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ment and that we shared their view that it would be deplorable if the only result of the President's invitation should be (as a result of disagreement over a technical problem) a renewal of competitive building and they could be sure that their proposal would be examined in the most sympathetic spirit.

Admiral Jones raised a number of questions as to points in the proposal and said that we should, of course, have to study it very carefully before we were in a position to discuss it intelligently. We suggested that we should call on them tomorrow morning for further discussion.

Further comments on this proposal in the morning.”

The following is a paraphrase of the delegation's comments on the Japanese idea outlined above: 95

"I think you understand that this proposal is based on the idea that Great Britain and Japan should not undertake to construct any cruisers, other than those authorized at present, before the end of 1931 and during this time should the United States desire she will be able to bring her cruiser strength up to the British strength. Of course, the word "authorized' should be defined most carefully and should, it is our opinion, include only those vessels under construction and for which appropriations have been made, which would give, according to their figures, a British tonnage in cruisers of approximately 378,000 tons. We are also of the opinion that the proposal would be more acceptable if the authorized programs were expressed in total tonnage figures not to be exceeded before 1931 by either the United States or Great Britain.

As the Japanese themselves were the first to state, the draft submitted by them is only a rough outline and would need many alterations, additions and amendments.

Concerning paragraph four, we are of the opinion that it might be well at least to give consideration to the question of whether an agreement could not also be concluded now concerning destroyers and submarines so that we might have a better basis on which to work out and consolidate the limitation of auxiliary craft in 1931.

We find it difficult to understand how the Japanese suggestions could prove acceptable to the British even as a basis for discussion since this would necessitate surrender by the latter in regard to the question of eight inch guns and such a surrender would be mitigated only by the fact that the agreement would contain no mention of such guns. Therefore, even though as far as we are concerned certain points of the proposal would have to be modified, we believe that the responsibility for rejecting it, if this is done, should rest with the delegates of Great Britain, and if the latter are in reality ready to avail themselves of the suggestion of the Japanese delegates to meet our position, we ought not ourselves assume the responsibility for rejecting the initiative taken by the Japanese. Such rejection on our part might lend itself to the interpretation as a declaration that it is only upon our own terms that we are prepared to negotiate.

I saw Saito this morning with Admiral Jones and informed him that since the exchange of views last night between the American "Telegram No. 150, Aug. 2, 1 p. m.

and Japanese technical advisers it appeared that the results of such a scheme would have to be carefully studied and elaborated in greater detail before it would be possible to estimate whether it would bring about a naval holiday in reality. We suggested that Saito should communicate his idea to Bridgeman in view of the short time remaining to us. This morning he is seeing Bridgeman for this purpose."

I replied yesterday, after consultation with the Navy, as follows: 88 "Should a proposal such as that contained in your telegram No. 149 be put forward, it ought to be given very thoughtful consideration. Lacking more particulars it is not possible to judge of it here. Surely, we would be unable to concur in the proposal that the British Empire should build up to the program which it has authorized, which would bring its total tonnage up to approximately 465,000 tons, nor is it our understanding that America's laying the keels of 10,000 ton cruisers would be considered to prevent us from bringing our Navy to an equality with Great Britain in 9,800 ton ships or other classes of cruisers. Naturally, it would be far wiser to permit Great Britain to turn down this proposal than for us to do so."


500.A15 a 1/531 : Telegram

The Secretary of State to President Coolidge

WASHINGTON, August 3, 1927. We received a telegram yesterday afternoon reading in part as follows:

[Here follows a paraphrase of paragraphs 4 and 5 of telegram No. 147, August 1, 11 p. m., from the chairman of the American delegation, printed on page 146.]

It was important to answer at once so after consultation with the Navy we wired as follows: 97

"If the Japanese or British delegations should make a suggestion such as that contained in paragraph four of the foregoing telegram that the conference might end without any prolonged and detailed speeches but merely with a statement issued on the part of the conference and concurred in by all three of the delegations and put out by the Secretary General of the conference which should recommend that the whole question be considered in 1931 I think that such a proposition ought to be given your support. I agree also with the ideas you set forth on the subject contained in paragraph five.”

I received another message in which the delegation stated that: 98

"If Japanese initiative is rejected by the British or fails for other reasons our delegates are prepared to go ahead with their speeches. However, our delegations recommended a substitute for Japanese pro

The quotation is a paraphrase of telegram No. 91, Aug. 2, 8 p. m.
» Telegram No. 90, Aug. 2, 6 p. m.; paraphrased.
Telegram No. 152, Aug. 2, 4 p. m.; paraphrased.


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posal in paragraph four and five of this telegram, which the delegation feels would be approved by public opinion and leave an opportunity open for future negotiations. This would require an authorization to go to see the British delegation and that of Japan and show them that public discussion on the differences of opinion could only bring about ill feeling and make matters complicated in the future. Likewise that the course of broad-mindedness and common sense would be to issue a joint statement stating that we had come to an impasse on technical matters but that as all three countries are united in a desire to arrive at an agreement we are not willing that any mere interchange of points of view should be taken as final. That on this account we are agreed that the only possibility now open is to issue a joint public statement that we have been unable to reach agreement with respect to the question of cruisers. That on that account we agree to adjournment in an effort to give a chance for negotiations directly between governments in the hope that united efforts and common devotion to the cause of naval limitation will lead in the end to the type of reasonable understanding which could alone be considered worthy of three great nations on friendly terms.

We think that a statement of this nature read at the public meeting by the Chairman of the conference would be altogether dignified and would have the tendency to sound a more reasonable note between the governments and might bring about a calming down of the recriminations which at present or in the near future make the carrying on of negotiations extremely difficult if not impossible.

As there is only a very short time now before the plenary session we hope that you can give us a decision very shortly on this subject.”

In view of the shortness of the time I have sent the following telegram as they had to have the answer this morning. I consulted with the Secretary of the Navy and answered as follows: 99

“Your 152, August 2, 4 p. m., has just arrived very late this afternoon with many portions considerably garbled. However I believe I fully understand your suggestions.

1. Should the Japanese proposal for a compromise be turned down by the delegation of the British Empire or should it fail for any other reason you have stated that you are ready to proceed with your public statement in accordance with my instructions. I approve of this course. Should, however, a public plenary session be held and the British state their views naturally we must follow the same course.

2. Your calling in the delegations of Great Britain and Japan to suggest to them a joint statement of the fact that you are unable to arrive at an agreement and that on that account you are in accord that an adjournment should be taken in order to give a chance for negotiation directly between the interested governments appears to us to be statesmanlike. Both the Secretary of the Navy and I give our approval to the idea."

Neither one of these propositions contemplates an adjournment for a few months but practically an ending of the conference with a reference of their work to the 1931 conference, thus leaving it open

Telegram No. 92, Aug. 2, 10 p. m.; paraphrased.

for diplomatic negotiations if possible. We have, as you know, desired to avoid recriminations but, of course, if the British insist on making speeches we will do the same. To make a treaty recognizing a large building program on the part of Great Britain of course is inadvisable. I am in hopes that this may be avoided.

Just been notified by the British Ambassador that British Government insists on speeches being made. This probably ends any attempt.


500.A15 a 1/539b: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chairman of the American Delegation



WASHINGTON, August 3, 1927–2 p.m. 95. This morning the Democratic leader in the Senate (Robinson) called on me. I discussed with him the entire situation at Geneva. Thoroughly approving our course, he says he will support it. If speeches are made, he said we should state our position fully and frankly.


500.A15 a 1/535 : Telegram The Chairman of the American Delegation (Gibson) to the Secretary

of State 1

GENEVA, August 4, 1927—2 a. m.

[Received 3 a. m.] 155. Your No. 92, August 2, 10 p. British and Japanese delegates were unable to meet us until this evening because of other arrangements and Bridgeman's lack of instructions in regard to Japanese suggestion.

We first took up Japanese suggestion and, in answer to question as to what was meant by “authorized programs,” Bridgeman confirmed our view that this would call for approximately 458,000 tons of cruisers by 1931; that their understanding was that this would involve their stopping on completion of present construction of 10,000-ton cruisers but utilizing other available tonnage for other cruisers so that this was merely a substitution of programs and not in any sense a reduction of tonnage. I was obliged to say this did not seem to offer any real limitation and after I had thanked the Japanese delegation for their friendly effort to find a basis of agreement Viscount Ishii stated that


Although this telegram was despatched on August 4 at 2 a. m., it was apparently drafted late in the evening of August 3.

See footnote 99, p. 151.

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the idea outlined by the Japanese delegation would not be put forward in the form of a proposal.

I then asked Bridgeman and Ishii if they had any further proposals to bring forward. They replied in the negative.

I then raised the subject of tomorrow's meeting and outlined very fully the desirability of making a joint statement rather than separate and controversial statements. I went so far as to read them large part of my 152, August 2, 4 p. m., and last part of your 92, August 2, 10 p. m.? Bridgeman and Cecil were unwilling to discuss any abandonment of their present plan and stated that they had the most categorical instructions from the Cabinet which had been fully confirmed in a telegram received this evening, that they must make a statement setting forth their point of view and justifying their position. I went as far as [I] could in insistence, urging the possibility of Bridgeman's telephoning to London to indicate that a preferable method had been suggested and asking authority to refrain from making his statement but he was unwilling to do this. In view of their obvious determination to make their prepared statement we felt that it was futile to make any further efforts. We then took up the question of procedure for tomorrow's meeting. It was agreed :

1. That I should make a brief introductory statement to be approved by the other delegations stating the progress made thus far, adding that we had reached the end of our labors, and indicating the important points with regard to which we had reached disagreement.

2. That statements should then be made by Bridgeman, Saito, and myself and in that order.

3. That there should be no debate after the statements.

4. That a joint declaration should then be read and approved by the Conference recognizing the deadlock which made it wise to adjourn the present Conference with a frank statement of divergent views and also stating that these views would be submitted to the respective Governments with the recommendation that they be carefully studied in the hope that consultation may lead to an eventual agreement.

The text of this declaration now being prepared and will be telegraphed shortly.


500.A15 a 1/540 : Telegram

The Secretary of State to President Coolidge

WASHINGTON, August 4, 1927. At the conclusion of the Plenary Session, Gibson read the following declaration, text of which had been approved by all three delegations :

* See footnotes 98 and 99, pp. 150 and 151.

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