January 1, 1942 (a Thursday)

Churchill and FDR at the First Washington Conference

On this day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill issued a declaration, which had been signed by representatives of 26 countries, called the “Declaration by United Nations”. The signatories of the declaration vowed to create an international postwar peacekeeping organization.

The agreement was reached during the First Washington Conference, also known as the Arcadia Conference (ARCADIA was the code name used for the conference), begun on December 22, 1941. Led by the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union, the signatories agreed to use all available resources to defeat the Axis powers. It was agreed that no single country would sue for a separate peace with Germany, Italy, or Japan – they would act in concert. Perhaps most important, the signatories promised to pursue the creation of a future international peacekeeping organization dedicated to ensuring “life, liberty, independence, and religious freedom, and to preserve the rights of man and justice.”

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