Lot 60–D 224, Box 59: Stettinius Diary

Extracts From the Personal Diary of the Under Secretary of State (Stettinius)

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5:00 Meeting with the President.

I went directly from the airport25 to the White House, arriving at 4:45. I found Mr. Hull still with the President and asked General Watson26 to announce my arrival. They asked me, however, to wait for a few moments. Unfortunately, by the time I was shown in, Mr. Hull had left. The President was alone and in a relaxed mood. I told him I could cover my business in five minutes but he raised various questions and I stayed with him from 5:02 until 5:50. I first presented him with our summary memos covering the proceedings for the fifth and sixth days. He glanced over these and seemed satisfied and said he would read them carefully tonight. He made the observation that these were an excellent record for him to have covering the conversations for the future. He asked me what open items were of the most importance which I would like to take up with him at the time. I mentioned:

The status of France and told him of the private indication I had had that Sir Alexander might request at an early date that [Page 744] France be given a seat immediately. The President said he could not agree to this but was perfectly willing to have a seat reserved for France on an “if and when” basis that France had a government justifying it, and if and when the council duly elected France to take her place at the table on a permanent basis. He expressed the hope that I could work out some general language on this which would leave the matter flexible.
Brazil. I reported to the President that we had raised the question of a permanent seat for Brazil this morning and both the British and Soviets attitudes had been negative. I expressed the opinion that if he wishes us to press this hard now it would be more difficult. The President considered this carefully and finally said personally he would be willing on the initial draft not to name Brazil but that he wished a general provision incorporated in the proposals which would leave the door open so that he, possibly working with the Prime Minister and Stalin27 at a later time, could bring this up with them before the organization was actually launched.
X Matter. I then informed the President of the raising by the Russians of the X matter. The President said “My God”, and went on to instruct me to explain to Gromyko privately and personally and immediately that we could never accept this proposal. He said to tell the Ambassador this might ruin the chance of getting an international organization approved by the United States Senate and accepted publicly in this country.28 He then drew a comparison between the organization in this country and the Soviet Union and the British Empire and the possibility of creating new Dominions in the Empire out of colonies, islands, etc., and that I should spell all of this out for Gromyko. I promised to do so immediately and added that at a later date we might ask him to communicate with Stalin.
Votes of members involved in a dispute. I explained again our position that members of the council who are parties to a dispute should not be allowed to vote on matters affecting that dispute and that the British stated this view but the Soviets feel it violates the principle of unanimity of the Big Four. The President reiterated he felt our position was entirely correct and that we must not depart from it. He asked me to explain to Gromyko that this was a matter on which we would have to be consistent and that we hoped his government would find it possible to agree with us.
General. (Mr. Hopkins29 joined the meeting at this point.) I inquired if his plans of meeting the Prime Minister were sufficiently definite for him to indicate whether he wished us to prepare any special notes for him covering the security conversations to take with him. He said he would like to have such a memo prepared but that he would not take the initiative in discussing the international organization with the Prime Minister but that he should be briefed in case the Prime Minister brought it up. He intimated he expected his conversation with the Prime Minister to relate chiefly to military matters.

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(4) [(6)]
Expulsion and Suspension. I said the British supported our view that it should not be included in the document but that the Russians were insistent that it contain such provisions. The President said he thought that would be a mistake and that he hoped we would win our point.
(5) [(7)]
Location. The President then inquired whether we had discussed location. I told him only privately to date in informal discussions. He said he had been thinking more about this and continued to hope we would agree on the assembly meeting in different places “from hemisphere to hemisphere”, and that the council should have two locations, one in the Azores and the other in the Hawaiian Islands.
At this point I expressed the view it would be a mistake to separate the secretariat from the permanent headquarters of the council. I said the secretariat might consist of a couple of thousand of people and that to have them somewhere on the mainland with the council located on an island just would not be practical. I also said we were afraid his suggestion of having the secretariat located in America would not be acceptable to the other nations. At this point I spoke in favor of Geneva, pointing out that the climate was good, facilities excellent, it was readily accessible to the European countries and that the only bad feature was the bad name of the League, suggesting that if it were not for that, I believed he would agree to it without question. The President said he would not object to the permanent secretariat being located there but that he would object strongly to the assembly or the council having official meetings there. I got the impression from what he said that if it was thought advisable he could be persuaded to have the place of operations of the council in Geneva if it held its meetings elsewhere. He then spoke definitely of the Island of Flores in the Azores and I told him I would have a map prepared showing its location and containing information as to its climate, its port facilities, etc. I promised to do likewise for the small island of [Page 746] Niihau in the Hawaiian group which the President described as the most interesting and heavenly spot he knew of on earth and which he said would be magnificent for a permanent seat of the executive meetings of the council. In the meeting the President could not recall the name of this island but stated it was northwest of Oahu and that it was owned by an old sugar family. The President then spoke of the Black Hills, saying it was 400 miles in every direction from civilization; that there were two good hotels and trout streams available and that it would be a magnificent place for the council to meet.
(6) [(8)]
Name. The President then inquired if we had reached a decision on a name. I replied that we had not discussed this formally but would do so, but that I did not feel we would have any difficulty in putting over the name “The United Nations”.

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  1. Mr. Stettinius, with some others from the American and British groups, had gone to the airport to greet the Chinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom, V. K. Wellington Koo, on his arrival in the United States.
  2. Maj. Gen. Edwin M. Watson, Secretary to President Roosevelt.
  3. Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin, Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars (Premier) of the Soviet Union.
  4. Secretary Hull, referring in his Memoirs to their efforts to keep this proposal absolutely secret, stated: “It seemed to me so explosive an issue that, if it got out, it would inevitably be dramatized by forces of opposition everywhere and do injury to Russia’s situation as well as to that of the conference.” (Memoirs, vol. ii, p. 1680.)
  5. Harry L. Hopkins, Special Assistant to President Roosevelt.