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When Roosevelt Planned to Govern France

When Roosevelt Planned to Govern France

Charles L. Robertson
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 248
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    When Roosevelt Planned to Govern France
    Book Description:

    This book tells the story of a plan put forth by President Franklin Roosevelt during World War II for an Allied military occupation of France in the aftermath of liberation, and of General Charles de Gaulle's efforts as selfappointed leader of the Free French Movement to thwart FDR's intentions. Charles L. Robertson frames the narrative as a mystery in which he plays the role of detective. He begins at a dinner party thirty years ago, where he first learned of the alleged plan from an elderly former aide to de Gaulle. Yet it wasn't until 2004, when he heard the same story repeated during the 60th commemoration of DDay, that he set out to investigate whether it was true. Many French are aware of this episode and believe, on the basis of later Gaullist officials' writings, that until the last moment a military occupation of their country was imminent. This view, across the years, has helped darken relations between France and the United States. Yet few if any Americans have ever heard of this plan, and in the event, no Allied military government of France was ever established. How and why it never came to be, and why the French still believe it almost did, is the subject of this book. Robertson recounts how the president of the most powerful nation in the world was outmaneuvered in both his earlier plans for an occupation of France and his subsequent attempts to keep General de Gaulle from “seizing” power—in a France that ultimately, despite Roosevelt's intentions and expectations, regained its place among the victorious powers under de Gaulle’s leadership.

    eISBN: 978-1-61376-007-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface: How This Book Arose
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Introduction: Roosevelt’s and French Views on AMGOT
    (pp. 1-8)

    In a May 8, 1943, memorandum to Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote: “I am inclined to think that when we get into France itself we will have to regard it as a military occupation run by British and American generals…. [T]he top line, or national administration must be kept in the hands of the British or American Commander-in-Chief. I think that this may be necessary for six months or even a year after we get into France, thus giving time to build up for an election and a new form of government.”¹

    This memorandum makes it clear: a year...

  5. CHAPTER 1 America and the Fall of France
    (pp. 9-36)

    Why did General Charles de Gaulle become anathema to President Franklin D. Roosevelt? Why did the American president do all he could to keep the Frenchman from assuming power, including proposing an American military government in France at the time of liberation? What lay behind the American view that General de Gaulle had no support in France?

    The events of 1940 had much to do with Americans’ wartime attitudes toward France, and in particular those of leading American officials, including the president. In the spring of that year, in the space of six weeks, the unbelievable happened: the French Third...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Positions Defined
    (pp. 37-69)

    De Gaulle’s self-promotion as the leader of a resurrected free France, along with numerous wartime events, hardened President Roosevelt in his determination to rid the Allies of this obstreperous man who kept getting in the way of prosecuting the war effectively.

    In June 1940 few people understood General de Gaulle’s intention to reconstitute and maintain a French political power that would be, in his words, “for free men and in the eyes of its allies, the legitimate authority of France” and that would participate, alongside its allies, in the reconquest and liberation of France.¹ His goal was first revealed in...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Giraud, de Gaulle, and the Committee of French National Liberation
    (pp. 70-98)

    Nineteen forty-three brought vital changes to the world scene. Not the least among them was that General de Gaulle ended the year heading a budding French government-in-exile. By the end of the year, on the other hand, President Roosevelt had become more determined than ever that de Gaulle should be blocked from “seizing” power and that the leader of the cross-channel landings in France should remain in charge of the country and work with whatever local authorities could promise order. The third actor in the French drama—Churchill—spent the year torn between his dependence on Roosevelt and the fact...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Allied Preparations for Civil Affairs in France
    (pp. 99-120)

    At the Second Peace Conference in The Hague, in 1907, the participating powers, including the United States, signed a convention that included, in the annex to the convention, a section on the powers of a country that occupied territory of another in case of war: “The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all measures in his power to restore and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.”¹ Clearly, the terms of the convention...

  9. CHAPTER 5 French Preparations for Liberation
    (pp. 121-136)

    While the English and the Americans struggled to define their policies toward liberated France, General Charles de Gaulle and his organization moved to define their own.

    In the space of over three and a half years de Gaulle had risen from a position of near anonymity and almost solitary defiance of constituted authority to become the leader of the French Committee of National Liberation, now considered by almost all but Franklin D. Roosevelt and some of his advisers to be a legitimate French government-in-exile. De Gaulle had done much of what he set out to do: gain a French territorial...

  10. CHAPTER 6 D-Day
    (pp. 137-161)

    Winston Churchill was very much on edge as D-Day approached. The whole gigantic organization for the invasion was receiving its final touches. But the prime minister was well aware of what the Allies faced. As of March 1, intelligence showed that in the West, behind the enormous German coastal fortifications and beach obstructions, the Wehrmacht had 1.6 million men: ten armored divisions, one panzer-grenadier division, and forty-eight infantry divisions, along with several Waffen-SS divisions.¹ Churchill could remember the 1915 failure of the Allied landings he had launched at Gallipoli in World War I; that failure had cost him his role...

  11. CHAPTER 7 After D-Day
    (pp. 162-188)

    The Allies had landed and established their beachhead, and de Gaulle had left behind him in Normandy his first regional commissioner, to establish the presence of his Provisional Government of the French Republic. But in spite of news from England and France, Roosevelt persisted in refusing to recognize him. On June 14, the very day that de Gaulle had visited the Normandy beachhead, Secretary of War Stimson held a long telephone conversation with the president. Stimson felt that de Gaulle was a troublemaker and, worst of all, was creating a widening gap between the British and the Americans. Still, he...

  12. Conclusion: AMGOT—Myth or Reality?
    (pp. 189-200)

    A full sixty years after the liberation of Paris, the influential and respectedMonde Diplomatiquecould publish on the front page of its May 2005 issue the article by Sorbonne historian Annie Lacroix-Riz cited in the preface to this book. “The United States,” she wrote, referring to the wartime period, “intended that France, together with soon-to-be defeated Italy, Germany, and Japan, was to be part of a protectorate run by the Allied Military Government of the Occupied Territories (Amgot)…. Amgot would have abolished its national sovereignty, including its right to issue currency.” And on French television at about the same...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 201-224)
  14. Index
    (pp. 225-235)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 236-236)