841.24/1183: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State

496. Personal to Acheson10 from Winant. Thanks reply confirming postponement. Since telephoning you the War Cabinet has met and discussed reply on article 7. I had given to Eden, the Chancellor and Sir John Anderson11 carefully prepared memoranda on our position as well as discussing the situation with them. Each and all of them understood it. The Foreign Office had prepared for the members of the War Cabinet a well done summary of our position attaching copies of pertinent material taken from the cables you have forwarded to me. Eden also had prepared a suggested draft statement that he wanted made simultaneously by the Dominions, Great Britain and ourselves, consent to our proposals was given. His draft was rejected as was compliance with our request for approval. The Chancellor has been asked to make a substitute proposal in writing for Thursday.12 He led the opposition and was, of course, supported [Page 528]by Amery.13 (Please get from Felix a copy of the statement the latter made on Manchuria at the time of the Japanese invasion which I forwarded to him by mail.)

The opposition is political. It is based on fear of a division in the Conservative Party. The idea that an agreement should be made with the United States in which the sovereignty of the unity of the Empire is questioned, even in the field of economics by the inclusion of the no discrimination clause in article 7, is opposed by Empire preference Tories who, in my opinion, are nothing more than imperialists. They represent a small but determined minority among the Conservative membership of the Parliament. Eden is the only man in the government who really fights to support our position and this in spite of the fact that Keynes14 and other economists have come to agree with our position.

The reason for failure to treat our position with sufficient seriousness is based on an assumption here that both the President and Mr. Morgenthau15 are themselves indifferent to that position and that it is rather a special position taken by Mr. Hull based on his general economic policy as expressed in the trade agreements which he has advocated so consistently for so many years.

There is a further feeling that no great difficulty will be encountered in persuading the Congress to make the necessary appropriations under Lend-Lease now that we are in the war.

There are two things that could be done that I believe would be helpful especially if they could be done prior to the preparation of the Chancellor’s memorandum scheduled for completion Thursday. One would be to have the President call in Halifax and state his personal interest in this matter and restating to him the general argument in Department’s message No. 358 of January 30. The other would be to get Mr. Morgenthau in some less direct fashion to let the British representative at the Treasury know that this was also a matter of concern to him.

The Chancellor is very sensitive to any situation that might affect his good relations with the Treasury and particularly with Secretary Morgenthau who for so long has been a good friend of the British cause.

In his message to the Foreign Office Halifax has completely supported the position of the United States Government.

If you think these suggestions are wise and go through with them I hope that in taking up this question my sources of information will be protected by relating action to my telephone conversation requesting postponement rather than to the contents of this message.

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I feel deeply about the issue involved because I believe it is so clearly related to reconstruction in the post-war period.

Please note Embassy’s 497 sent by Casaday to the Secretary of the Treasury today.16

Winant
  1. Dean Acheson, Assistant Secretary of State.
  2. Lord President of the British Council.
  3. February 5.
  4. Leopold Amery, Conservative, Member of the House of Commons.
  5. John Maynard Keynes, financial adviser to the British Government.
  6. Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Secretary of the Treasury.
  7. Telegram dated February 2, not printed.