The Acting Director of the Office of European Affairs (Hickerson) to the Minister in Ireland (Gray)


Dear David: May I express my thanks for your letter of January 3, 1945 [1946].1

You may be right and I may be wrong, but I am inclined to think that you exaggerate the danger of the Irish being successful in the efforts which they will make to bring us into the Partition question. You will recall the ringing letter which Mr. Stettinius sent, with F.D.R.’s approval, to Senator Danaher on this subject.2 If efforts are made to inject us into the Partition question, we plan to answer along the lines of that letter. We have heard nothing from Congress on this subject in a long time.

The memorandum enclosed3 with your letter to me is an excellent account of the Partition issue, and the attitude which, in my opinion, the United States Government should take toward it. It is, and rightly so, a scathing indictment of the Irish Government’s attitude toward us during the war. Although it is unsigned and confidential, there probably would not be much doubt of its ultimately being tracked down to your typewriter. It is true that, as you say, you have written it in your personal capacity. The thing that troubles me about that, as well as one or two statements in your personal [Page 114] letters to the Archbishops,4 is that I think it is almost impossible to distinguish between what you do in your official capacity as American Minister and what you do in your private capacity as citizen David Gray.

Let me hasten to add that I have a high personal admiration for both individuals and I send you regards and every good wish.

John Hickerson
  1. Not printed.
  2. The letter from Acting Secretary of State Stettinius to Senator John A. Danaher of Connecticut was dated June 7, 1944. The pertinent portion reads as follows: “The constitutional relationship between Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State is, of course, a matter for the proper authorities within the British Commonwealth to determine. The American Government could only take the position that the altering of political boundaries between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland was not a matter in which it might properly intervene. International law and comity would permit no other course.” (841D.00/6–744)
  3. The memorandum was entitled The United States and Irish Partition. In his letter of January 3, 1946 Mr. Gray explained that the memorandum was to be used by him for distribution to certain private individuals and thus he had not made it the subject of a despatch which would have categorized it as a State Paper. He had, however, sent it to the Department in order to keep it informed on what he was doing. (841D.00/1–346)
  4. Reference is to letters sent by Mr. Gray to Archbishops Francis Spellman, Edward Mooney, and Samuel Stritch offering congratulations on their nominations as Cardinals. The letters also enclosed copies of Mr. Gray’s memorandum. The sensitive passages in these letters were pointed out to Mr. Hickerson in a memorandum of January 16, not printed, by Mr. John C. Pool, Assistant Chief of the Division of British Commonwealth Affairs, who felt that the quoted portions were subject to possible misinterpretation. The pertinent section of his memorandum reads: “To Spellman he [Gray] states, ‘It would be God’s blessing on this country (Ireland) if and when His Holiness designates a successor to the late Cardinal MacRory, he should select someone like you or Dr. Mooney.’ To Archbishop Stritch he states, ‘If there were anything I could do to bring about a united Ireland, I should gladly do it; for I believe it inevitable but to be achieved only by mutual conciliation and mutual compromise.’ To Archbishop Mooney he states, ‘I am more than ever convinced that his (de Valera’s) policy is designed to win political support rather than to unify the country as I should like to see it unified.’”(841D.00/1–346)