811.5245/39a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Governor of California ( Warren )

The Indian Agent General, official representative in the United States of the Government of India, has brought to my attention a bill which is understood now to be before the California Legislature which would apparently prevent any alien ineligible for citizenship from cultivating land held in the name of his wife or children. The Indian Agent General has expressed apprehension that the contemplated legislation would cause considerable hardship to British Indians residing in California and would have the doubly unfortunate effect of arousing at this time a feeling in India that the United States is unconcerned with the practical application of the high principles expounded in the Atlantic Charter92 and other official declarations on the subject of equality of opportunity.

The Department of State is reluctant to bring into question any measure under legislative consideration by California or any other State but feels that in this instance and at this time the proposed legislation would, if enacted, have serious repercussions, not alone in India but in other United Nations, on our unity of aims and purposes. Assurance of full and unreserved collaboration by all the United Nations in the prosecution of the war will in large measure depend, as you will readily understand, upon a firm confidence in the integrity of the United States and steady faith in the broad humanitarian principles which have been expounded by this Government. Any deviation therefrom will be seized upon for propaganda purposes by the enemy, who may be expected to magnify out of all proportion to its true significance any act founded on racial discrimination and to capitalize the issue to our grave detriment, particularly in the countries of the Orient.

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In the circumstances, may I ask you to use your good offices in cautioning the sponsors of the present measure of the probable serious consequences to our large national interests of the enactment of the proposed legislation and to urge them to weigh carefully these considerations before pressing the matter further. It occurs to me that one possible solution of the question would be to insert in the bill a provision making the legislation inapplicable to nationals of members of the United Nations. Such a provision would make the measure inapplicable to British Indians and Chinese, among others.

I should be most appreciative if you would give me the benefit of your advice in this important matter.93

Cordell Hull
  1. Joint statement by President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill, August 14, 1941, Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. i, p. 367.
  2. In a telegram of April 28, Governor Warren acknowledged receipt of the Secretary’s telegram and stated that the “matter to which you refer will receive my careful consideration.” (811.5245/39a)