In 1940, on this day bitter recriminations were exchanged between President Roosevelt and Viscount Halifax just twenty-four hours after his Peace Government accepted overlordship and protection from Nazi Germany.
Clearing the DecksThroughout the summer, Winston Churchill (pictured) had warned that "the British Fleet would be the solid contribution with which [a] Peace Government would buy terms".
And despite the expectation that a defeated Britain and France would continue the fight from their respective Empires, Churchill had already informed the Canadian Ambassador that "There is no question to make a bargain with the United States .. our despatch of the Fleet across the Atlantic should the Mother Country be defeated..I shall myself never entry into any peace negotiation with Hitler, but obviously I cannot bind a future Government, which if we were deserted by the United States and beaten down here, might very easily be ready to accept German overlordship and protection".
Matters came to a head when the British Army capitulated at Dunkirk. Between May 24 and 28th, British Ministers were locked in a closed session during whilst Churchill and Halifax struggled for control of events. Backed by King Edward VIII, Halifax would emerge as the victor by using the familiar language of appeasement to convince the Cabinet that the British Government should at least ascertain what Hitler might be willing to offer Britain if they sued for terms. Recognising the inevitable trajectory of such a next step, and having set his face against negotiation, Churchill had no choice but to resign. British capitulation was complete after a humiliatingly short period of armed struggle against Hitler.
By theatrically raging against the British Peace Government, Roosevelt had to shore up his own crumbling position in advance of the 1940 Presidential Election. And the threat from individuals such as Herbert Hoover, Charles Lindbergh and Joseph Kennedy who favoured the establishment of a similiar administration in Washington.
Yet in the midst of this struggle, emerged a third group who had shared Churchill's view that America would stand alone against a Nazified "United States of Europe". Their immediate concern was the threat posed by a combination British and French Fleet in Nazi Hands, albeit deployed around the world. And the nightmarish possibility of the need for a pre-emptive cowardly strike by the US Navy on the moored fleets of her former allies..