Memorandum by the Secretary of State to President Truman 39

Subject: United Nations Conference on International Organization at San Francisco.

1. Delegation—The Delegation as appointed by President Roosevelt under my Chairmanship consists of Mr. Hull, Senior Adviser, Senator Connally, Senator Vandenberg, Congressman Bloom, Congressman Eaton, Commander Stassen and Dean Gildersleeve.

2. Its Activity—The Delegation has been meeting with me daily to review the substance of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals which have been agreed upon with the other sponsoring governments of the Conference (United Kingdom, Soviet Union and China) as the basis for drafting the Charter of the Organization at San Francisco. The Delegation has been considering what changes if any, which have been suggested by other governments or have evolved through discussion in this country, should be advanced by us at San Francisco or supported by us there if advanced by others.

Generally speaking there will be only a few changes of substance which the Delegation will recommend. For instance, it is probable that the proposal which Senator Vandenberg has stressed so much publicly (and which the Chinese have also in effect proposed) of adding certain references to justice and international law in the Charter40 will be accepted. We have not yet considered his other proposal that the Organization should be empowered to review treaties and prior international obligations.

Our analysis of the document will be completed before we leave for San Francisco and the final recommended changes of the Delegation submitted to you for your consideration and approval. After that step is completed we are obligated to submit them to the other sponsoring governments as we have agreed to consult with them on such proposed changes.

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3. I think it is important that you meet with the Delegation on Monday or Tuesday of next week.

4. I attach a copy of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals hereto.41 If you wish to review them in detail I would be glad to meet with you with several of our technical experts.

5. Presidency—We are having some difficulty with the Soviet Union as to the Presidency of the Conference. They have proposed that the Heads of the Delegations of the four sponsoring Governments should be co-chairmen with rotation in office. Our position, which President Roosevelt had instructed us to maintain, is that this is cumbersome, impractical and unrealistic. We also feel that if we yield to the Soviet position it might set an undesirable precedent for future Conferences and even for the organization itself. Our position is that there should be a single President for the Conference and that the other sponsoring powers would hold the positions of Vice Presidents and would preside in rotation in the President’s absence.

6. Trusteeships—Another important open question relates to territorial trusteeships. It was agreed at Yalta that there should be discussion among the five proposed permanent members of the Security Council (United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union, China and France) prior to San Francisco as to the machinery and principles of a trusteeship system to replace the League of Nations mandate system, and that machinery to create such a system should be made a part of the Charter of the International Organization. It was also agreed that there should be no discussion prior to or at San Francisco of specific territories to be placed under the system, this subject being left for later agreement.

Because of the importance of certain strategic areas in the Pacific to our future security a question has arisen as to the wisdom of discussing the subject at all at this time. This matter was referred to President Roosevelt a few days ago with the recommendation that he review the matter with the Secretaries of War, Navy and me on his return. He had agreed to do this on the 19th.

President Roosevelt has had the trusteeship system importantly in mind for some time and his latest thought on it is evidenced by his last Press Conference in which he specifically stated that “the United States and the other United Nations must accept trusteeships over Japanese mandate islands, build new naval and air bases and help the Philippines rebuild, economically, after the Commonwealth becomes a. self-governing nation.” (As reported by today’s New York Times.42) I feel it is vitally important that you meet with Secretaries [Page 283] Stimson, Forrestal and me to discuss this at the earliest possible opportunity. You may also wish to invite the Secretary of the Interior to this meeting as Secretary Ickes is extremely interested in the subject and recently submitted a memorandum to President Roosevelt on it.43

7. Tuesday44 will be the last day the full Delegation is in Washington.

8. The Soviet Republics—At Yalta this Government and the United Kingdom agreed to support at San Francisco a Soviet proposal that two Soviet Republics, the White Russia and the Ukraine, be admitted to initial membership in the International Organization.45 As you know, there has been considerable discussion of this. The position of the United States Delegation, in which I concur, is that we should interpret support to mean voting at San Francisco for the proposal if and when the Soviets make it and that no other action on our part is required to carry out the commitment.

The Soviets are now taking the position that by interpretation the commitment extended to giving these two Republics the right to be represented at the San Francisco Conference itself should their membership in the Organization be approved by the Conference. No commitment was made by the United States and the British with respect to participation by the two Soviet Republics in the Conference at San Francisco. That is a matter for the Conference to decide. The Soviets, however, are still insistent and at a meeting this morning46 refused to agree to a list of proposed Commission and Committee Chairmen for the Conference pending clarification of the right of these Republics to be present.

E. R. Stettinius, Jr.
  1. For President Truman’s comments on this memorandum, see Memoirs by Harry S. Truman, vol. i, pp. 273–275. Vice President Harry S. Truman succeeded to the Presidency after the death of President Roosevelt at the Little White House, Warm Springs, Ga., on the afternoon of April 12, 1945, and within an hour after taking the oath of office, announced that the San Francisco Conference would proceed. Secretary Stettinius announced on April 13 that President Truman had authorized him to say that there would be no change of purpose or break of continuity in the foreign policy of the United States Government.
  2. Senator Vandenberg issued a press statement on March 5 in which he expressed his anxiety about the failure of the Dumbarton Oaks formula to mention “justice” as a guiding objective or a rule of conduct, except in the chapter providing for an International Court of Justice, and he indicated that he would submit concrete proposals to his colleagues on this subject. (Arthur H. Vandenberg, Jr., (ed.), The Private Papers of Senator Vandenberg, p. 154.) See also the memorandum of March 16 by the Secretary of State to President Roosevelt, p. 125.
  3. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. i, p. 890.
  4. April 13, 1945, p. 4, col. 4. See also extracts from President Roosevelt’s press and radio conference, April 5, ante, p. 196.
  5. See letter of April 5 from the Secretary of the Interior to the Secretary of State, and enclosed memorandum, p. 198.
  6. April 17.
  7. For President Roosevelt’s comments on the Soviet proposal at his press conference, April 5, see pp. 197198.
  8. See minutes of the third meeting of the Informal Organizing Group, April 13, noon, infra.