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890F.6363 Standard Oil Co./131 Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation With the

British Ambassador (Halifax)

[WASHINGTON,] May 7, 1941. [For the first part of this memorandum, regarding financial assistance to Saudi Arabia, see page 632.]

I then said that in going over conditions in Iraq and Iran and British problems in that part of the world, it occurred to me to inquire of him about conditions in India and whether the British found it feasible to consider further acts of liberalizing the relations of the United Kingdom to India. He said that the conditions in India were really very good; that Gandhi? with his opposition to war found himself unable to sympathize with Hitler and later refused to go along in support of the British because that too involved the use of force. He added that sentiment in India towards the British situation and towards Great Britain at this time was very good. He especially pointed out the fact that the Indians have self government in the provinces of British India, which included some areas larger than France or Germany; that the Federal Government controlled primarily by the British only handled national defense, foreign affairs and general finance; that a short time ago they proposed that a committee of Indian officials might make up an eligible list from which the British Government would appoint an official committee to deal preliminarily and in the matter of recommendations with important phases of relations between the general government and the provinces or states and their governments to the extent that the general government has to do with the affairs of the provinces, but he added that the two religious sects, the Moslems and the Hindus, were unable to get together on this proposal, but that it still stands and has made a good impression. He added that it was not deemed feasible or even necessary now to make further liberalizing concessions.


740.0011 P.W./371 : Telegram The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary

of State

LONDON, August 1, 1941–11 p. m.

[Received August 1–6:47 p. m.] 3365. To the Acting Secretary for the President. There will be a problem that will come up shortly for discussion. It will have to do with a matter that Fraser, the Prime Minister of New Zealand,

Mohandas K. Gandhi, leader of the Indian National Congress and of a passive resistance movement.

broached with me the other day. The Australians in particular and the New Zealanders also are disturbed by the Japanese encroachments. They want very much to have the British work out with us some arrangement under which the British and ourselves could join in recognition of their situation with the object of furthering their security.

It occurred to me that when this matter was called to your attention it might permit a reference to India. I have thought for some time that the charge of imperialism against England in the United States largely focused on the Indian situation. This sentiment hinders support to Britain.

I remember very clearly the effort in the Far East to work out understandings among the Asiatic peoples—China, India and Japan—and that Japan blocked the way.

If we can count on a friendly India with China already as an ally the future problem in the Far East will be in large measure solved as well as bridged to the western world.

The British have always emphasized the problem of minorities in India, and the practical difficulties of securing an agreement on a constitution in which protection was given to the minorities and under which a stabilized state could be established. It can be argued that the war period does not permit the time and attention necessary to solve the issue, but it is also true that failing to solve it disturbs large groups both within the British Empire and elsewhere in the world and handicaps the support of the war in India itself.

It might be possible at least to get agreement on the right of Dominion status for India so as to eliminate that major issue now, while at the same time giving a further pledge to implement this status within a stated period following the cessation of hostilities.

Among other considerations I believe this action would have a sobering effect upon the Japanese.

In my opinion a number of the Cabinet would favor such a plan. When the Indian question was up at a Cabinet meeting some time ago the Prime Minister was opposed to taking action. Unless the idea was suggested by you I doubt if this subject would again be pressed for further consideration.


845.01/1163 Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle) to the

Under Secretary of State (Welles)

[WASHINGTON,] August 5, 1941. MR. WELLES: Attached is a draft cable which might be sent to London if you think well of it.

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At the time when the negotiations were presented for the appointment of an Indian diplomatic agent here, and of the corresponding appointment of a United States representative in India, Mr. Murray and I considered the situation and recommended to the Secretary that he take up with Lord Halifax the possibility of getting an agreement on Dominion status for India.

The Secretary did suggest this matter to Lord Halifax, but received a pretty plain indication that they were quite satisfied with the situation as it stood; and accordingly nothing further was done. The applicable considerations appear to be:

(1) From the point of view of the United States public opinion, the elevation of India to Dominion status would be very helpful.

(2) From the point of view of the political situation in India, NE believes that the position of the Nationalist movements, their fear of German or Russian domination, and their desire to retain such advances as they have made, makes this a more opportune time to propose Dominion status than has yet existed.

(3) From the economic point of view, it would appear that India has developed resources and industries which in conjunction with Australia, New Zealand, and, if possible, China, present the opportunity for building up a pretty formidable military machine. Having ample man power, political impetus would thus be given for the nucleus of a Far Eastern alliance capable of giving a good account of itself as against Japan, or possibly even Germany.


[Annex) 10

Draft of a Telegram to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom

(Winant) 11

WASHINGTON, August 5, 1941. The President has considered the proposal made in your 3365, August 1, 11 p.m. From your telegram it is assumed that the primary question is a recognition by the United States of the special position of Australia and New Zealand in the Far East, and that you have in mind the suggestion of a plan by which (a) India is raised to Dominion status; (6) India, Australia, New Zealand, and China enter into a defensive alliance; (c) that the United States indicates in an appropriate manner that it would be prepared to give assistance to such an alliance.

Your suggestion is further understood to mean that we proceed towards this plan in steps, first proposing the raising of India to

[blocks in formation]

Dominion status, and thereafter working out the relationship between the four powers in question.

The President and the Department believe that the time is favorable for proposing such a plan, and authorizes you to present it to the Prime Minister and to the Foreign Office.


Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Welles) to the

Secretary of State

[WASHINGTON,] August 6, 1941. MR. SECRETARY: I think you will wish to give very careful consideration to this suggestion.12 In my own judgment this Government is not warranted in suggesting officially to the British Government what the status of India should be, but were the President disposed to take the matter up I should imagine that he would wish to discuss it in a very personal and confidential way directly with Mr. Churchill.13


740.0011 European War 1939/16251 : Telegram The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom


WASHINGTON, November 1, 1941–6 p. m. 4906. Please report to the Department by telegraph upon the significance of the visit to London of the Prime Minister of Burma 14 and any development arising therefrom.


740.0011 European War 1939/16403 : Telegram The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary

of State

LONDON, November 4, 1941–midnight.

[Received November 5–5:10 a. m.] 5253. For the Secretary and Under Secretary. In reply to Department's 4906, November 1, 6 p. m. I thought this background might be helpful. After article 3 of the eight points of the Roosevelt-Churchill joint statement 15 was published, many people here and in the United States, I understood, felt that in broad language it cleared the principle. On September 9, the day the Prime Minister


See memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State, August 5, p. 179. 13 Marginal notation: "I agree-CH”.

14 U Saw.


Statement of August 14, 1941, known as the Atlantic Charter, vol. I, p. 367.

spoke in the House, 16 he sent me over a copy of his speech as there were definite references to the United States.

I also found a paragraph which I asked him to eliminate. The following is a résumé of that paragraph and is contained in my despatch number 1497, of September 10, 1941. 17

“The Prime Minister declared that questions had been asked as to exactly what was implied by certain points of the declaration but that it was a wise rule that one party to an agreement should not without consulting the other seek to put special or strained interpretations on specific passages and that he was therefore speaking today only in an exclusive sense. With this proviso (and with obvious reference to this Government who have inquired how paragraph 3 of the declaration-- regarding the right of all peoples to choose the form of Government under which they will live-applies to certain areas under British rule) he went on to say that the joint declaration did not qualify in any way the various statements of policy which had been made from time to time about the development of Constitutional Government in India, Burma or such parts of the Empire. He recalled that the British Government was pledged by its declaration of August 1940, 18 to help India obtain free and equal partnership in the British Commonwealth, and that it was also the Government's considered policy to establish Burmese self-government. Mr. Churchill asserted that what had primarily been in mind at the Atlantic meeting was the revocation of the sovereignty of the European nations now under the Nazi yoke and the principles governing any alterations that might have to be made in their agreement. This was 'quite a separate problem from the progressive evolution of self-governing institutions in the regions and peoples who owe allegiance to the British Crown' on which he said the British Government had made separate and complete commitments entirely in harmony with the concepts of freedom and justice inspiring the joint declaration."

I thought it ran counter to the general public interpretation of the article and that I thought it would have little support here and elsewhere and would simply intensify charges of Imperialism and leave Great Britain in the position of “a do nothing policy” so far as India and Burma are concerned. We talked up to a few minutes before he actually had to appear in Parliament to make the address. He told me that a vote of the Cabinet was in support of that passage, and he took the position that it was a matter of internal British politics. I was not able to change his determination to use this section of his statement.

Since then I have found that Amery 19 had pressed the matter and the timing leads me to believe that not only because of questions in

18 For text of speech, see Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 374, col. 67. 17 Despatch not printed.

British Cmd. 6219: India and the War: Statement issued with the authority of His Majesty's Government by the Governor-General on August 8, 1940.

Leopold s. Amery, British Secretary of State for India and Burma.



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