IN order to encourage the stabilization of currency and consequently to stimulate world trade and eliminate fundamental causes of misery and war -- in short, to develop both prosperity and peace -- the United States, Great Britain, and France, on September 25, 1936, entered into an understanding referred to in the Department of State's Press Releases1 dated next day as an "International Monetary Agreement." The press, describing it somewhat too superlatively as "unprecedented in international history," remarked that "no papers were signed." "Virtually the entire transaction was conducted by telephone."2 In the office of the Secretary of the Treasury, at Washington, where representatives of the three governments were in conference with other officials at Paris and London, "long distance telephones were kept busy, with a loud- speaker in place of the regular receiver so that all present might hear."
In evidence of this agreement, than which it would be difficult to imagine one of more solemn purpose or more far-reaching potentiality, official statements were handed to the press in the three national capitals for general publication. "I would rather have a gentleman's agreement based on mutual good faith," said Secretary Morgenthau, "than any number of signed ones." The terms of this covenant would seem not to have been graven upon stone or written upon parchment, but impressed upon the public consciousness of the world.
In such manner may international relations be conducted in the second third of the twentieth century. The Committee of Secret Correspondence, established under a resolution of the Second Continental Congress ( 1775) and doubtless "the first formally constituted body" to be charged with conducting the external relations of what is now the United States, seems very far away indeed. So also do communication by sailing vessels, diplo-____________________