1941 : Memorandum from the Secretary of State to the President

Memorandum by the Secretary of State
Memorandum for the President.

I refer to your memorandum of January 26 on the subject of the St. Pierre-Miquelon occupation.
In view of the fact that certain policies are obligations of this Government relating to the war situation were materially affected on both sides of the Atlantic by the unexpected occupation of the St. Pierre-Miquelon islands by the Free French naval forces on December 2, 1941, this Government proceeded, in a spirit of friendly settlement which could be found acceptable by all concerned. This Government suggested a broad basic proposal, a copy of which is hereto attached. This proposal was in line with the policy we have continuously pursued to the present time – That of holding the Vichy Government to its assurances regarding the French fleet, the North African bases, and French colonial possessions.
As you will recall, Prime Minister Churchill agreed in general with you and with me on this suggested proposal, conditional upon his ability to secure the approval of General de Gaulle. It now appears that Prime Minister Churchill was not able to obtain General de Gaulle’s accord. The draft formula substituted by Mr. Churchill, referred to in his telegram to you, would not be of assistance to us in holding the Vichy Government to its assurances, nor would it appear to be acceptable to that Government.
In view of the failure to achieve a general satisfactory settlement which would conform with the policies and obligations of this Government on both sides of the Atlantic, and in view of the paramount importance of furthering unity and harmony in the maximum cooperative war effort with Great Britain, Canada, and the other United Nations, I recommend that further negotiations or discussions of the matter be posponed for the period of the war.

Grand Colombier

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