"Today all of us are in the same boat. . . ."
ON September 1, 1939, Hitler's forces invaded Poland. On September 3 Great Britain and France declared war on Germany, thus effectively turning the invasion into a world war.
On September 5 Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed American neutrality. But only six days later, in an extraordinary and virtually unprecedented move, the President of the neutral United States invited Winston Churchill, recently appointed First Lord of the Admiralty and thus a subordinate official of a foreign belligerent, to enter into direct correspondence with him.
Churchill took up the invitation and began to provide Roosevelt with explanations of British naval policy and actions, particularly with regard to the South Atlantic. At the same time, he sought to foster a feeling of trust and a sense of common purpose. Roosevelt at first replied only on rare occasions. In a memorandum to Secretary of State Cordell Hull he referred to a brief telegram of March 6, 1940, as "one of the few which I sent to Churchill when he was First Lord of the Admiralty," hastening to add that "[all] such messages obviously were related to naval matters."
In fact, very little of the friction that developed between the United States and Great Britain during the winter of 1939-1940 showed in the leaders' correspondence, in spite of their differences over such questions as the inspection of American merchant vessels, British interference with overseas mail, and the curtailment of agricultural imports from the United States. Sumner Welles' controversial peace mission to Rome, Berlin, Paris, and London, which the Undersecretary of State