Dispatch 12/44 WASHINGTON, 11 December 1944
I have the honour to report that I have closely studied your
telegram No. 1902  containing your views on the Australian -
New Zealand Conference and also the telegrams  from Mr. Fraser,
Prime Minister of New Zealand giving the resolutions in full. In
my opinion the time is opportune for a full discussion of the
question of the Government of Colonial Territories. The President
has some fully defined views on the subject which are the direct
antithesis of those which appear to be entertained by the British.
Our views appear to come in between and afford a good basis for
compromise between the two others.
At the present juncture, it would be exceedingly unfortunate if
these differences were discussed in public and I think the
interviews I have had show that a diplomatic exchange of views
would be advantageous.
In pursuance of your instructions I sought an interview with Mr.
Stettinius and after some postponements I saw him on the morning
of 6th December. I said that I wished to bring up the question of
Government of Colonial Dependencies. I understood that it was not
discussed at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference and he said 'no', but
it would have to be discussed at the next, which would take place
in three months' time. He said that the reason for not discussing
4 Berle submitted his resignation as U.S. Assistant Secretary of
State on 3 December, but remained Leader of the U.S. Delegation in
Chicago and President of the Conference.
Colonial question was that it was tied up with so many military
questions. I then said that the question had been brought up at
the Australian - New Zealand Conference and you had asked me to
hand him in a personal and confidential way point 11  of the
resolution arrived at the conference, which differed somewhat from
the published statement of Mr. Fraser.  He than read the clause
and said, 'does this mean the Government of the dependency by one
power?' and I said it means that one power shall be responsible as
mandatory. He said, 'well, there is where you will come into
conflict with the President'. He said he was speaking quite
confidentially but the President's view was that the sovereignty
was to be in the United Nations as trustee and that it should
govern through an international organisation. He was not very
clear here and he said that three or four nations might be
associated in the joint government. I presume he referred to the
idea of Regional Commissions. I said that we had one experience of
a condominium, i.e., the New Hebrides, and we regarded it as a
most unsatisfactory form of government. He said, 'you think that
one power should be responsible', and I said that that was our
contention, we believed that only if the prestige of one power was
pledged to secure good government would such government be
achieved. I said he would notice we advocated the universalisation
of the Mandate System whether involved in the war or not. I said I
had made a personal study of the Mandate System because I was
reporting on the proposed amalgamation of Papua and New Guinea and
I had read all the reports of the Mandate Commission and also most
of the reports of the mandatory powers and I was satisfied that it
had been a success. I said Australia was willing to modify the
terms of the C Class Mandate so that the objectionable features in
it would be removed. I also said that our view differed from that
of the British who believed in a system of Regional Commissions
but have not made clear to whom the accountability should be.
He took notes of what I said and said he would speak to the
President and have a further discussion. I formed the opinion that
the Secretary of State had no set opinion of his own; this was a
matter on which the President had views and he would only act as
This situation gives point to my conversation with the President
which took place when I presented my credentials and also to the
conversation with Mr. Harry Hopkins  which took place on 5th
December, see Despatch No. 11/44.  Mr. Hopkins definitely
suggested that I should bring my opinions before the President. He
said the President had very curious ideas on sovereignty and
thought it could be exercised by the whole of the United Nations
and said that he intended to apply this sort of joint government
to a number of the French Colonies and the Japanese Islands
involved in the war. I said that I thought the restoration of the
whole of the French Empire had been promised at Casablanca. He
said he did not think the declaration went so far. I said that we
would be only too glad if the U.S. would take the Japanese Islands
but he said the President would not do that. Churchill was always
suggesting that U.S.A. should take possessions here and there, but
the President would not accept, he wanted to put his ideas of
international government into operation. I said that in his
conversation with me the President indicated that his opinion on
Colonial Government differed from that of Great Britain. He said,
'well, whenever you have a conversation with the President
introduce the subject as you will only get his real views as the
result of a number of conversations'. I formed the idea that Mr.
Hopkins felt either that the President's views were open to
question or that it was a pity that a very wide breach was
developing between the British and American idea on the subject.
It will be remembered that some time ago Mr. Hull prepared a
statement  on Colonial Policy which was discussed between
British and American representatives. We have a copy of the
proposals but no details of the reactions of the British to them.
These proposals stress the policy of giving independence at the
earliest possible moment and fixing a date for future independence
where it is impossible to give it at once. There is another
section on International Trusteeship for backward peoples which
suggests the setting up of a general International Authority but
it is rather vague as to the actual power of government which this
authority should have. The President's remarks to me at the
presentation of my credentials were probably a reflexion of Mr.
Hull's proposals. He was strongly critical of Britain, wanted them
to give up Malaya and Burma unconditionally as he was giving up
the Philippines and he made the curious exception in favour of the
Queen Wilhelmina's  proposal  to give a Federal Constitution
to Netherlands East Indies.
From the various conversations I have had and my reference to the
files, I would sum up the various views as follows:
Independence to be granted to dependencies wherever possible. The
President evidently thinks it should be given to Malaya and Burma.
A date to be fixed for the granting of future independence.
An International Authority for governing countries inhabited by
backward peoples liberated by the war. There is some doubt whether
this view is President Roosevelt's personal view or that of the
public as a whole. Many think that the public are becoming
Imperialistic. British Policy:
A declaration of trusteeship of dependent peoples.
Regional Commissions for collaboration between different powers in
the government of these dependencies.
There is no definition of the mechanism by which the governing
power becomes accountable to whom or how.
The Australian policy as I gather adopts the Mandate principles,
that is, the responsibility of one state for the government of the
The Australian Government believes such a system should be applied
to all dependencies.
The terms of the C Class Mandate would be considerably modified by
Australia to include power of inspection conditions for welfare of
native peoples and non-discrimination in trade.
It will be seen that the Australian view is a good compromise
between the British and American views. It has the advantage that
it is a development of an existing system which in my opinion has
done well, but the disadvantage [is] that Americans because they
did not join the League do not know very well how the League
System worked and are inclined to regard it with suspicion. In
particular they are inclined to view C Class Mandate as veiled
I will report when I hear further from Mr. Stettinius and
meanwhile I will try and keep the question alive by reminding him
from time to time of the interest we have in the question.
F. W. EGGLESTON