On December 22, 1941, British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill arrived in Washington, DC, for the First Washington Conference. Held two weeks after US President Franklin Roosevelt’s declaration of war on Japan, the meeting, also known as the Arcadia Conference, was where Churchill, Roosevelt and representatives from 24 other countries decided how to project a unified front to defeat the Axis Powers.
Many Americans wanted revenge on Japan after its attack on Pearl Harbor, but the attendees, who convened for three weeks, ultimately agreed that the primary target was Germany. In response, the US agreed to increase its arms production, producing more machine guns, aircraft, and tanks.
When the conference concluded on New Year’s Day, 1942, Churchill, Roosevelt, Maxim Litvinov of the Soviet Union, and T. V. Soong, of China all signed a document binding themselves and the other 22 signatories (who signed a day later) to working toward a joint peace and war effort against Hitler. This declaration would become known as the United Nations Declaration.
While the United Nations didn’t become an official institution until1945, the declaration created by the conference helped to lay the foundation for the entity we have today.
Check out these photos from the time of the conference: