The New Deal
Hoover - Roosevelt Exchanges
ROOSEVELT TO HOOVER
December 21, 1932
Dear Mr. President: I think perhaps the difficulties to which you refer are not in finding the means or the willingness for cooperation but, rather, in defining clearly those things concerning which cooperation between us is possible.
We are agreed that commitments to any particular policy prior to March fourth are not for many reasons inadvisable and indeed impossible. There remains therefore before that date only the possibility of exploratory work and preliminary surveys.
Please let me reiterate not only that I am glad to avoid the loss of precious time through delay in starting these preliminaries but also that I shall gladly receive such information and expression of opinion concerning all of those international questions which because of existing economic and other conditions must and will be among the first concerns of my administration.
However, for me to accept any joint responsibility in the work of exploration might well be construed by the debtor or other nations, collectively or individually, as a commitment—moral even though not legal, as to policies and courses of action.
The designation of a man or men of such eminence as your telegram suggests would not imply mere fact-finding; it would suggest the presumption that such representatives were empowered to exchange views on matters of large and binding policy.
Current press dispatches from abroad already indicate that the joint action which you propose would most certainly be interpreted there as much more of a policy commitment than either you or I actually contemplate.
May I respectfully suggest that your proceed with the selection of your representatives to conduct the preliminary exploration necessary with individual debtor nations and representatives to discuss the agenda of the World Economic conference, making it clear that none of these representatives is authorized to bind this government as to any ultimate policy.
If this be done, let me repeat that I shall be happy to receive their information and their expressions of opinion.
To that I add the thought that between now and March fourth I shall be very glad if you will keep me advised as to the progress of the preliminary discussions, and I also shall be happy to consult with you freely during this period.