Robert Lansing to Woodrow Wilson




Library of Congress, Woodrow Wilson Papers, 1786-1957


My dear Mr. President

The very active propaganda now being carried on in the press respecting the attitude of the Administration towards Russia combined with the fact that Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan, and indeed the Russian people, are eagerly awaiting the announcement by the United States of a constructive plan for meeting the present chaotic conditions in Russia leads me to make the following suggestions:(1) The creation of the "Commission for the Relief of Russia". This Commission to be organized generally along the same lines as the "Commission for the Relief of Belgium", except that all of the funds required should be furnished for the time being at least out of your War Fund. This would obviate the necessity of going to Congress for the present for an appropriation.(2) An announcement by you that in order to give some tangible evidence to the world that the United States proposes to stand by Russia and to assist the Russian people in the circumstances in which they find themselves you had concluded to create this Commission and to request Mr. Herbert Hoover to act as its head and that the Commission would act in close conjunction with the State Department and be guided in all questions of foreign policy by the State Department.
I feel sure that you will agree with me that unless the policy of such a Commission is controlled through this Department, so far as it relates to foreign affairs, hopeless confusion will result. Your appointment of Mr. Hughes to assist the Department of Justice in its Aircraft investigation effectively cleared up what bade fair to develop into a most distressing situation. As I pointed out to you after Cabinet on Tuesday, I see signs in Congress and outside of a similar situation arising in connection with Russia unless you give concrete expression to the splendid encouragement you have already extended to the Russian people. I feel sure that Mr. Hoover's appointment to head such a Commission would be widely acclaimed as another evidence of the determination of the United States to assist the Russian people towards the establishment of an orderly Government independent of Germany.
The creation of this Commission would, for the time being, dispose of the proposal of armed intervention. The British, French, Italian and Japanese Governments could be told that armed intervention would have to depend on Mr. Hoover's recommendations after he had proceeded further with his work. Armed intervention to protect the humanitarian work done by the Commission would be much preferable to armed intervention before this work had been begun.
I know you will hesitate to take Mr. Hoover from his present work. I have learned, however, that the organization of the Food Administration has proceeded to such an extent that while much work remains to be done, nevertheless another man could easily step in and effectively continue the work. No doubt Mr. Hoover has told you, as he has me, that our food supply at the present time is most satisfactory and that the present problem is to dispose of properly the enormous supplies we have acquired through stimulation of production. I understand that Mr. Julius Barnes is considered the ablest of Mr. Hoover's assistants and best equipped for his position.
I should very much appreciate an expression of your views with reference to these suggestions.

I am, my dear Mr. President,
Faithfully yours,
Robert Lansing.

Original Format





Lansing, Robert, 1864-1928, “Robert Lansing to Woodrow Wilson,” 1918 June 13, WWP22403, World War I Letters, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.