Memorandum of Conversation by Under Secretary of State Welles, 10 Aug 1941

10 Aug 1941

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AT SEA, AUGUST 10,1941.


I accompanied the President this Morning to attend the religious services and the lunch which the Prime Minister was giving for the President on the Prince of Wales. Sir Alexander Cadogan told me before lunch that in accordance with the conversation which was had; between the President, the Prime Minister, Sir Alexander and myself at the President's dinner last night he had made two tentative drafts covering proposed parallel and simultaneous declarations by the United States and British Governments relating to Japanese policy in the Pacific and of a proposed joint-declaration to be made by the President; and the Prime Minister when their present meeting was terminated. The two drafts read as follows:

"Draft of Parallel Communications to the Japanese Government.

"Declaration by the United States Government that:

"1. Any further encroachment by Japan in the Southwestern Pacific would produce a situation in which the United States Government would be compelled to take counter measures even though these might lead to war between the United States and Japan.

"2. If any third Power becomes the object of aggression by Japan in consequence of such counter measures or of their support of them, the President would have the intention to seek authority from Congress to give aid to such Power."

"Declaration by His Majesty's Government that:

"1. Any further encroachment by Japan in the Southwestern Pacific would produce a situation in which His Majesty's Government would be compelled to take counter measures even though these might lead to war between Great Britain and Japan.

"2. If any third Power becomes the object of aggression by Japan in consequence of such counter measures or of their support of them, His Majesty's Government would give all possible aid to such Power."

"Declaration by the Netherlands Government:

"1. Any further encroachment by Japan in the Southwestern Pacific would produce a situation in which Her Majesty's Government would be compelled to take counter measures even though these might lead to war between the Netherlands and Japan.

"2. If any third Power becomes the object of aggression by Japan in consequence of such counter measures or of their support of them, Her Majesty's Government would give all possible aid to such Power."

Keep the Soviet Government informed. It will be for consideration whether they should he pressed to make a parallel declaration.

The draft of the proposed joint declaration reads as follows

The President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, representing His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, being met together to resolve and concert the means of providing for the safety of their respective countries in face of Nazi and German aggression and of the dangers to all peoples arising therefrom, deem it right to make known certain principles which they both accept for guidance in the framing of their policy and on which to base their hopes for better future for the world.

First, their countries seek no aggrandizement, territorial or other;

Second, they desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned;

Third, they respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; they are only concerned to defend the rights of freedom of speech and of thought without which such choosing must be illusory;

Fourth, they will strive to bring about a fair and equitable distribution of essential produce not only within their territorial jurisdiction but between the nations of the world.

Fifth, they seek a peace which will not only cast down forever the Nazi tyranny but by effective international organization will afford to all States and peoples the means of dwelling in security within their own bounds and of traversing the seas and oceans without fear of lawless assault or need of getting burdensome armaments."

As I was leaving the ship to accompany the President back to his flagship, Mr. Churchill said to me that he had likewise given the President copies of these documents. He impressed upon me his belief that some declaration of the kind he had drafted with respect to Japan was in his opinion in the highest degree important, and that he did not think that there was much hope left unless the United States made such a clear-cut declaration of preventing Japan from expanding further to the south, in which event the prevention of war between Great Britain and Japan appeared to be hopeless. He said in the most emphatic manner that if war did break out between Great Britain and Japan, Japan immediately would be in a position through the use of her large number of cruisers to seize or to destroy all of the British merchant shipping in the Indian Ocean and in the Pacific, and to cut the lifelines between the British Dominions and the British Isles unless the United States herself entered the war. He pled with me that a declaration of this character participated in by the United States, Great Britain, the Dominions, the Netherlands and possibly the Soviet Union would definitely restrain Japan. If this were not done, the blow to the British Government might be almost decisive.

SUMNER WELLES ww2dbase

Source: Yale Law School Avalon Project
Added By: C. Peter Chen





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