Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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arcadia Conference (22 December 1941–14 January 1942)

Post–Pearl Harbor conference, held between U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston L. S. Churchill and their staffs. This meeting, code-named arcadia, was held in Washington, D.C., from 22 December 1941 to 14 January 1942. It came only two weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and U.S. entry into the war. Its purpose was to hammer out joint strategy and cooperative agreements to achieve victory over the Axis powers.

Roosevelt was determined that direction of the Allied war effort would be from the U.S. capital, and the meeting was designed to underscore that end. Churchill saw the meeting as a means of bringing about full U.S. commitment to the war effort. Members of the British delegation entered the talks believing they would show the Americans how things should be run. It did not work out that way. There were sometimes heated exchanges during the meetings. The British delegation was appalled by the lack of organization and procedure on the U.S. side.

The U.S. representatives to the talks sought to establish a council similar to World War I's Supreme Allied War Council with many participants, which the British opposed. At a meeting early Christmas Day, U.S. Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall made a strong appeal for unity of command of the South Pacific area. The British concurred, but the issue then arose of which entity the American-British-Dutch-Australian commander (General Archibald Wavell) should report to. This led to heated debate and ultimately to the decision that the authority would be the American military chiefs in Washington with representatives of the British chiefs, but leaving the authority of both intact. Roosevelt approved this decision on 1 January, which led to establishment of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, involving the military chiefs from the British and U.S. sides. This also created, without executive order, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. component of the Combined Chiefs of Staff. In effect, the Americans had won and the war would be run from Washington.

Toward the end of the conference, Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to set up an agency for munitions allocation with equal bodies in Washington and London. Marshall strongly opposed this, insisting there be only one entity. Roosevelt agreed, and the U.S. position prevailed. The establishment of the Combined Chiefs of Staff marked the beginning of perhaps the closest-ever collaboration between two sovereign nations at war.

The conferees at arcadia also discussed the possibility of an invasion of North Africa, General Douglas MacArthur's appeal for assistance to the Philippines, and the issue of Lend-Lease aid to the Soviet Union. The two nations also agreed that U.S. troops would be sent to Iceland and Northern Ireland. The arcadia conference also led to agreement on the epochal Declaration of the United Nations, signed on 1 January 1942 by representatives of 26 countries. The declaration called for the overthrow of the Axis powers and peace on the basis of the Atlantic Charter. But perhaps the chief result of arcadia was that it ensured the war would be run from Washington rather than London.

Spencer C. Tucker

Further Reading
Alldritt, Keith. The Greatest of Friends: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, 1941–1945. London: Robert Hale, 1995.; Kimball, Warren F. Forged in War: Roosevelt, Churchill and the Second World War. New York: William Morrow, 1997.; Larrabee, Eric. Commander in Chief: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, His Lieutenants and Their War. New York: Harper and Row, 1987.; Sainsbury, Keith. Roosevelt and Churchill at War: The War They Fought and the Peace They Hoped to Make. Washington Square: New York University Press, 1994.

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