Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Phillips)
The Canadian Minister79 came in to ask what date we preferred to have Mr. Bennett80 come to Washington in response to the President’s invitation. Without waiting for my reply, Mr. Herridge went on to say that, for a good many reasons, it would be preferable to have Mr. Bennett’s visit overlap that of MacDonald. If Mr. Bennett came to Washington after Mr. MacDonald had left, it would look in London, according to Mr. Herridge, as though he, Bennett, were trying to upset the picture created by Mr. MacDonald. On the other hand, it would look in Canada as though Mr. Bennett were trying to avoid Mr. MacDonald and political capital would be made of it, especially as it was well known that both Prime Ministers were warm friends.
In the circumstances, Mr. Herridge suggested that if it was entirely agreeable to us, Mr. Bennett should arrive in Washington on Tuesday, April 25th and be here during the last day of Mr. MacDonald’s visit. On Tuesday he would be a guest at the Canadian Legation and then, if the President so desired, he could move over to the White House for Wednesday, the 26th. Mr. Herridge felt that a two day visit to Washington would be all that was needed.
I gathered that there was something else in Mr. Herridge’s mind, which was more or less on the following lines: Sir Robert Vansittart and some of the others in Mr. MacDonald’s entourage were “defeatists,” that it was their business to restrain the Prime Minister. On the other hand, Mr. Bennett would see the situation more clearly from the point of view of this continent and that the injection of Mr. Bennett into the picture would fortify the President in his policies. If, he [Page 502]added, the President could say to Messrs. MacDonald and Bennett that “we three represent the leading English-speaking part of the world and must pull together,” that the whole program of economic reconstruction would rest on sure ground.
Mr. Herridge concluded his remarks by saying that Mr. Bennett knew that he, Mr. Herridge, was to have this conversation with me this afternoon, but the Minister was very careful to avoid saying that the views, as expressed by him, represented those of Mr. Bennett.
I told him in reply that I appreciated perfectly his viewpoint and would be glad to give him a reply by Saturday.