Editorial Note

Kwame Nkrumah, Leader of Government Business of the Gold Coast Legislative Assembly (Prime Minister), visited Washington [Page 1270] unofficially on June 7 and 8 at the invitation of Assistant Secretary of State McGhee. The proposal to invite Nkrumah to Washington was set forth in a memorandum of April 18 from Bourgerie to McGhee:

Nkrumah (see attached biography1), who occupies a position similar to Prime Minister in the newly-constituted Government of the Gold Coast, plans to visit the United States to deliver the Commencement Address at Lincoln University on June 5, 1951.

Nkrumah is the leader of the Nationalist Movement in the Gold Coast, and to the complete surprise of the British, his political party, the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), won the recent general election. The British regard this election as the ‘most daring political experiment yet carried out in Africa …’ Immediately after the elections the Secretary of State of the Colonies released the following statement, ‘It lies with Africans themselves to prove their capacity for self-government, and it is by their performance above everything else that the future course of advancement towards full self-government will be determined, not only in the Gold Coast but elsewhere in Africa’.

“In view of Nkrumah’s position as the new national political leader in the Gold Coast, AF believes it would be desirable to accord him some form of recognition during his unofficial visit to the United States and suggests that you act as host at an official luncheon in his honor at Prospect House on Friday, June 8, 1951.” (McGhee Files: Lot 58 D 468: File—”Africa”)

A formal invitation was subsequently extended to Nkrumah who accepted and arrived in Washington on June 7. Arrangements for Nkrumah’s visit are documented in files 611.45K, 110.15 McG, 945K.52, and McGhee Files: Lot 53 D 468: File—”Africa”. Nkrumah and Gold Coast Minister of Education and Social Welfare Kojo Botsio arrived in Washington on the afternoon of June 7. That afternoon they made a courtesy visit to Assistant Secretary McGhee and met with officers of the Department of State and other government departments. The following morning, Nkrumah visited Mount Vernon and the Lincoln Memorial and then attended a luncheon hosted by Assistant Secretary McGhee. Nkrumah was also scheduled to meet with members of the Senate and House of Representatives. No record has been found of any of the substantive discussions between American officials and Nkrumah during this informal visit. For the text of McGhee’s remarks at the luncheon of June 8, see infra. On June 11 Nkrumah sent the following telegram to Assistant Secretary McGhee from New York:

“On the eve of my departure for the Gold Coast via London I wish to express to you on behalf of myself and Mr. Botsio our grateful thanks for your kind reception and hospitality and for the sympathetic hearing you gave to my appeal for technical assistance in the development of our country. Please extend our thanks also to all the officers of your Department for their cordial cooperation.” (110.15 McG/6–1151)

[Page 1271]

Following his return to the Gold Coast, Nkrumah sent the following letter to McGhee on August 8:

“Words of adequate terms are not within my reach to express my heartfelt thanks for the cordial reception accorded me during my short visit to the United States.

“I also want to thank you for the courtesy and attention shown to myself and the Honourable Kojo Botsio, Gold Coast Minister of Education and Social Welfare.

“The exceptional air of gesture coupled with everything that is worthy of appreciation was characteristic of your making my visit to the United States most comfortable.” (745K.13/8–851)

McGhee replied to Nkrumah’s letter on August 31 as follows:

“It was a great pleasure for me to have seen you during your stay in the United States. We here are most interested in the important developments now taking place in the Gold Coast. We are always ready to cooperate with you and your Government in every appropriate manner.” (745K.13/8–851)

Assistant Secretary McGhee commented on his luncheon meeting with Nkrumah during his conversation on September 25 with French Embassy Minister Counselor Daridan; see Bourgerie’s memorandum of conversation, page 1414.

  1. Not printed.