Background Information

 

The Atlantic Charter

August 14, 1941

The Atlantic Charter was negotiated at the Atlantic Charter Conference (codenamed RIVERA)
by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S.President Franklin D.Roosevelt,aboard
their respective war ships in a secure anchorage site just several hundred yards from land
near a small community called Ship Harbour,Newfoundland and was issued as a joint declaration
on August 14,1941. Roosevelt had travelled to Ship Harbour aboard the heavy cruiser USS Augusta,escorted  by the battleship USS Arkansas,the cruiser USS Tuscaloosa,sister ship of USS Augusta and the destroyer USS Mcdougal,USS Madison,USS Winlsow,USS Sampson,USS Moffett,while Churchill made the journey to Placentia Bay aboard the battleship HMCS Prince of Wales escorted by three Canadian destroyers HMCS Asiniboine,HMCS Ripley,HMCS Restigouche and hammered out an eight point document called the Atlantic Charter.

The Atlantic Charter established a vision for a post-World WarII world,despite the fact that the United States had yet to enter the war.The participants hoped in vain that the Soviet Union,having been invaded by Nazi Germany in June of that year in defiance of previous agreement,would adhere as well. But the notion of "one world," in which nations abandoned their traditional beliefs in and reliance upon military allainces and spheres of influence,did not appeal to Joseph Stalin,and in fact,neither was Churchill particularly thrilled. Only Roosevelt,who had been a member of the Wilson administration,truly believed in the possibility of a world governed by democratic processes,with an international organization serving as an arbiter of disputes and protector of the peace.

In brief, the eight points were:

   1. no territorial gains sought by the United States or the United Kingdom;
   2. territorial adjustments must be in accord with wishes of the people;
   3. the right to self-determination of peoples;
   4. trade barriers lowered;
   5. global economic cooperation and advancement of social welfare;
   6. freedom from want and fear;
   7. freedom of the seas;
   8. disarmament of aggressor nations, postwar common disarmament

At the subsequent Inter-Allied Meeting in London on September 24, 1941, the governments of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia, and representatives of General Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French, unanimously adopted adherence to the common principles of policy set forth in the Atlantic Charter.

 

ORIGINAL DOCUMENT

 

The Axis Powers interpreted these diplomatic agreements as a potential alliance against them. Adolf Hitler saw it as evidence of collusion between the UK and the USA in an international Jewish conspiracy. In the Japanese Empire, the Atlantic Charter rallied support for the militarists in the government, who pushed for a more aggressive approach to the UK and US.

On the other hand, this agreement proved to be one of the first steps towards the formation of the United Nations.

Official statements and government documents indicate that Churchill and FDR signed the Atlantic Charter. No signed copies are known to exist, however. A British writer, H.V. Morton, who travelled with Churchill's party on the Prince of Wales, states that no signed version ever existed. The document was thrashed out through several drafts, says Morton, and the agreed text was telegraphed to London and Washington. The British War Cabinet replied with its approval and a similar acceptance was telegraphed from Washington. During this process, an error crept into the London text, but this was subsequently corrected.

There was some concern at the time about secrecy and the safety of the British party. Although they joined the Prince of Wales in the greatest secrecy, US journalists had noted the absence of FDR from Washington and tied it in with the "coincidental" absence of Churchill from the House of Commons. The lack of censorship in a country still at peace allowed press speculation. Swiss radio, on the 6th August, reported rumours that the two heads of government were to meet in Canada. All this before the meeting had started, with the risks of U-boat interception en route.
 

 

THE ATLANTIC CHARTER

The President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, representing His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, being met together, deem it right to make known certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world.

First, their countries seek no aggrandizement, territorial or other;

Second, they desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned;

Third, they respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them;

Fourth, they will endeavor, with due respect for their existing obligations, to further the enjoyment by all States, great or small, victor or vanquished, of access, on equal terms, to the trade and to the raw materials of the world which are needed for their economic prosperity;

Fifth, they desire to bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field with the object of securing, for all, improved labor standards, economic advancement and social security;

Sixth, after the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny, they hope to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want;

Seventh, such a peace should enable all men to traverse the high seas and oceans without hindrance;

Eighth, they believe that all of the nations of the world, for realistic as well as spiritual reasons must come to the abandonment of the use of force. Since no future peace can be maintained if land, sea or air armaments continue to be employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten, aggression outside of their frontiers, they believe, pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security, that the disarmament of such nations is essential. They will likewise aid and encourage all other practicable measures which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armaments.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Winston S. Churchill