No. 326 NAI DFA EA 231/1/1929

Confidential Report from Michael MacWhite to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(M.P. 1008-1-30) (Confidential)

Washington DC, 21 January 1930

During his tour in this country, General Smuts visited Washington last week where he addressed the Conference on the Cause and Cure of War, organized by various National Women's Organizations. He was accompanied by Philip Carr of the Rhodes Scholarship Trust and Mr. Nash of the English League of Nations Union. He was met on his arrival by the South African Minister, with whom he dined on the same evening. The next day the Minister gave a luncheon in his honour at the Metropolitan Club, at which the Diplomatic representatives of the States of the Commonwealth as well as of the Netherlands and Portugal were present. There were also a number of Senators and Representatives and some members of the Cabinet, making about thirty-six in all.

In introducing General Smuts, Mr. Louw referred to him as in the role in which he was best known to young South Africans, namely that of a General fighting for the independence of the Boer Republic. He made no reference to his activities in the Great War, nor while he was Head of the South African Government. The General, however, complimented the young Minister and referred to the romance of South Africa and also of the Irish Free State.

The British Ambassador gave a dinner and reception in his honour and he lunched with President Hoover. He called on me at the Legation and inquired as to the attitude adopted by Irish-Americans towards the Free State. I informed him that from my experience in this country more than 85% of the Irish-Americans sympathized with the Free State. Some of the other 15% would like to see the Free State get a fair chance, but the great majority of the Free State sympathizers, as well as of its opponents, have one great argument in the question of the boundary between the Free State and the six Northern Counties. I also told him what influential Irish-Americans have frequently mentioned to me, which was the irritation caused in this country by what appeared to them as the steps taken by the British Government to fortify the boundary in the financial and material support they have given to the Northern Government. A few moments before he called on me, I had received an invitation from the Mayor of St. Louis to visit his city, in which he referred to the boundary, to which I called General Smuts' attention. He seemed very much interested in this question, and at the different social functions at which we met he seemed to go out of his way to be in my company. He told me that in his short experience in the United States he had come to realize that the Irish are 'in the seats of the Mighty'. He evidently realized their power and influence, and perhaps was struck by the fact that outside of those occupying official positions they ignored his visit to this country altogether.

One can hardly say that General Smuts had a good press during his stay here. His advocacy of the United States adherence to the League of Nations was a little too blunt, and appeared to many as if it was an attempt to dictate to Americans what their attitude should be on a question of internal politics. Personally, I am of the opinion that the United States is no nearer the League of Nations after the General's visit than it was before. There is, however, every possibility that this country will ratify its signature to the Protocol of the Permanent Court of International Justice, though not without a stirring fight in the Senate.

[signed] M. MacWhite

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