Volume 1 1919~1922

Doc No.

No. 119 NAI DFA ES Box 27 File 158

Harry Boland to Robert Brennan


New York, 30 November 1921

A Chara:
I promised in my last despatch to report more fully on the Disarmament Conference now taking place at Washington. It is very hard to estimate the effect of the Disarmament Conference on American opinion. The Hughes proposal secured the overwhelming support of the American Press, and the spirit favoring disarmament is widespread in this country.

The Hearst organization stands alone in opposition to the proposals of Mr. Hughes and the papers controlled by Hearst are waging a very vigorous campaign against limitations of armament, and are favoring a big navy for America.

The Friends of Irish Freedom have now opened a vigorous campaign against the Hughes proposals, whilst the American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic are urging the freedom of Ireland as a condition precedent to limitation of armaments.

The harmony of the Conference was rudely disturbed by M. Briand, the French representative, and as a result of his outspoken declaration in the name of France the relationship between France and Britain is considerably strained. British journalists in Washington and official British propaganda came out very bitterly against the French and the French retaliated in kind.

An unofficial representative of the French Government approached me as to the possibility of securing the good will of Irish-American opinion in behalf of France. He asked me to draw up a memorandum, which he in turn would submit to the French representatives, demonstrating the power of organized Irish-American opinion and its effect on

  1. The treaty of Versailles
  2. Rejection of the League of Nations
  3. Its opposition to the funding or cancellation of the allied war debt.

I regret to report that before I could secure the necessary data this gentleman was recalled to France and sailed last Monday with M. Briand. I would therefore urge that your Envoy at Paris be instructed to get in touch with M. [Leon] B[o]urgeois, and I shall be happy to supply you with any information you may consider desirable. I am given to understand that France's Envoys are distinctly favourable towards Ireland and I feel it my duty to notify you of this fact.

I canvassed opinion amongst our friends in the Senate on the outcome of the Disarmament Conference and I am assured that any recommendations that may be agreed upon must first be put before the Senate ere America becomes bound to them. There may be, however, the question of a 'gentleman's agreement', which is purely an executive function. On the other hand, I think in the present temper of the Senate, that body would insist upon reviewing the work of the Disarmament Conference; that is, unless (which at present seems likely) the Conference should break up without accomplishing anything in the way of limitation of armaments.

An interesting development from the Disarmament Conference was the statement by President Harding on Saturday last that at some indefinite date America would call together in conference the representatives of all the nations of the world. This may be the forerunner of an American Association of Nations, and it is of vital import to Ireland that your department realizes the importance of this statement. I believe firmly that in the event of America summoning the representatives of the free nations of the world to Washington, that Irish-American opinion will be powerful enough to insist on Ireland being represented at that gathering. It would be well, therefore, to keep this in mind and of course the initiative in seeking admission to such a conference must come from Ireland.

A month ago I sent you copies of letters which I proposed to address to the representatives of the different nations assembled here at present to discuss the proposed limitation of armaments. In that letter, I asked you to cable me instructions. To date I have received no reply; consequently I have not sent any of these communications to the different delegates.

I would recommend that President de Valera discuss this question of disarmament from Ireland's point of view with representatives of the American Press. As the attitude taken up by the Friends of Irish Freedom is based solely on Cohalan's policy, and as the campaign has been waged under the title of Friends of Irish Freedom, American citizens not conversant with the true state of affairs here might very well mistake this policy as the official policy of the Irish Government, so that a clear statement from President de Valera on Ireland's outlook on the question of limitation of armaments is most opportune; and as he has the ear of the world at present, I would respectfully suggest that you take immediate steps to give the official Irish point of view.

I am writing an article for the WASHINGTON POST on this question to be based chiefly on our Bulletin as treatment of the disarmament proposals.

As a result of the truce we have been diffident in asking U.S. Senators to raise the question of Ireland, but after full consideration, we considered it desirable to ask Senator La Follette to introduce a Resolution (copy enclosed) which I think we can secure a majority vote for. We are working ahead on this and the result may reach Ireland before this despatch. It is very difficult to get action from American public men at this time, as they are chary about discussing the Irish situation during the progress of the negotiations.

Celtic Cross: I have endorsed the work of the Celtic Cross and all monies collected by them are now being handed over to our Fiscal Agent, who in turn will transmit the funds to Ireland, to be used in behalf of the Irish Prisoners' Dependents' Fund. I have not yet secured the approval of the White Cross to our proposals. We are prepared to O.K. them if they are in turn prepared to accept the conditions which we have laid down, and which were cheerfully accepted by Mrs. McWhorter and her organization.

I understand how difficult it is for your department to keep us supplied with news regarding negotiations. We would, however, be much obliged if you can see your way to keep us in touch with the general situation.

Bond Drive: The Bond Drive has been underway in Illinois and Washington, D.C. for the past two weeks. There is at present in bank in Illinois some $250,000 and in Washington, D.C. the amount realized to date is $15,000. We are satisfied that working this drive state by state we will secure a great deal of money. It is intended to open the Bond campaign in California, Oregon and Washington early in January, after which we will do the middle-western states, and so on until we have covered the country. This working of state by state is altogether the better plan, and we feel sure that should war be forced upon the Irish people again American sympathizers will raise the required amount.

I received a report on the Canadian Convention of the Self-Determination for Ireland League, which I hope to send by this despatch; also copies of Resolutions adopted at that gathering.

Salary: I have made arrangements with the Minister of Finance whereby a certain amount be deducted from the salary appropriated to this office at Dublin and forwarded to my mother. I have no intention of drawing this salary and I will continue as in the past to carry on on my expenses.

Harry Boland