Franklin Roosevelt and the Origins of the Canadian-American Security Alliance, 1933-1945: Necessary, but Not Necessary Enough

By Galen Roger Perras | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
Far Better to Trust in the Honor of the United States: Canada and the United States, 1939-1941

As 1939 bled into 1940, Prime Minister King held a particularly uncharitable view of the United States and American foreign policy. Although he accepted that President Roosevelt could not contemplate having his nation "going into a war at once," the Soviet Union's unprovoked invasion of tiny Finland on 30 November had prompted King to wonder if the United States was losing, "if it has not already lost--its one great opportunity and mission, which would be to become the leader of neutral nations, protecting their neutrality, and give courage to all those small nations to unite in defence of themselves." 1 James Cromwell's appointment as the new American minister in Ottawa had made matters much worse in King's mind. Complaining that Roosevelt should have consulted him first before taking that step, King wondered if the selection, given Cromwell's marriage to the tobacco heiress and socialite Don's Duke, would send the wrong signal to Canadians "at a time when we trying to hold to democratic ideals." Doubting too that Cromwell possessed the necessary judgment to hold the critical post of minister in a country that had become the "interpreter between Great Britain and the U.S.," King concluded that James Cromwell would "represent the wrong type of American influence in our Capital." 2

The view from the American capital was not very much kinder. Although a prominent American newspaper had praised Prime Minister King as "the most astute politician the Dominion has possessed since Wilfrid Laurier," 3 Berle held a quite different view. Greatly impressed with O.D. Skelton, "a singularly attractive, honest and high grade man," Berle thought Skelton was "working himself to death" because King also held the foreign affairs portfolio, "and the result is that the Under Secretary

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