Australia and the United States


When, in February 1940, a distinguished Australian disembarked at Los Angeles from an American trans-Pacific luxury liner and flew to Washington to present his credentials to the President of the United States of America, as the first Australian Minister to Washington, he was given what is usually called a good press. This was not only a personal tribute to the Capital's new "Flying Minister". It also reflected what appeared to be the prevailing American sentiment of friendship and goodwill toward the Australian democracy "down under". In some cases, press comment passed beyond sentiments of goodwill to suggestions of common interest; there was recognition of past associations and even a hint of closer collaboration between the two democracies. Thus the San Francisco Chronicle on February 20, 1940:

This exchange of Ministers between the two countries has an especial interest to California which, from its earliest days, has had closer connection with Australia than any other part of the United States. The Commonwealth is part of our Pacific circle. To us in California it is no remote, dim land. It is before us vividly as a friend and colleague in the advancement of the interests of the Pacific basin. We are heartily glad that the two countries are now to be brought closer together by the establishment of the diplomatic relations that ought, we think, to have been set up long ago.

It would be idle to pretend, however, that, for the vast majority of the American people in February 1940, Australia was much more than a place on the map--a place to be found, not without a little difficulty by some, away at the other end of the Pacific. This distant settlement of a handful of English-speaking people--a mere seven million, the equivalent of the population of New York City--might strike a sympathetic chord in American hearts which . . .

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