The Atlantic Charter’s Surprising History

The Atlantic Charter’s Surprising History


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was missing.

While World War II raged in both Europe and Asia, the New York Times reported on August 13, 1941, that “for probably the first time in American history, the whereabouts of the president of the United States has been unknown for three days to the American people and to most, if not all, ranking government officials.” Roosevelt had last been seen in public 10 days earlier when he boarded the presidential yacht USS Potomac in New London, Connecticut, for what the president said would be a week-long fishing trip along the New England coast.

The White House had taken the unusual step of banning the press from reporting on the yacht’s whereabouts or following along on an escort ship as was customary. As Nigel Hamilton describes in his book “The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941-1942,” the shroud of secrecy was necessary for Roosevelt to carry out what he called a “plan of escape.” The morning after the “floating White House” left shore, the president secretly boarded a launch and was taken to the flagship of the Atlantic fleet, the heavy cruiser USS Augusta.

By the time USS Potomac passed through the Cape Cod Canal, Roosevelt was already 250 miles away. The well-wishers waving to the presidential yacht as it crossed the canal had no idea that the people they saw aboard were Secret Service agents impersonating the president and his guests. “Even at my ripe old age I feel a thrill in making a get-away—especially from the American press,” the president wrote to a confidante.

As USS Augusta picked up steam traveling up the Atlantic coastline so did rumors that Roosevelt would be meeting at sea with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who was absent from an important debate in the House of Commons on August 6. The rumor was indeed true, although the White House attempted to maintain the ruse. “Cruise uneventful and weather continues fair. President spent most of day working on official papers,” came Potomac’s update on August 8. The two sentences were true, but completely independent of each other, for Roosevelt was catching up on presidential paperwork while fishing in Placentia Bay off the southeast coast of Newfoundland as he awaited Churchill’s arrival.

The president had not even told Secretary of War Henry Stimson or Secretary of State Cordell Hull about the summit. The thick shroud of secrecy was necessary to shield the two leaders from possible attacks by German U-boats or bombers as well as the barbs of American isolationists wary of any secret agreements that might draw the United States into war. After Churchill arrived on August 9 aboard HMS Prince of Wales, a battleship that only months earlier had barely escaped destruction by the Nazi warship Bismarck, the two leaders met in person for the first time as heads of government.

In spite of being united in opposition to the Axis powers, Roosevelt and Churchill arrived in Newfoundland with vastly different goals for their summit. The American president was intent “to talk over the problem of the defeat of Germany” and work on a vision for the post-war world based on his “Four Freedoms.” Churchill, however, had a much different aim. “Our object is to get the Americans into the war,” the prime minister had written in February, and he hoped the meeting would be a prelude to the United States sending its troops into battle. “I must say, I do not think our friend would have asked me to go so far, for what must be a meeting of world notice, unless he had in mind some further forward step,” an optimistic British prime minister wrote to Queen Elizabeth, consort of King George VI.

Churchill’s hopes were quickly dashed, however, as Roosevelt made clear that he wanted the two men to outline principles for a post-war world. Although, as Hamilton writes, Churchill “wanted an American declaration of war, not a declaration of principles,” he reluctantly agreed to the endeavor in the hopes that it would boost the morale of the British people and strengthen ties with the United States, which might make it more likely to join the war effort.

For four days, as smoke wafted from Churchill’s cigar and the tip of Roosevelt’s long, elegant cigarette holder, the two men sparred over their visions of a post-war world. The American president wanted Churchill to stop granting preferential tariff rates to British Commonwealth members, and the prime minister knew that the post-imperial world order envisioned by Roosevelt would mean not only the prevention of a Nazi or Japanese empire but the dismantlement of the British Empire as well. Churchill, however, needed America’s help in the war and felt he had little leverage. Presidential son Elliott Roosevelt, who was at the summit, noted that “very gradually, and very quietly, the mantle of leadership was slipping from British shoulders to American.”

Churchill did not return home with what he had hoped for, but at least he had a document that affirmed the solidarity of his country with the United States. On August 14, two days after the end of the summit, the veil of secrecy was lifted and the joint declaration, which became known as the Atlantic Charter, was made public.

Among the eight common principles on which the two countries rested “their hopes for a better future for the world” were a respect for “the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live” and an assurance that “all the men in all lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want.” Both countries agreed not to seek territorial gains from the war and to oppose any “territorial changes that do no accord with the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned.” In addition to affirming self-government for those countries that had lost it during the war, the Atlantic Charter called for the easing of trade restrictions, access for all nations to raw materials, freedom of the seas and disarmament of aggressive nations.

The Atlantic Charter not only defined the ideals for which the United States would eventually fight in World War II, it had a lasting impact once the guns fell silent. The declaration, which was affirmed by representatives of 26 governments in January 1942, served as the cornerstone for the establishment of post-war institutions such as the United Nations, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the North American Treaty Organization.

Watch full episodes of World War II: Race to Victory.


The Atlantic Charter’s Surprising History - HISTORY

Atlantic Charter
Digital History ID 4076

Annotation: Roosevelt and Churchill release the Atlantic Charter.

Although the United States would not enter World War II until after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Congress and the president had begun to approve measures to protect its neutrality and in anticipation of the role America might play in the war and for post-World War II. In the spring of 1941, the Land Lease program had been established and the U.S. was providing aid to Great Britain. The Soviet Union had just been attacked by Germany, and the Atlantic Charter outlined the criteria for war, which would also serve as principles for peace after the war.


Document: The Atlantic Charter

The President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, representing His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, being met together, deem it right to make known certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world.

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

Additional information: Samuel Rosenman, ed., Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, vol.10 (1938-1950), 314.


Impact and Response

The public of Britain and the Commonwealth was delighted with the principles of the meetings but disappointed that the U.S. was not entering the war. Churchill admitted that he had hoped the U.S. would finally decide to commit itself. Regardless, the acknowledgement that all people had a right to self-determination gave hope to independence leaders in British colonies.

The Americans were insistent that the charter was to acknowledge that the war was being fought to ensure self-determination. The British were forced to agree to these aims, but in a September 1941 speech, Churchill stated that the Charter was only meant to apply to states under German occupation, and certainly not to the peoples who formed part of the British Empire.

Churchill rejected its universal applicability when it came to the self-determination of subject nations such as British India. Mohandas Gandhi in 1942 wrote to President Roosevelt: “I venture to think that the Allied declaration that the Allies are fighting to make the world safe for the freedom of the individual and for democracy sounds hollow so long as India and for that matter Africa are exploited by Great Britain…” Roosevelt repeatedly brought the need for Indian independence to Churchill’s attention, but was rebuffed. However Gandhi refused to help either the British or the American war effort against Germany and Japan in any way, and Roosevelt chose to back Churchill. India was already contributing significantly to the war effort, sending over 2.5 million men (the largest volunteer force in the world at the time) to fight for the Allies, mostly in West Asia and North Africa.

The Axis powers interpreted these diplomatic agreements as a potential alliance against them. In Tokyo, the Atlantic Charter rallied support for the militarists in the Japanese government, who pushed for a more aggressive approach against the U.S. and Britain.

The British dropped millions of flysheets over Germany to allay fears of a punitive peace that would destroy the German state. The text cited the Charter as the authoritative statement of the joint commitment of Great Britain and the U.S. “not to admit any economical discrimination of those defeated” and promised that “Germany and the other states can again achieve enduring peace and prosperity.”

The most striking feature of the discussion was that an agreement had been made between a range of countries that held diverse opinions, who were accepting that internal policies were relevant to the international problem. The agreement proved to be one of the first steps towards the formation of the United Nations.

Atlantic Charter: Winston Churchill’s edited copy of the final draft of the Atlantic Charter.


Atlantic Charter

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Atlantic Charter, joint declaration issued on August 14, 1941, during World War II, by the British prime minister, Winston Churchill, and Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt of the still nonbelligerent United States, after four days of conferences aboard warships anchored at Placentia Bay, off the coast of Newfoundland.

A statement of common aims, the charter held that (1) neither nation sought any aggrandizement (2) they desired no territorial changes without the free assent of the peoples concerned (3) they respected every people’s right to choose its own form of government and wanted sovereign rights and self-government restored to those forcibly deprived of them (4) they would try to promote equal access for all states to trade and to raw materials (5) they hoped to promote worldwide collaboration so as to improve labour standards, economic progress, and social security (6) after the destruction of “Nazi tyranny,” they would look for a peace under which all nations could live safely within their boundaries, without fear or want (7) under such a peace the seas should be free and (8) pending a general security through renunciation of force, potential aggressors must be disarmed.

The Atlantic Charter was subsequently incorporated by reference in the Declaration of the United Nations (January 1, 1942).

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Jeff Wallenfeldt, Manager, Geography and History.


Canada’s Surprising History of Blackface

Scandalous images of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau don’t just tarnish his image—they also point to the hidden history of racism and minstrelsy in his country.

About the author: David A. Graham is a staff writer at The Atlantic.

It is, unfortunately, not all that unusual for an American audience to learn that a politician dressed in blackface. Yet the case of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau manages to surprise.

For one thing, there’s Trudeau’s age. He is just 47, and one might expect an ambitious young man of his generation, and especially one whose father was prime minister, to be more politically savvy. Yet Trudeau was captured on film wearing face paint not once, not twice, but three times, including once on video—and that’s just what’s known so far. In one case, Trudeau wore brown makeup to an “Arabian nights” party at a private school where he taught in 2001. He also wore blackface in high school, and on another occasion, not yet explained.

“What I did hurt them, hurt people who shouldn’t have to face intolerance and discrimination because of their identity. This is something I deeply, deeply regret,” Trudeau said yesterday—but, astonishingly, also said he did not know how many times he had worn blackface.

As superficially surprising as the individual culprit is the location. While America’s history of racism is well known, Canada has often been portrayed—by residents of both countries—as a beacon of comparative progressivism, on race as well as a host of other issues. Trudeau himself has embraced and burnished this image, with high-profile apologies to indigenous peoples and gestures of feminism, all a part of his courtship of favorable comparisons with President Donald Trump.

But Canada has a surprisingly long and deep history with blackface. Rather than being seen as an exception to Canadian racial enlightenment, perhaps the images of Trudeau in blackface are better viewed as a microcosm of Canada’s little-known past.

Over the past year, Americans have seen the governors of two states embroiled in scandals over past blackface use. Ralph Northam, the Democratic governor of Virginia, was revealed to have a blackface photo on his medical-school yearbook page in the early 1980s. (Northam initially apologized, then said he did not believe he was the person in the photo.) The state’s attorney general, the Democrat Mark Herring, also apologized for wearing blackface to a party around the same time. In August, Alabama Republican Governor Kay Ivey also apologized for wearing blackface in college.

As my colleague Adam Harris has written, controversies around the use of blackface on campus seem to spring up every year, a trend that begins around the turn of the 21st century. Something similar seems to have occurred in Canada. In a 2017 paper, Philip S. S. Howard, a professor at McGill University, argued that blackface was “experiencing renewed popularity in Canada,” pointing to a string of incidents over roughly the same period.

Blackface, a practice that grew out of minstrel shows that caricatured people of African descent, can seem like a peculiarly American institution, but it has a long history in Canada as well—as does slavery. While Canada figures in the history of American slavery as a terminus on the Underground Railroad, enslaved Africans arrived in Canada in the early 17th century, not long after their first arrival in what is now the United States in 1619, and slavery wasn’t abolished in Canada until 1834.

Perhaps no figure illustrates the complicated connections between race, Canada, and the United States better than Calixa Lavallée. Born to a French Canadian family in Quebec, Lavallée moved to the United States in the 1850s and bounced back and forth between the two countries for years. He served as an officer in the Union Army during the Civil War he also played in minstrel shows, performing in blackface, doing exaggerated impressions of African Americans. In 1880, he was commissioned to write a hymn that would become “O Canada,” the national anthem. (Later in life, he supported Quebec joining the United States. People are complicated.)

Minstrelsy took hold in Canada, just as it did in the United States, and just as in the United States, black people objected. As early as 1843, according to Cheryl Thompson, a scholar of communications at Ryerson University, black residents of Toronto petitioned the city government in vain to ban minstrel shows. Howard reports that “minstrelsy was very common throughout Canada into the 1970s,” long after minstrel shows had become socially taboo—not to say extinct—in the United States. (Bashir Mohamed rounds up a few examples of 20th-century shows in Canada.)

Some scholars and journalists argue that Canada whitewashes its history on race, from its mistreatment of indigenous peoples to slavery to later racism like these minstrel shows, adopting an image of moving past race that stands (supposedly) in contrast to its uncouth southern neighbor. “Canadian postracialism is characterized by its roots in a national claim to egalitarianism that is partly forged through an ostensible contrast to American racism,” Howard writes.

It’s not yet clear what political effect the Trudeau photos might have, with elections scheduled next month. Trudeau has carefully set himself up as an alternative to Trump and his long history of racism, both in rhetoric and practice. But, as the incident shows, the reluctance to tackle racism may not provide quite as much of a contrast between the United States and Canada as it appeared to.


The Atlantic Charter

During the first two years of World War II, Roosevelt and Churchill worked closely together, not only in making American resources available for the British war effort. They also prepared a political strategy that would clarify their joint war aims once events made America’s entry in the war inevitable. In August 1941 the two men met aboard a US Naval vessel off the coast of Newfoundland agreed upon a joint declaration, The Atlantic Charter. In this document one can trace the beginning outlines of the organization that would later become the United Nations. One also finds language Roosevelt had used in his State of the Union Address the previous January, where he described the “four freedoms” he hoped that the war effort would secure for a world-wide community. In fact, the document was shaped more in line with Roosevelt’s Wilsonian idealism than with the interests of Britain, which was still an imperial power. Roosevelt wanted the charter to promise a world that, he thought, Americans would see as worth going to war to secure and Churchill, who above all wanted to bring the Americans into the Allied war effort, allowed Roosevelt to take the lead.

Follow Us:

TeachingAmericanHistory.org is a project of the
Ashbrook Center at Ashland University

Navigate:

Privacy Policy
© 2006-2021 Ashbrook Center
Powered by Beck & Stone


Atlantic Charter

In August 1941 (four months before the United States entered the war), President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met in Newfoundland and crafted the Atlantic Charter. In June, Nazi Germany had invaded the Soviet Union, making Great Britain and the Soviet Union allies. The Atlantic Charter, however, envisioned the world’s leading democracies, not communist Russia, re-building the postwar world. The Atlantic Charter remained the fundamental statement of American war aims. The Charter’s call for self-government and self-determination also inadvertently became touchstones for those around the world wishing for independence from European empires.

Source: “The Atlantic Charter,” National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the Office of Government Reports, Record Group 44. https://goo.gl/TR6E3F

The President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, representing His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, being met together, deem it right to make known certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world.

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

Study Questions

A. What type of partnership did the Atlantic Charter create between the United States and Great Britain?

B. How are the themes of Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech reiterated in the Atlantic Charter? What objections might members of the “America First” Movement make to the Atlantic Charter?


The First World War

As mentioned, in both world wars the Western Allies claimed that they were fighting for democratic rights. In the Middle East, for instance, the British High Commissioner in Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon, conducted negotiations with Hussein, Sherif of Mecca. In a letter dated 24 October 1915, McMahon promised the independence of all Arab-populated areas of the Turkish Empire (then allied with Germany and Austria-Hungary), with the exception of &ldquothe portions of Syria lying to the west of the districts of Damascus,&rdquo etc. As we know, the Arabs came to fulfill their part of the bargain. The British, and their French and Italian allies, did not.[2]

The impression that the Allies were fighting for universal democratic rights was reinforced by statements made by President Woodrow Wilson after the United States was brought into the war. On 8 January 1918, Wilson unveiled his blueprint for peace, the &ldquoFourteen Points.&rdquo Point Five called for &ldquoa free, open-minded and absolutely impartial adjustment of colonial claims, based upon strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.&rdquo

Wilson expanded on this topic when he told the U.S. Congress on 11 February 1918 &ldquoThat peoples and provinces are not to be bartered about from sovereignty to sovereignty as if they were mere chattels and pawns in a game, even the great game, now forever discredited, of the balance of power, but that every territorial settlement involved in this war must be made in the interest and for the benefit of the populations concerned, and not as a part of any mere adjustment or compromise of claims among rival states and that all well-defined national aspirations shall be accorded the utmost satisfaction that can be accorded them without introducing new or perpetuating old elements of discord and antagonism that would be likely in time to break the peace of Europe and consequently of the world.&rdquo

With the collapse of the Central Powers, it quickly became clear that &ldquonational sovereignty&rdquo did not apply to the colonial possessions of the Western Allies or to territories they coveted. Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations &ldquoprovisionally recognized&rdquo the independence of &ldquoall former Turkish provinces.&rdquo But in 1916, the British and French, without informing the Arabs, divided up much of the Middle East, and in 1917 the British introduced another foreign influence into that part of the world when they issued the Balfour Declaration supporting Zionist aspirations for the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine.

After the war, President Wilson confirmed that the war had not been born out of a fight to save democracy against the forces of tyranny, as the public had been led to believe. Speaking in St. Louis on 11 September 1918, Wilson remarked that, &ldquoThis war, in its inception, was a commercial and industrial war. It was not a political war.&rdquo John Maynard Keyes likewise observed in his book, The Economic Consequences of the Peace, that &ldquoThe politics of power are inevitable, and there is nothing very new to learn about this war or the end it was fought for England had destroyed, as in each preceding century, a trade rival&hellip&rdquo

The post-war period saw no change of policy on the part of the victorious powers. The possessions of the former Central Powers were divided up among the Western Allies and Japan, while these countries retained control of their own colonies. For example, the people of India had been led to expect a move toward independence after the Great War. But in 1934, the former Colonial Secretary and future Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, told a Joint Select Committee of Parliament: &ldquoNo member of the Cabinet meant, contemplated, or wished to suggest the establishment of a Dominion Constitution for India for any period which human beings ought to take into account.&rdquo


Biden and Johnson Outline ‘New’ Atlantic Charter

The latest meeting between the two Allies was hosted in a seaside resort in Cornwall, England, and meant to update what Biden’s aides described as a “musty” document.

Andrew Parsons/Getty Images

Claire Barrett
June 23, 2021

In their first meeting, President Joe Biden and Britain’s prime minister Boris Johnson sought to redefine the Western alliance and sign a new “Atlantic Charter” — 80 years after President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill first put pen to paper.

“It was a statement of first principles, a promise that the United Kingdom and the United States would meet the challenges of their age and that we’d meet it together,” Biden declared. “Today, we build on that commitment, with a revitalized Atlantic Charter, updated to reaffirm that promise while speaking directly to the key challenges of this century.”

The new charter is a 604-word declaration that updates the language of the original charter to emerging present-day threats such as cyber attacks, the climate crisis, and the Covid-19 pandemic, while reaffirming the friendship between the two nations and their commitment to sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The original charter, signed aboard warships anchored at Placentia Bay off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, on August 14, 1941, was an ideological plan that sought to enforce the main tenets of liberalism: the restoration of sovereign rights, self-government, self-determination, and economic advancement through free trade.

Drafted a little more than three months before the U.S. entry into World War II, the Atlantic Charter marked a certain willingness on the part of the Americans to become further involved in the conflict. In turn, the document effectively nullified British imperialistic domination. Although a great proponent of imperialism and the might of the Empire, Churchill understood clearly that the Allied plan of a long-war strategy was impossible without the economic might of the Americans. The British Empire had to shrink in order to survive.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the Americans were waking up to the threat posed by the Germans, and subsequently the Japanese, and began building up their military and naval power.

The latest meeting between the two Allies was hosted in a seaside resort in Cornwall, England, and meant to update what Biden’s aides described as a “musty” document.

“Where the original charter contemplated the ‘final destruction of the Nazi tyranny’ and called for freedom to ‘traverse the high seas and oceans without hindrance,’ the new version focused on the ‘climate crisis’ and the need to ‘protect biodiversity,’” writes the Times. “It is sprinkled with references to ‘emerging technologies,’ ‘cyberspace’ and ‘sustainable global development.’”

Yet throughout the meeting, Johnson continued to pay particular homage to the former wartime leaders, telling reporters, “This was the beginning of the alliance, and of NATO.”

From Cornwall, Biden and Johnson made it clear that they intend to brush off the “mustiness” and strengthen the document that originally helped to cement the “special relationship” between the two nations.


Giving the Atlantic Charter a Face-Lift on Its 60th Anniversary

President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill signed the Atlantic Charter at a secret summit on a warship off Newfoundland, declaring in broad terms their joint humanitarian, strategic and commercial goals. The agreement signaled an end to American neutrality and isolation.

The Charter gave rise to the term"Atlanticism," denoting a special relationship between two English-speaking countries separated by an ocean but sharing a heritage of culture, ideas, open markets and free trade.

Roosevelt wanted to introduce moral and practical standards into postwar arrangements. He also wanted to define a role for the United States in international affairs while increasing cooperation with the British. The Atlantic Charter echoed the Four Freedoms speech Roosevelt had delivered seven months earlier to Congress, an address that declared worldwide goals freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear and aggression.

In the Charter, the United States indirectly undermined British colonialism by stressing postwar self-determination and self-government, but mollified the British by promising crucial support against Germany. Although a British undersecretary for war called the Atlantic Charter"great poppycock," its contents gave rise to the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Today, the United States and Britain compete economically and have different interests. In addition, the United States is focusing its policies more on Asia while Britain is drawing closer to Europe.

The British are governed by a Labor Party that is friendly to environmental concerns, would like to avoid an arms race with China and Russia, and tends to pressure Israel to be more conciliatory toward the Palestinians. The United States, by contrast, is led by Republicans who are more receptive to industrial, business and military points of view in using natural resources and handling international relations. There is so far little chemistry between the statesmen at the helm of these countries.

Could a new Atlantic charter help bridge these differences? A new charter, signed perhaps by leaders of all industrial nations, might be based on democracy and free trade. It could sanction political and commercial cooperation against the global recession, against endemic poverty and lawlessness in the developing world, and propose strategies for dealing with AIDS, nuclear proliferation, terrorism and rogue nations.

A new charter could launch an inclusive Western agenda into the twenty-first century. It could embrace poor, ethnic and religious communities at home and abroad. The United States and Britain could benefit from assuming a new global leadership role, replicating their finest hour 60 years ago.

This piece was distributed for non-exclusive use by the History News Service, an informal syndicate of professional historians who seek to improve the public's understanding of current events by setting these events in their historical contexts. The article may be republished as long as both the author and the History News Service are clearly credited.


The Crown’s Majestic Untruths

The blockbuster series treads an uneasy line between fact and fiction.

T he Crown is not a documentary. The presence of actors is a strong clue the members of the Royal Family wish they were this good-looking. Do viewers need to be warned about this? One British politician thinks so. “It’s a beautifully produced work of fiction, so as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning it is just that,” the Conservative culture minister, Oliver Dowden, said this week. “I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact.”

Perhaps, like me, you feel the itch to call Dowden an idiot. It’s a drama! But doesn’t he have a point? We all acknowledge that there are limits to how far “historical fiction” can bend the truth and stay within the genre. Peter Morgan, The Crown’s lead writer, could have created a series that explored the monarchy’s attempts to adapt to changing social values by having the Queen get arrested alongside the Chicago 7 or take a lesbian lover—I would watch the hell out of either of those shows—but no one would call them historical fiction.

The real source of unease with The Crown comes from the dissonance between the high naturalism of the program’s costumes, staging, and set design and the liberties taken with its plotlines. The current discussion would not be happening if the show were not so rigorously faithful to the historical record in every department except for its script.

This season’s prerelease marketing focused on details such as Diana’s wedding dress, which was remade at enormous expense—only to be featured for all of two seconds, seen from behind. A minute-long scene at the start of episode eight flashes a sequence of international vignettes across the screen, to make the point that the Queen is the head of the Commonwealth. It must have cost a bomb. When a historical drama is setting pallets of $100 bills on fire with every second of screentime, it creates an expectation of authenticity.

The performances bolster this high naturalism: The show’s actors have been chosen for their physical resemblance to the people they portray, and are dressed in replica clothes while mouthing replica accents, despite their absurdity to modern ears. This is another conscious artistic choice. When Shakespeare’s history plays are performed now, there’s a good chance that Richard II will be Black, or Henry V played by a woman, while the court might be dressed in modern suits, fetish gear, or identical robes. Theater sits comfortably in the realm of the metaphorical. Some more experimental biopics, such as I’m Not There, do too. But The Crown offers a kind of artificial transparency.

It also gains luster from its association with the world’s poshest global brand: the House of Windsor. You can watch any number of fictional dramas about unhappy marriages, by playwrights from Aeschylus to Ibsen. This one involves Prince Charles, a man who walks among us, waving, smiling and pointing gamely at flower beds—and who will one day be king. The promise of The Crown is that what we’re seeing is true, perhaps not literally, but close enough to draw power from the connection. When there’s real blood at stake, real lives, real futures, that acts as a short circuit to the audience’s amygdala.

Questions about the liberties The Crown is taking with the historical record arise whenever a new season airs. This time, however, the outcry is bigger, and not just because of the intervention of a politician who apparently has nothing more pressing to do. (You would think that the possible collapse of Britain’s live-arts sector thanks to months of COVID-19 closures would keep Dowden busy, but no.) The program’s arc is moving closer to the present, where wounds are fresher and grievances not yet burned out. It is also sharper in its criticism of the Royal Family, particularly Prince Charles.

This season raises two ethical questions. The first is about how much responsibility The Crown has to its subjects. Members of the Royal Family are public figures, but they are humans, too. Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, retreated to Los Angeles to gain some control over the circus, if not to escape it entirely Harry cannot relish the prospect of future seasons restaging his parents’ divorce and his mother’s early death. The rest of us might feel a twinge of guilt even as we binge-watch a blockbuster show about a woman whose personal life became a real-life soap opera. (As the musician Neil Hannon wrote of Diana’s death: “A mourning nation weeps and wails / But keeps the sales of evil tabloids healthy.”) For the show’s more minor characters, meanwhile, The Crown will define their public perception forever. The widow of a British army major asked that his death, in an avalanche while skiing with Charles, not be depicted on the show. The producers did not honor her request, but I hope they seriously considered it.

The second, more difficult, question is what responsibility The Crown has to history.

D rama creates order out of chaos the writer, and then the director, turn many possible pathways into one. Direct Hamlet and you need to decide who sees the ghost, whether Claudius really killed Old Hamlet, and when the prince is crazy versus when he’s just acting. Those choices affect our sympathy for the characters in front of us.

Peter Morgan has made similar editorial decisions. This isn’t Rashomon, a rare drama that allows competing versions of the truth to remain unresolved. Morgan’s Prince Charles is apportioned more blame than Diana for their doomed relationship, because he is older than her, and fully aware from the start that there will always be three people in their marriage. Several historical details are altered to support this characterization: According to the historian Hugo Vickers, the bracelet Charles gave Camilla was truly intended as a farewell gift, and it read GF (for “Girl Friday,” or invaluable assistant) rather than F&G, as The Crown depicts (for their pet names, Fred and Gladys). Most historians agree that Charles did not contact Camilla as often in the early years of his marriage as the show suggests.

These alterations show The Crown deliberately putting its thumb on the scale. Another version of the show was possible: Charles could just as easily have been gently excused from his sneak visits, his illicit phone calls, his evident longing for his first and only great love. Since marrying Camilla in 2005, there’s been not a whiff of scandal around their relationship, so an equally supportable reading of the 1980s is that he was a natural monogamist forced to marry the wrong woman. Like Princess Margaret in the show’s first season, Charles was instructed to deny his feelings in the service of an outdated notion of an “appropriate” royal relationship. Yet the show grants Diana a victimhood that is denied to him.

This has led to whispers that Morgan is pursuing a secret republican agenda. It’s a cute theory, but the key change in Season 4 is just as attributable to its shift in focus from the Queen (worst habit: telling people to buck up) to her eldest son (worst habit: reminding his wife she’s very much the silver medal). Elizabeth II has never talked about her opinions or her private life in anything more than platitudes, and there are no “sides” to take in the story of her 70-year marriage to Prince Philip. But Charles and Diana’s relationship ended in a hailstorm of furious briefings to journalists and ill-advised on-the-record interviews.

There is no neutral, universally accepted version of the events of the 1980s that fracturing of consensus itself reflects Britain’s changing media climate.

S o dramatists take sides. They also create meaning. And here is a vice that The Crown shares with horse-race election coverage: the subordination of facts to narrative.

There’s an irony in The Crown devoting a whole episode to Michael Fagan breaking into the Queen’s Buckingham Palace bedroom in 1982 I once read a screenwriting book that used this incident as the ur-example of “realistic” versus “plausible.” No fiction writer would dare to have an intruder dodge multiple guards, find an open window, wander around a palace drinking wine, and then saunter out again, only to return weeks later and surprise the Queen in bed. Oh, come on, the audience would complain. That would never happen.

Morgan’s script can recount all this because it did happen. The implausibility of the plotline is answered by an appeal to truth. But he twists the incident in another way, one that demonstrates his larger ambition for The Crown. In real life, Fagan did not deliver a politically charged message about Margaret Thatcher’s economic policies and their relationship to his personal circumstances. In the drama, he does—adding that, as a decorator, he is shocked at how tatty the palace looks below the glitz and gilt.

Both of these messages speak to Morgan’s grand theme for the series: how an institution dating back to the Middle Ages has struggled to adapt to the modern world. The Queen can’t even comprehend the true state of the country, according to the intruder, because no one will be honest with her: “Everyone you meet is on their best behavior, bowing and scraping,” Fagan tells her. “That’s not normal.”

Many of The Crown’s best episodes dwell on this theme. In Season 3, Prince Charles nods to Welsh nationalism, and the British crown as a colonial power, after spending time with an inspiring teacher before his investiture as Prince of Wales. In the same season, Olivia Colman’s Queen struggles to connect emotionally with her subjects after the deaths of dozens of children in Aberfan (and this plot is itself a reworking of Morgan’s earlier film The Queen, in which Helen Mirren’s monarch failed to emote publicly over the death of Diana). The Fagan episode adds another note to the symphony. Boiled down to the bare facts, his break-in is merely something that happened. Recasting him an avatar of the downtrodden gives it meaning. That makes it a story.

All truly great historical dramas, memoirs, and biopics are about something greater than their ostensible subject. If they are not, they become a dutiful, forgettable checklist—in the words of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, “just one fucking thing after another.” Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus dwells on the destructive power of envy (as does Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, which borrows Schaffer’s framing device of a thwarted rival). Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth explores politics as religion, with Cate Blanchett’s monarch giving post-Reformation England a replacement icon for the Virgin Mary. Hidden Figures asks us to confront how much potential has been wasted because of racism and sexism.

O liver Dowden’s intervention might inspire groans, but it is not philistine or unsophisticated to challenge what a writer has chosen to pull from the messy stuff of mere events. It is vital. Entire books have been written about Shakespeare’s reliance on partisan chroniclers his hatchet job on the last Yorkist king, Richard III his flirtation with danger in depicting the removal of a monarch when his own Queen was old and heirless. His plays are transcendent works of poetry. They are also incubators of a national mythology.

The Crown might attract that label too, because it tells Britain a story about itself, one in which politicians are well-meaning but stymied by events, in which princesses have the common touch, and in which reverence for the monarchy is the eternal default. (More controversially, the program might be the last refuge for the “special relationship”—Season 3 had plotlines about astronauts and about Princess Margaret charming Lyndon B. Johnson whose only function seemed to be reminding Americans that they exist in this dramatic universe.) Viewed objectively, there is something peculiar about a woman who wears a diamond hat forged by her ancestors lecturing Prime Minister Thatcher about poverty while the pair drink tea brought to them by a butler, in a palace. But it would be a twist too far for The Crown to take republicanism seriously. Despite the anguish over the new season’s occasionally acid tone, it does the Windsors one huge favor: It makes them seem eternal.


Watch the video: Γιώργος Φίλης: Ξυπνούν αρχαίες δυνάμεις-Επανέρχεται η κλασική γεωπολιτική στη σύγκρουση Δύσης-Ρωσίας


Comments:

  1. Imran

    So endlessly and not far away :)

  2. Dennis

    Sorry, of course, kaneshna, but the diz is not so hot

  3. Torg

    Completely I share your opinion. In it something is also idea good, I support.

  4. Clinton

    I'll bet five!

  5. Timmy

    I apologize, it doesn't come close to me. Who else can say what?



Write a message