810.20 Defense/1862a

The Under Secretary of State (Welles) to President Roosevelt

My Dear Mr. President: This Government has signed under the authority you gave on June 28, 1941 Lend-Lease Agreements with seven of the other American republics. Signature of several other Lend-Lease Agreements is imminent.

Under the Lend-Lease program for the other American republics recommended to you on April 22, 1941 by the Secretaries of State, War and Navy28 and approved by you, the United States offered to deliver $400,000,000 of war matériel to those republics over several years. It was contemplated that $101,000,000 worth should be delivered in the first year of the Agreements.

While the acquisition by the other American countries of war matériel in the United States had already suffered setbacks and delays owing to the precedence necessarily accorded to urgent programs for supplying the nations actively resisting aggression, the difficulties of supply, now that the United States is a belligerent, are of course greatly increased. In fact, this Department has just received from the War Plans Division of the General Staff a letter reading in part as follows:

“The great demands for military equipment resulting from Japan’s attacks have made it practically impossible to find anything for immediate or even reasonably prompt delivery to Latin American Republics.”

Although fully recognizing that the needs of our armed forces are paramount under present circumstances, I nevertheless believe that a failure by the United States to agree to furnish limited quantities of military matériel to the other American republics, particularly those which are most vulnerable to attack, would have an exceedingly unfortunate effect and would be seized upon by our enemies to create an atmosphere of doubt and fear which would hardly be conducive to the success of the meeting of Foreign Ministers at Rio de Janeiro in January or to the continuing cooperation of the other American republics with this Government in our war effort. I need not emphasize the undesirability from our point of view of any unfavorable modification in the highly satisfactory position adopted by those Republics following the crisis with which the treacherous Japanese attack has confronted the United States.

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I believe that in reaching a decision in this matter you will wish to take into consideration the international political implications of the problem as I have endeavored to state them. While I realize that these must be balanced against the requirements of the military situation, I feel strongly that the amounts of matériel necessary, even though reduced from the original schedules, to maintain the confidence of the American countries in the United States ability to deliver are very modest compared with our total war output.

It is my opinion that your decision would be extremely helpful to the committee I understand you have formed of General Marshall, Admiral Stark and Mr. Hopkins for passing on war matériel allocations and diversions.

Faithfully yours,

Sumner Welles
  1. Joint letter of April 22 not printed.