No. 86 NAI DFA ES Box 27 File 158

Memorandum from Eamon de Valera to Harry Boland (Washington)

(No. 7) Copy

Dublin, 30 May 1921

My dear Harry:-
As you know, my ideas of what we can and what we can not do, and the type of machinery necessary for what we can do, have been pretty clear cut for some time.

If official recognition by the United States Government could be secured, I would consider any money spent in informing the American people of the justice of our cause and converting them to our side, money well spent, but I do not believe that, except in a crisis in which America's own interests are involved and when it might be convenient to hit England through us, is there any chance of securing recognition. Hence we must remember that the practical objects to be attained through American activities are these:

  1. The provision of funds to enable us to carry on the fight and to do reconstructive work at home, and to influence public opinion in other countries.
  2. To educate the American people themselves in our regard so that we may have the public opinion of that country in our favour.
  3. To keep up the attachment between the branch of our race in the United States and the people in the home country, and by the example set in this respect, to keep up a similar attachment with the branches in other countries.

It is clear that if our activities at home were to cease, everything would cease, hence these must be maintained at all costs and everything else is subsidiary, and it is in this light that our activities in America must be regarded if they are not to lose proportion.

During the last couple of years several activities of a political and propagandist nature had attached themselves to our Mission. The attachment grew out of the peculiar circumstances and of a necessity, but anyone who looked at all deeply into the matter must realise that that was an abnormal condition, which it was advisable to terminate as soon as possible.

For several reasons our Mission should not undertake directly the securing of political action. To mention only two

  1. There is the fact that any such attempts on our part would be resented by the American people as an intrusion, and
  2. It would put much too great a strain on our Mission to undertake the responsibility for directing, not to speak of supporting financially such action.

The Americans will themselves enter far more energetically into the work if our Mission confines itself to the role of prompting and suggesting merely, leaving the execution to the Americans; whilst if they had the spending of it they can raise vast sums for educational work amongst their fellow citizens, - sums which no Cabinet here would feel justified in appropriating for American purposes if the money first found its way to our Treasury. Hence it was that I was anxious to see an American organisation started before I left. The A.A.R.I.R. was designed as the machinery through which our Mission would be relieved of any direct responsibility for political and propaganda work, either as regards execution or financial support. Through its headquarters, the intended location of which was Washington, our representative at that capital could inspire and suggest and secure any political action that was possible, provided he exercised a little tact and took care to secure the good will of the Executive.

All the control necessary could be secured by the fact that any action proposed in the name of Ireland could always be checked or repudiated unless it corresponded with our ideas of what it was wise or necessary to do. This being the case it is obvious that as soon as it was able to bear it our political and propaganda activities should be transferred to the A.A.R.I.R. It may have been necessary during the period of its organisation for us to undertake some of the work, but it should have been undertaken under the name of the organisation and not set up a new Bureau for it as O'Mara did.

I am going back on the past merely to set the right road for the future. We cannot contemplate a direct governmental expenditure of our Mission in America of more than $100,000, in addition to the Consular service there, even under the exceptional circumstances of the present time. I want you therefore, as soon as possible, to set about making the following dispositions:

Have transferred to the A.A.R.I.R. as soon as you can do so, without losing the value of the expenditure which has already been incurred, all the political and propagandist activities of the BENJAMIN FRANKLIN BUREAU, as well as any other activities of a kindred character, e.g. Labour Bureau. Speakers from home should not be engaged by our Mission, but should be handed over to the A.A.R.I.R. if they require them, or else to the A.C.R.I. Our offices in New York and Chicago should be handed over to the organiser for the new LOAN, who should forthwith undertake responsibility for them. The permanent staff for the Embassy should be selected, and our other employees given to the organiser for the Loan, or recommended to the A.A.R.I.R.

Having decided on the permanent staff for the Embassy, send us an estimate for the coming year's work, making sure that all the necessary services are covered. You will yourself have to remain on, I fear, despite the fact that you are badly needed in other directions. Field will join you in the Autumn to lend a helping hand, and between you, you will accomplish I know whatever it is possible for any human beings to accomplish.

Once the appropriation is made by the DAIL for the Embassy, your financial responsibilities will end with seeing that a proper account is rendered of the expenditure. The expenditure and raising of the Loan is a separate and distinct item, and as you will see from the accompanying letters a representative of the Trustees and Minister of Finance is going over to help.

I am finished with Father Donnelly. A man who will only work if he has the powers of Dail, Ministry, President, Trustees all in one requires much too high a price for his services. I was right in my judgement last December, and was wrong when I thought of altering it by offering him Washington when there was a question of your going elsewhere.

I am not as optimistic as you are about the possibilities of the new Loan. They have been able to obtain I understand only about $5,000,000, for the relief, which is not so very encouraging.

Had my cable been used as it was intended - merely a suggestion to some of our American friends to stand up and pledge the organisation to a million dollars per year, the road would have been left still clear for the Loan and if the raising of the Loan wasn't feasible we would have the member's pledge to fall back on. Had I wished my name to be used in connection with the cable, I would have sent it directly and had it published in the press.

Father Donnelly has been at pains to send letters and cables all round to people here. You might quietly inform him that I don't give a thraneen for any of these tactics, which I consider despicable, and being a direct comfort to the enemy at this time is very much more serious. We must have discipline and coordination abroad as we have it at home. I will leave it at that. The accompanying letter will show you what I propose. Page 2, No. 4, and page 8 have reference to you rather than to the Envoy to whom the letter is addressed.1 His part is simply to advise and assist in the transfer. As the responsibility for political direction, etc. is yours, on you ultimately is the responsibility for the transfer. I rely on your good sense to have it done as tactfully and with as little disarrangement and confusion as possible, but it must be done.

Regards to all
Very sincerely yours,
Eamon de Valera

P.S. We may have to send Sean back after a little holiday to assist with the Loan.
[Matter omitted]

1 Not located.

Users who read this document also viewed...

  • Document No. 79 Volume 1 (28 April 1921) Extract from letter from Eamon de Valera to Sean T O'Ceallaigh Read more...
  • Document No. 87 Volume 1 (30 May 1921) General directions to each representative of the Irish Republic abroad Read more...
  • Document No. 17 Volume 1 (25 June 1919) Diarmuid O'Hegarty to Sean T O'Ceallaigh Read more...
  • Document No. 33 Volume 1 (May 1920.) Extract from a memorandum by Patrick McCartan on mission to Russia and on draft Russo-Irish Treaty Read more...
  • Document No. 73 Volume 1 (4 April 1921) Extract from a letter from Eamon de Valera to Arthur Griffith Read more...

Purchase Volumes Online

Purchase Volumes Online



The Royal Irish Academy's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series has published an eBook of confidential correspondence on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

Free Download

International Counterparts

The international network of Editors of Diplomatic Documents was founded in 1988. Delegations from different parts of the world met for the first time in London in 1989.
Read more ....

Website design and developed by FUSIO