Roosevelt Papers: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the President 1

Utah 64. From Hammond to McCrea for Alex signed Hull.

As I indicated in my last message to you, we feel that Roger Cambon has all of the qualifications necessary although from what we are told by those who know him best, his own personal temperament and the retired life he has led during recent years and his unwillingness to assert himself would undoubtedly make him reluctant, if not unwilling, to accept the responsibilities you have in mind. Léger would, I know, be willing to serve in any capacity in which he could advance the interests of his own country provided he were given a sufficiently free hand under the Allied and French Military chiefs to be able to cope effectively with the problem of civil administration. He, of course, has had a far greater measure of administrative experience in the past than Cambon and he has supported our own policies with regard to France and in North Africa completely. A better solution might be to give Léger the position of civil administrator with Cambon as chief adviser. The two men are very close and such an arrangement would, I think, be satisfactory.

Am I correct in understanding that the arrangement you have in mind is that General Giraud as Commander-in-Chief of the French Armies will continue as the supreme French authority in North Africa subject to our own ultimate decisions and that the proposed administrator of civilian affairs, while nominally subordinate to General Giraud and cooperating with him, will, nevertheless, possess sufficient authority to enable him to initiate such measures for civil administrative reform as may be desirable, provided the steps he contemplates are satisfactory from the military standpoint to us and to General Giraud. I think it would be impossible to obtain the cooperation of either Léger or Cambon unless they obtain a prior clarification on this point.

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It is, in my opinion, vital that under this plan definite British approval to these nominations be obtained and that British specifically agree to all the clarifications of the immediately preceding paragraph. I assume it is only with such British approval that you will wish to approach the question of the attitude not only of General Giraud but very probably that of General de Gaulle as well.

  1. Transmitted via military channels.