AF files, lot 58 D 459, “Memoranda-1953”

Memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Jernegan) to the Under Secretary of State for Administration (Lourie)1



  • Changing Rank of Accra from Consulate to Consulate General and Assignment of Principal Officer with Rank of Consul General.


A change in the rank of Accra and of its principal officer is proposed at this time because of the rapid approach of self-government in the Gold Coast. This colony, by a series of constitutional reforms since World War II, enjoys a considerable measure of self-government. Next to Southern Rhodesia, it is the most politically advanced of African territories under European rule. A Gold Coast White Paper issued June 20, 1953 proposes further constitutional changes pending action on a request to be made to the British Government for the grant of complete independence within the Commonwealth of Nations. In anticipation of this action, the Acting Governor of the Gold Coast recently informed our Consul at Accra that the constitutional changes would be approved by the British Government and that complete self-government for the Gold Coast would be established in a relatively short time.2

The Gold Coast is a bellwether among the African colonies and it is therefore of far-reaching importance to the U.S. that the nationalist movement be directed into constructive rather than destructive channels. The present Gold Coast Prime Minister is American-educated3 and entertains friendly feelings for the United States. There is every indication that he will look to the United States for guidance and assistance in getting an autonomous government firmly established. Appropriate [Page 286] United States representation at Accra is a very inexpensive way to assure close future relations with the Gold Coast Government and in orienting other new African states towards western democratic ideals and practices. The future importance of this area to the U.S. cannot be overestimated.

The Consulate at Accra was established on May 1, 1942, in response to war-time needs. At that time, British West Africa offered the only feasible open-air route from the west to the Near and Middle East. Various allied war-time organizations established headquarters at Accra, including the U.S. Army Forces in the Middle East, the Central West African Office of the U.S. Foreign Economic Administration, and the West African Office of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services. Should world-wide hostilities erupt again, Gold Coast bases probably will once more become of strategic importance to the United States.

Although prompted by World War II, the opening of the Consulate at Accra was preceded by the development of important U.S. commercial interests. There are approximately 175 United States citizens in the Gold Coast. Several American firms maintain offices at Accra, which is served by three American shipping lines and one American aviation line.4 The United States takes a major proportion of the Gold Coast production of cocoa, manganese and timber, and supplies a substantial proportion of the territory’s import requirements. As the Gold Coast acquires greater control over its own affairs it looks with favor on greater non-British financial participation in its development projects. An example of this is the recent intimation of the Prime Minister that he would seek through British Government channels a U.S. Government loan to speed up development of the vast Volta River Project which, when completed, will revolutionize the Gold Coast economy.5


That approval be given to raising the rank of the post at Accra from a Consulate to a Consulate General, and that a Principal Officer with the rank of Consul General be assigned to Accra.6

  1. This memorandum was drafted by Feld and Durnan of NEA/AF and Ford of NEA/EX, and sent through Wailes, the Assistant Secretary of State for Administration. The source text, a carbon copy, bears no marks or endorsements to confirm that it actually was sent to Lourie. For additional documentation on raising the rank of the principal officer at Salisbury, see pp. 324 ff.
  2. It is not clear to which conversation this refers. In despatches 113, 127, and 162 of Mar. 28, Apr. 17, and June 17, 1953 from Accra, none printed, Cole indicated that Reginald H. Saloway, the Officer Administering the Government, had revealed that constitutional change would not occur with undue haste (745K.00/3–2853, 745K.00/4–1753, 811.05145K/6–1753). Finally, when they met on June 20, 1953, the day the White Paper on Constitutional Reform was issued, Saloway suggested that Nkrumah would have to stress paragraph 67 which stated that “‘It is the Government’s intention to enter into the period of constitution-making by requesting Her Majesty’s Government to make a declaration regarding the grant of Independent Status within the Commonwealth . . .’”, if he hoped to win the concurrence of his colleagues in the CPP. This was recounted in despatch 173 of June 30, 1953 from Accra, not printed. The ellipsis indicated appears in despatch 173. (745K.03/6–3053)
  3. Nkrumah had been educated at Lincoln University, Lincoln Theological Seminary, and the University of Pennsylvania.
  4. Barber West Africa Line, Delta Line, Farrell Lines, and Pan American World Airways.
  5. See footnote 2, supra.
  6. The elevation of the post took place on Sept. 1, 1953.