Press Conference, February 1, 1924

Date: February 1, 1924

Location: Washington, D.C.

Here is an inquiry about a proposed loan to Mexico. This is the first I have heard of any such loan. It is supposed to be a loan by private interests, American financiers. No proposals of that kind have come to my attention, so I don’t know that there is anything I can say about the matter. I thought that Mexico was in process of repaying and refinancing some of its current obligations, rather than in process of borrowing money. This is a new proposition to me.

I don’t know of any plan to send Marines to Honduras in connection with election difficulties there. I should think that such action would, of course, be very unusual, and I don’t know of any occasion for the United States doing anything of that kind. Of course we have peculiar relations with some of the Latin republics, and there may be some treaty obligation of some kind or another, but I don’t have any in mind.

I don’t think that American warships are retained in Mexican waters at the request of the Governments of Great Britain, France and Holland. I never heard of any such report. They are there, as you know, in order that there may be protection at hand for American citizens, or as places of refuge for American citizens that might need to come away, and in order to keep communications open in case any difficulty should arise on land and our consuls would not be able to communicate through the ordinary means with the Government here in Washington.

I don’t think there is any contemplated sale either of machine guns or bayonets, or any munitions, of any kind, pending to Mexico. But about that I have no specific information.

Here is an inquiry about stopping the sale of Treasury Savings Certificates in the Northwest. Those certificates were put out in order that people themselves might deal directly with the Government, for the purpose of encouraging thrift, and with the expectation that ultimately such action would bring deposits in the banks. Reports came that people were drawing their money out of perfectly good banks and investing in savings certificates in a way that threatened to jeopardize the banks and make it very inconvenient for them by taking their deposits. I understand that the Treasury Department, which was acting in this instance through the Post Office Department – the sales being made through the Post Office Department – thought it was better temporarily to discontinue sales in some localities .

No final decision has been made about the counsel in the oil leases. Mr. Strawn is in town and I have had a chance to talk with him of course. Mr. Gregory is on his way here from Texas. I haven’t had a chance to talk with him and have been waiting until he reaches here, when I expect to do so. The reasons, of course, for conferring with him is to see whether he had any connections that would make it inappropriate that he should act for the Government in these cases.

I have considered in only a casual way the reappointment of the two Commissioners of the District of Columbia. I think a committee of the Chamber of Commerce waited on me one time and brought in a resolution endorsing the two Commissioners that are now in office. Whether there will be endorsements of others, I can’t say. I think I have heard mentioned one or two others, but I haven’t given it any special attention. I don’t contemplate calling a meeting of the Arlington Memorial Bridge Commission in the immediate future. I haven’t given very much thought about continuing the Ball Rent Act. That Commission called on me one time and from what they told me I thought it was probably desirable that the Commission should be continued. From some representations that have been made to me by others, I don’t feel so certain about it. It seems to me that there are at least five hundred vacant apartments in Washington at the present time. I couldn’t give an opinion that would be of very much value without getting the evidence before me. Of course the Rent Commission is a temporary expedient. It was one of those things that was provided in order to take up the difficulty that arose out of the crowding during the War. We want to get back to demand and supply as soon as we can, and just as soon as the building in Washington warrants it, I feel that ought to be done. On the other hand the Government here owes or has rather a peculiar duty to the City of Washington, because it has here so many persons who are directly employed by the Government, and unless it has some jurisdiction over the amount of rent that they have to pay and is able to help them in some way, the question immediately arises as to what additional wages and so on ought to be paid them, – a question of their compensation. So that there is a reason why conditions in the City of Washington are somewhat different than they would be in any other locality.

I have another inquiry about diplomatic relations with Honduras, and requesting a statement about what was said yesterday in the State Department. I hadn’t heard anything about the difficulty in the Honduras until these questions came to me, so I am not able to give any information either about any trouble there or any of the different factions. I should presume the United states wouldn’t take any action unless it is required under the terms of some treaty, and that I don’t know about.

I have heard about a proposed treaty with Panama in regard to the building of roads and construction of bridges, and so on, but I don’t know anything about the negotiations. I know that negotiations are pending about that, but I am not able to give any specific information about it. I have indicated once or twice before that while sometimes a sort of a synopsis is given out about treaties, it is the duty of the Executive and the State Department also to submit treaties to the Senate before the text is given out, because they are always considered in the secrecy of the Senate and the Senate has authoritative power to remove the injunction of secrecy, which they sometimes do by passing an order.

I am very much disturbed to hear of the illness of President Wilson. I met him most pleasantly when he returned the first time from France and landed at Boston, where a public reception was tendered him. I made an address in which I extended the welcome of the Commonwealth, and I have always recalled with a good deal of feeling that when I was chosen Governor the second time, though he was very ill, he sent me a message of congratulation. So that learning of the probable nearness of his end, it is a matter that touches me deeply.

Anything at the Cabinet, Mr. President?

No, there wasn’t anything of particular importance discussed there. There was only one matter of consequence taken up, and that will be a matter which will be given out by the State Department within a day or two. It was a communication from a foreign Government with the suggestion that when it be given out they be notified, so that it could be given out there simultaneously.

Citation: Calvin Coolidge: Remarks by the President to Newspaper Correspondents 

The Coolidge Foundation gratefully acknowledges the volunteer efforts of Tamara Harken who prepared this document for digital publication.

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