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Excerpts of the President's News Conference

December 11, 1923

No decision has been made in the matter of appointing a judge for the Eastern District of Missouri. I should have made those appointments during the recess, except for the opinion of the Attorney General that, as they did not occur during the recess, they could not be filled. It is necessary for me to confer with Senators in relation to these appointments, and members of the House, because it is to quite a degree the source of my information. There is another matter that I think the press might stress somewhat, and that is my desire to appoint men of the highest character and most marked ability for service on the Federal bench. I am willing to have come to me—I welcome the suggestions from political committees and from those who are known to be in political life or holding political office about appointments to the bench. In other cases, suggestions of that kind might be almost entirely determined by them. But in the case of the bench I should look for something more than that. I have to have the assurance of the approbation of the bar, the assurance of the approbation of the general community as to the standing, character, ability and learning of men that are to be appointed to the bench. So that political recommendations, while they are helpful and will be given due consideration, cannot be entirely the determining factor in making appointments to the United States' bench. It is of signal importance that those places be filled by men about which there can't be any controversy. I don't mean by that that I should permit a man that from all the evidence I could secure was perfectly well qualified to be disqualified because he happened to have some enemies that might be willing to resort to tactics that I could not agree with or didn't seem to be supported by facts. But it is very important to put on the bench men about whom there can't be any question, and I shall try, in my selections, to be guided by that principle.

* * * * * * *

This Government has been informed that the Reparations Commission is considering the establishment of two expert Committees. One to consider the means of balancing the budget of Germany and the measures to be taken to stabilize her currency. The other to take up the question of the capital which has been removed from Germany. That is the property of Germany that is said to have been removed and which is now located in other countries. The inquiry of the first Committee would comprehend all the conditions to be realized and the measures to be taken to accomplish the results desired. All the representatives of the governments' members of the Commission, have expressed a desire to have American experts on the two Committees. It is understood that the Government of the United States is not in a position to be represented on these Committees, and that the invitation to the American experts will be extended directly by the Reparations Commission. That wants to be made plain—that the Government of the United States does not participate, but that experts, economic experts, to participate by the direct invitation of the Reparations Commission. This Government believes that the proposed inquiry will be of great value and in view of its direct interest as a creditor, you may recall that I developed that somewhat in my message, speaking of the European debt that is due us and also the debt that is due us from Germany. The German debt in and of itself will amount to about three-quarters of a billion dollars—about $750,000,000. We can't tell yet just what the Mixed Claims Commission may find is the amount due, but it is of such a sum as joined to the bill of $255,000,000 that is due for the Army of Occupation will amount to about $750,000,000. So that we have an interest there as a direct creditor and an indirect interest as a creditor of the other nations there, and of the importance of the economic recuperation of Europe, it would view with favor the acceptance by American experts of such an invitation. We have the interest of our debt and our interest in the economic recovery of Europe. The immediate proposal before the Reparations Commission has been made by the French delegate and President of the Commission, and has the support, it is understood, of all the allied governments. The French delegate is the President of the Commission, and he is the one who has made the immediate proposal. The British Government has informed this Government of its desire that American experts should participate in the inquiry. That takes care of all the allied governments.

Now, this is a very important addition. The German Government has also brought the matter to the attention of this Government, stating that it would be much appreciated if an American expert were to participate in the work of the first Committee, as above proposed, as it is believed that in this way important progress could be made toward the solution of the problems underlying economic recovery.

You see, that makes the entire approval of the allied governments and joined to that is the request that comes from the German Government. I think that is very important, of course, and a very significant development. There has been abroad many times some criticism of our Government, of our people, and our ways, but that has demonstrated, I think, that when they are in real trouble and real difficulty over there, they turn to us as a nation that will be fair with them—one in whose judgment and in whose character they can rely; and notwithstanding differences that have seemed to exist, they are willing to abide by the faith that they have in us, and I think it is a very substantial accomplishment.

PRESS: Mr. President, is this the carrying out of the New Haven speech?

PRESIDENT: Not exactly, but it is along that line. This little statement I will have set up on the typewriter and it will be ready for distribution for you in fifteen or twenty minutes.

PRESS: Mr. President, would it be proper to ask, in view of our interest in the $750,000,000, why we do not participate officially and directly?

PRESIDENT: Well, that is a matter that hasn't yet been adjusted. The Mixed Claims Commission is working on that, the mixed claims part. Then we have some adjustment of the bill for the Army of Occupation. I am speaking of that for the purpose of indicating our direct interest in the situation.

Source: "The Talkative President: The Off-the-Record Press Conferences of Calvin Coolidge". eds. Howard H. Quint & Robert H. Ferrell. The University Massachusetts Press. 1964.

Calvin Coolidge, Excerpts of the President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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