740.0011 (European War 1939)/12–2741

Memorandum by Mr. Carlton Savage, Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State (Long)

There was a conversation in the Secretary’s office at 4:30 p.m. to consider the President’s memorandum of this date commenting on the draft Joint Declaration sent from the Department to the White House [Page 15] on December 19. Those present were the Secretary, Mr. Welles, Mr. Hackworth, and Mr. Savage.

The changes suggested by the President were incorporated in a new draft of the Joint Declaration.29 Furthermore, two additional statements were incorporated in the new draft: (1) The signatories had determined that the effective prosecution of warfare against their enemies required the creation of a Supreme War Council; (2) the Declaration might be adhered to by other nations which are or which may be rendering material assistance and contributions towards the defeat of the members of the Tripartite Pact.

The President, in his memorandum of December 27, made no direct comment on the draft proposal for creating a Supreme War Council. However, he did say that he had been trying to think of a way to obviate the necessity of two different documents. To meet this point, a draft30 was prepared for the Joint Declaration and the proposal for a Supreme War Council. This joint draft is little different from the two separate drafts; a few changes were made in the first two numbered paragraphs relating to the Supreme War Council. The draft of December 19, regarding the Supreme War Council, was not changed in any way.

For a White House conference tonight, at which were to be present the President, the British Prime Minister, Secretary Hull, and the British Ambassador, the Secretary had prepared copies of the document of December 19, 6 p.m., relating to the Supreme War Council; the new draft Joint Declaration of December 27; and the amalgamated draft of this date containing the Joint Declaration and the memorandum on the Supreme War Council.

At 5:30 the British Ambassador joined the conference and there was a discussion of the three drafts. His principal comment was that the British dominions probably would have to be given a status in the set-up similar to that given Great Britain. It was explained to him that if the Supreme War Council should be made up of a large number of representatives, it would become unwieldy and ineffective. It was also pointed out that provision is made for representation on the Supreme War Council and on the Staff of governments actively engaged against the common enemy in specific theatres of war.

There was a discussion of the position of the Soviet Union and it was generally thought that the Soviet Government would be willing to subscribe to the principles contained in the Joint Declaration and would agree to the formation of a Supreme War Council.

The Secretary and the British Ambassador left for the White House shortly after six, taking with them the three drafts.

Carlton Savage
  1. Supra.
  2. Infra.