December, 1942: Phillips Mission

  • December 1942- Roosevelt announces Phillip’s appointment as personal representative
  • “William Phillips typified American East Coast aristocracy” (Kux, 28)
  • Phillips became friends with FDR while serving as Asst. Sec. of State to Roosevelt’s Asst. Sec. of the Navy under Woodrow Wilson. Phillips acted as Under Secretary twice in his career, as well as serving as ambassador to Italy. Phillips headed the OSS London office starting in 1941 (Kux, 28)
  • In his article, “The Education of William Phillips,” Kenton Clymer that it was hard to imagine “someone less likely than William Phillips to sympathize with the Indian nationalist leaders, much less with the masses” (Clymer, 19)
  • Secretary Hull instructed Phillips to help the British reach a political settlement with the Indian nationalists without making it seem like the United States was intervening (Kux, 29)
  • January- Phillips arrives in India
  • Feb. 10, 1943: Phillips to State Department: “I am coming to the conclusion that the Viceroy, prsumably responsive to Churchill, is not in sympathy with any change in Britain’s relationship with India” (FRUS, 1943, vol. IV, pg. 187)
  • May 14- returns to Washington

Kux, Estranged Democracies (1993)

  • cites an October 1942 Wendell Willkie radio speech as the impetus that forced Roosevelt to find a replacement for Johnson, after reaffirming the universal nature of the Atlantic Charter the day after Willkie’s speech (Kux, 28)
  • Phillips worried that the emphatic presence of U.S. troops in India would suggest to the Indians that Americans supported British imperialism (Kux, 30)
  • Gandhi’s fast to gain international attention for the Indian cause, which he started in prison on Feb. 10, impressed Phillips, who in a letter to Roosevelt suggested that the President convene a conference for all involved parties to come to a settlement. Phillips’ stance surprised FDR, who in a letter to Hopkins wrote that Phillips’ suggestion was “amazingly radical for a man like Bill” (qtd. in Kux, 31)
  • Phillips made a personal appeal to Linlithgow to meet with Gandhi, but was rebuffed. Phillips believed that his efforts at least created positive press of the U.S. in India (33)
  • Kux analyzes that though Johnson and Phillips came from different backgrounds, they reached the same conclusions about the India situation: “Both believed the British did not want to give up India. Both thought the United States should actively press for Indian independence. Both ultimately failed to move President Roosevelt into a battle that he was liekly to lose with the closest wartime ally of the United States (35).

Gould, Sikhs, Swamis, Students, and Spies (2006)

  • “William Phillips was destined…to have his greatest impact on US-India relations following his departure from India” (33)
  • “Ambassador Phillips’s lack of the kind of flamboyance displayed by General [Colonel] Louis Johnson may also have hampered his ability to get the public’s attention even on those occasions where he actually tried” (34)

Hess, America Encounters India (1971)

  • Hess presents renewed U.S. government interest in India situation as being caused by “Britain’s intransigence” and not by lobbying efforts or developments in India (89); after Gandhi ends his fast, however, American public interest in India fades (104)
  • labels Wilkie October 26, 1942 radio speech as catalyst that finally pushed FDR to appoint Phillips as his personal rep (95)
  • “Phillips’ efforts to induce a change in American policy failed” (106)
  • Phillips requested retirement in July 1943, which FDR didn’t grant until March 17, 1945, an action Hess presents as demonstrated FDR’s uncertainty with India issue (112)

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