59. Minutes of a Cabinet Meeting, The White House, Washington, March 25, 1955, 9:05–10:45 a.m.1


  • President Eisenhower
  • Vice President Nixon
  • Sec. Dulles and Asst. Sec. Holland (in part)
  • Sec. Humphrey
  • Sec. Wilson
  • Mr. Brownell
  • Deputy PMG Hook (for Mr. Summerfield)
  • Sec. McKay
  • Sec. Benson
  • Sec. Weeks
  • Sec. Mitchell
  • Sec. Hobby
  • Deputy Director Brundage (for Mr. Hughes)
  • Gov. Stassen
  • Dr. Flemming
  • Chrm. Young
  • Gov. Adams
  • Gen. Persons
  • Mr. Harlow (in part)
  • Gen. Cutler
  • Gov. Pyle
  • Mr. Rockefeller
  • Dr. Hauge
  • Col. Goodpaster
  • Mr. Shanley
  • Mr. Murray Snyder
  • Mr. Rabb
  • Mr. Minnich

[Here follows discussion of “The Disarmament Question”.]

Inter-American Highway—After distribution of a map of the Highway, the Vice President recommended that the United States accelerate the construction program to which we are already committed, and thus to accomplish it in three years instead of in fifteen or twenty. He believed completion of the Highway would result in political benefits from improved Latin-American relations, economic benefits from development of the economies of the Latin American states and from increased “tourism”, and perhaps some military benefits. He described how this project would provide the essential economic aid for Guatemala without having to single out that country for an aid program.

The Vice President stated that an additional authorization would be required from Congress and also a larger appropriation than we currently intended to ask. He stated that Commerce had been consulted, that Budget is aware of the problem and is preparing financial estimates, and that the House Committee is very sympathetic although it will require a statement of Administration position.

[Page 313]

The President asked several technical questions about the authorization, road building in the tropics, and distances. Mr. Holland supplied appropriate answers. The Vice President indicated that only Guatemala would be hard pressed to provide its share of the financing and that a loan for this purpose could probably be secured from the Export-Import Bank. Sec Benson ascertained that the Bureau of Public Roads had sufficient authority to prevent overloading and subsequent deterioration of the Highway.

Mr. Dulles and Mr. Holland spoke in favor of acceleration, whereupon the President asked Sec Humphrey if he wished to comment before adoption of a position. The Secretary jovially replied that it appeared as if the Treasury had been effectively tapped.

Sec Holland indicated that the State Department and Commerce could cooperate in following up this decision. The Vice President believed a Presidential letter or message would be desirable and the President asked Mr. Holland to provide a draft. Gov. Stassen warned against making any reference in the message to the possibility of any loans. The Vice President agreed that it would be a mistake to get into any big program of grants to the Latin American countries.

Mr. Brundage said that there was sufficient authorization at present for going ahead and that Budget would prepare a supplemental appropriation request to go to the Hill. The President concluded the discussion with a remark that this project should be done well, for if there was anything he really hated it is to talk big and do little.2

[Here follows discussion of the following agenda items: “Attorney General Recommendations Concerning Anti-Trust Legislation (CP–24)”; “Wartime Organization for Economic Stabilization (CP–23)”; “Regional War Resource Coordinators (CP–22)”; and “Public Information”.]

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Cabinet Meetings. Confidential. Prepared by Minnich.
  2. A memorandum to Assistant Secretary Holland from Hanes, March 30, records the Cabinet action on the Inter-American Highway as follows:

    “The Administration will recommend acceleration of the Inter-American Highway Construction Program for the purpose of building the highway in three years.

    “The Department of Commerce is to prepare, with the support of the Department of State, the necessary supplemental appropriation request and the necessary additional authorization legislation for submission to the Bureau of the Budget.” (Department of State, Central Files, 810.2614/3–3055)