Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpts from the Press Conference

May 26, 1944

THE PRESIDENT: I have a number of things this morning. It has been published that we have called a meeting early in July on the monetary subject. I thought I would read you just a summary of the form of the invitation that went to the other United Nations and associated Nations.

(Paraphrasing): "The publication of the joint statement of the technical experts, recommending the establishment of the international monetary fund, has been received with great gratification here, as marking an important step toward a postwar international economic cooperation. Undoubtedly your people have been equally pleased by this evidence of the common desire to cooperate in meeting the economic problems of the postwar world. Therefore, I am proposing to call a conference of these Nations, for the purpose of formulating definite proposals for the international monetary fund, and possibly a bank for reconstruction and development.

"It would be understood, of course, that the delegates would not be required to hold plenipotentiary powers, and its proposals formulated at the conference would be referred to the respective governments and authorities for their acceptance or rejection."

I thought I would put that in before certain agencies of information could say that I was doing this without consulting the Congress.

(Continuing): "Therefore, I hope very much that you will accept and send in the names of the delegates.

"It is the Government's belief that formulation of definite proposals for an international monetary fund, and bank for reconstruction and development, in the near future is a matter of vital concern to all of the United Nations, and the Nations associated with them.

"My Government sincerely hopes to receive a favorable reply at the earliest possible moment."

You have got the names of all the countries that have been asked to send delegates. The conference will be held at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire . . .

Q. Mr. President, you have so far received far more than enough delegates to the Democratic Convention to assure—(the President began to laugh)—to assure your renomination, except for one fact, unless you refuse it. Now, not asking what your decision is, but have you reached a decision(more laughter from the President)—whether to accept or refuse?

THE PRESIDENT: You know, this is good. We get a different form of it just about once a week. That's a new one. It's a brand new one. It's awfully interesting.

Q. What's the answer, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: I am making a list of the varieties of questions.

Q. Are you going to answer them all at once, Mr. President? (Laughter)

THE PRESIDENT: I think I will give you a real good one: Time will tell. (Continued laughter)

Q. Only 55 days of time left.

THE PRESIDENT: (laughing) You remember in 1940 there was some lady—at least she said she was a lady—(laughter) who used to say, just after the Convention, "93 days more of Roosevelt." And the second time she put the word "only" in. "Only 92 days more of Roosevelt." And she went right on down through (laughing). And I bet you have all forgotten her name . . .

Q. Mr. President, with the time of invasion apparently drawing nearer, is there anything you can tell us in generalized terms about our preparations, and our chances for the success of the operation?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, that's in the first paper that I happen to hold in my hand, thinking that somebody would use the word "invasion."

There was an editorial in a certain local paper, suggesting that the word "invasion" is not quite adequate for the tremendous thing that is happening in Europe, and suggesting that instead of the word "invasion" we should call it "liberation."

And I most heartily support that idea. It isn't a war of invasion—you want to get the word "invasion" out of people's heads all over the world' it's a war of liberation.

This action in Europe, which is going to come off sometime this summer, is intended to be a liberation and not an invasion, and I would say that all of our plans are built on that basis.

Of course, we have got a great deal further ahead in the discussion of things at the present time than we had at what we might guess at having been a similar period in the last war.

Well, one very important example. I was reading a book the other day that pointed out that it wasn't until sometime in the rather late summer of 1918 that we began a study of the postwar World War problems, and had all kinds of papers, information of all kinds that were thrown together, I think it was under the supervision of Colonel House. And he appointed a committee. This particular book mentioned the fact that Isaiah Bowman was extremely active in getting information about all kinds of things, like racial origins, and the history of boundaries.

The result was that in early December, when the President left for the peace conference—that same year, mind you—1918—they took dozens of packages of this information over to the other side. A lot of it had been pretty thoroughly digested by the experts, old and young, who accompanied the peace mission. But there had been practically no discussion of postwar-first World War terms with the other allies. There had not been time. And I don't suppose any one of the Allied Nations had done any talking with any other Allied Nation except in very general terms as to whether they could come together on an agreed program—what it should be—general discussion—beforehand. So they arrived in Paris with all the information in the world, but very few concerted plans.

Now, of course, we have done a great deal along that line. We have had the conference at White Sulphur Springs. We had the conference at Atlantic City just recently. We had the I.L.O. labor conference in Philadelphia. And now we are having the monetary conference.

In other words, this merely follows what I think I mentioned just about a year ago, that we are taking up these things. We can't do them all at the same time, but we are taking up the major problems of the postwar world and talking them over, and in many cases making specific recommendations or specific determinations of what all the United Nations are going to do to seek peace and stability. In other words, we are making far greater progress in this war than we did in the last war. Coming along in an orderly way, with the retention of friendships—using separate rooms, and coming along all right.

Q. Mr. President, in that connection, the Secretary of State said at noon today that this country is probably more advanced than any of the other Allied countries in plans for a general security organization in the postwar world.

THE PRESIDENT: (interjecting) I think that's true.

Q. (continuing) However, nothing has been said specifically as to the nature of the plans, which now apparently are in good shape.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Well, for instance, I have had two sets of conversations, one at the Casablanca Conference and the other one was the combination of the Cairo Conference, where the Far East was represented, and the Teheran Conference.

And of course, as you all know, we have talked about a postwar world. I am trying to eliminate a third World War.

Furthermore, in those discussions, while at that time there was nothing on paper, we talked things over pretty thoroughly, and since then they have been reduced to first draft form. Well, I wouldn't give out a first draft any more than I would give out a first draft of one of my speeches. It would horrify you. (Laughter) Yes. It would horrify you. My fifth, sixth, or seventh draft you might say was at least worth listening to. On that line, too, we have got along reasonably well ....

Q. Mr. President, in these discussions about postwar policy, are you finding the Soviet Union an active and satisfactory collaborator?

THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely. Yes ....

Q. Mr. President, Senator McCarran suggested that the decisions of the War Labor Board should be submitted to judicial review. Do you have any comment on that suggestion?

THE PRESIDENT: Only this. Now I will put it in the form of a question.

If you have a decision of the War Labor Board, affecting a firm which has locked out its employees or failed to keep its word, or a whole bunch of employees who walk out and won't go back, and then the War Labor Board were to hand down the decision, and then it went to the District Court, and then to the Circuit Court of Appeals, and then to the Supreme Court, and then to a committee of investigation by the Senate, what would happen to the poor devils who were out? Who would pay for their food?

That's the answer.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Excerpts from the Press Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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