came from Addis Ababa (August 31, 1935) that the Emperor had granted to a subsidiary of the Standard Oil Company (The African Exploration and Development Company) a concession for the exploitation of oil and mineral resources in a large part of his empire. This concession had been secured by a British subject, Francis Rickett, and there were many rumors that British capital would soon be invested in it. Although the officials of several companies of the Standard Oil group disclaimed all knowledge of this concession, the Emperor flatly stated that it had been granted to that company.[68]New York Times, August 31, September 1, 1935.

The British Foreign Office promptly intervened and instructed its Minister at Addis Ababa to “inform the Emperor that His Majesty’s Government, for its part, advise him to withhold the concession.”[69]London Times, September 1, 1935.

From London, Mr. Atherton, the American chargé, reported that the Foreign Office considered Mr. Rickett an “unstable adventurer,” and it summed up the “reports of such a deal at such a moment as ‘truly deplorable.’ ”[70]Atherton to Secretary Hull, London, August 31, 1935. 884.6363 African Exploitation and Development Corporation/2, MS, Department of State. This view was confirmed by Mr. Marriner, at Paris, who reported to Secretary Hull that the “general feeling here in press and semi-official circles is that the reported Abyssinian oil and mineral concession, even though British official participation has been disavowed, will nevertheless weaken Britain’s position at Geneva, correspondingly strengthen the Italian thesis, and probably put sanctions out of the question.”[71]Theodore Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, September 3, 1935. 765-84/1005, MS, Department of State.

Secretary Hull was just as concerned over the news of the Ethiopian concession to the Standard Oil Company as was Anthony Eden. On September 3, two of the officials of that company visited the Department of State and had a long conversation with Wallace Murray, chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs. Mr. Murray frankly told them that the concession was a “matter of grave embarrassment” not only to the American Government but to other governments which “are making strenuous and sincere efforts for the preservation of world peace which is seriously threatened by the Italo-Ethiopian dispute.” After commenting upon the delicate position of the British Government in the pending difficulties, he emphasized the fact that “this Government, no less than the British Government, desires to divest itself of any suspicion of selfish interest when world peace is at stake.” After he had insisted to the Standard Oil officials that only “immediate and unconditional withdrawal from the concession would meet the needs of the situation,” they finally agreed to accept his advice. Secretary Hull added some words of wisdom about the ethical aspects of foreign policy, and the representatives of one of America’s largest corporations left the Department of State with a better understanding of the crosscurrents that affect the conduct of American foreign affairs. Their departure from Washington was speeded by some weighty words from the White House to the effect that “dollar diplomacy” was no “longer recognized by the American Government.”[72]New York Times, September 5, 1935.

But this high-sounding declaration was somewhat bewildering to Emperor Haile Selassie who had started the diplomatic fireworks by hurriedly granting the concession. He had not responded to any pressure from wicked Wall Street. Indeed, he had pressed his favors upon American big business with the ardent hope that such action might add strength to American interest in Ethiopia. Secretary Hull had a difficult time explaining the advantages of righteousness over riches in the new code of diplomacy, but the Emperor finally saw the light and regarded with fresh hope the proceedings of the League. These hopes were doomed to early disappointment.[73]Hull, op. cit., pp. 423-25. It is interesting to note that the news of the oil concession to the Standard Oil Company did not excite any bitterness in the Italian press against the United States. In a dispatch to Secretary Hull, September 4, 1935, Breckinridge Long, the American Ambassador at Rome, remarked as follows: “As to the American angle of the affair, I may state that even at the outset there was no evidence of resentment against the United States, the participation of American capital being considered a blind for British interests. . . . The subsequent statements issued by the Secretary of State and the action of the Standard Oil in renouncing the concession have made a most favorable impression here. . . . It is felt that the American Government has given further and substantial proof of an impeccable attitude of neutrality.” 765.84/1216, MS, Department of State.

Footnotes

[1] Maxwell H. H. Macartney and Paul Cremona, Italy’s Foreign and Colonial Policy, 1914-1937 (New York, 1938), p. 276; Charles F. Rey, The Real Abyssinia (Philadelphia, 1935), p. 139.

[2] William L. Langer, The Diplomacy of Imperialism (New York, 1935), I, 109, 272; Elizabeth P. McCallum, “Rivalries in Ethiopia,” World Affairs Pamphlets, No. 12 (World Peace Foundation, Boston, 1935), p. 28.

[3] Augustus B. Wylde, Modern Abyssinia (London, 1901), chap. 9.

[4] Leonard Woolf, Empire and Commerce in Africa (New York, 1920), pp. 211 ff.

[5] A. F. Pribram, The Secret Treaties of Austria-Hungary (Cambridge, 1920), II, 227, 240-45.

[6] Livre-Jaune: Les Accords Franco-ltaliens de 1900-1902 (Paris, 1920), pp. 7-9.

[7] Sidney B. Fay, Origins of the World War (New York, 1929), I, 406-11.

[8] Macartney and Cremona, op. cit., p. 279.

[9] Thomas A. Bailey, Woodrow Wilson and the Lost Peace (New York, 1944), p. 266. Luigi Villari, in his Expansion of Italy (London, 1930), p. 41, discusses the Allied division of the spoils of war and points out how Great Britain received some 989,000 square miles of territory, France about 253,000 square miles, while Italy was awarded a small tract amounting to a mere 23,737 square miles.

[10] Macartney and Cremona, op. cit., pp. 289-90.

[11] Robert G. Woolbert, “Italy in Abyssinia,” Foreign Affairs, XIII (1935), 499-508.

[12] Macartney and Cremona, op. cit., p. 293. With reference to the Italo-British understanding of 1925, Gaetano Salvemini remarks: “It can surely not have escaped the notice of the Foreign Office that Abyssinia would be reluctant to consent to the construction of such a railway [joining Eritrea and Italian Somaliland], which would therefore lead to military occupation and some sort of political control. The 1925 agreement could only mean that the Foreign Office was giving Mussolini a free hand in a large portion of Abyssinia.” “Mussolini, the Foreign Office and Abyssinia,” Contemporary Review, CXLVIII (September 1935), 271.

[13] Macartney and Cremona, op. cit., pp. 294-95; MacCallum, op. cit., pp. 39-40.

[14] Macartney and Cremona, op. cit., p. 285.

[15] E. W. Poison Newman, Italy’s Conquest of Abyssinia (London, 1937), p. 17.

[16] Publications of the League of Nations, Official Document C, 49, M. 22, 1935, VII.

[17] General Emilo de Bono, Anno XIII (London, 1937), pp. 1-17, 55-89.

[18] According to Article 11 any war or threat of war was a ‘matter of concern to the whole League, and the League shall take any action that may be deemed wise and effectual to safeguard the peace of nations.”

[19] London Daily Mail, August 24, 1935.

[20] Macartney and Cremona, op. cit., pp. 299-300.

[21] C. Grove Haines and Ross J. S. Hoffman, The Origins and Background of the Second World War (New York, 1943), pp. 378-79.

[22] Survey of International Affairs, 1935, pp. 143-65.

[23] Ibid., p. 159.

[24] Statement to the press made by Dino Grandi, July 3, 1931. 033.1140 Stimson, Henry L./137, MS, Department of State.

[25] Memorandum of a conversation with Signor Benito Mussolini, head of the Italian Government, at Rome, Thursday, July 9, 1931. 033.1140 Stimson, Henry L./141, MS, Department of State.

[26] Henry L. Stimson and McGeorge Bundy, On Active Service in War and Peace (New York, 1948), pp. 268-69.

[27] John W. Garrett to the Secretary of State, Rome, July 16, 1931. 033.1140 Stimson, Henry L./137, MS, Department of State.

[28] London Times, November 5, 1931.

[29] Alexander Kirk to Secretary Stimson, November 10, 1931, inclosure No. 2. 033.6511 Grandi, Dino/87, MS, Department of State.

[30] Memorandum of a conversation between Signor Grandi and William R. Castle, November 16, 1931. 033.6511 Grandi, Dino/99, MS, Department of State.

[31] Alexander Kirk to Secretary Stimson, November 19, 24, 1931. 033.6511 Grandi, Dino/85-86, MS, Department of State.

[32] Dino Grandi to Secretary Stimson, November 27, 1931. 033.6511 Grandi, Dino/88, MS, Department of State.

[33] See ante, p. 34-35.

[34] Memorandum of a conversation between Secretary Stimson and the Italian Ambassador, Signor Augusto Rosso, February 23, 1933. 711.65/42, MS, Department of State.

[35] Augusto Rosso to William Phillips, Acting Secretary of State, December 8, 1933. 711.65/44, MS, Department of State.

[36] William Phillips to Signor Augusto Rosso, December 12, 1933. 711.65/44, MS, Department of State.

[37] Breckinridge Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, July 5, 1934. 862.00/3308, MS, Department of State.

[38] Ambassador Hugh Wilson to Secretary Hull, Geneva, May 29, 1935. 862.20/1058, MS, Department of State.

[39] Prentiss B. Gilbert to Wallace Murray, June 1, 1935. 765.84/501, MS, Department of State. It is interesting to note that Professor Pitman B. Potter has written a monograph on the Wal Wal Arbitration (Washington, 1938), which reviews the evidence in the case and presents the more important documents. It is significant that the arbitral commission dodged the essential point at issue in the dispute: in whose territory was Walwal located in December 1934?

[40] Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, June 10, 1935. 765.84/528, MS, Department of State.

[41] Alexander Kirk to Secretary Hull, Rome, June 20, 1935. 765.84/434, MS, Department of State.

[42] Macartney and Cremona, op. cit., p. 303.

[43] Alexander Kirk to Secretary Hull, Rome, June 28, 1935. 765.84/479, MS, Department of State.

[44] Mayer to Secretary Hull, Geneva, June 29, 1935. 765.84/419, MS, Department of State.

[45] Alexander Kirk to Secretary Hull, Rome, July 2, 1935. 765.84/429, MS, Department of State.

[46] Alexander Kirk to Secretary Hull, Rome, July 2, 1935. 765.84/427, MS, Department of State.

[47] Secretary Hull to American chargé at Addis Ababa, July 5, 1935. 765.84/432, MS, Department of State.

[48] Quincy Wright to Secretary Hull, July 8, 1935. 765.84/469, MS, Department of State.

[49] Statement of Secretary Hull to the Italian Ambassador, July 10, 1935. 765.84/479A, MS, Department of State.

[50] Memorandum of a conversation between Mr. Phillips and the British Ambassador, July 11, 1935. 765.84/611, MS, Department of State.

[51] Department of State, Press Release, July 13, 1935, pp. 53-54.

[52] Newton D. Baker to Secretary Hull, July 12, 1935. 765.84/626, MS, Department of State.

[53] Ambassador Bingham to Secretary Hull, London, July 16, 1935. 765.84/541, MS, Department of State.

[54] Straus to Secretary Hull, Paris, July 13, 1935. Urgent and Confidential, 765.84/524, MS, Department of State.

[55] Alexander Kirk to Secretary Hull, Rome, July 17, 1935. Confidential file, 765.84/556, MS, Department of State.

[56] Alexander Kirk to Secretary Hull, Rome, July 18, 1935. Confidential file, 765.84/567, MS, Department of State.

[57] Alexander Kirk to Secretary Hull, Rome, July 18, 1935. Strictly Confidential, 765.84/568, MS, Department of State.

[58] Alexander Kirk to Secretary Hull, Rome, July 23, 1935. 765.84/602, MS, Department of State.

[59] Ambassador Dodd to Secretary Hull, Berlin, July 18, 1935. 826.00/3539, MS, Department of State.

[60] Department of State, Press Release, August 10, 1935, p. 119.

[61] C. Van H. Engert to Secretary Hull, Addis Ababa, August 9, 1935. 765.84/1075, MS, Department of State.

[62] Cordell Hull, Memoirs (New York, 1948), I, 421.

[63] Secretary Hull to Alexander Kirk, August 18, 1935; Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, 1943), p. 266.

[64] Hull, op. cit., p. 422.

[65] The United States in World Affairs, 1934-35, ed. W. H. Shepardson and William O. Scroggs (New York, 1935), p. 245.

[66] Alexander Kirk to Secretary Hull, Rome, August 23, 1935. 765.84/1032, MS, Department of State.

[67] See particularly the issues of August 16-17, 1935.

[68] New York Times, August 31, September 1, 1935.

[69] London Times, September 1, 1935.

[70] Atherton to Secretary Hull, London, August 31, 1935. 884.6363 African Exploitation and Development Corporation/2, MS, Department of State.

[71] Theodore Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, September 3, 1935. 765-84/1005, MS, Department of State.

[72] New York Times, September 5, 1935.

[73] Hull, op. cit., pp. 423-25. It is interesting to note that the news of the oil concession to the Standard Oil Company did not excite any bitterness in the Italian press against the United States. In a dispatch to Secretary Hull, September 4, 1935, Breckinridge Long, the American Ambassador at Rome, remarked as follows: “As to the American angle of the affair, I may state that even at the outset there was no evidence of resentment against the United States, the participation of American capital being considered a blind for British interests. . . . The subsequent statements issued by the Secretary of State and the action of the Standard Oil in renouncing the concession have made a most favorable impression here. . . . It is felt that the American Government has given further and substantial proof of an impeccable attitude of neutrality.” 765.84/1216, MS, Department of State.

Chapter VIII • Britain and France Fear to Provoke War over the Issue of Ethiopia • 9,900 Words
a. France Vainly Seeks Promises of Aid from Britain

ON SEPTEMBER 2, in preparation for the meeting of the Council of the League, Anthony Eden and Pierre Laval had a long conversation with reference to the Italo-Ethiopian dispute. Eden endeavored to impress upon Laval “in the strongest terms the British point of view, stating how it was backed throughout by British public opinion, by the Church, by the peace and League societies, and by the Labor and Liberal parties.” He then remarked that “unless Mussolini altered his projects the question of sanctions would necessarily arise and that these might mean war.“ If this emergency arose Britain was “prepared to do its part.” After this ambiguous statement, Eden expressed the opinion that “if Britain was willing to go so far at this time as to take its share and run the risks incident to sanctions, France must feel that this would be, if not a guarantee, at least a sure precedent for the future in case difficulties should arise with respect to German aggression.” Laval replied that he had not as yet decided whether to ask Britain for “specific assurances as to further action in other cases should the affair be pushed to the extremity of sanctions against Italy.”[1]Theodore Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, September 3, 1935. 765.84/1013, MS, Department of State.

Two days later, Hugh Wilson had luncheon with Eden at Geneva. Eden informed him that a number of the representatives of the “small states” had assured him that they were in favor of “the application of the Covenant” in the matter of the Italo-Ethiopian controversy. When he had endeavored to elicit from them a definite assurance of support, however, they had evaded his efforts. He then referred to the apparent desire of French statesmen to make diplomatic “bargains.” In Paris, Laval had asked him what Britain would do in case of trouble in Austria. Eden had merely replied that the “building up of collective action would certainly be a precedent for British future action.” When Laval pressed for a more specific statement, Eden countered with the observation: “I am unable to give you an official answer.”

Eden then confidentially informed Wilson that, with reference to the Laval-Mussolini conversation on January 7, Laval had told him that “he had given Mussolini a free hand as far as France was concerned only in regard to economic measures. On the other hand, Mussolini had told Eden immediately thereafter that the French ‘had agreed to accord him complete liberty of action in Ethiopia.’ ”

At the conclusion of this lunch, Eden “spoke in tones of the deepest appreciation” of the action of Secretary Hull “in having the Socony Vacuum Company withdraw from the concession.” This had “cleared the air enormously and made him ‘happier than anything in this dreary situation.’ ”[2]Hugh Wilson to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 4, 1935. 765.84/1036, MS, Department of State.

b. The Walwal Arbitral Commission Dodges the Issue

Before the Council of the League opened its sessions on September 4, a report came from the arbitral commission that had been appointed to assess the blame for the outbreak of hostilities at Walwal. On September 3, this commission rendered a unanimous decision which declared that neither Italy nor Ethiopia was responsible for the incident.[3]Pitman B. Potter, The Wal Wal Arbitration (New York, 1935). On the following day the Italian Ambassador had a brief talk with Wallace Murray, in the Department of State, and remarked that the wording of the arbitral decision apparently “excluded altogether Italian responsibility” for the “Walwal incident,” while at the same time it indicated that “proof of Ethiopian responsibility is lacking.” This phraseology was quite “satisfactory to Italy.”[4]Wallace Murray to Judge Walton B. Moore, September 4, 1935. 765.84/1255, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

c. Laval Wishes to Conciliate Mussolini

The day after the arbitral commission had rendered its decision on the Walwal Incident, Baron Aloisi laid before the League a lengthy indictment against the empire of Haile Selassie which included some items dealing with slavery, cannibalism, and ritualistic murder. The representative from Ethiopia repelled with vehemence these charges,[5]Prentiss Gilbert to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 4, 1935. 765.84/1039, MS, Department of State. and the League thereupon appointed a committee of five to “examine as a whole Italo-Ethiopian relations with a view to seeking a peaceful solution.”[6]Breckinridge Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 4, 1935. 765.84/1026, MS, Department of State.

While this committee was making its study, the Council continued its consideration of the Italo-Ethiopian dispute and conversations were anxiously held between Laval and Anthony Eden. During one of these talks Eden remarked that if “Mussolini were allowed to ‘get away’ with what he was doing, Hitler would be the next.” Laval then evinced his readiness to support British contentions if Eden would give him adequate guarantees against possible German aggression. The statement that the British Government was “prepared to fulfill their share of responsibilities as a member of the League” did not go far enough to satisfy France.

From the British viewpoint the situation in Geneva was far from reassuring, and Lord Vansittart made it clear that “while Britain will be ready to apply sanctions with adequate support on the part of other Powers, she could not undertake to apply them alone. To satisfy British public opinion they might propose sanctions, but should they not be supported he foresaw a possible British abandonment of the League.”[7]Prentiss Gilbert to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 5, 1935. 765.84/1045, MS, Department of State.

This British talk of sanctions was very distasteful to Laval. At a meeting of the committee appointed by the Council to study the Italo-Ethiopian controversy he remarked that

he was convinced that the only manner in which Italy could be handled without risk of grave European complications was to permit Italy to have at least one victory in Abyssinia. At that time, and not until then . . . did he feel that France could join in taking extreme measures. . . . He believed that Italy would then accept an offer based on those which he together with the British had made at Paris. Eden tacitly acquiesced in this point of view.[8]Prentiss Gilbert to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 7, 1935. 765.84/1067, MS, Department of State.

To Ambassador Wilson this Laval formula seemed likely to be accepted at Geneva. After hostilities were commenced by Mussolini, a compromise would be “worked up between England, France and Italy at the expense of Abyssinia.” Of course there was a possibility that a strong front might be maintained against Italy. If sanctions “are adopted and are efficiently enforced by the States of Europe then the results in Europe and indeed in the world may be incalculable. A belief may be acquired in stability; a sense of solidarity and a sense of safety may arise which would go a long way not only to solving political problems but also economic ones.”[9]Hugh Wilson to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 7, 1935. 765.84/1068, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

In Rome the British Ambassador greatly doubted if sanctions would be applied against Italy in the event of war against Ethiopia. He inclined to the viewpoint, current in diplomatic circles, that Italy might move ahead to victory and then be ready for joint Franco-British mediation.[10]Breckinridge Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 7, 1935. 765.84/1069, MS, Department of State.

In Ciano’s address to the American people on September 7, there was no intimation that Italy was counting upon a short war with probable mediation by major European powers. He stressed the wide prevalence of slavery in Ethiopia and the desire on the part of Italy to remedy this sad situation. To this humanitarian ideal was joined the belief that Italy had a mission to open the vast resources of Ethiopia for the benefit of the whole world. This would be a titanic task that could not be accomplished in a short time.[11]Breckinridge Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 7, 1935. 765.84/1072, MS, Department of State.

But despite Ciano’s speech with its high-sounding objectives, Premier Laval still clung to his belief that before peace talks could have any real foundation it would be necessary “that some military operation . . . take place in Abyssinia in order to satisfy Mussolini who was beginning to feel that the world had turned against him, not with reference to the merits of the case in Abyssinia but as opponents of Fascist party policies.”[12]Theodore Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, September 9, 1935. 765.84/1084, MS, Department of State.

To Breckinridge Long, in Rome, it was obvious that these military operations would soon take place in Ethiopia. Italy had more than 200,000 troops south of the Suez Canal. To withdraw them would be equivalent to a disastrous defeat. Every indication pointed to a “well-calculated, well-prepared, cold, hard and cruel prosecution of their preconceived plans using the instrumentality of an army and navy almost fanatic in its devotion to . . . one man. . . . I am led to the firm belief that no compromise is possible except on Mussolini’s terms. . . .The settled friendship between Italy and England is gone, not to reappear for generations.”[13]Breckinridge Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 10, 1935. 765.84/1101, MS, Department of State.

This rift between Italy and Britain was very apparent on September 11 when Sir Samuel Hoare, British Foreign Secretary, addressed the Assembly of the League of Nations. He made it very clear that in the emergency then facing the League with reference to difficulties between Italy and Ethiopia, the British Government would support League action with “unwavering fidelity.” In conformity with “its precise, explicit obligations the League stands, and my country stands with it, for collective maintenance of the Covenant in its entirety and particularly for steady, collective resistance to all acts of unprovoked aggression.”[14]Address of Sir Samuel Hoare to the League of Nations Assembly, September 11, 1935; International Conciliation, November 1935, pp. 508-18.

d. Secretary Hull Rejects the Role of Mediator

The day before Hoare threw this challenge in the face of Mussolini, the American Minister at Addis Abada was asked by Emperor Haile Selassie if the United States would be willing “to mediate between Italy and Ethiopia, provided of course Italy accepts such mediation.”[15]Cornelius Engert to Secretary Hull, Addis Ababa, September 10, 1935. 765.84/1094, MS, Department of State. Hull promptly replied that American mediation was not “practicable, coming as it does at a moment when the appropriate agencies of the League of Nations . . . are occupied in an endeavor to arrive at a solution under pertinent provisions of the Covenant.”[16]Secretary Hull to Engert, September 12, 1915. 765.84/1094, MS, Department of State. The following day, in order to assuage Ethiopian sensibilities, Hull issued a press statement setting forth the attitude of the American Government towards unprovoked war. It sounded a note which soon became very familiar to millions of Americans: “A threat of hostilities anywhere cannot but be a threat to the interests, political, economic, legal and social of all nations.”[17]Department of State, Press Release, September 14, 1935, pp. 194-96. This statement was prepared in the Department of State on September 12 and was released to the press on the following morning. It was not sent to Ambassador Long on September 12 or 13. On the 13th it was evidently cabled by the Italian Ambassador at Washington to the Foreign Office. On the afternoon of September 13 the Italian Under Secretary of State (Suvich) paid a visit to the American Embassy in order to discuss some or its implications. On that day (September 13) the Italian press had “long accounts” of the Hull statement.

For some strange reason Secretary Hull had not cabled his statement to Ambassador Long. Therefore, when Suvich made his call at the Embassy, Long could not discuss the Hull press statement with him. This oversight on the part of the Department of State caused Long great embarrassment, and he poured forth to “dear Cordell” his injured feelings: “It is not only a question of my personal and official embarrassment at being confronted by another Government with a matter supposed to be within my information, but it is also the fact that it reflects upon your representatives abroad, and it leads to the broad assumption that they are not in the confidence of their Government. . . . I do trust that in the future particular efforts will be made to advise the Embassies at the seat of trouble of any statements made by the Department concerning the Governments to which they are accredited. . . . Anyhow, please don’t do it any more to me.” Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 16, 1935. 765.84/1648, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

e. Britain and France Seek to Solve the Ethiopian Problem

Secretary Hull’s press statement of September 13 had many broad implications that must have greatly pleased some ardent one-worlders, but the British Foreign Office was anxious for the Department of State to be more specific in its declarations of policy. Hoare had arrived at the point where he believed that Britain would have to take some action because the “potentialities of the Italian adventure in Africa are a threat to the Empire.” Pressure upon Italy could take the form of “graduated economic sanctions,” which would be applied only if several important nations within the League would agree upon common action. In his conversations with Hoare, Laval had remarked that “if something cannot be given to Italy, there is no use offering her anything.” He was willing to go so far as to acquiesce in “Italy’s occupation of Abyssinia.” Hoare’s reply was that any acquiescence in “Italy’s occupation of Abyssinia was to acquiesce in a war.” He could not accept “any such suggestion.” When Laval then pressed Hoare for some formal “British commitments in Europe,” the British Foreign Secretary vaguely answered that his country would not enter into “any engagements on the Continent beyond the general conception of League action.”[18]Prentiss Gilbert to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 12, 1935. 765.84/1133, MS, Department of State.

Hoare’s noncommittal answer placed Laval on the spot. He realized that he “must do nothing in any way to throw cold water on the British attitude toward the League,” but at the same time he had “to preach a measure of prudence and sound a warning against plunging too deeply into trouble before it is demonstrated to be inevitable.” It was Hugh Wilson’s belief that the “British and French are slowly coming together.”[19]Hugh Wilson to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 12, 1935. 765.84/1140, MS, Department of State.

This viewpoint seemed confirmed by information that reached the ears of Ambassador Long in Rome. He had learned from some “French diplomatic sources” that Mussolini had been “plainly told that some solution must be found by negotiation, and found before any feat of arms take place.” French diplomats favored an arrangement whereby Italy, France, and Britain would “agree upon Italy’s legitimate aspirations in Abyssinia and submit their proposal to the Negus.” If Haile Selassie “refused, the Italians might then use force.” According to the latest news from Geneva, however, Hoare would probably reject this proposal.

In the event that Britain and France continued to remain indifferent to Italian interests in Ethiopia, there was a definite possibility that an Italo-German rapprochement might develop. While most persons in Rome admitted that Italy preferred “the friendship of France for military, historical, racial, religious and psychological considerations,” it was also felt that if Laval turned his back upon Italy, there was a strong possibility that Mussolini would “seek Allies elsewhere.”[20]Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 12, 1935. 765.84/1338, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

f. Ambassador Long Favors Giving Mussolini a Slice of Ethiopia

The dangerous situation that was developing in Europe relative to the Italo-Ethiopian impasse, prompted Ambassador Long to suggest a possible solution of the difficulty. His plan was based upon the belief that Italy would have to be given some “additions to her territory in Africa” as a bribe to keep her from going to war. Moreover, it seemed apparent that Germany should be made an active partner in a new European concert.[21]Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, September 12, 1935. 765.84/1134, MS, Department of State. Ambassador Long summarized his plan as follows:

“1. Italy, by agreement with England and France, to receive territorial adjustments to include all the lowlands of Abyssinia and some of the uplands as far as Addis Ababa and east of Mia for some miles and south to the British border. The Italian maps of original Abyssinia and its recently conquered dependencies as submitted to the League by Italy as part of her memorial would indicate the extent of territory to be acquired by Italy.

“2. Ethiopia to have a new capital in the confines of old Abyssinia and to be guaranteed as to its territorial integrity and sovereignty by Italy, France and England.

“3. Germany (a) to be brought into the discussions and a tentative agreement arrived at to cede back to Germany certain of its former African colonies on condition that Germany recognize and join as guarantor with the other three Powers the independence of Austria; (b) Germany’s assumption of arms on land, sea and in air to be confirmed by the other three Powers; (c) Germany, Italy, France and England agree to attend in sixty days a conference for the reduction of land and air forces in Europe.

“4. The four Powers to subscribe to mutually operative non-aggression pacts and invoke the Locarno Treaty for the air and land, and subsequently open both agreements for the adherence of all European Governments.

“5. The four Powers to open simultaneously with the Arms Reduction Conference, another conference for lowering tariff barriers and obstacles to trade and for monetary stabilization, and open that agreement for signature by all European Governments.”

This judicious plan of settlement proposed by Ambassador Long fell upon the very deaf ears of Secretary Hull who does not even mention it in his Memoirs. In an effort to exert pressure upon the Department of State for action with respect to his proposal, Ambassador Long sent a lengthy dispatch which emphasized the growing antagonism between Italy and Britain. The former friendly relations had completely disappeared, and it was impossible to “conceive today that Italy and England will in the next few years proceed to a friendly co-operation in any degree consistent with that which characterized their relations for the past decades.” It was necessary, therefore, for some bold action to be taken at once by the United States. If the plan presented to Secretary Hull were not soon adopted, a long line of serious “incidents” would soon follow. Mussolini would not be satisfied with the conquest of Ethiopia. After he occupied Addis Ababa he would elevate his gaze to other territories in Africa and in Asia Minor. Europe would have to be stabilized at once through mutual nonaggression pacts of real force or a series of wars would ensue. The world was approaching a period of expansion and explosion, and some safety valve of mutual trust and good will was the only alternative to disaster.[22]Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 13, 1935. 765.84/1341, MS, Department of State.

g. Laval Makes a Bow towards Britain

While Ambassador Long was feverishly seeking some solution of the Italo-Ethiopian controversy, Premier Laval made an important address before the Assembly of the League of Nations during which he made a deep bow in the direction of Britain. With respect to certain obligations of France he was very precise:

France is faithful to the League Covenant. She cannot fail in her obligations. . . . The adhesion without reservation which we have brought to the League has been enthusiastic and the result of considered opinion. . . . From the protocol in 1924 to the conference for the limitation of armaments, France’s representatives have supported with the same fervor the doctrine of collective security. This doctrine remains and will remain the doctrine of France. The Covenant endures as our international law.

Let all realize that there exists no discord between France and Britain in their effective seeking for [a] pacific solution [of the Italo-Ethiopian dispute]. Our obligations are inscribed in the Covenant. France will not evade those obligations.[23]Premier Laval’s address before the Assembly of the League of Nations, September 13, 1935; International Conciliation, November 1935, pp. 521-23.

Anthony Eden was greatly pleased with Laval’s address. On the evening of September 13 he had dinner with Hugh Wilson and talked quite frankly. He pointed out that

things are shaping up in the direction for which Great Britain is working; that the French are coming around to the British way of thinking. . . . Eden and Cranborne were quite patently profoundly troubled at the extraordinary seriousness of the situation. . . . Discussing sanctions briefly Eden observed that perhaps the simplest form they could take at the outset at least would be that which would not interfere with sea-borne traffic and so not involve fleet action or questions of American war vessels. . . . Regarding the United States Eden said that his Government had determined during this stage not to make any overtures to us regarding questions of neutrality etc.; that the British did not want either to act prematurely or to act in a manner which might embarrass the American Government and therefore would defer the discussion with our Government until a definite program for the inspection of the American Government [had been worked out] and hoped for a “benevolent” attitude on our part.[24]Hugh Wilson to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 13, 1935. 765.84/1139, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

Eden’s satisfaction with Laval’s speech was shared by other members of the British Government and by a large section of the British press. The comment in the London Times was typical:

Unless Signor Mussolini has lost all sense of proportion, the firm words of M. Laval, whose eagerness to reach an agreement with him has been so obviously profound and sincere, should answer at once the Italian dictator that far more is to be gained for his country by timely collaboration with Great Britain and France than by an insensate policy which they can have no choice but to oppose.[25]Atherton to Secretary Hull, London, September 14, 1935. 765.84/1159, MS, Department of State.

In Paris, Laval’s address received wide support and the press expressed the view that the Premier had “turned a difficult corner, advanced the cause of peace and increased France’s prestige.”[26]Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, September 14, 1935. 765.84/1153, MS, Department of State.

h. Britain Wishes the U.S. to Accept Important Responsibilities

In London the Foreign Office seemed especially anxious to ascertain the American attitude towards the imposition of sanctions upon Italy. During a conversation with Mr. Atherton (the American chargé) at the Foreign Office, Sir Samuel Hoare made many comments upon the current of recent events and indicated a certain degree of distrust of Laval. He had found the French Premier

a loose talker and while there was nothing written between Mussolini and Laval, he did not doubt for a moment that Laval had left very decided impressions with the Italians as to French policy. . . . However, Sir Samuel stated that the French had made this trip up with the British. France had definitely taken the side of the Covenant.

. . . At the time of consulting League Powers after an act of aggression, non-League Powers would also have to be consulted, and while the Foreign Secretary “made no requests” in the present instance, he said that he was keeping me informed since the attitude of the American Government . . . would be asked. Sir Samuel reiterated that the imposition of sanctions would be a gradual one along the lines of the 1921 resolutions. The first question to be posed was whether League members and non-League members would refrain from selling arms and munitions and implements of war to Italy, and secondly, . . . whether they would also agree to cease purchasing from Italy.

After making these statements concerning League policy, Sir Samuel then shifted to possible action under the terms of the Pact of Paris. An early appeal “to all the signatories of the Paris Pact . . . must be envisaged as another decisive method of concentrating world opinion . . . against Italian aggression.”[27]Atherton to Secretary Hull, London, September 16, 1935. 765.84/1197, Strictly Confidential for the Secretary, MS, Department of State.

Before the receipt of this telegram from London, Secretary Hull had held several conferences with his advisers in the Department of State and had expressed the view that the American Government should clearly define its position relative to trade with Italy before the League took any action regarding sanctions. In this way it would be apparent that the decision was independent of any course prescribed by the League.[28]Cordell Hull, Memoirs (New York, 1948), I, 426.

i. Anthony Eden Expresses Suspicions of Russia

While the Department of State was considering what course to take with reference to sanctions against Italy, Hugh Wilson sent an interesting and revealing record of his conversations with M. Massigli, the French representative at Geneva, and with Anthony Eden. On September 12, Wilson had luncheon with Massigli. He informed Wilson in strict confidence that the matter of sanctions against Italy went “very much against the grain with Laval, but he had recognized its inevitability and the fact that the course of events might well cause the French to carry on with England in this direction.” In the event sanctions were applied, they must be “swift and efficacious.” It would be difficult to realize this ideal if the United States would not join this concert. Wilson immediately informed Massigli that he had “no idea of what the temper of the United States would be when the time came and whether such action would be politically feasible.”

Massigli then remarked that he greatly feared that France and Britain were dealing with a “mad man.” No argument and no threat seemed to have any effect upon Mussolini. When Chambrun, in Rome, had pointed out to the Duce the danger of conflict with the British if he persisted in his course, he replied that “he was ready and willing, if they so desired, to measure strength with them and was convinced that he could beat them in the Mediterranean: ‘Je m’en fous des Anglais.’ ”

On the following day (September 13), Wilson lunched with Eden. Eden was profoundly troubled and felt that “it will be too late to stop hostilities.” Regarding Russia, he said that “Litvinov was acting pretty ‘naughty.’ His general impression . . . was that he felt that the recent Soviet interference in support of the League in the Council and general expressions of a strong attitude by Russia were really prompted not so much by love of mankind as in the hope that the embroilment of the situation would eventually bring the enfeeblement of the capitalist States and offer an advantageous terrain for Communistic success.”[29]Memoranda of conversations between Hugh Wilson and M. Massigli, September 12, and Anthony Eden, September 13, 1935, Geneva. 765.84/1429, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

There was good reason for Mr. Eden’s troubled state of mind and for his belief in the inevitability of hostilities. In Rome on September 17, Ambassador Long had an important conference with Mussolini and soon discovered that he was “definitely and irrevocably determined to proceed in Abyssinia with what he insists upon calling a colonial enterprise.” The Duce assured Long that he wished to localize the conflict and keep it confined to Ethiopia. He had no desire to see it spread to Europe. But in the event that

anybody interferes with him he is prepared and that he has an army of a million men in Italy and that he has a competent fleet and an air force with a certain superiority and that he will brook no interference. He is much exercised . . . about sanctions and mentioned specifically the action of France in Morocco, the Chaco affair, Germany’s violations of the Treaty of Versailles, the British action four years ago in Iraq and Japan’s activities in Manchukuo and China, in none of which cases were sanctions involved. He then said with anger: “It is only for me and on account of Italy when we wish to rectify wrong and have a legitimate expansion that sanctions are sanctions.”

He was frank in his admissions that he was rapidly moving down the road to war, and he had no hesitation in declaring that he expected to conquer and hold a large portion of Ethiopia. His air of candor was refreshing and his general attitude made a deep impression upon Ambassador Long:

One cannot talk with Mussolini . . . without being fully conscious of the bold determination and the irrevocable nature of the decisions he has already taken. He is calm, his voice modulated, his manner gracious and his friendly attitude toward the United States unmistakable.[30]Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 17, 1935. 765.84/1205, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

j. Ambassador Long Advises against Sanctions

Ambassador Long was so deeply concerned over the wide ramifications of the Italo-Ethiopian dispute that he cabled to Secretary Hull (September 18) and expressed the hope that “if sanctions are invoked at Geneva . . . the American Government will not associate itself with them. There would be many unfortunate grave repercussions at home and unnecessary complications here.” Long was strongly of the belief that America should beware of European entanglements and should act “without reference to the program of any other government or groups of governments.”[31]Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 18, 1935. 765.84/1219, MS, Department of State.

These telegrams from Ambassador Long caused Mr. Phillips, the Acting Secretary of State, to have a long conversation with Wallace Murray, the chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs, with reference to the matter of sanctions against Italy. Mr. Murray pointed out that upon three recent occasions (August 20, 28, and September 16) Sir Samuel Hoare had discussed with the American chargé at London the “question of sanctions and the possibility of either a conference of the signatories to the Kellogg Pact or of consultation of the [or between the] signatories to the Kellogg Pact.” Mr. Murray was of the opinion that the Department of State should adopt an attitude of “great reserve” regarding any suggestions of conferences or consultations.[32]Wallace Murray to Mr. Phillips, September 18, 1935, inclosing a memorandum dealing with the question of consultation under the terms of the Kellogg Pact. 765.84/1329, MS, Department of State.

While Mr. Phillips was pondering the problems connected with sanctions against Italy, he received a telegram from Geneva which indicated that Mussolini had approached France with specific proposals for an alliance against Germany. This overture had spurred the French Foreign Office to ask Britain for definite promises of aid in the event of war. These sought-for promises included an “undertaking that British land forces be sent to the Continent in the event of a German move, the undertaking to comprehend specific arrangements respecting the number, character and disposition of such forces.” Also, a “bilateral air pact.” Until this “or something similar be granted the French will not consider sanctions against Italy.”[33]Prentiss Gilbert to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 19, 1935. 765.84/1261, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

The Italian press soon got wind of these French proposals for an alliance with Britain and the whole matter was dismissed as of little importance. Doubt was expressed “as to the effective commitments which England will or can make on the Continent and as to the possibility of the French being satisfied with generic assurances.” Britain had in the past demonstrated “the uncertain value of her contribution to security on the Continent.” Without Italy there “could be no collective security.”[34]Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 12, 1935. 765.84/1503, MS, Department of State.

k. Secretary Hull Defines the Position of the United States

Under the impact of these telegrams Secretary Hull decided that it was important to give a clear formulation of American foreign policy. On September 20 he instructed Ambassador Long that the plan outlined in the telegram from Rome on September 12 was not acceptable to the Department of State. The American attitude towards world peace had received cogent expression in statements already given to the press by the Secretary of State, who would deeply regret “any occurrences which would indicate that we had lost confidence in the agencies which are striving to reach a satisfactory solution of the present dispute.”[35]Secretary Hull to Ambassador Long, September 20, 1935. 765.84/1265, MS, Department of State.

After rejecting Ambassador Long’s solution of the Italo-Ethiopian dispute, Secretary Hull instructed Mr. Atherton, in London, that the American Government would “not join in the imposition of sanctions upon any nation involved in the pending controversy between Italy and Ethiopia.” With regard to League action it was impossible for the United States to “arrive at any conclusion with regard thereto before it was placed in full possession of the reasons and bases upon which such collective action by the League was founded and a complete description of the specific measures to be put into effect.”[36]Hull, op. cit., p. 436.

l. The Committee of Five Makes a Futile Suggestion

In order to dispel all doubts concerning the proper settlement of the Italo-Ethiopian dispute the League Committee of Five submitted (September 18) to both powers a proposal for careful consideration. It was in substance a League protectorate over Ethiopia, the Emperor being assisted by four advisers appointed by the Council. In this plan there was express recognition of Italy’s “special interest in the economic development of Ethiopia.”

In order to secure some information about what was going on during the meetings of the Committee of Five, Hugh Wilson had a conversation with Mr. Beck of Poland. He deprecated any strong action against Italy. Sanctions might drive her out of the League, and without Italy the League might disintegrate. Beck then gave Wilson a detailed description of the international situation, including a colorful vignette of Hitler:

In international affairs Hitler is simple, but it is the simplicity of common sense. He had stated, for instance, to Beck: “There is not a single question between Poland and Germany which is worth a war,” and he had specifically included the Corridor in this statement. Hitler had also told Beck that by reading his German history and the history of Europe for two hundred years he had found the same mistake repeated ad nauseam: the conquest of territory of alien races in every case left a bitter enemy on the flank. . . . “But,” I said, “you are sketching the portrait of a very intelligent man.” Beck then threw up his hands and said that never as long as he lived would he understand “what the Devil” Hitler was trying to do in Germany. . . . However, when it came to foreign affairs Beck stated emphatically that no one should make the mistake of underrating Hitler: Hitler was a thoughtful, simple-minded, direct man, full of common sense when it came to the question of foreign relations. Beck described Hitler somewhat as Sir John Simon had done: simple, honest, hard-working, with no thought of self or of luxury.[37]Memorandum of a conversation between Hugh Wilson and Mr. Beck, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland, Geneva, September 20, 1935. 765.84/1495, MS, Department of State.

It was apparent that Mr. Wilson elicited from Mr. Beck a great deal of comment about Hitler and very little information concerning the work of the Committee of Five. When the plan of the committee was made public Signor Rosso (the Italian Ambassador) had a conversation with Mr. Phillips about it. He soon made it clear that the Foreign Office believed that it did not go “nearly far enough” in meeting Italian aspirations in Ethiopia. There was little hope for its acceptance.[38]Memorandum of conversation between Mr. Phillips and Signor Rosso, the Italian Ambassador, September 20, 1935. 765.84/1410, MS, Department of State.

m. The Department of State Ponders the Problem of Sanctions

In the face of probable Italian rejection of the proposal of the Committee of Five, the Department of State hurriedly made a study of the implications of any policy of sanctions. Once more Wallace Murray submitted a report on the political aspects of conferences and consultations. It seemed to him that the Department of State should adopt an attitude of “great reserve” if it “should be asked to call or to attend a conference as a signatory of the Pact of Paris.” Inasmuch as the European powers were more directly affected by the Italo-Ethiopian situation, it was obvious that it was “up to them rather than to the United States to call a conference if one is required.” In the event a conference were called by some European power to consider the question of sanctions, the Department of State should bear in mind the report of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations concerning the ratification of the Pact of Paris: “The Committee further understands that the treaty does not provide sanctions, express or implied. Should any signatory to the treaty . . . violate the terms of the same, there is no obligation or commitment, express or implied, upon the part of any of the other signers of the treaty to engage in punitive or coercive measures against the nation violating the treaty.”

If the American Government decided to adopt a policy of refraining from any purchases of goods from Italy, it could make this effective by the following procedures: (1) private organizations could inaugurate a campaign to boycott Italian goods; (2) the government could request individuals to cease making any purchases from Italy; (3) if Italy attempted to discriminate against American trade it would be possible to deny her the most-favored-nation treatment in the same manner that Germany had been treated; and (4) consideration could be given to employing as a more drastic measure the provisions of Article 338 of the Tariff Act of 1930.[39]Memorandum prepared by Wallace Murray, chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs, for the Secretary of State, September 20, 1935. 765.84/1281, MS, Department of State.

A long report was also prepared by the Office of the Economic Adviser in the Department of State. With reference to the impact of sanctions upon Italy, this report indicated that certain imports occupied a key place in the Italian economic structure. These included machines and apparatus and parts (Germany the principal source); mineral oils (Romania the principal source); coal and coke (Germany the principal source); copper (United States and Chile the principal sources); cotton (60% from the United States); and nitrates (Chile the only source).

The conclusions that were drawn from these figures were that “as long as Italy is able to pay for its imports, economic sanctions could only be decisively effected if (a) they were virtually universal among the principal suppliers of the strategic materials. . . . In the case of the most important strategic materials, Italy has probably been accumulating stocks in anticipation of unusual needs.”[40]Memorandum prepared by the Office of the Economic Adviser, Department of State, September 20, 1935. 765.84/1706, MS, Department of State.

After an extended consideration of these reports from his Department of State advisers, Secretary Hull instructed the American representative in London to inform the Foreign Office that the American Government “would not join in the imposition of sanctions upon any nation involved in the pending controversy between Italy and Ethiopia.” With reference to collective action under the terms of the Covenant of the League of Nations, it would “of course be obviously impossible” for the United States to join such a concert without first being “placed in full possession of the reasons” for such a measure.[41]Secretary Hull to the American Embassy in London, September 20, 1935. 765.84/1197, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

n. Italy Rejects the Proposal of the Committee of Five

While Secretary Hull was informing the British Foreign Office that the American Government would not become a member of any concert to impose sanctions upon Italy, Mussolini was speeding his preparations for war in Ethiopia. For a brief time Ambassador Long thought that the concentration of the British fleet in the Mediterranean was causing the Italian press to adopt a “modified tone” in its comments upon British policy,[42]Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 21, 1935. 765.84/1287, MS, Department of State. but when he talked with the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Signor Suvich), he learned that the proposal of the Committee of Five would not “be acceptable.” Long then ventured the remark that he believed he could detect a “tone of conciliation” in Italian utterances within the past twenty-four hours, but Suvich merely “gave a doubtful shrug of the shoulders and replied that he was not conscious of it.”[43]Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 21, 1935. 765.84/1288, MS, Department of State.

It was apparent that in Paris the press had not detected any note of conciliation in Italian utterances, and tension was rapidly rising. It was said that Chambrun had spoken plainly to Mussolini, and “Pertinax,” in L’Echo de Paris, intimated that Laval had informed the Duce that “any feeling that France would not go as far along the road as Britain with Article 16 was incorrect.”[44]Theodore Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, September 21, 1935. 765.84/1289, MS, Department of State.

But these French assurances did not completely dissolve British suspicions. On September 20, Sumner Welles and Ambassador Bingham had a conversation with Lord Vansittart,[45]The British Acting Secretary for Foreign Affairs. who emphasized the strong insistence of British public opinion upon “implementing the obligations of the Covenant.” This insistence worried Bingham who feared that some “Maine incident” might lead to seriously strained relations between Britain and Italy. It was evident that Vansittart had similar worries and they were given further extension by the uncertainty in British minds as “to the extent the French consider themselves committed to implement the Covenant and incidentally the British thesis thereinunder.”[46]Ambassador Bingham to Secretary Hull, London, September 21, 1935. 765.84/1291, Confidential for the Secretary, MS, Department of State.

British uneasiness was given additional development on September 21 when the Italian Government announced its rejection of the proposals of the Committee of Five. On the island of Malta preparations were hastily made for possible conflict with Italy, and the situation was viewed “with extreme gravity.”[47]Mr. George to Secretary Hull, Malta, September 22, 1935. 765.84/1306, MS, Department of State. At Geneva the British representatives at the sessions of the League of Nations described the tone of the Italian note of rejection as “extremely brusque,” but they admitted that it was cleverly phrased and contained “some elements which . . . are embarrassing.”[48]Prentiss Gilbert to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 23, 1935. 765.84/1335, MS, Department of State. Anthony Eden was particularly disturbed by the possible effects of the Italian reply to the Committee of Five, and he confided to Hugh Wilson that “the affair is just as bad as it could be.”[49]Hugh Wilson to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 23, 1935. 765.84/1314, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

On September 23, Emperor Haile Selassie endeavored to place a barrier along the Italian road to war by accepting the proposals of the Committee of Five. This action appeared to have an immediate effect upon the Italian Government. On the following day the Italian press contained “no attacks on England” and the recent bellicose tone was greatly modified.[50]Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 24, 1935. 765.84/1326. MS, Department of State. At Geneva the atmosphere suddenly became clearer. A member of the British delegation informed Prentiss Gilbert that Laval had “definitely informed the British . . . that France would adopt any position which the British might take in Geneva and that he [Laval] had also informed Rome.” This information probably soon went the rounds in diplomatic circles because Prentiss Gilbert reported that the “whole outward situation here during the day has been that the British and French have agreed on a common policy.” As a result of these rumors and confidences “an almost dramatic change has apparently occurred in the inner circles of the three Powers chiefly concerned.” Counsels of moderation were now heard and attention was focused on the “disastrous results to finance and trade” which a European war would inevitably cause.[51]Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 24, 1935. 765.84/1346, MS, Department of State. As a gesture of conciliation, the British Ambassador in Rome called upon Mussolini and informed him that “Sir Samuel Hoare wanted him to understand that England’s entire conduct was not a manifestation of hostility toward Italy or an aggression of any kind but simply an expression of England’s attachment to the principles of the League of Nations.”[52]Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 24, 1935. 765.84/1344, MS, Department of State.

But this British shadowboxing did not greatly impress Mussolini. Ambassador Long believed that it was “impossible to see a success in continued negotiations.” He was met “at the end of every hypothesis with the as yet unaltered conclusion that he [Mussolini] will fight his way out and fall if necessary that way rather than by an ignominious surrender to the Power he provoked.”[53]Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 24, 1935. 765.84/1342, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

o. Mussolini Offers a Formula of Peace

Although Mussolini was bent upon war with Ethiopia he was wise enough to make some gestures in the direction of peace. As a countermeasure to the proposals of the Committee of Five he submitted a new plan which included three major items: (1) the right to acquire territory, “to the west of Addis Ababa,” which would establish a connection between the Italian colonies of Eritrea and Somaliland; (2) a stipulation that the proposal to Ethiopia of an outlet to the sea should be arranged to run through Italian rather than through British or French territory; (3) the adoption of a policy that would provide for the disarmament and demobilization of a large part of the Ethiopian Army. The remaining armed forces of Ethiopia should be under the command of Italian officers.

While the Committee of Five were considering these proposals of Mussolini, the situation in Geneva remained tense. The matter of sanctions gave members of the League deep concern. The Swiss representative (G. Motta) pointed out to Hugh Wilson that he considered economic sanctions as “peculiarly dangerous for Switzerland as he feared their consequences. In the event of sanctions would the Powers protect Switzerland against Italy?” In his opinion it would be “impossible that their application would not be followed by bitterness and hatred from which the mutual relations of the two countries would suffer for a generation.”[54]Hugh Wilson to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 25, 1935. 765.84/1380, Very confidential, MS, Department of State.

But Motta’s apprehensions were relieved for a brief period by the sudden appearance of a more friendly note in Anglo-Italian relations. In Geneva it seemed apparent that Mussolini had adopted a more reasonable attitude.[55]Prentiss Gilbert to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 25, 1935. 765.84/1378, MS, Department of State. In Rome the press emphasized the “amicable relations existing between Italy and England,”[56]Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 25, 1935. 765.84/1377, MS, Department of State. while in London the tension was “relieved for the moment.”[57]Ambassador Bingham to Secretary Hull, London, September 25, 1935. 765.84/1374, MS, Department of State.

p. Britain Bids for American Support

Even in Addis Ababa there were expressions of hope that conflict could be avoided. The Emperor apparently believed that Britain would insist upon a “fair deal” for Ethiopia. Moreover, he had not lost faith in the League of Nations. He informed the American Minister that he had placed the fate of his country in “the hands of the collective conscience of the world and is ready to make any sacrifice that can be reasonably expected of him.”[58]Cornelius Engert to Secretary Hull, Addis Ababa, September 26, 1935. 765.84/1403, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

The extent of his sacrifice would depend upon the strength of collective pressure that Britain would be able to muster against Italy. In order to ascertain the exact degree of this strength, the British Foreign Office decided to make inquiries about attitude of the United States concerning joint action. On September 25, Sir Samuel Hoare had an important conference with Ambassador Bingham during the course of which he frankly asked Bingham if Secretary Hull had given any consideration to the “possibility of consultation among the signatories of the Kellogg Pact.” Bingham cautiously replied that he had “no information on this subject.” Hoare then hastily assured the ambassador that he had no intention of urging “any course of action upon the United States Government,” but he hoped it might be possible for it to take steps that “would tend to limit the war between Italy and Abyssinia in scope and time.” Bingham expressed the view that he did not “think it probable” that the Department of State would favor joint action with the members of the League in imposing sanctions upon Italy if war broke out. He knew, however, that Secretary Hull was interested in “reducing the scope and time of the war,” and would give consideration to methods of doing so “in the event of unanimous collective action by other Powers.” Sir Samuel Hoare listened attentively to this none-too-encouraging statement of the attitude of the Department of State and then remarked that after the outbreak of hostilities the policy of the British Government would be to “invoke economic pressure . . . as far as possible short of actual sanctions.” He expressed the ardent hope that the United States would “aid this effort as far as they might deem it proper to do so.”[59]Ambassador Bingham to Secretary Hull, London, September 25, 1935. 765.84/1381, For the Secretary, MS, Department of State.

The reply of Secretary Hull to these remarks of Hoare was an indirect assurance of partial support. The American Government “would not decline an invitation to consult through diplomatic channels with a view to the invocation of the Pact [of Paris], but we are of the opinion that consultation . . . might appear to encroach upon the explicit functions of the Covenant of the League . . . and it would therefore appear undesirable.” Hull then hastened to indicate how America could be of assistance if the present Italo-Ethiopian crisis deepened into war. Italy, like other European countries, had defaulted upon its large loan from the United States and therefore (under the Johnson Act) could not be granted further loans or credits from American sources. Moreover, no credits would be granted by the Export-Import Bank to finance the export of commodities to Italy. Private institutions in the United States would quickly adopt a policy of “restricting credits to Italian borrowers,” and finally, the recent neutrality resolution approved by Congress would require an embargo upon the export of arms, munitions, and implements of war to Italy if she became a belligerent.[60]Secretary Hull to Ambassador Bingham, September 27, 1935. 765.84/1381, MS, Department of State.

It was quite apparent to Hoare and to other members of the British Government that the United States, in an indirect fashion, could exert tremendous economic pressure upon Italy without having to go to the length of actual sanctions. This obvious fact must have given them solace at a time when they badly needed it. Great Britain was having a mild case of “war jitters.” Prentiss Gilbert cabled from Geneva that the British Government would soon “inquire” if the American Government had any objection to “an increase in the British naval building program which they plan to present to Parliament.” Aroused British public opinion had caused a delay in the acceptance of the “projected agreement with France which presumably involved British Continental commitments.” A widespread “distrust of the French in the present situation and a dissatisfaction at the present situation through them with Rome has impelled the British to re-open direct relations with Rome.”

The British Ambassador in Rome had been instructed to call on Mussolini and complain that his program with regard to Ethiopia was too expansive. If he would be more conciliatory and would be willing “to work out an agreement” with the British Government an effort would be made to “find out how much can be obtained from Addis Ababa.” In the meantime, the Duce had disturbed the British official mind by indicating that the question of Ethiopia had not been raised during the conference at Stresa even though the British had summoned their African expert for consultation. Therefore, Mussolini had construed the “British attitude at that period as a tacit consent to his undertaking.” Some British officials admitted to Gilbert that they found “this assertion of Mussolini to be unanswerable.”[61]Prentiss Gilbert to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 26, 1935. 765.84/1384, MS, Department of State.

q. Mussolini Moves in the Direction of War

To most European observers it was obvious in the last week in September that Mussolini was making his final preparations for war. On September 26 he had a conversation with Jules Sauerwein of Le Matin and informed him that operations would begin in about ten days. He anticipated the imposition of economic sanctions but did not expect them to be “sufficiently effective to interfere with his operations.”[62]Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 27, 1935. 765.84/1408, MS, Department of State.

In a long dispatch to Secretary Hull, Ambassador Long carefully canvassed the situation in Rome and came to the conclusion that there was “no evidence that the Italians are considering modifying their African program. While it is true that the presence of the British fleet in the Mediterranean has caused in some quarters a feeling of uneasiness, . . . there is as yet no proof that the country as a whole is not prepared to back up the Government’s determination to defy all threats rather than submit to a diplomatic defeat which would be fatal to Italian national prestige.”[63]Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 27, 1935. 765.84/1700, MS, Department of State.

At Geneva the general attitude seemed to grow more resolute against any Italian advance into Ethiopia. It was believed that after the Italian troops had gained a “bloodless victory” over Ethiopian forces, an effort would be made by the League to “declare Italy the aggressor and to apply sanctions.” At that moment a peace offensive could be launched which would have an excellent chance to be successful. The final peace settlement could give the Italians “such territorial concessions and economic privileges as could be gradually developed into an attractive position although not then or ever a control over Abyssinia which would threaten British Empire interests in Abyssinian independence.”[64]Hugh Wilson to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 27, 1935. 765.84/1445, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

These speculations of Ambassador Wilson gave too little heed to the real objectives of Mussolini. Nothing less than complete control over Ethiopia would satisfy the Duce. On September 28 a statement was issued in Rome which clearly indicated the Italian viewpoint. The proposals of the Committee of Five had failed to make provision for “Italy’s needs for expansion and security.” All persons of “good faith throughout the world have recognized the justice of Italy’s rejection of the suggestions of the Committee.” The Duce was determined that his own program would be carried out and was ready to face the consequences. Emperor Haile Selassie had recently completed the mobilization of his armed forces with the “declared intention to attack the frontiers of the Italian colonies.” Italy would meet force with force.[65]Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 28, 1935. 765.84/1452, MS, Department of State.

r. Secretary Hull Offers “Moral Support” to Ethiopia

Apparently the Emperor was more ready to meet peace with peace, and in order to implement this pacific program he once more turned to Mr. Engert, the American Minister at Addis Ababa. Engert made a prompt appeal to Secretary Hull to “go on record by expressing to the Italian Ambassador your disappointment that his country should deliberately turn its back on the whole post-war structure for the maintenance of peace.”[66]Cornelius Engert to Secretary Hull, Addis Ababa, September 29, 1935. 765.84/1460, MS, Department of State. Hull’s reply to this plea for support was a flat refusal to take a bold stand in this Ethiopian imbroglio. All that America was willing to do at this time was to promise the Emperor its “moral support.” He should be buoyed up by the assurance that the Department of State would “continue this support by any action which we can properly take in the light of our limitations as occasions arise.”[67]Secretary Hull to Cornelius Engert, October 1, 1935. 765.84/1460, MS, Department of State.

s. Britain Engages in a Bit of Diplomatic Double Talk

While Secretary Hull was trying to satisfy the hungry Emperor with scattered crumbs of morality, Sir Samuel Hoare was endeavoring to placate Laval with a similar slim diet. On September 10 the French Government had addressed a note to Sir Robert Vansittart inquiring just what they might expect from Britain in the event of a “violation of the Covenant of the League of Nations and a resort to force” by some European State “whether or not that State might be a member of the League of Nations.” The reply of the British Foreign Office was made public on September 29. It was couched in general terms that were far from satisfactory to France. Hoare made specific reference to the assurances he had voiced in his address before the Assembly of the League of Nations on September 11. He then re-emphasized his statement that the “League stands, and this country stands with it, for the collective maintenance of the Covenant in its entirety, and particularly for steady collective resistance to all acts of unprovoked aggression.”[68]London Times, September 30, 1935.

The British press was in substantial agreement that Hoare’s reply was the “only possible one which any British Government could have made.” Most papers were of the opinion that “no British Government can commit itself to specific action in an undefined hypothetical future case.”[69]Ambassador Bingham to Secretary Hull, London, September 30, 1935. 765.84/1459, MS, Department of State. The French press, with the exception of radical papers like the Socialist République and Léon Blum’s Populaire, expressed deep disappointment with the vague promises of the Hoare note. Nothing short of “a hard and fast guarantee in writing of all the clauses of the Versailles Treaty” would satisfy them.[70]Theodore Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, September 30, 1935. 765.84/1456, MS, Department of State.

News came from Rome that the French naval attache had stated “definitely” that Laval would “not agree to military sanctions.” The German Ambassador in the same city expressed the opinion that Germany would “not join any sanctions against Italy.”[71]Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 29, October 1, 1935. 765.84/1453, 765.84/1488, MS, Department of State. In Paris the prevailing attitude indicated a “solidifying French public opinion decidedly set against applications of measures of any kind against Italy.”[72]Theodore Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, October 2, 1935. 765.84/1498, MS, Department of State. By October 3 even the leftist groups in France were opposed to sanctions. Marcel Deat, leader of the Neo-Socialist group, openly declared that his followers would not favor any “proposals for the application of sanctions which might come before the Chamber.” Léon Blum’s vigorous utterances against Italy had been gradually reduced to weak whispers about “peaceful sanctions.” Apparently, there would be no real concert of powers to block the march of Mussolini’s legions into Ethiopia.[73]Theodore Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, October 3, 1935. 765.84/1515, MS, Department of State.

On October 2, Italian bombing planes began to drop bombs on northern Ethiopian villages, and on the following day the signal was given for a general advance of Italian armed forces into Ethiopia. As the Italian troops crossed the Ethiopian border they broke out into a gay marching tune whose words indicated their supreme confidence: “With the whiskers of the Emperor we will make a little brush to polish up the shoes of Benito Mussolini.” This song was a clear indication that the Italian Army had no doubt that Mussolini had given the British Government a brisk brush-off.[74]On October 3, Prentiss Gilbert informed Secretary Hull that a member of the Council of the League had inquired if the American Government would care to participate in any flights over Ethiopia by “impartial observers.” Reference was made to American participation in the work of the Lytton Commission. Secretary Hull immediately replied that the American Government continued to “watch sympathetically the efforts of the League to find a peaceful solution of the Italo-Ethiopian dispute,” but it did not wish to become an “active participant in its administrative activites.” Secretary Hull to Prentiss Gilbert, October 4, 1935. 765.84/1529, MS, Department of State.

Footnotes

[1] Theodore Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, September 3, 1935. 765.84/1013, MS, Department of State.

[2] Hugh Wilson to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 4, 1935. 765.84/1036, MS, Department of State.

[3] Pitman B. Potter, The Wal Wal Arbitration (New York, 1935).

[4] Wallace Murray to Judge Walton B. Moore, September 4, 1935. 765.84/1255, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

[5] Prentiss Gilbert to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 4, 1935. 765.84/1039, MS, Department of State.

[6] Breckinridge Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 4, 1935. 765.84/1026, MS, Department of State.

[7] Prentiss Gilbert to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 5, 1935. 765.84/1045, MS, Department of State.

[8] Prentiss Gilbert to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 7, 1935. 765.84/1067, MS, Department of State.

[9] Hugh Wilson to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 7, 1935. 765.84/1068, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

[10] Breckinridge Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 7, 1935. 765.84/1069, MS, Department of State.

[11] Breckinridge Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 7, 1935. 765.84/1072, MS, Department of State.

[12] Theodore Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, September 9, 1935. 765.84/1084, MS, Department of State.

[13] Breckinridge Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 10, 1935. 765.84/1101, MS, Department of State.

[14] Address of Sir Samuel Hoare to the League of Nations Assembly, September 11, 1935; International Conciliation, November 1935, pp. 508-18.

[15] Cornelius Engert to Secretary Hull, Addis Ababa, September 10, 1935. 765.84/1094, MS, Department of State.

[16] Secretary Hull to Engert, September 12, 1915. 765.84/1094, MS, Department of State.

[17] Department of State, Press Release, September 14, 1935, pp. 194-96. This statement was prepared in the Department of State on September 12 and was released to the press on the following morning. It was not sent to Ambassador Long on September 12 or 13. On the 13th it was evidently cabled by the Italian Ambassador at Washington to the Foreign Office. On the afternoon of September 13 the Italian Under Secretary of State (Suvich) paid a visit to the American Embassy in order to discuss some or its implications. On that day (September 13) the Italian press had “long accounts” of the Hull statement.

For some strange reason Secretary Hull had not cabled his statement to Ambassador Long. Therefore, when Suvich made his call at the Embassy, Long could not discuss the Hull press statement with him. This oversight on the part of the Department of State caused Long great embarrassment, and he poured forth to “dear Cordell” his injured feelings: “It is not only a question of my personal and official embarrassment at being confronted by another Government with a matter supposed to be within my information, but it is also the fact that it reflects upon your representatives abroad, and it leads to the broad assumption that they are not in the confidence of their Government. . . . I do trust that in the future particular efforts will be made to advise the Embassies at the seat of trouble of any statements made by the Department concerning the Governments to which they are accredited. . . . Anyhow, please don’t do it any more to me.” Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 16, 1935. 765.84/1648, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

[18] Prentiss Gilbert to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 12, 1935. 765.84/1133, MS, Department of State.

[19] Hugh Wilson to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 12, 1935. 765.84/1140, MS, Department of State.

[20] Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 12, 1935. 765.84/1338, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

[21] Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, September 12, 1935. 765.84/1134, MS, Department of State. Ambassador Long summarized his plan as follows:

“1. Italy, by agreement with England and France, to receive territorial adjustments to include all the lowlands of Abyssinia and some of the uplands as far as Addis Ababa and east of Mia for some miles and south to the British border. The Italian maps of original Abyssinia and its recently conquered dependencies as submitted to the League by Italy as part of her memorial would indicate the extent of territory to be acquired by Italy.

“2. Ethiopia to have a new capital in the confines of old Abyssinia and to be guaranteed as to its territorial integrity and sovereignty by Italy, France and England.

“3. Germany (a) to be brought into the discussions and a tentative agreement arrived at to cede back to Germany certain of its former African colonies on condition that Germany recognize and join as guarantor with the other three Powers the independence of Austria; (b) Germany’s assumption of arms on land, sea and in air to be confirmed by the other three Powers; (c) Germany, Italy, France and England agree to attend in sixty days a conference for the reduction of land and air forces in Europe.

“4. The four Powers to subscribe to mutually operative non-aggression pacts and invoke the Locarno Treaty for the air and land, and subsequently open both agreements for the adherence of all European Governments.

“5. The four Powers to open simultaneously with the Arms Reduction Conference, another conference for lowering tariff barriers and obstacles to trade and for monetary stabilization, and open that agreement for signature by all European Governments.”

[22] Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 13, 1935. 765.84/1341, MS, Department of State.

[23] Premier Laval’s address before the Assembly of the League of Nations, September 13, 1935; International Conciliation, November 1935, pp. 521-23.

[24] Hugh Wilson to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 13, 1935. 765.84/1139, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

[25] Atherton to Secretary Hull, London, September 14, 1935. 765.84/1159, MS, Department of State.

[26] Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, September 14, 1935. 765.84/1153, MS, Department of State.

[27] Atherton to Secretary Hull, London, September 16, 1935. 765.84/1197, Strictly Confidential for the Secretary, MS, Department of State.

[28] Cordell Hull, Memoirs (New York, 1948), I, 426.

[29] Memoranda of conversations between Hugh Wilson and M. Massigli, September 12, and Anthony Eden, September 13, 1935, Geneva. 765.84/1429, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

[30] Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 17, 1935. 765.84/1205, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

[31] Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 18, 1935. 765.84/1219, MS, Department of State.

[32] Wallace Murray to Mr. Phillips, September 18, 1935, inclosing a memorandum dealing with the question of consultation under the terms of the Kellogg Pact. 765.84/1329, MS, Department of State.

[33] Prentiss Gilbert to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 19, 1935. 765.84/1261, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

[34] Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 12, 1935. 765.84/1503, MS, Department of State.

[35] Secretary Hull to Ambassador Long, September 20, 1935. 765.84/1265, MS, Department of State.

[36] Hull, op. cit., p. 436.

[37] Memorandum of a conversation between Hugh Wilson and Mr. Beck, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland, Geneva, September 20, 1935. 765.84/1495, MS, Department of State.

[38] Memorandum of conversation between Mr. Phillips and Signor Rosso, the Italian Ambassador, September 20, 1935. 765.84/1410, MS, Department of State.

[39] Memorandum prepared by Wallace Murray, chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs, for the Secretary of State, September 20, 1935. 765.84/1281, MS, Department of State.

[40] Memorandum prepared by the Office of the Economic Adviser, Department of State, September 20, 1935. 765.84/1706, MS, Department of State.

[41] Secretary Hull to the American Embassy in London, September 20, 1935. 765.84/1197, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

[42] Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 21, 1935. 765.84/1287, MS, Department of State.

[43] Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 21, 1935. 765.84/1288, MS, Department of State.

[44] Theodore Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, September 21, 1935. 765.84/1289, MS, Department of State.

[45] The British Acting Secretary for Foreign Affairs.

[46] Ambassador Bingham to Secretary Hull, London, September 21, 1935. 765.84/1291, Confidential for the Secretary, MS, Department of State.

[47] Mr. George to Secretary Hull, Malta, September 22, 1935. 765.84/1306, MS, Department of State.

[48] Prentiss Gilbert to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 23, 1935. 765.84/1335, MS, Department of State.

[49] Hugh Wilson to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 23, 1935. 765.84/1314, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

[50] Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 24, 1935. 765.84/1326. MS, Department of State.

[51] Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 24, 1935. 765.84/1346, MS, Department of State.

[52] Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 24, 1935. 765.84/1344, MS, Department of State.

[53] Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 24, 1935. 765.84/1342, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

[54] Hugh Wilson to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 25, 1935. 765.84/1380, Very confidential, MS, Department of State.

[55] Prentiss Gilbert to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 25, 1935. 765.84/1378, MS, Department of State.

[56] Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 25, 1935. 765.84/1377, MS, Department of State.

[57] Ambassador Bingham to Secretary Hull, London, September 25, 1935. 765.84/1374, MS, Department of State.

[58] Cornelius Engert to Secretary Hull, Addis Ababa, September 26, 1935. 765.84/1403, Confidential file, MS, Department of State.

[59] Ambassador Bingham to Secretary Hull, London, September 25, 1935. 765.84/1381, For the Secretary, MS, Department of State.

[60] Secretary Hull to Ambassador Bingham, September 27, 1935. 765.84/1381, MS, Department of State.

[61] Prentiss Gilbert to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 26, 1935. 765.84/1384, MS, Department of State.

[62] Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 27, 1935. 765.84/1408, MS, Department of State.

[63] Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 27, 1935. 765.84/1700, MS, Department of State.

[64] Hugh Wilson to Secretary Hull, Geneva, September 27, 1935. 765.84/1445, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

[65] Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 28, 1935. 765.84/1452, MS, Department of State.

[66] Cornelius Engert to Secretary Hull, Addis Ababa, September 29, 1935. 765.84/1460, MS, Department of State.

[67] Secretary Hull to Cornelius Engert, October 1, 1935. 765.84/1460, MS, Department of State.

[68] London Times, September 30, 1935.

[69] Ambassador Bingham to Secretary Hull, London, September 30, 1935. 765.84/1459, MS, Department of State.

[70] Theodore Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, September 30, 1935. 765.84/1456, MS, Department of State.

[71] Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, September 29, October 1, 1935. 765.84/1453, 765.84/1488, MS, Department of State.

[72] Theodore Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, October 2, 1935. 765.84/1498, MS, Department of State.

[73] Theodore Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, October 3, 1935. 765.84/1515, MS, Department of State.

[74] On October 3, Prentiss Gilbert informed Secretary Hull that a member of the Council of the League had inquired if the American Government would care to participate in any flights over Ethiopia by “impartial observers.” Reference was made to American participation in the work of the Lytton Commission. Secretary Hull immediately replied that the American Government continued to “watch sympathetically the efforts of the League to find a peaceful solution of the Italo-Ethiopian dispute,” but it did not wish to become an “active participant in its administrative activites.” Secretary Hull to Prentiss Gilbert, October 4, 1935. 765.84/1529, MS, Department of State.

Chapter IX • America Anticipates the League in Exerting Economic Pressure upon Italy • 11,500 Words
a. Senator Nye Flusters Foreign Diplomats

AS THE LEGIONS of Mussolini were preparing to march into Ethiopia, many Americans began to press for neutrality legislation that would insulate the Western Hemisphere against the possible outbreak of World War II. The crusade of 1917 had not made the world safe for democracy, and during the early years of the Roosevelt era a tide of disillusion swept over the United States that hid from the public eye the measuring rods that had been used by patriotic historians during the second Wilson Administration. The average American suddenly began to count the cost of the World War and was deeply disturbed to discover that the vast expenditures in human lives and national wealth entailed by that struggle had been in vain. American intervention had completely destroyed the old balance of power that had been carefully constructed by European statesmen, and at the close of the conflict the United States had retired from a position that might have brought stability to a new international edifice that trembled in the winds of uncertainty. When Hitler began to move with earthquake feet along the German frontiers, the continent of Europe had tremors that shook the White House in Washington. But President Roosevelt had no magic formula that would bring prompt reassurance to anxious millions across the Atlantic. He was looking for re-election in 1936 and he did not dare to flout the strong isolationist sentiment that was so evident in most American circles.

One of the isolationist leaders was Senator Nye who was certain that Americans could derive no benefits from sailing on stormy European waters. The great parade of 1917 had shown all too clearly that the paths of glory led but to the grave. The best way to prevent a repetition of that mad scramble with its dire results was to show the American people the sinister forces that had dragged them into conflict. The wiles of Wall Street should be made familiar to the man in the street so that he would shut his ears to the drums of war that beat a cadence of death for the poor and a rhythm of riches for the wealthy.

This viewpoint of Senator Nye received strong confirmation through a sensational article published in Fortune in March 1934, entitled “Arms and the Men.” In a long succession of lurid pages the story was told of the shady deals and the devious methods of great munitions manufacturers of Europe in their efforts to incite wars that would make their profits reach dizzy heights.[1]IX, (March 1934), 52-57, 113-26. Nye had this article reprinted in the Congressional Record so that its full impact would be felt by susceptible members of Congress. There is little doubt that it helped to influence the action of the Senate in its approval on April 12 of the Nye resolution that provided for the appointment of a special Senate Committee to investigate the activities of munitions makers and dealers.[2]Congressional Record, 73 Cong., 2 sess., 2×92, 4323, 6688, 7154.

Vice-President Garner appointed Nye to be the chairman of this committee, and Senator Pittman, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, acquiesced in the appointment. It was quite unusual in a Senate controlled by the Democratic Party for a Republican to be named to this important post. Secretary Hull deeply deprecated this action by the Democratic majority: “Had I dreamed that an isolationist Republican would be appointed I promptly would have opposed it. . . . The appointment of Nye was a fatal mistake because the committee . . . proceeded to enlarge the scope of its inquiry into an attempt to prove that the United States had been drawn into the First World War by American bankers and munitions makers.”[3]Cordell Hull, Memoirs (New York, 1948), I, 398.

But despite his dislike for the appointment of Senator Nye, Secretary Hull promised to aid the committee in every possible way, and President Roosevelt urged the Senate (May 18, 1934) to provide ample funds for the use of committee members so that they would be able to execute their task with a thoroughness commensurate with the high importance of the questions at issue.[4]Ibid., p. 400.
(Cordell Hull, Memoirs (New York, 1948), I, 398.)
The committee began its hearings on September 4, and it was not long before a sordid story began to unfold. There were some colorful chapters dealing with the malign activities of highly paid lobbyists who used their influence to secure lucrative contracts. Some of the testimony pointed to the fact that manufacturers of munitions ardently believed in a “one world” of business. There were intimate ties that bound these “merchants of death” into an international trust. Within this business circle many trade secrets freely circulated, patents were exchanged, and the volume of trade was diverted into certain favored channels.

It was also brought out that some American army and naval officers had been of great service to armament firms, and that the Army and Navy departments, in order to speed a “preparedness program,” had given definite encouragement to the same corporations. This encouragement went so far as to permit manufacturers to copy designs of equipment that had been tested and perfected in government laboratories. Products made from these plans were freely sold to foreign governments.[5]Hearings Before the Special Senate Committee on the Investigation of the Munitions industry, 73 Cong., 2 sess., pts. 1-17. See also, William T. Stone, “The Munitions Industry,” Foreign Policy Association Reports, No. 20, 1935; H. C. Engelbrecht, One Hell of a Business (New York, 1934).

Some of the revelations that shocked the American public came from the secret files of the Department of State. Secretary Hull had been most generous in making available for the use of the Nye Committee confidential documents whose contents were supposed to be kept hidden from the prying eyes of newspaper reporters. But the inevitable leaks soon occurred. The Argentine Government protested against certain allegations concerning an Argentine admiral; the Chinese Foreign Office denied that a large wheat loan had been diverted into the itching palms of munitions makers, and Lord Vansittart carefully combed his large vocabulary for words that would express the proper pitch of indignation over the insinuation that King George V had exerted pressure upon Poland in order to secure a contract for a well-known British firm.[6]Hull, op. cit., p. 380. Taking his cue from the Foreign Office, the British Ambassador at Washington denounced the publication of the correspondence of the British Government with the House of Morgan during the years 1914-17. The American public should remain ignorant of the close connections between American big business and Britain.

Secretary Hull was greatly embarrassed by this barrage of protests, and he endeavored to enlist the support of the President in his effort to keep the Nye Committee “within reasonable limits.” Anglo-American relations should be carefully coddled lest some incident arise that might lead to seriously strained relations. But President Roosevelt was not interested in preserving the secrecy of the records of the House of Morgan. Although he agreed to meet the members of the Nye Committee in conference on March 19, he refrained from exerting the slightest pressure upon them.[7]Ibid., pp. 400-402.
(Hull, op. cit., p. 380.)
Historians will be eternally grateful to him for his silence on this occasion.

Thanks to this lack of Presidential pressure the Nye Committee unearthed a vast amount of data of great value to historians. These documents clearly showed the economic forces that helped to prepare the hostile climate of opinion against Germany that eventually led to American intervention in 1917. An important part of this evidence revealed the rich financial harvest gathered by some business firms as a result of the conflict.[8]According to statistics presented in the Report of the Federal Trade Commission on War-Time Profits and Costs of the Steel Industry, June 25, 1924, p. 29, the profits of some corporations were fantastically high:

(TABLE)

In Richard Lewisohn’s The Profits of War (New York, 1937), pp. 153-34, the following statement is made: “The Kennecott Company, one of the Guggenheim group, made a profit in 1917 amounting to 70% of the capital invested. . . . The corresponding profits of the Utah Copper Company . . . were 200%. . . . But even this was surpassed by the Calumet and Hecla Copper Mining Company who won the palm with 800% in 1917.” See also the Washington Evening Star, December 14, 1935.
These surprising figures accelerated the movement to enact legislation that would insure American neutrality and would take the profits out of war.

b. The Offensive against American Neutrality

The movement to insure American neutrality soon encountered the bitter opposition of many American publicists and politicians who believed that the Kellogg Pact had abolished the old concept of neutrality. They expressed their opinions with vehemence and launched a spirited attack upon anyone who adhered to the belief that America could still stay out of Europe’s never-ending cycle of wars. Their carefully planned offensive against the continuance of the American practice of neutrality began long before the findings of the Nye Committee deeply disturbed the American mind. It was a carry-over from the fight for the Treaty of Versailles. That treaty was partly American-made, and it had numerous supporters in the United States. Many readily recognized that it contained some glaring injustices, but they would not condemn the whole convention because of these imperfections. After the defeat of the treaty in the Senate, a group of prominent Americans dedicated all their efforts to bring the United States into a close concert with their former allies by means of some innocent-appearing pact whose broad implications could eventually be made to serve their purposes. The Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact was the answer to their prayers.

The British and French governments watched with great care and deep appreciation the work of these international-minded Americans. It was becoming increasingly difficult to preserve the spoils of the World War. If America could be bound to some general treaty for the renunciation of war her moral support would be assured in favor of the status quo. If some nation still crippled by the chains of Versailles attempted to break those bonds, or if some have-not power should by armed force endeavor to upset the political structure erected in 1919, she would be denounced as a treaty violator and a wicked foe of world peace. The Kellogg Pact was in the making long before 1928.

In order that this pact should be specially shaped to promote British and French imperial interests, the foreign offices of those two countries insisted upon certain reservations to the general terms of the treaty. The French Government made it very clear that the proposed peace pact should not affect the right of legitimate defense or the performance of the obligations outlined in the Covenant of the League of Nations. The same should be true with reference to the obligations contracted under the terms of the treaties of Locarno or under the provisions of treaties of alliance. Secretary Kellogg indicated his approval of these reservations in his speech before the American Society of International Law (April 28, 1928). On May 19 the British Government expressed its acceptance of the French reservations and then seized the opportunity to announce some of its own. There were certain regions of the world whose welfare and integrity constituted a “special and vital interest” for the safety of the Empire. Interference with these regions could not be “suffered.” Their protection against attack was “to the British Empire a measure of self-defence.” It should be clearly understood, therefore, that the British Government would not become a party to a new general peace treaty except upon the “distinct understanding that it does not prejudice their freedom of action in this respect [self-defense of certain regions of the world.]”[9]With reference to the effect of these reservations upon the Kellogg Pact see Edwin Borchard, “The Multilateral Treaty for the Renunciation of War,” American Journal of International Law, XXIII (1929), 116-20; Philip M. Brown, “The Interpretation of the General Pact for the Renunciation of War,” ibid., pp. 374-79.
(According to statistics presented in the Report of the Federal Trade Commission on War-Time Profits and Costs of the Steel Industry, June 25, 1924, p. 29, the profits of some corporations were fantastically high:

(TABLE)

In Richard Lewisohn’s The Profits of War (New York, 1937), pp. 153-34, the following statement is made: “The Kennecott Company, one of the Guggenheim group, made a profit in 1917 amounting to 70% of the capital invested. . . . The corresponding profits of the Utah Copper Company . . . were 200%. . . . But even this was surpassed by the Calumet and Hecla Copper Mining Company who won the palm with 800% in 1917.” See also the Washington Evening Star, December 14, 1935.)

In commenting upon these British and French reservations, Professor Edwin Borchard trenchantly remarks: “Considering the breadth of these qualifications or interpretations, it would be difficult to conceive of any wars that nations have fought within the past century, or are likely to fight in the future, that cannot be accommodated under them. Far from being an outlawry of war, they constitute the most definite sanction of specific wars that has ever been promulgated.”[10]Edwin Borchard and William P. Lage, Neutrality for the United States (New Haven, 1937), pp. 292-93.

It was obvious that the British reservations were purposely ambiguous. British statesmen could still meet with armed force any “interference” in vast undefined “regions of the world” whose welfare and integrity the British Government regarded as “vital” to the interests of the Empire. By accepting this significant phraseology Secretary Kellogg underwrote a reservation which reduced the peace pact to a sorry gesture. His previous acceptance of the French reservations gave further overtones of war to a document that was supposed to be a paean of peace.[11]George Wickersham, “The Pact of Paris: A Gesture or a Pledge?,” Foreign Affairs, VII (1929), 356 if.

This situation was given an additional martial twist by Secretary Kellogg’s opinion that wars undertaken by nations in pursuance of their obligations under the Covenant of the League of Nations, under the Locarno treaties, or under treaties of alliance were not outlawed by the Pact of Paris.[12] The General Pact for the Renunciation of War, pp. 37, 67. After this broad statement it was only natural for European statesmen to argue that the American Government was now bound by League decisions concerning aggressor nations and could not oppose collective action decreed by Geneva.[13]Frank H. Simonds, “America’s Second Peace Adventure,” American Review of Reviews, LXXVIII (1928), 267; Oscar T. Crosby, “The Paris Pact,” Advocate of Peace, XC (1928), 693. It is interesting to note that Senator Borah helped to mold this European viewpoint. In an interview with Kirby Page he boldly declared: “Another important result of such a treaty [the proposed Paris pact] would be to enlist the support of the United States in co-operative action against any nation which is guilty of a flagrant violation of this outlawry agreement. . . . It is quite inconceivable that this country would stand idly by in case of a grave breach of a multilateral treaty to which it is a party.”[14]New York Times, March 25, 1928. Some months later, Senator Borah expressed a very different viewpoint. In a speech in the Senate, January 3, 1929, he now stated: “If a nation violates the treaty [Pact of Paris] are we under any obligation, express or implied, to apply coercive or punitive measures? I answer emphatically, NO!” Congressional Record, 70 Cong., 2 sess., LXX, January 3, 1929, 1065.

It should be remembered that Borah, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, took an active part in the negotiations for this Pact of Paris. Before the pact was signed Secretary Kellogg wrote him a letter to thank him for his “co-operation and very great assistance.”[15]Secretary Kellogg to Senator Borah, July 16, 1928. Personal and Confidential, Borah Papers, Library of Congress. Borah replied by congratulating Kellogg “not only in securing the Treaty, but in securing it in the form in which it seems now it will undoubtedly be accepted. I look upon the Treaty as a great and distinct achievement in the cause of peace and I regard the manner and skill with which you have conducted the negotiations as an exhibition of the highest statesmanship.”[16]Senator Borah to Secretary Kellogg, July 22, 1928. ibid.
(Secretary Kellogg to Senator Borah, July 16, 1928. Personal and Confidential, Borah Papers, Library of Congress.)

Kellogg now expressed his fears that there was “a significant movement against the treaty in this country and I think we should all bear this in mind.”[17]Secretary Kellogg to Senator Borah, July 26, 1928. Ibid.
(Secretary Kellogg to Senator Borah, July 16, 1928. Personal and Confidential, Borah Papers, Library of Congress.)
Borah should have been deeply interested in checking this movement because he was in many ways one of the authors of the pact that would soon be signed in Paris:

I think the people in Europe understand the great assistance you have been. Many of the suggestions as to its form came from you and your first open letter to the New York Times explaining the proposed treaty was of immense value.[18]Secretary Kellogg to Senator Borah, July 27, 1928. Ibid.
(Secretary Kellogg to Senator Borah, July 16, 1928. Personal and Confidential, Borah Papers, Library of Congress.)

In the second week in August, Kellogg wrote to Borah with some anxiety about the “insinuations” in certain newspapers:

Just now representatives of certain papers . . . are writing all the insinuations they can think of and Frank Simonds has joined the crowd. He says we have assumed moral obligations. I know of no moral obligations to apply sanctions or take affirmative military action in any case whatever might happen; in fact this is the only kind of treaty, as you have always said, that we can possibly sign. . . . It makes me discouraged when I see such insinuations.[19]Secretary Kellogg to Senator Borah, August 10, 1928. Ibid.
(Secretary Kellogg to Senator Borah, July 16, 1928. Personal and Confidential, Borah Papers, Library of Congress.)

These insinuations had a good basis in fact and Borah’s interview with Kirby Page [March 25, 1928] showed that the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations firmly believed that “in the event of a grave violation” of the proposed peace pact the United States could “not stand idly by.” It would not be long before the next Secretary of State, Henry L. Stimson, would vehemently assert this very viewpoint. Borah was incredibly naïve in his whole attitude towards the proposed Kellogg-Briand treaty for the outlawry of war. He had been one of the outstanding opponents of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919-20 and had played a major part in encompassing its defeat in the Senate. Now he was throwing all his energies in pushing through the Senate a treaty that would “freeze” all the injustices of Versailles. The so-called chains of Versailles could be broken only by armed conflict; Borah was in the strange position of outlawing war and thus perpetuating those chains. The implications of the proposed pact seemed to escape him, even though some distinguished publicists endeavored to warn him. In December 1929, Professor Borchard wrote him a long letter which ended on the following admonition:

I cannot help but feel grateful that we did not succumb to the campaign for joining the League—a campaign now about to be renewed. . . . We should inevitably have become either a party to or an opponent of these transactions [European disputes then pending] and could not have done anything but drag ourselves into the meshes of European politics. If I correctly read the British White Paper, it is their idea that this result has been accomplished by our signature of the Kellogg Pact. It was always my belief that this was essentially their purpose in signing the Kellogg Pact.[20]Edwin M. Borchard to Senator Borah, December 27, 1929. Ibid.
(Secretary Kellogg to Senator Borah, July 16, 1928. Personal and Confidential, Borah Papers, Library of Congress.)

Senator Capper had already given an indication that he believed that the Kellogg Pact fundamentally changed our historic neutrality policy. In February 1929 he introduced a resolution which called for the prohibition of the shipment of “arms and munitions and implements or other articles for use in war” to any country which the President declared was a violator of the Kellogg Pact.[21]Congressional Record, 70 Cong., 2 sess., February 11, 1929, p. 3198. Although this resolution was not adopted by the Senate it was strong evidence that some prominent Republicans and Democrats were ready to follow a bipartisan policy with reference to the outlawry of war.

There were numerous academic supporters of this bipartisan policy. Professor Clyde Eagleton was confident that the “Kellogg Pact will be respected only if we deliberately and strongly take sides against the violator of the Pact,”[22] Proceedings of the American Society of International Law, 1925, p. 133. and Professor Charles G. Fenwick praised the pact because it indicated American concern with regard to its observance “by other States” and an intention to depart from our “traditional attitude of neutrality” should others be guilty of a breach of it.[23]“The Implication of Consultation in the Pact of Paris,” American Journal of International Law, XXVI (1932), 787-89.

In order to implement this one-world concept of war and peace (with no middle ground of neutrality), certain publicists expressed the opinion that the provisions of the Kellogg Pact contained implications of international consultation. David Hunter Miller was sure of it. In the event of a threat of war, “inevitably the Government of the United States will be consulted, if not at Geneva, certainly by the Powers most influential at Geneva. . . . No Government of the United States could be indifferent to such an appeal [nor] could it refuse to use its influence in such case in co-operation with the League of Nations to preserve peace.” Consultation among the signatories of the Pact of Paris was an obligation inherent in the terms of the Pact itself.[24]David Hunter Miller, The Peace Pact of Paris (New York, 1928), pp. 130-31.

Secretary Stimson shared this view of Mr. Miller, and on August 8, in an address before the Council on Foreign Relations, he gave it clear and emphatic expression.[25]Henry L. Stimson, “The Pact of Paris: Three Years of Development,” Department of State, Publication No. 357 (Washington, 1932), pp. 11-12. Neutrality, he believed, was an outworn American concept: international co-operation was the new slogan of the Department of State and it would command popular support. The Roosevelt Administration was too cautious to go as far as Mr. Stimson, but Norman Davis, at Geneva (May 22, 1933), not only promised consultation but also co-operation with other powers to the extent of refraining from any action that would defeat collective effort to punish an aggressor State.[26]Department of State, Press Release, May 22, 1933.

John Bassett Moore, America’s leading authority in the field of international law, listened to the words of Norman Davis with deep dismay. The commitment of the United States to any far-reaching consultative pact would “constitute the gravest danger to which the country has ever been exposed, a danger involving our very independence. . . . It would destroy the last vestige of the power to control our own destiny. . . . Of all conceivable devices the consultative pact’ is the most pernicious.”[27]“An Appeal to Reason,” Foreign Affairs, XI (1933), 571-73.

These words of warning from Judge Moore carried considerable weight in some Democratic circles, and they had a definite influence upon the Department of State in the Italo-Ethiopian crisis. But before the outbreak of that conflict the fight to preserve American neutrality was transferred to the halls of Congress.

c. The President Accepts a Congressional Program of Neutrality

It is a trite observation that politics often makes strange bedfellows. This was certainly true of the relations between Borah and Stimson. At times they were poles apart in their attitude towards the problem of world peace, but upon other occasions they stood shoulder-to-shoulder and gave each other strong support. In the summer of 1932, Borah agreed with Stimson that it would be wise statesmanship to cancel the war debts of the nations that had been associated with America during the World War.[28]Henry L. Stimson and McGeorge Bundy, On Active Service in War and Peace (New York, 1948), p, 214. In the early days of 1933, Borah once more stood close to Stimson. On January 10, 1933, President Hoover sent to Congress a special message requesting authority to declare an embargo upon munitions of war. This request had particular reference to the war then raging between Bolivia and Paraguay. But the message also contained an inclosure from Secretary Stimson (January 6, 1933) in the form of a resolution that had wide implications.[29]Congressional Record, 72 Cong., 2 sess., January 10, 1933, pp. 1448, 1546. Borah was persuaded to introduce this resolution which passed the Senate on January 19 without discussion. On the following day Senator Bingham made a motion to reconsider the vote on the resolution and thereby erected a barrier that prevented final favorable action.[30]Congressional Record, 72 Cong., 2 sess., pp. 2134-35.

Under the wide terms of this resolution, whenever the President discovered in any part of the world a threatening situation which would be aggravated by shipments of munitions of war to that quarter, he could, after securing some measure of international co-operation, issue a proclamation which would take the form of an arms embargo. This embargo would be put into force against “such country or countries as he [the President] may designate.”

The tremendous powers thus placed within the discretion of the President were very apparent to the business interests of the United States. Officials from the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, and from similar corporations in different parts of the country, rushed to Washington and strongly argued against the proposed legislation. In response to this pressure the scope of the resolution was narrowed. The embargo would apply not to “any part of the world” but merely to “any American Country.”[31]New York Times, February 16, 1933. But even in this emasculated form it failed to secure the approval of Congress.[32]Judge John Bassett Moore protested vigorously against the passage of any resolution which placed such great powers within the discretion of the President: “The pending resolution is . . . opposed to the. settled policy and the highest interests of the United States and also to the provisions of our Federal Constitution. If adopted it would enable the President (1) to make international engagements of the most far-reaching kind at his will, without the advice and consent of the Senate, and (2) to carry us into war without the prerequisite constitutional declaration of war by Congress.” House Report No. 22, 73 Cong., 1 sess., pt. 2, pp. 5-9.

When Secretary Hull assumed office in March 1933 he quickly disclosed his irritation that Congress had failed to enact neutrality legislation that placed broad powers within the President’s discretion. He and Stimson saw eye to eye in this regard. In April 1935, he frankly informed the President that he did not want the type of legislation “advocated by isolationists like Nye, which would bind the Executive hand and foot and inform any prospective aggressors . . . that they could declare war on their intended victim and we would then see to it that our citizens did not furnish arms to that victim.”[33]Hull, op. cit., p. 406.

But Hull was not able to suppress the enthusiasm of Senators Nye and Clark who introduced several measures providing for the very neutrality policy that was scorned by the Department of State. The President and Secretary Hull asked Senator Pittman (chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations) to “kill” the proposed legislation by reporting adversely upon it, but he failed to act according to their desires. Norman Davis was then sent to see Pittman who agreed to “stifle” the Nye-Clark resolutions. After this promise of acquiescence by Pittman, Hull appeared before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and expressed his views. Subsequently he sent to the committee a draft of the legislation which he preferred. This, of course, contained a provision which left to the President’s discretion the application of an arms embargo in time of war.[34]Ibid., pp. 410-11.
(Hull, op. cit., p. 406.)

The Department of State feared that the strong isolationist bloc in the Senate might be able to postpone the passage of the proposed legislation, so Hull on August 19 asked President Roosevelt to exert pressure upon Senator Pittman so that he would evince the proper fighting spirit against the obstructionists. But Pittman seemed singularly unresponsive to White House advice in this regard, and the resolution he reported from the Committee on Foreign Relations failed to give the President any discretion in the application of an arms embargo. When this resolution passed both houses of Congress and was sent to the President for his approval, Secretary Hull indicated several provisions that were distasteful to him. But the President waved aside these objections and approved the bill on August 31.

On September 24, the National Munitions Control Board held its first meeting, and now every manufacturer, exporter, and importer of arms, ammunition, and implements of war would have to register with the Department of State. The export of their products would be controlled by a license system. In time of war a mandatory embargo proclaimed by the President would put a stop to this trade with belligerent nations. There would be no opportunity for the use of Presidential discretion. It was also provided that the Chief Executive, by proclamation, could extend to American citizens a warning that if they took passage on belligerent ships they did so at their own risk. He could prohibit or restrict the entry of belligerent submarines into American waters and could bar the transport of men and munitions from American ports to belligerent vessels at sea.[35]Borchard and Lage, op. cit., p. 315.

d. American Reaction to the Italo-Ethiopian War

The Neutrality Act had established a new policy of peace insurance which it was ardently hoped would keep America safe from the ravages of war. A test for this policy soon arose on October 3 when Mussolini’s legions marched into Ethiopia. The usual proclamations of war were omitted. This led Secretary Hull to send telegrams to London, Paris, Rome, Geneva, and Addis Ababa requesting news of actual hostilities.

Bingham, in London, replied that “His Majesty’s Government do not consider a state of war to exist.”[36]Ambassador Bingham to Secretary Hull, London, October 4, 1935. 765.84/1556, MS, Department of State. A little puzzled by the cautious attitude of Britain, Hull sent another telegram of inquiry to London: “Is this attitude based upon legal considerations that relate to belligerent rights, or is it the result of practical considerations pending the Council meeting?”[37]Secretary Hull to Ambassador Bingham, October 4, 1935. 765.84/1556, MS, Department of State.

While Hull was waiting for a reply from Bingham, Stanley K. Hornbeck, chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, proposed to Mr. Phillips that a message be sent to the British Foreign Office and to the Secretary-General of the League of Nations to the effect that no request be made of the American Government to co-operate in the imposition of sanctions.[38]Stanley K. Hornbeck to Mr. Phillips, October 4, 1935. 765.84/1960, MS, Department of State.

Dr. Hornbeck’s proposal was met with “smiles of disapproval” but he nevertheless continued to push it vigorously. He knew only too well that Europe would be eager for America to co-operate in any program of pressure upon Italy and he realized the dangers that would attend such action. While the Department of State was pondering the problems that would inevitably arise out of the war, word came from Paris that Laval and Eden had been holding important conferences concerning the course that should be followed. Laval had expressed the view that “it might be possible to get by with economic measures” of pressure upon Rome. Eden had countered with the statement that “if such measures should be taken they must be strong, firm and complete, and must commence all at once in order to be effective.”[39]Theodore Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, October 4, 1935. 765.84/1557, MS, Department of State.

As dispatches continued to pour into the Department of State from European capitals it was soon obvious that a state of actual warfare existed between Italy and Ethiopia. In view of this fact President Roosevelt sent to Secretary Hull a wireless message from the cruiser Houston that he believed a proclamation should be immediately issued recognizing this state of war.[40]President Roosevelt to Secretary Hull, October 4, 1935. 765.84/1574, MS, Department of State. Hull agreed with this viewpoint even though some of his advisers like Hugh Wilson were of the opinion that America should await action by the League. On October 5 the formal proclamation was issued which placed an embargo upon the shipment of arms and munitions of war to belligerent nations. Along with this proclamation a statement was issued warning all American citizens that those “who voluntarily engage in transactions of any character with either of the belligerents do so at their own risk.”[41]Department of State, Press Release, October 5, 1935, pp. 251-55.

This statement went beyond the letter of the Neutrality Act and was drafted by Secretary Hull in order to discourage “trading of all kinds with Italy.” The President had agreed with Hull in this particular case, but he broke with him in connection with the issuance of a warning to American citizens to be careful about traveling on Italian ships. Hull thought this warning was not necessary, but the President insisted that it be issued. He feared that if “Americans continue to patronize Italian ships there may very easily occur some untoward episode.”[42]Hull, op. cit., pp. 430-31.

From Germany, Dodd reported that the Italo-Ethiopian War was being carefully studied by the Foreign Office. With reference to the possible imposition of sanctions, Dodd believed that inasmuch as Germany was no longer a member of the League and had no share in “Geneva decisions, it does not propose to be bound thereby.” The German Government hoped “to maintain normal trade with Italy.”[43]Ambassador Dodd to Secretary Hull, Berlin, October 5, 1935. 765.84/1587, MS, Department of State.

In Paris there was a growing disinclination to take strong measures against Italy. Even the leftist press was supporting this viewpoint. The communist papers were exclaiming with emphasis: “We refuse to be dragged into a war through Signor Mussolini’s folly.” In the leading papers there was a marked tendency to “dissuade England from pressing for the adoption of sanctions.”[44]Theodore Marriner to Secretary Hull, Paris, October 5, 1935. 765.84/1591, MS, Department of State.

After a careful scrutiny of the French press the Italian Government reached the conclusion that “France had decided to support Italy without alienating England.“ The consequence was that “Italy will proceed uninterrupted into Ethiopia, in the meantime seeking some advantageous compromise. . . . Military sanctions seem certain to be discarded and such economic sanctions as may be adopted have the prospect of being so restricted as to be ineffective.”[45]Ambassador Long to Secretary Hull, Rome, October 5, 1935. 765.84/1607, MS, Department of State.

Hugh Wilson, in Geneva, hoped that Secretary Hull would postpone any action with reference to the Italo-Ethiopian conflict. The situation was decidedly “ticklish.” The issuance of an American proclamation recognizing a state of war “might influence the decision of the Council and involve us in responsibility for the course of action which they adopt.”[46]Hugh Wilson to Secretary Hull, Geneva, October 5, 1935. 765.84/1583, Strictly Confidential, MS, Department of State.

Prentiss Gilbert, also in Geneva, presented the opposite viewpoint. He had talked with a British official who took the position that the sooner America acted “the better.” League action “would not tend to clarify the situation but [would] probably render it more involved and that early action on our part would not only serve to cut through this atmosphere by a recognition of the realities of the situation, but . . . would also strengthen the British position.”[47]Prentiss Gilbert to Secretary Hull, Geneva, October 5, 1935. 765.84/1595, MS, Department of State.

It was the British position that Secretary Hull regarded as being of prime importance. On October 5 he directed James C. Dunn to telephone to the Embassy in London and make certain inquiries about the attitude of the Foreign Office. He learned that the British Government believed that “sanctions might not be agreed to immediately at Geneva, but that eventually there would be sanctions.” With reference to the existence of war between Italy and Ethiopia, no decision had as yet been made by the British Government.[48]Memorandum by James C. Dunn, October 5, 1935. 765.84/1583V2, MS, Department of State.

While the British Foreign Office was wrestling with the juridical problem of war, the British General Staff and the British Admiralty were engaging in important conversations with French military officials concerning possible operations in the event that France was attacked as a result of League measures. During these conversations the question of sanctions was given extended consideration, the view being expressed that “military measures might be evoked by conditions flowing out of the application of economic measures.”[49]Prentiss Gilbert to Secretary Hull, Geneva, October 6, 1935. 765.84/1681, MS, Department of State.

These conversations were given added significance by the reply of the French Government to the British query as to French action in the event Britain was attacked by a third power “against whom sanctions were contemplated.” French assistance was promised under the following three conditions:

1) The obligation of assistance must be reciprocal. It must bind Britain to help France in similar circumstances.

2) There must be a joint consultation on the proposed measures of precaution.

3) The obligations must apply whether