220. Editorial Note

A meeting of the heads of government of Canada, Mexico, and the United States was held at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, March 26–28. Assistant Secretary Holland proposed the idea for such a meeting to Secretary Dulles in August 1955. In a letter to the President dated August 15, 1955, the Secretary explained Holland’s idea in part as follows: “The idea is that you and St. Laurent might be willing to go to Mexico City for a couple of days to discuss with President Ruiz Cortines problems of continental interest. Probably if such a meeting were held, it would be useful to end up with establishing some sort of a three-nation board which would meet periodically on the basis of the same theme.” (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, DullesHerter Series)

In a memorandum to Livingston Merchant, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, dated August 19, 1955, Holland elaborated on his proposal for a tripartite meeting. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.12/8–1955) Copies of this memorandum were transmitted to the Ambassadors in Mexico and Canada for their comments. In a letter to Merchant dated August 26, Ambassador R. Douglas Stuart [Page 709] expressed his reservations about the conference idea. He wrote in part, “In final analysis, it is my judgment that the Latin American countries are not nearly as dependable as Canada which I believe is our closest and most dependable ally.” (Ibid., 611.12/9–2355) In a letter to Holland dated August 25, Ambassador White also voiced doubts, stating, “I agree with Mr. Merchant that it is necessary that we think through very carefully in advance what machinery, what results, and what possible changes [in] the United States commercial and foreign economic policy we desire to achieve as a result of the meeting. I am inclined to feel that the result of such a study will be to decide against the meeting.” (Ibid.)

In a memorandum to Secretary Dulles dated September 23, 1955, Assistant Secretaries Holland and Merchant proposed that President Eisenhower, President Ruiz Cortines, and Prime Minister St. Laurent hold a joint meeting at the capital of one of the three countries. Holland and Merchant expressed the preference that Eisenhower be the host of such a gathering. Dulles initialed his approval of the recommendation that he raise this proposal during a conference with St. Laurent in Ottawa. (Ibid.) Dulles informed Holland in a memorandum dated October 14, that “the Canadian Ambassador tells me that he has a message from his Premier that he approves the idea of a ‘continental’ meeting between the Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers of Canada, Mexico, and the United States.” (Ibid., 611.12/10–1455)

In a memorandum to Holland, Merchant, and Deputy Under Secretary Robert Murphy dated December 22, 1955, Dulles wrote that the President had agreed to setting the end of March 1956 as the time for the proposed heads of government meeting. (Ibid., 712.11/12–2255) In a memorandum to the Secretary dated January 19, 1956, Holland wrote that he had been informed by Ambassador White that the President and Foreign Minister of Mexico agreed to holding the meeting on March 26–30. Dulles initialed his approval of Holland’s recommendation that these dates be cleared with the Canadians as quickly as possible. (Ibid., 611.12/1–1956) Additional documentation is ibid., Conference Files: Lot 62 D 181.