‘Free and Equal Partners in Your Commonwealth’: The Atlantic Charter and Anticolonial Delegations to London, 1941–3

‘Free and Equal Partners in Your Commonwealth’: The Atlantic Charter and Anticolonial... Abstract This article examines the efforts of two anticolonial politicians from the British Empire who used official visits to London and the rhetoric of the Atlantic Charter (14 August 1941) to advance their political careers and self-government for their territories: Burma’s U Saw in 1941, and Nigeria’s Nnamdi Azikiwe in 1943. Rather than a repetition of the ‘Wilsonian moment’, these campaigns show how anticolonial forces long active across the Empire took advantage of the opening offered by the Atlantic Charter to make claims on the British government in its wartime weakness. Both U Saw and Azikiwe had been involved in anticolonial politics long before the Charter, but its appearance provided an opportunity to advance their position vis-à-vis political competitors as well as to win concessions from the imperial state. Although the two leaders had different immediate objectives, they both used the prestige of official visits to London and the ambiguous universality of the Charter’s language in pursuit of their aims. Their ability to do so attests to the power of anticolonial movements by the early 1940s, and points to alternative paths which the Empire might have followed. Upon hearing the eight-point joint statement which commentators soon dubbed the ‘Atlantic Charter’, Secretary of State for India and Burma Leo Amery confided in his diary, ‘We shall no doubt pay dearly in the end for all this fluffy flapdoodle’.1 News had just broken of Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt’s secret meeting off the coast of Newfoundland, where they had agreed on the ‘Charter’ as ‘common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world’. The third point aroused the most interest globally: that the United States and the United Kingdom ‘respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them’.2 As Deputy Prime Minister Clement Attlee read it out over the BBC, Amery recognized that the document had many intended and unintended audiences, from Washington and London to Lagos and Rangoon. This article looks at two moments when anticolonial leaders came to London using the Atlantic Charter to support their political demands: the visit of U Saw, premier of Burma, in October and November 1941; and the West African press delegation of August 1943 led by Nnamdi Azikiwe, the activist editor of the West African Pilot and future president of Nigeria. Rather than naive idealists inspired by Anglo-American rhetoric, these were hard-nosed political actors with clear agendas.3 While Saw and Azikiwe had different immediate objectives, they came to the heart of the Empire and used the words of Churchill against him, expecting treatment as equals, rather than requesting it.4 At first glance, this resembles the ‘Wilsonian moment’ of 1918–19, when Erez Manela argues Woodrow Wilson’s post-war vision inspired anticolonial action across Africa and Asia.5 As in Paris in 1919, anticolonial leaders came to the metropole hoping for treatment as equals. Unlike in 1919, in 1941 Britain found itself in a position of weakness, with Churchill unable to court Roosevelt into joining the war, leaving as allies only a few governments in exile in London, a struggling Soviet Union and the Empire. When U Saw and Azikiwe came to wartime London, they came not in the position of supplicants asking for a seat at the table, as their predecessors in Paris had, but as potential allies leveraging their necessity to the British war effort. Unlike Manela’s account of 1919, which focuses too much on Wilson as a causal agent for anticolonial nationalism, this article does not present an ‘Atlantic Charter moment’ where Western policymakers inspired idealism among anticolonialists.6 This article argues that anticolonial actors had already mobilized before the Charter’s promulgation, but its appearance provided a unique opportunity to make claims upon the British. Since Churchill would soon claim the Charter’s provisions on self-government had been intended only for European governments, the debate over the Charter’s universal language enabled anticolonialists to assert their countries’ claims to the same objectives of self-determination and self-government. Prior studies of colonialism in the War have dealt with the Atlantic Charter, but their emphasis remained on diplomatic discussion between the US and British governments.7 Historians of human rights have focused on what the Charter did or did not do for anticolonial claims, noting that anticolonialists far and wide cited it, but historians have not analysed how or why these activists used the Charter in their own contexts.8 This article focuses not on what the Atlantic Charter did for anticolonialists, but what they did with the Charter, bringing what Amery called its ‘fluffy flapdoodle’ to the seat of power and challenging the imperial world order which Britain fought to defend.9 This article begins by laying out the initial reactions to the Charter upon its promulgation in August 1941, when many across the British Empire felt it offered hope for anticolonial agendas. When Churchill offered a more limited interpretation of the document in the House of Commons on 9 September, anticolonialists might have dropped the Charter. But leaders continued to use Charter rhetoric for their own purposes, as demonstrated by the two campaigns highlighted here. While this article begins from the top-down political vantage point of Whitehall and Westminster in the Second World War, it reminds us that imperial subjects saw the War quite differently, and brought their challenge to London itself. The Ambiguities of the Atlantic Charter Churchill’s secret summit with Roosevelt off the coast of Newfoundland had been intended to secure US entry into the war against Germany, so anything less was bound to land with a thud. Most Britons found the Charter’s lofty rhetoric irrelevant, since the real need remained US troops and materiel to reduce the British war burden.10 Churchill had brought a draft of the document to the meeting with Roosevelt and had written the third clause about restoring ‘sovereign rights and self government’ himself, without a thought that Britain’s subjects might read themselves into such language. The phrase occasioned little discussion between Churchill and Roosevelt.11 Beyond the choppy North Atlantic, the question of the Charter’s applicability emerged immediately.12 The day after announcing the Charter for the absent Churchill, Clement Attlee addressed this issue as he spoke to the West African Students’ Union (WASU) at their London hostel. He told the students that ‘you will find [the Charter] principles will apply, I believe, to all the peoples of the world’.13 This possibility aroused anticolonialists around the globe. After all, if the Charter’s third point applied to colonies, colonized populations could choose their own form of government and have their sovereign rights restored after having been forcibly deprived of them. On 9 September 1941, Churchill spoke in Parliament to answer the question of whether the Charter applied to the colonized world. He insisted that while drafting the Charter, ‘we had in mind … the States and nations of Europe now under the Nazi yoke’, which Churchill deemed ‘quite a separate problem from the progressive evolution’ of British colonial subjects. Moreover, he claimed that all British declarations on gradual reform toward colonial self-government were ‘complete in themselves’ and ‘entirely in harmony’ with the Charter.14 In the words of a British civil servant of the Raj, ‘the maxims of international law’ only applied to ‘the relations of independent and co-equal European States’.15 To use Partha Chatterjee’s term, Churchill applied ‘the rule of colonial difference’ to the Atlantic Charter, denying to colonized people the universality of rights proclaimed in the Charter.16 Like so many other universal rights declarations issued from the West, universalist language only applied to Europeans or their descendants. Across the Atlantic, after joining the war, Roosevelt initially disagreed with Churchill’s interpretation of the Charter, but later relented. In his Fireside Chat of 23 February 1942, Roosevelt responded to anticolonial agitation in the United States and declared in no uncertain terms that ‘the Atlantic Charter applies not only to the parts of the world that border the Atlantic but to the whole world’, including its provision about ‘self-determination of Nations and peoples’.17 However, Roosevelt did not prioritize fulfilling this promise. In fact, as inevitable compromises with the British and the Soviets approached, Roosevelt began to back away from the Atlantic Charter as an achievable vision.18 Rather, he presented it as an ideal to strive for in the long term, and by late 1944, Roosevelt characterized the Charter as a mere ‘objective’ to be achieved in the range of centuries, or even millennia.19 The disagreements and changes in interpretation shows that, from its Anglo-American authors’ perspective, ‘the Atlantic Charter … was a deeply ambiguous document’.20 At face value, though, the Charter had a very clear meaning: a universal right to self-determination. As political theorist Benjamin Gregg argues, using the example of the Charter, despite Anglo-American denials that it applied to colonies, people ought not receive rights as pliant and passive subjects. Instead of seeing themselves as ‘supernumeraries’, the unintended audiences of universalist language, rights claimants should ‘self-regard as someone denied recognition’ of an already-possessed right.21 Anticolonialists did not let Churchill’s interpretation of the Charter prevent them from making claims based on their own readings of the document, and its universalist language invited the colonized to place themselves within it and to question their exclusion.22 In the face of Churchill’s defiance, U Saw and Nnamdi Azikiwe continued to articulate their claims using Charter-based rights-talk. By reading themselves into the Charter, Saw and Azikiwe asserted their equality with Europeans, the intended audience for the Charter’s promises. Moreover, in bringing their claims to London, they operated in the same spaces and modes as European policy makers from other war-torn states and other British Dominions. Accessing the places which represented and housed British power, and asserting their own rights to self-government, Saw and Azikiwe embodied and articulated challenges to imperial authority, even as their demands took the form of self-government within the Commonwealth.23 The rhetorical space opened by the Atlantic Charter gave Saw and Azikiwe the opportunity to enter the physical space of London, which they used as a stage to play to both British and colonial audiences. Despite these similarities in their approaches, the following sections will show how U Saw and Azikiwe had distinct projects. U Saw came to London as the leader of a constitutional regime already in place, and sought to leverage this strength by using the Atlantic Charter. Two years later, Azikiwe came to London with an inverse project, seeking to use the prestige of an official visit to London to launch his own political career in Nigeria. For both the sitting and aspiring officeholder, the act of pressing for self-government in the symbolically rich location of London could secure their position against rival politicians at home. The Atlantic Charter, rather than inspiring political activity, provided the platform from which to escalate ongoing campaigns. U Saw’s Push for Dominion Status, October-November 1941 U Saw, a Burmese nationalist politician and premier of Burma since 1940, launched the first test of the Atlantic Charter’s anticolonial potential in London. Born in 1900, Saw had entered politics in the 1920s when nationalists advocated for reforms in Burma similar to the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms in India. He joined the Burmese legislature in 1928, where he remained throughout the 1930s. From 1938 forward, Saw sought the premiership of Burma for himself.24 By September 1940, after building and abandoning a series of alliances, he rose to power.25 Saw worked from within the system to pressure Britain to offer more favourable terms to Burma on account of its participation in the war effort. Prior to his premiership, he had agitated for the British to make a declaration in August 1940 promising that Britain ‘would continue to use their best endeavours to promote Burma’s attainment of Dominion status and that after the war they would be willing to discuss the problems to be solved in Burma’.26 In 1940, Dominion status meant complete self-government within the British Commonwealth, with the same status as the British settler states of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. While not juridical independence, this would have meant functional independence, albeit retaining the British Crown.27 Even in 1940, youthful nationalists in Burma saw Dominion status as too great a compromise, demanding complete independence just as Indian nationalists did. Nonetheless, the ‘August Offer’ of 1940 was the first time the British gave Dominion status as the goal for Burmese ‘constitutional advance’.28 Once in the premiership, Saw had to navigate between privately cooperating with the British war effort and publicly appearing to press for more nationalist gains.29 By late summer 1941, Saw hoped to pry another statement from the British, capitalizing on his good relations with the new British governor, Reginald Dorman-Smith. On 29 July, Saw first floated the idea of travelling to London to negotiate another commitment from the British. Saw claimed he needed such a declaration before he could lead Burma into full cooperation with the British war effort, with an Anglo-Japanese war looming.30 Saw wanted a definitive guarantee that Burma would achieve Dominion status upon the War’s end. He assured Dorman-Smith that, given wartime conditions, he would press for nothing more. However, Saw faced the reality that nothing less would placate nationalist criticism.31 Over the next weeks, Saw and Dorman-Smith wrangled with Amery, who agreed to let Saw visit London in the fall.32 Roosevelt and Churchill dropped the Atlantic Charter bombshell into this context. Dorman-Smith observed Saw’s expectations rise just after the Charter appeared: on 16 August, 2 days after its promulgation, Saw presented Dorman-Smith with a statement lauding the document as ‘a charter of liberties for all peoples of the World’. The Burmese, the statement carried on, ‘cannot help but conclude from the universality of the expressions used in the Declaration … that the principles declared thereby must have application to the people of Burma and that their acceptance by [the] Democracies must of necessity lead Burma to attainment of national freedom’.33 The statement indicated the line that Saw would take once he went to London later that fall: that colonial domains such as Burma were the intended object of the Charter’s language along with the other democracies.34 Dorman-Smith expressed reservations about the British Government’s interpretation, but nonetheless, Saw seemed optimistic and thought his interpretation ‘plausible until Churchill could return to London to make a fuller statement on the subject’.35 Perhaps unfortunately for Saw, by the time he set out for London, Churchill had returned and made his 9 September rejection, declaring the Charter applicable only to Europe. The Burmese did not react positively.36 Yet, despite many Burmese seeing the Atlantic Charter as a lost cause after Churchill’s statement, Saw kept pushing for a trip to London in hopes of convincing the British Prime Minister of the reasonableness of his vision of Dominion status.37 Saw highlighted the Charter when speaking to the foreign media, and developed a press strategy before leaving Burma in late September. He used the Charter when speaking to foreign journalists, addressing audiences in Britain and the United States. Saw believed these publics might be sympathetic to uses of their own political languages, and he could then portray resistance from policymakers as rank hypocrisy.38 Just before his departure for London, Saw spoke to an American journalist, taking the credulous line of his 16 August ministerial statement. He said ‘he anticipated no need to “negotiate” with London if Churchill lives up to what he said in the [Charter]’.39 Despite Churchill’s 9 September statement, Saw indicated he intended to hold him to what the Charter said. By framing the Charter as ‘what [Churchill] said’, Saw made the prospective dialogue a referendum on Churchill’s personal honesty. Once he arrived in London, the Burma Office had Saw wined and dined by high society, arranged meetings with ministers and even awarded Saw an audience with the King. All the while, the premier did not voice his aims or arguments in the press. Instead, he maintained the official line that the visit was an expression of Burmese support for war-racked Britain.40 Amidst his public appearances, Saw had meetings with Churchill and Amery, where he presented his goals, but achieved none of them. The Charter came up in his meeting with Churchill, but Churchill rejected Saw’s request for a declaration, noting that only once Britain won the war would ‘liberal ideas … prevail on the lines of the Atlantic Charter’. Churchill even retreated from this position upon voicing it, reminding Saw that the Charter ‘was an unilateral declaration which HMG must hold itself free to interpret’.41 The one concrete achievement Saw could bring back to Burma was a letter drafted by Amery and approved by the War Cabinet, which offered what Amery called ‘a general and quite non-committal assurance’ of the British Government’s sincerity.42 The letter reaffirmed the August 1940 declaration, promising yet again that ‘immediately [after] the war is brought to a victorious end [the British government] will be willing to discuss the problems to [be] solved in Burma’ to advance towards Dominion status.43 Amery and Churchill did not want to make any more commitments which Saw or his successors might hold over them. Despite not meeting Saw’s political needs, Amery felt that this letter would offer him ‘a general assurance of the sincerity of our intentions’, and this would be enough for the time being.44 But Amery, much less Churchill, never considered that this foot-dragging might undermine their attempt to convince their interlocutor of British sincerity – which had been the main justification for agreeing to the trip at all. British officials thought Saw’s visit to London would allow them to personally convey British sincerity, and that seeing Britain first-hand would have ‘educative value’ on him.45 Saw may have learned the wrong lesson. After receiving Amery’s letter, Saw broke his silence in the press, and turned to the Atlantic Charter. Expressing his intense disappointment with the trip, on 3 November Saw claimed that the Charter ‘gave as a war aim the liberation and freedom of small nations’, prompting him to ask ‘that before they [the British Government] free the countries under Hitler let them free the countries which are in the British Empire’.46 Saw not only equated Burma with the small nations of Europe, but also equated British rule with Nazi rule. In addition to indicting British perfidy, under these equivalencies Saw used the Atlantic Charter’s clear language to argue for Burma’s equality with European nations under occupation, and thus their right to restored self-government at the war’s end. The next day at a wrap-up lunch for the visit, Amery attempted to answer Saw’s critique by yet again highlighting British good will and sincerity. Saw’s public reply was more conciliatory than his comments the previous day, but again he returned to the Atlantic Charter. In this appeal, Saw spoke above the British government to a potentially sympathetic British public, claiming that he had found ‘a body of public opinion in England which … believes that famous third paragraph of the Atlantic Charter … should be applied not only to the countries … of the now extensive German Empire but also the subject countries of the British Empire’. In addition to this repeated equation of the British Empire and Nazi conquests, Saw expanded his critique of British policy, voicing a hope that not only Burma but India and ‘all the Asiatic and African countries that are in the British Empire without being free and equal partners in your Commonwealth, hope that in Great Britain’s dealings with Empire countries not peopled by their kith and kin she will exercise the same large-heartedness and statesmanship which characterise her dealings with the countries which now form the self-governing Dominions of the British Commonwealth’.47 This latter statement raised the racial disparity within the British Empire—with countries ‘peopled by … kith and kin’ offered Dominion status while the non-white territories were kept as colonies. Saw also printed a pamphlet for distribution to the press and Members of Parliament stating Burma’s case.48 In the pamphlet, Saw based Burma’s claim for self-government on the Atlantic Charter. However, Saw also extended the argument, claiming that if the Charter were ‘applied without reservation to Burma’ it ‘would entitle her people to claim the restoration of their country to the status of an independent kingdom as it was conquered by force’ by the British in the 1880s. However, Saw claimed he was willing to abandon this historical claim in favour of self-government within the British Commonwealth.49 Though Saw’s reading of the Charter would have given Burma the right to treatment equal to other European governments under foreign occupation, retaining full sovereignty, he offered as a concession his willingness that Burma be treated as equal to a white Dominion, under the symbolic sovereignty of the monarch. Though the pamphlet did not gain traction or even press coverage, with this parting shot Saw had played every political card he could muster. As Saw left for the United States, the Foreign Office cabled Washington warning about the pamphlet, with a newfound understanding that ‘U Saw … is skilled (not to say unscrupulous) in the art of propaganda and it may be anticipated that he will do everything possible to exploit the opportunity of publicity for the Burmese Nationalist cause’.50 That the British had missed an opportunity with the visit soon became clear. Saw proceeded to the United States and continued to make soundings on the Atlantic Charter in press interviews in New York and Washington.51 He also raised the issue in a visit with Roosevelt, who rebuffed him along the same lines as Churchill.52 In fact, the Burma Office and Foreign Office had requested that Roosevelt echo Churchill’s interpretation of the Charter.53 Despite stonewalling from the US government as well as the British, as late as 26 November Saw sent a telegram to President Roosevelt requesting that he and Churchill issue another joint statement ‘to the effect “that the Atlantic Charter applies to all peoples, without exception”’. Roosevelt wrote to his State Department asking about the inquiry on 5 December, but the State Department recommended not replying.54 Two days after Roosevelt’s inquiry, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Also on 7 December, U Saw’s ship taking him from Los Angeles to Singapore was diverted to Honolulu.55 Prevented from returning to Burma across the Pacific, Saw returned across the Atlantic. En route, while in Lisbon, he visited the home of the Japanese consul. According to US naval intelligence passed to the British, upon his return to Burma Saw planned ‘to get in touch with the Japanese, and with their assistance set up a Quisling or Free Burmese Government’.56 Once the British caught up with Saw in Palestine, they arrested him. Saw denied the allegations, insisting he had gone to see the Japanese consul out of concern for Burmese students in Japan, whom he feared ‘would also be tortured by the Japanese military authorities’.57 After Saw’s traveling companion could not corroborate U Saw’s explanation, the British decided to go public with their detention of Saw, explaining that ‘he has been in contact with Japanese authorities since the outbreak of war with Japan … by his own admission’.58 After some frantic discussions within the Cabinet fearing that the British might have to bring Saw to public trial, and thus reveal their source, the Cabinet decided their public explanation sufficed, and U Saw spent the remainder of the war in a detention centre in Uganda, returning to Burma in 1946.59 While the rejection of Saw’s interpretation of the Atlantic Charter did not cause his alleged turn to the Japanese in early 1942, it must have been at least a contributing factor. After all, he had framed his mission in Churchill’s own words and offered complete loyalty to the Empire, but had gotten nowhere. Saw had dallied with the Japanese before, visiting there in 1935 and allegedly receiving funding from Japan until he acceded to the premiership in 1941.60 Saw’s minders in Rangoon and London had not feared he would turn back to the Japanese, but in the face of British intransigence and the onset of a Japanese sweep across Asia, it is possible to see why Saw would have thought he could risk changing sides. The risk did not pay off, leaving Saw in obscurity in Uganda for the four most important years of Burmese politics in his lifetime. From 1942 to 1945, the Japanese occupation transformed Burma and accelerated the rise of a charismatic young nationalist named Aung San. Whereas Saw’s demands had been too extreme in 1941, by 1946, the British brought him back to Burma as a possible counterweight to Aung San. For Aung San and the nationalists who had filled the void left by Saw, the demands he had taken to London in 1941 were the bare minimum. Indeed, Britain would not even get that. In this sense, then, the failure of Saw’s 1941 mission to London and Washington represented the disappearance of a potential Burma in the Commonwealth, completing the bifurcation Saw identified in 1941 between British government dealings with ‘kith and kin’ and non-white countries like Burma. Moreover, the failure of Saw’s mission and his years in Uganda meant that this ambitious man returned to a Burma which had passed him by. This frustration likely drove Saw to eliminate Aung San, his most powerful political rival, on 19 July 1947.61 While that lost future for Burma has dominated the historical and public imagination ever since, Saw also had a role in another lost future – that of an ‘anticolonial’ Atlantic Charter. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s Debut on the British Stage, August 1943 Two years after U Saw’s anticolonial campaign in London, Nigerian newspaper editor Nnamdi Azikiwe encountered a British government still under wartime stress but with more stability. The 1943 Colonial Office (CO), unlike the 1941 Burma Office, could assume that the Axis would not threaten British West Africa, and thus the government began planning for post-war reforms. Its invitation of eight West African editors to visit the UK in the summer of 1943 reflected a desire to secure cooperation from potential political troublemakers, looking toward the challenge of a post-war world where colonial people in Africa would not accept the pre-war status quo.62 Like U Saw in 1941, Azikiwe came as a potential ally to the British, although with the possibility of becoming an enemy. For Azikiwe, the 1943 Press Tour represented a turning point in his career, though not in the same extreme sense as U Saw’s 1941 visit. Nnamdi Azikiwe was born to Igbo parents in 1904, and his father’s position as a civil servant gave him the experience of living in each of the three regions which would become Nigeria in 1914.63 In 1925 Azikiwe made his way to the United States, where he enrolled at Storer College in West Virginia, Howard University in Washington, D.C., and Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. He finished a bachelor’s degree at Lincoln, and master’s degrees at Lincoln and the University of Pennsylvania, while teaching politics and African history at Lincoln.64 ‘Zik’ returned to West Africa in 1934 to take up the editorship of a new daily in Accra, the African Morning Post, where he worked with the labour activist I.T.A. Wallace-Johnson, whose article ‘Has the African a God?’ would get himself and Azikiwe into hot water with the British authorities.65 Hounded out of the Gold Coast, Zik returned to his native Nigeria and established a newspaper in Lagos, the West African Pilot, which from 1937 to 1943 became one of the highest circulating newspapers in the region.66 In addition, in 1937 Zik published his own political theory, of a ‘New Africa’ which young Africans could bring about through education, economic cooperation and pan-African solidarity.67 Thus, well before the Atlantic Charter, Zik had earned his anticolonial stripes, he had articulated his ideas and he had the means to promulgate them. Nonetheless, the Atlantic Charter’s timing did provide Azikiwe a needed political moment. In February 1941, Zik had left the most prominent nationalist political party, the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM), over differences with its leadership.68 If his departure closed one political path, the Atlantic Charter and Attlee’s 15 August 1941 pronouncement that the Charter applied to West Africa promptly opened another. Zik’s Pilot welcomed the Charter when it appeared, and pointed to Attlee’s statement to WASU as proof of the Charter’s applicability to Nigeria. At the same time, the Pilot warned against Britain shifting its position, hoping the Charter ‘will not fizzle out in the end to be mere platitudes’, which Churchill promptly confirmed with his 9 September statement.69 Despite Churchill having apparently closed the door on the Charter, in November 1941 Azikiwe sent a telegram to Churchill himself asking whether the Charter applied to British West Africa. The CO never responded to the telegram, but Azikiwe plastered it across the front page of his newspaper.70 Like U Saw, Zik knew how to turn British inconsistency into positive publicity, although Zik focused on his audience in West Africa, whereas Saw had focused on the British and US publics. Unlike Saw, Azikiwe had to win a political base at the same time as he pressed the British. To that end, in 1942 Zik used the Atlantic Charter in speeches on his Lagos football club’s ‘goodwill’ tour around Nigeria, which both raised money for the British war effort and provided a platform to promote himself and his message of colonial reform.71 After one match in northern Nigeria, Zik ‘discussed the Atlantic Charter and expressed the view that “Dominion Status for Nigeria within ten years” was the least’ that Britain should offer to the loyal West Africans supporting her war.72 This demand represented the culmination of a policy formation project Azikiwe had conducted with a handful of other Lagos intellectuals in early 1942, whose recommendations for Nigerian economic and political development Zik would publish in the Pilot in the spring of 1943.73 In March and April 1943, Azikiwe used his daily column to write out a ‘political blueprint’ for Nigerian political development, in which he proposed that Britain grant Nigeria internal self-government within 10 years and complete independence within 15.74 Zik placed the Atlantic Charter at the centre of his manifesto. Zik’s alternative constitution for Nigeria, included in the series, began with a preamble ‘hopeful that the Atlantic Charter may be evidence of a desire on the part of its signatories … to preserve and to extend democracy as a Political injunction and as a way of life globally’. From this principle, Azikiwe claimed Nigerians could ‘arrogate to themselves the status of an independent and sovereign political community which is freely aligned with, and associated to, the British Commonwealth of Nations’.75 By the time of his tour in Britain, Azikiwe had already laid out his plans as a challenge British power, with their basis in the Charter. With his tour of the country, policy research bureau, and an alternate constitution for the country, Zik carried himself like a leader of the opposition, promoting a slate of policy alternatives to the government’s. In June 1943, the British Council announced a tour of Britain for eight newspaper editors from across British West Africa. The Council offered the tour as intended to give ‘a view of life in England’, ‘explain and demonstrate “England at War”’, ‘give opportunities of personal contact with persons of prominence in various walks of life’ and ‘show what British local Government has done for Britain and how it has been done’, all with the unstated aim of educating potentially restive West Africans, much as the Burma Office had hoped to educate U Saw.76 The press delegation’s tour was never going to be a one-way street, though. As the editors’ CO handler noted in his report, ‘the visit had been accepted as a cheap way of doing their own business in England’.77 In Zik’s case, his business included using London as a political trampoline, an opportunity to broadcast the policy agenda he had developed since 1942. Azikiwe trumpeted the announcement of the tour as an answer to his own calls for such a visit.78 His primary interest in the delegation lay in its proximity to what many perceived as an accelerating political momentum on colonial reform, given Colonial Secretary Oliver Stanley’s 13 July 1943 declaration which committed British colonial policy to eventual self-government, a bombshell even to his own staff.79 The Pilot’s editorial on the tour appreciated the delegation’s timing ‘when things are being resolved at a speedy rate’, and the opportunity for colonial subjects to shape perception ‘when opinions about Colonies are rapidly changing’.80 Within this excitement for change, though, the tone remained cordial and fraternal given the wartime circumstances. Azikiwe was keen to portray his interest in the delegation as an interest in the well-being of the British Commonwealth, not its collapse. Rather, the delegation would ‘cement goodwill and fellowship between this part of the world and the Mother Country’, allowing the West Africans ‘to exchange ideas and give free play to a spirit of comradeship with those who control the destiny of the British Commonwealth of Nations’.81 Azikiwe certainly intended to share his ideas. When the eight editors (himself, a Yoruba and a Hausa editor from Nigeria, two editors each from the Gold Coast and Sierra Leone, and one from the Gambia) departed for London in late July 1943, Zik took the lead. He presented himself as a secretary for the group, to which the others assented, and then put forward a memorandum based entirely on his ‘Political Blueprint’ columns from March and April.82 This memo, entitled ‘The Atlantic Charter and British West Africa’, proposed numerous social, educational, and economic reforms for the various territories in West Africa. Most provocatively, the document expanded Zik’s timeline for Nigeria to all of British West Africa, proposing internal self-government for British West Africa within 10 years and complete self-government within 15 years. Just like Azikiwe’s ‘Political Blueprint’ columns, the memorandum put forward a constitution for British West Africa, with a description of the proper separation of powers, delineation of rights for citizens, and plan for a transfer of powers. Thus, even though Azikiwe came to London in a much lower political position than U Saw, he proposed a political agenda on the same scale. Like Saw, Zik articulated this agenda under the banner of the Atlantic Charter, with the memorandum declaring the editors were ‘basing out [sic] claims upon the declaration of Clause 3 of the Atlantic Charter’.83 Rather than a naive invocation, Azikiwe explained in his preface to the memo that in light of Churchill refusing to acknowledge the Charter’s application to the colonies, ‘it has become clear to us in British West Africa that unless we make known our feelings and aspirations we may be left in the lurch in the post-war days to come’.84 The memo was signed by six of the editors, though one of them offered 19 reservations to his signature, while the Hausa editor Mallam Abubakar Imam and the Gambian editor refused to sign. Dated 1 August 1943, Azikiwe would keep the document private until publishing it near the end of the delegation’s visit, when veteran anticolonial agitator George Padmore and volunteers from WASU helped him distribute it to the British press and parliamentary figures.85 Like U Saw’s pamphlet from 1941, the memorandum attracted no publicity, except for Azikiwe and Padmore’s own columns published in British papers.86 After the delegation’s arrival in Liverpool on 1 August, the British Council kept them busy with an itinerary including London sites as well as the self-government systems in the cities of Birmingham, Oxford, and Epsom.87 Like U Saw on his public tour, Zik kept his larger designs private at first. Azikiwe spoke for the delegation on several occasions, including during the visit to Birmingham, where he delivered the official reply to the Lord Mayor, which according to the handler’s report ‘was considerably abler and certainly more grammatical than that given by the Lord Mayor’. The handler, CR Niven, felt that Azikiwe had ‘moderated his tone’ on self-government for West Africa, portraying his speech as having ‘made passing reference to self-government – and I see no harm in that – he made it in a far more reasonable manner than expected’.88 Niven thought Azikiwe had softened over the course of the visit, and that these opinion-shapers had been convinced by the arguments and evidence marshalled by their British hosts. According to Niven, on the topic of self-government, the editors’ ‘aggressiveness disappeared’ and ‘after they had seen the Local Governments’ achievements … they began to conceive an entirely different picture of their aims and objects for the future’. Niven noted that this should reduce ‘vague and vapid vapourings on self-government’, though he likely did not know about the memorandum when he wrote his report. Even so, he remained suspicious of Zik, whom he described as ‘sincere in his opinions, but unscrupulous in his way of getting them across. A very clever man used to skating on thin ice. Very eloquent and like other West Africans inclined to be carried away by his own eloquence. … Outstandingly the most vital figure of the party’.89 Niven might have felt confirmed in this opinion had he observed Zik on 22 August, when the delegation attended a party given by WASU at its London hostel. Here, Azikiwe first referenced the memorandum in public, and then expounded on it further when he attended WASU’s second annual conference several days later.90 By waiting until he had a West African audience to premiere the memo, Azikiwe showed that his main audience remained in West Africa, not Britain. But Zik had used the prestige of his participation in the fairly anodyne activities of the previous three weeks as a platform to enhance his stature with his West African audience when he unveiled his manifesto. WASU guaranteed a friendly audience for Azikiwe’s proposals. Not only had WASU hosted Attlee when the Deputy Prime Minister affirmed the Atlantic Charter applied to West Africa, but in April 1942 WASU had passed a resolution calling for the British to grant their West African colonies immediate internal self-government and complete self-government within 5 years of the war’s end.91 Thus, WASU called for an even more ambitious timetable than Zik – indeed, when WASU had passed the resolution in April 1942, Azikiwe had criticized it as vague and naive.92 By August 1943, though, Azikiwe would take a very similar line, adding 10 years to WASU’s 1942 proposal. By moving himself closer to WASU and drafting the memorandum in preparation to unveil it once on ‘stage’ in London, Azikiwe had used the press delegation as a bully pulpit. Shortly before leaving Britain in 1943, Zik had hinted at his imminent political plans, acknowledging that ‘I was only 39 years old’, but ‘felt that my public life should begin at 40’.93 En route back to Nigeria, Azikiwe wrote to his political mentor and a veteran nationalist, the Lagos surveyor and publisher Herbert Macaulay. Zik summed up the visit to Britain by voicing some of the lessons the British Council had hoped to impart, noting ‘we have seen Britain at war … bloody but unbowed’. Even as he admired Britain’s fighting spirit and strength, Azikiwe lamented that ‘from a political standpoint, we, the Colonial peoples of West Africa, have very few friends’. Thus, he looked toward Africans taking matters into their own hands to achieve liberation: ‘All hands must be on deck for building a national front’.94 Over the next 9 months, Zik would set about building such a national front. Upon his return, Azikiwe published the columns which he had used to draft the memorandum as a small booklet. Although the text corresponded to the columns almost entirely, he added hints of more drastic anti-British action should demands for reform not be met.95 Zik used the broken promises of the Atlantic Charter to justify such drastic measures to his Nigerian readership, noting the Charter had repeated ‘the same platitude’ about self-determination as Wilson’s Fourteen Points from 1917.96 In contrast to 1918–19, though, Azikiwe threatened that ‘if Britain fails us again, by supporting the conservative views of Mr Winston Churchill that, the Atlantic Charter is not applicable to us … then it will be up to us to make our demands in more unequivocal terms and in accordance with a planned programme of positive action’.97 Throughout late 1943 and early 1944, Azikiwe began to form his national front and positioned himself at its leadership. He published a ninety-five-part series about the press delegation, entitled ‘Ambassadors of Goodwill’, highlighting his activities during the delegation, which ran in the Pilot from October 1943 through January 1944.98 By August 1944, Azikiwe and Macaulay had formed a broad coalition of Nigerian political groups into a political party, the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC). Although his audience for the trip and the memorandum had been largely West African, British colonial officials certainly noticed Azikiwe’s debut. Although the CO dismissed the memo as ‘clap-trap’, both the CO and Nigerian government subsequently wrote about Zik in respectful tones.99 Another CO official recognized that his recommendations ‘no doubt [represent] the general aspirations of the educated Africans’ and the Governor of Nigeria dismissed the NYM’s own counter-proposals, saying that ‘were [NYM] led by a man of Azikiwe’s calibre it might count for more’.100 The CO saw Zik as a force to be reckoned with: after 1943, Colonial Secretary Oliver Stanley saw Azikiwe as ‘the biggest danger of the lot’ and CO officials realized that Azikiwe had seized the opportunity to become the star of the delegation.101 An official in the Nigerian government, writing to London in October 1943, wrote that ‘the sooner Zikism … [is] debunked the better for West Africa’.102 Not one to disappoint these fears, Zik led the NCNC into governing Nigeria’s Eastern Region in the mid-1950s, on the way to serving as Nigeria’s first independent Governor-General and President through the mid-1960s. The 1943 Press Delegation did not create a pliable partner for Anglo-Nigerian cooperation, even if Zik’s departure from the fold of cooperation did not prove as dramatic as U Saw’s attempted defection. In both cases, trips to London served as platforms to promote political careers in particular colonial contexts, as Saw and Zik exploited colonial and metropolitan media to amplify their messages, their own importance and their political leverage. Both men failed to secure their immediate political aims, though by viewing his delegation as a start rather than an endpoint, Azikiwe found more success by continuing to work within the British system, whereas Saw side-lined himself by turning to the Japanese. While Saw and Burma slipped from British control almost as soon as the 1941 mission concluded, Azikiwe and Nigeria would wait to challenge British rule on a massive scale until 2 years after the press tour, in summer 1945’s Lagos general strike.103 Only 15 years later, exactly in accordance with his timeline, Azikiwe would lead an independent Nigeria as an equal partner in the British Commonwealth. Conclusion: Lost Futures Compared to the immediate obscurity of most press releases, the Atlantic Charter has fared well. Most statements released by government leaders, even those of major geopolitical powers, fade into obscurity amid the piles of papers generated by the bureaucracy of administration. The Charter’s longevity stems from the fact that documents take on lives of their own, beyond the intentions of their authors.104 This is not to establish the Atlantic Charter itself as an agent in transnational politics.105 Instead, the Charter entered into complex political situations all across the world, both inside and outside of the British Empire, from Rhodesia, India and Trinidad to Madagascar and Algeria.106 In its longevity, global appeal and potency, the Atlantic Charter did echo Wilson’s Fourteen Points and other Allied statements during the First World War. However, whereas in 1919 anticolonialists came to Paris as supplicants to the victors, in 1941 and 1943 anticolonialists came not to the victory meeting but to a beleaguered imperial power, demanding rather than asking for treatment as equals. This shift reflects both the advancement of anticolonial movements by the 1940s as well as the deterioration of British power over the preceding two decades. This article has drawn attention to two of those situations, and how two very particular actors used the Charter in their contexts. In both cases, they made claims on the British government, using the universalist language of the Atlantic Charter to insist on treatment as equals within a British community, the Commonwealth. Whereas U Saw made this demand on the basis of his established position as a leader within the British-sponsored government of Burma, Azikiwe made his demands to launch a career in Nigeria. While the two had different primary audiences for their campaigns, coming to London served similar purposes in heightening their prestige, allowing them to present themselves as equals to the British government they dealt with. Though U Saw had a more realistic hope that policy makers might accede to his requests, both Saw and Azikiwe used the mere assertion of equality with their interlocutors to heighten their own stature in their colonial political contexts. That these complex moves emerged out of such different situations, but both used the Atlantic Charter, should lead to a re-examination of the imperial political environment. As of 1941, anticolonial forces long active across the Empire needed only the hint of a political opening to mount sophisticated attacks which intervened in the politics of the metropole and the colonies. Saw and Azikiwe’s visits to London serve as testaments to the profound instability of the Empire during the Second World War, and they show how the forces unleashed after 1945 had mobilized well before then, with the War and post-war providing opportunities to make claims against the colonial state. The contrasting outcomes of the two missions also shows how the forces unleashed during the War might have proceeded quite differently. To take the Burmese example first: young nationalists, willing to use violence and to ally with the Japanese, had been putting pressure on British rule in Burma since the mid-1930s, and Japan’s expansion into Southeast Asia in 1940–1 only increased the perception that Britain’s days in Burma were numbered. Therefore, Saw walked a thin line when he came to London in 1941, trying to achieve meaningful self-government while retaining the prospect of British defence and diplomatic protection against an expanding Japan. Had Churchill been able to see the Atlantic Charter as Saw presented it, as an opportunity to reform the Empire through devolution to gain allies against Japan, perhaps Burma might not have fallen so easily to Japan in 1942.107 Moreover, perhaps after the war, the idea of Burma remaining in a British Commonwealth would not have been the non-starter it became by 1946, when Saw returned. U Saw had used the Charter in 1941 to buttress his own nationalist credentials, but in retrospect his proposal might have also saved British influence in Burma. By the mid-1940s, British policy makers recognized that they needed to cultivate allies in their colonies to prevent others following the Burmese path of jettisoning Britain entirely. The invitation of pressmen from West Africa thus looked toward the post-war era, but like the Burma Office’s belief that it could control the political trajectory of a nation by charming a small delegation of leaders, the CO believed they could manage West Africa through individuals like Azikiwe. As with Saw, the CO officials did not reckon on facilitating the rise of anticolonial figures. In August 1943, the Atlantic Charter again served as the rhetorical tool for an ambitious self-aggrandizer to attempt to propel himself to the head of local anticolonial politics. Azikiwe’s proposals went no further in Whitehall than Saw’s had, but the post-war escalation of nationalist agitation in Nigeria would reveal that Azikiwe’s 1943 offer was the best the British would ever get from their Nigerian interlocutors. Nigeria would remain in the Commonwealth after its independence in 1960, but the 1940s and 1950s would see intense and sometimes bloody contestation over Nigeria’s relationship with Britain, ending with Azikiwe as Nigeria’s president. As the cases of Burma and Nigeria show, the Atlantic Charter-based proposals which appeared during the war represented a transition point for the possible futures of the British Empire. The Charter proposals brought by Saw and Azikiwe were the latest in a long tradition of requests for the metropole to devolve power to local leaders in the colonies, who would govern their territories in firm alliance with Britain. All of these proposals operated on the premise that British policy makers treat colonial subjects as equals. In the case of the Atlantic Charter, U Saw and Azikiwe assumed colonial equality with the European states Churchill had intended, with Burma and Nigeria enjoying equal claims to self-government and the restoration of sovereignty. Churchill and his Conservative counterparts in the Burma and COs simply refused to countenance such a political and racial claim to equality in the early 1940s. After the war, anticolonialists continued to forward similar proposals, but they had to compete with more radical and drastic programs of immediate independence. Anticolonial interpretations of the Atlantic Charter had articulated a non-nationalist framework for decolonization within a tight Commonwealth, but the failure of these proposals during the war made them seem less plausible in the post-war than the nationalist framework.108 If the Empire was already showing signs of coming apart before August 1941, after the British rejected ideas of reform along the lines proposed by figures like Saw and Azikiwe, dissolution became ever more likely. Britain’s defeats in 1940–1 had diminished its status as a hegemonic power, and figures like Saw and then Azikiwe took advantage of weakness at the centre to promote their own agendas. The force with which Churchill’s government rejected these proposals testified to the Empire’s weakness, not its strength, since the exigency of wartime had led Churchill to put out the Charter in the first place. The Empire would come crumbling down in the years after Churchill’s ‘fluffy flapdoodle’, and his brand of imperial die-hards did pay dearly in the end. The author would like to thank Joel Hebert, Professor Konrad Jarausch’s 2016 European history seminar, the 2014 Lost Futures conference held by the University of North Carolina and King’s College London, and the History Department of Western Kentucky University for comments on this article in various forms. Romans 11:36. Footnotes 1 Leo Amery, entry for 14 August 1941, in John Barnes and David Nicholson, eds, The Empire at Bay: The Leo Amery Diaries, 1929-1945 (London, 1988), 710. 2 ‘Atlantic Charter’, <http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/atlantic.asp> accessed 8 April 2013. 3 In contrast to depictions in Edward A. Laing, ‘The Norm of Self-Determination, 1941-1991’, California Western International Law Journal, 22 (1992), 262–4, and Elizabeth Borgwardt, ‘When You State a Moral Principle, You Are Stuck with It: The 1941 Atlantic Charter as a Human Rights Instrument’, Virginia Journal of International Law, 46 (2006), 532–3. On Azikiwe, James Coleman, Nigeria: Background to Nationalism (Berkeley, CA, 1958), 231–2, and Fabian Klose, Human Rights in the Shadow of Colonial Violence: The Wars of Independence in Kenya and Algeria (Philadelphia, 2013), 22–4; on U Saw, Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper, Forgotten Armies: The Fall of British Asia, 1941-1945 (New York, 2004), 102–4, and Glenn Mitoma, Human Rights and the Negotiation of American Power (Philadelphia, 2013), 52. 4 In Burmese ‘U’ serves as an honorific like ‘Mr’, such that ‘U Saw’ and ‘Saw’ are interchangeable. 5 Erez Manela, The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism (Oxford, 2007), 4–5, 8. 6 See, for example, the comments of Cemil Aydin, Matthew Connelly, and Odd Arne Westad in the H-Diplo Roundtable Review of Wilsonian Moment, H-Diplo Roundtable Reviews 10, no. 7 (March 2009) <https://issforum.org/roundtables/PDF/Roundtable-X-7.pdf> accessed 2 April 2017. Although Manela acknowledges that Wilson’s rhetoric entered into ongoing debates (Wilsonian Moment, 4–6), the narrative privileges Wilson and slips into portraying Wilson himself as a causal agent (or ‘the leading protagonist’, Wilsonian Moment, 10). 7 For an exhaustive reconstruction of the Atlantic Conference, see Theodore A. Wilson, The First Summit: Roosevelt and Churchill at Placentia Bay, 1941, revised ed. (Lawrence, KS, 1991; originally published 1961); for an early postcolonial critique of Roosevelt and the Charter, see M. S. Venkataramani, ‘The United States, the Colonial Issue, and the Atlantic Charter Hoax’, International Studies, 13 (1974), 1–28. For excellent detail on the Anglo-American debates about how the Charter should apply, see Wm. Roger Louis, Imperialism at Bay: The United States and the Decolonization of the British Empire, 1941-1945 (Oxford, 1978); Christopher G. Thorne, Allies of a Kind: The United States, Britain, and the War Against Japan, 1941-1945 (London, 1978); David Reynolds, The Creation of the Anglo-American Alliance, 1937-1941 (Chapel Hill, 1982); and John J. Sbrega, Anglo-American Relations and Colonialism in East Asia, 1941-1945 (New York, 1983). Work in the 1990s revisited the debates of the 1970s and 1980s: Douglas Brinkley and David R. Facey-Crowther, eds, The Atlantic Charter (New York, 1994); Townsend Hoopes and Douglas Brinkley, FDR and the Creation of the U.N. (New Haven, 1997), 36–42. 8 This refers to the work of Belizean international lawyer Edward A. Laing, ‘The Contribution of the Atlantic Charter to Human Rights Law and Humanitarian Universalism’, Willamette Law Review, 26 (1989), 113–70; Laing, ‘Relevance of the Atlantic Charter for a New World Order’, Indian Journal of International Law, 29 (1989), 298–325; Laing, ‘The Norm of Self-Determination, 1941-1991’, 209–308; and that of U.S. diplomatic and legal historian Elizabeth Borgwardt, A New Deal for the World: America’s Vision for Human Rights (Cambridge, MA, 2005). For less sanguine views of the Charter’s contribution to human rights, see A. W. Brian Simpson, Human Rights and the End of Empire: Britain and the Genesis of the European Convention (Oxford, 2001) and Samuel Moyn, The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (Cambridge, MA, 2010). All agree on the Charter’s significance for the history of anticolonialism. 9 For an application of this colonially centred reading of the Charter’s history, see Mark Reeves, ‘“The Broad, Toiling Masses in all the Continents’: Anticolonial Activists and the Atlantic Charter’, MA thesis, Western Kentucky University, Kentucky, 2014. 10 David Reynolds, ‘The Atlantic “Flop”: British Foreign Policy and the Churchill-Roosevelt Meeting of August 1941’, in Brinkley and Facey-Crowther, eds, The Atlantic Charter (New York, 1994), 129–50. 11 Wilson, First Summit, 163–5. 12 Lloyd C. Gardner, ‘The Atlantic Charter: Idea and Reality, 1942-1945’, in Brinkley and Facey-Crowther, eds, The Atlantic Charter (New York, 1994), 50. 13The Times, 16 August 1941. 14Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 374, 9 September 1941, 68–9. 15 Quoted in Mark Mazower, Hitler’s Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe (New York, 2008), 587. 16 Partha Chatterjee, The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (Princeton, 1993), 10, 16. 17 Franklin D. Roosevelt, ‘Fireside Chat, February 23, 1942’ <http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=16224> accessed 4 December 2013. 18 Shown by Frank Costigliola, Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War (Princeton, 2012), 169, 185, 191, 210–11, 227–9. 19 Franklin D. Roosevelt, ‘Excerpts from the Press Conference, December 22, 1944’ <http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=16484> accessed 7 December 2013. 20 Mark Mazower, No Enchanted Palace: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations (Princeton, 2009), 55. 21 Benjamin Gregg, ‘Individuals as Authors of Human Rights: Not Only Addressees’, Theory and Society, 39 (2010), 636–7, 645. 22 Cf. Albert Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized, trans. Howard Greenfield (Boston, 1991), 92; Lynn Hunt, Inventing Human Rights: A History (New York, 2007), 147ff. establishes a paradigm for this sort of ‘cascading’ rights thinking. 23 This article evaluates anticolonialism using Fred Cooper’s criterion, as the contestation of colonialism ‘by those who sought to exit from the colonial polity or to make the polity less colonial’; Frederick Cooper, Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History (Berkeley, CA, 2005), 28. This allows historians to evaluate anticolonial politics as contemporary activists did, rather than from a presentist perspective assuming the independent nation-state as anticolonialism’s inevitable endpoint, and anyone demanding less not sufficiently anticolonial. 24 After the 1935 Government of Burma Act, unlike in India, the British allowed Burmese politicians to take leadership of the government under the title ‘Premier’, albeit limited by the British governor’s power. The Act seems to have used the term ‘Premier’ to avoid calling a non-European leader ‘Prime Minister’. 25 Robert H. Taylor, ‘Politics in Late Colonial Burma: The Case of U Saw’, Modern Asian Studies, 10 (1976), 163–78; Bayly and Harper, Forgotten Armies, 97. See also ‘Thumb Nail Biography of U Saw and U Tin Tut’, September 1941, 1, M/3/1113, British Library, India Office Records (IOR). 26 L. S. Amery, ‘Burma: Constitutional Future’, 28 October 1941, 1, CAB 67/9/122, The National Archives, Kew (TNA). For the complex story of U Saw’s rise to the premiership, see Taylor, ‘The Case of U Saw’. 27 For a succinct explanation of the evolving meaning of this term, see part II of W. David McIntyre, The Britannic Vision: Historians and the Making of the British Commonwealth of Nations, 1907-1948 (New York, 2009). 28 Taylor, ‘Politics in Late Colonial Burma’, 176–7; the ‘Freedom Bloc’ of which Aung San was the secretary demanded a deadline for independence in exchange for Burmese cooperation in the war: Michael W. Charney, A History of Modern Burma (Cambridge, 2009), 48. 29 C. F. B. Pearce to J. C. Walton, 15 September 1941, 2–3, M/3/1113, IOR. 30 Reginald Dorman-Smith to Leo Amery, 31 July 1941, and Dorman-Smith to Amery, 30 July 1941, M/3/733, IOR. 31 Dorman-Smith to Amery, 9 July 1941, 1, M/3/733, IOR; Dorman-Smith to Amery, 30 July 1941, 1. 32 Robert Henry Taylor, ‘The Relationship between Burmese Social Classes and British-Indian Policy on the Behavior of the Burmese Political Elite, 1937-1942’, PhD thesis, Cornell University, New York, 1974, 611–12, 618–21, 624. 33 Dorman-Smith to Amery, 16 August 1941, 1–2, M/3/733, IOR. 34 The Burmese Chamber of Commerce (a European body) wrote the Burma Office that Attlee’s speech to WASU excited Saw’s interpretation of the Charter: T. L. Hughes, ‘Memorandum on the Constitutional Position of Burma’, 13 September 1941, 1, M/3/1113, IOR. 35 Taylor, ‘Burmese Political Elite’, 616. 36 Dorman-Smith to Amery, 26 September 1941, 1, M/3/733, IOR. See also former Burmese premier Ba Maw’s bitter comments in his memoir, Breakthrough in Burma: Memoirs of a Revolution, 1939-1946 (New Haven, 1968), 37–8. 37 Burmese nationalist newspapers urged Saw not to go to Britain as a result of Churchill’s speech: C. G. Stewart, ‘Review of Recent Activities of Premier U Saw and Deductions Therefrom’, 15 September 1941, 7, M/3/1113, IOR. 38 Burma’s chief security officer identified this as a media strategy targeting American correspondents: Stewart, ‘Review of Recent Activities of Premier U Saw’, 7, M/3/1113, IOR. 39Chicago Daily Tribune, 15 September 1941. 40 See coverage in The Times from 25 October to 1 November 1941, and Taylor, ‘Burmese Political Elite’, 627–8. 41 ‘Prime Minister’s Interview with U Saw and U Tin Tut’, 18 October 1941, 2, M/3/733, IOR. Also available in PREM 4/50/1, TNA. 42 Amery, ‘Burma: Constitutional Future’, 2, CAB 67/9/122, TNA. 43 Draft Letter to U Saw, 1, attached to Amery, ‘Burma: Constitutional Future’, CAB 67/9/122, TNA. 44 Draft Letter to U Saw, 1, CAB 67/9/122, TNA. 45 Draft Letter to U Saw, 1, CAB 67/9/122, TNA; ‘Report for the Month of August 1941 for the Dominions, India, Burma and the Colonies and Mandated Territories’, September 1941, 11, CAB 68/8/58, TNA. Taylor, ‘Burmese Political Elite’, 618–19, 625; Taylor, ‘The Case of U Saw’, 189–90; cf. Amery’s 5 November speech, quoted in The Times, 5 November 1941. 46Manchester Guardian, 4 November 1941; cf. also Chicago Daily Tribune, 4 November 1941; New York Times, 4 November 1941. 47 Saw, quoted in The Times, 5 November 1941. 48 J. C. Walton to C. F. B. Pearce, 6 November 1941, M/3/732, IOR. 49 U Saw, Burma’s Case for Full Self-Government (London, 1941), 2–3, M/3/732, IOR. 50 Joyce to Lord Halifax, 6 November 1941, 1, 3, M/3/732, IOR. 51New York Times, 14 November 1941; Washington Post, 16 November 1941. 52 Amery to Churchill, 8 November 1941, PREM 4/50/1, TNA; Halifax to Amery, 16 November 1941, 1, M/3/1111, IOR; Memorandum of conversation, Halifax with Sumner Welles, 12 November 1941, RG 59 033.45C11/2, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD (NARA). 53 Amery to Anthony Eden, 3 November 1941, 1–2, M/3/1111, IOR. 54 Wallace Murray to Welles and Cordell Hull, memorandum, 13 December 1941, RG 59 845C.002/11, NARA. 55 Joyce to J. C. Walton, 9 December 1941, M/3/1110, IOR: The Foreign Office estimated that Saw’s ship would have been around Wake Island or Midway Island when the Japanese attack began. 56 L. C. Hollis, Ministry of Defence, to Churchill, 7 January 1942, PREM 4/50/2, TNA. 57 Report of U Saw’s interrogation on 13 January 1942, in High Commissioner, Jerusalem, to Cairo, 14 January 1942, 2, PREM 4/50/2, TNA. 58 Cairo to Foreign Office, 17 January 1942; Press Release, 18 January 1942, PREM 4/50/2, TNA. 59 Foreign Office to Cairo, 27 January 1942, PREM 4/50/2, TNA. 60 Stewart, ‘Review of Recent Activities of Premier U Saw’, 1–2, M/3/1113, IOR. 61 Cady, Modern Burma, 557; Charney, Modern Burma, 68. 62 For an interpretation of a longtime cordiality in Anglo-Azikiwe relations, see John E. Flint, ‘“Managing Nationalism”: The Colonial Office and Nnamdi Azikiwe, 1932–43’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 27 (1999), 143–58. 63 John Oriji, ‘Nnamdi Azikiwe: The Triumph of Knowledge’, in Gloria Chuku, ed., The Igbo Intellectual Tradition: Creative Conflict in African and African Diasporic Thought (New York, 2013), 69. 64 Oriji, ‘Triumph of Knowledge’, 70–2; for the influence of several notable African-American intellectuals, especially Alain Locke, on Azikiwe, see Jason C. Parker, ‘“Made-in-America Revolutions”? The “Black University” and the American Role in the Decolonization of the Black Atlantic’, Journal of American History, 96 (2009), 727–50; Nnamdi Azikiwe, Liberia in World Politics (London, 1934). 65 Jonathan Derrick, Africa’s ‘Agitators’: Militant Anti-Colonialism in Africa and the West, 1918-1939 (New York, 2008), 313–16. Ray Jenkins examines another episode from this period in his ‘William Ofori Atta, Nnamdi Azikiwe, J. B. Danquah and the “Grilling” of W. E. F. Ward of Achimota in 1935’, History in Africa, 21 (1994), 171–89. See also correspondence between Azikiwe and George Padmore during the episode in KV 2/1817, TNA. This article uses ‘Zik’ and ‘Azikiwe’ interchangeably, as did Azikiwe. 66 Sam O. Idemili, ‘What the West African Pilot Did in the Movement for Nigerian Nationalism between 1937 and 1957’, Black American Literature Forum, 12 (1978), 84–91. 67 Nnamdi Azikiwe, Renascent Africa (London, 1937). 68 On the NYM controversy, see Gabriel Olakunle Olusanya, ‘The Impact of the Second World War on Nigeria’s Political Evolution’, PhD thesis, University of Toronto, Toronto, 1964, 285–91. 69West African Pilot, 16 and 20 August 1941 (hereafter Pilot). 70Pilot, 13 November 1941. 71 Wiebe Karl Boer, ‘Nation Building Exercise: Sporting Culture and the Rise of Football in Colonial Nigeria’, PhD thesis, Yale University, New Haven, CT, 2003, 310–12. 72 John H. Carrow, ‘Extract from a Confidential Memorandum dated 12.2.42 from Resident Sokoto to Secretary, Northern Provinces’, 28 January 1943, CO 583/261/8, TNA. 73 Azikiwe describes this ‘Nigeria Reconstruction Group’ in his The Development of Political Parties in Nigeria (London, 1957), 8. 74 Azikiwe, ‘Political Blueprint of Nigeria (1)’, Pilot, 25 March 1943, and ‘Political Blueprint of Nigeria (2)’, Pilot, 26 March 1943. The full set of columns ran in the Pilot, 25 March 1943 to 15 April 1943. 75 Azikiwe, ‘Political Blueprint of Nigeria (12)’, Pilot, 8 April 1943. Zik would again refer to the Charter as a basis for an independent Nigeria in his columns of 12 April and 15 April. 76 C. R. Niven, ‘Visit to England by West African Delegation, August, 1943’, cover letter, CO 554/133/3, TNA. 77 Niven, ‘Visit’, 17, CO 554/133/3, TNA. 78Pilot, 23 June 1943. 79 Louis, Imperialism at Bay, 256. 80Pilot, 23 June 1943. 81Pilot, 23 June 1943. Zik’s regular column ‘Inside Stuff’ commented on the tour alongside the editorial. 82 Azikiwe’s sole authorship of the memorandum is corroborated by Imam in Pilot, 9 November 1943. Azikiwe claimed the memorandum had been a group effort: Pilot, 30 October 1943. 83 ‘The Atlantic Charter and British West Africa: Memorandum on Post-War Reconstruction of the Colonies and Protectorates of British West Africa, Prepared under the Auspices of the West African Press Delegation to Great Britain, August, 1943’, 3, CO 554/133/3, TNA. 84 ‘The Atlantic Charter and British West Africa’, 1, CO 554/133/3, TNA. 85Pilot, 16 November 1943. 86 Azikiwe, ‘“Privileged” to Print’, Daily Worker, 8 October 1943; Padmore, ‘Editors Use Imperialism-Boosting Trip to Demand W. African Self-Government!’ New Leader, 23 October 1943. 87 See Zik’s columns in the Pilot of 13, 27–28, 31 August, and 1–2, 4, 6 September 1943 for details. 88 Niven, ‘Visit’, 9, CO 554/133/3, TNA. 89 Niven, ‘Visit’, 19, CO 554/133/3, TNA. 90Pilot, 15 January 1944. 91 ‘Resolutions on Political Problems’, Wasu (Preach), May 1943, 7–8. 92Pilot, 21 April 1942; Azikiwe to Blaize (WASU, London), 2 July 1942, CO 554/127/11, TNA. 93Pilot, 22 January 1944. 94 Azikiwe to Herbert Macaulay, 27 September 1943, Herbert Macaulay Papers, Box 88 File 3, Kenneth Dike Library Special Collections, University of Ibadan. Emphasis in original. 95 For such unveiled threats, see Azikiwe, Political Blueprint of Nigeria (Lagos, 1943), 1, 58, and 64. 96 Azikiwe, Political Blueprint, 55. 97 Azikiwe, Political Blueprint, 64. 98 Described by the US consul in Lagos as a ‘seemingly never-ending series’. Andrew G. Lynch, ‘Objectionable Articles in the West African Pilot’, 28 January 1944, RG 84, Lagos Classified General Records, 1940-1963, Box 1, Folder 5, NARA. 99 ‘Note on Memo by W. A. Delegation’, 9 September 1943, CO 554/113/3, TNA. 100 ‘Note by Andrew Cohen’, 13 October 1943, CO 583/261/8, TNA; Sir Bernard Bourdillon, ‘Minute by Governor to Secretary of State for the Colonies’, 10 September 1943, CO 583/263/18, TNA. 101 ‘Notes on Points Arising in Discussions with the Secretary of State (Stanley) on Wednesday, 27th October and Thursday, 28th October, 1943’, CO 554/132/18, TNA. 102 A. G. Grantham to Sir Arthur Dawe, 11 October 1943, 2, CO 554/132/20, TNA. 103 On the strike, see Lisa A. Lindsay, ‘Domesticity and Difference: Male Breadwinners, Working Women, and Colonial Citizenship in the 1945 Nigerian General Strike’, American Historical Review, 104 (1999), 783–812. 104 Hunt, Inventing Human Rights; David Armitage, The Declaration of Independence: A Global History (Cambridge, MA, 2007). 105 Contrast with Borgwardt, ‘When You State a Moral Principle’, 532; Laing, ‘Relevance of the Atlantic Charter’, 310; Laing, ‘Norm of Self-Determination’, 258, 261. 106 For a sampling of Atlantic Charter-talk, see Michael O. West, ‘Ndabaningi Sithole, Garfield Todd and the Dadaya School Strike of 1947’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 18 (1992), 299; Rosaleen Smyth, ‘War Propaganda During the Second World War in Northern Rhodesia’, African Affairs, 83 (1984), 356–8; Tony Martin, ‘Eric Williams and the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission: Trinidad’s Future Nationalist Leader as Aspiring Imperial Bureaucrat, 1942-1944’, Journal of African American History, 88 (2003), 285; Auriol Weigold, Churchill, Roosevelt and India: Propaganda During World War II (London, 2008), Chapters 1–2; Sarah Ellen Graham, ‘American Propaganda, the Anglo-American Alliance, and the “Delicate Question” of Indian Self-determination’, Diplomatic History, 33 (2009), 223–59; Douglas Little, ‘Cold War and Colonialism in Africa: The United States, France and the Madagascar Revolt of 1947’, Pacific Historical Review, 59 (1990), 533–5; and Klose, Human Rights in the Shadow of Colonial Violence, 24–5. 107 After the fall of Burma in early 1942, Reginald Dorman-Smith admitted ‘several months ago he would have favored some form of dominion status for Burma but that it was now too late’. John Davies, Jr., ‘Conditions in Burma’, 3 April 1942, 2, RG 59 845C.00/59, NARA. 108 For similar developments in French West Africa, see Frederick Cooper, Citizenship between Empire and Nation: Remaking France and French Africa, 1945-1960 (Princeton, 2014). © The Author [2017]. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Twentieth Century British History Oxford University Press

‘Free and Equal Partners in Your Commonwealth’: The Atlantic Charter and Anticolonial Delegations to London, 1941–3

Twentieth Century British History , Volume Advance Article (2) – Aug 10, 2017

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Abstract

Abstract This article examines the efforts of two anticolonial politicians from the British Empire who used official visits to London and the rhetoric of the Atlantic Charter (14 August 1941) to advance their political careers and self-government for their territories: Burma’s U Saw in 1941, and Nigeria’s Nnamdi Azikiwe in 1943. Rather than a repetition of the ‘Wilsonian moment’, these campaigns show how anticolonial forces long active across the Empire took advantage of the opening offered by the Atlantic Charter to make claims on the British government in its wartime weakness. Both U Saw and Azikiwe had been involved in anticolonial politics long before the Charter, but its appearance provided an opportunity to advance their position vis-à-vis political competitors as well as to win concessions from the imperial state. Although the two leaders had different immediate objectives, they both used the prestige of official visits to London and the ambiguous universality of the Charter’s language in pursuit of their aims. Their ability to do so attests to the power of anticolonial movements by the early 1940s, and points to alternative paths which the Empire might have followed. Upon hearing the eight-point joint statement which commentators soon dubbed the ‘Atlantic Charter’, Secretary of State for India and Burma Leo Amery confided in his diary, ‘We shall no doubt pay dearly in the end for all this fluffy flapdoodle’.1 News had just broken of Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt’s secret meeting off the coast of Newfoundland, where they had agreed on the ‘Charter’ as ‘common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world’. The third point aroused the most interest globally: that the United States and the United Kingdom ‘respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them’.2 As Deputy Prime Minister Clement Attlee read it out over the BBC, Amery recognized that the document had many intended and unintended audiences, from Washington and London to Lagos and Rangoon. This article looks at two moments when anticolonial leaders came to London using the Atlantic Charter to support their political demands: the visit of U Saw, premier of Burma, in October and November 1941; and the West African press delegation of August 1943 led by Nnamdi Azikiwe, the activist editor of the West African Pilot and future president of Nigeria. Rather than naive idealists inspired by Anglo-American rhetoric, these were hard-nosed political actors with clear agendas.3 While Saw and Azikiwe had different immediate objectives, they came to the heart of the Empire and used the words of Churchill against him, expecting treatment as equals, rather than requesting it.4 At first glance, this resembles the ‘Wilsonian moment’ of 1918–19, when Erez Manela argues Woodrow Wilson’s post-war vision inspired anticolonial action across Africa and Asia.5 As in Paris in 1919, anticolonial leaders came to the metropole hoping for treatment as equals. Unlike in 1919, in 1941 Britain found itself in a position of weakness, with Churchill unable to court Roosevelt into joining the war, leaving as allies only a few governments in exile in London, a struggling Soviet Union and the Empire. When U Saw and Azikiwe came to wartime London, they came not in the position of supplicants asking for a seat at the table, as their predecessors in Paris had, but as potential allies leveraging their necessity to the British war effort. Unlike Manela’s account of 1919, which focuses too much on Wilson as a causal agent for anticolonial nationalism, this article does not present an ‘Atlantic Charter moment’ where Western policymakers inspired idealism among anticolonialists.6 This article argues that anticolonial actors had already mobilized before the Charter’s promulgation, but its appearance provided a unique opportunity to make claims upon the British. Since Churchill would soon claim the Charter’s provisions on self-government had been intended only for European governments, the debate over the Charter’s universal language enabled anticolonialists to assert their countries’ claims to the same objectives of self-determination and self-government. Prior studies of colonialism in the War have dealt with the Atlantic Charter, but their emphasis remained on diplomatic discussion between the US and British governments.7 Historians of human rights have focused on what the Charter did or did not do for anticolonial claims, noting that anticolonialists far and wide cited it, but historians have not analysed how or why these activists used the Charter in their own contexts.8 This article focuses not on what the Atlantic Charter did for anticolonialists, but what they did with the Charter, bringing what Amery called its ‘fluffy flapdoodle’ to the seat of power and challenging the imperial world order which Britain fought to defend.9 This article begins by laying out the initial reactions to the Charter upon its promulgation in August 1941, when many across the British Empire felt it offered hope for anticolonial agendas. When Churchill offered a more limited interpretation of the document in the House of Commons on 9 September, anticolonialists might have dropped the Charter. But leaders continued to use Charter rhetoric for their own purposes, as demonstrated by the two campaigns highlighted here. While this article begins from the top-down political vantage point of Whitehall and Westminster in the Second World War, it reminds us that imperial subjects saw the War quite differently, and brought their challenge to London itself. The Ambiguities of the Atlantic Charter Churchill’s secret summit with Roosevelt off the coast of Newfoundland had been intended to secure US entry into the war against Germany, so anything less was bound to land with a thud. Most Britons found the Charter’s lofty rhetoric irrelevant, since the real need remained US troops and materiel to reduce the British war burden.10 Churchill had brought a draft of the document to the meeting with Roosevelt and had written the third clause about restoring ‘sovereign rights and self government’ himself, without a thought that Britain’s subjects might read themselves into such language. The phrase occasioned little discussion between Churchill and Roosevelt.11 Beyond the choppy North Atlantic, the question of the Charter’s applicability emerged immediately.12 The day after announcing the Charter for the absent Churchill, Clement Attlee addressed this issue as he spoke to the West African Students’ Union (WASU) at their London hostel. He told the students that ‘you will find [the Charter] principles will apply, I believe, to all the peoples of the world’.13 This possibility aroused anticolonialists around the globe. After all, if the Charter’s third point applied to colonies, colonized populations could choose their own form of government and have their sovereign rights restored after having been forcibly deprived of them. On 9 September 1941, Churchill spoke in Parliament to answer the question of whether the Charter applied to the colonized world. He insisted that while drafting the Charter, ‘we had in mind … the States and nations of Europe now under the Nazi yoke’, which Churchill deemed ‘quite a separate problem from the progressive evolution’ of British colonial subjects. Moreover, he claimed that all British declarations on gradual reform toward colonial self-government were ‘complete in themselves’ and ‘entirely in harmony’ with the Charter.14 In the words of a British civil servant of the Raj, ‘the maxims of international law’ only applied to ‘the relations of independent and co-equal European States’.15 To use Partha Chatterjee’s term, Churchill applied ‘the rule of colonial difference’ to the Atlantic Charter, denying to colonized people the universality of rights proclaimed in the Charter.16 Like so many other universal rights declarations issued from the West, universalist language only applied to Europeans or their descendants. Across the Atlantic, after joining the war, Roosevelt initially disagreed with Churchill’s interpretation of the Charter, but later relented. In his Fireside Chat of 23 February 1942, Roosevelt responded to anticolonial agitation in the United States and declared in no uncertain terms that ‘the Atlantic Charter applies not only to the parts of the world that border the Atlantic but to the whole world’, including its provision about ‘self-determination of Nations and peoples’.17 However, Roosevelt did not prioritize fulfilling this promise. In fact, as inevitable compromises with the British and the Soviets approached, Roosevelt began to back away from the Atlantic Charter as an achievable vision.18 Rather, he presented it as an ideal to strive for in the long term, and by late 1944, Roosevelt characterized the Charter as a mere ‘objective’ to be achieved in the range of centuries, or even millennia.19 The disagreements and changes in interpretation shows that, from its Anglo-American authors’ perspective, ‘the Atlantic Charter … was a deeply ambiguous document’.20 At face value, though, the Charter had a very clear meaning: a universal right to self-determination. As political theorist Benjamin Gregg argues, using the example of the Charter, despite Anglo-American denials that it applied to colonies, people ought not receive rights as pliant and passive subjects. Instead of seeing themselves as ‘supernumeraries’, the unintended audiences of universalist language, rights claimants should ‘self-regard as someone denied recognition’ of an already-possessed right.21 Anticolonialists did not let Churchill’s interpretation of the Charter prevent them from making claims based on their own readings of the document, and its universalist language invited the colonized to place themselves within it and to question their exclusion.22 In the face of Churchill’s defiance, U Saw and Nnamdi Azikiwe continued to articulate their claims using Charter-based rights-talk. By reading themselves into the Charter, Saw and Azikiwe asserted their equality with Europeans, the intended audience for the Charter’s promises. Moreover, in bringing their claims to London, they operated in the same spaces and modes as European policy makers from other war-torn states and other British Dominions. Accessing the places which represented and housed British power, and asserting their own rights to self-government, Saw and Azikiwe embodied and articulated challenges to imperial authority, even as their demands took the form of self-government within the Commonwealth.23 The rhetorical space opened by the Atlantic Charter gave Saw and Azikiwe the opportunity to enter the physical space of London, which they used as a stage to play to both British and colonial audiences. Despite these similarities in their approaches, the following sections will show how U Saw and Azikiwe had distinct projects. U Saw came to London as the leader of a constitutional regime already in place, and sought to leverage this strength by using the Atlantic Charter. Two years later, Azikiwe came to London with an inverse project, seeking to use the prestige of an official visit to London to launch his own political career in Nigeria. For both the sitting and aspiring officeholder, the act of pressing for self-government in the symbolically rich location of London could secure their position against rival politicians at home. The Atlantic Charter, rather than inspiring political activity, provided the platform from which to escalate ongoing campaigns. U Saw’s Push for Dominion Status, October-November 1941 U Saw, a Burmese nationalist politician and premier of Burma since 1940, launched the first test of the Atlantic Charter’s anticolonial potential in London. Born in 1900, Saw had entered politics in the 1920s when nationalists advocated for reforms in Burma similar to the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms in India. He joined the Burmese legislature in 1928, where he remained throughout the 1930s. From 1938 forward, Saw sought the premiership of Burma for himself.24 By September 1940, after building and abandoning a series of alliances, he rose to power.25 Saw worked from within the system to pressure Britain to offer more favourable terms to Burma on account of its participation in the war effort. Prior to his premiership, he had agitated for the British to make a declaration in August 1940 promising that Britain ‘would continue to use their best endeavours to promote Burma’s attainment of Dominion status and that after the war they would be willing to discuss the problems to be solved in Burma’.26 In 1940, Dominion status meant complete self-government within the British Commonwealth, with the same status as the British settler states of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. While not juridical independence, this would have meant functional independence, albeit retaining the British Crown.27 Even in 1940, youthful nationalists in Burma saw Dominion status as too great a compromise, demanding complete independence just as Indian nationalists did. Nonetheless, the ‘August Offer’ of 1940 was the first time the British gave Dominion status as the goal for Burmese ‘constitutional advance’.28 Once in the premiership, Saw had to navigate between privately cooperating with the British war effort and publicly appearing to press for more nationalist gains.29 By late summer 1941, Saw hoped to pry another statement from the British, capitalizing on his good relations with the new British governor, Reginald Dorman-Smith. On 29 July, Saw first floated the idea of travelling to London to negotiate another commitment from the British. Saw claimed he needed such a declaration before he could lead Burma into full cooperation with the British war effort, with an Anglo-Japanese war looming.30 Saw wanted a definitive guarantee that Burma would achieve Dominion status upon the War’s end. He assured Dorman-Smith that, given wartime conditions, he would press for nothing more. However, Saw faced the reality that nothing less would placate nationalist criticism.31 Over the next weeks, Saw and Dorman-Smith wrangled with Amery, who agreed to let Saw visit London in the fall.32 Roosevelt and Churchill dropped the Atlantic Charter bombshell into this context. Dorman-Smith observed Saw’s expectations rise just after the Charter appeared: on 16 August, 2 days after its promulgation, Saw presented Dorman-Smith with a statement lauding the document as ‘a charter of liberties for all peoples of the World’. The Burmese, the statement carried on, ‘cannot help but conclude from the universality of the expressions used in the Declaration … that the principles declared thereby must have application to the people of Burma and that their acceptance by [the] Democracies must of necessity lead Burma to attainment of national freedom’.33 The statement indicated the line that Saw would take once he went to London later that fall: that colonial domains such as Burma were the intended object of the Charter’s language along with the other democracies.34 Dorman-Smith expressed reservations about the British Government’s interpretation, but nonetheless, Saw seemed optimistic and thought his interpretation ‘plausible until Churchill could return to London to make a fuller statement on the subject’.35 Perhaps unfortunately for Saw, by the time he set out for London, Churchill had returned and made his 9 September rejection, declaring the Charter applicable only to Europe. The Burmese did not react positively.36 Yet, despite many Burmese seeing the Atlantic Charter as a lost cause after Churchill’s statement, Saw kept pushing for a trip to London in hopes of convincing the British Prime Minister of the reasonableness of his vision of Dominion status.37 Saw highlighted the Charter when speaking to the foreign media, and developed a press strategy before leaving Burma in late September. He used the Charter when speaking to foreign journalists, addressing audiences in Britain and the United States. Saw believed these publics might be sympathetic to uses of their own political languages, and he could then portray resistance from policymakers as rank hypocrisy.38 Just before his departure for London, Saw spoke to an American journalist, taking the credulous line of his 16 August ministerial statement. He said ‘he anticipated no need to “negotiate” with London if Churchill lives up to what he said in the [Charter]’.39 Despite Churchill’s 9 September statement, Saw indicated he intended to hold him to what the Charter said. By framing the Charter as ‘what [Churchill] said’, Saw made the prospective dialogue a referendum on Churchill’s personal honesty. Once he arrived in London, the Burma Office had Saw wined and dined by high society, arranged meetings with ministers and even awarded Saw an audience with the King. All the while, the premier did not voice his aims or arguments in the press. Instead, he maintained the official line that the visit was an expression of Burmese support for war-racked Britain.40 Amidst his public appearances, Saw had meetings with Churchill and Amery, where he presented his goals, but achieved none of them. The Charter came up in his meeting with Churchill, but Churchill rejected Saw’s request for a declaration, noting that only once Britain won the war would ‘liberal ideas … prevail on the lines of the Atlantic Charter’. Churchill even retreated from this position upon voicing it, reminding Saw that the Charter ‘was an unilateral declaration which HMG must hold itself free to interpret’.41 The one concrete achievement Saw could bring back to Burma was a letter drafted by Amery and approved by the War Cabinet, which offered what Amery called ‘a general and quite non-committal assurance’ of the British Government’s sincerity.42 The letter reaffirmed the August 1940 declaration, promising yet again that ‘immediately [after] the war is brought to a victorious end [the British government] will be willing to discuss the problems to [be] solved in Burma’ to advance towards Dominion status.43 Amery and Churchill did not want to make any more commitments which Saw or his successors might hold over them. Despite not meeting Saw’s political needs, Amery felt that this letter would offer him ‘a general assurance of the sincerity of our intentions’, and this would be enough for the time being.44 But Amery, much less Churchill, never considered that this foot-dragging might undermine their attempt to convince their interlocutor of British sincerity – which had been the main justification for agreeing to the trip at all. British officials thought Saw’s visit to London would allow them to personally convey British sincerity, and that seeing Britain first-hand would have ‘educative value’ on him.45 Saw may have learned the wrong lesson. After receiving Amery’s letter, Saw broke his silence in the press, and turned to the Atlantic Charter. Expressing his intense disappointment with the trip, on 3 November Saw claimed that the Charter ‘gave as a war aim the liberation and freedom of small nations’, prompting him to ask ‘that before they [the British Government] free the countries under Hitler let them free the countries which are in the British Empire’.46 Saw not only equated Burma with the small nations of Europe, but also equated British rule with Nazi rule. In addition to indicting British perfidy, under these equivalencies Saw used the Atlantic Charter’s clear language to argue for Burma’s equality with European nations under occupation, and thus their right to restored self-government at the war’s end. The next day at a wrap-up lunch for the visit, Amery attempted to answer Saw’s critique by yet again highlighting British good will and sincerity. Saw’s public reply was more conciliatory than his comments the previous day, but again he returned to the Atlantic Charter. In this appeal, Saw spoke above the British government to a potentially sympathetic British public, claiming that he had found ‘a body of public opinion in England which … believes that famous third paragraph of the Atlantic Charter … should be applied not only to the countries … of the now extensive German Empire but also the subject countries of the British Empire’. In addition to this repeated equation of the British Empire and Nazi conquests, Saw expanded his critique of British policy, voicing a hope that not only Burma but India and ‘all the Asiatic and African countries that are in the British Empire without being free and equal partners in your Commonwealth, hope that in Great Britain’s dealings with Empire countries not peopled by their kith and kin she will exercise the same large-heartedness and statesmanship which characterise her dealings with the countries which now form the self-governing Dominions of the British Commonwealth’.47 This latter statement raised the racial disparity within the British Empire—with countries ‘peopled by … kith and kin’ offered Dominion status while the non-white territories were kept as colonies. Saw also printed a pamphlet for distribution to the press and Members of Parliament stating Burma’s case.48 In the pamphlet, Saw based Burma’s claim for self-government on the Atlantic Charter. However, Saw also extended the argument, claiming that if the Charter were ‘applied without reservation to Burma’ it ‘would entitle her people to claim the restoration of their country to the status of an independent kingdom as it was conquered by force’ by the British in the 1880s. However, Saw claimed he was willing to abandon this historical claim in favour of self-government within the British Commonwealth.49 Though Saw’s reading of the Charter would have given Burma the right to treatment equal to other European governments under foreign occupation, retaining full sovereignty, he offered as a concession his willingness that Burma be treated as equal to a white Dominion, under the symbolic sovereignty of the monarch. Though the pamphlet did not gain traction or even press coverage, with this parting shot Saw had played every political card he could muster. As Saw left for the United States, the Foreign Office cabled Washington warning about the pamphlet, with a newfound understanding that ‘U Saw … is skilled (not to say unscrupulous) in the art of propaganda and it may be anticipated that he will do everything possible to exploit the opportunity of publicity for the Burmese Nationalist cause’.50 That the British had missed an opportunity with the visit soon became clear. Saw proceeded to the United States and continued to make soundings on the Atlantic Charter in press interviews in New York and Washington.51 He also raised the issue in a visit with Roosevelt, who rebuffed him along the same lines as Churchill.52 In fact, the Burma Office and Foreign Office had requested that Roosevelt echo Churchill’s interpretation of the Charter.53 Despite stonewalling from the US government as well as the British, as late as 26 November Saw sent a telegram to President Roosevelt requesting that he and Churchill issue another joint statement ‘to the effect “that the Atlantic Charter applies to all peoples, without exception”’. Roosevelt wrote to his State Department asking about the inquiry on 5 December, but the State Department recommended not replying.54 Two days after Roosevelt’s inquiry, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Also on 7 December, U Saw’s ship taking him from Los Angeles to Singapore was diverted to Honolulu.55 Prevented from returning to Burma across the Pacific, Saw returned across the Atlantic. En route, while in Lisbon, he visited the home of the Japanese consul. According to US naval intelligence passed to the British, upon his return to Burma Saw planned ‘to get in touch with the Japanese, and with their assistance set up a Quisling or Free Burmese Government’.56 Once the British caught up with Saw in Palestine, they arrested him. Saw denied the allegations, insisting he had gone to see the Japanese consul out of concern for Burmese students in Japan, whom he feared ‘would also be tortured by the Japanese military authorities’.57 After Saw’s traveling companion could not corroborate U Saw’s explanation, the British decided to go public with their detention of Saw, explaining that ‘he has been in contact with Japanese authorities since the outbreak of war with Japan … by his own admission’.58 After some frantic discussions within the Cabinet fearing that the British might have to bring Saw to public trial, and thus reveal their source, the Cabinet decided their public explanation sufficed, and U Saw spent the remainder of the war in a detention centre in Uganda, returning to Burma in 1946.59 While the rejection of Saw’s interpretation of the Atlantic Charter did not cause his alleged turn to the Japanese in early 1942, it must have been at least a contributing factor. After all, he had framed his mission in Churchill’s own words and offered complete loyalty to the Empire, but had gotten nowhere. Saw had dallied with the Japanese before, visiting there in 1935 and allegedly receiving funding from Japan until he acceded to the premiership in 1941.60 Saw’s minders in Rangoon and London had not feared he would turn back to the Japanese, but in the face of British intransigence and the onset of a Japanese sweep across Asia, it is possible to see why Saw would have thought he could risk changing sides. The risk did not pay off, leaving Saw in obscurity in Uganda for the four most important years of Burmese politics in his lifetime. From 1942 to 1945, the Japanese occupation transformed Burma and accelerated the rise of a charismatic young nationalist named Aung San. Whereas Saw’s demands had been too extreme in 1941, by 1946, the British brought him back to Burma as a possible counterweight to Aung San. For Aung San and the nationalists who had filled the void left by Saw, the demands he had taken to London in 1941 were the bare minimum. Indeed, Britain would not even get that. In this sense, then, the failure of Saw’s 1941 mission to London and Washington represented the disappearance of a potential Burma in the Commonwealth, completing the bifurcation Saw identified in 1941 between British government dealings with ‘kith and kin’ and non-white countries like Burma. Moreover, the failure of Saw’s mission and his years in Uganda meant that this ambitious man returned to a Burma which had passed him by. This frustration likely drove Saw to eliminate Aung San, his most powerful political rival, on 19 July 1947.61 While that lost future for Burma has dominated the historical and public imagination ever since, Saw also had a role in another lost future – that of an ‘anticolonial’ Atlantic Charter. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s Debut on the British Stage, August 1943 Two years after U Saw’s anticolonial campaign in London, Nigerian newspaper editor Nnamdi Azikiwe encountered a British government still under wartime stress but with more stability. The 1943 Colonial Office (CO), unlike the 1941 Burma Office, could assume that the Axis would not threaten British West Africa, and thus the government began planning for post-war reforms. Its invitation of eight West African editors to visit the UK in the summer of 1943 reflected a desire to secure cooperation from potential political troublemakers, looking toward the challenge of a post-war world where colonial people in Africa would not accept the pre-war status quo.62 Like U Saw in 1941, Azikiwe came as a potential ally to the British, although with the possibility of becoming an enemy. For Azikiwe, the 1943 Press Tour represented a turning point in his career, though not in the same extreme sense as U Saw’s 1941 visit. Nnamdi Azikiwe was born to Igbo parents in 1904, and his father’s position as a civil servant gave him the experience of living in each of the three regions which would become Nigeria in 1914.63 In 1925 Azikiwe made his way to the United States, where he enrolled at Storer College in West Virginia, Howard University in Washington, D.C., and Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. He finished a bachelor’s degree at Lincoln, and master’s degrees at Lincoln and the University of Pennsylvania, while teaching politics and African history at Lincoln.64 ‘Zik’ returned to West Africa in 1934 to take up the editorship of a new daily in Accra, the African Morning Post, where he worked with the labour activist I.T.A. Wallace-Johnson, whose article ‘Has the African a God?’ would get himself and Azikiwe into hot water with the British authorities.65 Hounded out of the Gold Coast, Zik returned to his native Nigeria and established a newspaper in Lagos, the West African Pilot, which from 1937 to 1943 became one of the highest circulating newspapers in the region.66 In addition, in 1937 Zik published his own political theory, of a ‘New Africa’ which young Africans could bring about through education, economic cooperation and pan-African solidarity.67 Thus, well before the Atlantic Charter, Zik had earned his anticolonial stripes, he had articulated his ideas and he had the means to promulgate them. Nonetheless, the Atlantic Charter’s timing did provide Azikiwe a needed political moment. In February 1941, Zik had left the most prominent nationalist political party, the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM), over differences with its leadership.68 If his departure closed one political path, the Atlantic Charter and Attlee’s 15 August 1941 pronouncement that the Charter applied to West Africa promptly opened another. Zik’s Pilot welcomed the Charter when it appeared, and pointed to Attlee’s statement to WASU as proof of the Charter’s applicability to Nigeria. At the same time, the Pilot warned against Britain shifting its position, hoping the Charter ‘will not fizzle out in the end to be mere platitudes’, which Churchill promptly confirmed with his 9 September statement.69 Despite Churchill having apparently closed the door on the Charter, in November 1941 Azikiwe sent a telegram to Churchill himself asking whether the Charter applied to British West Africa. The CO never responded to the telegram, but Azikiwe plastered it across the front page of his newspaper.70 Like U Saw, Zik knew how to turn British inconsistency into positive publicity, although Zik focused on his audience in West Africa, whereas Saw had focused on the British and US publics. Unlike Saw, Azikiwe had to win a political base at the same time as he pressed the British. To that end, in 1942 Zik used the Atlantic Charter in speeches on his Lagos football club’s ‘goodwill’ tour around Nigeria, which both raised money for the British war effort and provided a platform to promote himself and his message of colonial reform.71 After one match in northern Nigeria, Zik ‘discussed the Atlantic Charter and expressed the view that “Dominion Status for Nigeria within ten years” was the least’ that Britain should offer to the loyal West Africans supporting her war.72 This demand represented the culmination of a policy formation project Azikiwe had conducted with a handful of other Lagos intellectuals in early 1942, whose recommendations for Nigerian economic and political development Zik would publish in the Pilot in the spring of 1943.73 In March and April 1943, Azikiwe used his daily column to write out a ‘political blueprint’ for Nigerian political development, in which he proposed that Britain grant Nigeria internal self-government within 10 years and complete independence within 15.74 Zik placed the Atlantic Charter at the centre of his manifesto. Zik’s alternative constitution for Nigeria, included in the series, began with a preamble ‘hopeful that the Atlantic Charter may be evidence of a desire on the part of its signatories … to preserve and to extend democracy as a Political injunction and as a way of life globally’. From this principle, Azikiwe claimed Nigerians could ‘arrogate to themselves the status of an independent and sovereign political community which is freely aligned with, and associated to, the British Commonwealth of Nations’.75 By the time of his tour in Britain, Azikiwe had already laid out his plans as a challenge British power, with their basis in the Charter. With his tour of the country, policy research bureau, and an alternate constitution for the country, Zik carried himself like a leader of the opposition, promoting a slate of policy alternatives to the government’s. In June 1943, the British Council announced a tour of Britain for eight newspaper editors from across British West Africa. The Council offered the tour as intended to give ‘a view of life in England’, ‘explain and demonstrate “England at War”’, ‘give opportunities of personal contact with persons of prominence in various walks of life’ and ‘show what British local Government has done for Britain and how it has been done’, all with the unstated aim of educating potentially restive West Africans, much as the Burma Office had hoped to educate U Saw.76 The press delegation’s tour was never going to be a one-way street, though. As the editors’ CO handler noted in his report, ‘the visit had been accepted as a cheap way of doing their own business in England’.77 In Zik’s case, his business included using London as a political trampoline, an opportunity to broadcast the policy agenda he had developed since 1942. Azikiwe trumpeted the announcement of the tour as an answer to his own calls for such a visit.78 His primary interest in the delegation lay in its proximity to what many perceived as an accelerating political momentum on colonial reform, given Colonial Secretary Oliver Stanley’s 13 July 1943 declaration which committed British colonial policy to eventual self-government, a bombshell even to his own staff.79 The Pilot’s editorial on the tour appreciated the delegation’s timing ‘when things are being resolved at a speedy rate’, and the opportunity for colonial subjects to shape perception ‘when opinions about Colonies are rapidly changing’.80 Within this excitement for change, though, the tone remained cordial and fraternal given the wartime circumstances. Azikiwe was keen to portray his interest in the delegation as an interest in the well-being of the British Commonwealth, not its collapse. Rather, the delegation would ‘cement goodwill and fellowship between this part of the world and the Mother Country’, allowing the West Africans ‘to exchange ideas and give free play to a spirit of comradeship with those who control the destiny of the British Commonwealth of Nations’.81 Azikiwe certainly intended to share his ideas. When the eight editors (himself, a Yoruba and a Hausa editor from Nigeria, two editors each from the Gold Coast and Sierra Leone, and one from the Gambia) departed for London in late July 1943, Zik took the lead. He presented himself as a secretary for the group, to which the others assented, and then put forward a memorandum based entirely on his ‘Political Blueprint’ columns from March and April.82 This memo, entitled ‘The Atlantic Charter and British West Africa’, proposed numerous social, educational, and economic reforms for the various territories in West Africa. Most provocatively, the document expanded Zik’s timeline for Nigeria to all of British West Africa, proposing internal self-government for British West Africa within 10 years and complete self-government within 15 years. Just like Azikiwe’s ‘Political Blueprint’ columns, the memorandum put forward a constitution for British West Africa, with a description of the proper separation of powers, delineation of rights for citizens, and plan for a transfer of powers. Thus, even though Azikiwe came to London in a much lower political position than U Saw, he proposed a political agenda on the same scale. Like Saw, Zik articulated this agenda under the banner of the Atlantic Charter, with the memorandum declaring the editors were ‘basing out [sic] claims upon the declaration of Clause 3 of the Atlantic Charter’.83 Rather than a naive invocation, Azikiwe explained in his preface to the memo that in light of Churchill refusing to acknowledge the Charter’s application to the colonies, ‘it has become clear to us in British West Africa that unless we make known our feelings and aspirations we may be left in the lurch in the post-war days to come’.84 The memo was signed by six of the editors, though one of them offered 19 reservations to his signature, while the Hausa editor Mallam Abubakar Imam and the Gambian editor refused to sign. Dated 1 August 1943, Azikiwe would keep the document private until publishing it near the end of the delegation’s visit, when veteran anticolonial agitator George Padmore and volunteers from WASU helped him distribute it to the British press and parliamentary figures.85 Like U Saw’s pamphlet from 1941, the memorandum attracted no publicity, except for Azikiwe and Padmore’s own columns published in British papers.86 After the delegation’s arrival in Liverpool on 1 August, the British Council kept them busy with an itinerary including London sites as well as the self-government systems in the cities of Birmingham, Oxford, and Epsom.87 Like U Saw on his public tour, Zik kept his larger designs private at first. Azikiwe spoke for the delegation on several occasions, including during the visit to Birmingham, where he delivered the official reply to the Lord Mayor, which according to the handler’s report ‘was considerably abler and certainly more grammatical than that given by the Lord Mayor’. The handler, CR Niven, felt that Azikiwe had ‘moderated his tone’ on self-government for West Africa, portraying his speech as having ‘made passing reference to self-government – and I see no harm in that – he made it in a far more reasonable manner than expected’.88 Niven thought Azikiwe had softened over the course of the visit, and that these opinion-shapers had been convinced by the arguments and evidence marshalled by their British hosts. According to Niven, on the topic of self-government, the editors’ ‘aggressiveness disappeared’ and ‘after they had seen the Local Governments’ achievements … they began to conceive an entirely different picture of their aims and objects for the future’. Niven noted that this should reduce ‘vague and vapid vapourings on self-government’, though he likely did not know about the memorandum when he wrote his report. Even so, he remained suspicious of Zik, whom he described as ‘sincere in his opinions, but unscrupulous in his way of getting them across. A very clever man used to skating on thin ice. Very eloquent and like other West Africans inclined to be carried away by his own eloquence. … Outstandingly the most vital figure of the party’.89 Niven might have felt confirmed in this opinion had he observed Zik on 22 August, when the delegation attended a party given by WASU at its London hostel. Here, Azikiwe first referenced the memorandum in public, and then expounded on it further when he attended WASU’s second annual conference several days later.90 By waiting until he had a West African audience to premiere the memo, Azikiwe showed that his main audience remained in West Africa, not Britain. But Zik had used the prestige of his participation in the fairly anodyne activities of the previous three weeks as a platform to enhance his stature with his West African audience when he unveiled his manifesto. WASU guaranteed a friendly audience for Azikiwe’s proposals. Not only had WASU hosted Attlee when the Deputy Prime Minister affirmed the Atlantic Charter applied to West Africa, but in April 1942 WASU had passed a resolution calling for the British to grant their West African colonies immediate internal self-government and complete self-government within 5 years of the war’s end.91 Thus, WASU called for an even more ambitious timetable than Zik – indeed, when WASU had passed the resolution in April 1942, Azikiwe had criticized it as vague and naive.92 By August 1943, though, Azikiwe would take a very similar line, adding 10 years to WASU’s 1942 proposal. By moving himself closer to WASU and drafting the memorandum in preparation to unveil it once on ‘stage’ in London, Azikiwe had used the press delegation as a bully pulpit. Shortly before leaving Britain in 1943, Zik had hinted at his imminent political plans, acknowledging that ‘I was only 39 years old’, but ‘felt that my public life should begin at 40’.93 En route back to Nigeria, Azikiwe wrote to his political mentor and a veteran nationalist, the Lagos surveyor and publisher Herbert Macaulay. Zik summed up the visit to Britain by voicing some of the lessons the British Council had hoped to impart, noting ‘we have seen Britain at war … bloody but unbowed’. Even as he admired Britain’s fighting spirit and strength, Azikiwe lamented that ‘from a political standpoint, we, the Colonial peoples of West Africa, have very few friends’. Thus, he looked toward Africans taking matters into their own hands to achieve liberation: ‘All hands must be on deck for building a national front’.94 Over the next 9 months, Zik would set about building such a national front. Upon his return, Azikiwe published the columns which he had used to draft the memorandum as a small booklet. Although the text corresponded to the columns almost entirely, he added hints of more drastic anti-British action should demands for reform not be met.95 Zik used the broken promises of the Atlantic Charter to justify such drastic measures to his Nigerian readership, noting the Charter had repeated ‘the same platitude’ about self-determination as Wilson’s Fourteen Points from 1917.96 In contrast to 1918–19, though, Azikiwe threatened that ‘if Britain fails us again, by supporting the conservative views of Mr Winston Churchill that, the Atlantic Charter is not applicable to us … then it will be up to us to make our demands in more unequivocal terms and in accordance with a planned programme of positive action’.97 Throughout late 1943 and early 1944, Azikiwe began to form his national front and positioned himself at its leadership. He published a ninety-five-part series about the press delegation, entitled ‘Ambassadors of Goodwill’, highlighting his activities during the delegation, which ran in the Pilot from October 1943 through January 1944.98 By August 1944, Azikiwe and Macaulay had formed a broad coalition of Nigerian political groups into a political party, the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC). Although his audience for the trip and the memorandum had been largely West African, British colonial officials certainly noticed Azikiwe’s debut. Although the CO dismissed the memo as ‘clap-trap’, both the CO and Nigerian government subsequently wrote about Zik in respectful tones.99 Another CO official recognized that his recommendations ‘no doubt [represent] the general aspirations of the educated Africans’ and the Governor of Nigeria dismissed the NYM’s own counter-proposals, saying that ‘were [NYM] led by a man of Azikiwe’s calibre it might count for more’.100 The CO saw Zik as a force to be reckoned with: after 1943, Colonial Secretary Oliver Stanley saw Azikiwe as ‘the biggest danger of the lot’ and CO officials realized that Azikiwe had seized the opportunity to become the star of the delegation.101 An official in the Nigerian government, writing to London in October 1943, wrote that ‘the sooner Zikism … [is] debunked the better for West Africa’.102 Not one to disappoint these fears, Zik led the NCNC into governing Nigeria’s Eastern Region in the mid-1950s, on the way to serving as Nigeria’s first independent Governor-General and President through the mid-1960s. The 1943 Press Delegation did not create a pliable partner for Anglo-Nigerian cooperation, even if Zik’s departure from the fold of cooperation did not prove as dramatic as U Saw’s attempted defection. In both cases, trips to London served as platforms to promote political careers in particular colonial contexts, as Saw and Zik exploited colonial and metropolitan media to amplify their messages, their own importance and their political leverage. Both men failed to secure their immediate political aims, though by viewing his delegation as a start rather than an endpoint, Azikiwe found more success by continuing to work within the British system, whereas Saw side-lined himself by turning to the Japanese. While Saw and Burma slipped from British control almost as soon as the 1941 mission concluded, Azikiwe and Nigeria would wait to challenge British rule on a massive scale until 2 years after the press tour, in summer 1945’s Lagos general strike.103 Only 15 years later, exactly in accordance with his timeline, Azikiwe would lead an independent Nigeria as an equal partner in the British Commonwealth. Conclusion: Lost Futures Compared to the immediate obscurity of most press releases, the Atlantic Charter has fared well. Most statements released by government leaders, even those of major geopolitical powers, fade into obscurity amid the piles of papers generated by the bureaucracy of administration. The Charter’s longevity stems from the fact that documents take on lives of their own, beyond the intentions of their authors.104 This is not to establish the Atlantic Charter itself as an agent in transnational politics.105 Instead, the Charter entered into complex political situations all across the world, both inside and outside of the British Empire, from Rhodesia, India and Trinidad to Madagascar and Algeria.106 In its longevity, global appeal and potency, the Atlantic Charter did echo Wilson’s Fourteen Points and other Allied statements during the First World War. However, whereas in 1919 anticolonialists came to Paris as supplicants to the victors, in 1941 and 1943 anticolonialists came not to the victory meeting but to a beleaguered imperial power, demanding rather than asking for treatment as equals. This shift reflects both the advancement of anticolonial movements by the 1940s as well as the deterioration of British power over the preceding two decades. This article has drawn attention to two of those situations, and how two very particular actors used the Charter in their contexts. In both cases, they made claims on the British government, using the universalist language of the Atlantic Charter to insist on treatment as equals within a British community, the Commonwealth. Whereas U Saw made this demand on the basis of his established position as a leader within the British-sponsored government of Burma, Azikiwe made his demands to launch a career in Nigeria. While the two had different primary audiences for their campaigns, coming to London served similar purposes in heightening their prestige, allowing them to present themselves as equals to the British government they dealt with. Though U Saw had a more realistic hope that policy makers might accede to his requests, both Saw and Azikiwe used the mere assertion of equality with their interlocutors to heighten their own stature in their colonial political contexts. That these complex moves emerged out of such different situations, but both used the Atlantic Charter, should lead to a re-examination of the imperial political environment. As of 1941, anticolonial forces long active across the Empire needed only the hint of a political opening to mount sophisticated attacks which intervened in the politics of the metropole and the colonies. Saw and Azikiwe’s visits to London serve as testaments to the profound instability of the Empire during the Second World War, and they show how the forces unleashed after 1945 had mobilized well before then, with the War and post-war providing opportunities to make claims against the colonial state. The contrasting outcomes of the two missions also shows how the forces unleashed during the War might have proceeded quite differently. To take the Burmese example first: young nationalists, willing to use violence and to ally with the Japanese, had been putting pressure on British rule in Burma since the mid-1930s, and Japan’s expansion into Southeast Asia in 1940–1 only increased the perception that Britain’s days in Burma were numbered. Therefore, Saw walked a thin line when he came to London in 1941, trying to achieve meaningful self-government while retaining the prospect of British defence and diplomatic protection against an expanding Japan. Had Churchill been able to see the Atlantic Charter as Saw presented it, as an opportunity to reform the Empire through devolution to gain allies against Japan, perhaps Burma might not have fallen so easily to Japan in 1942.107 Moreover, perhaps after the war, the idea of Burma remaining in a British Commonwealth would not have been the non-starter it became by 1946, when Saw returned. U Saw had used the Charter in 1941 to buttress his own nationalist credentials, but in retrospect his proposal might have also saved British influence in Burma. By the mid-1940s, British policy makers recognized that they needed to cultivate allies in their colonies to prevent others following the Burmese path of jettisoning Britain entirely. The invitation of pressmen from West Africa thus looked toward the post-war era, but like the Burma Office’s belief that it could control the political trajectory of a nation by charming a small delegation of leaders, the CO believed they could manage West Africa through individuals like Azikiwe. As with Saw, the CO officials did not reckon on facilitating the rise of anticolonial figures. In August 1943, the Atlantic Charter again served as the rhetorical tool for an ambitious self-aggrandizer to attempt to propel himself to the head of local anticolonial politics. Azikiwe’s proposals went no further in Whitehall than Saw’s had, but the post-war escalation of nationalist agitation in Nigeria would reveal that Azikiwe’s 1943 offer was the best the British would ever get from their Nigerian interlocutors. Nigeria would remain in the Commonwealth after its independence in 1960, but the 1940s and 1950s would see intense and sometimes bloody contestation over Nigeria’s relationship with Britain, ending with Azikiwe as Nigeria’s president. As the cases of Burma and Nigeria show, the Atlantic Charter-based proposals which appeared during the war represented a transition point for the possible futures of the British Empire. The Charter proposals brought by Saw and Azikiwe were the latest in a long tradition of requests for the metropole to devolve power to local leaders in the colonies, who would govern their territories in firm alliance with Britain. All of these proposals operated on the premise that British policy makers treat colonial subjects as equals. In the case of the Atlantic Charter, U Saw and Azikiwe assumed colonial equality with the European states Churchill had intended, with Burma and Nigeria enjoying equal claims to self-government and the restoration of sovereignty. Churchill and his Conservative counterparts in the Burma and COs simply refused to countenance such a political and racial claim to equality in the early 1940s. After the war, anticolonialists continued to forward similar proposals, but they had to compete with more radical and drastic programs of immediate independence. Anticolonial interpretations of the Atlantic Charter had articulated a non-nationalist framework for decolonization within a tight Commonwealth, but the failure of these proposals during the war made them seem less plausible in the post-war than the nationalist framework.108 If the Empire was already showing signs of coming apart before August 1941, after the British rejected ideas of reform along the lines proposed by figures like Saw and Azikiwe, dissolution became ever more likely. Britain’s defeats in 1940–1 had diminished its status as a hegemonic power, and figures like Saw and then Azikiwe took advantage of weakness at the centre to promote their own agendas. The force with which Churchill’s government rejected these proposals testified to the Empire’s weakness, not its strength, since the exigency of wartime had led Churchill to put out the Charter in the first place. The Empire would come crumbling down in the years after Churchill’s ‘fluffy flapdoodle’, and his brand of imperial die-hards did pay dearly in the end. The author would like to thank Joel Hebert, Professor Konrad Jarausch’s 2016 European history seminar, the 2014 Lost Futures conference held by the University of North Carolina and King’s College London, and the History Department of Western Kentucky University for comments on this article in various forms. Romans 11:36. Footnotes 1 Leo Amery, entry for 14 August 1941, in John Barnes and David Nicholson, eds, The Empire at Bay: The Leo Amery Diaries, 1929-1945 (London, 1988), 710. 2 ‘Atlantic Charter’, <http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/atlantic.asp> accessed 8 April 2013. 3 In contrast to depictions in Edward A. Laing, ‘The Norm of Self-Determination, 1941-1991’, California Western International Law Journal, 22 (1992), 262–4, and Elizabeth Borgwardt, ‘When You State a Moral Principle, You Are Stuck with It: The 1941 Atlantic Charter as a Human Rights Instrument’, Virginia Journal of International Law, 46 (2006), 532–3. On Azikiwe, James Coleman, Nigeria: Background to Nationalism (Berkeley, CA, 1958), 231–2, and Fabian Klose, Human Rights in the Shadow of Colonial Violence: The Wars of Independence in Kenya and Algeria (Philadelphia, 2013), 22–4; on U Saw, Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper, Forgotten Armies: The Fall of British Asia, 1941-1945 (New York, 2004), 102–4, and Glenn Mitoma, Human Rights and the Negotiation of American Power (Philadelphia, 2013), 52. 4 In Burmese ‘U’ serves as an honorific like ‘Mr’, such that ‘U Saw’ and ‘Saw’ are interchangeable. 5 Erez Manela, The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism (Oxford, 2007), 4–5, 8. 6 See, for example, the comments of Cemil Aydin, Matthew Connelly, and Odd Arne Westad in the H-Diplo Roundtable Review of Wilsonian Moment, H-Diplo Roundtable Reviews 10, no. 7 (March 2009) <https://issforum.org/roundtables/PDF/Roundtable-X-7.pdf> accessed 2 April 2017. Although Manela acknowledges that Wilson’s rhetoric entered into ongoing debates (Wilsonian Moment, 4–6), the narrative privileges Wilson and slips into portraying Wilson himself as a causal agent (or ‘the leading protagonist’, Wilsonian Moment, 10). 7 For an exhaustive reconstruction of the Atlantic Conference, see Theodore A. Wilson, The First Summit: Roosevelt and Churchill at Placentia Bay, 1941, revised ed. (Lawrence, KS, 1991; originally published 1961); for an early postcolonial critique of Roosevelt and the Charter, see M. S. Venkataramani, ‘The United States, the Colonial Issue, and the Atlantic Charter Hoax’, International Studies, 13 (1974), 1–28. For excellent detail on the Anglo-American debates about how the Charter should apply, see Wm. Roger Louis, Imperialism at Bay: The United States and the Decolonization of the British Empire, 1941-1945 (Oxford, 1978); Christopher G. Thorne, Allies of a Kind: The United States, Britain, and the War Against Japan, 1941-1945 (London, 1978); David Reynolds, The Creation of the Anglo-American Alliance, 1937-1941 (Chapel Hill, 1982); and John J. Sbrega, Anglo-American Relations and Colonialism in East Asia, 1941-1945 (New York, 1983). Work in the 1990s revisited the debates of the 1970s and 1980s: Douglas Brinkley and David R. Facey-Crowther, eds, The Atlantic Charter (New York, 1994); Townsend Hoopes and Douglas Brinkley, FDR and the Creation of the U.N. (New Haven, 1997), 36–42. 8 This refers to the work of Belizean international lawyer Edward A. Laing, ‘The Contribution of the Atlantic Charter to Human Rights Law and Humanitarian Universalism’, Willamette Law Review, 26 (1989), 113–70; Laing, ‘Relevance of the Atlantic Charter for a New World Order’, Indian Journal of International Law, 29 (1989), 298–325; Laing, ‘The Norm of Self-Determination, 1941-1991’, 209–308; and that of U.S. diplomatic and legal historian Elizabeth Borgwardt, A New Deal for the World: America’s Vision for Human Rights (Cambridge, MA, 2005). For less sanguine views of the Charter’s contribution to human rights, see A. W. Brian Simpson, Human Rights and the End of Empire: Britain and the Genesis of the European Convention (Oxford, 2001) and Samuel Moyn, The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (Cambridge, MA, 2010). All agree on the Charter’s significance for the history of anticolonialism. 9 For an application of this colonially centred reading of the Charter’s history, see Mark Reeves, ‘“The Broad, Toiling Masses in all the Continents’: Anticolonial Activists and the Atlantic Charter’, MA thesis, Western Kentucky University, Kentucky, 2014. 10 David Reynolds, ‘The Atlantic “Flop”: British Foreign Policy and the Churchill-Roosevelt Meeting of August 1941’, in Brinkley and Facey-Crowther, eds, The Atlantic Charter (New York, 1994), 129–50. 11 Wilson, First Summit, 163–5. 12 Lloyd C. Gardner, ‘The Atlantic Charter: Idea and Reality, 1942-1945’, in Brinkley and Facey-Crowther, eds, The Atlantic Charter (New York, 1994), 50. 13The Times, 16 August 1941. 14Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 374, 9 September 1941, 68–9. 15 Quoted in Mark Mazower, Hitler’s Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe (New York, 2008), 587. 16 Partha Chatterjee, The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (Princeton, 1993), 10, 16. 17 Franklin D. Roosevelt, ‘Fireside Chat, February 23, 1942’ <http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=16224> accessed 4 December 2013. 18 Shown by Frank Costigliola, Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War (Princeton, 2012), 169, 185, 191, 210–11, 227–9. 19 Franklin D. Roosevelt, ‘Excerpts from the Press Conference, December 22, 1944’ <http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=16484> accessed 7 December 2013. 20 Mark Mazower, No Enchanted Palace: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations (Princeton, 2009), 55. 21 Benjamin Gregg, ‘Individuals as Authors of Human Rights: Not Only Addressees’, Theory and Society, 39 (2010), 636–7, 645. 22 Cf. Albert Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized, trans. Howard Greenfield (Boston, 1991), 92; Lynn Hunt, Inventing Human Rights: A History (New York, 2007), 147ff. establishes a paradigm for this sort of ‘cascading’ rights thinking. 23 This article evaluates anticolonialism using Fred Cooper’s criterion, as the contestation of colonialism ‘by those who sought to exit from the colonial polity or to make the polity less colonial’; Frederick Cooper, Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History (Berkeley, CA, 2005), 28. This allows historians to evaluate anticolonial politics as contemporary activists did, rather than from a presentist perspective assuming the independent nation-state as anticolonialism’s inevitable endpoint, and anyone demanding less not sufficiently anticolonial. 24 After the 1935 Government of Burma Act, unlike in India, the British allowed Burmese politicians to take leadership of the government under the title ‘Premier’, albeit limited by the British governor’s power. The Act seems to have used the term ‘Premier’ to avoid calling a non-European leader ‘Prime Minister’. 25 Robert H. Taylor, ‘Politics in Late Colonial Burma: The Case of U Saw’, Modern Asian Studies, 10 (1976), 163–78; Bayly and Harper, Forgotten Armies, 97. See also ‘Thumb Nail Biography of U Saw and U Tin Tut’, September 1941, 1, M/3/1113, British Library, India Office Records (IOR). 26 L. S. Amery, ‘Burma: Constitutional Future’, 28 October 1941, 1, CAB 67/9/122, The National Archives, Kew (TNA). For the complex story of U Saw’s rise to the premiership, see Taylor, ‘The Case of U Saw’. 27 For a succinct explanation of the evolving meaning of this term, see part II of W. David McIntyre, The Britannic Vision: Historians and the Making of the British Commonwealth of Nations, 1907-1948 (New York, 2009). 28 Taylor, ‘Politics in Late Colonial Burma’, 176–7; the ‘Freedom Bloc’ of which Aung San was the secretary demanded a deadline for independence in exchange for Burmese cooperation in the war: Michael W. Charney, A History of Modern Burma (Cambridge, 2009), 48. 29 C. F. B. Pearce to J. C. Walton, 15 September 1941, 2–3, M/3/1113, IOR. 30 Reginald Dorman-Smith to Leo Amery, 31 July 1941, and Dorman-Smith to Amery, 30 July 1941, M/3/733, IOR. 31 Dorman-Smith to Amery, 9 July 1941, 1, M/3/733, IOR; Dorman-Smith to Amery, 30 July 1941, 1. 32 Robert Henry Taylor, ‘The Relationship between Burmese Social Classes and British-Indian Policy on the Behavior of the Burmese Political Elite, 1937-1942’, PhD thesis, Cornell University, New York, 1974, 611–12, 618–21, 624. 33 Dorman-Smith to Amery, 16 August 1941, 1–2, M/3/733, IOR. 34 The Burmese Chamber of Commerce (a European body) wrote the Burma Office that Attlee’s speech to WASU excited Saw’s interpretation of the Charter: T. L. Hughes, ‘Memorandum on the Constitutional Position of Burma’, 13 September 1941, 1, M/3/1113, IOR. 35 Taylor, ‘Burmese Political Elite’, 616. 36 Dorman-Smith to Amery, 26 September 1941, 1, M/3/733, IOR. See also former Burmese premier Ba Maw’s bitter comments in his memoir, Breakthrough in Burma: Memoirs of a Revolution, 1939-1946 (New Haven, 1968), 37–8. 37 Burmese nationalist newspapers urged Saw not to go to Britain as a result of Churchill’s speech: C. G. Stewart, ‘Review of Recent Activities of Premier U Saw and Deductions Therefrom’, 15 September 1941, 7, M/3/1113, IOR. 38 Burma’s chief security officer identified this as a media strategy targeting American correspondents: Stewart, ‘Review of Recent Activities of Premier U Saw’, 7, M/3/1113, IOR. 39Chicago Daily Tribune, 15 September 1941. 40 See coverage in The Times from 25 October to 1 November 1941, and Taylor, ‘Burmese Political Elite’, 627–8. 41 ‘Prime Minister’s Interview with U Saw and U Tin Tut’, 18 October 1941, 2, M/3/733, IOR. Also available in PREM 4/50/1, TNA. 42 Amery, ‘Burma: Constitutional Future’, 2, CAB 67/9/122, TNA. 43 Draft Letter to U Saw, 1, attached to Amery, ‘Burma: Constitutional Future’, CAB 67/9/122, TNA. 44 Draft Letter to U Saw, 1, CAB 67/9/122, TNA. 45 Draft Letter to U Saw, 1, CAB 67/9/122, TNA; ‘Report for the Month of August 1941 for the Dominions, India, Burma and the Colonies and Mandated Territories’, September 1941, 11, CAB 68/8/58, TNA. Taylor, ‘Burmese Political Elite’, 618–19, 625; Taylor, ‘The Case of U Saw’, 189–90; cf. Amery’s 5 November speech, quoted in The Times, 5 November 1941. 46Manchester Guardian, 4 November 1941; cf. also Chicago Daily Tribune, 4 November 1941; New York Times, 4 November 1941. 47 Saw, quoted in The Times, 5 November 1941. 48 J. C. Walton to C. F. B. Pearce, 6 November 1941, M/3/732, IOR. 49 U Saw, Burma’s Case for Full Self-Government (London, 1941), 2–3, M/3/732, IOR. 50 Joyce to Lord Halifax, 6 November 1941, 1, 3, M/3/732, IOR. 51New York Times, 14 November 1941; Washington Post, 16 November 1941. 52 Amery to Churchill, 8 November 1941, PREM 4/50/1, TNA; Halifax to Amery, 16 November 1941, 1, M/3/1111, IOR; Memorandum of conversation, Halifax with Sumner Welles, 12 November 1941, RG 59 033.45C11/2, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD (NARA). 53 Amery to Anthony Eden, 3 November 1941, 1–2, M/3/1111, IOR. 54 Wallace Murray to Welles and Cordell Hull, memorandum, 13 December 1941, RG 59 845C.002/11, NARA. 55 Joyce to J. C. Walton, 9 December 1941, M/3/1110, IOR: The Foreign Office estimated that Saw’s ship would have been around Wake Island or Midway Island when the Japanese attack began. 56 L. C. Hollis, Ministry of Defence, to Churchill, 7 January 1942, PREM 4/50/2, TNA. 57 Report of U Saw’s interrogation on 13 January 1942, in High Commissioner, Jerusalem, to Cairo, 14 January 1942, 2, PREM 4/50/2, TNA. 58 Cairo to Foreign Office, 17 January 1942; Press Release, 18 January 1942, PREM 4/50/2, TNA. 59 Foreign Office to Cairo, 27 January 1942, PREM 4/50/2, TNA. 60 Stewart, ‘Review of Recent Activities of Premier U Saw’, 1–2, M/3/1113, IOR. 61 Cady, Modern Burma, 557; Charney, Modern Burma, 68. 62 For an interpretation of a longtime cordiality in Anglo-Azikiwe relations, see John E. Flint, ‘“Managing Nationalism”: The Colonial Office and Nnamdi Azikiwe, 1932–43’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 27 (1999), 143–58. 63 John Oriji, ‘Nnamdi Azikiwe: The Triumph of Knowledge’, in Gloria Chuku, ed., The Igbo Intellectual Tradition: Creative Conflict in African and African Diasporic Thought (New York, 2013), 69. 64 Oriji, ‘Triumph of Knowledge’, 70–2; for the influence of several notable African-American intellectuals, especially Alain Locke, on Azikiwe, see Jason C. Parker, ‘“Made-in-America Revolutions”? The “Black University” and the American Role in the Decolonization of the Black Atlantic’, Journal of American History, 96 (2009), 727–50; Nnamdi Azikiwe, Liberia in World Politics (London, 1934). 65 Jonathan Derrick, Africa’s ‘Agitators’: Militant Anti-Colonialism in Africa and the West, 1918-1939 (New York, 2008), 313–16. Ray Jenkins examines another episode from this period in his ‘William Ofori Atta, Nnamdi Azikiwe, J. B. Danquah and the “Grilling” of W. E. F. Ward of Achimota in 1935’, History in Africa, 21 (1994), 171–89. See also correspondence between Azikiwe and George Padmore during the episode in KV 2/1817, TNA. This article uses ‘Zik’ and ‘Azikiwe’ interchangeably, as did Azikiwe. 66 Sam O. Idemili, ‘What the West African Pilot Did in the Movement for Nigerian Nationalism between 1937 and 1957’, Black American Literature Forum, 12 (1978), 84–91. 67 Nnamdi Azikiwe, Renascent Africa (London, 1937). 68 On the NYM controversy, see Gabriel Olakunle Olusanya, ‘The Impact of the Second World War on Nigeria’s Political Evolution’, PhD thesis, University of Toronto, Toronto, 1964, 285–91. 69West African Pilot, 16 and 20 August 1941 (hereafter Pilot). 70Pilot, 13 November 1941. 71 Wiebe Karl Boer, ‘Nation Building Exercise: Sporting Culture and the Rise of Football in Colonial Nigeria’, PhD thesis, Yale University, New Haven, CT, 2003, 310–12. 72 John H. Carrow, ‘Extract from a Confidential Memorandum dated 12.2.42 from Resident Sokoto to Secretary, Northern Provinces’, 28 January 1943, CO 583/261/8, TNA. 73 Azikiwe describes this ‘Nigeria Reconstruction Group’ in his The Development of Political Parties in Nigeria (London, 1957), 8. 74 Azikiwe, ‘Political Blueprint of Nigeria (1)’, Pilot, 25 March 1943, and ‘Political Blueprint of Nigeria (2)’, Pilot, 26 March 1943. The full set of columns ran in the Pilot, 25 March 1943 to 15 April 1943. 75 Azikiwe, ‘Political Blueprint of Nigeria (12)’, Pilot, 8 April 1943. Zik would again refer to the Charter as a basis for an independent Nigeria in his columns of 12 April and 15 April. 76 C. R. Niven, ‘Visit to England by West African Delegation, August, 1943’, cover letter, CO 554/133/3, TNA. 77 Niven, ‘Visit’, 17, CO 554/133/3, TNA. 78Pilot, 23 June 1943. 79 Louis, Imperialism at Bay, 256. 80Pilot, 23 June 1943. 81Pilot, 23 June 1943. Zik’s regular column ‘Inside Stuff’ commented on the tour alongside the editorial. 82 Azikiwe’s sole authorship of the memorandum is corroborated by Imam in Pilot, 9 November 1943. Azikiwe claimed the memorandum had been a group effort: Pilot, 30 October 1943. 83 ‘The Atlantic Charter and British West Africa: Memorandum on Post-War Reconstruction of the Colonies and Protectorates of British West Africa, Prepared under the Auspices of the West African Press Delegation to Great Britain, August, 1943’, 3, CO 554/133/3, TNA. 84 ‘The Atlantic Charter and British West Africa’, 1, CO 554/133/3, TNA. 85Pilot, 16 November 1943. 86 Azikiwe, ‘“Privileged” to Print’, Daily Worker, 8 October 1943; Padmore, ‘Editors Use Imperialism-Boosting Trip to Demand W. African Self-Government!’ New Leader, 23 October 1943. 87 See Zik’s columns in the Pilot of 13, 27–28, 31 August, and 1–2, 4, 6 September 1943 for details. 88 Niven, ‘Visit’, 9, CO 554/133/3, TNA. 89 Niven, ‘Visit’, 19, CO 554/133/3, TNA. 90Pilot, 15 January 1944. 91 ‘Resolutions on Political Problems’, Wasu (Preach), May 1943, 7–8. 92Pilot, 21 April 1942; Azikiwe to Blaize (WASU, London), 2 July 1942, CO 554/127/11, TNA. 93Pilot, 22 January 1944. 94 Azikiwe to Herbert Macaulay, 27 September 1943, Herbert Macaulay Papers, Box 88 File 3, Kenneth Dike Library Special Collections, University of Ibadan. Emphasis in original. 95 For such unveiled threats, see Azikiwe, Political Blueprint of Nigeria (Lagos, 1943), 1, 58, and 64. 96 Azikiwe, Political Blueprint, 55. 97 Azikiwe, Political Blueprint, 64. 98 Described by the US consul in Lagos as a ‘seemingly never-ending series’. Andrew G. Lynch, ‘Objectionable Articles in the West African Pilot’, 28 January 1944, RG 84, Lagos Classified General Records, 1940-1963, Box 1, Folder 5, NARA. 99 ‘Note on Memo by W. A. Delegation’, 9 September 1943, CO 554/113/3, TNA. 100 ‘Note by Andrew Cohen’, 13 October 1943, CO 583/261/8, TNA; Sir Bernard Bourdillon, ‘Minute by Governor to Secretary of State for the Colonies’, 10 September 1943, CO 583/263/18, TNA. 101 ‘Notes on Points Arising in Discussions with the Secretary of State (Stanley) on Wednesday, 27th October and Thursday, 28th October, 1943’, CO 554/132/18, TNA. 102 A. G. Grantham to Sir Arthur Dawe, 11 October 1943, 2, CO 554/132/20, TNA. 103 On the strike, see Lisa A. Lindsay, ‘Domesticity and Difference: Male Breadwinners, Working Women, and Colonial Citizenship in the 1945 Nigerian General Strike’, American Historical Review, 104 (1999), 783–812. 104 Hunt, Inventing Human Rights; David Armitage, The Declaration of Independence: A Global History (Cambridge, MA, 2007). 105 Contrast with Borgwardt, ‘When You State a Moral Principle’, 532; Laing, ‘Relevance of the Atlantic Charter’, 310; Laing, ‘Norm of Self-Determination’, 258, 261. 106 For a sampling of Atlantic Charter-talk, see Michael O. West, ‘Ndabaningi Sithole, Garfield Todd and the Dadaya School Strike of 1947’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 18 (1992), 299; Rosaleen Smyth, ‘War Propaganda During the Second World War in Northern Rhodesia’, African Affairs, 83 (1984), 356–8; Tony Martin, ‘Eric Williams and the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission: Trinidad’s Future Nationalist Leader as Aspiring Imperial Bureaucrat, 1942-1944’, Journal of African American History, 88 (2003), 285; Auriol Weigold, Churchill, Roosevelt and India: Propaganda During World War II (London, 2008), Chapters 1–2; Sarah Ellen Graham, ‘American Propaganda, the Anglo-American Alliance, and the “Delicate Question” of Indian Self-determination’, Diplomatic History, 33 (2009), 223–59; Douglas Little, ‘Cold War and Colonialism in Africa: The United States, France and the Madagascar Revolt of 1947’, Pacific Historical Review, 59 (1990), 533–5; and Klose, Human Rights in the Shadow of Colonial Violence, 24–5. 107 After the fall of Burma in early 1942, Reginald Dorman-Smith admitted ‘several months ago he would have favored some form of dominion status for Burma but that it was now too late’. John Davies, Jr., ‘Conditions in Burma’, 3 April 1942, 2, RG 59 845C.00/59, NARA. 108 For similar developments in French West Africa, see Frederick Cooper, Citizenship between Empire and Nation: Remaking France and French Africa, 1945-1960 (Princeton, 2014). © The Author [2017]. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

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Twentieth Century British HistoryOxford University Press

Published: Aug 10, 2017

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