356 Eggleston to Evatt

Letter (extracts) WASHINGTON, 21 November 1944


I have the honour to report that I presented my Letters of Credence to President Roosevelt on November 14th, 1944.

[matter omitted]

The President said that they would give me a very good time during my stay in Washington and referred with appreciation to my predecessor, Sir Owen Dixon. I then handed to the President my Letters of Credence, Sir Owen Dixon's Letters of Recall, and a copy of my remarks, and he handed to me a copy of his speech in reply. He said that we need not bother to read these documents to each other. I referred to the fact that my speech had been prepared before the election and that I had not had an opportunity to congratulate him in my formal remarks upon the success he had achieved in the elections. I added that if Australia had had a vote there would have been a unanimous vote for him.

The President then referred to the last Australian elections. He said that he had met Winston Churchill the day before the elections and had asked for his opinion as to the result. Mr.

Churchill had replied 'Oh, Curtin is sure to be defeated-he has only a majority of one'. When the results appeared on the following day the President saw Mr. Churchill again and said 'your information seems to be faulty' and Mr. Churchill replied 'the results differed from the information I received'. I then said to the President that the Australian elections were a vindication for the Australian leader just as other elections I had known should be regarded as a vindication of other leaders.

I told the President that I had brought with me personal messages from Mr. Curtin and yourself. The President spoke very cordially indeed of Mr. Curtin and asked me how he was. I said that I thought Mr. Curtin had had a really bad breakdown. The President said that he was sorry; he had believed it was only a temporary cold. I added that I did not think that Mr. Curtin would come out of hospital until January. The President expressed his regret at hearing this and said that he had liked Mr. Curtin very much.

The President also spoke of you and in doing so referred to the Australia - New Zealand Agreement [1] and said that he didn't like the wording but he added that he thought you were a grand man.

The President then went on to discuss Pacific matters in general.

He said that he believed that the British were attempting to get some sort of hold over the Netherlands East Indies but added that Queen Wilhelmina, who knew more than most people, had spoken about the Netherlands East Indies and had issued a pronouncement [2] that the population of the N.E.I. were to be admitted into a share of the Government on a Federal basis. The President said that it was expected that the Philippines would be given their independence within one year. He thought that that policy should be extended to countries like Malaya and Burma. I reminded the President that Burma had its own Parliament which had extensive powers but he said that the attitude of the British towards educational matters was very poor. I agreed with this latter statement.

The President said that he had had numerous discussions with Mr.

Churchill about China. He felt that Winston was 40 years behind the times on China and had not sufficient respect for the Chinese- this he said was very dangerous. The President said he wanted to keep China as a friend because in 40 or 50 years China might easily become a very powerful military nation.

Continuing, the President said that he thought the Americans and the Australians could work together on a liberal policy on these matters. I said 'yes', I thought we could and added that you were very keen on all questions relating to the development of the primitive territories in the Pacific and the care of the native races.

[matter omitted]


1 Document 26.

2 See Document 65, note 5.

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