Skip to content

Papsi in His Own Words, 1943

Federico Stallforth, Wiesbaden, 1902-1907

I was born in Parral, State of Chihuahua, Mexico, on April 4th, 1882. I remained there and was privately educated until I was eleven years old, when I was taken by my family to the United States. On this trip my father died in Chicago, and my mother went with the children to Wiesbaden, Germany, where I was sent to school. From 1893 to 1900 I studied in London, Paris and Switzerland to perfect myself in languages. In 1907 I returned to Parral, Mexico and stayed there until 1912, working in my own mining and banking business. During these years I made several trips to the United States and Europe, and in 1908 a daughter was born in Munich while my wife and I were travelling.

In 1912 I moved with my wife to the United States, and another daughter was born in that year in El Paso, Texas. I have been residing permanently since that year in and around New York. From 1912 to 1917 I worked on several Mexican mining matters, with the help of the First National Bank of Boston, buying and selling ore, especially silver.

 

In 1917 my wife died. In that year I was interned for four weeks at Ellis Island, but was soon released. In 1918 I was again interned. At that time I could prove I was a Mexican citizen, but was unable to prove that I was not at the same time a German subject. Since that time, I have found the paper which proves that my father renounced his Prussian allegiance and never reestablished it.

In 1920 I formed the Metals and Commerce Corporation in connection with the First National Bank of Boston and personal friends. The corporation was interested in developing and selling iron ore from mines in the Iron Range in Minnesota.

In 1923 I went to Europe and was asked by certain members of the Dawes Commission; especially Mr. Rufus Dawes, brother of General Charles G. Dawes, to help with the reparations. At the same time, I represented the American silver interests I the United States: American Smelting, U.S. Smelting and Refining, Anaconda Copper Co., and the Nippising mines. The negotiations that I conducted in Europe, especially in Germany, Austria and Italy, were instrumental in the companies’ selling over 250 million ounces of silver to the different countries for coinage.

After the Dawes Plan was ratified, I represented Harris Forbes & Co., private investment bankers, in Europe, and later the Chase Harris Forbes Corporation, as Vice President of the foreign organization, and negotiated many bond issues in the different Middle European countries. I stayed there until 1929.

 

In connection with this, I spent part of the time each year in the United States conferring with the different partners of the corporation.

In 1928 I became a citizen of the United States, and in 1929 I married again.

 

For the Harris Forbes Co., I went to South America in 1929, spending most of the time in Brazil and Argentina developing new financial possibilities.

 

In the early 1920’s I joined the Council on Foreign Relations, and have been a member ever since. In 1090 I became a member of the Lawyers’ Club, and in 1920, of the Bankers Club. I am also a member of the Academy of Political Science.

 

In 1932 and 1933 I went back to Europe and tried to liquidate some of the still remaining assets of Harris Forbes and subsidiaries.

 

In 1933 I spent some time in Paris and was in intimate contact with the Bank of France, Charles Riist, Premier Painleve, M. Daladier, and the brother of Premier Clemenceau. At that time the World Institute was formed, of which the directors were Salvador Madariaga for Spain, Sir Arthur Salter for England, Charles Riist for France, and Monfort Mills, Charlton Ogburn and myself for the United States. We had many meetings at the time, trying to find a way to stabilize and improve trade relations between the different countries.

 

In 1933 I returned to the United States and spent the years 1933 to 1935 in this country with several trips to Mexico on behalf of developing the further improvement of trade relations between the two countries, and the development of materials, especially silver.

In the fall of 1935 I went to Berlin representing the Sabotage Claimants, namely the Lehigh Valley R.R. Co., Bethlehem Steel, Canadian Car and Foundry, and many insurance companies in the United States. In July, 1936, Mr. Bonynge and Mr. Martin, representing the United States State Department, came to Munich with the lawyers of the different companies and we concluded the so-called Munich agreement of the settlement of the sabotage claims. I worked on thee claims afterwards in the United States until the decision came in 1941.

In 1940 I went to Italy at the request of Mr. Herd to get some testimony for the old ship claims of the last war, which were in the name of Carden and Herd. Mr. William Phillips, then United States Ambassador in Rome, was very helpful to me at that time. I returned after a few months and brought over the requested testimony. In 1941 Mr. Herd interested me in going to Europe and acquiring some of the interned ships that were not in use, for the United States interests. He told me that he had discussed the matter with the Secretary of State, and that the Secretary of State and Mr. Saugstad, in the State Department, were very much interested in this idea. I left in April with the full knowledge and consent of the State Department, which arranged for all my visas and also asked the Embassies in Berlin and Rome to be of help to me. I came back from Europe in September, 1941, with all the papers and contracts, which I delivered to Mr. Saugstad.

 

After we entered the war, in the spring of 1942, I discussed the possibility of developing strategic war materials in Mexico. I talked this idea over with Mr. Truitt of Cummings and Stanley, who became my attorney, and with Mr. McCloy of the War Department, with the R.F.C., the W.P.B. and the State Department. In September, 1942, I went to Mexico, where I stayed until January, 1943. During that time I made several studies of manganese, iron, nickel and mica. I discussed all these problems in the Embassy in Mexico, and Mr. Messersmith told me to talk to Mr. Floyd Ransom, who represented the Metals Reserve. I kept the members of the Metals Reserve in Mexico informed about my activities, and asked Dr. Tonney, who was one of my associates, and his assistant, Mr. Mitcham, to do the same.

 

When I returned to New York in January, I called come of the iron deposits to the attention of the Bethlehem Steel Company, and this company decided to try to acquire some of these mines in order to get some reserves for the war effort.

 

I started to go back to Mexico and was detained in Laredo by the Immigration officials.

 

[Mary Aye Prevo: June 20, 2009: This is a transcription of a carbon copy, three-page, single-spaced report – found in F.Stallforth’s files given to me by my grandmother, Gioja Stallforth Webster]