Dear Mr. President:
Having spent the last couple of weeks in Washington, I have had an
opportunity to discuss the present international situation with men who are pretty close
to official America. This, with a careful study of the editorial comments in
the American Press, leads me to the belief that the coming disarmament
conference summoned for November 11th in Washington is fraught with great possibilities to Ireland.1
Senator Penrose of Pennsylvania has introduced into the Senate a bill
giving power to Secretary of the Treasury, Mellon, to make such arrangements
with foreign governments in regard to their outstanding debts to America as may think fit. The bill met with slight opposition before the Finance
Committee but has been reported favorably to the Senate, and I am convinced that
the Senate will adopt the recommendations of the Committee and grant
the authority sought by the Secretary of the Treasury. The Hearst Press and a
few progressive Senators, supported by the Irish-American organizations,
are fighting vigorously against the proposed bill. There is no doubt in my
mind that Senator Penrose's bill will become law and that Mr. Harding and his
cabinet will thus have the power to make whatever disposition they may think fit
of the various American war loans to the allies.
Taking this, in conjunction with the President's call for a
disarmament conference, leads one to the belief that America is determined to
considerably reduce armaments.
It is further believed that this coming conference will deal with the
question of 'an Association of Nations' and will endeavor to settle the questions of
policy in the Pacific Ocean.
It would be superfluous for me to point out to you the great strength
of America's position in this conference. She will have 'the power of the
purse' behind her in her negotiations. One can quite imagine America insisting on
a 'quid pro quo' when the question of the Allied loans comes up for
discussion. It is believed here that the Senate will have given power to Mr. Harding
and his Cabinet to make whatever disposition of the loans they deem necessary
in the interests of America, disarmament and world's peace.
Without exception, the American Press hailed the negotiations between
the English Government and Ireland with great relief, and again without
exception, so far as the great agencies are concerned, they look for and will support
a compromise. I have endeavored to offset this campaign as best I could
by writing confidentially to Mr. McFarland of the Hearst organization, and to
Mr. Moore of the Pittsburgh Leader, asking them to wage a press campaign
It appears to me that behind the overtures of Lloyd George there is an
ulterior purpose. It might well be that England is endeavoring to create a
favourable atmosphere here in America, and particularly in Washington, for
the forthcoming disarmament parleys. It is not too much to assert that the
English delegates would find it impossible to come to this conference if She
had continued her bloody work in Ireland. Now, however, with the truce, and
with the hope that is held here that a satisfactory settlement will be arrived at,
the atmosphere 'is already created'.
Our very best friends in the Senate have a perfect alibi and find it
very difficult to secure action on Ireland's behalf just now. I am practically in
the same position myself, as I have been very careful not to make any
statements that might in any way embarrass the present negotiations.
I deem it my duty to warn you that if negotiations are still pending
between England and Ireland next November, the English will find it very, very easy
to sit in at Washington undisturbed by Irish-American agitation. If, on the
other hand, the negotiations shall break down, we must be careful that England
does not place us in a false position before the world. It seems to me that it is
essential to final success that the show down come within a reasonable time before
the disarmament conference meets in Washington.
I write in this strain to you with all deference, fearing that in the anxieties
of the moment you may have lost sight of the importance of the
forthcoming Washington conference. I have endeavored to show that the purpose
underlying the Penrose bill is the forthcoming disarmament conference, and hope I
have made it pretty clear to you.