2-401 Memorandum for the Secretary of War, March 24, 1941

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 24, 1941

Memorandum for the Secretary of War

March 24, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]

Subject: Air Fields and other Defense Set-ups in the Republic of Panama.

I have just returned from a liaison meeting at the office of Mr. Sumner Welles.

With relation to the Panama Situation, the State Department is sending today a radio to our Ambassador presenting the attitude of our Government in the matter, copy enclosed. Mr. Welles states that our Ambassador will be directed to show this to General Van Voorhis immediately, and he recommends that we direct Van Voorhis to radio back his view of the matter in the light of this last communication.

Mr. Welles’ attitude is that unless General Van Voorhis recommends against such action, we should direct Van Voorhis to take over all surveyed sites and start construction immediately. Meanwhile, the State Department would proceed with the further negotiations as to the terms of settlement.1

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. At this time the army wished to acquire over seventy-five defense sites in the Republic of Panama, but negotiations for these were being delayed by questions of the extent of United States jurisdiction and tenure at the sites. Lieutenant General Daniel Van Voorhis, head of the Caribbean Defense Command, was reluctant to occupy the sites until these issues were settled. Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles told Marshall that he had “succeeded in mopping up all major difficulties concerning defense sites in Panama.” During the week following this memorandum, Van Voorhis received instructions to begin occupying the positions. (Stetson Conn, Rose C. Engelman, and Byron Fairchild, Guarding the United States and Its Outposts, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1964], pp. 344-45. The quotation is from the Standing Liaison Committee minutes dated March 25, 1941, NA/RG 319 [WDCSA, SGS].)

Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), p. 452,

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Holding ID: 2-401

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