No. 76 NAI DFA EA 231/1/1929

Confidential Report from Timothy A. Smiddy to Desmond FitzGerald (Dublin)

Washington DC, 5 April 1927

Dear Mr. Minister:

Owing to unusual pressure of work for the last few months, I have been unable to send you this report sooner.

Mr. Sterling, the newly appointed Minister from the U.S.A. to the Irish Free State, paid me an informal call soon after his selection as Minister by Mr. Kellogg. Since then he lunched with me in company with Mr. Butler Wright and Mr. William Castle of the State Department. I have also met and conversed with him at other social functions.

He is reserved, unostentatious and a gentleman. As you are aware, he is a diplomat of career and brings to his post varied and valuable experience. I think there is little danger of his ever creating any embarrassment either for his Government or for ours, which one holding such a position might easily do. As far as I can gather from conversations with him, he goes to the Irish Free State with a sympathetic attitude, and is anxious to learn something of her history, aspirations and problems, and to aid in enhancing the prestige of the Irish Free State in this country. His appointment has already increased the interest of the so-called 'Hundred per cent American' in the Irish Free State, especially those of the same class as himself. I feel quite certain that he will appeal very much to you personally.

He does not expect to go to Dublin before the end of June, though he will probably go 'incognito' before then in order to arrange for a residence, etc. He asked me if it would be possible to procure one of the vice-regal lodges if such are available.

His appointment got wide-spread publicity in this country and it has accentuated our international status favourably. The 'Gaelic American' was very sore because an Irish American of their own particular political colour did not get the appointment and it fixed the blame thereof on myself. I have reason to think that the description of our status at the Imperial Conference held last autumn is not regarded by those whose views this paper represents in a favourable light: they fear that acquiescence in any bond with Great Britain might wed us too much to her and identify too closely our political and economic interests with hers, thereby tending to mollify whatever anti-British feeling might exist here among those of Irish birth and descent. I have grounds for believing that they strongly disapprove of my descriptions of our constitutional status. For instance: a few weeks before my lecture to the Chamber of Commerce, Indianapolis, and address to the State Senate of Indiana, an ex-Judge Campbell - you know his associates - got off at Indianapolis on his way from Colorado Springs and interviewed a Mr. O'Reilly (member of the Chamber of Commerce and who raised thirty thousand dollars for the White Cross) and Mr. J.J. O'Mahony of the Indiana Catholic. He endeavoured to persuade them to oppose my speaking before the Chamber of Commerce because I was strongly pro-British and too intimately associated with the British Embassy and that my address would be in the nature of British propaganda. This was told to me in confidence by one of these gentlemen.

These gentlemen did not entertain for a moment his proposals. In fact Mr. O'Reilly - a good Irishman and a millionaire - wished me to emphasize the point that we are good friends with Great Britain and that we have buried the hatchet. It was not necessary for me to do so, as my address being mainly on Irish Free State trade, the inference was obvious that our economic interests were largely linked with those of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Last year our exports to these countries were ninety-eight percent of our total. Our exports to the Northern counties alone were twenty times greater than those to the U.S.A. These facts are anything but palatable to some in this country. Undoubtedly, it is regrettable that our trade is not better distributed internationally, but the fact is that it is not so; and to me it appears there is very little likelihood, in the near future, of doing any export trade to this country worth talking about. In consequence of the high tariffs in this country against those articles which, with the development of modern efficiency on our part, we might export, I see at present little prospect of any substantial increase in our exports to the U.S.A.

Something might be done with success to promote tourist traffic - which at present is taking care of itself - if a scheme, such as I have already outlined, were put into operation (see my letter of 2 December, 1926 M.P. Sp.200/8/26).1

The presence of a Minister Plenipotentiary in Dublin from the U.S.A. will help to attract the wealthier type of American to Ireland. For instance, Mr. Grew, Under Secretary of State, at a dinner party a few weeks ago, told me that he and his wife intend visiting Mr. Sterling - of whom they are intimate friends - next summer.

Dr. Julius Klein, Director of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, informed me last week that he had obtained from Congress the appropriation for the appointment of a trade commissioner to the Irish Free State. He has just appointed Mr. Hugh Butler, who is at present Commercial Attaché to the American Embassy at London and is Trade Commissioner to Great Britain, which positions he will resign. Mr. Butler will leave for Dublin within ten days from now. He will probably be in Dublin before this letter reaches you. Before establishing an office in Dublin he will spend three or four months making a general economic survey of the Irish Free State for the Department of Commerce, U.S.A. He is thought very highly of by the Department of Commerce and is regarded by it as one of their best commissioners. I am informed that Mr. Butler is an enthusiastic Christian Scientist.

I met Mr. Massey on a few occasions since his arrival. He told me that he had the pleasure of meeting you and the Vice-President in London and he made very complimentary remarks about you both. I can assure you that the most cordial relations will exist between the Canadian and the Irish Free State Legations. From the diplomatic or rather the politico-diplomatic point of view, his task is simpler and more congenial than that of the Minister from the Irish Free State in so far as he has not to contend with rival and hostile political factions of Canadians who are all quite content with the international status of the Dominion of Canada. He can, therefore, face with more composure audiences and deal more fearlessly with facts.

I enclose a short memorandum2 dealing with the appropriation for the Canadian Legation and its staff. In addition to the expenditure by the Minister of £8,000 per year on his living, representation, etc., he has decided to spend a further £3,000 per year out of his personal income - total £11,000. This may seem a large sum; but I assure you if you had a little experience of the official and social life here - over which a Minister has no control - you would understand that it is not unnecessary. There is a continuous round of social functions, invitations to which one must accept or be 'out of it'; and one has got to reciprocate.

We are rightly or wrongly regarded an integral part of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and Mr. Massey's appointment has given emphasis to the fact that we are the King's Ministers. This fact creates in the minds of people here the expectation that our social status and upkeep should be substantially comparable to that of the Canadian Legation; whereas we are far from it. While I am not making a personal request for a substantial increase in my allowance and representation expenses, I desire to put on record their inadequacy for the position I have to maintain. In fact, during the last twelve months my expenditure has exceeded my salary and allowances. The demands made alone for my family's wearing apparel - my wife and daughters having to attend almost daily some social function - run into a sum altogether out of proportion to my income; and, unfortunately, it is unavoidable.

It is not possible to carry on satisfactorily any longer the work of the Legation without the help of a private secretary or higher executive clerk. It has been very difficult to do so for the last six months, and the work was coped with only by working outside the normal hours. This cannot continue indefinitely.

It is embarrassing to have to suspend the Secretarial work in the Legation for the last week - possibly longer - due to Mr. Macaulay replacing Mr. Murphy at the Passport Office3. In his absence it is not possible to transact any business with the Departments by personal interviews - Immigration, Commerce, etc - as it is against the diplomatic protocol or custom. You are aware there is at present in the Legation only a stenographer, and no one to interview the various callers.

Hence, it is necessary to send out a man of the right type as soon as possible. It will be embarrassing for him to carry on his work here contentedly unless he is paid an adequate salary and allowance - $4,500 per annum at least.

It is placing an unfair burden on Mr. Macaulay that he should keep the accounts, check bills, write cheques for the Legation, the Passport Office and the office of the Trade Representative in addition to his ordinary secretarial work. Again, I do not think that it was ever contemplated that I should, in my capacity as Minister, do ordinary clerical work which, at present, I have to do on account of inadequate staff. I assure you that I am finding the sum total of my work too much, and I trust that I shall be relieved of all this routine work and be free to give all my attention to the specific work of a Minister.

It is also necessary that an assistant be appointed to the Passport Officer: this is a matter of urgency, especially as the busy season is at hand. At present, there is no one to relieve Mr. Murphy during illness or for his leave of absence. During the months May to August, it is with anxiety he leaves the office for lunch as no one is deputed to give visas except himself.

On two occasions recently I took the opportunity, when I met Judge Cohalan,4 of introducing the subject of the attack on our Ministers by the Gaelic American. I failed to change his views though I endeavoured to make him realize that the Gaelic American had not all the facts; and that, unless it was sympathetic, it would fail to interpret correctly the facts with which it is acquainted. He and the Gaelic American have the idea that our Government is becoming too subservient to the interests of Great Britain. Argument on the subject is unavailing. As I have already stated, all this group fear an 'entente cordiale' with England, and are convinced that our natural ally is the U.S.A. Mr. Diarmuid O'Hegarty has already, I presume, given you the result of his discussions on the subject with Judge Cohalan and Mr. Diarmuid Lynch.

De Valera5 is active in his propaganda here against the Irish Free State. I have got as much publicity as I could over the press to counter it and, I think, with fairly good effect. You have probably seen by last week's Irish World - a copy of which was sent to you - a list of the places in which he is speaking. It is likely that he will get some money to fight the elections. His followers are organizing for the purpose in several cities. He has got few followers of the wealthier class; financial support will come mainly from the servant class. I should not be surprised if he collected about a hundred thousand dollars. But this opinion is not worth much.

It was unfortunate and very aggravating the manner in which the President's speech was censored by the Radio Corporation on St. Patrick's Day, considering that it invited him to give a message. De Valera's speech was vilifying propaganda against the Irish Free State and was allowed to go through. I contemplated entering a protest against this unfair and invidious treatment, but it would get publicity and only make de Valera appear more important than he is and more influential.

I am in receipt of occasional letters from individuals protesting against de Valera's presence here and against his pronouncements, and requesting that the Department of State be asked to take action in the matter. This would be ineffectual; and if the State Department acted the States in which he makes his pronouncements would not probably fall into line with its wishes. The Mayors and Governors of those States which welcomed him see the possibility of votes by their attitude. Again, the publicity would only help de Valera. It is a reflection on institutions here that one is allowed - and that public opinion tolerates it - to vilify a friendly government. If one were to attack the American Government in Ireland in the same way, the whole country here would be up against it.

I enclose a list of the official people and those of influence whom I have entertained since last October.6 In addition to this entertainment, Mrs. Smiddy had an 'at Home' every Friday afternoon from October to April inclusive when the wives of senators, diplomats, justices and others were entertained.

Mr. Diarmuid O'Hegarty will give full particulars about the proceedings in the Supreme Court of New York relative to the law suit.7 I did not avail myself of the authorization given me by the Government to state that it would redeem the bonds even if the case went against us. The occasion did not arise for the use of it; and even if it did I would have been very reluctant to do so. The question may arise of giving a bond or some concrete guarantee that we shall pay off all the obligations and liabilities in the event of our obtaining the assets in the New York banks. There is something to be said against acceding to such a demand from a friendly nation. I discussed this with Mr. O'Hegarty and I shall be glad to have your view ready and that of the Cabinet in the event of such a guarantee being required.

I got a cable yesterday morning from Estero stating the President would be glad if the Free State was represented at the funeral of the late Mrs. Agnew Newman - Sir Roger Casement's sister.8 I was unable to leave the Legation, but I telephoned immediately to Mr. Macaulay, who was in the Passport Office, New York, asking him to attend. The funeral took place on Monday at 10 a.m. Mr. Macaulay arrived at the funeral parlour at half past ten - too late to attend. However, he left his card and stated he came to represent the Irish Free State. The cablegram was the first intimation we had here of the news of the lady's death. On account of the presence of a large number of the belligerent irregular sympathisers who attended, it is doubtful if a friendly reception would have been accorded to him had he been in time.

With the assurance of my regard and respects,

Believe me,
Very sincerely yours,
[signed] T.A. Smiddy

1 Not printed.

2 Not printed.

3 In New York.

4 Daniel F. Cohalan (1865-1946), Justice of the Supreme Court of New York.

5 Éamon de Valera.

6 Not printed.

7 The ongoing legal action over the ownership of Irish republican bonds.

8 Not printed.

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