Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by Mr. W. Tapley Bennett of the Division of Central America and Panama Affairs

I called Commissioner Flemming95 to ascertain his opinion on despatch no. 4032 of June 10, 1947 from the Embassy at Panama,96 describing the raising by the Panama American of the issue of Panamanian citizens taking an oath of allegiance to the United States in order to accept civil service positions in the Canal Zone. The Embassy in the same despatch mentioned reports that Foreign Minister Alfaro is planning to protest the necessity for Panamanians to take this oath.

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Mr. Flemming stated that this question had been raised at an executive session of Senator Thye’s subcommittee of the Senate Civil Service Committee attended by him and by Governor Mehaffey of the Canal Zone. He also said that so far as he knew there would be no statutory authority to permit an exception to the rule that all persons entering on civil service positions must take an oath of allegiance in support of the United States. Mr. Flemming asserted that he personally did not feel that we should make an exception to the rule. He further stated that the U.S. Government has many aliens in its employment, such as British subjects working on various matters and the German scientist projects. All these individuals have taken the oath of allegiance, and Mr. Flemming knows of no instance where the procedure has been questioned.

Note: Following my conversation with Commissioner Flemming, I took occasion to inquire of Mr. Burdick, Office of the Panama Canal,97 as to the policy in effect with respect to employees in the Canal Zone. Mr. Burdick informed me that while the no-strike pledge is mandatory for all employees, the oath of allegiance is not required of aliens employed on the silver rolls. He was not able to say whether a similar exception is made in the case of Panamanian citizens on the gold roll but indicated that he would investigate the matter and inform me as to the policy presently in effect relative to that category.

I agree with Mr. Flemming that it would be inadvisable to seek an exception to the rule requiring an oath of allegiance for persons taking civil service positions, particularly in view of the fact that exceptions have not been made for the many other aliens already on civil service rolls. If there is a dilemma here, it is one for the Panamanians, not for us. They are the ones who want the jobs.

W. T[apley] B[ennett]
  1. Arthur S. Flemming, Civil Service Commission.
  2. Not printed.
  3. B. F. Burdick, Chief of Office and General Purchasing Officer.