Hopkins Papers

Note by the President’s Special Assistant (Hopkins)

Churchill’s exhibition of temper occurred at a luncheon between the President, Churchill, Litvinoff and myself on December 27 [January 1, 1942?] when the last finishing touches on the Joint Declaration were being explored.

The British were very anxious to have the word “authorities” included as well as “governments”. Litvinoff had wired the text to his Government and had their approval without the word “authorities” being in it.1

The President and Churchill both tried to get Litvinoff to accept the amendment which had been urged by the British Cabinet so that the Free French might subscribe to the document.2

Hull had been opposed to having the Free French in it and while he had not vigorously opposed the word “authorities”, it was clear Hull wanted no part of the Free French.3 His antagonism to the Free French is very deep seated and he still believes there is some way we can get on with Vichy. Nevertheless the President overruled Hull and agreed to the word “authorities”.4

Litvinoff, however, told the President and Churchill that he had no power to agree to the inclusion of that word, that the approval of the Declaration was an approval by the Government in contradistinction to the Foreign Office and no ambassador of Russia has the power to agree to any textual change.

Churchill tried to argue that the change was inconsequential but it was perfectly clear that Litvinoff did not believe this and he insisted that he could not agree to a change and, because both the President and Churchill were anxious to have the text released at once, there was no time to cable to Russia.

At this point Churchill became quite angry and told Litvinoff in effect that he wasn’t much of an ambassador if he didn’t have the power to even add a word like this; that we were in a war and there was no time for long-winded negotiations. He said that we had agreed to every change in the text that the Russians wanted and it seemed to him they could agree to this.

Litvinoff stuck by his point, however, and the Declaration was issued without the word “authorities”.5

[Page 152]

Later I learned that Litvinoff had cabled for approval to include the word “authorities” and his Government had given it to him.6

H. L. H.
  1. Post, p. 374.
  2. Post, p. 372.
  3. See footnote 2, post, p. 376.
  4. See the draft of January 1, post, p. 376.
  5. For final text, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. i, p. 25; or Executive Agreement Series No. 236 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1942).
  6. On January 5, 1942, the Department of State issued the following release to the press: “In order that liberty-loving peoples silenced by military force may have an opportunity to support the principles of the Declaration by United Nations, the Government of the United States, as the depository for that Declaration, will receive statements of adherence to its principles from appropriate authorities which are not governments.” (Department of State Bulletin, vol. vi, January 10, 1942, p. 44.) This statement was apparently issued at the request of the President; see Hull, vol. ii, pp. 1125–1126.