Roosevelt and Hopkins, An Intimate History

By Robert E. Sherwood | Go to book overview

PART III: 1942-THE NARROW MARGIN

CHAPTER XX
The Arcadia Conference

Both Winant and Harriman were at dinner with Churchill at Chequers on Sunday evening, December 7, 1941. The fifteendollar American radio that Hopkins had given the Prime Minister was on the dining table, and from it came the measured, emotionless tones of the B.B.C. newscaster announcing that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. Winant has told how Churchill was immediately on his feet, about to call the Foreign Office to give instructions that a declaration of war on Japan should be put through at once—"within the minute," as he had promised. He was talked out of this on the ground that one could not declare war on the strength of a news broadcast, even from the B.B.C. Winant suggested that perhaps the Prime Minister should telephone the White House for confirmation. (This was the call mentioned in the notes that Hopkins wrote on the night of December 7.) Roosevelt immediately agreed that Churchill should come to Washington with his Chiefs of Staff as soon as possible. Churchill then put through a call to Anthony Eden who was at Invergordon about to board a cruiser for his mission to Moscow.

When Eden heard of Pearl Harbor and Churchill's imminent trip to Washington, he felt that his own trip should be canceled: the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary should not be away from the United Kingdom at the same time. Actually, Churchill could not order Eden to go or stay, as a President could order a Secretary of State, for Eden had his own direct responsibility to the king; but Churchill convinced him that now that the United States was a belligerent his hand would be greatly strengthened in his talks with Stalin and Molotov, particularly in view of the cable from Hull which Winant had communicated the day before. So Eden went.

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