Notes on Meeting of Secretary Hull With President Roosevelt at the White House on February 3, 19449

The President read again the three documents on international organization sent to him by the Secretary on December 29, 1943. He had already read them at Hyde Park.

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He said that he approved the general approach but wanted to discuss a number of specific questions.10 In the ensuing discussion, the following points emerged:

He agreed that the Executive Council should consist of the four major powers and a number of smaller ones. Last summer he was rather impressed by the 11–7.11
Unanimous with abstention.
Action in Emergency.
Council and Secretariat located on an island—Assembly and conferences might move about.
Technical organizations might be located in different places—the Court at The Hague, for example.
Right of Assembly to investigate and make reports on conditions in dependent areas.
Make sure that our contribution outside Western Hemisphere, except, perhaps in the Pacific, shall be naval and air forces rather than troops.
Wanted to make sure that we would not be called upon to furnish armed forces without our consent. Was satisfied that point 6 in statement of obligations would take care of this.
Would like us to find some new terminology, although “Executive Council” and “General Assembly” might do.
Is willing for us to start discussions with British and Russians and would like some one to go to Chungking to discuss the matter with Chiang.12
Agrees that documents should be exchanged before discussions.13
Believes that the Secretary should discuss question with the Senators, although fears publicity.14

  1. Handwritten, unsigned notes, presumably drafted by or for Mr. Pasvolsky, obtained from the Library of Congress, Manuscripts Division, papers of Mr. Leo Pasvolsky, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State.
  2. An entry of February 8, 1944, in a series of “Memory notes” on conversations with President Roosevelt (authorship not indicated but assumed to be Mr. Pasvolsky) indicated that the meeting of that date of the Informal Political Agenda Group considered the President’s views on the plan of December 23, and the notes continued as follows:

    “It was brought out that the President’s approval on matters of major concern carried approval of the right to abstain from voting but to be bound to the decision. The President thinks of having the international organization have a central seat for records and a kind of home base, but that it should meet in various places. The President prefers the Azores as the permanent seat but thinks it should have some meetings in Hawaii. The President wants to begin with a council of seven but he is a little afraid we will not be able to select three countries from the smaller ones and so might be driven to a larger council; the Assembly should elect the smaller states to membership—the regional principle goes out. The President does not want any plan under which the U.S. would be bound to send troops in Europe; we can send troops in the Western Hemisphere and perhaps in the Pacific. The kind of forces that we should plan for international use would be naval and air (i.e. enlisted forces).”

    At a meeting of the Informal Political Agenda Group on February 24, 1944, Mr. Pasvolsky “explained that the President had been quite clear on the point that the interests of the major powers required their unanimity on the most crucial matters, but that he had not been sure whether the council, so constituted, would be flexible enough in an emergency, and he had been particularly aware of the danger that the small states would obstruct action” (Minutes of 25th meeting, p. 10). At a meeting of the Group on February 25, Mr. Isaiah Bowman pointed out, and Mr. Pasvolsky agreed, that the President was particularly interested in making clear that the member of the council which abstained in a vote under a provision which determined the issue by a majority of those “present and voting” should be bound by the decision (Minutes of 26th meeting, p. 8).

  3. See the Plan of December 23, Section III, Executive Council, second paragraph, alternative No. 2, p. 617. For an outline of President Roosevelt’s earlier concept of an organization of United Nations, see minutes of his, conversation with Marshal Stalin at the Tehran Conference on November 29, 1943, 2:45 p.m., Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, 1943, p. 529.
  4. Chiang Kai-shek, President of the National Government of the Republic of China.
  5. Following Presidential approval of the “Possible Plan” on February 3, 1944, the Informal Political Agenda Group gave renewed consideration to the broader aspects of world organization and the preparation of papers intended for use in the projected exchange with the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and China.
  6. For data on his consultations with Congressional leaders, see Cordell Hull, The Memoirs of Cordell Hull, vol. ii (New York, the Macmillan Co., 1948), pp. 1656 ff.