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United States Department of State / Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, 1919

General,   pp. 1-171 PDF (57.8 MB)

Page 171

The Secretary of State to the British Appointed Ambassador (Grey)
WASHINGTON, December 20, 1919.
MY DEAR MR. AMBASSADOR: In your note of November 6, 1919,
reference is made to a debate in the Senate in July, 1919, and to
Section I of Senate Bill No. 2775, as amended by the House of
You are aware that remarks made in the course of a debate in
Congress are not within the official purview of the Department of
State. It does not seem necessary at this time to discuss the par-
ticular questions of fact to which you have called my attention,
since they do not appear to be pertinent to what, I venture to sug-
gest, is the essential point, namely, the desirability of reciprocity
on the part of different countries with respect to mineral supplies.
The best technical authorities seem to believe that the peak of
petroleum production in the United States will soon be reached,
and that the reserves will be practically exhausted within a meas-
urable period. The situation of the United States will be the more
serious because of its enormous domestic consumption, and because
in the past there has been relatively little investment of American
capital in important foreign producing fields.
These facts, together with the exclusion of American citizens,
either in law or in fact, from commercial production in other coun-
tries, has given rise in this country to an agitation for some form of
governmental action. The source of this movement lies in the con-
viction that, with respect to certain essential raw materials, the
enjoyment of the same rights in foreign countries that aliens enjoy
in the United States is essential to the future welfare of our people.
This conviction is believed to underly and explain the provisions
of the Public Lands Leasing Bill to which you have referred. The
movement would lose much of its force if an agreement were in
existence providing in adequate measure for that reciprocity toward
which the proposed legislation is directed. The securing of ade-
quate supplies of oil in emergencies does not appear to be irrecon-
cilably opposed to the principle of reciprocal access to supplies.
I am [etc.]                                ROBERT LANSING

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