740.0011 P. W./10–1641

Memorandum by the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck) to the Secretary of State

Mr. Secretary: Mr. Hamilton does not recommend taking the proposed action.22 Mr. Ballantine feels that it is premature to come to any decision on the matter. I feel strongly that this proposed message in the form in which it stands should not at this time be sent.

A redraft is submitted here attached. The important paragraphs are, of course, the last two. We all feel that great care should be [Page 515] exercised to avoid making any too broad commitment or any too emphatic threat. I myself feel that we should avoid anything that implies countenancing of the Japanese operations in China.

S[tanley] K. H[ornbeck]

Proposed Message From the President to the Emperor of Japan 23

Only once and in person and on an emergency situation have I addressed Your Imperial Majesty. I feel I should again address Your Imperial Majesty because of a deeper and more far-reaching emergency in the process of formation. As Your Imperial Majesty knows, conversations have been in progress between representatives of our two governments for many months for the purpose of keeping armed conflict from any extension in the Pacific area. That has been our great purpose as I think it has equally been the real purpose of Your Imperial Majesty.

I personally would have been happy even to travel thousands of miles to meet with your Prime Minister, if in advance one or two basic accords could have been realized so that the success of such a conference would have been assured. I hoped that these accords would be reached. The first related to the integrity of China and the second related to an assurance that neither Japan nor the United States would wage war in or adjacent to the Pacific area.

If persistent reports are true that the Japanese Government is considering armed attacks against Russia or against France or Great Britain or the Dutch or independent territory in the South, the obvious result would, of necessity, be an extension of the Atlantic and European and Near East theatres of war to the whole of the Pacific area. Such attacks would necessarily involve American interests.

The United States opposes any procedure of conquest. It would like to see peace between Japan and China. It would like to see freedom of the seas and trade conducted on a fair basis. If Japan could join with us to preserve peace in the Pacific we would be only too happy to resume normal commercial relations, with the sole exception of certain articles which we must keep at home for our own defense and that of all of the Americas against possible aggression from abroad.

If on the other hand Japan were to start new military operations, the United States, in accordance with her policy of peace, would be very seriously concerned.

  1. See supra.
  2. Notation on file copy: “Draft of a proposed message from the President to the Emperor of Japan—superseded by a later draft dated October 17, 1941. This draft was not used.”