Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald's Historic Reception

On this date, Ramsay MacDonald became the first British Prime Minister to speak before the U.S. House of Representatives. Appearing before the House in an informal reception, MacDonald’s address was brief and referenced little more than his previous visit to America. But he promised to return to the House of Commons and inform them “how very kind, how very generous, how very hospitable” the U.S. House had been. Prime Minister MacDonald was in America to finalize a naval treaty between the United States and Great Britain, called the London Naval Treaty. After witnessing the carnage of World War I, world leaders felt that by limiting military resources they could reduce the likelihood of renewed conflict around the globe. MacDonald’s visit both cemented the emerging partnership between the United States and Great Britain and provided some needed momentum for the passage of the naval treaty. In a longer address to the Senate later that day, the Prime Minister urged that chamber to approve the treaty, saying, “Parity? Take it. . . . There can be no war if we do our duty.” The five great powers during the early-twentieth century—America, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan—signed the formal treaty on April 22, 1930.