“No society of the world organized under the announced
principles could survive without these freedoms which are a
part of the whole freedom for which we strive.”
—President Roosevelt’s Report to Congress on Atlantic
Charter, August 21, 1941.
By 1941 Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt were two of the most prominent newsmakers in the world, and as the frequency of messages between them increased, so did the cordiality of their exchanges. Roosevelt regarded himself as a smart Yankee horse trader. Always certain he was managing the best deal, he was matched with Churchill, one of the wiliest statesmen in all British history.
The two had not met since casual encounters twenty-eight years earlier—encounters so insignificant that in 1941 when the two came faceto-face off the coast of Newfoundland, Churchill, to FDR’s chagrin, said he did not recall the prior meetings.
Those meetings had occurred in December, 1914, when Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of the Navy had gone to London to study the workings of the British Admiralty. Churchill at the time was first Lord of the Admiralty, a position equivalent to the U.S. Secretary of the Navy, who then was Josephus Daniels, Roosevelt’s superior. Churchill, perhaps piqued because America had not yet entered World War I, brushed off a formal request to help the visitor, giving an explanation that the Admiralty was far too busy to offer much assistance. The two men met again briefly four