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Friday, June 06, 2014

The Atlantic Charter

In honor of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, I'm posting today about the Rosenbach's our most significant World War II document: the Atlantic Charter. The Atlantic Charter was not a formal treaty but a statement by Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill to "make known certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world.”

The Atlantic Charter was the result of the Atlantic Conference, held August 9-10, 1941. The United States had not yet declared war but was supplying the Allies through Lend-Lease. Churchill and Roosevelt met on the U.S.S. Augusta, harbored in Newfoundland, to discuss war aims and post-war goals. The Atlantic Charter was an affirmation of the two countries' shared Wilsonian vision for a postwar world, including that they would "seek no aggrandisement, territorial or other," were committed to "respect[ing] the right of all peoples to choose the form of Government under which they will live," and hoped for a peace "which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want."

In a December 1944 press conference, a reporter asked," Mr. President, did Mr. Churchill ever sign the Atlantic Charter?" Roosevelt replied:

" Nobody ever signed the Atlantic Charter. Now that's an amazing statement.
Q. Where is it, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you're thinking in awfully—oh, what will I say?- banal phrases and thought.
There isn't any copy of the Atlantic Charter, so far as I know. I haven't got one. The British haven't got one. The nearest thing you will get is the radio operator on the Augusta and on the Prince of Wales. That's the nearest thing you will come to it. It's one of the things that was agreed to on board ship, and there was no formal document.
And the aides were directed to have the scribbled thing, which had a great many corrections, some I suppose in Mr. Churchill's handwriting, and some in mine, and some in Sir Alec Cadogan's handwriting, some in scraps of paper, some in Sumner Welles's handwriting—and the aides were directed to have it sent off to the British Government, and to the United States Government, and released to the press. That is the Atlantic Charter."

The Rosenbach documents are the typed carbon copies given to the radio room of the U.S.S. Augusta for transmission to Washington.

AMs 499/13 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

AMs 499/13 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

AMs 499/13 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

AMs 499/13 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

AMs 499/13 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Our documents also include a carbon of a message sent from FDR and Churchill to Stalin regarding supplies and planning. There are corrections in Roosevelt's hand and he signed both men's names to the message.
AMs 499/13 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

AMs 499/13 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog.

1 comment:

Bo Daly said...

Nice work, Kathy!