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Telegram to Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York About the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Deep Waterway.

July 10, 1932

I AM IN RECEIPT of your telegram of July 9th. I am glad to assure you that the negotiations between the United States and the Dominion of Canada in respect to the Great Lakes Waterway are making progress and that it will not be necessary to interrupt your cruise by a visit to Washington.

These negotiations, as you know, involving a score of intricate problems, have been under way for nearly three years and have now reached a hopeful aspect. While under our Constitution international treaties fall within the sole jurisdiction of the Federal Government, nevertheless the representatives appointed by you and leaders in other states primarily concerned have been consulted during the course of the negotiations. I am in hopes an agreement can be reached between the two governments, but it has not yet been concluded, and I shall be glad to have you advised when this occurs.

The question of the disposal of the byproduct of power which will result from the works which border the State of New York, like all domestic questions of this character affecting the two countries, is reserved by the proposed treaty for purely domestic action by each country. This disposal is not the subject of international agreement. If a treaty is concluded and is ratified by the Senate, then the domestic questions which may arise must be settled through the action of both the Senate and House of Representatives in accordance with federal and state law and in accord with the interest of all the states of the Union.

You will realize that neither you nor I have authority to enter upon agreements in respect to these domestic questions, but if the treaty is consummated and ratified I shall be glad to consult with you and other governors. I have no doubt that we can make such recommendations to the Congress as will be helpful to them in solving the particular domestic problems relating to each state.

Having ardently advocated for over ten years the great work of completing this shipway from Duluth and Chicago to the sea, I am glad to know that it will meet with your support.


Note: A text of Governor Roosevelt's telegram, dated July 9, 1932, follows:

The power authority of the state of New York has officially reported to me the status of its negotiations with the state department in the matter of effecting an agreement between the federal administration and the state of New York in connection with the development of the St. Lawrence river for navigation and power.

According to this report after many protracted conferences between the state department and the New York state power authority over a period of many months the Secretary of State has referred the issues to you for final determination. The question, failure to agree upon which has prevented complete accord, is the proportion of the cost to be borne by the state of New York. I am sure that you agree with me that prompt and speedy settlement of this only question remaining unsettled is a matter of vital necessity. It is a vital necessity for the simple fact that this great project involves two objectives of equal importance and cannot in public justice accomplish one without the other. I am deeply interested in the immediate construction of the deep water way as well as in the development of abundant and cheap power. The state of New York not only owns this potential power but seeks through a state agency to make it available to millions of people at reasonable cost. That is why the determination of the share of the total cost of construction to be paid for by this state is a present factor which should not be relegated to later negotiations between us.

Four sovereignties are involved: The Dominion of Canada and the province of Ontario, The United States and the state of New York. In Canada the Premier of Canada and the Premier of Ontario have directly conducted negotiations on this very subject. In international matters affecting the joint rights and interests of the United States government and one or more of its sovereign states, an understanding should be reached between the federal and state governments as a condition precedent to the conclusion of negotiation with a foreign nation. In view of this therefore it is my belief that through a personal conference Between us this could be promptly solved.

With such an agreement between the federal administration and the state of New York it would be my hope that it would be possible to submit a treaty to the Senate for immediate and I hope favorable action as soon as signed. May I respectfully point out that such action would hasten greatly the initiation of this vast project--one which means cheap transportation by deep waterway for the agricultural and other products of the west; cheap electricity from the state owned and controlled resource to be developed for the primary interest of homes, farms, and industries; and, of immediate importance, employment for thousands of workers. If by thus cutting red tape and eliminating formalities we could work together to secure early and final action on this great public work it would be greatly to the public interest. It has already been too long delayed.

I hold myself subject to your call and am ready to go to Washington on forty-eight hours notice at your convenience. I shall be on a cruise between New York and Cape Cod this week but will be in port each night. Word to Albany will be forwarded promptly.
Governor of New York

[The President, The White House]

Herbert Hoover, Telegram to Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York About the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Deep Waterway. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/207154

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