Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State
The British Ambassador called at his request.
I inquired of him if there was anything new in the relations between Great Britain and India. He said there was nothing at this time, but that more recent cables from the Viceroy indicated a further quieting down in the situation.
I said that I would like to make inquiry as to the prospect of any further resumption of conversations between representatives of the two countries. The Ambassador replied that the British Government had contemplated going forward, along the lines of the Cripps Mission and other statements by authorized British spokesmen, but that the present period of violence and resistance would have to cease before the British could carry out their intention to return to peaceful and normal conversations.
I then remarked that the present situation is entirely static and at a standstill, and that there is in prospect in this country a general movement of agitation against Great Britain and in favor of independence for India which might create complications in one way or another later on. I added that with full interest in all phases of the situation and with an earnest desire to see the differences composed, primarily for the sake of the war, I was wondering if speeches adequately firm to meet resistance, but at the same time expressing sympathy and calling attention to the British policy during past years in which autonomy or the equivalent of independence was given to such original colonies as Canada, Australia and South Africa and the continuance of those policies looking toward independence for India, might not be preferable to speeches of a blunt nature. I went on to say that more moderate and sympathetic speeches could make it clear that the British Government desired to resume its course of going forward with its program for Indian independence just as quickly as this movement of violence terminated, and at the same time remove any impression that the British Government is being moved by undue pressure or threats. I said that I was not referring to any particular speeches made in Great Britain, but [Page 734]I was merely raising this question from the standpoint of dealing most effectively with public opinion in the United States, omitting for the moment the question of the effect on the world war. The Ambassador said that he heartily agreed with my comment. I then elaborated by again saying that speeches that were not too challenging, but entirely firm and at the same time containing concrete reference to the British record in granting autonomy to the three present dominions, et cetera, and their desire to get back as soon as possible to considering the Indian matter might well be considered. I finally added that, if the British could reach a point where they could announce that Indian resistance had definitely terminated and that the British Government was therefore moving back to the resumption of further consideration of its original plans for granting independence to India and if this step soon could be followed by conferences between even one person representing Great Britain and one person representing India, so as to make it appear that the situation was on the move and presumably in the right direction, this, in my judgment, would have a most wholesome psychological effect on public opinion of other nations and India as well.
The Ambassador expressed himself as wholeheartedly and unreservedly in agreement with the statements and implications of what I said. He must have known that I was referring to two recent speeches, one by the Prime Minister and the other by the Secretary of State for India.55a
- Leopold S. Amery.↩