Editorial Note on a Meeting at the White House, December 18, 1941

No official record of the discussion at this meeting has been found. Stimson, in his diary for December 18, writes of the meeting as follows:

“At three o’clock the President held a conference at the White House which I with General Marshall and Knox with Admiral Stark and Admiral King attended. Harry Hopkins was also there; also the new commander of the fleet, Nimitz. The President then told this conference exactly the nature of the conference which is coming next Monday and who will be there, and he said that he desired us to attend it as his advisers. A paper was produced containing suggested agenda which had been drawn up by the British. I had not seen it before as it had just come to the War Department as we were starting out. The President asked us to get ready with our agenda and to discuss the British agenda. In the Department we have been at work on that already for several days and Marshall told the President so. The [Page 38] General Staff has been working hard in getting together its views as to the world strategy necessary to meet the present situation. It seemed to me that this was a matter that I must get into with all my mind and strength, and so when I got back to the Department I called a preliminary conference with Lovett, McCloy, and Bundy and showed them the British agenda and divided up among them certain of the things to be investigated.”