22. Diary Entry by the President’s Press Secretary (Hagerty)1

I went in to see the President early in the morning to tell him that I had been thinking about the message overnight, that I thought it was very cleverly phrased and that I thought we should get it out publicly as soon as possible. He told me that he thought that was right but that we would have to wait until we heard back from Zaroubin since he had requested Zaroubin to check with his government. He laughingly told me that he was somewhat relieved at the proposals made in the message because—“I had another idea what it was that I didn’t tell anyone. I thought that it was an invitation from Bulganin for me to visit Russia. That would have been something to give us a lot of thought.” I asked the President if he would have accepted. He merely laughed in reply and said, “Well, we didn’t get the invitation.”

Turning back to our original subject of release of the letter, the President asked me to discuss it with Dulles. I saw Dulles before the NSC meeting and told him my feeling that we should get it out. He said he agreed with me and the longer we held it, the more the Russian propaganda machine would be able to build it up as a great new proposal which in effect was merely a repetition of all the previous Russian proposals rolled into one. He said that he was going to ask the President to discuss it with just the members of the [Page 51]Security Council in his office after the meeting. This the President did.2

Later before Dulles left the White House we had another discussion and he asked me personally to discuss it with the President to see if we could get authority from the President to ask Chip Bohlen to get an agreement to release the correspondence. I said I thought there would probably have to be a White House statement in connection with the release, and he agreed. Dulles said that he thought it should be clearly pointed out that there were no new proposals and that it should not be considered too seriously. What they are trying to do by this maneuver is to try to sell us a Treaty of Friendship and then go around and put pressure on all the smaller countries to do the same. The UN Charter provides for everything they propose, particularly the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means and it would simply break up the United Nations and put a lot of pressure on all the other countries of the world. “I’m against it, and it should be rejected, although I suppose we must say that we are studying it.” I told the Secretary I would talk to the President when he came back from lunch.

When the President returned from lunch, I told him of my conversation with Dulles and the President said that if Foster thought we were aiding the Communists by holding it up, we should release it, but he insisted that we should not do it on our own but we should get Russian agreement. I told Dulles of this conversation and when he went in to see the President on the Eden visit, the President discussed it with Dulles and also gave him authority to wireless a synopsis of the letter to Eden on board the Queen Elizabeth. (This was the first time such authority was given, and it was strange that earlier in the day, a short UP story from the Queen Elizabeth said that Aldrich and Eden were conferring together on the contents of the letter. Until the President gave authority, no such message had been sent to either Aldrich or Eden on board the ship and the story was probably either a complete dope story by a reporter or fed out by a British member of the party to give the impression that Eden had been cut in on it.) The wireless went off about three o’clock.3

Later in the evening I received press calls, particularly from Bill Lawrence of The New York Times who came awful close to the actual [Page 52]facts. Lawrence personally called me to tell me that the Times tomorrow morning was going to print a story which said that the new part of the proposal was a non-aggression pact between the United States and the USSR. He said that the Times had received this information from an informer.

I again called Dulles and urged speedy action in getting agreement to release the letter, and he promised that he would do so, getting off a cable tonight to Chip Bohlen requesting such permission. He said that he hoped we could get it out by tomorrow.

At six o’clock Zaroubin called at the Department of State to see Livingston Merchant and informed Merchant that he had now received instructions from his government. They were to the effect that the Russians did not plan to release it “for some time”.4 This is what we expected and is completely in line with the Soviet propaganda campaign which they are now obviously waging on the message. When Zaroubin left, Merchant went to Dulles’ office and they dispatched a cable to Bohlen telling him to tell Molotov that because of the widespread speculation on the message in this country we wanted him to know that we would release it soon, either Friday or Saturday.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Hagerty Papers.
  2. No record of this discussion has been found.
  3. A copy of the message dated January 26 from the President to Eden was attached to a brief covering memorandum from Robert G. Barnes to Goodpaster, also dated January 26, in which Barnes said the message was handed to the British Embassy at 2 p.m. that day and that he understood the message had been cleared with the President by telephone. (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, DullesHerter Series)
  4. A memorandum of Merchant’s conversation with Zarubin is in Department of State, Central File 611.61/1–2656.