Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
Opened March, 1980
Oral History Interview with
July 19, 1974
by Richard D. McKinzie
MCKINZIE: Professor Dickey, could you begin by talking about your involvement with the State Department just prior to the Second World War?
DICKEY: Perhaps I should preface that by saying that I first went to the State Department in 1934, as an assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State, Francis Sayre. He had charge of the economic side of the Department and specifically had charge of the development of the reciprocal trade agreements program for Secretary [Cordell] Hull. That may be relevant to what I am going to talk about, because it established my familiarity
with that side of the State Department and with the personnel who were working on reciprocal trade agreements.
I went back to my Boston law connection from the State Department in the middle of 1936, and I then came back on leave of absence from the law office to the State Department every three years to help out on the renewal of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act on the Hill. Actually, I was in Washington on such a leave of absence, as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of State, Mr. Hull, in 1940, when the Reciprocal Trade Agreement Act was up for renewal. It came up at that time every three years; it passed first in 1934, then in 1937, and then it was up again for renewal in 1940. Since I had worked on the passage of the Act on the Hill and had been down for the renewal fight of 1937, I was invited to come down again in the winter of 1940 to help out on the problems, mainly
legal, legislative drafting and the like. This, incidentally, was a renewal of considerable importance to Secretary Hull, because there was a possibility that Mr. Hull would become the Democratic nominee for President in the event that Roosevelt decided not to go for a third term.
As I recall, it was while I was finishing up that assignment in the early spring of 1940 that my very close friend who was the Chief of the Division of Commercial Policy (the division in the State Department which had charge of the reciprocal trade agreements program) asked me if I would come over to his office one late afternoon to meet a man, whom he assumed I knew or at least knew of. This man was considering an invitation that had been extended to him by the President and Secretary Hull to become the next Assistant Secretary of State in Charge of Economic Affairs (succeeding Henry Grady, who
had succeeded my Chief; Francis Sayre, earlier). The man was Dean Acheson, and Harry Hawkins, who was an old State Department hand and a highly qualified expert on commercial policy, particularly trade agreement negotiations, thought it might be helpful to Mr. Acheson if he could talk with a young lawyer who might be able to respond to some of his questions about the nature of that assistant secretaryship. Since I had served for several years as the assistant to the particular office, this was the occasion of my meeting Dean Acheson. As I recall it, we had a pleasant discussion in which he asked me to describe my perception of the responsibilities he had been invited by Secretary Hull and, of course, by President Roosevelt to take on. It was something which Mr. Acheson obviously was glad to investigate, but by no means clear about. He had had a difficult policy disagreement with Mr. Roosevelt in the early months of the Roosevelt administration. He had left the Treasury under
dignified circumstances which led President Roosevelt, as I understand, to say that Dean Acheson was one of the few men who knew how to resign. However, he wasn't, as he put it to me, particularly anxious to go through another experience in which he found it necessary -- or at least the thing to do -- to resign out of disagreement and dissatisfaction. He also, I think, felt that he did not have a very good understanding of Mr. Hull personally or of Mr. Hull's devotion to the cause of reciprocal trade. He wasn't sure, therefore, that he was really the man for this job. So, by and large, my function in that very informal discussion, which took place in Hawkins' office, was to describe to him, as I saw it, the job of the Assistant Secretary of State in that area, and more especially to give him, if you will, a little of Mr. Hull's "religion" about reciprocal trade agreements. It's very fair and possibly of some interest to say that Mr. Acheson was far from
being a person who at that point regarded reciprocal trade as one of the great issues of American foreign policy. And this was one of the things that slowed him up a little bit about accepting the position since he gathered that Secretary Hull regarded it as the keystone of American foreign policy. He was hesitant about getting into a position of responsible obligation to the Secretary and to the President in a field where he might not be moved with the same conviction that was true with Mr. Hull. So, insofar as a young person was able to do it, part of my assignment from Hawkins, I guess, was to help Mr. Acheson see the potential significance of the reciprocal trade program in a somewhat larger context than I think at that point he saw it. I think it's fair to jump ahead a bit and to say that he never became, in my opinion, one who was just totally committed to the central importance of the trade agreements program.
It's probable that he would have achieved a deeper conviction about the importance of the program, if it had not been for the fact that the world was then moving into the war period. Other things very rapidly superseded trade agreements as the central concern of the Assistant Secretary in charge of economic affairs, and this would later lead to new significant relationships with Mr. Acheson.
MCKINZIE: Was there anything in particular that would make you think that he didn't develop this commitment?
DICKEY: Well, he was candid about this. He was explicit about it in his discussions with me. Occasionally later, when I would meet him in his office, he would sometimes jokingly refer back to our first meeting, and he would say, "I'm never going to get religion on trade agreements the way Harry Hawkins and Secretary Hull have it."
But he, at the same time, had a lawyer's ability to take on the cause of his client. The reciprocal trade agreements were the priority policy of Secretary Hull, and if he was going to be the Assistant Secretary of State, there was no being half loyal about reciprocal trade policies. It is simply that with the threat of war ahead and with his background he was not in a position to regard trade agreements as the most important thing he would be concerned with in the State Department; and it very quickly turned out that that was not the case. In other words, lend-lease and economic warfare projects quickly preempted the center of the stage. And the other thing to remember is that the fight to renew the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act had been won in the Congress before Mr. Acheson came in as Assistant Secretary.
That effort was over; Hull's policy had been reaffirmed at least for the next three years, and Acheson wasn't going to be involved in fighting
for it. They were not in a position to negotiate more such agreements; as I recall, I don't think they negotiated any significant new agreement after the summer of 1940, because of wartime conditions. From 1940 on this program was largely "on hold."
MCKINZIE: Perhaps before you go into the other relationships you had with Mr. Acheson, you would be good enough to talk about how you came to be affiliated with Nelson Rockefeller when he was Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs?
DICKEY: Yes. Well, that leads right into my next relationship with Mr. Acheson. In 1940 I was still with the Boston law firm that I had started off with back in 1932, Gaston, Snow, Saltonstall (the last name changed, but it's still known as the Gaston, Snow office). In the late summer and early fall of 1940, Mr. Rockefeller set up his Latin American agency in Washington. The first big problem, which remained a problem throughout
his years as Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (they had a longer name for it to start with), was his relationship with the State Department. Quite aside from the fact that Mr. Hull did not appreciate people wandering into his particular pea patch, the State Department as a whole did not welcome having a Coordinator of Affairs in South America set up outside the State Department. But this was the way President Roosevelt and, I believe, Harry Hopkins (who was the principal intermediary with President Roosevelt) and Mr. Rockefeller wanted it set up: independent and outside of the State Department.
Well, this agency had just gotten started in the early fall of 1940, when they began to have difficulties with State. Sumner Welles was Under Secretary of State, and he regarded Latin America as his special area of interest and expertness. Mr. Rockefeller's difficulties reached the point where he felt he needed a liaison in his organization
who was persona grata in State and who, at the same time, would be a person he would have confidence in. He had known me as a result of our common Dartmouth connection although we were not close personal friends in college. Indeed, in college I only knew who he was. After college I had occasion to meet him on a number of occasions, but only in passing, so to speak. But we knew each other sufficiently that when this problem arose of finding somebody who could be in his organization and at the same time serve as a liaison between his organization and the State Department, apparently I was the person that both Secretary Hull and Mr. Rockefeller knew in a way that permitted them to decide that I was the best bet they could put their finger on at the moment to carry out that assignment. So, he asked me to come down, first on a part-time basis. I commuted from the Boston office during the fall of 1940 to help organize the so-called Axis agents removal program in South
America for the Coordinator's office. This was one of the big initiatives that Mr. Rockefeller's agency took and if he had not taken it, I'm sure it would have been some time before it would have been undertaken elsewhere in the Government. The aim was to dry up Axis propaganda, etc. resources in South America, primarily by getting the voluntary cooperation of American business firms to drop their commercial agents in South America who were connected with or actively supporting or contributing to German and Italian activities in Latin America. We called it the Voluntary Program for Removal of Axis Agents in Latin America during that period, and it remained a voluntary program under the leadership of the Coordinator's office until July 1941 when -- the United States Government decided to establish an official "blacklist", under an executive order authorizing a public list of Certain Blocked Nationals. Rockefeller's office continued as one of the six agencies in charge of the program, and I was assigned
to the State Department in charge of the new division that was to have principal responsibility for carrying out this "blacklist" program. I also continued with the Rockefeller office acting in my liaison capacity with State as previously, but from July 1941 on Mr. Acheson as Assistant Secretary of State had over-all responsibility for the "blacklist" and I reported to him. At Acheson's request, I was "loaned" by Rockefeller to State to set up and direct the new division.
It was that experience as a division chief reporting to Acheson, as he took charge of State's part in the economic warfare activity of the Government, that brought me close to him and really began a gradual disengagement insofar as my relationships to the Rockefeller office were concerned. Since the Rockefeller office was designated to be one of the six Government agencies that were concerned cooperatively with getting out the blacklist I represented Rockefeller as well as
State in this effort, but gradually my responsibilities in charge of the Division of World Trade Intelligence in the State Department pretty well preempted all my time for the next several years.
MCKINZIE: It must have taken a great deal of effort to mobilize the voluntary cooperation of American businesses in those countries, because I gather that this program was very effective.
DICKEY: I think it was effective, and it did take a lot of effort on the part of many individuals. At the outset in early 1940 the Rockefeller office sent a mission to South America called the Douglas-Lockwood Mission. Percy Douglas, who was then with the Rockefeller office on leave of absence from Otis Elevator Company, was a leader of the mission. John Lockwood, who had been close to Rockefeller as a lawyer, was another member of it. A State Department Foreign Service Officer and an FBI man named Foxworth were also members of the mission. It toured Latin
America rather rapidly, consulting U.S. embassies and other sources for information about the extent of Axis activities and the commercial relationships with American business firms of Axis supporters. When that mission came back, the first thing we had to do was to sift out the evidence, set it up systematically, and evaluate it. Once we did that, we began carrying the message to the heads of the American business firms that were concerned, asking them if they would voluntarily replace those agents. I don't think this program would have been successful as a voluntary activity if it had not been for Mr. Rockefeller's sponsorship of it and his initiative, because his name carried a good bit of influence with the business executive. Even so, it was not entirely easy sailing. Perhaps I should be explicit about one instance, which was, I guess, probably the principal case during that period, namely the difficulties we had with General Motors about replacing a couple of their principal agents, one in Cuba and one in Bolivia.
These became causes celebres; these were good business agents and General Motors in general took a position which I think was quite understandable at the time. They felt they couldn't possibly -- a large American corporation doing business all over the world -- get into the internal political activities of their agents in the other countries. If the agent was behaving himself, and abiding by the laws of the local country, what could they do about it? Well, Mr. Rockefeller was committed, as Harry Hopkins was, to the proposition that they could do something about it. Namely, they were asked to cooperate by voluntarily replacing pro-Axis representatives in these countries. Even though we weren't yet at war, the United States Government was not by any means neutral in regard to this type of activity, particularly so far as the hemisphere was concerned. And there were some very straight forward exchanges down the line at General Motors, and between Mr. Rockefeller and Mr. [Alfred P., Jr.]
Sloan up the line. Ultimately, we had a meeting, I remember, in Mr. Welles' office, after a meeting at the White House with Harry Hopkins, Mr. Rockefeller, and myself. I don't remember whether anyone else was there or not. At the White House Hopkins, in effect, said to Rockefeller, "We want action, we want results, and I want you to make clear to General Motors that the United States Government cannot be indifferent to an American firm of that prestige having agents in Latin America that we believe are carrying on pro-Axis activities."
The decisive confrontation with General Motors in that case took place in Mr. Welles' office; Mr. Rockefeller got Mr. Welles to call in several high officials of General Motors, and Mr. Welles (I was there at the meeting) laid down the gospel according to Hopkins very sharply . And shortly General Motors decided to cooperate. So, it is fair to say the program was basically successful insofar as a cooperative program of that sort was concerned.
We began by collecting voluminous reports from the American embassies in Latin America on the activities of these agents and to set up systematic records in the Rockefeller office, which were subsequently turned over to the State Department Division of World Trade Intelligence when it was organized in July of '41. So, in addition to being successful as such, more importantly the voluntary program prepared the way for the official program and the official blacklist when that became necessary in the summer of 1941.
MCKINZIE: Now, when you became the Chief of the Division of World Trade Intelligence, this obviously brought you in contact with the governments of the Latin-American countries. And there is one question which is difficult to sift out of the documents, and that is whether or not countries with which you've had to deal expected something after the war in return for their cooperation?
DICKEY: This would be jumping into the period when after Pearl Harbor, and after the Latin-American countries, with two notable exceptions, especially Argentina, had come into the war. Perhaps I'd just say this much about it, that some of the countries, when war came and they were belligerents against Germany, Italy and Japan, became quite zealous about seizing some businesses owned by Axis nationals. At first, of course, the United States Government was anxious to have this take place. Later, I think, the United States Government was somewhat concerned about procedures and the extent of the seizures, particularly some of the problems of settlement for the properties that arose later.
Now, I did not have, in my division, responsibility for such activities. Our responsibility was maintaining the list. The enforcement of the Government's policies rested with the Treasury Department and with the division in the State
Department which was parallel to mine, called the Division of Financial Controls. The Chief of that division was Donald Hiss. We worked closely with him in providing information but the work of establishing policies and working with other governments in respect to this matter of seizing enemy properties, was carried on by other agencies such as the Treasury, the Justice Department, and the Division of Foreign Funds Control, called FF, in the State Department. So, I did not have very much direct personal experience with that . My responsibilities were primarily focused on the maintenance of the list, which involved gathering intelligence information in the various sections of the Government that had it, the FBI, the American embassies, the Army and Navy Intelligence. I got a pretty good introduction to the intelligence operations of the Government at that point, particularly as it related to overseas Axis activities of a propagandistic nature. And occasionally we would
get on the edges of espionage activities in South America, but our work was primarily in the field of commercial intelligence activity.
Well, I was almost totally preoccupied with the blacklist work from July 1941 until mid-1943 when I was asked to help out on a Trade Agreement renewal. During this period, I sat as a member of Mr. Acheson's Economic Policy Committee, I think he called it, or the Economic Warfare Committee. We met in his office, as I recall, at least several times a week. There would be Tom [Thomas K.] Finletter; Livy [Livingston] Merchant, as I recall; Joe Green; other division chiefs; Donald Hiss; myself and others working on economic warfare matters. And I can remember very vividly, a day or two after Pearl Harbor, a meeting of that group, when about the only agenda activity, so far as the Japanese were concerned, was our list of Japanese businesses operating in South America. We had been gathering the list for six months or so, and immediately after
Pearl Harbor we put out a special edition of the blacklist adding the Japanese names.
I remember Mr. Acheson saying, "Well, this is a small token of response to the Japanese attack, but all contributions are gratefully received."
That's just an indication of the fact that at the most troublesome times he had the ability to raise our spirits with a quip, a bit of humor. At the same time, I can remember that week as the reports began to come in of the extent of the damages at Pearl Harbor, and his deadly serious sharing it with us in a staff meeting.
He said, "This is a far more serious blow than we dare admit. It is truly a desperate moment."
So, the frightening truth was brought home to all of us, quietly and unmistakably.
In 1943 I was asked once again by Mr. Hull to come over and work upon the renewal of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act -- the three year renewal. So, I took what I thought was going to be a leave of
absence from the job of Chief of the Division of World Trade Intelligence to go over and work as a Special Assistant to the Secretary and with Harry Hawkins on the renewal of the 1943 Trade Agreements Act.
At that point, getting the Act renewed was a holding action because we had no prospect of negotiating new agreements during the middle of the war. At the same time, it was an experience that I had had several times before and which I rather enjoyed.
As it turned out, I never went back to the blacklist work. Francis Russell took over as Acting Chief of it and succeeded me as Chief of the Division of World Trade Intelligence. He was a man that I had brought to Washington to work with me during the period of the voluntary replacement of agents back in 1940. He came from Boston where I'd known him as a lawyer. He subsequently went on to work with me in the Office of Public Affairs in the State Department, became a close friend of Dean Acheson and served in
the Foreign Service in Israel, as Ambassador to New Zealand, Tunisia, etc.; he is now retired from the Foreign Service.
Well, I don't think there is any need to go into the renewal of the trade agreements fight in '43.
MCKINZIE: There was really no major opposition.
DICKEY: There was none at that point -- the big fight had taken place in 1940. In 1943 they did not request any additional authority. It was to some extent a pro forma renewal. It may be worth noting that, at least nominally, I would have been reporting through Mr. Acheson, but he took very little active part in the renewal of the act at that point, because, as I said, it was then not a major thing. By that time he was really caught up in the hot issues of the economic warfare that he was responsible for in the Department.
MCKINZIE: By 1943 the economic responsibilities had been in a sense fragmented and segmented. They had at first the Bureau of Economic Warfare; then there was the FEA, Foreign Economics Administration…
DICKEY: Milo [Mahlon F.] Perkins' operation.
MCKINZIE: …the Treasury Department had its people; and so on. Did this concern you at all being tied up in this?
DICKEY: Oh. I was involved, I would say, in a peripheral way in the jurisdictional fights. The fighting that went on, inter-bureau, interdepartmental, jurisdictional fighting, was just incredible as I look back on it. I suppose it's a normal, natural condition in the Government, where everybody was trying to do something to help in the cause of winning the war. But to use the worn-out expression, "everybody was into everybody else's hair."
Milo Perkins was trying to coordinate economic warfare, and Nelson Rockefeller was trying to coordinate it in Latin America. This led to some very strained relationships between Rockefeller and Milo Perkins. Indeed, that led to the alienation of one of Rockefeller's right-hand men, who became one of Perkins' close friends, Carl Spaeth. There were all sorts of complicating problems with the State Department attempting to manage the whole menagerie, and Acheson having an ill-defined responsibility for "keeping the peace" with other departments, other governments and within the Department itself which split three or four different ways with respect to economic issues. You had [Leo] Pasvolsky, the Special Assistant to the Secretary; you had Herbert Feis, the Economic Adviser; you had Adolph Berle, an Assistant Secretary who moved "at large;" and Acheson's own divisions. It was really quite a business, not to speak of the fact that Secretary Hull and Under Secretary Welles were approaching a
showdown in their relationship. So, sometimes I look back and think that God Almighty must have been on the side of the United States. It often seemed that the major difficulty of the economic warfare program of the United States Government was that all the departments were either in the act or wanted to be: Perkins as Economic Warfare director was coordinating at large, Rockefeller was coordinating in Latin America, the State Department was trying to coordinate itself, and everybody else, and the Treasury, while assuming that it was "running the show", wondered what all these other people thought they were doing, anyway.
MCKINZIE: Well, in a sense was the Treasury running the show? Mr. [Henry, Jr.] Morgenthau was especially close to this.
DICKEY: Oh, and he had some very able, some very able, zealous fellows: John Paley, Bernie [Bernard] Bernstein, and two or three others I can name. They
were competent people and they didn't like having their work constantly screened through all these other bodies.
Well, perhaps this is the point at which to say that after the renewal of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements, the question arose as to whether I should go back to running the blacklist work in the latter part of '43. By that time the postwar planning work had begun to take on real significance in the State Department, under Pasvolsky, and the various intra-governmental committees under Sumner Welles. I believe Harry Hawkins was responsible for saying to Pasvolsky at one point (they were pretty close), "You're going to need some public support for these postwar plans one of these days; you're going to need liaison with private groups, business organizations, labor organizations, church groups, educational groups, and so on. Why don't you see if you can get the Secretary to assign John Dickey to that work in the Department, rather than having him go back to the
blacklist work? That job has more or less been done, and he has done this sort of thing now for almost ten years for the Secretary in the renewal of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, four times, working with these various organizations. Maybe you could get him to come in and take over that side of the postwar planning activity."
Well, Pasvolsky, I guess, decided this would be a good idea and, in any event, propositioned me on behalf of the Secretary. Would I be willing to come over as Special Consultant -- which was the title they proposed to Secretary Hull -- to help on establishing a two-way liaison with the State Department and private American organizations interested in peace planning? And I did.
I was set up in what we called the Office of Public Liaison, Special Consultant to the Secretary of State. I have written a little of the story in the book entitled, The Secretary of State, edited by Don Price, in the chapter on “The
Secretary and the Public." A positive, two-way relationship of the State Department and the American public first grew out of the trade agreements program and then out of the public liaison work in the postwar planning. From these beginnings come the public affairs activities of today's State Department. This is a matter of really very considerable significance. It's been written up by another man, who did a book, as part of his Ph.D. thesis at Johns Hopkins, on the press and the State Department.
MCKINZIE: As you do point out, that was very important work that was going on in the Department, and it was important that the public have some idea of what was going to happen after the war. No one expected the war to simply make the world like it had been in 1939; it was going to be a different kind economically, if Dean Acheson and Will [William] Clayton had anything to do with it.
You had dealings, I'm aware, with CED, which
was set up for the specific purpose of making business people aware of what postwar economic responsibilities and realities were going to be like. To what extent did you believe that the plans which Pasvolsky's people were generating were going to see reality, were going to be actualities in the future? Was there any reason to believe, given the kind of weak nature of some of Mr. Hull's recommendations, that these things were going to be put into effect?
DICKEY: Well, this is a question that could take us into many different byways, and would require mostly speculative answers. We had certain specific things that we were doing in our relationship with these groups, sending speakers out to them, having meetings with them to get their ideas to feed back into the postwar planning. The Central principle that I had tried to introduce into the whole information activity of the Department that went back to the trade. agreements
work was that this must be a two-way relationship. I was simply not interested in trying to sell these organizations on just the State Department point of view. You couldn't do it. They would resist this. They wanted to have an opportunity to make an input. What the State Department had to say, they wanted to hear that they wanted to consider it; but they also wanted an opportunity to make some input. So, the essential thing was to try to create something of a two-way relationship. And part of our activities during this period was not just selling a plan from the State Department to these groups but to get these groups into touch with the people who were making the plans in the State Department; bringing them in, arranging group meetings or individual meetings, seeing that their literature got serious consideration, and things like that. For example, I think the Food and Agriculture, FAO, was the first international postwar organization
that we went for. And Acheson did the principal work in selling that, in a way, at Congress and elsewhere and in working on the negotiation of it. We didn't have really an awful lot to do with that in the liaison office. We had something to do with it, but this was mainly handled by Mr. Acheson.
When the proposals for a U.N. came along, the British, the French, the Russians and the Americans got together at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, in the fall of '44. This was the "big four" critical meeting where the first draft of the U.N. charter was agreed on. Only at that point did we have something tangible, and even then that draft was secret and caused one heck of a lot of trouble because of the secrecy preoccupation of, I'd have to say quite frankly, the people such as Pasvolsky and a few others who were just scared to death that their ideas were going to get prematurely exposed and get shot down before they had reached
international agreement on them with the Russians and the British.
I'm jumping ahead a little bit here now, but [Edward R., Jr.] Stettinius did come in in '44 after the elections, as Secretary -- earlier he had come in as Under Secretary, where he succeeded Welles. Welles went out at the end of '43, as I recall, and Harry Hopkins got Stettinius in to beef up the State Department. Stettinius was the one who really put the fire under the development of our public liaison work.
One day I was at home, one Sunday morning, working down in the basement, and my wife called me -- this was while Stettinius was Acting Secretary in November or December of '44 -- and she said, "Under Secretary Stettinius wants to speak to you."
Well, I'd never been called at home by the Acting Secretary of State before, so I wondered what had happened.
And he said, "I've just gotten this memorandum
that you wrote six weeks ago about what the State Department might be doing to get itself organized for a more effective relationship with the public and these American organizations. I like it. Could you come into the office first thing in the morning and see what we can do about it?"
Well, he was that kind of a do-it-now guy. There were many things Mr. Stettinius didn't understand about the State Department or American diplomacy, but he was certainly a fellow who believed in getting things done. So, he was the one that really launched the public liaison work into being taken seriously around the Department. This is all apropos of the fact that when the Dumbarton Oaks Conference came along a little later there was a big hassle in the American press about the secrecy of Dumbarton Oaks. They had troops patrolling outside, so the press couldn't get near the discussions and so forth, and this almost blew the thing out of water. Mr. Stettinius never
liked troubles with the press. So, when there was a lot of trouble with the press -- and, of course, this also propagated out into these private organizations that we were looking to for support -- he called up Pasvolsky and Hiss, both of whom were out at Dumbarton Oaks, and said, "Let's get John Dickey to get hold of these church groups" (it was a church group that was causing the particular objection at this point) "and get them back on the track." So, Alger Hiss called me up from Dumbarton Oaks and said, "The Secretary wants you to get the support of the church groups." Well, by this time I was already in a slow burn about the fact that the public liaison people were just absolutely cut out of knowing themselves what was going on at Dumbarton Oaks, the thing was held so secret.
So, I said to Hiss, "Well, it's fine that you should relay the message of the Secretary to me that I should get the church groups on the track, but I wish you would in turn relay the message to him that
until we here in the Public Liaison Office have some notion of what's going on out there at Dumbarton Oaks, we're in no position to get anybody on the track, let alone ourselves."
I was really pretty burned up about the whole thing, and this to some extent set Hiss back on his heels. Within twenty minutes I had a call from the Under Secretary's office, saying that he wanted me, Pasvolsky, Hiss, and Mr. Wilson, who was head of one of the post-war planning groups, to come to his office immediately. Well, we went down to his office and we had it out, and I repeated to him what I'd said to Hiss.
I said, "God knows we want to work with these organizations and get their help, but we can't do it unless we know what's going on out there."
Well, Mr. Stettinius blew his top, and he turned to Hiss and said, "I want John Dickey out at Dumbarton tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock." Well, this is one of the highlights of the internal problems, and just a
little insight into the way Stettinius operated when he felt he was in, if you will, trouble with the public and the press.
MCKINZIE: What were you subsequently able to do with those groups?
DICKEY: Well, we were able to do a lot with them. Indeed, I think just to carry this side of the story to a conclusion, at least for present purposes, shortly thereafter, when Mr. Stettinius became Secretary with Mr. Hull's retirement because of illness, he created in December of '44 what he called his "team" (this is one of the first uses in the Department that I remember of that overworked term). And at that point he moved Acheson to be in charge of the congressional relationship -- Assistant Secretary in Charge of Congressional Relations. And at that point they also created a new organizational setup. There were twelve new main line offices in the State Department under the Stettinius
reorganization, and I was made Director of one of these new twelve main line offices, first called the office of Public Information, but very quickly changed, at our suggestion, to the office of Public Affairs. So, I was the career man in charge of the public affairs and cultural relations activity that Mr. Archibald MacLeish, as the new Assistant Secretary -- indeed, the first Assistant Secretary in charge of this area -- had responsibility for. And it was during this period -- when MacLeish came in December of 1944 on into the summer of '45 -- that we really cranked up what for that time was a very high-powered public affairs operation. We were working with American organizations -- Kiwanis, Rotary, veterans, church, education, business, labor, almost any civic group you can name -- providing material about the proposed organization that would become the United Nations. And, of course, certain drafts were made public in the spring that we could use. From this very important activity, as part of the United Nations Charter
Conference at San Francisco, came invitations from the State Department to each one of the 42 organizations that we were working with to provide a consultant to the American delegation. This was always regarded as one of the most important moves that the State Department made to bring these organizations into an active two-way relationship with representatives attached to the American delegation as consultants at San Francisco during the making of the Charter. And as Scotty [James] Reston subsequently wrote in a New York Times report on the Conference, this was a tremendously important culminating aspect of our efforts to get American public support for the United Nations. From the early planning period Secretary Hull and President Roosevelt had been worried about the possibility of a fiasco such as President Wilson had had with the League of Nations. But this time, both Presidents Roosevelt and Truman as well as their
Secretaries of State had carried out a bipartisan effort with the Congress, especially with Senators [Arthur] Vandenberg and [Tom] Connally. When the treaty got to the Senate it was accepted by almost a unanimous vote. I think there may have been two votes against it. I, of course, reported to Mr. MacLeish, but towards the end of the Conference and as the Senate's consideration of the treaty approached, Mr. Acheson and I worked very closely together, in fact almost more closely together when he was the Assistant Secretary in charge of Congressional Affairs than earlier on the economic business. As it developed, he was away the day the White House sent over to the Department for a draft of a message by President Truman submitting the United Nations treaty to the Senate. The request was sent down to me to prepare a draft; I was taken by surprise and worked all night, I guess, getting something ready. I took it out to Judge [Samuel I.] Rosenman at the Wardman Park, explaining:
"I've gotten this up on my own, and it has to be checked with Mr. Acheson when he gets back to the Department." Mr. Acheson came back, and I sent him a copy of the draft and he was very nice about it. I treasure the little note he wrote on it when he sent it back. Actually little of it was used by the White House.
MCKINZIE: What, looking back, were the major concerns in planning these conferences? Was their concern about violation or erosion of sovereignty?
DICKEY: Well, I don't think that I recall any major opposition issues. There was one women's "lib" organization, The Women's League Against War and Fascism, which felt that the Charter was not nearly radical enough, but I don't remember now what their specific concerns were. They were not a powerful group, but they were critical; they were not, however, a group that we were greatly worried about. Most of the large powerful groups, the
labor groups, the business groups, the church groups, and the Foreign Policy Association were with us on the big issues. I think it's important and fair to say that the sovereignty issue really was not exposed as a critical issue very largely, in my opinion, because of the way the veto provision was written into the draft Charter by the United States, Great Britain and Russia. I happen to feel -- and felt at the time -- that we went much further in writing in a restrictive veto provision than would have been necessary if Secretary Hull, President Roosevelt, [Sir Winston] Churchill, and [Joseph] Stalin had been willing to accept something less restrictive than the veto provision which we have in the Charter. You see, the veto provision was written to cover major Council actions, including military actions and the U.N. Charter amendment procedure. I think that veto provision in the absolute form it is written into the amendment procedure was probably
one of the most fundamental mistakes that was made. Now the justification for it was: we want to avoid any unnecessary controversy -- Churchill doesn't want it, Stalin doesn't, and we don't want a League of Nations political issue in the United States about it. The opinion polling which we were doing at that time did not suggest to me -- the results of the confidential polling which we were getting done -- that we were in any insurmountable danger of the League of Nations issue arising in the U.S. I felt we were in danger of going too far in writing restrictive veto provisions in, but my point of view was a minority point of view and did not prevail. A lot of people have since asked me what were the possible alternatives. Well, there were such alternatives, as for example, in the question of the use of force provision. You might have written in a dozen less restrictive ways, for example, one that simply dealt with a nation's right to veto the use of its own forces.
I think the absolute veto is even a more serious limitation on the future development of the United Nations Charter through the amendment procedure. Now, there you have, again, various alternative possibilities. You could have said that the amendment cannot pass unless it has the approval of the five great powers, say, for the first five years. After that maybe it could be proposed, but it might have been required to stand maybe for two or more years and then be approved by a majority vote of the great powers or something like that. There were many possibilities for avoiding the totally rigid big power veto which you now have on the amendment procedure. And how you'll ever get around that, God only knows -- if He does.
Well, all of this is apropos to your question covering the sort of basic issues we might have met resistance on. The main thing that the 42 consultants were concerned about at San Francisco was
in the area of human rights. Here they were responsible for getting a change sponsored by the American delegation and the draft Charter changed. The consultants wanted explicit provisions in the Charter that the United Nations Organization should be concerned with the protection of human rights. The American delegation agreed to sponsor such an amendment and got it approved in San Francisco. But at San Francisco there were no great sovereignty issues. The veto tended to put those to sleep. There was, of course, a lot of very acute politicking at San Francisco over the Charter's trusteeship provisions which were of special concern to American Jewish groups. There was some rivalry between the American Jewish Conference and the American Jewish Committee for influence with the American delegation at San Francisco. Judge [Joseph] Proskauer, Mr. [Henry] Monsky, and other Jewish leaders were quite anxious to have the inside track with the American delegation
when it came to writing the provisions in the Charter in respect to the trusteeship of the council; they naturally were well aware that the Palestine issue was going to come up fairly soon in the new U.N.
MCKINZIE: Did you find yourself in the role of conciliator between Republicans and Democrats?
DICKEY: Not at all. I had to be conciliator of some other groups of people, but that kind of political conciliation was done at a higher level, Secretary Stettinius or the President even. Secretary Hull and then Stettinius went out of their way, as Acheson did, to keep Vandenberg and Connally happy. Sometimes there was a little bit of ego problem between Connally and Vandenberg, but it was not basically political partisanship; it was just human animal ego. Really, there was very, very little partisan difficulty about the United Nations Charter; perhaps too little.
MCKINZIE: Did you attend the delegation meetings?
DICKEY: Yes. I attended, as far as I know, all the delegation meetings. Stettinius was very good about sharing this thing, and he saw to my being present. And Dulles was a major factor in the meetings as a very competent draftsman and a Republican leader. There was a little bit of tension between Dulles and Pasvolsky and so forth. The public information work at San Francisco was somewhat fragmented -- Tom Finletter and Adlai Stevenson did most of the so-called secret "leaking" of American delegation positions to the press.
MCKINZIE: Someone told me to ask you about the leaking of information that they had at the Conference.
DICKEY: Yes, yes. Well, I had nothing to do with that. I was blamed for it. Reston used my office once or twice, in the early evening, to call up New York
with his stories, after the end of the day. Somebody found out that that had taken place, and they thought that he was doing this because I'd given him the story. Mr. Stettinius didn't mind having Adlai Stevenson and Tom Finletter give something to Reston, or any other correspondent that they wanted to have it, but he very much disliked having a correspondent get something that they didn't want him to have. He would get quite annoyed about that. Incidentally, Reston got a Pulitzer Prize out of his U.N. Conference reporting. Stevenson and Finletter were almost ideal for this purpose; these were men of sophistication and intellectual sensitivity. The "leaking" operation was highly individualistic and sophisticated. It was carried on primarily for the purpose of combating what was regarded as a systematic British activity in this respect. British diplomacy, up to that point, had a tradition of using correspondents much more than American diplomacy.
As a matter of fact, American diplomacy had very little experience with this sort of thing, as far as I know. I think that there's probably more to be said for it at an international conference of that sort than at the State Department, where I had some experience with it, back in Washington. At an international conference, you are competing with other nations face to face, and if they are putting out stories at the end of the day that puts your delegation in a false light, you prefer not to make a public disavowal and to create a public controversy by having Stettinius say, "That isn't so," and so forth. It is a much neater, less explosive thing to have Tom Finletter or Adlai Stevenson have lunch with Joe Doaks and say, "Joe, that story this morning in the press was just not so. Don't attribute it to me, but this is the real McCoy." So, then out comes the story -- not attributed, etc., etc. For better or for worse, the leaking of information for
tactical purposes, particularly at a conference of that sort, is just part of the game.
But these two men were in charge of it and they had direct access to Stettinius. Occasionally, Stettinius would call up President Truman and check out something, or the White House would call him up and be annoyed about some story that had come out of San Francisco, and then he would frequently call in Finletter. I was not used in this capacity. I would be used to straighten out the thing with the labor people, the church people, or particularly the competing Jewish organizations, which were very powerful, the Committee and the Conference. And it would be my job to get them reconciled, if that was possible, or to get the labor people off of the Secretary's back; but not the press. The covert press activity was handled by Stevenson and Finletter, almost solely.
MCKINZIE: Professor Dickey, you mentioned in connection with this planning for the San
Francisco Conference, opinion polls which the Department had made through Hadley Cantril and some other people. It's a matter of judgment, of course, but how seriously were opinion polls taken then and by whom?
DICKEY: Well, this is a fair question, because they were not taken seriously, in my opinion, widely in the Department. The value of polling at that point was still somewhat arguable, much more so than it is today. Today, it's accepted as a useful tool of politics and the social sciences -- if well done, it is valuable, even essential. And we were carrying it on undercover. We were using, of course, all the public polls of Gallup and so forth, but we also were using the confidential funds of the Secretary's office to compensate Lloyd Free and Hadley Cantril, two academic polling pros, and Jerry [Jerome S.) Bruner, to work with us. Bruner subsequently became widely regarded as a psychologist at Harvard. Those are
the three who worked with us, formulating questions, etc. Shepard Jones was in charge of this end of things in my liaison office in the State Department. These were very sophisticated, competent people. Particularly, we were using the polls to find out the level of information of American public opinion during the war and on post-war planning and the areas of ignorance, in order to help us develop more effective public information programs. We wanted to know what needed attention in a speech by the Secretary or others, or in Department publications. In our polls we were running some basic, continuing questions. For example, do you believe that we can trust the Russians in the future and in postwar organization planning? We would compare the findings, asking the same question about every three months, keying the questions to events and comparatively to other nations.
I think the polls were taken very seriously by those of us who were working on them in the public
information work -- in other words, to guide our public information activities. I don't think they were taken too seriously by the Secretary, the Foreign Service officers, and others. If they happened to coincide with what they thought was public opinion, oh, then they would cite them to the Congressmen and to others. If they didn't happen to coincide, "Well, you don't know about these damn polls.”
MCKINZIE: Dean Acheson, for example, would not have been a champion of this.
DICKEY: No. Instinctively, Dean Acheson was intellectually curious about this sort of thing, but wouldn't have rested very much of his activity on it.
MCKINZIE: So, it's fair to say then that the important use of the polls at that time was in guiding you in your work and the kind of recommendations you could make to the Secretary.
DICKEY: I think that's a fair judgment. We sent, of course, weekly reports to the Secretary based not just on the polls but on our analysis of the press -- editorials, news stories, reports on our relationships with the organizations, what they were worried about, needed help on, or had ideas on. And, we also sent weekly written reports to the other key officers in the Department about these things. What use they made of them or didn't make of them, I can't say, but I would not be able to prove that the polls made a critical difference in the postwar planning. They were simply a part of our total process which surely was important and became progressively more so.
MCKINZIE: In the summer of 1945 and into the fall the cold war, I suppose you could say, had some import and developments. The enchantment between the Soviet Union and the United States began to fade. Opinion polls; at least the ones from your own
office that I've seen, showed that a lot of people were beginning to have doubts by December 1945, certainly. You were in a position of having to say what the policy of the U.S. Government was. Was that frustrating for you? Dean Acheson would often say, "Our policy is perfectly clear," and yet someone like Lucius Clay would just send a note to the President saying, "What is our policy?"
DICKEY: I had that trouble to some extent during the early period of '45 with organizations, again on such issues as the trusteeship council and the Palestine issue. And then we had it like "the dickens" at the time of the Darlan affair in North Africa; we had to help rehabilitate Bob Murphy's public image when he came back, by putting him on the radio and answering critical public correspondence. We had plenty of war-time problems to try and straighten the American people out on, but I left the Department in the late summer of '45 to go to Dartmouth, so I wasn't in on most of the
later cold war trouble. I had little to do with the difficulties with the Russians while I was in the Department. I heard something about it in the delegation meetings at San Francisco, where Stettinius would frequently be on the telephone with Truman about difficulties he was having with the Russians, until Truman sent Hopkins over to try to straighten out Mr. Stalin.
MCKINZIE: Had you at this point seriously considered a career as a Foreign Service officer?
DICKEY: Yes, I thought about it. Pretty certainly, I knew I was not going back to the private practice of law. I rather felt that I had exhausted that for my purposes. I had received a number of feelers at that point in the State Department. I was approached to be dean of a foreign affairs school. I "moonlighted" as a member of the first faculty of the School of Advanced International Studies which Chris [Christian A.] Herter set up in
Washington in '44 and which is now part of Johns Hopkins. And I had about come to the conclusion that I would either look for a career in the State Department -- whether in the Foreign Service or the home career service I never thought very seriously about -- or I would go into the academic world; or into foundations. I had inquiries about possible availability in the foundations field. The Dartmouth inquiry, which came out of the blue, was a particularly attractive one to me, because of my earlier Dartmouth connection and continuing Dartmouth interest. I first became aware that I was on their list in the late spring of '45, when one of the trustees, at a ballgame in Washington one night, showed me a letter from the president, [Ernest M.] Hopkins, saying that mine was one of the names that interested him most. I subsequently learned -- I didn't know it at the time -- that the senior member of the Dartmouth board of trustees,
John R. McLane, scouted me at the San Francisco Conference without my knowing it, which was an interesting thing. And I was in Boston to meet the trustees, at their invitation, the night of the day in August the first atomic bomb was exploded at Hiroshima. Shortly after I'd returned to the Department, I received a telephone invitation from Mr. McLane to become the Dartmouth president, and so from the middle of August on I knew I was going to Dartmouth. I think it was announced about the end of August to early September. Mr. MacLeish had resigned in the meantime, as the Assistant Secretary of State, in the middle of the summer, and Truman had replaced Stettinius at the end of June with James Byrnes, the former U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
I waited until Secretary Byrnes returned from the European Conference, which he'd gone to in the latter part of August, for purposes of calling on him to present my resignation personally.
There's something you might be interested in; at that time he said, "I think the President would be glad to have you take the position of Assistant Secretary, if you change your mind," and he told me a little bit about why he couldn't imagine that being a college president was a particularly satisfying career to go into. But I thanked him for his expression of confidence and so forth, and said, no, I'd made my decision.
Going back to 1944-45, I saw a good bit of both Acheson and MacLeish; they were very close. Indeed, I think it's fair to say that each was the other's closest friend, even though they were as different as two men could be in their approach to foreign policy. And since I was close to Mr. Acheson, having served him earlier, and was reporting to Mr. MacLeish as Director of the Office of Public Affairs, I saw a good bit of both of them. It was one of the most wonderful periods, in a way, of my life. I found both of
them wonderfully stimulating and warm, and, well, it was just great. We had a lot of fun together.
One of the most amusing things was the night the Secretary was in Mexico City on his way back to Washington from the Yalta Conference. He'd sent word to us about starting to plan for the San Francisco Conference. Maybe I should say a word about that planning, but first let's complete this reference to Mexico City. The Secretary was in Mexico City, and he wanted to make a broadcast to the American public about Yalta on his way back. He always had an instinct for the public relations move. It's hard for us to imagine today how difficult it was to set up such a national broadcast when you were going to do it by way of Mexico City. Well, of course, pursuant to Murphy's law that if something can go wrong, it will, something went wrong.
While we were in the studio and it was time, we thought, for the Secretary to make his broadcast to the American people, he thought he was off the air down there, and instead over our studio radio came, "Well, why don't we get started with this damn show...". Acheson, MacLeish and I all but collapsed laughing; we never did get the thing straightened out. It was a real mess. So, later that night, Acheson, MacLeish and I drove out to a friend's house for a drink, and Acheson remarked, "Well, our State Department careers are at an end as of tomorrow morning, Let's have a good time tonight." We laughed ourselves into a devil-doesn't-care attitude. I suggested to the others that if we couldn't sell the State Department to the American public, maybe we could sell it to Barnum and Bailey. At that point we had a drink and called it an evening.
I was also going to tell a story about Byrnes coming in as Secretary. During this
period while Stettinius was chairman of the American delegation at San Francisco, Joe Grew, Under Secretary on the "team" and former Ambassador to Japan, was Acting Secretary. At one point toward the end of the Conference he had a request from a group of congressional members to have Mr. Acheson address their club which included both the new Republican and Democrat members who had entered Congress together. The club, so-called, is not a partisan thing, the group who came in as Congressmen during a particular Congress simply stay together for social purposes over the period of their membership in Congress. They wanted Mr. Acheson to dine with them and give an off-the-record talk about what was going on in San Francisco. I had come back to the Department at the end of June, a few days early before the Conference was over, when I got a call from Mr. Acheson, would I please come up to his office.
And he said, "The Acting Secretary just told
me I've got to go down and meet with the Congressmen's club tonight (he was working with the Congress, so this was nothing unusual), to tell them about what's going on out at the San Francisco Conference." And he said, "Gosh, I don't really know what I can say on such short notice. I've followed the Conference in a general way, but you've just come back from there. How about going with me to this dinner tonight? I'll introduce you with a few comments, and then you take over and answer their questions."
Well, this was a nice thing to have suggested, and so I said, "Okay, I'll be glad to go with you." It was a very hot evening, I remember, but we seemed to get through it quite well. I, as far as I know, didn't get into any trouble that he or I couldn't get us out of. When the meeting was over, it was around one o'clock in the morning, and we decided to walk up to the State Department from the restaurant downtown, and then drive out to his
house for a late cooling-out drink over the dismissal of Stettinius and the appointment of Byrnes as Secretary of State which had been announced during the day.
We were walking up Pennsylvania Avenue on that broad sidewalk in front of the Treasury, just before getting to the White House. We were the only people in sight; no one was on the White House walk; no one on the Treasury walk; and the two of us were just strolling along in the early hours of the morning. We looked out at the street where a tow truck was coming along beside the curb. It stopped just opposite us, and we saw that it was towing a great big sedan. Well, prior to this, I should say, while we were walking along, we were talking about the word we had just gotten that afternoon, namely, that Stettinius had been supplanted by Byrnes. And, of course, we were both intensely interested in what had transpired, and how and why, and what was going
to happen now, and so-on. The main thrust of our conversation was, "Once President Truman decided to do something, he didn't fiddle around, did he?" And just as we had reached that conclusion we looked out in the street and there was this tow truck with this great big black sedan, the front up and being towed down the street. We quickly realized from its seal that it was the Secretary of State's official car. Well, insofar as two sober men could ever act the role of men who were out of control with intoxication and laughter, we did. Finally, when he got control of himself, Acheson said, "My God, I've heard of people being bounced speedily, but honestly do you think this is what we are seeing, that they are taking that car away tonight from Stettinius?"
"Well," I said, "in God's name, what other explanation would there be for towing the Secretary of State's official limousine down Pennsylvania
Avenue at one o'clock in the morning?"
From that point on up to his house in Georgetown we were all but out of control with unbelief and speculation. Of course, the next morning we learned that that limousine had been stolen during the early evening, and when found the police had had it towed to the garage. But this was such a good story that Mr. Acheson repeated it in his book, Present at the Creation.
MCKINZIE: When were you asked to come back for special missions for the Government? I know that you had at least a couple.
DICKEY: Yes. Well, in late '46 or early '47 I was asked by President Truman, by telegram -- which reached me when I was on a speaking trip down in Texas -- to serve on the Civil Rights Committee that he was setting up. It was the first Civil Rights Committee, and really a major enterprise that has been forgotten, for the moment at least, largely
because of our preoccupation with subsequent civil rights developments. He asked Charlie Wilson, president of General Electric, to be chairman. I agreed to be vice chairman; I have been told by a fellow who's looked at the records that I had been asked to be chairman but begged off. In any event, I accepted the appointment to the Commission and it was one of the most satisfying missions I had for the Government, because we did accomplish something, thanks very largely to the work done by the Executive Director, Bob Carr, a colleague of mine at Dartmouth, in writing the report entitled, "To Secure These Rights." And indeed, it is fair to say, in my opinion, that the whole postwar civil rights movement received its initiative, its early impetus, in the work of the Commission. Charlie Wilson did a wonderful job as chairman. He was a business man and conservative Republican, but a very idealistic man and was able to keep the Jim Careys
and some of the more flamboyant people under control. It was a strange group -- young Franklin Roosevelt (or young then), a Catholic archbishop or bishop, [Charles] Luckman at the height of his notoriety, and so forth. I've always assumed that probably the suggestion of my membership came from Acheson, but I never knew about that. I never asked him about things like that but occasionally he would tell me about something, like trying to get Truman to appoint me Under Secretary of State.
MCKINZIE: Was there any feeling among the members of that committee that the report was too much too fast?
DICKEY: A little bit, a little bit. There was disagreement in the committee, which we dealt with in a separate report, on a few issues, but in the large picture the committee was united -- I think very largely due to the way Charlie Wilson
ran it, as well as the membership of the committee. The disagreements were on such questions as withdrawing Federal aid to hospitals that were not desegregated. But on the broad issues, the issues that led to the Brown case and things like that, the committee was clear and united, so that basically it was not a divided committee. It was not an easy committee to use, because of its great variety in background, e.g., some deep Southerners; Tobias, a Negro; and others who had had different experiences. It was not a "wild committee," although for the times it was in some eyes.
I might mention one thing that concerns a current person. I had gotten to know Bill [J. William] Fulbright during my days in the State Department when I was in charge of international cultural relations, as Director of Public Affairs. I had the responsibility for getting the Secretary and then the President to select him as chairman
of the group that went to England during the war to explore proposals for setting up an international cultural organization, which in the postwar period became UNESCO. I got to know Fulbright during that period and during the earlier period when he was getting a good bit of public attention for his resolution supporting a postwar international organization to keep the peace.
In '48, we had filed the Civil Rights report and the President had accepted the report. In the early fall of '48 when the campaign was shaping up, the Democrats, of course, were running scared: they thought they were really going to take a licking. I happened to meet Fulbright in Penn Station -- he was coming up from Washington. We walked up the steps together and I said, "How are things going, Senator?"' And he said, "Well," (and sometimes he can be a pretty dour fellow) "I guess they are going all right,
but, by God, that report you fellows got out is going to give us a lot of trouble."
And he went on to say that he wasn't sure at all that it wasn't going to be the downfall of the Democrats in '48. So, it stirred up a fair amount of public resistance. Certain alumni groups in the South, in Texas and elsewhere, were not too keen on having me as a speaker for a while.
MCKINZIE: You would not have thought that.
DICKEY: No. Today that Report looks like old shoe stuff, doesn't it? And today Fulbright and I are good friends.
I might say one word about the preparations for San Francisco, although this did not involve Acheson too directly. At Yalta, Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill decided that the United Nations Charter Conference would be held at San Francisco, and they wanted to hold it in April
of that year, just a few months off. So, Stettinius, like the do-it-now fellow that he was, shot off a cable to Joe Grew, who was Acting Secretary at the time, saying that the President wants the United Nations Conference to be held in San Francisco in April; I think the cable came in February or early March.
Well, Grew called me up and wanted to know how we'd get started on this, since nobody in the State Department had any idea of how to deal with San Francisco at this point. The preparations for that conference were one of the great achievements of a single individual named Jack [John E.] Peurifoy, who was the executive officer in my office at that time and a great can-do sort of fellow. After talking with Mr. Grew, Mr. MacLeish, a couple of other senior officers' of the Department, including Mr. Acheson, I said to Jack Peurifoy "I think that the way to get started on this is for you to go immediately to San Francisco, get the
picture and enlist the cooperation of the, mayor." Peurifoy did just that and more. He went out there and became an intimate buddy of Roger Latham, the Mayor of San Francisco. The first preparation involved evicting people from most of the hotels of San Francisco, including Marion Davies from her Fairmont penthouse, an action which led to a contretemps with William Randolph Hearst. The word came down to us: "You can't evict Marion Davies from the Fairmont Hotel," but Peurifoy and the Mayor pulled it off. I guess it was as near to a miracle as anything I witnessed around Washington. After the Conference, Peurifoy became a right-hand man to Acheson and head of the Foreign Personnel Division of the State Department. Later, as an Ambassador, he lost his life in an automobile accident in Burma.
In early '51 Secretary Acheson asked me to come down and serve as a part-time consultant on the Collective Measures Committee of the United
Nations. Harding Bancroft, now, I believe the executive vice-president of the New York Times, was the full-time American representative on the Collective Measures Committee, a committee which grew out of Acheson's proposal for getting around the U.N. Council's veto by giving the United Nations Assembly a role in keeping the peace in the future. The Uniting for Peace Resolution was adopted at the time of the Korean war. They were trying to follow that up with the work of this Collective Measures Committee, and I served as a consultant for that committee at Acheson's request for about a year. Nothing came of the committee's work.
MCKINZIE: Why was it that nothing came of it?
DICKEY: Well, I really don't know. I don't think the nations generally were ready to do anything more in the way of the U.N. peace keeping structure, and this also came right smack up against the
problem of how to amend the United Nations Charter. They knew they couldn't get past the veto, because at that point the Russians were ready to stay in the Council and. exercise their veto. Basically they had gotten what they wanted, that is, United Nations sponsorship of the resistance in Korea -- because the Russians were careless about not exercising a veto, for reasons that I won't attempt to go into here.
In '51-'52, I forget just when, Secretary Acheson invited me to serve on a special panel that he was setting up, really a confidential group to reexamine the question of controlling atomic armaments. [Dr. J. Robert] Oppenheimer, Vannevar Bush, Allen Dulles, Joe Johnson, and myself were the members of the panel. McGeorge Bundy, who was at Harvard then, served as our executive secretary. We all had to go through top level atomic security clearance -- "Q clearance" -- which took a long time. We spent a good part
of the summer at Oppenheimer's Princeton Institute of Advanced Studies, discussing these matters there in his headquarters and being briefed by him on the nature of the "proposed hydrogen device," as it was called then. This was genuinely top secret; you're scared to have even an opinion about it. What Acheson had asked us to seek was anything that might have been overlooked that could conceivably be proposed or done, at that point, having in mind that the Russians had rejected the Acheson, Lilienthal and Baruch control proposals earlier. The U.S. was on the threshold, at that point -- which we knew from Oppenheimer and Van Bush who were close to it -- of testing this so-called "hydrogen device," which became the hydrogen bomb.
MCKINZIE: This committee was for the purpose of testing the possibility of some agreement which would make such a test unnecessary?
DICKEY: Well, that was one possibility, but we were not given any precise assignment in that respect. He simply said, as I recall, "I want to make sure that you gentlemen with varied backgrounds in foreign affairs -- and with some of you a scientific background in respect to nuclear explosions -- examine every possibility, whether unilateral action, by agreement, or what not, that the President ought to have exposed to him before we take the final step on this." But there was no specific assignment of trying to develop an idea for an agreement with the Russians, although that obviously would be one possibility. Unfortunately we never came up with anything that any of us thought had the possibility of being accepted and adequate to the problem. In other words, we were unable to formulate any positive contribution that seemed to have a chance of being acceptable, either to the U.S. Government or the Russian Government at that point. We did write a
report about early September. The essence of our consensus was that it would seem desirable to postpone a test of the device until the November elections were behind us and we had a President elected (that was the Eisenhower-Stevenson campaign) and in a position to deal with this development on what would be a longer range, more stable basis than seemed to us to be the case during the final months of an American Presidency, since Mr. Truman was not running again. The essence of the proposal was that there should be a postponement. There had been no public announcement at all about a schedule for this test. And I don't think we knew; my memory is that we didn't know precisely when it was coming, but that we had enough knowledge to know that it was likely to come before the November election, probably in October . The group decided that two members should make an oral presentation to Secretary Acheson before any written
report was prepared; in effect that there should be an informal exploration of a possible postponement. It was obviously not a solution. It was solely a proposal for a holding action, so to speak. It was decided that Oppenheimer, who had been the chairman of our group, should go, and that I should go, as a member of the group who had a close, personal relationship with Secretary Acheson.
We arranged to call on him at his country home out at Silver Spring, Maryland. Actually, he sent the Secretary's car in for us and we were graciously received. We were there on a lovely late summer or early fall day, and enjoyed wandering around the grounds until the Secretary said, "Well, now let's get down to business." And so we began an hour or two of serious discussion. I think I opened the conversation. We had agreed earlier which one would open it. In any event, whichever one
opened it, the other backed it up fully with the thinking of the group. We emphasized it was only an interim proposal, but that we all did feel that this question was so momentous and that a delay of a relatively short period, a matter of months or so, might be more valuable in permitting the development of a more substantial approach to the problem than it would be disadvantageous to have a postponement. The Secretary heard us out carefully and did not interrupt either of us; he then responded very deliberately (and again I do not presume to give the precise words, but the essence): "Gentlemen, I appreciate the attention you fellows have given this subject, because I know how difficult it is, having worked on it for a long time" (himself, back at the time of the Acheson-Lilienthal report). "I, of course, am not surprised, much as I am disappointed, that you haven't been able to find, what the rest of us had not been able to find, some
promising approach to a solution. But the postponement you suggest, I am sure, is now just totally beyond the realm of consideration."
I was somewhat surprised; I had not been prepared for such a flat, almost immediate judgment on his part that a postponement of this sort was unthinkable -- and that's not too strong a term.
He then went on to say: "You probably are not aware of how far along this matter is, not just technically, in preparations involving immense logistical operations of the Navy and other people. It's very far along. Even more so, it is too far along in respect to the commitment of these people to the necessity for a test. They have concluded that this must be done; simply postponing it without anything else to offer would just be beyond the understanding of the people who have worked on this in the armed forces and in the science community." And then he added,
"Furthermore, we wouldn't have a chance of getting such a proposal accepted by the President as being realistic."
He then said something that really brought me to my senses in realizing what incredible momentum a matter of this sort acquires within the Government.
He said, "I don't think it's too strong to say to you that if the President did accept this proposal, he could conceivably be faced with a mutiny."
I'll never forget the fact that he used the word "mutiny." Now, he may have been using it in a somewhat exaggerated form as a figure of speech, but the circumstances were not such that any of us spoke loosely or frivolously. It was clearly the capstone of his judgment that this was not something he could bear the responsibility of proposing to the President.
MCKINZIE: Was this in the very last months of the Truman administration?
DICKEY: Yes; it must have been within a month or so of when the device was exploded. In any event, that was the end of our work. We wrote a relatively brief final report which I won't attempt to go into here.
MCKINZIE: Professor Dickey, in 1947 you were a delegate to the Havana ITO Conference, and I was wondering if I could get you to talk about that?
DICKEY: Oh, yes.
MCKINZIE: That's something that a lot of people don't quite understand, and that was so much involved in what a lot of people wanted.
DICKEY: Exactly; an international trade system which the nations are still trying to perfect.
I was invited to go to that conference as a result, I'm sure, of having worked on trade agreements in the State Department from 1934 off and on. Harry Hawkins and Clair Wilcox were the two right-hand men to Will Clayton, who was the chairman of the American delegation. He remains one of my heroes. I was invited to go along as a consultant to the delegation. My principal usefulness, in addition to some drafting, was to advise Clayton, Hawkins and Wilcox on the problems of congressional acceptance of an ITO Charter; whether we could deal with it as a joint resolution; whether we would have to put it through as an executive agreement without congressional action; and so forth. [Jacob K.] Javits and [James G.] Fulton were down there as congressional representatives on our delegation. I went back to Washington about New Year's --to report to the Department, Messrs. Brown and Mason, I believe, who were in charge
in the Department of the issues that were before the Conference. I didn't return to Havana, but I sent back to the delegation a report of my discussions in the Department.
Well, just why the ITO Conference was largely abortive, I don't really know. I suppose that in the perspective of history you'd have to say that by '47, while the experts were interested in getting a trade charter and a fully developed organization, the aftermath of World War II's weariness and its nationalism had begun to set in more than we realized. Recovery rather than reform was a prime priority. I've read Clair Wilcox's book on the ITO proposals and the best I can say is that no political leaders at that time were prepared to press forward with such a charter. They feared seeking too much too fast and ended up with too little for quite a few years.
MCKINZIE: Someone told me -- maybe it was John Leddy -- that one of the problems, he thought, for economists was that people wanted to have economic and social measures in the same document, and the social measures inevitably overshadowed the tough economic issues. Would you tend to agree with that, that it was the social issues rather than the economic issues that caused ITO to be abortive?
DICKEY: My memory on the specific terms and scope of the charter is just too general to permit me to say anything very useful about that. I think that that's essentially what I meant, however, when I suggested that the proposed charter both sought to do too little and to do too much, and just didn't satisfy anybody sufficiently to make the kind of international political fight that had to be made for it. Greater realistic vision, e.g., Monet, Schuman, et al, came a little later.
MCKINZIE: Well, if I could ask you then about the experience in Havana? You said political leaders were not very excited about it? Does this mean someone like Javits at that point was a relatively new Congressman and not very influential; Fulton from Pittsburgh, also?
DICKEY: Neither of them carried the kind of leadership power that Connally and Vandenberg carried with them at the San Francisco Conference. You pretty well knew that if you had Connally and Vandenberg with you, unless you did something damn silly, you weren't going to get the U.N. Charter into trouble in the Senate. But neither Javits nor Fulton as newcomers carried that kind of political power in the House of Representatives.
You inquired about the article I did for the quarterly Foreign Affairs: "Our Treaty Procedure Versus Our Foreign Policies." I think it was in the spring issue, April of 1947.
That article was written after I had been on the Dartmouth presidency for two years, and it was a harvesting of my work in the State Department from 1934 on. I say that because one of the two fundamental issues at the time, the Trade Agreements Act, was first passed in 1934, and on every renewal thereafter through 1940, was the so-called treaty power issue: whether a reciprocal trade agreement could possibly be constitutional, unless it was submitted for the approval of two-thirds of the Senators present under the treaty power. So from '34 on, by reason of being assistant to Assistant Secretary Sayre, and at the same time assistant to the Legal Adviser, Green Hackworth, I was given the responsibility in the Department during that period for developing the case for the constitutionality of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act. The other issue, of course, was the delegation of legislative power, which
in those days was a very live issue but later disappeared with the Supreme Court rulings and New Deal legislation.
This work involved preparing arguments for the testimony of the Government witnesses supporting the act, and more especially, preparing speeches for people in the Congress, such as Jerry [John G.] Cooper. In the Senate, supporting the constitutionality of the Trade Agreements Act, Senator George, of course, was the great "White Father" so far as constitutional questions were concerned. He had been, I believe, a member of the Georgia Supreme Court, was an old-fashioned Southerner in all respects, a man of great integrity and great influence. And Secretary Hull was very anxious to have Senator George lead the fight for the constitutionality of the Trade Agreements Act, especially as [William E.] Borah, who was still in the Senate, was opposing it and made the constitutional attack on it.
Well, my largest assignment for the first few months in the State Department was writing the draft of the speech for Senator George to give in reply, if you will, to Senator Borah's attack on the constitutionality of the Trade Agreements Act. Borah, Johnson, and some of the other isolationists, of the period bore down primarily on the two-thirds rule issue -- the treaty power issue -- because this was the way to kill the Act without getting into all the technicalities of the argument about the delegation of legislative powers (although they, of course, used that argument).
I had to study the history of the treaty power, the history of executive agreements, the precedents that were in the files and so forth. I worked during that period with another man who was an assistant to Assistant Secretary Sayre, Wallace McClure, an old League of Nations supporter who was determined that if there was any way
to bypass the treaty two-thirds rule, he was going to find it, like the Northwest usage of earlier days. He reached the conclusion that you could do, through an executive agreement almost anything that could be done in a treaty; this was McClure's position, and it's now in his book, International Executive Agreements. It's a position which, I'm afraid, I could not agree with theoretically, and today it seems to me to be a position that contributed to the over-inflation of presidential powers. But I worked on the question and in my last days of service in the State Department during '44 and '45, I exposed my views about the need for doing something about the treaty power in the postwar world. I wrote a memorandum to Secretary Hull, which came back with a discrete notation, "Noted," and nothing was done about it. It's just not an issue that the Secretary of State can fight. It puts him on the other side of the fence from so many
Senators that it's just unrealistic for a Secretary of State, as [John] Hay and all other Secretaries discovered, to lead a fight to get that provision changed in the Constitution. So they very naturally resort to every kind of bypass that they can imagine for avoiding the two-thirds rule. This is what I dealt with in that Foreign Affairs article.
I came to the conclusion, however, that if our American democratic process is to function effectively in the area of foreign affairs, it's just unrealistic to have so many important inter-national engagements made without an exposure to Congress, and thereby to the American democratic process. If you are going to have the American public understand American foreign policies in even a fundamental way, substantive issues have got to be exposed; particularly, cooperative foreign policies in the form of agreements have got to be exposed in Congress. You can carry on
all the propaganda activities you want to, but eventually nothing takes the place of discussion of these matters in the Congress. So, this was the thesis that I sought to develop in the Foreign Affairs article. The undesirable alternative way was more unilateral foreign policies or treaties which were less strong in substance because of the two-thirds rule political handicap. Too often treaties are negotiated to the point where they don't have a "cough in a carload," as Old Gold advertising used to say, simply because you have to get a two-thirds vote in the Senate. I came to the conclusion myself, rightly or wrongly -- and my guess is at the moment, unrealistically -- that the best approach was in a constitutional amendment that would give both Houses of Congress a majority vote on the approval of treaties. I felt it might well be realistic to carry out such a procedure with joint committees of the two Houses hearing the Secretary of State and other witnesses. It seemed to me you
had to bring the House into the approval process because today American foreign policy involves substantive matters of appropriations, of authorization of troops, etc., all things that are rooted in the powers of the House.
MCKINZIE: Did you ever discuss this with Dean Acheson? Once I talked to Dean Acheson about Congress and foreign policy. His remark, I think I can quote him directly, was, "The House of Representatives doesn't amount to a damn. There are a few important committees. They are the Senate Foreign Relations Committee," and he said something about the House Appropriations Committee maybe having some clout; he mentioned these kinds of things. But he evidently, from the tenor at least of what he said, thought that dealing with a few committees and a few important people in the Senate, the people who met at Les Biffle's office, for example, was a good way to be able to carry on, it was manageable.
DICKEY: Well, there is no doubt about that, and this was Acheson's basic approach to the politics of foreign policy. I talked with him about this problem, he had the attitude that I think any man would have as a Secretary of State: "The only way I can do a lot of this work is with people like these people in the Senate committees." And I think it would be fair to say that he would dread getting the House involved in it more than he had to. I would simply say, however, that this is not to my mind a satisfactory answer constitutionally. I think leaving the two-thirds rule there without doing anything structurally, constitutionally, about this handicap procedure is an invitation to trouble in our policy processes again and again.
The opposition wants this and that handled as a treaty with a two-thirds requirement. I just can't believe that in the modern world that requires as many international agreements as we require, and
in a world where most of these agreements do involve appropriations of money that the House can long be expected just to "go along." In the first place, if the House isn't cut in on it, you can kiss any constitutional amendment of the treaty process good-bye. If you ignore the House and just circumvent the two-thirds rule with merely presidential agreements, you'll get exactly what we've got today. Or, if you build up -- the joint-resolution approval process by usage, which is probably the course that's going to be followed; you may be able to leave the treaty provision of the Constitution where, as Hay regarded it: "an irreparable mistake." And you then build up by usage other procedures for a joint resolution approach either by prior or subsequent congressional approval of the international engagement. We now have precedents for almost any form of congressional action that you can imagine, prior authorizations, subsequent approvals. For example, membership in the ILO was put through by
approval of the two houses. Very few people realize this.
MCKINZIE: And the Gulf of Tonkin resolution was prior authorization.
DICKEY: If I were writing that Foreign Affairs article today -- and I've had quite a bit of conversation and correspondence about it with people who've come across it -- I wouldn't back away from it very much. I still believe that it is basically a sound analysis and that the basic recommendation of a constitutional amendment for a procedure involving the two houses is sound. I do, however, see possibilities today for an amendment that I didn't develop then and possibilities which are being used more frequently in the legislative process today than certainly they were then. It might be possible to develop an amendment providing that a treaty should be submitted to the approval of both Houses if within, let us say,
ninety days it is requested by a joint resolution majority vote of both Houses. This would permit the Congress to let the hundreds of routine agreements pass through without action. But where they felt the need to have a discussion and debate, a vote by joint resolution would require majority approval of the treaty by the two Houses. I think something of that sort would be, so far as I can see, quite workable and would get away from today's situation where the two-thirds rule is always hanging over our international agreements. I haven't spelled that out in any detail, but this would be one approach to the problem that I would like to see explored a little bit more. I have a feeling that one of these days it will. The alternative of "amending by usage" is a tricky one; usage can be argued to mean almost anything, until you've had three to five hundred years of it.
MCKINZIE: The fact that it is a major concern of yours betrays your commitment to a belief that the foreign
policy can be democratically determined. It indicates or suggests that you reject Theodore Roosevelt's idea that most people don't think deeply about foreign policy.
DICKEY: Yes. I think this is a very fair observation. I believe that we now need procedures and processes, whereby American society can exercise sufficient control over its foreign policy engagements to know what it's all about. If you'd had, that kind of responsible exposure before Vietnam, you might well not have gotten to the point of a Tonkin Gulf resolution. No, I wouldn't want to say that I think foreign policy can be made at all stages through a democratic process. I'm sure it's got to be essentially an executive function: the proposals, the negotiations and the development. But I think if you are going to have sustained, stable public support for our foreign policy commitments, particularly the engagements of cooperative foreign policies, you've got to
expose the nation's engagements not as faits accomplis, but as something that can be discussed and made subject, if need be, to either Congressional authorization or approval. In short, I think that a constitutional amendment should be written to permit either prior authorization or subsequent approval if requested by the majority vote of both Houses within, say, ninety days.
After Acheson's period as Secretary, I saw a good bit of him. He came up to Dartmouth shortly after he was appointed and visited us at our home. We had a wonderful day and picnic together. I remember especially that he talked about his need to curb himself from giving quick retorts. He told me about an incident that had taken place the day before, or several days before, in his press conference, when John Hightower was representing the Associated Press. He was a very good friend of the State Department and had asked a question about the China problem. Mr. Acheson gave, as he described
it to me, a quick, witty answer which brought down the laughter of the rest of press people on Hightower’s head and obviously embarrassed and wounded him a little. As they were going out of the press conference, “Mike” McDermott who was the press officer of the department, walked down the hall with the secretary.
He said, “Mr. Secretary, you shouldn’t have done that to John Hightower; he’s one of few good friends.”
And Acheson said (he was telling me about this), “ I turned back and I said, “Mac, goddammit, I know I shouldn’t have! Can you get hold of Hightower and tell him to come to the office this evening an have a drink with me”
Well, now, this was the essence of Acheson; he could not resist the quick retort. He knew the moment he said it, however, that it had been unnecessarily wounding thing, and his instinct was to repair the damage and to maintain
a good personal relationship with a man whom he respected.
There were lots of people that he didn't maintain good relationships with. He was not a man, as is often said, "to suffer fools gladly." He talked with me on a number of occasions about his critical feelings toward Adlai Stevenson, which, of course, paralleled Truman's private position.
MCKINZIE: Well, why?
DICKEY: Well, I think basically he resented the way Stevenson tried to disengage himself from Truman's and Acheson's foreign policy during the '52 campaign. He just simply felt that Stevenson owed greater fortitude in standing with Truman and Acheson than he manifested during that campaign. At the same time, anybody who remembers the campaign remembers that Stevenson was under very heavy pressure to disassociate himself from Acheson-Truman foreign policy. Both Acheson and Stevenson
were quick intellectually and maybe they were destined to be competitive. He had no fondness for Stevenson, and it pretty well, I think, dates back to the '52 campaign. Earlier Stevenson worked with MacLeish and me on writing speeches for Stettinius, and Acheson got along fairly well with him back there in '45, as far as I know. But from '52 on, at least for a while, he really had nothing good to say for him.
He was also puzzled by a man whose intellect, character and knowledge of foreign affairs he respected highly, but whose judgments he rarely could share: George Kennan. He talked to me a number of times about his perplexity about Kennan; there was something deep inside Kennan that he felt was a factor in his judgments that Acheson didn't understand and couldn't go along with.
MCKINZIE: To what extent do you think personal relationships were important to Mr. Acheson? He has said to
some people that a great deal of diplomacy, whether it's in Washington or whether it's overseas, has to do with how one man relates to another.
DICKEY: Yes, yes.
MCKINZIE: Do you think that it's fair to say that he valued personal relationships, even though he didn't suffer fools gladly?
DICKEY: Well, my answer to that question would be a strong affirmative. Yes, he did. He was quite selective. For example, few friendships are ever more sustained or serious than the friendship of Acheson and [Felix] Frankfurter. They walked to the office together almost every morning; this intimacy was tremendously important to him.
His friendship with MacLeish, I know, was deeply important to him, even though, as I said, he and MacLeish had diametrically different approaches to the foreign affairs of the world. Still, he
greatly admired MacLeish and had a profound affection for him. You might be interested in my support for that judgment.
I was seeing a good bit of Mr. Acheson, of course, when I was reporting to him while he was Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs. With the new team that Stettinius formed in early December, 1944, when Stettinius came in as Secretary, he put Acheson in charge of congressional affairs. And it was announced that MacLeish, who was then Librarian of Congress, was to be the first Assistant Secretary for Cultural and Public Affairs. It all seemed to some of us as great. I didn't know MacLeish at all well at that point; I'd only met him. And that very day Acheson called me up and asked would I have luncheon with him at his Club? And of course, for me that was a somewhat surprising, nice invitation.
We got there and he said, "What did you think of the announcement today?"
And I said, "Well, it sounded fine to me, but I don't know MacLeish very well."
He said, "I assumed that you really didn't know him very well." (I'd worked with him on cultural relations a bit prior to that time.) "You probably also don't know that he's been my closest friend ever since college. I couldn't tell you how close our friendship has been, although we see public issues frequently very differently." He then said, "I'm going to ask something of you. I can't believe that this thing doesn't have the possibilities in it" (that is MacLeish coming into the State Department as Assistant Secretary) "of a tragedy for MacLeish. I would think that there was a hell of a good chance that the State Department" (and Acheson was very realistic about it) "would just chew him up. He'll be frustrated, and if he isn't frustrated he'll be cut down." And he said, "You're going to be his right-hand man in charge of the bureaucracy that he's responsible for.
I just hope you will remember what I said and do whatever you can, so that this is not the tragedy that it could be." Well, now a man doesn't care about another man loosely if he talks that way and takes that kind of an initiative. And I saw this side of Acheson in various other instances. I don't want to over claim on my relationship to him; I am sure there were others that were closer, but he was surely very generous in his friendship with me.
I'd like to add one thing that ought to be said, and I think Mr. Acheson would not mind it being said. He's taken an awful pasting, as he knew he would have to, on his public statement about the Alger Hiss business. But he never, as far as I know, made any public statement about the fact that he came to have personally serious misgivings about Hiss and that there was something wrong in the situation that Hiss had not come clean with. Indeed, he told me on one occasion that
he had told Alger, "Alger, there is just something wrong with this thing, something wrong." Those may not be the precise words, but I think it's due him and the record that it should be known that he was not without serious misgivings, that while he didn't know what it was, something was wrong. If he knew, he never told me; he did tell me that he was not satisfied that he knew the full story. His public loyalty was loyalty to a principle, not to Hiss.
MCKINZIE: But he had this sense of loyalty which was very close to the sense of loyalty that Mr. Truman had.
DICKEY: Oh, he even went beyond loyalty; his sense of integrity in human behavior was not owed to Hiss as a matter of loyalty. In fact, he was not very close to Alger Hiss personally. This has been misunderstood; he was quite close to Donald, Alger's brother; Donald was his personal assistant, and
later a partner in the same law office. Alger was never really close to Acheson. But when his critics began to try to force Acheson to run for cover, this would be for him a violation of his code. He didn't, to use the publicized phrase, "turn his back," and thereby he invited cruel misunderstanding; but I'm sure he never, then or later, was prepared to endorse the Hiss account: "there was something wrong."
MCKINZIE: Do you have any insight as to why a man like Dean Acheson would have been so loyal to a man like Harry Truman? On the surface of it, you couldn't think of men who were further apart. It's hard to believe, even.
DICKEY: Well, this has baffled many of his friends. I think this may not be quite as simple a thing as he would like you to believe. I wouldn't be surprised that there is something in the law of nature, the attraction of opposites, that was in
operation there. Secondly, Dean Acheson had a great instinct for good, brave behavior, and Truman's behavior and his loyalty to Acheson were powerful factors in their mutual regard and affection. But also, Acheson had an intellectual's attraction to a little of the perverse.
He said, "All of these intellectual friends of mine, or most of them, like to praise F.D.R.'s knowledge of history." And then he would use the cliche, "Why, Truman's forgotten more history than Roosevelt ever knew." So, the ability to appreciate Truman when others were too easily scornful of him was something that Acheson enjoyed. But more basically, it was a deep devotion of loyalty and respect for a man who had the nobility of courage and an inbred capacity for decency, and even a measure of genuine humility, in high office.
I have heard Acheson refer to some pretty learned, attractive people: "well, that fellow sure knows how to put everything he has in the
showcase, doesn't he?" He loved to puncture the pomposity of position more than almost anybody else I know. But Truman didn't have that, and Acheson respected and liked him for it. I suspect historians may say there was a little overreaction in Acheson's appreciation of Truman. He said some things that may be regarded as somewhat overblown about Truman's greatness. I happen to have a great respect for Truman, but I did not have the privilege of knowing him as a person as Acheson surely did. Let's put it this way: I think Acheson's appreciation of Truman did him great credit, and I suspect he knew it. Maybe, just maybe, there was a small quality of unconscious perversity in a few of his praises, but his devotion was genuine beyond question.
MCKINZIE: Astute observation. Well, thank you for talking about your own experiences, and for your reflections on other people. I think historians will be interested.
Acheson, Dean, 4-8, 13, 21-22, 24, 26, 30, 33, 38, 41-42, 47, 54, 56, 60, 62, 63-67, 69, 74-77, 79, 80-83, 95-96, 101-112
Cantril, Hadley, 52
Dartmough College, 11, 56, 58, 59
Executive agreements, ratification of by Congress, 91-99
Hackworth, Green, 89
International Trade Organization, drafting of charter of, 84-87
Kennan, George F., 104
Axis economic activities, WW II, 11-17
Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, U.S. Office of, 9-18
Japanese businesses blacklisted in, WW II, 21-22
list of "Certain Blocked Nationals," WW II, 12-13
pro Axis business agents of U.S. firms, in, 15-18
voluntary movement for removal of Axis business agents in, 12, 15-18
Lockwood, John, 14
Luckman, Charles, 69
McClure, Wallace, 91-92
Reciprocal Trade Agreement Act, 1934, renewals of, 1-3, 22-24, 89-91
San Francisco Conference on UN, 1945, 40, 45-46, 48-51, 63, 72-74
Economic Warfare, Bureau of, WW II, 21-22, 25-28
Financial Controls Division, 20
Foreign Funds Control Division, 20
planning, post WW II, 28-29, 53-56
World Trade Intelligence Division, 13-21
Stevenson, Adlai E., 48, 49, 50, 51, 103-104
Collective Measures Committee, 74-75
San Francisco Conference on organization of, 40, 45-46, 48-51, 63, 72-74
veto provisions in charter of, 43-45