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Year
1941

FDR and Churchill meet on ship, map out Atlantic Charter

On this day in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill meet on board a ship at Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, to confer on issues ranging from support for Russia to threatening Japan to postwar peace.

When Roosevelt and Churchill met for the first time as leaders of their respective nations, chief among the items on their agenda was aid to the USSR “on a gigantic scale,” as it was desperate in its war against its German invaders. A statement was also drafted, which Roosevelt chose to issue under his name, that made it plain to Japan that any further aggression would “produce a situation in which the United States government would be compelled to take counter-measures,” even if it meant “war between the United States and Japan.”

The president and the prime minister also agreed to compose and make public a document in which the United States and Britain declared their intention “to ensure life, liberty, independence, and religious freedom, and to preserve the rights of man and justice.” They also promised to strive for a postwar world free of “aggrandizement, territorial or other,” addressing those nations currently under German, Italian, or Japanese rule, offering hope that the integrity of their sovereign borders would be restored to them. This document would be called the Atlantic Charter and, when finally ratified by 26 nations in January 1942, would comprise the founding principles of the United Nations.

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