Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

Sir Ronald Campbell46 called to see me this morning at his request.

Sir Ronald read to me an article appearing in this morning’s New York Times reporting a conversation which Mr. Norman Thomas47 had yesterday with Secretary Hull and in which, according to Mr. Thomas, Secretary Hull was alleged to have said that the Government of the United States “was constantly awaiting opportunities to bring pressure on both sides” in India.48 I replied that I had not had an opportunity of talking with Secretary Hull regarding this conversation, [Page 723] nor had I seen any memorandum of it. I said, nevertheless, I could immediately, with perfect assurance, state that Secretary Hull never would have used any such phrase as that mentioned, and that the policy of this Government with regard to the Indian question was well known and had been frequently stated. I said that all that. Secretary Hull could possibly have implied was that this Government always stood ready to do what it could to be of service in composing differences in India and, as one of the United Nations, it felt, because of the vital effect which any serious crisis in India would have on the common war effort and upon the vital interests of the United States, it was warranted in taking such action in this regard as might be helpful.

Sir Ronald said that he was sure that this was the case and that he understood our situation fully, but that he felt that a report of this character would have a very bad effect when published in India. I stated that, without knowing what the facts might be, I assumed that our censorship authorities would not permit a phrase of this kind to go out.

Sir Ronald had received a long telegram from his Foreign Office with regard to the situation in India. In this, he was informed that the situation in general had greatly improved but that the British: Government believed that the Congress Party had been taken by surprise and that the disorders which had broken out were not actually due to any concerted effort on the part of the Party. It was believed that the Party was now planning for a far wider concerted move of obstruction which would result presumably with the stopping of communications. The British Government desired this Government to know that if agents of the Congress Party cut communications or obstructed free communications, the “most severe measures” would be taken by the Indian Government.

S[umner] W[elles]
  1. British Minister.
  2. American Socialist leader.
  3. Marginal note: “Untrue—Hull.”