Memorandum by the Secretary of State to President Roosevelt

I informed you on September 9, 1942 that delivery of your letter of August 1, 1942 to Gandhi14 was impractical because of the latter’s imprisonment. You agreed to the suggestion that the letter be retained in the files of the Mission at New Delhi until delivery to Gandhi might be feasible and appropriate.

The Mission now requests instructions. It recommends against delivery on the grounds that the context is not now entirely timely; that failure to have received a reply will be understood by Gandhi because of his having been held incommunicado; that difficulty may be experienced in convincing the Government of India that this Government was not a party to the evasion of censorship which occurred when Gandhi’s letter was delivered to you; and that it is inadvisable at this time to encourage Gandhi to communicate further with you. A copy of the Mission’s telegram no. 357 of May 19, 1944 on the subject is attached.15

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There appear to be three possible procedures: (1) that the letter not be delivered, with the resultant possibility that some day Gandhi may accuse you of a lack of interest in India’s problems; (2) that the original letter be delivered with appropriate explanation from the Mission, and—in order that no charge of subterfuge may be brought by the Government of India—after prior advice to the Government of India; (3) that a new letter with more timely context be drafted for delivery in the same manner, with the resultant possibility that, as in procedure no. 2, difficulty may arise from the censorship angle, and that Gandhi may be encouraged to endeavor to communicate further with you in a manner embarrassing to you and both embarrassing and annoying to the Government of India.

An expression of your wishes in the matter is requested.16

C[ordell] H[ull]
  1. Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. i, p. 703.
  2. Supra.
  3. Notation by President Roosevelt to Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., Under Secretary of State: “E. R. S. I think No. 2 best. F. D. R.”