No. 156
Editorial Note

Vincent Auriol, the first President of France ever to visit the United States, arrived in Washington on the afternoon of March 28, from New York where he had landed earlier in the day. President Auriol and his party left New York City at 11:30 p.m. on the evening of April 2, for Montreal en route to Ottawa.

The French Government had been anxious to arrange for Auriol’s visit for some time. Difficulties arose in scheduling the visit during 1950 and it was therefore postponed until March of 1951. President Truman transmitted the formal invitation orally by way of Ambassador Bonnet in late May 1950, and President Auriol formally accepted by letter to President Truman on June 29, 1950. According to the background memorandum on the visit prepared in the Department of State during the month of March 1951, “The major purpose of President Auriol’s visit is to strengthen the sentiments of good will and friendly interest which have existed traditionally between France and the United States.” President Auriol was accompanied by a very small party including his wife; Minister of Foreign Affairs Robert Schuman; General Paul Grossin, Military Secretary General to the President; and several lesser officials.

President Auriol’s visit was intended to be primarily symbolic and ceremonial. One official conversation was held between Presidents Truman and Auriol in the Cabinet Room of the White House on March 29. Secretary Acheson and Foreign Minister Schuman [Page 349] held three conversations during the course of Auriol’s stay in Washington, and the French President on April 2 addressed a joint session of Congress. (Congressional Record, 82d Congress, 1st Session, Part 3, pages 3118–3120) But for the most part, President Auricles time was spent giving and attending various dinners in both Washington and New York City, wreath-laying ceremonies, and trips to Mount Vernon and the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis.

Because of the nature of the visit, no formal sets of briefing papers were prepared. However, a lengthy background memorandum was compiled summarizing the course of proposed discussions and the respective positions of the two governments on the major issues of the time. This memorandum, relevant portions of which are printed infra, was read by Secretary Acheson on March 26, but it does not appear from the Secretary’s memoranda file that it was read by or discussed with President Truman prior to Auriol’s arrival. (Secretary’s Memoranda, lot 53D444, March-April 1951)

Documentation on the origins and arrangements for the Auriol visit is in file 751.11 for 1950 and 611.51 for 1951.