123 Dudley, Edward R.

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Officer in Charge of West, Central, and East African Affairs ( Sims )


Subject: Transfer of Edward E. Dudley,1 American Ambassador to Liberia.

Participants: Ambassador Edward R. Dudley
Mr. BerryNEA
Mr. SimsAF

In a meeting this afternoon Ambassador Dudley referred to the conversations he has had with Mr. McGhee, Mr. Peurifoy, Mr. Humelsine, and Mr. Butrick concerning a possible transfer for him. He explained that when Mr. Peurifoy first mentioned such a proposal last June he was, of course, highly pleased, but stated at that time that he preferred to remain in Liberia and complete some of the work in which he was currently engaged. The Ambassador discussed this matter with Mr. McGhee at that time, who agreed that it would be desirable for him to remain in Liberia for a few more months.

The question of Ambassador Dudley’s transfer again arose in December 1950, at which time the Ambassador told Mr. Humelsine he would like to review the matter during his period of home leave, and discuss it with him prior to his scheduled return to Monrovia in March. The Ambassador told Mr. Berry that since such good success has recently been achieved in developing: 1) an Embassy building program; 2) a Point Four Program for Liberia; 3) the assignment of a Military Training Mission to the country; and 4) the granting of an Export–Import loan to Liberia, he believes he has made his most important contributions to United States-Liberian relations. Ambassador Dudley offered the opinion that henceforth the work of the American Ambassador to Liberia will be principally confined to supervision of the aforementioned developments. Therefore, he said, after very careful thought he has decided that if the Department wishes to use him in some other area, he is willing and anxious to serve. He made it quite clear, however, that he was not seeking a transfer. But he personally believes that in view of the great problems facing our country in winning the Colored peoples of the world to our side, particularly in Asia, now is the time for our government to demonstrate that it does more than assign only one of its Negro citizens to another Negro country. The Ambassador referred to his conversation with Mr. Butrick earlier in the day, and said Mr. Butrick had discussed the matter in detail and mentioned Burma as a possible assignment.

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Mr. Butrick had explained to him that an opening might develop there soon.

Mr. Berry said that the transfer of a Chief of Mission was decided at a level above where he worked but that he would bring Ambassador Dudley’s thoughts immediately to the attention of Mr. Humelsine, and to Mr. McGhee’s attention upon his return from abroad. He went on to say that on several occasions he had discussed with Mr. McGhee the eventual transfer of Ambassador Dudley. When the subject first arose, he and Mr. McGhee thought of Burma as a possibility, but shortly thereafter Burma was transferred to the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs, and NEA no longer exercises jurisdictional responsibility for that country. At the time Burma was transferred to FE, Mr. Berry said Mr. McGhee suggested that they keep attention focused on some other post in the NEA area where Ambassador Dudley might serve, but thus far no suitable openings have developed in NEA. Mr. Berry said that Burma would certainly offer great opportunities for the Ambassador’s talents. Mr. Berry spoke highly of the Ambassador’s ability and his outstanding record in Liberia, and said that all of the Officers in the Department who have dealt with the Ambassador had only praise for the very effective manner in which he conducts our affairs with the Liberians. He said that Liberia is a “show-case” for us, and thus stands as a notable example of what can be achieved in building good friendly relations with other countries. On the subject of opening a second post in the Foreign Service for Negro Ambassadors, which Ambassador Dudley also raised, Mr. Berry said that he and Mr. McGhee had discussed this subject in general terms many times. There would be obvious political merit in such a move but if action along such lines were decided by the higher authorities, it would be Mr. Humelsine’s, or Mr. Butrick’s office which would initiate action.

  1. Ambassador Dudley was in the United States on home leave; he returned to Liberia at the beginning of April 1951.