Roosevelt Papers: Telegram

The President to the Secretary of State 1

Newburg 28. I have arranged with Prime Minister to bring de Gaulle here Monday. Giraud coming tomorrow.2 I am sure I can bring British around to our way of thinking.

It looks to me as though we have got to get a civilian into this picture. Giraud apparently has no administrative ability and French Army here will not follow de Gaulle.3 No Frenchman readily available here. What would you think of Jean Monnet? He seems to have kept his skirts clear of all political entanglements during the past two years and I have a very favorable impression of him.4 I am most anxious that this query be kept absolutely secret as any leak would spoil everything. I think Morgenthau knows Monnet and trusts him.

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I hoped, as you know, to avoid political discussions here, but on arrival I find newspapers in London and at home have been making such a mountain out of a rather small hill that it would be bad for me to return without having settled the matter.

All well. Affectionate regards.

  1. Transmitted via military channels.
  2. The decision to send invitations to de Gaulle and Giraud to come to Casablanca was presumably made at the Roosevelt–Churchill conversation on the morning of January 16; see the editorial note, ante, p. 579.
  3. In his account of a 10-minute interview with Roosevelt early in the morning of January 16, 1943, Butcher, My Three Years with Eisenhower (p. 242), recalls having been asked by the President about de Gaulle’s popularity among the French and having told Roosevelt that Giraud had the support of the French military.
  4. According to information supplied to the Historical Office by Murphy in 1962, it was Hopkins who suggested to Roosevelt that Monnet be appointed as Giraud’s political adviser. After returning to Washington after the conference, Hopkins again urged the appointment, and on February 23, 1943, Monnet left the United States for a visit to North Africa to look into the problem of supply in Africa on behalf of the Combined Munitions Assignment Board. In connection with Monnet’s mission, President Roosevelt sent telegram SVC 1842, February 22, 1943, through military channels to Eisenhower and Murphy which read in part as follows:

    “About 3 weeks ago General Giraud asked Monnet to come to see him. When I learned of this, I encouraged the visit; first, because Monnet knows a great deal about the whole problem of supply throughout the world and can, as well as anyone I know, tell Giraud about how the whole business works throughout the world. I am sure also he can be helpful to Murphy and Macmillan as well as Giraud in understanding the whole North African situation as viewed from here. I have discussed all of these matters fully with him and he carries a personal letter from me to you.

    “You know that Monnet was the Allied Chairman of the Anglo-French Coordinating Committee until the fall of France. Since then he has been working with the British Supply Mission here in Washington and has been in close touch with all of our combined boards. He is thoroughly familiar with whole problem of military supply and has gone over the whole matter with Somervell.…” (Algiers Consulate Files: 824 Supplies for French Army)

    For additional documentation regarding the Monnet Mission in French North Africa, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. ii, pp. 65175, passim.