Welles Declaration
The Welles Declaration, issued on July 23, 1940 by United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Under Secretary of State
Under Secretary of State
The Under Secretary of State, from 1919 to 1972, was the second-ranking official at the United States Department of State , serving as the Secretary's principal deputy, chief assistant, and Acting Secretary in the event of the Secretary's absence...

 Sumner Welles
Sumner Welles
Benjamin Sumner Welles was an American government official and diplomat in the Foreign Service. He was a major foreign policy adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and served as Under Secretary of State from 1937 to 1943, during FDR's presidency.-Early life:Benjamin Sumner Welles was born in...

, then acting Secretary of State
Secretary of State
Secretary of State or State Secretary is a commonly used title for a senior or mid-level post in governments around the world. The role varies between countries, and in some cases there are multiple Secretaries of State in the Government....

, condemned what the U.S. and the Baltic states (Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

, Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 and Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

) saw as the USSR
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

’s annexation of the Baltic states and initiated its refusal to recognize the legitimacy of Soviet control over these three states. It was an application of the Stimson Doctrine
Stimson Doctrine
The Stimson Doctrine is a policy of the United States federal government, enunciated in a note of January 7, 1932, to Japan and China, of non-recognition of international territorial changes that were executed by force. The doctrine was an application of the principle of ex injuria jus non oritur...

 to the Baltic issue. The Declaration was consistent with Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

’s attitude towards territorial expansion, and reflected the views held by the highest levels of the Roosevelt administration.

From the late 18th to the early 20th Century, the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 controlled the regions that now comprise the three states. Their national awareness movements later gained strength, and each declared itself independent in the wake of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. All were recognized by the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 during the early 1920s. While the area held little strategic importance for the U.S., several members of the U.S. State Department established relationships there. After the outbreak of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and string of Nazi victories, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 engaged in a series of ultimata and actions ending in the annexation of the Baltic states during the summer of 1940. The U.S. and Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 anticipated future involvement in the war, but U.S. isolationism and a foreseeable British-Soviet alliance deterred open confrontation over the Baltics. Welles, concerned with postwar border planning, had been authorized by Roosevelt to issue stronger public statements gauging a move towards more intervention. Loy Henderson and other State Department officials familiar with the area kept the administration informed of developments there, and Henderson, Welles, and Roosevelt worked together to compose the declaration.

The Welles Declaration established a five-decade non-recognition of the Baltic States' annexation. The document had major significance for overall U.S. policy toward Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 in the critical year of 1940. While the U.S. did not engage the Soviet Union militarily in the region, the Declaration enabled the Baltic states to maintain independent diplomatic missions, and Executive Order 8484
Executive Order 8484
Executive Order 8484, issued on July 10, 1940 by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was one of a series of amendments to Executive Order 8389....

 protected Baltic financial assets. Its substance was supported by subsequent U.S. presidents and Congressional resolutions. The Baltic states re-established their independence in 1990.

19th and early 20th century status

The entire region was controlled by the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 during the 19th century. The Estonian Age of Awakening
Estonian national awakening
The Estonian Age of Awakening is a period in history where Estonians came to acknowledge themselves as a nation deserving the right to govern themselves. This period is considered to begin in 1850s with greater rights being granted to commoners and to end with the declaration of the Republic of...

, the Latvian National Awakening
Latvian National Awakening
The Latvian National Awakening refers to three distinct but ideologically related National revival movements:* the First Awakening refers to the national revival led by the Young Latvians from the 1850s to the 1880s,...

, and the Lithuanian National Revival
Lithuanian National Revival
Lithuanian National Revival, alternatively Lithuanian National Awakening , was a period of the history of Lithuania in the 19th century at the time when a major part of Lithuanian inhabited areas belonged to the Russian Empire...

 expressed the peoples' wishes to create independent states. After World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 the three states declared their independence – Lithuania re-established its independence
Act of Independence of Lithuania
The Act of Independence of Lithuania or Act of February 16 was signed by the Council of Lithuania on February 16, 1918, proclaiming the restoration of an independent State of Lithuania, governed by democratic principles, with Vilnius as its capital. The Act was signed by all twenty...

 on February 16, 1918, Estonia on February 24, 1918
Estonian Declaration of Independence
The Estonian Declaration of Independence, also known as the Manifesto to the Peoples of Estonia , is the founding act of the Republic of Estonia from 1918. It is celebrated on 24 February, the National Day or Estonian Independence Day....

 and Latvia on November 18, 1918. The Baltic countries often were seen as a unified group, despite dissimilarities in their languages and histories. Lithuania was recognized as a state in 1253
History of Lithuania (1219–1295)
The history of Lithuania between 1219 and 1295 deals with the establishment and early history of the first Lithuanian state, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The beginning of the 13th century marks the end of the prehistory of Lithuania. From this point on the history of Lithuania is recorded in...

, Latvia arose from the Province of Livonia, and Estonia
History of Estonia
Estonia was settled near the end of the last glacial era, beginning from around 8500 BC. Before the German invasions in the 13th century proto-Estonians of the Ancient Estonia worshipped the spirits of nature...

 emerged from territories held by the Livonian Confederation
Livonian Confederation
Terra Mariana was the official name for Medieval Livonia or Old Livonia which was formed in the aftermath of the Livonian Crusade in the territories comprising present day Estonia and Latvia...

 and the Swedish Empire
Swedish Empire
The Swedish Empire refers to the Kingdom of Sweden between 1561 and 1721 . During this time, Sweden was one of the great European powers. In Swedish, the period is called Stormaktstiden, literally meaning "the Great Power Era"...

. All three states were admitted into the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 in 1921.

The U.S. had granted full de jure
De jure
De jure is an expression that means "concerning law", as contrasted with de facto, which means "concerning fact".De jure = 'Legally', De facto = 'In fact'....

recognition to all three Baltic states by July 1922. The recognitions were granted during the shift from the Democratic administration
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 of Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 to the Republican administration
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 of Warren Harding
Warren G. Harding
Warren Gamaliel Harding was the 29th President of the United States . A Republican from Ohio, Harding was an influential self-made newspaper publisher. He served in the Ohio Senate , as the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ohio and as a U.S. Senator...

. While the U.S. did not sponsor any meaningful political or economic initiatives in the region during the interwar period, and its administrations did not consider the states strategically important, it maintained normal diplomatic relations with the states. The U.S. had suffered over 100,000 deaths during World War I and pursued an isolationist
Isolationism is the policy or doctrine of isolating one's country from the affairs of other nations by declining to enter into alliances, foreign economic commitments, international agreements, etc., seeking to devote the entire efforts of one's country to its own advancement and remain at peace by...

 policy, determined to avoid involvement in any further European conflicts. In 1932, however, Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson
Henry L. Stimson
Henry Lewis Stimson was an American statesman, lawyer and Republican Party politician and spokesman on foreign policy. He twice served as Secretary of War 1911–1913 under Republican William Howard Taft and 1940–1945, under Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the latter role he was a leading hawk...

 formally criticised the 1931 Japanese invasion of Manchuria, and the resulting Stimson Doctrine
Stimson Doctrine
The Stimson Doctrine is a policy of the United States federal government, enunciated in a note of January 7, 1932, to Japan and China, of non-recognition of international territorial changes that were executed by force. The doctrine was an application of the principle of ex injuria jus non oritur...

 would go on to serve as a basis for the Welles declaration.

Outbreak of World War II

The situation changed after the outbreak of World War II. Poland was invaded
Invasion of Poland (1939)
The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War in Poland and the Poland Campaign in Germany, was an invasion of Poland by Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small Slovak contingent that marked the start of World War II in Europe...

 in September 1939. Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 became involved, and a series of German victories in Denmark, Norway
Operation Weserübung
Operation Weserübung was the code name for Germany's assault on Denmark and Norway during the Second World War and the opening operation of the Norwegian Campaign...

, and the Netherlands
Battle of the Netherlands
The Battle of the Netherlands was part of Case Yellow , the German invasion of the Low Countries and France during World War II. The battle lasted from 10 May 1940 until 14 May 1940 when the main Dutch forces surrendered...

 during spring 1940 were alarming. Britain was clearly threatened and its leadership discussed the possibility of an alliance with the Soviet Union. Under the cirumstances, direct British confrontation over the Baltic issue was difficult. Roosevelt did not wish to lead the U.S. into the war; his 1937 Quarantine Speech
Quarantine Speech
The Quarantine Speech was given by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on October 5, 1937, in Chicago, calling for an international "quarantine of the aggressor nations" as an alternative to the political climate of American neutrality and non-intervention that was prevalent at the time...

 denouncing aggression by Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and Japan had met mixed responses. Welles felt freer in this regard, looking towards postwar border issues and the establishment of a U.S.-led international body that could intervene in such disputes. Roosevelt saw Welles's stronger public statements as experiments that would test the public mood in regard to U.S. foreign policy.

The secret protocol contained in the 1939 Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact between Germany and the Soviet Union had relegated Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to the Soviet sphere of influence
Sphere of influence
In the field of international relations, a sphere of influence is a spatial region or conceptual division over which a state or organization has significant cultural, economic, military or political influence....

. During the course of late 1939 and early 1940, the Soviet Union issued a series of ultimatums to the Baltic governments that eventually led to the full annexation of the states. (At about the same time, the Soviet Union was exerting similar pressure
Winter War
The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. It began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939 – three months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland – and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty...

 on Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

.) About 30,000 Soviet troops entered the Baltic states during June 1940, followed by arrests of their leaders and citizens. Elections to "People's Assemblies" were held in all three states in mid-July; the Soviet-sponsored slates received between 92.2% and 99.2% of the vote. During June, John Cooper Wiley
John Cooper Wiley
John Cooper Wiley was a United States Foreign Service officer and ambassador.In 1938 he was the Chargé d'Affaires ad interim in Austria and Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Latvia and Estonia. He went on to appointments as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to...

 of the State Department sent coded telegrams to Washington reporting developments in the Baltics, and these reports influenced Welles. The U.S. responded with a July 15 amendment to Executive Order 8389
Executive Order 8389
Executive Order 8389 Protecting Funds of Victims of Aggression was issued by President of United States Franklin D. Roosevelt on April 10, 1940, following the invasions of Denmark and Norway by Nazi Germany.-Implementation of the Order:...

 that froze the assets of the Baltic states, thereby grouping them with German-occupied countries, and by issuing the condemnatory Welles declaration.


The Welles Declaration was written by Loy W. Henderson
Loy W. Henderson
Loy Wesley Henderson was a United States Foreign Service Officer and diplomat.-Early life:Henderson was born in Rogers, Arkansas in 1892 to a poor Methodist preacher. He attended college in a small town in Kansas before transferring to Northwestern University...

 in consultation with Welles and Roosevelt. Welles would go on to participate in the creation of the Atlantic Charter
Atlantic Charter
The Atlantic Charter was a pivotal policy statement first issued in August 1941 that early in World War II defined the Allied goals for the post-war world. It was drafted by Britain and the United States, and later agreed to by all the Allies...

, which stated that territorial adjustments should be made in accordance with the wishes of the peoples concerned. He increasingly served as acting Secretary of State during Cordell Hull
Cordell Hull
Cordell Hull was an American politician from the U.S. state of Tennessee. He is best known as the longest-serving Secretary of State, holding the position for 11 years in the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during much of World War II...

's illnesses. Henderson, then the State Department's Director of the Office of European Affairs, was married to a Latvian woman. He had opened an American Red Cross
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross , also known as the American National Red Cross, is a volunteer-led, humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief and education inside the United States. It is the designated U.S...

 office in Kaunas, Lithuania
Kaunas is the second-largest city in Lithuania and has historically been a leading centre of Lithuanian economic, academic, and cultural life. Kaunas was the biggest city and the center of a powiat in Trakai Voivodeship of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since 1413. During Russian Empire occupation...

 after World War I and served in the Eastern European Division of the State Department for 18 years.

In a conversation on the morning of July 23, Welles asked Henderson to prepare a press release "expressing sympathy for the people of the Baltic States and condemnation of the Soviet action." After reviewing the statement's initial draft, Welles emphatically expressed his opinion that it was not strong enough. In the presence of Henderson, Welles called Roosevelt and read the draft to him. Roosevelt and Welles agreed that it needed strengthening. Welles then reformulated several sentences and added others which apparently had been suggested by the President. According to Henderson, "President Roosevelt was indignant at the manner in which the Soviet Union annexed the Baltic States and personally approved the condemnatory statement issued by Under Secretary Welles on the subject." The declaration was made public, and telegraphed to the American Embassy in Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, later in the day.

Text of declaration

The statement read:
During these past few days the devious processes whereunder the political independence and territorial integrity of the three small Baltic Republics – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – were to be deliberately annihilated by one of their more powerful neighbors, have been rapidly drawing to their conclusion.

From the day when the peoples of those Republics first gained their independent and democratic form of government the people of the United States have watched their admirable progress in self-government with deep and sympathetic interest.

The policy of this Government is universally known. The people of the United States are opposed to predatory activities no matter whether they are carried on by the use of force or by the threat of force. They are likewise opposed to any form of intervention on the part of one state, however powerful, in the domestic concerns of any other sovereign state, however weak.

These principles constitute the very foundations upon which the existing relationship between the twenty-one sovereign republics of the New World rests.

The United States will continue to stand by these principles, because of the conviction of the American people that unless the doctrine in which these principles are inherent once again governs the relations between nations, the rule of reason, of justice and of law – in other words, the basis of modern civilization itself – cannot be preserved.

Impact during World War II

Welles also announced that the U.S. government would continue to recognize the foreign minister
Foreign minister
A Minister of Foreign Affairs, or foreign minister, is a cabinet minister who helps form the foreign policy of a sovereign state. The foreign minister is often regarded as the most senior ministerial position below that of the head of government . It is often granted to the deputy prime minister in...

s of the Baltic countries as the envoys of sovereign governments. At the same time, the Department of State instructed U.S. representatives to withdraw from the Baltic states for "consultations". In 1940 The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

described the Welles Declaration as "one of the most exceptional diplomatic documents issued by the Department of State in many years."

The Declaration was a source of contention during the subsequent alliance between the U.S., Great Britain, and the USSR, but Welles persistently defended it. In a discussion with the media he asserted that the USSR had maneuvered to give "an odor of legality to acts of aggression for purposes of the record". In a memorandum describing his conversations with British Ambassador Lord Halifax
E. F. L. Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax
Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax, , known as The Lord Irwin from 1925 until 1934 and as The Viscount Halifax from 1934 until 1944, was one of the most senior British Conservative politicians of the 1930s, during which he held several senior ministerial posts, most notably as...

 in 1942, Welles stated that he would have preferred to characterize the plebiscites
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

 supporting the annexations as "faked". In April 1942 he wrote that the annexation was "...not only indefensible from every moral standpoint, but likewise extraordinarily stupid," interpreting any concession in the Baltic issue as a precedent that would lead to further border struggles in eastern Poland and elsewhere.

As the war intensified, Roosevelt accepted the need for Soviet assistance and was reluctant to address postwar territorial conflicts. During the 1943 Tehran Conference
Tehran Conference
The Tehran Conference was the meeting of Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill between November 28 and December 1, 1943, most of which was held at the Soviet Embassy in Tehran, Iran. It was the first World War II conference amongst the Big Three in which Stalin was present...

, he "jokingly" assured Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 that when Soviet forces reoccupied Baltic countries, "he did not intend to go to war with the Soviet Union on this point." But, he explained, "the question of referendum and the right of self-determination" would constitute a matter of great importance for the U.S. Despite his work with Soviet representatives in the early 1940s to forward the alliance, Welles saw Roosevelt's and Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

's lack of commitment as dangerous.

Postwar impact

The Welles Declaration linked U.S. policy towards the Baltic states with the Stimson Doctrine
Stimson Doctrine
The Stimson Doctrine is a policy of the United States federal government, enunciated in a note of January 7, 1932, to Japan and China, of non-recognition of international territorial changes that were executed by force. The doctrine was an application of the principle of ex injuria jus non oritur...

, which did not recognize Japanese, German and Italian occupations during the 1930s. It broke with Wilsonian
Wilsonianism or Wilsonian are words used to describe a certain type of ideological perspectives on foreign policy. The term comes from the ideology of United States President Woodrow Wilson and his famous Fourteen Points that he believed would help create world peace if implemented.Common...

 policies that had supported a strong Russian presence as a counterweight to German power. During the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, the U.S. used the Baltic issue as a point of leverage in U.S.-Soviet relations.

Sir Hersch Lauterpacht
Hersch Lauterpacht
Sir Hersch Lauterpacht was a member of the United Nations' International Law Commission from 1952 to 1954 and a Judge of the International Court of Justice from 1955 to 1960. In the words of former ICJ President Stephen M...

, a judge of international law, described the basis of the non-recognition doctrine as being founded on the principles of ex injuria jus non oritur
Ex injuria jus non oritur
Ex injuria jus non oritur is a principle of international law. The phrase implies that "unjust acts cannot create law". Its rival principle is ex factis jus oritur, in which the existence of facts creates law....

Like the Stimson Doctrine, Welles' declaration was largely symbolic in nature, although it offered some material benefits in conjunction with Executive Order 8484
Executive Order 8484
Executive Order 8484, issued on July 10, 1940 by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was one of a series of amendments to Executive Order 8389....

. It enabled the diplomatic representative
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

s of the Baltic states in various other countries to fund their operations and protected the ownership of ships flying Baltic flags. By establishing a non-recognition policy, it allowed some 120,000 postwar displaced person
Displaced person
A displaced person is a person who has been forced to leave his or her native place, a phenomenon known as forced migration.- Origin of term :...

s from the Baltic states to avoid repatriation to the Soviet Union and advocate independence from abroad.

The U.S. position that the Baltic states had been forcibly annexed would remain its official stance for the following 51 years. Subsequent U.S. presidents and Congressional resolutions reaffirmed the substance of the Declaration. President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 asserted the right of the Baltic states to independence in an address to the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 on January 6, 1957. After confirming the Helsinki Final Act
Helsinki Accords
thumb|300px|[[Erich Honecker]] and [[Helmut Schmidt]] in Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe held in Helsinki 1975....

 in July 1975, the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 passed a resolution that the Final Act would not affect the continuity of U.S. recognition of the sovereignty of Baltic states. On July 26, 1983, on the 61st anniversary of de jure recognition of the three Baltic countries by the U.S. in 1922, President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 re-declared the United States' recognition of the independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The declaration was read in the United Nations as well. Throughout the 51 years that followed the events of 1940, all U.S. official maps and publications that mentioned the Baltic states included a statement of U.S. non-recognition of Soviet occupation.

The independence movements in the states during the 1980s and 1990 succeeded and the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 recognized all three in 1991. The states went on to become members of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 and NATO. Their development since independence is generally regarded as one of the most successful post-Soviet stories.

When commenting on the Declaration's seventieth anniversary, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the...

 described it as "a tribute to each of our countries’ commitment to the ideals of freedom and democracy." On July 23, 2010 a commemorative plaque
Commemorative plaque
A commemorative plaque, or simply plaque, is a plate of metal, ceramic, stone, wood, or other material, typically attached to a wall, stone, or other vertical surface, and bearing text in memory of an important figure or event...

 inscribed with its text in English and Lithuanian was formally dedicated in Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

, the capital of Lithuania.

See also

  • United States House Select Committee to Investigate the Incorporation of the Baltic States into the U.S.S.R.

Secondary sources

  • Alexandra Ashbourne. Lithuania: the rebirth of a nation, 1991-1994. Lexington Books, 1999. ISBN 9780739100271.
  • Edward Moore Bennett. Franklin D. Roosevelt and the search for victory: American-Soviet relations, 1939-1945. Rowman & Littlefield
    Rowman & Littlefield
    Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group is an independent publishing house founded in 1949. Under several imprints, the company offers scholarly books and journals for the academic market, as well as trade books. The company also owns a book distributor, National Book Network...

    , 1990. ISBN 9780842023658.
  • Robert Dallek. Franklin D. Roosevelt and American foreign policy, 1932-1945: with a new afterword. Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the Vice-Chancellor known as the Delegates of the Press. They are headed by the Secretary to the Delegates, who serves as...

     US, 1995. ISBN 9780195097320.
  • Dennis J. Dunn. Caught between Roosevelt & Stalin: America's ambassadors to Moscow. University Press of Kentucky
    University Press of Kentucky
    The University Press of Kentucky is the scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and was organized in 1969 as successor to the University of Kentucky Press. The university had sponsored scholarly publication since 1943. In 1949 the press was established as a separate academic agency...

    , 1998. ISBN 9780813120232.
  • John Hiden, Vahur Made, David J. Smith, editors. The Baltic question during the Cold War. London: Routledge
    Routledge is a British publishing house which has operated under a succession of company names and latterly as an academic imprint. Its origins may be traced back to the 19th-century London bookseller George Routledge...

    , 2008. ISBN 9780415371001.
  • Toivo Miljan. Historical dictionary of Estonia. Volume 43 of European historical dictionaries. Scarecrow Press, 2004. ISBN 9780810849044.
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