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74 McDougall to Burton

Letter (extract) LONDON, 12 November 1942


You refer to my visit to America [1] and I presume you mean in 1941. Well 1942 was still more interesting. After the Wheat Council was over and I had attended a meeting of the Economic and Financial Committees of the League at Princeton, N.J., I started to renew the 1941 contacts. Henry Wallace, the Vice-President, and Sumner Welles were most cordial. Welles, who has a reputation for being glacial, was quite extraordinarily pleasant. He asked me to see Berle and Acheson and others to glean the lines of the State Department post-war thinking and then to see him again.

I have drafted a long letter from S.M.B. to the P.M. giving a fairly full account of my impressions [2] and I have no doubt this will come your way. The thinking of the Administration is pretty bold. They seem to envisage a World Authority with political, security, economic and social functions. Membership to be automatic, no resignations or failure to contribute to be possible; on the economic side the main idea is to secure an expansive world economy. The devices for this to be a series of linked international authorities-an International Bank (or perhaps the Keynesian Clearing Union, which is a neater device than Harry White's (of the U.S. Treasury) International Bank)-an International Investment Corporation-a Raw Materials Authority-a Transport body-a General Council to coordinate the work of separate Commodity Controls such as the Wheat Council-a Development Authority about which I had many talks with Hansen.

[3] American official ideas are not crystal clear but the trend is towards bold thinking. The failure to start informal talks with U.K. is due (a) to the feeling that unless they have cleared their own minds, the British will put one over them [and] (b) Cordell Hull's advice to refrain from any public talk about post-war until the war was going well. (Bad advice which led to the loss of seats at the elections [4] I fancy.) After I had gained a general impression, I rather indignantly told the State Department that there was no preparatory work about Food and Agriculture. They said this was due to a failure by the U.S.

Department of Agriculture to put up a preliminary paper. I was asked to collaborate in getting this gap filled. We therefore formed an unofficial group-Appleby, the Under Secretary of Agriculture; Tolley, Director of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics; Wheeler, Director of the Office of Foreign Agricultural Relations; Baldwin, Administrator of Farm Security; M. L. Wilson, Director of Extension Services; several of their officers; Harry Hawkins and Bob Carr, of the State Department; people to represent Milo Perkins, the Office of War Information, Dr Parran, the U.S.

Surgeon-General, and two scientists from the Committee on Food and Nutrition. We also had Prof. Hansen, Cairns [5], Twentyman (of the U.K. Food Mission). Sir John Orr [6] arrived in time for the final stage and I brought McCarthy into some of the discussions. The Vice-President took a considerable interest and spoke at a preliminary dinner we held.

The upshot was a memorandum with several appendices. This is unofficial, of course, but will be carefully considered in the State Department and may become the basis for Administration views on the subject. I brought back one incomplete copy and have had it duplicated. I am sending you a copy. [7] S.M.B. is forwarding one to the P.M.

I am now satisfied that Wallace, Welles, Berle and Acheson desire to give Food and Agriculture high priority in the American plans for reconstruction. They are very different and even somewhat mutually antagonistic but they agree on this point. I saw a lot of Wallace and liked him a lot. He hates a Tory and finds it difficult to believe that anyone from Whitehall can be anything but a Tory. He introduced me to Mr Justice Jackson as 'A World New Dealer'. It's a bit difficult to visualize Wallace dressed up to look like a President but he is a man to reckon with. I was very much impressed by Justice Jackson and liked Douglas. Frankfurter [8] was much [sic] cordial but while I liked him, he made rather a lighter impression than the other two. I saw a little of Jacob Viner [9], a lot of Hansen and also of Riefler [10], who is now over here.

I hurried back to get into the U.K.-Dominion talks. [11] Keynes was most able and tolerant, the Treasury folk very much a phalanx to support Keynes. It is possible that Keynes is one of the very few great Englishmen but it's a pity that his intellectual arrogance is so thinly veiled. He goes down very badly in Washington.

I found Wilson [12] easy to get on with and his offsider Fletcher [13] is a good chap. The Canadians and Wilson made useful contributions.

In Washington and in London I have been urging the need to use plans for relief and for reconstruction as our main armament in political warfare. I sent you a paper about this which you may not have received. [14] The V.P., Welles and I believe Hull, were interested and the V.P. took it to F.D.R. [15] The Office of War Information were very keen, especially MacLeish and Sherwood. I did not see Elmer Davis.

It seems certain that there will be a great increase in the tempo of work on the three R's-Relief-Rehabilitation-Reconstruction.

You'll get a pretty good idea of my way of thinking from the enclosed paper.

I hope Wilson will have time on his way back to get his own first hand impressions of Washington thinking.

You make a mistake if you underrate S.M.B. He has I think no political ambitions but he does a sterling job for Australia, and he has the advantage for London of looking like a Tory but not being one. He has made great contribution during the war and will work for the sort of peace you and I desire. The idea current among some Australians that he is 'angelice' [sic] is hopelessly wrong.


1 Burton's letter has not been found.

2 See Document 78.

3 Professor of Political Economy, Harvard University, and economic adviser to the U.S. Govt.

4 At the U.S. Congressional elections on 3 November the Republican Party gained a considerable number of seats in the Senate and House of Representatives, although the Democrats retained a majority in both houses.

5 Andrew Cairns, Secretary of the international Wheat Council.

6 Professor of Agriculture, University of Aberdeen, and an expert on health and nutrition.

7 Published as an attachment to Document 78.

8 Jackson, Douglas and Frankfurter were all Associate Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.

9 Professor of Economics, University of Chicago, and adviser to the U.S. Treasury.

10 Professor in the School of Economics and Politics, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey. Riefler had gone to London to act as economic adviser to the U.S. Ambassador.

11 See Document 104.

12 i.e. Dr Roland Wilson.

13 Assistant Treaties Officer, Trade and Customs Dept. Jacob Fletcher had gone to the United States with E. J. McCarthy in August 1941 to take part in trade negotiations.

14 Published as an attachment to Document 42. The copy sent to Burton is on file AA:A989, 43/735/658.

15 i.e. President Roosevelt.

[AA:A989, 43/735/658]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History