Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
Teaser Image

Fight for Freedom (Century Group) (1940–1942)

Interventionist U.S. pro-Allied lobbying organization established before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Fight for Freedom was formally launched in New York City on 19 April 1941 by prominent Americans who believed the United States was effectively already at war with Germany and should behave accordingly. Its members found insufficiently forthright the noninterventionist stance adopted by the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies (CDA), the leading pro-Allied group. Fight for Freedom advocated measures liable to cause outright war with Germany, such as attacks by American ships on German naval patrols.

Fight for Freedom developed from an earlier, amorphous group of about 30 well-connected Americans who from June 1940 met irregularly, their attendance shifting somewhat, at the Century Club in New York. Among them were Francis Pickens Miller of the New York–based Council on Foreign Relations; Whitney H. Shepardson, also prominent in the council; Lewis W. Douglas, a former congressman; Admiral William H. Standley, a past chief of naval operations; and William Joseph Donovan, who was later head of the Office of Strategic Services. After France fell in June 1940, several of these people publicly demanded American intervention. Century Group adherents spearheaded the public campaign favoring the Destroyers-Bases Deal, which would exchange overage American destroyers for British naval bases in the Caribbean.

Allegations are exaggerated that British officials effectively created and manipulated Fight for Freedom and, subsequently, the U.S. government's Office of War Information. Nevertheless, Century Group members undoubtedly enjoyed close ties with representatives of the New York–based British Information Service, the intelligence organization British Security Coordination, and Britain's Washington embassy, enabling them to synchronize their own and British efforts. As the United States moved closer to war with Germany in 1941, Fight for Freedom initiatives overshadowed CDA ventures, and the two organizations discussed a merger. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Fight for Freedom's members accepted a wide variety of wartime assignments and the organization, its mission accomplished, soon disbanded.

Priscilla Roberts


Further Reading
Chadwin, Mark Lincoln. The Hawks of World War II. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968.; Johnson, Walter. The Battle against Isolation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1944.; Mahl, Thomas E. Desperate Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939–44. Washington, DC: Brassey's, 1998.; Miller, Francis Pickens. Man from the Valley: Memoirs of a Twentieth-Century Virginian. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1971.
 

©2011 ABC-CLIO. All rights reserved.

  About the Author/Editor
  Introduction
  Essays
  A
  B
  C
  D
  E
  F
  G
  H
  I
  J
  K
  L
  M
  N
  O
  P
  Q
  R
  S
  T
  U
  V
  W
  X
  Y
  Z
  Documents Prior to 1938
  1939 Documents
  1940 Documents
  1941 Documents
  1942 Documents
  1943 Documents
  1944 Documents
  1945 Documents
  Images
ABC-cLIO Footer