15th February, 1928


My dear P.M.,

Since I wrote you about what Hankey [1] had told me of Philip Kerr's ideas [2], I have had a long session with him in which he repeated what he had said to Hankey. The gist of the rest of what he has to say is as follows.

Thinking Canadians have weighed up the relative advantages of the Empire and the United States and have come to the conclusion, on other than sentimental grounds, that the Empire holds more for them. They dislike the British class-bound social system, they dislike the possibility of being embroiled in Great Britain's wars-on the other hand they dislike the American system of justice and they dislike their educational system. They admire the British character and they admire American business and industrial methods. But they realise that they can only foster within their boundaries such parts of the British tradition that they like if they remain within the Empire-and an increasing degree of Americanisation is inevitable by reason of propinquity-so they realise that they must weight the balance in favour of the Empire if they want to get the best of both worlds.

Not a very idealistic doctrine! Kerr thinks that, with the growth of American naval power to some approximation of parity with Great Britain, the recent fever of competition will die down. He thinks that already there is a tendency amongst those who think at all to regard the British and American aims as regards blockade rights as more or less equivalent.

Great Britain does not need to employ the blockade in a small war.

She has used the blockade only twice in the last century-against Napoleon and against Germany. The blockade is an essential British weapon in a 'major', 'world' or 'League' war-but not in 'small' wars.

Similarly the use of the blockade would be essential to the United States in a war with Mexico or Japan-i.e. wars that come somewhat loosely into the sphere of the Monroe Doctrine. [3]

Kerr thinks he sees in the above the elements of an arrangement between the United States and Great Britain. He thinks we should work towards an agreement (verbal, if possible, as a written treaty brings the unknown factor of the vagaries of the United States Senate into the picture) with the United States, whereby the employment on either side of the rights of interfering with the other's merchant marine in war is confined to 'League' wars on the one hand, and 'Monroe Doctrine' wars on the other. And that in wars other than these either country is at liberty to trade without hindrance with the other's enemies.

He is putting together an article on the above lines for the next issue of the 'Round Table'.

He says that Vincent Massey [4] is putting up a very good show as Canadian Minister at Washington. He has a very nice Legation, entertains a good deal and is full of work and activity. He made a great parade of Lord Willingdon [5] when he visited Washington and jockeyed the President [6] into putting on a top hat and returning the official call in person at the Canadian Legation!

He arranged for a memorial to be erected in the American National Memorial Cemetery by Canada to the memory of Americans who were killed in the Canadian Forces in the War, and he had two companies of gorgeously dressed Canadian Scottish sent down from Canada to be present at the inauguration. They paraded in the White House grounds-the first time that British troops had been there since they burned it down!

I think you know Philip Kerr. He was one of 'Milner's young men' [7] in South Africa. Is now Secretary of the Rhodes Trust and the active man in the 'Round Table'. Has a really good brain which he devotes unceasingly to the study of international and imperial affairs. He is financially independent, knows everybody and can get his ideas well received. He speaks lucidly and well.

He goes to the States and Canada every year and keeps in close touch with people and events in both countries.

He had a talk to Mackenzie King [8] about the methods of keeping touch between units of the Empire. Mackenzie King doesn't like our method of liaison but thinks the solution lies in British High Commissioners in Dominions, and Dominion High Commissioners in London.

I had Sir Austen Chamberlain [9] , Harding [10] , Batterbee [11] and Thompson from the American Department of the Foreign Office [12], to meet Sir Hugh Denison [13] at lunch this week. Sir Austen talked well and freely and I think Sir Hugh enjoyed meeting him.

I asked Sir Austen if he had ever considered going to Washington to get into direct personal touch with the President and the Secretary of State, in view of the success of his policy of making friends with the foreign secretaries and heads of European States.

He said that he had seriously considered it but had decided against it by reason of the fact that he would have to have a mission to perform or else his visit would be misconstrued. And, moreover, it would have to be a mission which was capable of achieving something definite which could be announced to the world. The visit of a British Foreign Secretary to Washington was so unique an event that America would not believe that it was merely a friendly gesture. If Washington was on the route to Geneva, he could well 'drop in', but as it necessitated at least a month's absence from London it was almost impossible.

He deplored the fact that Borah [14] (Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate) had never been to Europe, and said that it was his information that Borah made a point of not coming to Europe as he did not want to disembarrass himself of his 100% American outlook.

I have arranged subsequent appointments for Sir Hugh Denison with the Dominions Office people and with the Foreign Secretary.

It has been a heavy ten days from the point of view of food. We gave a luncheon party a week ago for the High Commissioner [15] and Lady Ryrie to let them meet Sir Maurice and Lady Hankey, Lady Northcote [16] and others.

We lunched with the Trenchards [17] to meet some of the highly- placed Air people, and Sir Francis Humphrys (H.M. Minister in Afghanistan) and his wife. Humphrys travelled from Kabul to Cairo with Amanulla, the King of Afghanistan, and then came on to London to help arrange his time in England.

Hankey reminded me yesterday of a conversation that he had with Houghton (the American Ambassador) three years ago, soon after the latter arrived in London from Berlin. The conversation brought the remark from Hankey that he thought that war between Great Britain and the United States was impossible, to which Houghton replied that he didn't think it was impossible at all. He then asked Hankey to explain what the Australian liaison appointment meant, and on being told said that he couldn't imagine that it would work successfully. Houghton then opened the third and last phase of the talk in which he said that it was his opinion that prohibition was inevitable in Germany, with which Hankey disagreed entirely.

At that the conversation languished, which is in accord with the dictionary definition that equable conversation presupposes certain accepted and common premises between those conversing! In other words, Hankey did not get on with Houghton, in which he was not alone. Chamberlain, Tyrrell [18], Vansittart [19], and a number of others have expressed their disapproval of him on various grounds from rudeness to readily discernible anti-British feelings.

In a recent conversation between Houghton and Tom Jones [20], Houghton said that when in Washington recently he had had several talks with Colonel House [21] on Freedom of the Seas, and went on to say that he would much appreciate an opportunity to have a friendly and unofficial talk with Chamberlain on the subject, no record of which would be taken. He wanted to talk without authority and really to think aloud and develop his own ideas.

This desire duly reached Chamberlain, who has declined the invitation for the present. The fact is that while the Committee of Imperial Defence Sub-Committee is examining the subject, Chamberlain does not want to embarrass himself by such a conversation. Nor does he want Houghton to get the idea that the subject is being made one of governmental attention.

The result of Houghton's lack of popularity is that he is not folded to the bosom of the leaders of this country as he might be.

He has not been asked to Chequers [22] for over two years and even then, I believe, for only one night. He cannot be indifferent to the fact that he is not completely persona grata to Baldwin [23], Chamberlain, Winston Churchill [24] and the rest. All these three, I understand, in their hearts react against the things that modern America stands for, and they can see no good in her. This attitude, added to the fact that they do not like Houghton personally, must make it difficult for a man of Houghton's temperament to react other than adversely to this country. All this, I imagine, must colour his despatches to our detriment.

For reasons which I don't pretend to be able to fathom, Englishmen are, I think, more liable than most people to be influenced in their business and other dealings by their personal likes and dislikes. If a man is likeable and presentable he gets his job done well. If he wears yellow socks and brushes his hair queerly he is suspect and conditions become such that his job is made difficult to accomplish.

When the policy of this country is that of getting on well with America, it would seem to be good policy (whilst maintaining dignity and selfrespect) to be nice to Houghton, in fact, in a quiet way, to make rather a lot of him. It might go against the grain a little, but it would surely be worth while.

D'Abernon [25] is a great gambler and is reported to be something of a financial wizard. He was in Berlin from 1920 to 1926. I have heard that he is shaking in his shoes a little over the Gregory enquiry. [26]

I hear most confidentially that Trenchard is to retire in May 1929, and that he will be succeeded as Chief of the Air Staff either by Sir John Salmond (now commanding the Air Defences of Great Britain) or Sir Philip Game (now Air Member for Personnel).


As an example of the queer ways in which things happen. Vansittart (aged 46) accepted the job of Chief Private Secretary to the Prime Minister chiefly because he saw himself blocked for any promotion of consequence in the Foreign Office by Gregory (aged 49), who was Assistant Under-Secretary of State and was immediately above him in seniority. Within a week of Vansittart's accepting the new appointment, the 'Gregory' case begins and Gregory, in consequence, is likely to go, leaving the Assistant Secretaryship of State vacant. Thomas Hardy's 'ironic spirits' must be laughing.

I think you will be interested to read one of the Foreign Office prints that I send by this mail-Japan, Section 1 of January 31st, 1928-being Sir John Tilley's (H.M. Ambassador in Tokyo) remarks about the possibility of war between Japan and America. The previous despatches to which it refers deal with Sir John Tilley's note of warning about the growth of 'Pan-Pacific unions' and similar organisations.

I enclose copy of R.G. Hawtrey's little book-'The Gold Standard'that I mentioned to you recently. [28]

Without going into detail, and for what it is worth, it is my impression that the British motor industry has made considerable strides in these last few years, particularly in the cars in the lower price range to compete with America.

I am in course of trying to get for you copy of the report of Major Sir Archibald Boyd-Carpenter's motor car mission to Australia. [29] It has, I find, been kept very secret over here. I doubt if I shall get it but I am making efforts.

Lord Salisbury [30] produced a report to the Cabinet on Australia after his visit as head of the Empire Parliamentary Delegation in 1927. Hankey asks me not to ask for it, and, in any event, says it would not be of much value to us. I gather that he adds his voice to those who criticise the finances of the States.

There is not, as yet, much to say about Sir John Simon's Indian Constitutional enquiry, other than what you will have seen in the press. [31] They are at Delhi and will be in India for a few months more; they then return to England for six months to think it out and then return again to India in the next cool season. The

noisy subversive minority in India have set going a boycott ('hartal') of the Commission, based on the objection that there are no Indians on it. The reason this is so is that of the impossibility of getting representative Indians. To get anything like a reasonable cross section of Indian thought and feeling, you have to have several different brands of Mahomedan, numerous sorts of Hindu, as well as representatives of British India and of Native States, and the many other factions with which India is divided. In other words, India is not a nation and it would take twenty Indians to be the least representative; and as this would wreck the Commission, it was decided to have none.

I pointed out to McDougall [32] recently an article in the 'Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science', entitled 'Great Britain's recent trend towards Protection'. He read it and says it would interest you. Henderson [33] or the External Affairs office I am sure gets this publication, so you will be able to see it if you are so minded.

Baldwin has an intense personal dislike of Lloyd George [34]-they are antipathetic personalities. Lloyd George had a great personal triumph at the by-election at Lancaster last week, when he obviously secured the election of the rather indifferent Liberal candidate by two rousing speeches. The Prime Minister had been preparing (before the Lancaster election) a speech for delivery a few days after the election in which he was going to make a great point of the series of continuous Conservative gains at by- elections, but Lloyd George spiked his guns at Lancaster and he was rather maddened by having to recast his whole speech in consequence!

An amusing sidelight on the activities of the King of Afghanistan's entourage is contained in a recent despatch from Sir Ronald Graham (H.M. Ambassador at Rome), describing his stay in Italy. The Chairman of the Fiat Company told the British Consul at Turin that after visiting the Fiat works '...every effort had been made to induce the King to buy Fiat cars but the scale of bribery expected by His Majesty's entourage had made negotiations difficult'.

I find that when I allow myself the free and easy vernacular in which I write these personal letters to you, my ideas flow more readily and I am more at home, more communicative and, I hope, more lucid. The more rigid and stilted form of official letters inevitably cramps one's style. This, I suppose, is why there is a benefit in personal liaison. [35]

I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

1 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

2 Secretary to the Rhodes Trust. Later (as Lord Lothian) Ambassador to the United States 1939-40. For his views on Canada see Letter 92.

3 Enunciated in 1823 by U.S. President (1916-24) James Monroe, the Doctrine stated that Europe and the Americas were two distinct spheres of political activity. The implication was that Central and South America were within the 'sphere of influence' of the United States, which would not welcome European intervention there. On the other hand, affairs in Europe were not the concern of the United States.

4 Historian, businessman and Cabinet Minister; Canadian Minister in Washington 1926-30. Later Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom 1935-46, Governor-General of Canada 1952-59.

5 Governor-General of Canada.

6 Calvin Coolidge.

7 See note 18 to Letter 22.

8 William Mackenzie King, Canadian Prime Minister.

9 Foreign Secretary.

10 Sir Edward Harding, Assistant Under-Secretary at the Dominions Office.

11 Sir Harry Batterbee, Assistant Secretary at the Dominions Office.

12 Geoffrey Thompson had served as Second Secretary at the Embassy in Washington.

13 Australian Commissioner in the United States 1926-28.

14 Senator William Borah, Republican, of Idaho.

15 Sir Granville Ryrie.

16 Widow of Lord Northcote, Governor-General of Australia 1904-08.

17 Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Hugh (Chief of the Air Staff) and Lady Trenchard.

18 Sir William Tyrrell, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office.

19 Robert Vansittart, Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister.

20 Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet.

21 Adviser to former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.

22 Prime Minister's official country residence.

23 Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister.

24 Chancellor of the Exchequer.

25 Lord D'Abernon, Ambassador to Germany 1920-26.

26 See notes 7 and 8 to Letter 92.

27 Trenchard was succeeded in 1930 by Sir John Salmond, Sir Philip Game becoming Governor of New South Wales.

28 See note 6 to Letter 94.

29 Conservative M.P. for Coventry. He urged the British transport industry to seek markets in the Dominions where, he said, the demand was not for high quality engineering but for cheaper, less durable products.

30 Leader of the House of Lords.

31 At the suggestion of the Viceroy, Lord Irwin, a commission led by former Liberal Attorney-General and Home Secretary Sir John Simon and including Labour's Clement Attlee went to India in 1927 to suggest changes that might go some way to meet Indian nationalist demands for self-government and yet prove workable in a highly pluralistic context. The Simon Report, published in 1930, called for fully responsible government in the provinces and set a goal of federation. The Indian nationalist reaction was strongly hostile.

32 F. L. McDougall, Economic Adviser to the Australian High Commissioner.

33 Dr Walter Henderson, Head of the External Affairs Branch.

34 David Lloyd George, Prime Minister 1916-22.

35 In a letter to Casey of 20 March 1928 (on file AA:A1420) Bruce answered: 'Please continue the free and easy vernacular, or any other form of writing that suits you in these private letters. All I want in them is the information and the gossip which you have been sending.'