January 31, 2012

I have written a brief profile of J.J. Singh, using the new resources I found either at the Library of Congress or in the NAACP Papers. Because I’m so excited by my research, I’ve been a bit overenthusiastic in including it in this profile, so the piece will need some further refining. The citations aren’t all completed yet either. My basic argument in the profile is that although the media portrayed Singh as a sort of individual crusader, a single voice advocating for India, in actuality, Singh’s greatest strength was his ability to build lasting relationships (especially with leading Americans), which helped advance the goals of the India Lobby. The members of the India League, therefore, reflect Singh’s consciousness of the growing liberal trend of internationalism, and his efforts to place India’s fight for independence in the midst of this emerging coalition. I’m not really sure where I will incorporate this profile into my actual thesis chapters, since it’s not a chronological description of Singh, but I found it beneficial just to write and get some ideas down of paper. Perhaps I will end up breaking it into pieces.

I’ve been spending some time developing a better understanding of the historiography of scholarship that connects the black civil rights movement and Indian nationalism in America during the 1940s. In addition to Plummer’s, A Rising Wind, and the Nico Slate book (which was published this month), Professor Sweeney tipped me off to Gerald Horne’s book, The End of Empires: African Americans and India (2008), which contains helpful endnotes. For example, Horne cites a poll reported in the Pittsburgh Courier: “in a October 1942 survey of 10,000 black Americans 87.8 percent ‘responded with a loud ‘yes’ to the question ‘do you believe that India should continue to contend for her rights and her liberty now?'” which would be interesting to compare to Hess’ opinion polls (171).  All of these texts treat the connection between African American activism and Indian nationalism in a much broader historical context than what I will be addressing, but I think it is significant that this is the only body of scholarship that I have found which draws distinct attention to the efforts of the India Lobby in the United States.

I’ve also begun to tackle my chronological narrative chapters starting, using the Atlantic Charter as my most significant starting point. I’m still trying to figure out how much background I need to include before I get into my focused time period (1941-1945). For example, Professor Borges drew attention to the Indian immigrants on the West Coast, who in the 1910s began the first organizations (most significantly, the Ghadar Party) with an Indian nationalist agenda in the United States. While I continue to work on that issue, I’ve been spending some time in FRUS, and other primary sources from policy officials that address the Atlantic Charter. By starting with the Atlantic Charter and ending with the U.N. Conference, I’m framing my chronology between two distinct expressions of internationalism. Both reflect the kind of idealism previously expressed in Wilson’s 14 Points and Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms, but the principles of the Atlantic Charter quickly gave way to the “realities” of world war and immediate military national interests, as demonstrated by Churchill’s redefinition of article 3 and official American interest in India following Pearl Harbor. In contrast, the U.N. Conference shows the beginning of concrete commitment or a realization of the principles of internationalism. I’ve also done quick full-text search of FRUS to see how often the Atlantic Charter was referred to during this period.

To answer a few questions brought up in last week’s meeting, Singh’s sons’ names are Man Mohan and Man Jit Singh, who were 14 and 11 years old in 1967. The biographical sketch included in Singh’s 70th birthday celebratory magazine claims that: “it was because of the birth of these two boys that J.J. Singh decided to leave New York and come back to India. He wanted his sons to be brought up purely as Indian citizens and not have dual loyalties” (3). This last sentence seems out of character for Singh.

Going back to a question raised in my December 1 presentation, there was an organization called the “India League of London,” which was not organizationally connected to the India League of America. Singh was in correspondence with its general-secretary V.K. Krishna Menon, who in 1946, Singh described as Nehru’s “personal representative” (quoted in Horne, 181).

The Atlantic Charter in FRUS

Resolution appears in Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers, 1941. General, The Soviet Union (1941) pg. 367-369

References in Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers, 1941. The British Commonwealth; the Near East and Africa (1941)

  • 5 times in India section
  • 3 times in United Kingdom section
  • once in Iran section
  • once in Syria/Lebanon section

References in Foreign relations of the Untied States diplomatic papers, 1942. General; the British Commonweath; the Far East (1942)

  • 10 in “Declaration by the United Nations” section
  • 4 in India section
  • twice in Korea section
  • twice in Philippines section

References in Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers, 1943. The Near East and Africa (1943) [note change in section India is included in, no longer with “British Commonwealth”]

  • 18 in Iran section
  • 10 in Syria and Lebanon section
  • 8 in India section
  • 3 in Palestine section
  • 3 in Saudi Arabia section
  • 2 in Greece section
  • 2 in Morocco section
  • once in Afghanistan section
  • once in Egypt section
  • once in Ethiopia section
  • once in Iraq section
  • once in Liberia section

References in Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers, 1944. The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, the Far East (1944)

  • 12 in Palestine section
  • 7 in Syria and Lebanon section
  • 4 in Iran section
  • 3 in Morocco section
  • 3 in “The Near East, South Asia, and Africa” section
  • 2 in India
  • once in Liberia
  • once in Japan
  • once in Thailand

No references in Foreign relations of the United States : diplomatic papers, 1945. The British Commonwealth, the Far East (1945) [change back to including India in with Britain]

January 11, 2012

I spent Friday, January 6 and Saturday, January 7 doing research at the Library of Congress. I began Friday in the Madison building where I was able to access the finding aid for the Emanuel Celler Papers, which is a very extensive collection. 4 boxes either mentioned J.J. Singh or India, and so on Saturday I went back to view these items. Though there was significantly less correspondence between Celler and J.J. Singh during the war years, their correspondence as a whole was quite lengthly, and I was able to either copy or take notes on the documents I found the most significant. Their letters touched on topics including the U.N. Conference at San Francisco and the state of the India League of America, as well as really cementing their close relationship and J.J.’s status as an expert on India in the United States. I particularly enjoyed seeing J.J’s own handwriting (including his decisive signature), his business card (which only had the words “J.J. Singh” and “New York” on it), and a memorial magazine created for his 70th birthday. I’m very pleased with the amount of new material I obtained from the Celler Papers. 

On Friday I also submitted a request through the Recorded Sound Reference Center to digitize a NBC radio address given by Anup Singh entitled “China & India Speak to America, India Speaks.” Because of the length of the digitizing queue I won’t be able to access this recording until January 23, and I would need to return to the Library to listen to the program because of copyright laws. I decided to submit the request anyway, though I may decide it is not worth the time to follow through on this single item.

The other major item I viewed at the Library of Congress was the monthly periodical published by the National Committee for India’s Freedom, The Voice of India. The Library owned copies of the journal from its first issue published in September 1944 vol. 3 no. 6/7 (April/May 1947). I decided to copy the title page and table of contents for all of the issues published during my timeline, so through December 1945, as well as any articles I found significant. I think it will be interesting to contrast this publication with India Today, and discover if the two periodicals not only differed in presentation but if they also reported on the same events differently.

At the end of my two days at the Library of Congress I felt like I could spend another two months doing research there, but overall, very satisfied with the amount of work I accomplished in my limited time there.

I have also heard back from Professor Clymer, who responded in a very nice email that unfortunately he can’t help me because he is working at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington and doesn’t have access to his documents. I have get to get responses to any of the other emails I’ve sent out.


The Voice of India

The Voice of India, vol. 1 no. 1 (September 1944)- vol. 3 no. 6/7 (April/May 1947), Library of Congress.

I have copied selections from issues from September 1944-December 1945.

  • Published by the National Committee for India’s Freedom
  • Each issue is 16 pages long
  • After first issue, each publication begins with section, “Looking Around,” which summarizes major developments in India, which is followed by an “Editorial” written by Anup Singh, the main editor.
  • After the front-page articles, the publication usually ends with some combination of “Direct from India”—selections from Indian newspapers, nationalist speeches and letters, “Book Review,” and “Letters to the Editor.”

November 1945, vol. 2, no. 2: “Mrs. Pandit Calls on President”—“On October 31st, Mrs. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, accompanied by Hon. Emanuel Celler, called upon President Truman at the White House.  She is probably the first Indian to have met the President of the United States without the usual diplomatic formalities” (197).

Emanuel Celler (1888-1981)

Oil on canvas, Joseph Margulies, 1963, Collection of U.S. House of Representatives

  • Democratic Congressman from Brooklyn, New York from 1923-1972
  • supporter of Roosevelt New Deal policies
  • advocate for establishment of the state of Israel
  • chairman of the Judiciary Committee
  • co-author of Indian Immigration and Naturalization Bill, H.R. 3517 which was passed on June 27, 1946
  • key creator of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, 1964

Reference Sources

 American National Biography

Biographical Directory of the United States Congress


You Never Leave Brooklyn: The Autobiography of Emanuel Celler. New York: John Day Co., 1953.

Primary Sources

Papers: ca. 1924-1973. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.

Emanuel Celler Papers

Papers: ca. 1924-1973. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.

The following is a list of the documents that I felt were relevant to my project. I’ve included either excerpts or paraphrased the documents or noted that I made a copy of the document itself. Anything in bold indicates it is particularly significant.

Box 48: Subject File: J.J. Singh, correspondence, August 1951-December 1956

Speech of Sirdar J.J. Singh, President, India League of America, delivered at the evening Plenary Session of the Colgate University Conference on American Foreign Policy, Hamilton, NY, on Sunday, July 22, 1951.

  • “The topic was ‘the Role of the United Nations in Asia.’ The other participant was Senator Leverett Satonstall.” [JJ’s status as an expert, speaking opposite a senator]
  • “I was in San Francisco at the time of the United Nations Conference on International Organization.  I covered this conference as a special correspondent for several Indian newspapers.  I cabled hundreds of words every day to my papers.  I was there from the day it opened until the day it closed.  I watched the trials and tribulations of the organizers and the participants, and the reactions of the general public to the activities of the conference. Those of us who were at the San Francisco conference—the birthplace of the United Nations—will never forget the exciting and stimulating time we had. (1)”

J.J. Singh to Emanuel Celler, April 18, 1952 [copy]

Emanuel Celler to J.J. Singh, January 29, 1953

  • “Dear J.J.: Whatever happened to the Gandhi Memorial and the India League? The State Department has been asking me this question. With kindest personal regards, I am, Sincerely yours, Emanuel Celler”

Business Card reads “J.J. Singh” in a stylized font, with “New York City” in the lower right-hand corner. [copy]

  • On the card, J.J. wrote: “Mannie: I thought you might like to have this. JJ” [JJ’s signature is two loopy j’s]

The following resolution was adopted by the Executive Committee of the India League of America on Tuesday, April 10, 1956:

  • The ILA is dedicated to “creating understanding and friendship between the people of India and the people of the United States”
  • However, “government to government aid has unfortunately created misunderstanding and resentment both in India and the United States,” and so the ILA recommends that the US send aid through international agencies, like the UN, to improve the relationship between the 2 countries

Box 497: Subject File: India-correspondence, 1944-1947

J.J. Singh to Emanuel Celler, April 11, 1945 [copy]

  • “Dear Mr. Celler”—more formal?

For immediate release Wednesday, March 21, 1945, “India and San Francisco Conference,” from the India League of America

  • “Direct words from India of intense resentment at the appointment of three ‘collaborationists’ to repred[s]ent India at the San Francisco Conference was received here yesterday by Sirdar J.J. Singh, president of the India League of America. Mr. Singh made public the text of a statement he received from C. Rajagopalachari (C.R.) famous India moderate leader, and former Premier of Madras called for a reconsideration of the appointments. … Commenting on C.R.’s statement and the appointments, Mr. Singh said: ‘we know that the future of the world peace depends of effective international cooperation, but the San Francisco Conference will be building on a foundation of sand if it accepts the Viceroy’s appointees as representatives of India’s 390 million people.  These three titled collaborationists have no following whatsoever anywhere in India.  They represent nobody but the Governor General who appointed them and by whose grace they will be permitted to come here.  At San Francisco they can accept no obligations for the people of India.  An Indian government with popular support, which is bound to come in the near future, may very well repudiate them. These men are persona non grata with Indians’” (1-2).

Emanuel Celler to Pearl S. Buck, February 26, 1946, Western Union

  • “gladly” accepts invitation to put name on cable to Prime Minister Atlee as well as placing the cable and names of signatories in the Congressional Record
  • The cable, signed by Buck, Louis Fischer, and J.J. Singh, urges the British to help instate an interim Indian government

*Emanuel Celler to Pearl S. Buck, J.J. Singh, Richard J. Walsh, January 18, 1945

  • “Dear Friends: In reply to your letter of January 12th, I herewith give you a message for the celebration of India Independence Day of January 26th. The World cannot exist half free and half slave.  India is now enslaved.  Its shackles must be removed.  Only then can she politically and economically breathe freely.  We in America deeply sympathize with India’s plight. But sympathy is not enough.  There must be developed here such a militant public opinion that England cannot resist. The coming of Mrs. Pandit is helpful. We welcome her as a sister.  Even so we welcome her brother. Yours very sincerely,”

Emanuel Celler to Henry Buck, New York, June 3, 1947

  • “there is the need for the consummation of a trea[t]y of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between India and the United States. Knowing your interest in India, I thought you might use one or more of your publications to present this matter to the public.”
  • “My interest in India is unflagging and I want to present in concrete from my desire to aid India and thereby aid the United States. There is very little known about India in the United States and vice versa.  You might be the medium through which both countries would get to know each other better.”

Dr. Anup Singh to Emanuel Celler, Washington, July 11, 1947

  • “Many thanks for your kind sentiments about my new appointment in the Embassy of India.  I shall be very happy to drop in to see you one of these days.  I am counting upon the cooperation of good friends of India like yourself in my new responsibility.”

Emanuel Celler to Jawaharlal Nehru, New Delhi, July 14, 1947, telegram [copy]

Emanuel Celler to Honorable William L. Clayton, Under Secretary of the State, Washington, 1947?

  • K.A.D. Naoroji= “president of Tata, Inc, 90 Broad Street, New York, is the direct representative of the famous group of Tata industries in India.”

Box 498: Subject File: India League of America

Excerpts from speeches made on the occasion of the Farewell-Public Meeting of the India League of America, held on Wednesday, February 11, 1959, at the Community Church of New York, 40 East 35th Street, New York [copy]

Excerpts from remarks made, on messages received, on the occasion of a Farewell Dinner by the India League of America in honor of Sirdar J.J. Singh, President of the India League, on Monday. February 23, 1959 at Ceylon India Inn, 148 West 49th Street, New York [copy]

Messages received for Farewell-Public Meeting [copy]

  • Includes messages from Emanuel Celler, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, former Postmaster General of the United States James. A Farley, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator J.W. Fulbright, Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Representative James G. Fulton, U.N. Representative in India and Pakistan Dr. Frank P. Graham, Minister Emeritus of The Community Church Dr. John Haynes Holmes, Publisher of Time, Life, Fortune Henry R. Luce, Senator Karl E. Mundt, Assistant Secretary of State William M. Rountree

Congressional Record, Appendix, February 9 [copy]

Invitation to ILA Farewell Meeting [copy]

J.J. Singh to Emanuel Celler, Washington, January 26, 1959 [copy]

J.J. Singh to Emanuel Celler, Washington, May 24, 1951 [copy]

Box 500: Subject File: India-J.J. Singh, 1946-69

“India-America Relations” by J.J. Singh [copy]

Messages of Greetings on the 70th birthday of J.J. Singh

  • 22 pages of magazine-quality and size that tncludes messages from President Zakir Husain, Pearl S. Buck, Asstt. Sec, U.N. Ralph J. Bunche, President of India International Centre Dr. C.D. Deshmukh, Chief Minister of the Punjab State S. Gurnam Singh, journalist Shiva Rao, Minister for Food & Agriculture Jagjivan Ram, John A. Roosevelt, Chairman, Cowles Communications Inc. and Publisher “LOOK” Magazine, Mike Cowles, John D. Rockefeller III, Social Leader of America Norman Thomans, Senator Karl E. Mundt, Kashmir Leader Mirza Afzal BEG, Congressman Emanuel Celler, Dr. Anup Singh, many Indian leaders, Editor-in-chief of the Hindustan Times S. Mulgaokar, U.S. Ambassador to India Chester Bowles, former U.S. Ambassador to India John Kenneth Galbraith, U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Vice President Hubert H. Humphery, Sec. General of the United Nations U. Thant

Jawaharlal Nehru to J.J. Singh, February 18, 1959 [copy]

  • about end of the ILA

Indira Gandhi to J.J. Singh, February 19, 1959 [copy]

J.J. Singh to Emanuel Celler, April 10, 1946 [copy]

  • about Immigration Bill