The correspondence of Arthur C. Murray

Assistant Military Attaché in Britain's diplomatic mission to Washington, D.C.
Murray, Arthur Cecil
Date published: 
September 2008
Electronic resource

The correspondence of Arthur Murray, 3rd Viscount Elibank, is of interest to historians chiefly for the light it casts upon Anglo-American relations and the foreign policy of Franklin D Roosevelt. Arthur Murray was a Scottish Liberal MP from 1908 to 1923. Between 1910 and 1914 he was the Parliamentary Private Secretary of Sir Edward Grey, the Foreign Secretary in Asquith's Liberal Government. He worked closely with Grey in the years leading up to the First World War and was with Grey when war broke out.
In 1917, having previously served in India and China then with distinction in France and Belgium as a Lieutenant-Colonel during the First World War, he was appointed Assistant Military Attaché to the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. It was there that he met Franklin Roosevelt, who at that time was Assistant Secretary of the Navy in Woodrow Wilson's Democratic Administration. The two men struck up a close friendship which continued on and off until Roosevelt's death in 1945.
Roosevelt was sympathetic to the Allied cause in 1917 and was also fast becoming a major figure in the Democratic Party. In 1920 he ran unsuccessfully as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Democrats. In the 1920s Roosevelt and Murray endured difficult times, both personally and politically. The Democrats and Liberals were out of favour and the two men also had to overcome serious illness - Roosevelt having succumbed to polio and Murray to nervous exhaustion. But Roosevelt's recovery and his election as President in 1932 rekindled their friendship and throughout the 1930s and the Second World War the two men were engaged in an illuminating correspondence that is the main focus of the Murray papers.
Murray's correspondence, which includes references to his visits to Roosevelt in 1935 and 1938, helps to show how the President's foreign policy evolved in the era of American isolationism and British appeasement. It refers to events such as the London Economic Conference of 1933, the Quarantine speech of 1937 and the Munich settlement of 1938. It also casts light upon Anglo-American relations during the Second World War.
Murray's papers include letters to and from other important figures in Anglo-American relations between the two World Wars such as Colonel House, Woodrow Wilson's key adviser during the Great War, Walter Runciman, President of the Board of Trade (1931-37) and William Lyon Mackenzie King, the Canadian Prime Minister (1921-26, 1926-30 and 1935-48). But it is his correspondence with Franklin Roosevelt that takes centre stage in this significant collection.
Drawn from Ms. 8805-8812 of the Elibank papers held at the National Library of Scotland, this correspondence is published with an introduction by Dr Tony McCulloch, Head of American Studies at Canterbury Christ Church University.