Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

top secret
Participants: The Secretary
The British Ambassador1
Mr. John Hickerson2

The British Ambassador came in to see me at 9:45 this morning by an appointment made at his request. He summarized briefly and then handed me the following papers:

Text of a statement to be made by Prime Minister Attlee on India in the House of Commons at 10:30 Eastern Standard Time this morning, announcing the British intention to transfer complete power to the Indians not later than June 1948.3
A Top Secret memorandum4 giving a background analysis of the present Indian situation and stating that the only alternative to the British Government’s transferring complete authority to the Indians would be for the British Government to use the necessary force to govern India indefinitely, a course which the British Government must reject.
A copy of an announcement to be made by Prime Minister Attlee in the House of Commons, following his statement on India, to the effect that Lord Wavell is being recalled and is being replaced by Lord Mountbatten.5

I thanked the British Ambassador for bringing me these papers and told him that they would receive my study. I stated that the U.S. Government is thoroughly convinced of the sincerity of the British [Page 144] Government in its efforts to bring about a satisfactory solution of the Indian problem. I stated that, as the Ambassador knows, the Department of State has during the past several months issued several statements in this general sense and in support of the British constitutional plan for India. I added that after a study of the above mentioned documents I would consider whether I could make any additional statement which might be helpful.6 I went on to say that I would be glad to have the Ambassador let me know later on whether he feels that a further statement from the U.S. Government would be helpful. The Ambassador expressed his appreciation.

The Ambassador commented that I probably knew Lord Mount-batten. I replied that I did know him well and had a very high regard for him. I discussed briefly some of my war-time associations with Lord Mountbatten.

  1. Lord Inverchapel.
  2. Deputy Director, Office of European Affairs.
  3. For text, see Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 433, cols. 1395–1399, or S. L. Poplai, Select Documents on Asian Affairs: India 1947–50, (Oxford University Press, Bombay, 1959), vol. 1, pp. 10–13.
  4. Infra.
  5. For text, see Menon, The Transfer of Power in India, pp. 508–509.
  6. On February 25, the Department released to the press a statement entitled “United States Interest in Self-Government for India.” For text, see Department of State Bulletin, March 9, 1947, p. 450.