Page images
PDF
EPUB

was another scale for residents, and you might complain against it as much as you choose, but when it come to rent you paid the congressional rate. When a man goes abroad as a representative of the United States, which the people on the other side of the water believe to be an El Dorado, I can assure you he pays the highest market rate, and perhaps a little more for everything he gets, and he can not, of course, as a representative of a dignified and great country, get down to higgling with his butcher or grocer about his bills. He is simply compelled to pay what he is charged, and he is charged on the theory that he represents the richest country on earth. You can not get away from that situation. There it is, and nothing that can be done on this side of the water can change it.

That is the situation and unless we are to confine our diplomatic representatives to two classes of people, those with private fortunes, and, without using invidious words, to spendthrifts, we have got to do something to remedy it. I think the proper course is the course suggested by this bill, to set up a representation fund out of which the Secretary of State can measurably and without extravagance or ostentation enable these officers to live as they are compelled to by the commission that they are given.

I think, Mr. Chairman, that is a synopsis of my views.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any questions from members of the committee?

Mr. COOPER. Will the owning of the embassy building by the Government help a great deal? It will help some.

Mr. Davis. It will help some, undoubtedly. Of course, in the first place, it takes out the question of rent. On the other hand, that building is a larger building than the one I occupied, quite a large one that Mr. Morgan gave in London. That is two large old houses thrown into one, and it will require a considerable alteration inside to make it thoroughly comfortable and livable. It will require more servants to keep it going than the house I occupied, which is a single house. In that sense it will be a more expensive house than the one I occupied, and the Government, I think, should put a permanent staff in the house, which would simply stay there as ambassadors came and went, and also look after the heating and lighting of it. It probably be more expensive in these respects for an ambassador to live in that house than to live where I did. I think, therefore, that on taking over that house the Government ought to assume some of the expenses of it—the permanent upkeep.

Mr. ROGERS. You have spoken of the experience of the ambassador at London ; your statement has been most interesting, I think we all feel. What can you tell the committee in a general way about the problems of ambassadors and ministers at other capitals, and also about the problems of the secretaries and consuls general in the various countries. In other words, what I want to get for our study is not altogether your individual experience in one capital, but the situation so far as you have experienced it in talking with your colleagues, or otherwise, in the other countries of the world and in other grades of the service.

Mr. DAVIS. Of course, I have spoken of my own experience because it is of the nature that a personal touch gives to it, and the thing I know most about. I do not know a great deal in detail about any other capital. I do know by hearsay that the conditions are the same mutantis mutandum all along in the service. I had some talk with Ambassador Sharp when I was in Paris, and found that his problems were exactly the same that I had, his expense, I think running relatively the same. I do not think could give you any detailed information about any others except to say it lies in the nature of things that what I have suggested must be true everywhere.

Mr. ROGERS. I do not suppose the counselor at London, with a salary of $4,000 sends very much money home out of his salary.

Mr. DAVIS. No. Wright was counselor most of the time during my service. He was an excellent man and had some small private means. I know his salary could not support him, and yet he lived in very modest fashion.

Mr. ROGERS. Do you think that the enactment of some such legislation as this would enable the foreign service to be a better and more businesslike and efficient foreign service for this Nation?

Mr. DAVIS. I have not the slightest doubt about it, and I do not think the importance of such a service can be exaggerated. You may send abroad, if you choose, as ambassadors and ministers, men who have the gifts of angels. They land in the foreign country, most of them, a country with whieh they have not been previously largely acquainted. There are a great many routine methods of doing things with other governments which these have built up

[ocr errors]

around themselves. They must depend upon their secretaries, who should be men of experience, who know what the methods of operation are. They must depend largely upon their secretaries also to bring them the current information upon which they depend. You have got to have a staff of secretaries persona grata at the foreign offices with individual contacts there not only for the information they bring you but to check up the information you get yourself. You can not always believe the first story you hear, and these men are really your eyes and ears. They can not be too good. We have some very good men among them along with others who are not of the best. We have all sorts, but the best is none too good for that service; of that I feel perfectly sure.

Mr. COCKRAN. With respect to this question of embassies abroad, is the character or weight or standing of an ambassador affected to some extent by his place of residence, the kind of house he occupies, and the state he keeps up?

Mr. DAVIS. To some extent, yes; to a very much greater extent abroad than it possibly could be in this country.

Mr. COCKRAN. I understand that. I am asking particularly with reference to England.

Mr. DAVIS. Yes; to some extent there.

Mr. COCKRAN. In my time there was Mr. Reid, who occupied Dorchester House, one of the largest establishments, and Mr. Bayard, who occupied a very modest house, very fine, but by no means as splendid a place. Between Dorchester House and such an establishment as Mr. Bayard occupied, there is a tremendous gap in point of splendor and appearance?

Mr. DAVIS, Yes.

Mr. COCKRAN. What effect is it likely to have upon the public mind of a country like England to find one ambassador living in the very highest state that the city can afford for a private individual of private means, and another occupying a very modest establishment which by contrast is almost humble? What effect is that likely to have upon the public mind of a country like England, for instance?

Mr. DAVIS. It does have some effect on the public mind, no doubt.

Mr. COCKRAN. Do you think it would conduce to more harmonious and equal, and therefore effective, representation for every ambassador to occupy the same p'ace?

Mr. DAVIS. Undoubtedly it would, in so far as the public would not longer infer differences between them, It is quite right.

Mr. COCKRAN. You think they are liable to misinterpret that?

Mr. DAVIS. Quite true. They think this man must be well thought of at home and that man not so well thought of.

Mr. COCKRAN. They do not know the establishments are supplied by the ambassador, as they assume that they are supplied, as in all other countries, at the public expense?

Mr. DAVIS. Quite true.

Mr. MOORE. Will you look at section 13 of this bill, and see what you think of the provision as it appears there, with reference to representation allowances, the allotment and disbursement of that allowance? We have had a great deal of testimony here with reference to the necessity of representation allowances.

Mr. COCKRAN. What page?

Mr. MOORE. Page 7, section 13, representation allowances to lower diplomatic and consular officers. Do you think that is a good way to express the proposition, leaving the matter wholly to the discretion of the Secretary of State?

Mr. DAVIS. I do think so. I do not think that is a matter on which you can legislate in detail because conditions are so different at different posts, and they are different at the same post from time to time. In other words, when English exchange is down to $3.50, a man can be quite comfortable on a salary that would starve him if sterling was at par. There are posts where the salary of $5,000 is ease and comfort. There are other posts where the salary of $5,000 is not a living compensation. Those things fluctuate, and I think any definite scale that you might insert in the legislation would be bound to work an injustice, no matter how just it would be at the moment it was passed.

Mr. MOORE. Would your thought be that we should entrust the distribution of the allowances to the ambassador or minister in a given country, who would make allotments directly to the consular and diplomatic officers other than those holding the higher posts?

Mr. DAVIS. I think the power of allotting should be with the Department of State, but I can not imagine a Secretary of State who would not be glad to have the views of an ambassador or minister as to the allotments.

Mr. ROGERS. That has been the practice in connection with the allocation of post allowinnc'es. It has always been in the sole discretion of the Secretary of State.

Jír. DAVIS, Yes; and I think for the purpose of administration it is better that it should be. I think it would expose the ambassador and his staff to unnecessary embarrassment to give to some and deny to others. It is much better that the burden should be off his back, as it would be an embarrassment and create friction.

The CHAIRMAX. We thank you very much, Ir. Davis.

Mr. Davis. I am very much obliged to you gentlemen for your extreme patience.

STATEMENT OF HON. FRANK L. POLK, FORMERLY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE, 6 EAST SIXTY-EIGHTH STREET, NEW YORK CITY.

The ('HAINSLAN. Proceed.

Mr. l'OLK. Mr. Davis las so thoroughly covered the bill before the committee that I will not take up much of your time. There are a few points that I may stress, and one or two that I will go into in detail, as I am probably more familiar with the inside workings of the Consular Service, having been on the inside looking out most of the time.

After five years' experience in the State Department, I wish to say that I think we have a remarkable group of men in the Diplomatic and in the Consular Service. They are men who in many instances have taken their lives in their hands, done courageous and brilliant pieces of work in different countries, not recognized, inadequately paid. These men were constantly being taken away from us by organizations that recognize their worth and outbid what the Government could pay, and what, of course, the Government never can pay. The Govermen never can compete with private business as to salary, but I feel that every effort should be made to hold the good men that we have, and get a constant supply of the material that will ripen into the sort of men this Government should have. The difficulty that confronts the Secretary of State is always the question of getting the men in the Diplomatic and the Consular Service that can be educated. A man when he first starts in these two services needs education just as much as a bond salesman or steel salesman or any other kind of business man. He has to be trained and he has to be a man of some education to begin with, being required to talk at least two languages. Otherwise this Government can not be properly represented in foreign countries.

In so far as the Diplomatic Service is concerned, as Mr. Davis says, it is almost impossible for a man to stay in the service unless he has independent means, not necessarily a great deal, but some. The men that we have had have been fine in most part. I think the average of the Diplomatic Service has been higher or as high as any other branch of the Government, but the criticism that can be very properly made of the Diplomatie Service is that it is not sufficiently democratic. That is not the fault of the men in the service; it is the fault of the system, that does not permit a man to come into the service unless he has money at the start. I frequently have men come to me now, just the sort of men that should be in the Diplomatic and Consular Service, who ask my advice as to whether they should take the examinations, and I am compelled to tell them no, that unless they are in position to help themselves, that it is not a career that a man should pick out. If he can barely support himself, he certainly can not support a wife.

Having caught your men the problem is to hold on to them. When I was in the State Department-I recall, and Mr. Carr will, a number of our good men who had been trained in the service and were at a point where they were of real value to the Government. Private corporations would make such offers that these men could not refuse. I have in mind one man drawing $4,500 salary, taken out at a salary of $25,000. A good many men when an offer is made to them decline it for the average man having entered the Government service prefers to stay there if he can get along at all. Mr. Davis has covered the point in regard to the popular prejudice against the Diplomatic Service, that it is purely a social organization. I do not know a harder worked body of men. A man who is in that service has not only the social duties that must be performed in order that he may come in contact with people with whom he has to do business, but in addition to that he has hard and arduous duties at his desk, which takes time and patience and training.

The salaries paid in the Diplomatic Service from the counselor down are far below the salaries paid by the British Government. Those figures, I am glad to see, you have ordered to be put into the record.

The feature of the bill that appeals to me is making the two branches of the service interchangeable. It is going to be a good thing for the Consular Service, and it is going to be a good thing for the Diplomatic Service. You will get a class of men from the consuls for the Diplomatic Service who have had probably a little more practical experience than men in the Diplomatic Service. On the other hand, you are going to get in the Consular Service from the Diplomatic Service, men who have probably had a wider view of world affairs than a consular office may afford. It is true that the consul often has to go to small out-of-the-way ports where the commerce of the United States requires his presence and therefore he does not get the opportunity of broadening education that the man in the Diplomatic Service of necessity is bound to get if he is any good.

Mr. Davis knows so much more about the question of expenses of embassies, from his personal experience, than I do that I hesitate to speak of it. But I did come in contact with many of our ambassadors who would come back here on leave and would discuss with them their living problems. The story that he tells in regard to London is the same story you hear as to all posts: Petrograd in the old days, Berlin, Vienna, Rome. They would all tell the same story. You have the same situation in the big legations. The men were spending out of their private funds, in many instances going into debt.

Mr. FISH. Do you favor taking over buildings or the building of embassies in the more important cities?

Mr. POLK. Yes; undoubtedly. I would not for a moment compete with some of the buildings other countries may have, for instance, the Austrian embassy in Paris had a whole block, but I think we should have an adequate, dignified building in all the capitals. The moment it is known that the American ambassador is looking for a house rents go right up. I think it is undignified that the representative of our country should be put in the position of a house hunter just as soon as he arrives.

Mr. Fish. We are considering establishing a fund with sufficient money to buy these embassies. I understand the Austrian embassy we could have had for $200,000, which is probably worth a great many millions.

Mr. POLK. It is one of the most valuable properties in Paris.

Mr. COCKRAN. Do you agree with Mr. Davis that the weight or standing of an ambassador is to a certain extent affected by the character of the building he occupies?

Mr. POLK. Undoubtedly.

Mr. COCKRAN. And, therefore, all ambassadors for that reason should occupy the same buildings?

Mr. POLK. Unquestionably, because I have seen, as you have personally, in both London and Paris, the fact that one ambassador was able to have a palace and other men a modest gentleman's house was misunderstood.

Mr. COCKRAN. Most people thought that was because the Government thought so much more of one than the other.

Mr. ROGERS. Mr. Davis told us that the necessity of being as moderate in his expenditures as he could properly be resulted in his adding twice the amount of his salary out of his own pocket each year, so that his expenditures were three times his salary, as I understood him. Should you think, and I appreciate it can be very little more than a guess, that surveying the world diplomatic field generally, it is true that an ambassador, minister, or secretary, representing the United States in whatever capacity, would probably have to expend twice as much as his salary out of his own pocket in order to get along and do the decent, reasonable thing for his country?

Mr. POLK. I think that is a perfectly safe statement.

Mr. COCKRAN. That does not seem like a particularly deinocratic arrangement, does it?

Mr. POLK. No.

Mr. COLE. In other words, the highest services will be closed to all except the richest men.

Mr. POLK. Unquestionably; the man who is willing to take the position must usually go into his capital for the privilege of serving in an important post.

Mr. ROGERS. While you were in the Department of State, did you see evidences of an attempt to draw something akin to a social line between the diplomatic service and the consular service?

Mr. POLK. You mean by the department?

Mr. ROGERS. Primarily, I have heard it said, by certain of the less capable and useful members of the diplomatic service.

Mr. POLK. I would not go so far as to say they try to draw a line, but I think some of the less intelligent members of the diplomatic service may fancy they occupy positions of some advantage. I will put it that way.

Mr. ROGERS. Do you not think the result of this interchangeable provision may be useful in eliminating any snobbishness in the foreign service?

Mr. POLK. I was not looking at that particular feature of the bill as a form of punishment. I was looking at it as a form of education. You take a very promising young man who has never had contact with anything but the rather pleasant side of life, if you send him out to some of these consular posts, he will come back a very much better man, with a very much broader view of life, and will be a very much better public servant.

Mr. ROGERS. And will realize he is entirely mistaken in trying to look down on his foreign-service associates.

Mr. POLK. In trying to draw any distinction whatever between the two services, I think one of the strong features of this bill is that it makes the service interchangeable.

Mr. ROGERS. Do you think well of the retirement system?

Mr. POLK. I think that is an essential part of the system. You see men long in the service with salaries seven or eight thousand dollars living abroad and having to move their families frequently at a great expense, and they can not possibly lay by a penny. If they are faced by the fact that in their old age they will have nothing to look forward to, if a man is a bright man he is not going to stay, and the other man who is going to stay will be in constant terror with the thought of an old age with no support for himself or children and family.

Mr. ROGERS. Speaking generally, you think that the enactment of some such legislation as this would give us a better and more efficient and more businesslike foreign service?

Mr. Polk. I do. I feel very strongly that neither the Diplomatic nor Consular Services are appreciated as necessary services. We have these tremendous world problems, and it is impossible for any Government official to handle these problems without proper information. Mr. Davis has referred to the Diplomatic Service as the eyes and the ears of the Government. It is. Unless we have trained men in the field to study and report on these conditions, we are at a hopeless disadvantage. One of the impressive things I witnessed in Paris was the knowledge shown by the men from the British foreign office. They were men, for the most part, about 30 years old; had been in every part of the world; studied their problems and knew them. I am not saying that critically of our men, because such of our men who had the same opportunities held their own. I think both the British and French foreign offices were tremendously impressed with the grasp shown by our men who had had the opportunity to study the questions, but where we had one or two they would have a dozen, and many of our experts had to be drawn from our universities and paid good salaries—higher than our service men.

Mr. ROGERS. The question will be asked, will it not, why, if we can hold our own with the present system, we should change it?

Mr. POLK. I say we had one or two to their many.
Mr. ROGERS. This bill would not give us more men.

Mr. Polk. No; but you would hold your men. Many of the service men who were in Paris have resigned to go into business. We are constantly filling in. We have vacancies now. I remember the time when we had 35 vacancies and 13 applications. The men do not stay. We are constantly educating men and turning them out to go into other businesses.

Mr. MOORE. At the particular time you spoke of in Paris, I suppose you had picked men selected from various localities?

Mr. POLK. Picked men. We had men from universities and colleges and men we had trained ourselves. We had to bring men back into the service, to get them to come back and sacrifice their business to help us. This country will not be properly represented in a diplomatic or business way until we build up

« PreviousContinue »