851B.01/71a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Consul General at Algiers (Wiley)

821. For Murphy. On April 26 Admiral Robert was officially informed that this Government no longer considers effective or binding [Page 238] any informal understanding with respect to the French Antilles based upon past discussions and conditions. Our note will be made public on April 30.3

Although there is no definite indication of a change of policy on the part of Admiral Robert, reports of internal disorders and growing tension in Guadeloupe make it desirable for us to be prepared at a moment’s notice to deal with any situation which may develop there or in Martinique.

Should the situation in Guadeloupe reach a head within the next few days, we will be faced with the immediate problem of preserving order and there will immediately arise the problem of providing leadership for a new administration. The recent experience in French Guiana suggests the possibility that Admiral Robert could no longer be regarded as a suitable choice, even if he were to announce a sudden and complete change of policy by breaking with Vichy and adhering to the cause of the United Nations.

It is obvious from the present status of the negotiations between General Giraud and General de Gaulle4 and the progress which has been made toward French unity5 that the best interests of all concerned, including the interests of the population of the French Antilles and unity in the war effort, would be greatly furthered by agreement now between General Giraud and General de Gaulle on the choice of a Governor for Martinique and Guadeloupe. Moreover, it is possible that knowledge of agreement on this point might serve to hasten a decision which would range these French possessions on the side of those who seek the liberation of France and the defeat of the Axis powers.

In view of the necessity for working closely with the U. S. in the preservation of order and in the reestablishment of the economic life of the Colonies, it is essential that the Governor selected be one who can be counted upon to cooperate fully with us in every way.

Please discuss this matter with General Giraud and, if he approves, also with General Catroux6 and urge the necessity for immediate action.

  1. For text of note, see Department of State Bulletin, May 1, 1943, p. 359. The Consul General in Martinique was instructed to return to the United States, thus terminating the informal direct relations with the French West Indies.
  2. Gen. Charles de Gaulle, President of the French National Committee in London.
  3. For correspondence pertaining to efforts toward the establishment of unity in French North Africa, see pp. 23 ff.
  4. Gen. Georges Catroux, representative of General de Gaulle.