Selling War: The British Propaganda Campaign against American "Neutrality" in World War II

By Nicholas John Cull | Go to book overview
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5
"Give Us the Tools . . .": British Propaganda and American Aid, January to August 1941

Here is the answer that I will give to President Roosevelt: Put your
confidence in us. Give us your faith and your blessing, and, under
Providence, all will be well . . . . Give us the tools and we will
finish the job.

Winston Churchill, February 9, 19411

The first weeks of 1941 brought a new dawn in Anglo-American relations. On January 6, 1941, Roosevelt publicly pledged himself to an "all inclusive national defense" and "full support" for the Allied cause. Congress replied with the Lend-Lease bill. Britain breathed a sigh of relief. There were also signs of a new era in Anglo-American diplomacy. Joseph Kennedy resigned from the American Embassy in London and was replaced by the internationalist John Gilbert Winant. Roosevelt also sent his trusted aide Harry Hopkins on a six-week mission to Britain. The British pulled out all the stops to impress their guest. Charmed, Hopkins assured Washington that it could work well with the Churchill government. 2 Unfortunately, Britain's chief new arrival in Washington proved rather less successful.

Lord Halifax began his mission to Washington in style, steaming into Chesapeake Bay aboard the Royal Navy's newest battleship, King George V. From this point, however, his mission went rapidly downhill. He was baffled by his new surroundings, and a frost fell over his dealings with the U.S. government. Ill-considered remarks and an incautious visit to Congress soon set isolationist alarm bells clanging. Startled, Halifax retreated into "Political Purdah" until the Lend-Lease bill had passed. Other British arrivals fared better. A delegation from the British Chiefs of Staff began vigorous talks with their American counterparts

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