I had two
good conversations with the President, besides many opportunities of
informal talks on current matters in the car driving with him. He was very
frank and friendly, & seemed genuinely glad that I had been able to pay
him this visit. He gave me all the information in these notes either in
answer to my questions, or he volunteered it.
Mackenzie King was present at the first conversation at Hyde Park. We
talked of the firm & trusted friendship between Canada & the USA.
FDR mentioned that he thought it was a waste of money to build a Canadian
fleet as he had already laid his plans for the defense of the Pacific Coast
of Canada, especially Vancouver Island (Assembling plants for aeroplanes in
Canada). On mentioning the Neutrality Act the President gave us hopes that
something could be done to make it less difficult for the USA to help us.
Cordell lead public opinion on to the right tack. He gave us the following
story to illustrate how he was tackling the subject in the Middle West
& putting it in a way which they as farmers would understand.
the event of a war & say Germany & Italy were to win it, which
means that the British Fleet & the French Army had been defeated, which
at the moment are our first line of defense, how would you like to lose one
of your best customers the United Kingdom? Then again Hitler could say to
our great neighbors to the south of Argentine & Brazil 'You cannot sell
your beef or your coffee in Europe except through me & Germany. I am
the Master of Europe & in return I will send you the article I think
you will require in return at my price.'"
alone with him for the 2nd conversation. We discussed Europe in a general
way. He hoped France & Italy would try & get together.
doing his best to get New York to loan money to Roumania. I told him how
difficult it was for us to help the Balkans as there was the Mediterranean
to convoy things through, & they would want all they had got in a war.
I explained to him Roumania's position as to frontiers having 4 to cope
with. Because of the air we were only just becoming frontier-conscious
ourselves. In the whole of N. America he has none. He was definitely anti
Russian. I told him so were we but if we could not have an understanding
with her, Germany probably would make one.
me his naval patrols in greater detail about which he is terribly keen. If
he saw a U-boat he would sink her at once & wait for the consequences.
was bombed USA would come in. Offensive air warfare was better than
defensive & he hoped we should do the same on Berlin.
FDR's ideas in case of War
Patrol. Base for his fleet at Trinidad to fuel & replenish stores. From
this base he can patrol the Atlantic with ships & aeroplanes on a
radius of approximately 1000 miles on a sector of latitude of Haiti to
latitude of Brazil. This patrol should locate any enemy fleet, which tried
to get to S. Am. or the West Indies.
Patrol. Base as above. To patrol N. Atlantic from Cape Cod to Florida, with
ships & aeroplanes to prevent submarines from attacking convoys.
Germans have an air base at Natal Cape St. Roques also a landing ground on
the island of Fernando Noronha 200 miles from the coast. Brazil is pretty
sure to kick out the Germans. He would then use it himself.
Cuba, & West Indies are potential friendly bases.
is that USA should relieve us to these responsibilities, but can it be done
without a declaration of war.
Better not reopen the question. Congress wants repayment in full, which is
impossible, & a small bit is of no use, as they will want more later.
USA will want Nickel from Canada. They will buy our surplus rubber. In
return they can send steel sheets which can be cut for aeroplanes wings.
Rough castings with bored cylinders to be machined at home. Can be used for
aeroplanes or motor boats.
Patrol. Base for his fleet to fuel etc. From there he can patrol with
planes 900 to 1000 miles every day on different sector to prevent an enemy
fleet from attacking the West Indies.
Patrol. Same as above. Aeroplane Patrol up & down coast to spot
submarines. Cape Cod to Gulf of Mexico.
& Italy win a war, they can say to the Argentine, "How can you
sell you beef or wheat? The USA does not want it. We will sell it to Europe
for you & we will give you what we think you want in return on
How can you sell your coffee or wheat? Answer ditto.