740.0011 European War 1939/18731a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Leahy)

44. The President has asked me to send you the following message: [Page 124]

“Dear Bill:

Here are some thoughts which you could use if the occasion offered—either with Marshal Pétain or General Weygand.6

It is most important for the French Government and the French people to realize that the President of the United States is about the best friend they have; that one of his greatest wishes is to see France reconstituted in the post-war period in accordance with its splendid position in history.
The word ‘France’ in the mind of the President includes the French Colonial Empire.
The attack on the United States and the declaration of war must make the French Government and people realize that any act on their part either at home or in the Colonies which would give aid and comfort to the Germans or Italians must, of necessity, help the Germans and hurt the United States. The United States could not, of course, take such a hostile act lying down. That is just common sense which the French should realize.
Now that the United States is in the war, it should be perfectly clear to the French Government and the French people that if Germany or Italy attacked unoccupied France or any of the French Colonies, in any way, the President could not regard acquiescence to such an attack as anything else than playing the German game.
On the other hand, resistance by the French against Germany or Italian attack either in France itself or in any part of the Colonial Empire would be regarded by the President as a normal and natural reaction. Such resistance would have not only the moral support of the United States, but it would also have the physical support of the United States by every possible military and naval assistance we could bring to bear.

The above seems to me almost like a primer because it is wholly logical and wholly simple. F. D. R.”

  1. Gen. Maxime Weygand, French Delegate General in North Africa until his recall in November 1941.