I have finally finished The Memoirs of Cordell Hull. This last segment starts during the Dumbarton Oaks conference, which created the United Nations and began in August 1944.
Participating in this conference were the United State, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. Hull presented his proposal for a peacekeeping organization to these other governments before the conference opened.
The Soviets surprised their counterparts by proposing that all 16 Soviet Socialist Republics be admitted as members of the general assembly. The United States and Britain objected, and Franklin Roosevelt said that the United States could not accept such a proposal. Gromyko agreed to withdraw the proposal for the duration of the conference, although he said that it might come up again.
Hull notes that FDR at the later Yalta conference agreed to admit the White Russian and Ukrainian republics. He adds that he would have opposed this. Hull also describes FDR’s idea that the United Nations should meet in the Azores and in Hawaii.
Russia caused concern on another question: They refused to agree that a nation involved in a dispute could not have its vote count in a vote on that dispute.
Hull then backtracks and discusses his efforts to keep partisan politics out of the decisions on the United Nations. In this chapter, John Foster Dulles appears as a representative of Republican candidate Thomas E. Dewey. Hull held discussions with Dulles about the formation of the United Nations and had a positive view of him.
Hull returns to the Dumbarton Oaks conference and describes FDR’s involvement in the voting question. Roosevelt cabled Stalin to voice the United States’ concern, but Stalin refused to yield. The three leaders eventually agreed to a compromise on the voting question at Yalta.
Hull decided to resign because of failing health in late 1944. He describes his discussions with FDR over his resignation and his decision to leave before FDR began his fourth term. Hull describes his reaction to FDR’s death in April 1945 and Hull’s award of the Nobel Peace Prize for that year.
Hull concludes by looking to the future and urging Americans to maintain an involvement with their government and with world affairs.
In all I found these memoirs valuable for the behind-the-scenes perspective on U.S. foreign policy that they provided. They did yield some interesting points about Hull’s relationship with FDR, although not as many observations on the workings of FDR’s mind in crafting foreign policy as I would have liked. While Hull does not often acknowledge this, FDR largely crafted foreign policy himself for the matters that he considered most important and left the rest to Hull.
Next I will read a new book on FDR’s leading the nation into World War 2, which I trust will be more enlightening on this president’s handling of foreign policy.