August 1941Atlantic Conference held

Atlantic Conference
Roosevelt was trying hard to help the British and coordinate policy. The meeting held off Canada set the goals of Great Britain and the United States in a war that the United States was not yet officially part of.


With deepening U.S. support for England, Roosevelt and Churchill both thought it was important that they meet. Under the strictest secrecy, both leaders set out for Argentina Harbor, in New Foundland. Roosevelt pretended to be on cruise around Cape Cod, when he in fact transferred to the Navy cruiser Augusta. Churchill sailed aboard the Prince of Wales. F.D.R. arrived at the meeting site, Placentiia Bay, Newfoundland, on August 7th (two day early) and spent the next day relaxing in the company of two of his sons­– one son was serving on a Destroyer escorting the President, and another son was serving as an aviator (who flew in for the occasion.)

On August 9th, at 9AM, the Prince of Wales sailed into the harbor. First, Harry Hopkins joined Roosevelt on the Augusta. (Hopkins had initially arrived aboard the Prince of Wales after traveling to the Soviet Union). An hour later, Churchill boarded the Augusta for the first of their meetings over lunch. The parties had dinner together in the evening. There were two high points to the meal. First, they began with presentation by Harry Hopkins on his visit to the Soviet Union. That presentation helped Roosevelt and Churchill they should both do all they could to help the Soviets. Second, the participants were all “subjected to” a masterful summary of the state of the war by Churchill.

The emotional high of the conference was the Sunday morning joint worship ceremony held aboard the Prince of Wales. All of the conference participants, as well as 300 sailors from the Augusta participated– as did the complete complement of the British battleship. The Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack were draped side by side on the pulpit. British and American chaplains took turns leading the service. Here, the highest ranks of the U.S. and British Armed Forces prayed together. The conference went on for five days. Its achievements were two fold: First, and probably most important, it allowed British and American representatives– from the President and Prime Minister on down– to develop a close and trusting relationship with their counterparts. In addition, the two sides managed to agree on a remarkable accord stating their goals for a post-war world. They called the agreement, The Atlantic Charter.

The Atlantic Charter states:

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 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 measure, which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armaments.