Eisenhower Library, C. D. Jackson papers

No. 594
Paper Prepared by Walt Whitman Rostow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology1

Notes on the Origin of the President’s Speech of April 16, 1953

The purpose of these notes is to supply that limited portion of the record of events known to me leading up to the delivery of the President’s speech of April 16, 1953.2 It should be borne in mind throughout that my knowledge is partial. The record can only be filled out by others, particularly by Mr. C. D. Jackson.


The Princeton Meeting of May 11–12, 1952.

The Princeton meeting of May 11–12, 1952, laid the foundation for the President’s speech almost a year later. That meeting was called by Mr. C. D. Jackson, then Chairman of the National Committee for a Free Europe. Professor Jerome Wiesner3 (M.I.T.) suggested to Mr. Jackson that I be invited, due to the work I was doing on the Soviet Vulnerability Project at CENIS, for which I was the responsible director. The purpose of the meeting was to explore the possibilities of solving the problem faced by Radio Free Europe in broadcasting persuasively to Eastern Europe. RFE’s problem, briefly, was this: It had developed considerable operational capabilities, but American policy offered an inadequate foundation for talking persuasively to Eastern Europeans in terms of their problems and aspirations.

Appendix 14 lists those present at the meeting. Those representing Radio Free Europe, notably . . . , indicated the feeling that there was a fundamental lack of content in enunciated American policy on which persuasive and effective radio broadcasts could be based. Appendix 2 includes the RFE submissions to the meeting. The RFE position was supported by Mr. Rostow and others. It was opposed by representatives of the Department of State who felt that further statements of American policy would involve forward commitments we might not be prepared to honor, or which would [Page 1174] embarrass the government at home (by creating a dangerous crusade) or abroad. An important intervention was made by former Ambassador Grew,5 who described his profound regret that no effort was made to hold out before the Japanese people a vision of American intentions different from that projected in the Japanese press by the Japanese government in 1940–41. At the close of the afternoon of May 11 a drafting committee was appointed to see if an agreed statement of American policy might be formulated which would better meet the requirements of Radio Free Europe. Included on that drafting committee were (possibly among others) Lloyd Berkner,6 Cyril Black,7 Tom Braden,8 C. D. Jackson, . . . , and W. W. Rostow. Mr. Allen Dulles participated for a portion of the evening session, at which drafting was done. A draft was presented and criticized at a morning meeting on May 12 and further revised. The third draft produced by this meeting is attached as Appendix 3.

The papers and draft done at Princeton went both to the government through Mr. Dulles and Mr. Bohlen, and, I believe, to General Eisenhower. There was some talk that the Princeton draft might be included in a high-level speech during the Truman administration; but nothing came of it.
Perhaps for the record it should be stated that on leaving the group, on Saturday, May 12, Mr. Grew said that he somehow felt the meeting at Princeton had been “historic.” Looking back, there is some case for his view.

May 12, 1952–March 4, 1953

During the campaign there were further discussions about the issues raised at the Princeton meeting, and concerning the future of psychological warfare in general, between General Eisenhower and his staff. The San Francisco speech of General Eisenhower on______9 related to these discussions. (This section must be filled in by Mr. Jackson, with appropriate appendixes.)
In the months after May, Mr. Jackson was taken up with other matters, including the Eisenhower campaign, and Mr. Rostow [Page 1175] was completing the Vulnerability Project. Mr. Rostow corresponded with Mr. Jackson a few times, had lunch with him in November, shortly after the election, calling to his attention the CENIS report (completed August 1952), and its possible relation to the new administration’s program of political warfare.
That report called for a fresh enunciation of American interests and objectives at the highest level, and sought to define them. On December 29, 1952, Mr. Rostow wrote Mr. Jackson the attached letter on an appropriate response to the Stalin replies to the Reston questions,10 published on Christmas day, 1952. Mr. Jackson replied in letters of December 31 and January 5; and Mr. Rostow replied on January 12. This sequence of letters, which in many ways forecast our shared response to the opportunities offered by Stalin’s death, are included as Appendix 4. It is to be particularly noted that Mr. Jackson had clearly in mind the central role of high-level diplomacy as an instrument in political warfare.
In the week before Stalin died, Mr. Rostow had arranged that Mr. Millikan11 and he call on Mr. Jackson on the afternoon of March 11, to discuss the future relations between CENIS and the various agencies of the government; and we were, at this time, arranging that CENIS make its contribution to the W. Jackson Committee.

The Week of March 4–12.

Early on Wednesday morning, March 4, Mr. Millikan received a telephone call from Mr. Robert Amory of the CIA asking that CENIS prepare an intelligence appreciation of the situation created by Stalin’s grave illness, which had just been announced. In particular, four questions were to be answered:

Is Stalin dead?
What are the likely dispositions of Soviet power?
What are the likely changes in external policy, if any?
What are the likely relations of the new regime to Mao?

Mr. Millikan, Mr. Hatch, Mr. Bator, Mr. Cross,12 and Mr. Rostow, at CENIS, discussed these questions from 10 AM to shortly before noon. A draft was prepared by Mr. Rostow and revised by all. It was dispatched to Washington by courier Wednesday night.

It was unanimously decided in CENIS that we would not only submit an intelligence appreciation but also a statement of the key vulnerability created by Stalin’s death and suggestions for prompt [Page 1176] American action to exploit that vulnerability. In general the suggestion consisted in the opening of a political warfare offensive of the kind envisaged in the Vulnerability Report, spearheaded by an American initiated meeting of the major powers, to be offered by the President. It was also decided that, in view of the work we had done at taxpayers’ expense for a year and a half on this problem, that we had a duty to call our suggestion to the attention of Mr. C. D. Jackson. The operational suggestion was abstracted from the general intelligence appreciation and was sent to Mr. Jackson, also on Wednesday night. We informed Mr. Amory by telephone of our having done this on our own initiative. Both CENIS messages are attached as Appendix 5.
On Thursday, March 5, at about 3 PM, Mr. Jackson called Mr. Rostow. He indicated that he had received both the communication to him and the full appreciation sent to the CIA. He indicated that he, too, felt that now was the time to open a general political warfare offensive; and he requested that Mr. Rostow come to Washington, arriving, if possible, at about 3 o’clock on the afternoon of March 6.

Mr. Rostow arrived at Mr. Jackson’s office about 3:15 on March 6. He was informed:

that Mr. Charles Wilson of General Electric had recently suggested to the President that he initiate a peace move, or meeting.13 Mr. J. F. Dulles’ reaction to this suggestion was not unfavorable, although coming during the period of Stalin’s illness, Mr. Dulles noted that conditions had changed;
that the NSC had issued a directive instructing the CIA to prepare an intelligence appreciation of the position created by Stalin’s death by Monday, March 9; that the State Department indicated its appreciation and suggestions for action; and Mr. C. D. Jackson produced a plan to exploit Stalin’s death, also by Monday, March 9.

Mr. Jackson indicated that he had a small staff, headed by Mr. George Morgan of the PSB, helping him on the general follow-up exploitation of Stalin’s death. The Staff was drawn as a group of individuals from various parts of the government and was already at work on Friday, March 6. It was generally understood that outside help would be used by Mr. Jackson and Mr. Rostow’s presence in Washington was known to this group.

Mr. Jackson asked Mr. Rostow what he had to add to the message sent from Cambridge. Mr. Rostow replied that he had a reasonably clear idea as to what the President ought to say and had some suggestions as to how an initial move might be exploited. [Page 1177] Mr. Jackson instructed Mr. Rostow to produce three drafts: a Presidential statement; a rationale for that statement; and any suggestions that he might have for a follow-up plan.
Mr. Jackson then departed for a scheduled discussion of these matters, which included Mr. Nitze and Mr. Bohlen of the Department of State and Mr. Emmett Hughes of the White House staff.14
Mr. Rostow was installed by 3:45 PM on March 6 in room 242½ at the Old State Department Building and equipped with an excellent secretary, Mrs. Bridges. At about 11:30 PM, drafts were finished for all three items requested by Mr. Jackson. Mrs. Bridges typed for several further hours the dictated portion of the suggestions for the follow-up plan and arranged that these be available to Mr. Jackson from 8 AM on the morning of Saturday March 7.
On Saturday March 7 Mr. Jackson arrived and went through these three documents. He called in Mr. Emmett Hughes to read them. They found themselves in general accord with the Presidential statement and the case for it. The text of the three documents drafted by Mr. Rostow on the afternoon and evening of March 6 are attached as Appendix 6.
It was then decided by Mr. Hughes and Mr. Jackson that, with one exception (Morgan), the Presidential draft would be shown to no one until Monday. The reasons for this were the absence from town of certain key figures, notably Mr. John Foster Dulles, and the danger that might arise if the draft were put through the conventional bureaucratic machinery for clearance: dangers both of security and dilution. Mr. Rostow hazarded the view that if the President were to act in this matter promptly, he would have to take the decision on his own, in a rather lonely manner.
The three sets of papers were, however, shown to Mr. George Morgan on the afternoon of Saturday March 7 by Mr. Jackson. Mr. Morgan was told that he should assume, in the paper he and the staff were preparing, that the opening gun in the political warfare campaign would be a Presidential statement of some sort; and this was all that he was to tell his own working staff and to include in their paper. On a personal basis, however, he was shown the Presidential draft. Mr. Rostow had lunch with Mr. Morgan and gave him the third paper; that is, notes for the follow-up plan. Mr. Rostow indicated that these were meant to be simply notes for the use of Mr. Morgan’s staff and that he had no desire to peddle them elsewhere. Mr. Morgan noted, however, that Mr. Rostow had felt free to include diplomacy fully in the follow-up plan, whereas his terms of reference largely excluded diplomatic policy. For that [Page 1178] reason he urged that the draft be “shown to others” by Mr. Rostow.
On Monday March 9 it became evident that there would be opposition to the Presidential statement from the Department of State. Mr. Jackson had described the meeting on March 6 to Mr. Rostow as having gone round and round in circles, but having emerged with agreement on this point: that only a proposal for a four-power conference would give adequate substance to a Presidential act at this time. And it had then appeared not impossible that Mr. Nitze and Mr. Bohlen would go along with Mr. Hughes and Mr. Jackson. Nevertheless, Bohlen and Nitze raised important objections on Monday afternoon, when the draft of the Presidential statement and the rationale for it were shown to them by Mr. Hughes.15
The major business for Mr. Jackson on March 9 was to cope with a long paper prepared by Mr. Morgan and his special team. (Appendix 7) This outlined a great many psychological warfare actions as follow-up for the Presidential statement. This paper was circulated on Monday to all the relevant agencies in the government represented on the PSB. In view of the length of the document and the fact that it was under review in the government, it was agreed that an extremely brief NSC directive should be drafted in the following sense: urging that a Presidential statement be given; creating a special ad hoc committee to oversee the execution of the follow-up plan; and attaching the Morgan draft plus the comments made upon it, for the ad hoc committee to consider as part of its working materials. Mr. Rostow drafted such a directive. (Appendix 8)
On Monday March 9 it was also decided that the issue would come to a decision on Wednesday, March 11, at an NSC meeting, Mr. Dulles being out of town until the late afternoon of March 10.
On Tuesday March 10 a letter from Mr. Bohlen arrived stating formally the objections of the Department of State up to the level of Under Secretary. This letter explicitly excluded Mr. Dulles, who was still in New York. (Appendix 9)
At Mr. Jackson’s request, after extensive discussion, Mr. Rostow prepared for verbal presentation at the NSC by Mr. Jackson a brief on each of the objections raised. A copy of that brief is attached as Appendix 10.
In order to meet the State Department’s view that the President’s proposal would be a dangerous shock to our allies, it was proposed that Mr. Jackson prepare letters from the President to Mr. Churchill and Mr. Mayer to be sent two days before the [Page 1179] speech, one day before the text was made available. Drafts of these letters, prepared by Mr. Rostow, are included as Appendix 11.

On Monday March 9 (but perhaps also on Friday March 6) Mr. Rostow had suggested to Mr. Jackson that he talk forthwith to Mr. George Kennan. Mr. Rostow heard Mr. Kennan’s views on the night of Thursday March 5 at the home of Mr. M. F. Millikan in Cambridge, and was impressed with the fact that they converged with those developed at CENIS and were sharply different from the views popularly attributed to Mr. Kennan as the author, if not the architect, of containment. Mr. Jackson immediately asked Mr. Kennan to come from his farm in Pennsylvania to Washington. Mr. Kennan saw Mr. Jackson for about an hour and a half between 2:30 and 4 o’clock on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 10. Mr. Rostow was present only for the period from about 3:15 to 4 o’clock. Mr. Kennan agreed that the kind of initiative suggested was the right course for the United States at this moment in history. He approved the draft statement in general, suggesting that it might be usefully nit-picked for detail by some of the old hands in the State Department.

He indicated his view, now several years old, that the United States must positively support efforts to unify Germany and the continent; to create effective security measures there; and to engineer Russian and American military withdrawal, leaving behind a militarily safe, predominantly democratic and unified area. Mr. Kennan warned Mr. Jackson that taking this initiative required great clarity concerning its implications for Germany on the part of two men: the President and the Secretary of State. If this condition were fulfilled, there was no need to worry excessively about other opinions in Washington or about the short period of excitement in the foreign offices of Great Britain, France, and Bonn. Mr. Kennan expressed his faith that Washington would respond with great vigor and unity to the initiative, as it had to the Marshall Plan proposal; and that our allies would come along without much difficulty. Both Mr. Jackson and Mr. Rostow were moved by the combination of dignity, force, and eloquence with which Mr. Kennan presented his views, at a time when he obviously felt acutely his enforced divorce from events, as well as a profound desire to be useful to the country in these days when an understanding of Russia was as important as it had ever been before in our history. At one point Mr. Kennan explained that the initiative proposed by Mr. Jackson was designed to reverse the direction in which the wheel of diplomacy had been spinning for some years in Washington, and, taking him by the arms, said, “You have the weight of the world on your shoulders. Good luck.” It should be noted that Mr. Jackson raised with Mr. Dulles the following day, [Page 1180] March 11, the future of Mr. Kennan, and was told that it was his (Mr. Dulles’) understanding that Mr. Kennan had tendered his resignation and that the matter was in the hands of Mr. Bedell Smith. Mr. Dulles’ assistant later reported that the Secretary was loath to bring Mr. Kennan into the Department for fear of Congressional reaction.

Late on the night of March 10, Mr. Rostow was called to the office of Mr. Jackson to read over a letter Mr. Jackson had drafted to Mr. Dulles. The Secretary of State had arrived in town at about 4 o’clock on March 10 and had been met, according to rumor, by an excited group of his colleagues. Mr. Dulles had already asked to see Mr. Jackson at breakfast at 7:45 on Wednesday, March 11. Mr. Jackson’s letter to Mr. Dulles is attached as Appendix 12.
On Wednesday, March 11, Mr. Rostow saw Mr. Jackson at about 8:30 AM, after his breakfast with Mr. Dulles. Mr. Jackson reported that Mr. Dulles had found the idea “intriguing,” but had several reservations which he would have to think over before the 10:30 meeting of the National Security Council.

Mr. Rostow saw Mr. Jackson again as he emerged from the NSC meeting at about 12:30 PM. Mr. Jackson announced that he did not know whether he was a man “carrying a shield or being carried upon it.” He reported that

he had had his full day in court;
the President, remembering his experience with previous four-power meetings, was not enthusiastic about the Council of Foreign Ministers;
Mr. Dulles took the position that our relations with France and Britain would be damaged by a unilateral initiative of this kind; that the governments of de Gasperi, Adenauer and Mayer would fall in a week; and that EDC would be postponed, if not destroyed. It was, nevertheless, agreed that a Presidential statement should be made and made soon, and that the bulk of the text as drafted was suitable.

Further, Mr. Stassen wished to see introduced into the speech a reference to the Marshall Plan and a recognition of the possibilities of drawing the East back towards the West, by economic means.

It may be recorded for history that the Secretary of Defense said at one point: “I agree with Mr. Jackson; don’t give the bastards anything but hope.”
It was further decided that the references to Korea would be expanded and a truce in Korea would be made even more clearly a condition for further movement towards the larger objectives of peace than the original draft had provided. Mr. Jackson was instructed to prepare a new text in the sense of the meeting.
While Mr. Jackson was at lunch on Wednesday, March 11, Mr. Rostow redrafted the message as instructed by Mr. Jackson. This draft as modified by Mr. Jackson after discussion is included as Appendix 13. The essential device was to hold up a vision of the specific long-range objectives of American diplomacy but to make the negotiations designed to achieve that vision contingent upon a prior Korean settlement.
Two tail pieces were added to the new draft, since it was envisaged that the President might deliver this statement either on television, to the American people, or to the UN Assembly on Thursday, March 19. These were drafted by Mr. Rostow, revised by Mr. Jackson (Appendix 14).
On Thursday, March 12, Mr. Jackson went to a luncheon meeting of the PSB. He found a warm welcome, appreciation for his effort of the previous day, and unanimity concerning the new draft. Mr. Bedell Smith, on his own initiative, said he would try to persuade Mr. Dulles to accept it.
On the afternoon of Thursday, March 12, Mr. Jackson drafted a letter to Mr. Dulles requesting definitive assurance that his conception of political warfare included a positive and even central role for the Department of State, calling to his attention the likelihood of a four-power meeting being forced upon the United States in the coming months, even if the proposed speech did not offer it. This letter is attached as Appendix 15.
Mr. Rostow returned to Cambridge on the night of March 12.

Post-March 12

Although I lack knowledge of the next stage in the process which led to the speech, I believe that the opening of the Soviet diplomatic peace offensive by Malenkov in his speech before the Supreme Soviet on March 16 [15]16 resulted in a postponement of the speech as planned on Thursday, March 12. For the record it should be noted that Mr. Jackson and Mr. Rostow urged a prompt American initiative not only to exploit the psychological possibilities available immediately after Stalin’s death but with an awareness that the new Soviet regime might seize the peace initiative.

Drafts 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 of the speech are attached as Appendix 16. Mr. Jackson must fill in the history of these drafts. Mr. Rostow saw only draft (I believe) 4, with pencilled notations by Mr. Dulles, which he recalls as being much further from the content and spirit of the original two drafts than the speech presented by the President on April 16. This stirred up the attached RostowJackson letter of April 1 (Appendix 17). And, on still another [Page 1182] Washington trip, Mr. Rostow saw Draft 7, which was much improved, and on the basis of which Mr. Rostow wrote the letter on April 8 (Appendix 18).

It is essential to an understanding of the conflict over this speech within the government that the relation of Mr. Jackson’s initiative to EDC and Western European unity be distinguished from the view held generally in the Department of State (excepting Kennan and certain others). Both the Department of State and Mr. Jackson felt that a negotiation with the Soviet Union should take place, if at all possible, on the basis of EDC having been accomplished. In the Department of State, however, there was a deep unwillingness to contemplate such a negotiation unless it was forced upon us. In any case, it was felt in the Department that the United States should continue to use its influence directly—along familiar diplomatic lines—to bring about the completion of the EDC arrangement, as first priority, and to fend off as long as possible any four-power negotiation. It was Mr. Jackson’s view that the chance of achieving EDC in the near future would be maximized if the United States were to take an initiative in the four-power negotiation and, within that framework, seek to induce our allies to go into the negotiation with the EDC arrangement behind us. It was feared by Mr. Jackson that, if the United States tried to evade a negotiation, that very fact would increase the difficulty of achieving EDC in the near future. Behind Mr. Jackson’s position lay the following appreciation: that the unwillingness of many Germans to see EDC through hinged on their judgment that the United States had no serious interest in German unity, and that a negotiation with the USSR was an alternative to EDC; and, similarly, that the unwillingness of many Frenchmen to see EDC through hinged on their judgment that the United States has no serious conception of a long-run German (and continental) settlement; that the United States might, therefore, step by step, turn continental hegemony over to the Germans; and that a negotiation with the USSR was an alternative to German rearmament, or might at least postpone it. Mr. Jackson’s appreciation was not that a negotiation was likely to succeed, but, rather, that it might unite the Free World around a position which would make EDC a necessary and logical step—not negatively to oppose the USSR—but positively to move towards a European settlement which would meet underlying American, German, French and other interests. At no point did the representatives of the Department of State appreciate this view or argue it; rather, they felt Mr. Jackson’s initiative to be, simply, an uninformed gesture which failed to understand the key importance of EDC.

[Page 1183]

It was the fear of Mr. Jackson and Mr. Rostow that, without such a prompt U.S. initiative, that would bind up our support for EDC with a longer perspective on a European settlement, in any case EDC would be postponed until our allies had a chance to test the new Soviet regime’s intentions.

Mr. Jackson’s view on this matter was no new thing: the basic issues involved had been raised and fully discussed at the Princeton meeting of May 1952, and Mr. Jackson had obviously considered the problem posed by German and French attitudes to U.S. diplomatic objectives at an earlier time. Mr. Rostow’s similar view was also of considerable vintage, stemming back to 1946, but articulated fully in the CENIS Soviet Vulnerability Report.

W. W. Rostow
  1. Transmitted to C. D. Jackson by Rostow with a brief letter of May 12 and a list of 18 appendices of which texts were provided for four. Rostow requested that Jackson provide the remainder. The additional 14 appendices were not found attached to the source text. None of the appendices is printed.
  2. For text, see Document 583.
  3. Professor of Electrical Engineering and Director of the Research Laboratory for Electronics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  4. The appendix lists 27 persons present for the May 10–11, 1952, meetings including Charles Bohlen, George Morgan, and Robert Joyce of the Department of State.
  5. Joseph C. Grew, Ambassador to Japan, 1931–1941; Under Secretary of State, December 1944–August 1945; member of the Board of Directors of the National Committee for a Free Europe.
  6. Lloyd V. Berkner, President and Chairman of the Executive Committee of Associated Universities, Inc. of New York; research associate in geophysics of the atmosphere at the Carnegie Institution of Washington.
  7. Cyril E. Black, Associate Professor of History at Princeton University (Professor from 1954).
  8. Thomas W. Braden, Assistant to the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, 1951–1954; from 1954, editor of the Blade Tribune of Oceanside, California.
  9. The date is left blank in the source text; presumably the reference is to a campaign address in early October 1952.
  10. See footnote 2, Document 556. Rostow’s letter is not printed.
  11. Max F. Millikan, Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1952; on leave during 1951 and 1952 to serve as Assistant Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
  12. Hatch, Bator, and Cross are not further identified.
  13. See Document 542.
  14. No record has been found of this meeting.
  15. No record has been found of this meeting.
  16. Regarding Malenkov’s address of Mar. 15, see footnote 2, Document 569.