Lot 60–D 224, Box 59: Stettinius Diary

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

Meeting with the President and the Secretary.

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I first presented to the President maps and analyses of the climatic conditions and harbor facilities of the Flores in the Azores and Mihau in the Hawaiian group.55 The President said he still thought the Azores would be the place. I said, “Well, your island of Flores is fine but has no harbor”. He said, “Ed, you don’t know your poetry”. The President said he would take these memos and maps to Quebec and discuss them with the Prime Minister.

I then informed the President that we felt that inasmuch as Vice Admiral Willson would be in Quebec56 and was completely informed on the proposals and the activity thus far at Dumbarton Oaks that it would be better for him to rely on the Admiral for information if he became involved in discussions on this subject rather than to burden him with memoranda and other documents. He agreed with the proviso that Admiral Willson be supplied with complete papers in case it was necessary for him to refer to them.

I next took up with the President the question of an international air force. We had some little difficulty in explaining this so that the [Page 773] President completely understood it. But after we had stressed that he had already gone on record against an international police force and recommended to him that we stick to our guns on this question, he finally agreed. I confirmed our previous discussion about the possibility of a change in the Prime Minister’s position and he said that he would be ready to discuss this with him at Quebec if we found it was necessary for him to do so. I then asked the President whom we would work through in Quebec, and he said, “I don’t want you to work through anybody; you should call me direct.” I said this was not always practicable; and he said that in such an event to call Admiral Leahy if Hopkins was not going. (He did not go.) I then told him that if the international air force question remained open until after the Churchill arrival in Quebec that this might hold up our proceedings with the Russians until the middle of next week, and I wondered what he thought of recessing our Russian conversations and holding our Chinese conversations in the interim. Both the President and Mr. Hull approved but Mr. Hull thought that we would have difficulty in persuading the Russians to agree, but that if we could do it graciously it would be an excellent plan and would have a fine public reaction.

I then told the President of the possibility of Cadogan being called to Quebec. Mr. Hull thought this would be bad and the President felt so strongly about it that he said that if Churchill spoke of having a diplomat come that he would suggest Eden … During this conversation, Mr. Hull got the incorrect impression that the President was talking about Eden taking Cadogan’s place in Washington while Cadogan was in Quebec and objected violently to such a procedure. We of course straightened this out. I suggested that I be authorized to press for Halifax taking Cadogan’s chair if the latter should be called away. Both gave complete approval to this but wished me to make every effort to persuade Cadogan not to leave the meeting. I told the President that inasmuch as I had some other special matters pertaining to the conversations to discuss that I would leave today’s progress reports with Miss Tully.57 I then presented the memorandum on bases which had been prepared by Pasvolsky and Dunn.58 At first I could not get the settled interest of either on this question but when I explained it was a matter of the Council being given authority to demand territory or bases they both had violent objections, feeling this whole performance should be voluntary and that it would be a great mistake at this time to place any compulsion on a small nation to furnish a base or facilities. They felt that the Council should have authority to request but not the authority to demand.

[Page 774]

We then reviewed the question of the next step. I said we hoped to finish within two weeks and that we felt the demand in this country from the public for the plan would be so great and the demand from the smaller nations to get it would be so great that it would be most embarrassing not to send out the memorandum to the United Nations just as promptly as possible and that it would be ideal if we could possibly keep the schedule to send it to the other Governments the latter part of September, simultaneously inviting them to attend a United Nations full dress conference in the interior of the United States the latter part of October. I said we had been thinking of French Lick, Indiana. At first the President thought this would be too early but then after he had grasped the idea of having it in the interior, isolationist part of the United States he said it was a magnificent idea. The name of French Lick made his face light up.… He agreed on an immediate presentation to the United Nations and to aim for October 25th at French Lick.

We then discussed the idea of presenting the document simultaneously by the four participating Governments in the capitals of the other countries with the invitation to the big conference accompanying it. The President approved this procedure.

Just before the Secretary and I left, I told him that while I was not pressing the matter as it would take some time to get the Russians and the Chinese to agree on a procedure for presentation and approval, etc., I wondered if he would have any objection to my raising, on my own initiative, this question with the representatives of the other Governments. They both approved this immediately and wholeheartedly, asking me to take whatever action I felt necessary and they expressed the hope that I would do so promptly.

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During our discussion of French Lick I told the President that our recent international conferences had been held on the Atlantic Seaboard (Hot Springs, Atlantic City, Bretton Woods, Philadelphia59) and that we had not held any in the West. He was quite impressed by that point. The President inquired who owned French Lick and Mr. Hull said that Tom Taggard had owned it and that his son still did. All in all the President was quite pleased with the idea of French Lick and said there was no other place comparable to it.

I then raised the question of the provisions on suspension and expulsion for which the Soviet group has been pressing and reminded them that they had both previously said that that should not be included in the document. I explained that our group agreed with them but as the provisions were relatively minor in nature it might be wise [Page 775] for us to yield on that, especially if we could get something in return. They authorized me to use my own discretion on this, feeling that it would be all right to trade on the matter.

We then discussed the question of voting in the Council and I explained that they had both instructed to take the position that a two-thirds vote was preferable. I reported that the Russians were insisting on a majority and that this was another matter on which we thought it might be wise to yield, particularly for trading purposes. I explained that with a Council of eleven, the difference between the two methods meant only one vote. Mr. Hull backed me up at this point with a convincing argument that it made little difference either way and that it should be settled as we thought best at Dumbarton. I received authorization to proceed along those lines.

I then raised the difficult question of voting on the part of a great power when it was involved in a dispute. Although this had been raised previously with the President on several occasions this time he seemed confused on the issue and both Mr. Hull and I had to explain the matter in some detail before it was clear to him. Mr. Hull said that the Russians would be practically unanimously voted down on this issue at the United Nations conference and that in their own self-interest they should see that point now and agree to the other procedure (Mr. Hull while driving to his apartment, after leaving the White House, advised me to stress this point strongly when talking to Gromyko in the morning). I told the President this question might be the one big point on which we could not reach agreement at Dumbarton. The President then spoke up and said there might be a second—whether that might be the one of the use of force without the approval of our Senate. Mr. Hull and I both replied to this, saying we thought it was pretty well in hand and it was something he could follow through politically on a sound basis. The President indicated clearly that he realized that this question of the immediate use of force is a key point of the whole plan, saying that if we had to go to the Senate in each case as it arose, the plan would not be any good. Mr. Hull in explanation said that of course if the Council used force and if the Senate later disapproved through failure to authorize appropriations, etc., we could always withdraw. This approach was new and apparently of interest to the President.

I then said that Sir Alexander Cadogan had received instructions today that he could settle on a majority vote but that he must stand pat on the larger issue of a great power voting when involved in a dispute. I reported that Cadogan had reported to me that Eden felt the issue was of such prime importance, and that if it could not be settled at Dumbarton, consideration should be given to having it settled at a meeting of Foreign Ministers. The President and Mr. Hull felt that was unthinkable and that having Foreign Ministers devoting the two, [Page 776] three, or four weeks time, which would be necessary for that would be widely misunderstood. The President added that he saw no reason why this should not be left open for settlement at the United Nations conference. I explained that it was doubtful the Russians would agree to going into that conference with the point open, and also that as it would look as if we had not reached agreement on such a big point it might arouse suspicions of the Soviet Union on the part of smaller nations and in that way perhaps jeopardize the possibility of success of the big conference, or of some of the smaller nations attending it. That did not impress the President or the Secretary and it was left that if we could not agree we would attempt to find some very general language to hold the matter over for discussion at the later United Nations conference. Practically, this means that I am now instructed by the President and the Secretary to stand firm against the Soviet position.…

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During our conversation with the President he said that he hoped we would do everything within our power not to allow the “X” issue to become public and he quizzed me in some detail on how we stood. I reviewed the matter with him, mentioning the cable to S,60 etc.

  1. In a discussion with the President on August 28 with respect to the location of the headquarters of the proposed international organization, Under Secretary Stettinius had promised to furnish maps and information on points in the Azores and the Hawaiian Islands; see pp. 745746.
  2. Documentation on the Second Quebec Conference, September 11–16, 1944 (meetings of President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, and the Combined Chiefs of Staff), is scheduled for publication in a subsequent volume of Foreign Relations.
  3. Grace Tully, private secretary to President Roosevelt.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Conferences held during 1943 and 1944, of the Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, the International Monetary Fund, and the International Labor Organization, respectively.
  6. See telegram 58, September 8, from President Roosevelt to Moscow, p. 788.