This post takes me up to page 1180 in The Memoirs of Cordell Hull.
Hull begins by describing the new activities of the State Department with the coming of war. One of these was developing the Declaration by United Nations, which stated the war aims of the 26 nations united against the Axis. Hull also recommended the creation of a Supreme War Council, which he discussed in some detail.
Hull then turns to an incident that caused friction with De Gaulle. Free French forces had occupied two small islands off Newfoundland, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. This move could have upset U.S. relations with Marshal Petain’s Vichy French government. This Free French action also upset Canada. More importantly, Winston Churchill made a speech in Canada attacking Vichy and praising De Gaulle. This contradicted Hull’s policy. Churchill eventually agreed to a settlement, although De Gaulle did not.
In the next chapter, on relations with Latin America, Hull tells of a disagreement that he had with Sumner Welles. Welles had attended a conference in Rio de Janeiro in place of Hull. Welles agreed to language favored by Argentina and Chile in a declaration of support for the war effort. That one paragraph undercut the unity of the American republics’ breaking of relations with the Axis powers. Hull suspected Argentina of watering down the declaration. When Welles went ahead and agreed to the language, Hull spoke sharply to him.
One slightly revealing picture of FDR comes in the opening of the chapter “Laval versus De Gaulle.” FDR had issued an order giving the Board of Economic Warfare the authority to negotiate with foreign governments on economic matters. This, of course, upset the State Department. In discussing this with the president, Hull noted that FDR became quite angry when he learned that the State Department had not approved of this transfer of authority. He would not have approved the order had he known that. FDR then rescinded his order. This is a rare instance of FDR openly expressing anger. It is a not-so-rare instance of bureaucratic confusion in his administration, with multiple agencies being granted or assuming overlapping responsibilities.
The next chapter deals with “Stalin’s Ambitions” as revealed in December 1941, during British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden’s visit to Moscow. Stalin wanted territorial concessions affecting the Baltic states, Poland, Finland and Rumania. The U.S. opposed making any commitments on matters such as these until a postwar peace conference. While Eden resisted entering into any such secret agreement, he did tell Stalin that he would try to obtain a favorable decision from his government.
In reply to the State Departments concerns, FDR said that the Soviet Union was entitled to full security after the war, but this security depended on the solution of many issues, including the status of Germany. FDR opposed an accord between Britain and the Soviet Union that accepted Stalin’s territorial desires. Churchill, however, seemed determined to proceed with such an accord. FDR stated his objections to Churchill and to Stalin. Britain and the Soviet Union eventually signed a treaty without any territorial provisions, to Hull’s relief.
Hull also met Molotov at this time and found him “very agreeable,” a characterization with which others later would not agree.