Anglo-American Relations prior to the London Naval Conference, 1929

  • David Carlton


In the opening months of 1929 MacDonald, then Leader of His Majesty’s Opposition in what was certain to be a General Election year, felt obliged to draw attention to the strained state of Anglo-American relations.1 No doubt the Labour leader hoped that the question might become an election issue and help to catapult him into power; but he was also in all probability genuinely anxious to see an improvement in Anglo-American relations quite apart from any electoral considerations. In those days it was fashionable for British Left-wingers to feel strong affection for the United States; for not only had Woodrow Wilson stood very close to the Union of Democratic Control point of view in the First World War and to some extent in the peacemaking that followed, but the United States had also retained sufficient of its pioneering mystique to cast a spell over progressive elements in Great Britain.2 It is therefore readily understandable that MacDonald should have seen it as his mission in 1929 to bring about a diplomatic détente with Washington on his return to Downing Street.


Prime Minister Fait Accompli Food Ship Downing Street Preparatory Commission 
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  1. 2.
    On the relations between British ‘progressives’ and the United States, see Henry Pelling, America and the British Left from Bright to Bevan (London, 1956).Google Scholar
  2. W. Martin, Peace without Victory: Woodrow Wilson and the British Liberals (New Haven, 1958 ).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    For further details on the issue of naval limitation in the 1920s, see Merze Tate, The United States and Armaments (Cambridge, Mass., 1948).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Gerald E. Wheeler, Prelude to Pearl Harbor: The United States Navy and the Far East 1921–1931 (Columbia, Mo., n.d., 1963 ?).Google Scholar
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  6. Stephen Roskill, Naval Policy between the Wars vol. I: The Period of Anglo-American Antagonism, 1919–1929 (London, 1968).Google Scholar
  7. David Carlton, ‘Great Britain and the Coolidge Naval Disarmament Conference of 1927’, Political Science Quarterly LXXXIII (1968) 573–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    R. H. Ferrell, American Diplomacy in the Great Depression: Hoover—Stimson Foreign Policy, 1929–1933 (New Haven, 1957 ) P. 73.Google Scholar
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    Raymond G. O’Connor, Perilous Equilibrium: The United States and the London Naval Conference of 1930 ( Lawrence, Kans, 1962 ) p. 32.Google Scholar
  11. 1.
    Dawes apparently lost his temper with one persistent journalist and is alleged to have snapped, ‘Mac will get his invitation when I’m good and ready to give it to him and not before’: Drew Pearson and Constantine Brown, The American Diplomatic Game (New York, 1935) p. 80.Google Scholar
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    Herbert Hoover, Memoirs: The Cabinet and the Presidency, 1920–1933 (London, 1952) p. 341.Google Scholar
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    B.D., 2/I, no. 77, pp. 114–15 (memorandum by MacDonald). For further details and background information on this subject, see D. C. Watt, ‘American Strategic Interests and Anxieties in the West Indies: An Historical Examination’, Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, cviii (1963) 224–32.Google Scholar

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© David Carlton 1970

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  • David Carlton

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