The Finnish Minister (Saastamoinen) to the Secretary of State

No. 1321

Your Excellency: On December 6, 1917, the Parliament of Finland declared Finland an independent nation, and since then this independence has been recognized by all civilized countries, they having entered into diplomatic relations with the Government of Finland. The recognition of the United States of America was given on May 7, 1919, by the following note signed by Your Excellency at Paris, and addressed to the Foreign Minister of Finland, Dr. Rudolf Holsti:

Paris, 7 May 1919

Excellency: I have the honour to inform Your Excellency that the United States has recognized the independence of Finland and the government, of which Your Excellency is a member, as the de facto Government of Finland.

In assuring Your Excellency of the pleasure it gives me to make this announcement, I have [etc.]

Robert Lansing

His Excellency
Dr. Rudolf Holsti,
etc., etc., etc.,
Hotel des Iles Britanniques,
22 Rue de la Paix,
Paris, France.

The Government of Finland entrusted to the undersigned, as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, the duty of representing it near the Government of the United States; and on August 21, 1919, the undersigned had the honor of submitting his letter of credence to President Woodrow Wilson.

However, in view of the fact that in the official correspondence had by the undersigned with Your Excellency, it has been almost uniformly emphasized in the notes received by the undersigned, that the present government of Finland is the de facto government of Finland, communications being addressed To the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the de facto Government of [Page 225] Finland, and as that fact points to a possible impression on the part of the Government of the United States that the government recognized by the United States as the government of Finland does not as such lawfully represent the entire Finnish people, although it actually has the governing power in its hands, I beg to submit the following for the enlightenment of the subject and to show that the Government of Finland is not only a government de facto, but also de jure, and that it represents the people of Finland.

When Finland was joined to the Russian Empire in personal union as an autonomous state, Finland had a constitutional form of government, which the Czars of Russia as Grand Dukes of Finland, have regularly ratified and guaranteed by oath upon their ascending the throne, throughout the past century, although the last ruler of Russia in a large measure forgot the solemn assurances given to Finland under oath. According to its constitution, Finland had her own legislation, her own monetary system and her own executive government. The Finnish people exercised their legislative power through the four-chambered Diet, which in 1906 was changed to a one-chambered Parliament, at the same time the right of suffrage was extended so that every citizen of Finland having reached the age of twenty-four years, regardless of sex, had equal suffrage in the parliamentary elections. When the last ruler of Russia Nicholas II, was dethroned by the revolution, and Russia came into a state of complete anarchy, the people of Finland took their destiny into their own hands, and the Parliament of Finland elected in the above mentioned manner, declared Finland an independent and sovereign nation. The executive power at that time was in a cabinet made up, according to parliamentary practice, of persons enjoying the confidence of the majority in Parliament, the prime minister in the cabinet being Judge P. E. Svinhufvud. The condition of anarchy prevailing in Russia and the Bolshevist doctrines spread therefrom, lamentably secured adherents rapidly also in Finland, the result being that already at the end of January 1918, a revolt broke out in Finland. The radical elements of the country, reinforced by the Russian Soviet Government and its land and naval forces, made an attempt to overthrow the form of government provided for in the constitution and to set up in its place a dictatorship of the proletariat. This attempt, however, was wholly unsuccessful, so that at the end of April 1918, the revolutionary movement was suppressed, and the Russian Bolshevik troops beaten and entirely driven out of the country. The Parliament of Finland was able to assemble again in May 1918. On May 18, 1918, the Parliament, acting in accordance with constitutional provisions of [Page 226] 1772 and 1789, elected as Regent, the Prime Minister, Judge P. E. Svinhufvud, who resigned on December 12, 1918, when General Gustaf Mannerheim was elected Regent in his stead. In view of the fact that great changes had occurred in the internal and foreign political affairs, the Regent Mannerheim deemed it advisable to order new parliamentary elections in order that the people of Finland be able to express themselves directly. The elections were held on March 1, 1919, and the new Parliament convened on April 4th. The most important task of the new Parliament was to provide a form of government adapted to the changed conditions of the country, which new form of government was adopted July 17, 1919. According to that form of government, Finland is a constitutional republic, the highest executive officer of which is a president elected for a period of six years. According to the constitution, the first president was elected by Parliament, but subsequent elections will be by electors chosen directly by the people. On the 25th of July, Parliament elected as the first president of Finland, Dr. K. J. Ståhlberg, a professor in the University, who immediately assumed the duties of president.

By the above account, the undersigned hopes to have shown that the existing form of government, established on democratic principles, is really an expression of the will of the Finnish people, and that the government established in accordance with the constitution is, therefore, the lawful government of Finland, a government de jure.

I have [etc.]

A. H. Saastamoinen