Volume 1 1919~1922

Doc No.

No. 146 NAI DFA ES Box 27 File 158

Memorandum from Harry Boland to Eamon de Valera (Dublin)

New York, 4 August 1921

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 for Recognition.

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.

Harry Boland

1 Washington naval disarmament conference.