740.00119 European War 1939/801

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

The British Ambassador called at his own request. He said the purpose of his call was to thank the President and myself for the prompt way in which this Government had acted to check and dispel the spread of the “peace at any price” sentiment based on all sorts of rumors about what Under Secretary Welles might do in Europe to bring about a negotiated peace, which would be the equivalent of a German victory. Efforts directed toward bringing about a negotiated peace might in any event be calculated to prejudice the British and French war situation. He referred especially to the President’s 10-minute address on peace,25 which was made just at the psychological moment to be effective. I made it clear to him that we had not overlooked the slightest phase of this entire question during recent weeks and that when the occasion for a sweeping denial came, the President was ready either to make a 10-minute speech on the kind of peace we should have or not have, as the situation might demand, and that this was followed up by concurrent public statements on the same day by [Page 20] the White House, the State Department and by Sumner Welles just before he sailed for Europe. The Ambassador said that his Government was immensely pleased at the way the matter had been dealt with by this Government, and especially pleased that Mr. Welles had come and gone without any development of a dangerous or harmful nature.

  1. Radio address in connection with the Christian Foreign Service Convocation, March 16, 1940; see Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1940 volume, p. 102.