Franklin D. Roosevelt

Letter from Prime Minister Churchill on Shipping Space for Private Donations to Britain.

July 09, 1942

My dear Mr. President:

For a long time I have watched with grateful admiration the vast stream of gifts which from the first days of the war has been flowing from America to Great Britain for the relief of suffering and the succour of distress, and in a volume which has barely lessened as a result of the advent of war to America, though a considerable diminution of it was well to be expected.

The generosity of these gifts, each one of which represents a personal sacrifice by an individual is overwhelming and without precedent. I am therefore anxious in the first place to express to you, Mr. President, the profound gratitude of the British people, and shall be glad if there is some way in which you may see fit to pass my feelings along to the American public.

My second purpose in addressing you is unhappily one of informing you that we now feel under the necessity of asking that this brotherly flow of material shall be diminished. It is not that the gifts are not desired—indeed, they have constantly been ingeniously devised to meet our real needs and the parcels from America have become a familiar and welcome feature in all the misfortunes which have overtaken our civilian population. The request which I am now compelled to make is due to additional demands on shipping resulting from the enormously increased flow of war materials for which ocean transport has to be provided. We shall have, therefore, to assign to goods of a more warlike character the shipping space which has hitherto been available for the relief of our people—a sacrifice which we will make here without complaint, but not without very great regret.

As to the method of procedure, we have a committee here the American Gifts Committee—which hitherto has endeavored to insure that gifts from America shall only be of a character that shall meet some real need. The committee will now have to extend its activities and try to control the actual volume of gifts. A statement will shortly be issued to the press indicating the lines along which it is hoped to proceed.

I cannot conclude this letter, Mr. President, without affirming once again our gratitude for the comfort in days of suffering and of trial that was brought to us by the people of America, and our desire to make known our thanks.

Yours sincerely,


Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter from Prime Minister Churchill on Shipping Space for Private Donations to Britain. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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