Roosevelt Myth - John T. Flynn

The Atlantic Charter is Scrapped

Roosevelt was reelected. The results justified, from a political consideration, the wisdom of his alliance with Hillman and Browder. During the campaign, Roosevelt had denied vehemently that he had sought the support of Communists. Actually his name appeared as the candidate of the American Labor Party dominated by Browder and Hillman entirely. And he had accepted its nomination. He had also accepted nomination at the hands of the American Liberal Party, the pink fringe dangling somewhere between the fascist planned society and Stalin's proletarian dictatorship. In the election, Thomas E. Dewey actually got over 500,000 more votes on the Republican ticket than Roosevelt got on the Democratic ticket in New York State. It was Roosevelt's 490,000 votes from Browder and Hillman's American Labor Party and the 339,000 votes from 12 states the Pinkos that gave him his majority. While Dewey carried only in the North, the Roosevelt majority in many of those he carried was thin and would have been wiped out if the Browder-Hillman votes had not been given to Roosevelt.

The administration was now the hopeless prisoner of these demanding and ruthless radical labor leaders, who had shown their ability to elect or defeat the Democratic party, who had filled all the departments and bureaus with their agents and who had insinuated their experts into the CIO labor unions and their propagandists into the radio, the movies and all the great instruments of communication and opinion—a fact which Mr. Roosevelt's successors would have to face when the war ended.

In the meantime, the war engrossed the attention of the people. And very soon after the election, stories about the conference at Teheran, details of which had been guarded very carefully, began to appear. It was being said that all the little liberated countries to which Roosevelt had made such definite promises and whose nationals in this country had been so solicitously courted during the campaign had been betrayed at Teheran, The dominant note in these criticisms was that at Teheran Roosevelt had scrapped the Atlantic Charter. That bold document had asserted that the high contracting parties "desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed desires of the peoples concerned, that 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." The Teheran agreement violated every phrase and syllable of this pledge.

What had become of the Atlantic Charter? On December 20, 1944, the President at a press conference was asked about the Charter which he and Churchill had signed. His reply literally bowled over the correspondents. There was not and never had been a complete Atlantic Charter signed by him and Churchill, he replied. Then where is the Charter now, he was asked. He replied: "There wasn't any copy of the Atlantic Charter so far as I know." It was just a press release. It was scribbled on a piece of paper by him and Churchill and Sumner Welles and Sir Alexander Cadogan. It was just handed to the radio operator aboard the British and American warships to put on the air as a news release.

Further inquiry revealed that Stephen Early had handed it out on his own with the signatures of Churchill and Roosevelt attached. And over on the wall of the National Museum in Washington, beautifully framed and illuminated after the manner of an ancient document—like Magna Carta or the Declaration of Independence—was the great Atlantic Charter itself, with the signatures of Roosevelt and Churchill. Daily visitors stood before it as before some great historic document. John O'Donnell, of the New York Daily News, asked the curator where he got it. He answered that it came from the Office of War Information. They had "loaned" the precious document to the National Museum. By inquiry at the OWI—that prolific fountain of phony news—O'Donnell learned that OWI had gotten it up and affixed the names of Roosevelt and Churchill.

They had printed 240,000 copies of it. O'Donnell went back to the Museum with this information. And lo! the great Charter was gone. An attendant told him it had been ordered off the wall twenty minutes before. Thus ended the story of this wretched fraud. The fake document which was never signed and was nothing more than a publicity stunt to conceal the real purposes of the Atlantic meeting had been slain by its chief sponsor and, of course, all its high-sounding professions, after Teheran, had become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.

Not long after this Cordell Hull resigned as Secretary of State and Edward Stettinius was named to succeed him. Hull was notoriously a sick man. He had been bypassed, even ignored, on numerous important issues and frequently kept in the dark. Sumner Welles, who was personally close to both Roosevelt and Mrs. Roosevelt, who had a far more active mind and a wider knowledge of foreign affairs than Hull, gradually elbowed him aside until a bitter feud grew up between the two men. As early as 1939, when Roosevelt was maneuvering for his third-term nomination, James A. Farley confided to Hull his own troubles. Hull exploded:

"God, Jim! You don't know what troubles are. Roosevelt is going over my head to Welles and Berle. I was never even consulted on the Welles' trip to Europe. Then he's going over my head to ambassadors. He is in communication constantly with British leaders and others. He doesn't consult with me or confide in me and I have to feel my way in the dark. I have the devil's own time keeping him from issuing statements that would be most detrimental. He only discusses matters with me when he feels obliged to do so because of their importance."