In its fifth month of prospecting, the Pearl Harbor Committee at last unearthed a rich finda broad, deep vein of comment and discussion of the 1941 tragedy by ex-War Secretary Henry L. Stimson, studded with pure history in the form of notes from his diary. Significant excerpts:
Nov. 5. Matters are crystallizing . . . Japan is sending to us someone who, I think, will bring us a proposal impossible of acceptance. . . .
Nov. 6. I left for the White House and had about an hour's talk with the Presidenton the whole a good talk. . . . We talked about the Far Eastern situation and the approaching conference with the messenger who is coming from Japan. The President outlined what he thought he might say. He was trying to think of something which would give us further time. He suggested he might propose a truce in which there would be no movement or armament for six months. . . .
I told him I frankly saw two great objections: first, that it tied up our hands just at a time when it was vitally important that we should go on completing our reenforcement of the Philippines; and, second, that the Chinese would feel that any such arrangement was a desertion of them.
Nov. 7. Cabinet meeting this afternoon. The President opened with telling the story of Lincoln and his Cabinethow he polled the Cabinet and found them all polling NO and then he said, "The Ayes have it."
With that he started to have what he said was the first general poll of his Cabinet and it was on the question of the Far Eastwhether the people would back us up in case we struck at Japan down there and what the tactics should be.
He went around the tablefirst Hull and then myself, and then around through the whole number and it was unanimous in feeling the country would support us. He said that this time the vote IS unanimous, he feeling the same way. . . .
Nov. 25. General Marshall and I went to the White House, where we were until nearly half past one. At the meeting were Hull, Knox, Marshall, Stark, and myself.
The President brought up the event that we were likely to be attacked, perhaps (as soon as) next Monday, for the Japanese are notorious for making an attack without warning, and the question was what we should do. The question was how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves. . . .
When I got back to the Department I found news from G-2 that a Japanese expedition had started. Five divisions had come down from Shantung and Shansi to Shanghai and there they had embarked on shipsthirty, forty or fifty shipsand have been sighted south of Formosa. I at once called up Hull and told him about it and sent copies to him and to the President. . . .
Nov. 27. The main question has been over the message that we shall send to MacArthur. . . . On talking with the President this morning over the telephone, I suggested and he approved the idea that we should send the final alert; namely, that he should be on the qui vive for any attack. . . .
Nov. 28. G-2 had sent me a summary of the information in regard to the movements of the Japanese in the Far East and it amounted to such a formidable statement of dangerous possibilities that I decided to take it to the President before he got up.