Cairo Conference-November,1943 - History

(Dept. of State Bulletin, Vol. IX, p. 393)

Released December 1, 1943

The several military missions have agreed upon future military operations against Japan. The Three Great Allies expressed their resolve to bring unrelenting pressure against their brutal enemies by sea, land, and air. This pressure is already mounting.
The Three Great Allies are fighting this war to restrain and punish the aggression of Japan. They covet no gain for themselves and have no thought of territorial expansion. It is their purpose that Japan shall be stripped of all the islands in the Pacific which she has seized or occupied since the beginning of the first World War in 1914, and that all the territories Japan has stolen form the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa, and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China. Japan will also be expelled from all other territories which she has taken by violence and greed.
The aforesaid three great powers, mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea, are determined that in due course Korea shall become free and independent.
With these objects in view the three Allies, in harmony with those of the United Nations at war with Japan, will continue to persevere in the serious and prolonged operations necessary to procure the unconditional surrender of Japan.

“Sleep of the Saved and Thankful”

Q: I am completing a Ph.D. at King’s College London on the history of Christianity in China. I found a quotation which is attributed to Churchill: “Beware the sleeping dragon. For when she awakes, the Earth will shake.” This quote is often used in blogs and news stories however, I cannot find its source. Was this in fact from Churchill? —C.S., via email

A: We could find no references to “sleeping dragon” in the Churchill canon, and it doesn’t sound like him, really. Churchill was inclined to write off the potential power of the China of his time, that China being far removed from the nation of today. It is likely “Churchillian Drift,” a process by which unattributed but famous quotations get ascribed to Churchill to make them more interesting.

​We speculate, but this puts us in mind of Japanese Admiral Yamamoto’s famous remark after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, which is established: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant, and to fill him with a terrible resolve.”

​Churchill himself said something similar about Pearl Harbor, which is part of Sir Martin Gilbert’s lecture, “What Did the United States Mean to Winston Churchill?”:

Silly people, and there were many, not only in enemy countries, might discount the force of the United States. Some said they were soft, others that they would never be united. They would fool around at a distance. They would never come to grips. They would never stand bloodletting. Their democracy and system of recurrent elections would paralyse their war effort. They would be just a vague blur on the horizon to friend or foe. Now we should see the weakness of this numerous but remote, wealthy, and talkative people. But I had studied the American Civil War, fought out to the last desperate inch. American blood flowed in my veins. I thought of a remark which Edward Grey had made to me more than thirty years before—that the United States is like ‘a gigantic boiler. Once the fire is lighted under it there is no limit to the power it can generate. Being saturated and satiated with emotion and sensation, I went to bed and slept the sleep of the saved and thankful.

Featured Image: ​Chiang Kai-shek, Roosevelt, Churchill and Madame Chiang (Soong Mei-ling​) at the Cairo Conference, November 1943. Roosevelt put more store in China’s importance as an ally than Churchill, who was aware of the internal conflicts. Soong Mei-ling, who lived out the entire century, died in 2003 at 105.​

List of Allied World War II conferences

This is a list of World War II conferences of the Allies of World War II. Conference names in boldface indicate the conferences at which the leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union were all present. For the historical context see Diplomatic history of World War II.

Location Dates Major participants: Major results
U.S.-British Staff Conference
Washington, D.C. January 29 – March 27, 1941 American, British, and Canadian military staff Set the basic planning agreement for the U.S. to enter the war.
First Inter-Allied Meeting London June 12, 1941 Representatives of Britain, 4 Dominions, Free France and 8 Allied governments in exile Declaration of St James's Palace. [1]
Atlantic Conference
Argentia August 9 – 12, 1941 Churchill and Roosevelt Atlantic Charter proposal for a Soviet aid conference.
Second Inter-Allied Meeting London September 24, 1941 Eden, Maisky, Cassin, and representatives of 8 Allied governments in exile Adherence of all the Allies to the Atlantic Charter principles. [2] [3]
First Moscow Conference
Moscow September 29 – October 1, 1941 Stalin, Harriman, Beaverbrook, Molotov Allied aid to the Soviet Union.
First Washington Conference
Washington, D.C. December 22, 1941 – January 14, 1942 Churchill, Roosevelt Europe first, Declaration by United Nations.
Second Washington Conference
Washington, D.C. June 20 – 25, 1942 Churchill, Roosevelt Make first priority opening a second front in North Africa, postpone cross-English Channel invasion.
Second Claridge Conference London July 20 – 26, 1942 Churchill, Harry Hopkins Substitute Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa, for US reinforcement of the Western Desert campaign.
Second Moscow Conference
Moscow August 12 – 17, 1942 Churchill, Stalin, Harriman Discuss reasons for Torch instead of cross-Channel invasion, Anglo-Soviet pact on information and technological exchanges.
Cherchell Conference Cherchell October 21 – 22, 1942 Clark, Vichy French officers including Mast A clandestine conference before the Torch landings, in which some Vichy French commanders agreed not to resist the Allied landings in Morocco and Algeria. [4]
Casablanca Conference
Casablanca January 14 – 24, 1943 Churchill, Roosevelt, de Gaulle, Giraud Plan Italian Campaign, plan cross-Channel invasion in 1944, demand "unconditional surrender" by Axis, encourage unity of French authorities in London and Algiers.
Potenji River Conference Natal January 28 – 29, 1943 Roosevelt, Vargas Creation of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force
Yenice Conference
Yenice January 30 – 31, 1943 Churchill, İnönü Turkey's participation in the war.
Bermuda Conference Hamilton April 19 – 30, 1943 American and British delegations separately led by Harold W. Dodds and Richard Law Jewish refugees freed by Allied forces and those still in Nazi-occupied Europe discussed. US immigration quotas not raised and British prohibition on Jews seeking refuge in Mandatory Palestine not lifted.
Third Washington Conference
Washington, D.C. May 12 – 25, 1943 Churchill, Roosevelt, Marshall Plan Italian Campaign, increase air attacks on Germany, increase war in Pacific.
Quebec Conference
Quebec August 17 – 24, 1943 Churchill, Roosevelt, King D-Day set for 1944, reorganization of South East Asia Command, secret Quebec Agreement to limit sharing nuclear energy info.
Third Moscow Conference Moscow October 18 – November 1, 1943 Foreign ministers Hull, Eden, Molotov, Fu and Stalin Moscow Declaration.
Cairo Conference
Cairo November 23 – 26, 1943 Churchill, Roosevelt, Chiang Cairo Declaration for postwar Asia.
Tehran Conference
Tehran November 28 – December 1, 1943 Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin First meeting of the Big 3, plan the final strategy for the war against Nazi Germany and its allies, set date for Operation Overlord.
Second Cairo Conference
Cairo December 4 – 6, 1943 Churchill, Roosevelt, İnönü Agreement to complete Allied air bases in Turkey, postpone Operation Anakim against Japan in Burma.
British Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference London May 1–16, 1944 Churchill, Curtin, Fraser, King, and Smuts British Commonwealth leaders support Moscow Declaration and reach agreement regarding their respective roles in the overall Allied war effort.
Bretton Woods conference Bretton Woods July 1 – 15, 1944 Representatives of 44 nations Establishes International Monetary Fund and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Dumbarton Oaks Conference Washington, D.C. August 21 – 29, 1944 Cadogan, Gromyko, Stettinius, and Koo Agreement to establish the United Nations.
Second Quebec Conference
Quebec September 12 – 16, 1944 Churchill, Roosevelt Morgenthau Plan for postwar Germany, other war plans, Hyde Park Agreement.
Fourth Moscow Conference
Moscow October 9 – 18, 1944 Churchill, Stalin, Molotov, Eden Establishing post-war spheres of influence in Eastern Europe and Balkan peninsula.
Malta Conference
Malta January 30 – February 2, 1945 Churchill, Roosevelt Preparation for Yalta.
Yalta Conference
Yalta February 4 – 11, 1945 Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin Final plans for defeat of Germany, postwar Europe plans, set date for United Nations Conference, conditions for the Soviet Union's entry in war against Japan.
United Nations Conference on International Organization San Francisco April 25 – June 26, 1945 Representatives of 50 nations United Nations Charter.
Potsdam Conference
Potsdam July 17 – August 2, 1945 Stalin, Truman, Attlee, Churchill (in part, until election defeat of the Conservative Party) Potsdam Declaration demanding unconditional surrender of Japan, Potsdam Agreement on policy for Germany.

In total Churchill attended 16.5 meetings, Roosevelt 12, and Stalin 7.

For some of the major wartime conference meetings involving Roosevelt and later Truman, the code names were words which included a numeric prefix corresponding to the ordinal number of the conference in the series of such conferences. The third conference was TRIDENT, the fourth conference was QUADRANT, the sixth conference was SEXTANT, and the eighth conference was OCTAGON. The last wartime conference was code-named TERMINAL.

Citadel of Cairo

In 1250, the Mamluks, who are slave soldiers, hijacked control of Egypt and established Cairo as the capital of their new dynasty, like many of their predecessors. Much of the land occupied by former Fatimid palaces were sold and replaced by more modern buildings, just like the Ayyubids did.

The Mamluks launched Construction projects that propelled the city forward, also bringing new amenities to the heart of the city. Meanwhile, Cairo excelled as a base of Islamic scholarship and an intersection of Afro-Eurasian civilizations on the spice trade route. Cairo had a population of close to half a million by 1340, and it the largest city in the west of China.

Ibn Battuta was a renowned historic traveler who had journeyed through thousands of miles during his trek. Cairo was one of his destinations, and he made One significant comment that “Cairo was Egypt’s most important and most influential city” (Ibn Battuta, 2009). He as well recognized the significance of the river Nile to the whole of Egypt as he often traveled by boat to get to Cairo and to leave for the rest of his journey. Not only was the Nile a medium of transportation, but it was also the source of a multitude of other useful things. The most prominent attribute of the Nile was its capacity to support rich agricultural soil, which in turn served as a major food source, and a channel for trade. And Egypt, as it is today, wouldn’t have been the same without the Nile.

According to Ibn Battuta’s detailed accounts of Cairo, a plague that was very devastating known Today as the Bubonic Plague or the Black Death hit Egypt in 1347 and caused the deaths of between 1 and 20,000 people daily in Cairo (Ibn Battuta, 2009)(Berkeley ORIAS, 2018). The plague was said to have originated in Asia and spread through rodents such as rats and fleas (Berkeley ORIAS, 2018). The plague eventually spread to all of Eurasia and exterminated all society it came across. It was estimated somewhere that it killed between 75 and 200 million people in total.

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 207
Bibliographic Info: 8 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4804-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8509-3
Imprint: McFarland

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Introduction: The War in China, 1937–1942 3

1. Roosevelt’s Envoys in China: 1942 9
2. Madame Chiang’s Public Diplomacy 21
3. T. V. Soong’s Private Diplomacy 34
4. Chiang and Roosevelt Plan a Summit 49
5. November 21–22, 1943: The Cast Assembles 60
6. November 23, 1943: The Play Begins 70
7. November 24, 1943: The Plot Unfolds 81
8. November 25, 1943: The Second Act Begins 92
9. November 26–27, 1943: End of the Second Act 105
10. November 28–29, 1943: Interlude in Teheran, Part I 117
11. November 30–December 1, 1943: The Teheran Interlude, Part II 129
12. December 2–7, 1943: Cairo. The Final Act 139
13. A Postscript on the Cairo Conference 154


A series of twelve meetings took place between the foreign ministers of the United Kingdom (Anthony Eden), the United States (Cordell Hull), and the Soviet Union (Vyacheslav Molotov), resulted in the Moscow Declarations and the creation of the European Advisory Commission. [1] During the Moscow Conference of 1943, the Soviet Union finally came to agreement with the United States and its allies to create a world organization. [1] The Ambassador of Republic of China in the Soviet Union, Foo Ping-sheung, was invited to sign the Declaration of the Four Nations.

Among those who also attended for the United States were Ambassador of the United States W. Averell Harriman, Major General John R. Deane of the United States Army, Green H. Hackworth, and James C. Dunn for the United Kingdom, His Majesty's Ambassador Sir Archibald Clerk Kerr, William Strang, and Lt. General Sir Hastings Ismay for the Soviet Union, the Marshal of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin, K. E. Voroshilov, A. Y. Vyshinski, Deputy People's Commissars for Foreign Affairs M. M. Litvinov, Deputy People's Commissar for Foreign Trade V. A. Sergeyev, Major-General A. A. Gryslov of the General Staff, and Senior Official of the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs G. F. Saksin. [2]

The Third Moscow Conference was one of the first times in which foreign ministers of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union could meet and discuss important global matters. Here, they discussed what measures needed to be taken in order to shorten and end the war with Germany and the Axis Powers, as well as how to effectively collaborate and cooperate peacefully through this period marking the end of the war. The Moscow Declaration, officially issued by the foreign ministers of United States President Franklin Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom, and Premier Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union, defined how these issues would be dealt with. It included four sections, Declaration of Four Nations on General Security, Declaration Regarding Italy, Declaration on Austria, and Statement on Atrocities.

Also during the Moscow Conference, agreements were made to establish a European Advisory Commission to make recommendations for the three joint governments and an Advisory Council regarding Italy - along with Greece and Yugoslavia.

In the case of Italy, the declaration stated that Fascism must be utterly destroyed in Italy, that all fascists should be barred from participation in public life and that "democratic organs" of local government should be created within Italy by the occupying powers.

In the case of Austria, the German annexation of Austria in 1938 was declared null and void. But the people of Austria as a whole were held responsible in the declaration for participation in the war on the side of Germany. [2]

In the "Statement on Atrocities", it was declared that after any armistice with the present or a future German government, that those German individuals suspected of involvement in wartime atrocities in various countries would be sent to those countries for trial and punishment.

Cairo Conference-November,1943 - History

“Lawrence’s work with Churchill in 1921 in a newly created Middle East Department that placed Hashemite rulers at the heads of state of two new Arab States … illustrates most strikingly his political and diplomatic functioning, the strengths and weaknesses of his personal approach to world affairs.”

—John Mack, The Prince of Our Disorder

Lawrence had left the Paris Peace Conference in Versailles two years earlier deeply frustrated by the way France and Britain had carved up the former Turkish territories with little regard for Arab rights. Winston Churchill met Lawrence at Versailles and had come away unimpressed. But something had changed after Versailles and before Cairo.

Lowell Thomas’ multimedia show on “Lawrence in Arabia” had opened in London on August 14, 1919, after the Paris Conference. It made Lawrence famous — the great British hero of the First World War. And it gave his views on the Middle East and the Arabs — expressed in the press and in meetings with the British government — much more influence. Most of Britain’s leaders saw Thomas’ show. Winston Churchill attended on more than one occasion, and his opinion of Lawrence changed.

When Churchill took over the Colonial Office, he inherited a muddled Middle Eastern policy that was fought over by different branches of the British government. And Churchill inherited an unpopular war in Mesopotamia, where British and Indian troops were fighting Arab rebels. Churchill quickly appointed Lawrence — that “Wild Ass of the desert” as some of his detractors called him — as his assistant for Middle Eastern affairs. They began to work out their plan to give Lawrence’s Arab allies part of Palestine (today’s Jordan), and Mesopotamia, which would be called Iraq. This presumably would end the war there. These countries would then join the British Commonwealth. Among the problems with this plan: Prince Feisal, who was to rule Iraq, was not from Iraq and did not control the factions fighting in Mesopotamia.

The Cairo Conference approved the plan Lawrence and Churchill had worked out. Lawrence, thereby, had fulfilled some of his promises to Feisal and the Arabs. “Everything he had hoped for when he joined the Colonial Office had been achieved,” writes Lawrence biographer Jeremy Wilson. Lawrence later called this “the period of which I am proudest.” However, the map of the Middle East that resulted from this conference would prove anything but stable over the 90 years that followed.



US Census Bureau World Population Profile: 1998--Highlights (revised March 18,1999)

United NationsProgramme of Action of the UN ICPD, Preamble

United Nations Chronicle, On-Line EditionPopulation, Progress and Peanuts Vol.XXXVI, Nov.3, 1999, Dept. of Information

"Focus on Population and Development: Follow-up on Cairo Conference."US Department of State Dispatch 6, no. 1 (January 2, 1995): 4.

"Cairo Conference Reaches Consensus on Plan to Stabilize World Growth by 2015."UN Chronicle 31 (December 1994): 63.

Legends of America

Cairo Gem Theatre by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Though the racial tension continued, the town continued to thrive. In 1910, the historic Gem Theatre opened its doors to much acclaim. Seating 685 people, it was a cultural hot spot in the town. Unfortunately, a fire completely gutted the theatre in 1934, but it was rebuilt two years later including a new, elegant marquee. The Gem continued to operate for nearly another half-century before it was closed in 1978. Unfortunately, though the vintage theatre still stands, it has been long-vacant and has fallen into serious disrepair.

In the meantime, Cairo’s reputation was developing a “mean, hard edge,” which was backed up in 1917 when the city had the highest arrest rate in the state with 15% of its population incarcerated at one time or another. This reputation, which would get worse before it was over, still lasts to this day, even though Cairo’s “meanness” is long past and its citizens work together to do what they can to save their dying town.

Shipping along the Ohio River in Cairo, Illinois in 1917.

Like many other cities across the continent, the 1930’s and the Great Depression hit Cairo hard. The town’s population and fortunes began to dwindle.

In 1937 the focus changed to another potential disaster when in February, the Ohio River swelled to record heights. The flooding inundated the towns of Paducah and Louisville, Kentucky, as well as Cincinnati, Ohio, and scores of other smaller communities and as the huge crest moved downstream to the Mississippi River. Newsreel cameramen and newspaper correspondents rushed into Cairo to report the anticipated catastrophe. Women and children were evacuated from the city and a three-foot bulwark of timbers and sandbags was hastily built atop the levees. But, lucky for Cairo, the water rose swiftly to within four inches of the bulwark, wavered several hours and began to slowly recede. Of all the cities on the lower Ohio River, Cairo alone withstood the flood.

Though the citizens saved the town from flooding, its rough reputation was continuing, as the same year, it had the highest murder rate in the state. At the same time, its prostitute population was estimated to be over 1,000. And, for Cairo, conditions would get even worse.

The United States Courthouse and post office was built in Cairo, Illinois in 1942. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

In the early 1940s, 12 serious fires destroyed businesses, most of which were never rebuilt. However, a Federal Courthouse, which also included a post office opened in 1942. The building continues to serve as both a post office and as the District Court for Southern Illinois.

Making matters more difficult, after World War II was over in 1945, the town suffered from extremely high unemployment rates rather than flourishing like many communities across the Midwest. This further increased its crime rate and the city became a haven for organized crime. By the 1950s, the Illinois Senate began investigating a $20 million bootlegging operation that was sending large amounts of bootlegged liquor into nearby “dry” states.

There were, in fact, a number of mobster groups operating in Cairo, not only running bootlegged liquor but, also operating profitable slot machine rackets. The various groups brought more violence to the city, as the gangsters tried to squeeze out their rivals, smashing slot machines, firebombing cars, and killing each other. On July 19, 1950, $20,000 worth of gambling equipment was confiscated from simultaneous raids on six night clubs and taverns in or near Cairo. Just a month later, at the height of the gambling raids, five State Police were charged with theft of $150 from slot machines confiscated during a raid in Cairo.

Over the years, Cairo’s population began to decline due to the violence and the decrease in river trade. This decline however, would not lead to Cairo’s ultimate demise – instead, it was racism.

The first major push for racial equality occurred in 1946 when black teachers filed a lawsuit in federal court to secure equal pay. When the case was argued the same year by famed attorney, Thurgood Marshall, the judge, and defense counsel continuously referred to Marshall as a “boy.” Defense counsel then went on to explain to the court how a comparable case in Tennessee had been handled by a distinguished attorney who knew what he was doing, unlike the “boy” in this case. When the Defense counsel had completed his pontificating speech, Marshall quietly stood up and thanked counsel for the compliments, then informed the court that he was the brilliant attorney who had handled the case in Tennessee. Marshall would become the first African American justice on the United States Supreme Court in 1967, and served on the court until 1991.

Six years later, in 1952, efforts were begun to integrate Cairo’s schools but, separate black schools would not be abolished until years later in 1967.

By 1960, the town supported only about 9,000 people. That number would, unfortunately, drop more drastically over the next few decades, as racial tensions in the town escalated into a full-blown “war.”

By this time, the old scars of racism had hardened, and Cairo’s racial divide was starkly drawn. The city’s black citizens couldn’t get work in white-owned businesses and when rural whites from Kentucky and Missouri were hired instead of local blacks, the African-Americans rebelled. By 1962, local freedom movements were breaking out in communities all over the country, though they were seldom reported by the national media.

Demonstration of the segregated pool in Cairo, by Danny Lyon, 1962.

The city facilities were completely segregated, including public housing, local parks, and seating in the courthouse. Almost all public and private offices employed only whites. During this time, the public swimming pool became a “private club,” in order to keep out the black population. Requiring a “club” membership card to enjoy the cool waters of the pool, a large group of Civil Rights activists demonstrated at the pool in 1962, which spawned a white racist to deliberately drive his pickup truck into the demonstration, severely injuring a young African-American girl. The segregated swimming pool was finally closed in 1963 to avoid integration.

At about the same time, a demonstration occurred at the local roller skating rink to integrate the facility. When the group arrived however, the skating rink owners had locked the doors, and the KKK was holding a meeting inside. Someone had stuck a note in the door with an ice pick that said, “No n____ here!”

Full-out “war” began in 1967 after the suspicious death of a 19-year-old black soldier, who was on leave, occurred while he was in police custody. Deemed to be suicide by the authorities, the black community disagreed and led by Cairo native Reverend Charles Koen, they rose up in protest against not only Hunt’s death but also a century of harsh segregation. Resulting in a riot, the whites quickly formed Vigilante groups, and the violence increased to such an extent that the Illinois National Guard was called in to quell racial hostilities.

That same year, Preston Ewing, Jr., Cairo’s NAACP president, wrote a letter to Adlai Stevenson, the state treasurer, reporting that Cairo banks would not hire blacks. The state responded by telling the banks they must hire blacks or it would remove its money from them.

Another black soldier, named Wily Anderson, who was on leave, was killed by sniper bullets. A week later, a white deputy named Lloyd Bosecker was shot in retaliation. Cairo police charged four blacks in connection with the shooting and eleven others for violations of an anti-picketing law.

The Burkhart Factory, Cairo’s largest industry, allegedly practiced racial discrimination, refusing to hire African-Americans. Factory management contended they were following population ratios. Ewing disregarded the argument and demanded 50% of hires be black.

Little League baseball was canceled to keep black children from playing, and a private “all-white” school was established. By 1969, black citizens were not allowed to gather at sports activities, in local parks, or form marches without being threatened by local police or a Vigilante group called the White Hats.

A protest in Cairo, from the book, Let My People Go: Cairo, Illinois 1967-73, by Jan Peterson Roddy, photo by Preston Ewing Jr. Most of these buildings are gone now, and in their place is a large empty lot.

To counteract the White Hats, the black community formed an organization called the United Front of Cairo in 1969. Fighting back, the coalition spawned an intense civil rights struggle to end segregation and create job opportunities. Residents were helped by what local whites called “outside agitators,” including the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Though African-Americans demanded jobs from the white-owned businesses, owners refused to acknowledge their requests. As a result, the United Front then began to boycott white-owned businesses. Still, the establishments refused to hire them, and chose instead, to just close up shop or go out of business, rather than succumb to the demands of the black population.

In April 1969, Lieutenant Governor Paul Simon and a special committee, appointed by the Illinois House of Representatives, began to investigate the events occurring in Cairo. The Illinois General Assembly soon ordered the White Hats to disband and called for the enforcement of civil rights laws and racial integration of city and county departments.

Even though the state government had become involved, white residents continued to hold mass meetings in public parks, while the African-Americans held Civil Rights rallies in various churches.

In September 1969, Cairo’s mayor issued a statement prohibiting the gathering of two or more people, all marches, and picketing. However, the black protestors continued to protest. A federal court would later rule the mayor’s proclamation unconstitutional. Though both the federal and state governments had gotten involved, they were ineffective in controlling the continued segregation and inequality that existed in Cairo.

The demonstrations and violence continued into the 1970s, producing more than 150 nights of gunfire multiple marches, protests, and arrests, numerous businesses bombed, and more declaring bankruptcy.

By 1971, there was very little left to picket as most of the downtown businesses had closed in Cairo. Photo from the book Let My People Go: Cairo, Illinois 1967-73, by Jan Peterson Roddy, photo by Preston Ewing Jr.

By 1970 the population had dropped to a little over 6,000 people and by the following year, there was very little left to picket as most of the downtown businesses had closed. For those establishments that remained, the boycott continued for the rest of the decade.

Once Commercial Street was lined with businesses — a Hallmark store, the Mode-O-Day, the Khourie Brothers Department Store — in front of which, stood the Hamburger Wagon serving up popcorn, greasy burgers, and flavored sodas. Other retail stores such as Florsheim Shoes, a music store, photography studio, banks, auto dealerships, gas stations, and restaurants all flourished. Lining the street were elegant old street lamps. They are all closed now and most of the buildings are gone.

Elsewhere in the city, some 40 small neighborhood grocery stores once thrived. On our visit in 2010, we could find not a single open grocery store. Cairo’s residents were once entertained by numerous speedboat races on the Ohio River, as half the town sat on the concrete levee wall watching. Not any more. Another entertainment venue — the Gem Theatre — closed its doors forever in 1978 after operating for nearly 70 years.

Cairo’s 44-bed hospital closed in 1986, the town soon lost its bus service, and in 1988, the City of New Orleans, operating on the rail line, made its last stop. Though the passenger depot originally built by the Illinois Central Railroad still stands, the trains no longer stop for passengers.

Commercial Avenue in Cairo is all but empty today. On the right side of the street, these buildings once held the W.T. Wall & Co Department Store, the Cairo Public Utility Commission M. Snower & Co., a garment manufacturer and more. On the left side, where the empty lots are today, once held a Hallmark Store, the S.H. Kress & Co. Variety Store, a music store, and more. At the far end of the left side of the street, the Rhodes-Burford Furniture Store sign was still in place. It was one of the last large businesses to close. By Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

In the end, Cairo would become the city that died from racism. By 1990, the town sported a population of little less than 5,000. It’s citizens tried valiantly to save the town when Riverboat Gambling was legalized the same year. Enacted partially to revitalize dying towns, it was the perfect opportunity for little Cairo to have a second chance. However, the State of Illinois, instead, awarded the license to nearby Metropolis, some 40 miles northwest on the Ohio River, dashing all hopes of the town’s opportunity to revitalize its economy and population. By the year 2,000, Cario’s population had dropped to only about 3,600 residents. Today, it is called home to about 2,200 people.

Preston Ewing Jr., Cairo’s unofficial historian, former president of the local NAACP chapter, city treasurer, and participant in the Civil Rights Movement in Cairo, described the town as “poor, black and ugly.” Further, not having unrealistic expectations, he said, “Our goal should be to stabilize Cairo, not talk about growth. Potential employers will go where there is greater viability and an infrastructure to support businesses.” In fact, things were so bad in 1990, that the Cairo High School graduating class was advised to leave the town by its principal.

Built to support a population of over 15,000 people, Cairo is a semi “ghost town” today, by the definition — any historical town or site that leaves evidence of its previous glory. A third of its population are below the poverty line. The city is predominately African-American at almost 72%, compared to Caucasian at about 28%. The median income for a household in the city was just $21,607 in the 2000 census and the town continued to face significant socio-economic challenges including education issues, high unemployment rates, and lack of a commercial tax base, which all contribute to the sadness of Cairo. In the 2010 census, the median income for a household in the city dropped to $16,682.

Famous Building at 702-704 Commercial Avenue served as a general-purpose commercial building, housing a mercantile establishment on the ground floor and offices above. The building still stands today. By Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

The city and its residents have worked hard over the recent years to stabilize the small town however, these attempts are often short-lived, as there is simply no money. The real estate in Cairo is cheap, and many, intrigued by the prospect of building a business, have taken the opportunity to start in Cairo. But, business is slow as residents wonder why these businesses have started in their small town. Additionally, many residents see these newcomers as temporary – being too used to people coming to help and then leaving. After years of turmoil, Cairo’s residents are often untrusting.

For many years, there were efforts to promote the area for tourism — focusing on its rich history, magnificent river views, and historic buildings. However, lack of money has continued to hurt the town. South of Cairo, the historic site of Fort Defiance, which was once an Illinois State Park that was given over to the City of Cairo, is now abandoned. Everywhere, there are dismal reminders that less than 2,500 people now live in a city designed for many more. Alexander County is one of the poorest in Illinois. Without businesses that pay taxes, the town and county simply cannot afford to provide basic services, much less promote itself. Many of its residents are tired of telling the story of their blighted town and just simply want to be left alone.

In the last decade, numerous buildings have been torn down in Cairo in the interests of safety and “cleaning up” the city. The most recent demolishment includes the Elmwood and McBride housing projects that were in were in poor condition, that were razed in 2019. This demolition created a housing crisis for numerous residents which created yet another blow to this isolated rural town. Unfortunately, what’s left after decades of white flight and economic stagnation, is an expanse of abandoned buildings, bulldozed lots, and forgotten history.

Still, this historic city provides history buffs and photographers with opportunities to explore Cairo’s historic downtown, beautiful churches, and government structures that continue to stand. The community continues to fight for its existence and hopefully, these efforts will work as the clock continues to tick on Cairo, that without revitalization, is destined to become a true “ghost town.”

The Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois is still busy today by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Federal Writers’ Project Illinois: A Descriptive and Historical Guide A.C. McClurg & Co, Chicago, IL 1939.
Hays, Christopher K. The African American Struggle For Equality And Justice In Cairo, Illinois, 1865-1900 Illinois Historical Journal, 1997
Roddy, Jan Peterson and Ewing, Preston, Jr. Let My People Go: Cairo, Illinois, 1967-1973, Southern University Press, Carbondale, Illinois, 1996
Smith, Aaron Lake Trying to Revitalize a Dying Small Town, 2010, Time
Turner, Paul Cairo Seemed Destined For Greatness Chicago Reader
Jones, Rachel Singer Evokes Turbulent History of Cairo, Illinois, 2006, NPR

Alternate History Ideas and Discussion

One admittedly ASB-tier thought I've had is a setup where Imperial Japan pursues the same plans for conquest as in OTL, but unlike OTL, operates in full accordance with the laws of war. Or as close to it as possible, anyway. Just a random thoght I've had.

On another note, I've long since gotten bored with Confederate victory timelines. Nowadays, I wonder what is earliest date the war could have plausibility ended in Union victory.

Far better for Japan would've been attacking the USSR in 1941 rather than the U.S.

As for a Union victory, 1862 with the Peninsular Campaign. Lincoln handicapped McClellan to a disastrous degree during said operation, and that ultimately prolonged the war until 1865.

History Learner

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History Learner

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I know this thread’s more or less dead, but reading the work of @Navarro made me think one question

How possible or hard would it have been if the United States of America was “more accurate” by including all or most of both North and South America

Like Canada and Mexico as “states” and weird situations like South American countries being torn between having populations wanting to illegally migrate or fight being conquered and remade into parts of the USA or similar

I’m sorta guessing a problem with elections and the economy would occur

That said, an entire nation composed of two continents with way more than 50 states. how long would that last?

History Learner

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So I was thinking of Operation Downfall and it’s consequences.

Decisive Darkness: What if Japan hadn't surrendered in 1945?

Reading this TL and watching a few videos on the subject.

Let’s assume Downfall happens and the higher end American casualties results(far more than in the TL above)-500,000 to nearly a million.

The US occupies southern Japan with the British commonwealth getting its own zone, and the soviets get Hokkaido and maybe northern strips of Honshu.

The war itself continues into 1947.

What are the broader consequences for the Cold War?

A few things to start off with

-Soviet Korea and Manchuria
-The US soldiers returning are greatly traumatized with higher rates of PTSD than OTL, which causes more social problems and the like.
-I’m somewhat hesitant on the effects of this on American society. It’s not anything like Soviet Union casualties but it’s more losses in the invasion than the rest of the war combined. Does it make the US more interventionist? More isolationist?
-Soviet Korea and Manchuria probably means Communist victory in China. Such as it is, I don’t see the US intervening to prevent the nationalist’s downfall. Stalin was fine with China divided IIRC but mao will still the momentum.
-Japan becomes a front in the Cold War.

The Soviet plan for an invasion of Hokkaido wasn't really an invasion it was supposed to be an administrative landing under peace time conditions following the Japanese surrender. This is because, if attempted, the Soviets only had 28th Corps against 100,000 Japanese troops in Hokkaido organized into four divisions with 450 aircraft, meaning a Soviet landing force would be rapidly repulsed if not outright annihilated. The "how" in terms of Naval capacity to conduct such is also there, because on August 15th the Soviets were still conducting their initial operations in the Kuriles and had already lost half of the LCIs given to them by the U.S. under the HULA extension of Lend Lease. It would take until September to complete that operation, after which the shipping was immediately shipped to Korea in order to expedite the Soviet occupation of their zone.

In short, they lacked the ability to invade at all but, even ignoring that, could not do such successfully. D.M. Gianreco's book Hell to Pay is a great read on the matter of Operation Downfall and the revised edition came out years after the author of that timeline first started making his/her timeline, so that probably explains the differences. In my opinion, my take away from Gianreco was that the Operation would fail with nearly one million casualties and it would take the Soviets until the Spring of 1946 to finish operations on the Asian mainland.


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Wait source? I did not think the Japanese had many soldiers on Hokkaido. As it was, didn't the US have a naval transfer program? Operation Hula or something? To give the Soviets landing craft.

Didn't the Soviets steamroll the Japanese in Manchuria? That was my impression anyway. I suppose it would take longer in Mountainous Korea, so I suppose six months is a reasonable estimate.

History Learner

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Operation Hula was the transfer program, yes, in which they transferred about a dozen and half LCIs to the Soviets. Half of them were lost during operations in the Kurile islands, and were then transferred to help with the Soviet occupation of Korea. With just 8 LCIs and a 400 mile roundtrip to Vladivostok for supplies/troops, this would give Japanese the ability to concentrate forces and allow for the 454 aircraft to sink the remainder of the Soviet amphibious lift capability.

With regards to Hokkaido, the formations in question were the 7th Infantry Division (Type A, specializing in Arctic Warfare transferred from the Kwantung Army), the 42nd Infantry Division, the 101th Independent Mixed Brigade, and 7th Armored Regiment. Included were associated support personnel, IJN and IJAAF service members, with 454 aircraft subdivided into 101 fighters, 35 bombers, 131 recon, 151 transport, and 36 trainers. The total for the IJA forces-thus excluding the IJN detachments- was 101,029 personnel.

Sources are D.M. Gianreco's Hell to Pay and the JM-85 monograph.

They had not, the Kwantung Army was intact and its retreat was in accordance with its existing defensive plan of withdrawing into the Tunghua Redoubt. To quote from the U.S. Army's JM-155 monograph, based on Post-War analysis of Japanese records:

To quote from the thesis of Marine Major Mark P. Arens's study of the V Marine Amphibious Corps' proposed role in the plan:

Deleted member 88


Hmm. That is really fascinating. I had thought Japanese forces in Hokkaido were marginal at best.

They had not, the Kwantung Army was intact and its retreat was in accordance with its existing defensive plan of withdrawing into the Tunghua Redoubt. To quote from the U.S. Army's JM-155 monograph, based on Post-War analysis of Japanese records:

"The loss of effectiveness had not been accompanied, however, by an equal loss of morale, for although the Soviet Army accomplished its objective of defeating the Kwantung Army it did not do so in a true military sense, since the Kwantung Army--much of it still intact--did not surrender because of military necessity but at the command of the Japanese emperor."

Hmm, that is interesting. Still the Soviets won and their advance was ahead of schedule. I don't see the under strength Japanese army lasting more than as you implied six months.

To quote from the thesis of Marine Major Mark P. Arens's study of the V Marine Amphibious Corps' proposed role in the plan:

"If Operation Olympic had been executed, as planned, on 1 November 1945, it would have been the largest bloodbath in American history. Although American forces had superior fire power and were better trained and equipped than the Japanese soldier, the close-in, fanatical combat between infantrymen would have been devastating to both sides [. ] The total casualty estimate of 328,000 equates to 57 percent of the U.S. ground forces slated for Olympic. On the Satsuma Peninsula, the V Amphibious Corps casualty estimate would have been 13,000 killed and 34,000 wounded, or approximately 54 percent of the Marine force. This casualty estimate for VAC is made without any additional Japanese forces moving into the 40th Army's zone. Add to these estimates the results of kamikaze attacks against transports, and the battle for Kyushu would have been devastating to the American people.[T]he intelligence estimates of the Japanese forces and their capabilities on Kyushu, for Operation Olympic, were so inaccurate that an amphibious assault by the V Amphibious Corps would have failed."

That wouldn't defeat the Americans though? They'd just bring in more troops from Europe. As for public opinion, I imagine at first the public would be shocked but then out of rage would demand the US continue the war until Japan would crushed into dust.*

*this is the inevitable outcome, even if Olympic had been beaten back, the US would have just bombed again, and then done it later.

I suppose that would continue the war, and that yes eventually the American public might have wished to simply make peace with Japan, as would elements of the government.

So. that means the war continues into the later forties?

History Learner

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The Soviet objective had been to encircle and destroy the Kwantung Army, at the time of the surrender they had failed to accomplish this or the occupation of any of the major cities of Manchuria. To quote from S.M. Shtemenko's "The Soviet General Staff at War" states, on page 354:

I should note this particular passage is about the First Area Army in particular, so even in the Soviet's judgement the forces they had engaged heavily were still a potent enemy. This is especially notable as well, given that despite the weakened posture of the Kwantung Army in 1945 compared to previous years, the forces at Mutanchiang inflicted equal losses upon the Soviets, destroyed hundreds of tanks and thereafter remained combat capable while conducting an orderly withdraw in the aftermath.

The Kwantung Army's planning at the time of the surrender was to withdraw into the Tunghua Redoubt, in Southern Manchuria near Korea it is a mountainous area where the Japanese had prepared fortifications. Aiding this plan was the withdraw of the China Expeditionary Army into the coastal areas of China, done in order to shorten their own supply lines and allow for a better defense for prepared positions. This allowed IGHQ to detach six divisions and six brigades from the CEA, including the 3rd Tank Division, as reinforcements into Manchuria. All told, this represented about 180,000 to 200,000 Japanese soldiers from well trained, veteran formations would be joining the already 750,000 man Kwnatung Army into the redoubt, which was in a mountain zone with already prepared fortifications. So, all together, you're looking at about just under a million Japanese soldiers against around 1.5 million Soviets.

That the Japanese were consistently achieving a 1 for 1, or even better, ratio against both the Soviets and the Americans, this alone should be telling. Soviet medical records pre-invasion had projected at least 540,000 to 600,000 casualties, meaning that the observed battles by the time of the Japanese surrender indicated casualties were going to be much higher than thought. Adding to this issue was the very real supply constraints the Red Army was operating under.

According to Shtemenko, at the onset of operations STAVKA directed that the Kwantung Army be destroyed within 8 weeks or else the logistical situation would become "perilous". It's easy to see why they stated this, because the capacity of the Trans-Siberian Railway was limited to 13 million tons yearly in 1945 and of this only 9.3 million tons could be used for military needs this is exactly why the Soviets requested MILEPOST deliveries from the United States. According to John R. Deane's "The Strange Alliance", on pages 263-264, the statistics provided by the Red Army to the United States as part of MILEPOST showed that they would be at a monthly deficit of 200,000 tons. Thus, the 1.25 million tons the U.S. provided in the three months between V-E Day and the Soviet invasion in August gave the Soviets a very limited window to achieve decisive results because after that it would become impossible. With official Soviet belligerency eliminating the ability of further MILEPOST shipments (The Japanese only allowed Soviet shipping through their waters while they were neutral) and the inability to expand rail capacity in the Far East (The Soviets started a project to do so Pre-War. and it took until 1984 to complete IOTL), we know the eight weeks limit is firm.

That wouldn't defeat the Americans though? They'd just bring in more troops from Europe. As for public opinion, I imagine at first the public would be shocked but then out of rage would demand the US continue the war until Japan would crushed into dust.*

*this is the inevitable outcome, even if Olympic had been beaten back, the US would have just bombed again, and then done it later.

I suppose that would continue the war, and that yes eventually the American public might have wished to simply make peace with Japan, as would elements of the government.