Press Conference, October 12, 1923

Date: October 12, 1923

Location: Washington, D.C.

(Original document available here)

I have two or three inquiries about the Governor’s Conference. That is a Conference, of course, as I indicated in my invitation to the Governors, which can be discussed in a word or so. I have invited the Governors to lunch with me on the 20th, told them that after that I wanted to lay before them certain matters in relation to immigration, and the enforcement of the laws relative to the sale of narcotics and alcoholic beverages. It is a conference, I may so designate it, entirely for the purpose of seeing what can be done to secure a better enforcement of the law. I mean by that that it is to proceed on the executive side. This isn’t the calling of a legislative conference, or a conference for any other purpose than to secure cooperation in enforcement. I don’t know the number that have responded favorably. I think my advices from the Governor’s Conference that is to be held in Indiana were to the effect that some thirty odd would plan to be present there. I should think it would be doubtful if there would be any more here than would go there. It may be that some of the men in the eastern part of the country can drop in here on Saturday who couldn’t spend almost the entire week in Indiana; so that while I may lose some that go to the conference in Indiana, I perhaps may gain some that couldn’t attend there.

Mr. President, will the Governors’ Conference be an executive session?

Yes, it is an executive session. It is an invitation to take lunch with me and after the lunch I have certain matters that I want to lay before them.

Mr. President, can you give us some idea of the program, or some of the discussions?

I haven’t anything to give out about that yet. I expect to speak to the Conference, and representatives of the Treasury Department. I don’t know whether Mr. Mellon will speak or not, but he will be there and someone will represent his Department. And the Secretary of Labor’s Department, they representing the immigration. Also the narcotic laws and the prohibition laws represented by the Treasury Department.

Mr. President, is it possible that some of those speeches willbe given out? Will they be given out in advance?

I think some of them may be given out in advance, and it is possible that I may have some statement made at the conference. I do not know about that.

An inquiry about my conference yesterday with Secretary Hughes. I don’t think that had the significance that its length perhaps may have given to it. The Secretary came in, I think about 3.00 o’clock. I sent for him in order that I might confer with him about general matters that come under the jurisdiction of his Department, of our foreign relations. It wasn’t any particular or specific thing. Our conversation was entirely general, and I thought that his words, which I read somewhere in the morning paper, disclosed it very well as having no particular significance. I was a bit over three-quarters of an hour or so going over these things in his Department, in order that I might keep myself as well posted as I could about the details of our foreign relations.

An inquiry as to a business conference which it is rumored will be shortly called. I haven’t any plan about that, and this is the first suggestion of it that has come to me. Business, in general, is so good now that I don’t know of any particular reason for calling a business conference at this time. Business is never so good that we don’t want to improve it, but I don’t know of any particular reason for calling a business conference, and I haven’t anything of that kind in mind just now.

An inquiry about the London discussions of tariff preferences within the British Empire being carried on at the Imperial Conference. That hasn’t happened to come under my observation. I should judge that that was a matter entirely of the domestic affairs of the British Empire, which we should have to recognize they have a right to discuss and a right to regulate, just the same as we regulate our own domestic affairs. We make our tariff whatever we think it ought to be, and we wouldn’t want to have interference from without in anything of that kind. Very likely you will recall that during the making of our last tariff, and I think on other occasions when the Congress was engaged in the making of a tariff, that criticism was made on the floor that different foreign representatives here were attempting to interfere with it. I don’t say that the charge was correct or in-correct. I am simply stating the fact that it was made, as indicating that a nation dislikes very much to have any outside interference with that which is purely its domestic affairs. I should imagine that that would be the case here. I don’t know that we have any treaty that would affect that in any way, and unless we have, I should think it purely a domestic matter which they have complete jurisdiction over, and in which it would be inappropriate for us to meddle. Of course, I don’t mean by that that it isn’t proper for a foreign government to apply at any time to our State Department if there were justification for such procedure, or that it wouldn’t be perfectly proper for our State Department to apply any time to any state departments of foreign governments; and that would undoubtedly be done, if it was thought that anything was about to happen that might interfere with the commercial and business interests of the United States. I think I can assure every one that they will be – that our business and commercial interests will be looked after to the very best of our ability.

An inquiry as to whether Doctor Cuno made any suggestions for German steamship lines to acquire some of the surplus Shipping Board tonnage. I knew that Doctor Cuno was interested in shipping, and I talked with him about that for the few moments that he was here. I think I suggested to him that there was a great deal of surplus shipping in the United States, not with a view that I expected that he was desirous of acquiring any of it, but that was an observation I made and I don’t recall that he made any particular response to it.

Did he make any representations regarding the twenty year contract with the Harriman lines?

No, now that you speak of that. I remember he said his special errand over here was to make some kind of a contract, or have some discussion or transaction of business with the Harriman lines, but the nature of it wasn’t disclosed, and I didn’t inquire about it.

Whether there is any comment to be made on the statement of ex-Premier Lloyd George favoring an unwritten understanding between Great Britain and the United States for world peace. No. I don’t think it would be good policy for me to comment on the speeches that Lloyd George is making. Of course Lloyd George was formerly the Premier of Great Britain. He is now a powerful figure in the public life of that country. He is not, however, now, the Premier and doesn’t speak, of course, for the British Government. I give you that suggestion, in order that you may write, when you do, with that in mind. I don’t know whether he is considered to be in opposition to the government. I suppose that is the position he occupies, as one of opposition to the present government, and that his speeches over here should be considered from that angle not in any way as the official representation of what the present government might want, but in the nature of speeches of one who is visiting here, and wants to lay his ideas before the American people, and also speaking from the platform which, no doubt, reaches back and is listened to at home.

Another inquiry which came up before at one time, and which is a matter that has never been brought to my attention. I don’t know just what there is of importance, or what its significance may be. That is as to the closing at an earlier hour of the international bridge between El Paso and Juarez. That has never been brought to my attention at all. Very likely, if it has come to the attention of the State Department they haven’t considered it a matter of sufficient importance to be taken up with me.

Whether any report has been received from the Federal Trade Commission relative to prices of coal. It hasn’t been made yet. I called that matter to the attention of the Federal Trade Board. I sent to them some representatives of the Coal Commission and they also have secured the reports and the evidence of that office, which was before the Coal Commission, so that they have that under consideration.

There was one other matter that I nearly forgot to mention. At the Cabinet meeting it developed that the Japanese Government had suffered the loss of its printing presses, which would be the equivalent here of having our Bureau they of Printing and Engraving wiped out of existence, so that they have appealed to us for assistance, and our government has been exceedingly glad of the opportunity to render them some assistance through our own plant to cover an emergency. We nave some of the small hand presses that were formerly used in the bureau, before they adopted the present power presses, and if it should be necessary, our Government would be pleased to supply those to the Japanese Government to tide them over the necessities of the time.

Is there any money shortage resulting from this temporary suspension of the plant, Mr. President?

I haven’t heard of any. It is a question of printing their currency, and they needed to have some help about it.

Whether any time has been fixed for the Cabinet to consider plans for the reorganization of the executive departments, and whether the Brown plan approved last year by the Cabinet will under-go any changes. I haven’t any changes in mind about that. The Cabinet will take it up for consideration very shortly. As you know several cabinet members have been out of town. Secretary Denby is up in New York, I think it is New York, undergoing an operation, a slight injury to his heel; and Mr. Wallace is in the West, Mr. Daugherty was in Ohio, Mr. Davis is on the Pacific Coast; and as soon as we can get the Cabinet all together we will take up the question then, go over carefully, and see if it is desirable to make any changes in the suggested plan.

Any date been fixed for a Cabinet discussion of that plan? Mr. President.

No particular date, but as soon as we can get the entire Cabinet together it will be considered. I doubt if it will be necessary to give a great deal of attention to it. No changes are contemplated that I know of, but, on the other hand, no express decisions have been made.

It is announced in New York that the terms of a new loan to Italy will be made public next week. Has the administration taken any stand in the floating of a loan of that kind? No. The administration has no policy about that, other than a desire to assist wherever it can, and I mean by that to give its countenance to the lending of money by our private banks in America and the American people to Governments and people abroad wherever it can be done. I am not certain whether any inquiry about this has been made in the State Department. None has come to my attention. But I have every reason to suppose that the State Department should look with approbation on any plan of private individuals to help refinance the Italian needs.

I have another inquiry, I don’t know whether I covered that, about the proposal of Lloyd George for an entente between the United States and Great Britain to maintain the peace of the world. That, as I have explained, is an unofficial proposal made by a prominent man, but not made by the Government of Great Britain in any way. Should it be made by the Government of Great Britain, why we would take it up and consider it then. Coming, as it does, in this way, I think we will have to regard it as a speech and I don’t care to make any particular comment about it.

An inquiry about the citizenship conference tomorrow. All that I know positively about that is that I am to receive the members of that conference some time. They are to come to the White House where I am to have the privilege of receiving them and shaking hands with them.

Mr. President, will you make a speech?

I don’t expect to.

Sent any message to them?

I haven’t sent any message. I don’t know whether any officers of the Government will speak there or not. I think that covers substantially the things that I wanted to discuss today.

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

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

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