British diplomacy with America and Ireland, an Ambassador's letters, 1909-1962

Correspondence for 1919-1936

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Murray was influential in Anglo-American relations for a while after the War. As well as being a Liberal MP and still associated with the Foreign Office, he maintained key contacts such as John W. Davis, American ambassador in London, and Arthur Willert, once more The Times correspondent in Washington, including a long letter full of gossip about Woodrow Wilson (Willert to Murray, 10 July 1919).Murray's most regular correspondent was William Wiseman who, that summer, raised the need for a new British ambassador, especially in view of the impending visit of the Prince of Wales and the effect of Ireland and De Valera on Anglo-American relations (Wiseman to Murray, 3 July 1919). Murray promised to raise the issue in the House of Commons (Murray to Wiseman, 28 July 1919).When Lord Grey was made ambassador to Washington, Murray wrote to Sir Horace Plunkett that it would "wipe out some of the irritation resulting from the delay in the appointment" (Murray to Plunkett, 13 Aug 1919). Murray accompanied Grey to the US in September 1919. Their arrival coincided with Wilson's collapse during an exhausting nationwide tour in defence of the League of Nations. The President became an invalid in the White House, with his wife severely restricting access. So Grey never met Wilson but returned home with Murray in March 1920 after several frustrating months.The Senate's rejection of membership of the League made it a major issue in the Presidential campaign of 1920. When Democratic candidate, Governor James Cox of Ohio, chose Roosevelt as his running mate, Murray cabled his congratulations. Roosevelt replied with evident warm regard: "I wonder much if there is any chance of your coming over this autumn. Do let me know beforehand if you do" (Roosevelt to Murray, Oct 1920).The 1920 elections saw a Republican landslide in Congress as well as the Presidency. No longer familiar with the main figures in the US government, Murray's involvement in Anglo-American relations waned. Yet he also had problems of his own. Holding his seat in 1922 despite the rift between the Asquith and Lloyd George wings of the Liberal Party, he lost in 1923 and, partly due to ill health, retired from active politics. Murray's 1920s correspondence is therefore much thinner than before, with the main items of interest being his letters from Colonel House.1932 marked a turning point in the Murray-Roosevelt friendship. Winning the Democratic nomination in July, Roosevelt announced his intention to offer Americans a "New Deal". Given the economic depression since 1929 and the unpopularity of Hoover's Republican Party, Roosevelt's chances of success in the Presidential election were good. Murray cabled his congratulations after the party convention - their first contact since 1920. Roosevelt replied via Willert. "It gave both Mrs Roosevelt and me a great deal of pleasure to hear from a friend and associate of so many years ago", he wrote, and in his own hand: "I do wish you could come over this autumn. It would be grand to see you again" (Roosevelt to Murray, 25 Aug 1932). Thus began a period of continuous correspondence that lasted until Roosevelt's death in 1945. Business commitments kept Murray from visiting but, with "no axe to grind" and friends in high places, he was keen to use his contacts on Roosevelt's behalf. He suggested that, in preparation for the forthcoming World Economic Conference, Walter Runciman, President of the Board of Trade, be invited to Washington (Murray to Roosevelt, 1932).In Europe blame for the Conference's failure fell mostly upon Roosevelt for opposing currency stabilisation, and he retreated from foreign affairs. Murray congratulated Roosevelt on victory in the 1934 congressional elections, receiving a thank you note which ended: "When are you coming over to see us all?" (Roosevelt to Murray, 13 Nov 1934). A visit took place in May 1936. Primarily a social affair, including a memorable trip down the Potomac in Roosevelt's yacht, yet the two men talked often about world affairs (Murray to Roosevelt, 26 May 1936).

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Showing 1 documents Correspondence for 1919-1936

MS 8808

  • Contributor: National Library of Scotland
  • Reference: 1491-8808
  • Keyword:  british usa
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