223. Editorial Note
On January 10, Ambassador Smith submitted his resignation to the President. The text of his letter was sent to the Department of State for forwarding to the President in telegram 806 from Havana, January 10. (Department of State, Central Files, 123–Smith Earl E.T.) The President’s [Page 354]reply, also dated January 10, is in Eisenhower Library, Project “Clean Up” Files. Both letters are printed in Smith, The Fourth Floor, page 204.
On January 12, the President telephoned Secretary Dulles and approved the appointment of Philip Bonsal as Ambassador to Cuba. (Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, Telephone Conversations)
Later that day, Secretary Dulles received a telephone call from Henry Luce, publisher of Time-Life, who said that his wife, Clare Boothe Luce, “would be inclined to take on Cuba. The Sec said to let him think about it—he just spoke about an FSO which the Pres approved this p.m. It never occurred to him as a possibility.” (Memorandum of telephone conversation by Bernau, 6:01 p.m., January 12; ibid.)
On January 13, Herter conducted several telephone conversations regarding the Ambassadorial appointment to Cuba. At 12:15 p.m. Herter called Dulles about a conversation he had with Rubottom and Loy Henderson regarding the appointment of Clare Boothe Luce as Ambassador to Cuba. According to the memorandum of the telephone conversation, all three agreed that “she is not the one for Cuba.” Dulles and Herter were agreeable, however, to offering her the appointment as Ambassador to Brazil. At 2 p.m. Congressman William B. Cramer called Herter. Their conversation went as follows:
“Congressman Cramer phoned regarding the resignation of Ambassador Smith. He said the people of Florida were proud of this appointment, since Amb. Smith is from Florida, and they would be equally proud if someone from Florida might be considered to replace him. CAH said the individual being considered is a trained FSO who is bilingual in Spanish. He added that we do not want to send anyone there who is unfamiliar with the general pattern of things. When asked his name, CAH said it was Ambassador Bonsal but that this information should be kept in strictest confidence. Mr. Cramer said he would regard it as confidential. He added that he represented the Tampa area where some 45,000 were behind de Castro [sic], and even raised money for him. He wondered what he could do to get a little mileage out of the new appointment. He had no one in mind. CAH said we are always looking for first-rate people and would welcome any names he might send in the future.”
At 3:40 p.m., Persons called Herter to say that Clare Booth Luce was interested in the appointment. Persons said that Henry Luce had apparently seen the President and Secretary Dulles and wanted someone to contact him about the appointment that day while he was still in Washington. Herter told Persons that Luce was being considered for Brazil. At 5:45 p.m. Herter called Dulles regarding Luce. Dulles said he would immediately call the President. Memoranda of all these conversations are in Eisenhower Library, Herter Papers, Telephone Conversations.[Page 355]
Secretary Dulles and the President spoke on the telephone immediately afterward: “The Sec said he checked further about the Luce business and there is a strong feeling here which he tends to support that we need in Cuba a trained FSO. What we do have in mind is we might offer her Brazil which in many ways is a far more important appt etc. If the Pres approves the Sec would call Harry and tell him that. The Pres said o.k.—but don’t offer until it is agreed.” The memorandum of the conversation continued: “The Sec said the pressure is mounting. There are a number of people who are almost trying to purchase it and we concluded we would need an FSO and we had made the decision—this last by the Pres.” (ibid., Dulles Papers, Telephone Conversations)
Dulles then telephoned Herter to report that the President had approved Bonsal for Cuba and Luce for Brazil and that he would inform Henry Luce. (ibid., Herter Papers, Telephone Conversations)
In a January 27 letter to Dulles, which was apparently routed first to Herter, Smith said that President Eisenhower had asked him the previous day whether there had been any discussion of his taking another post. Smith indicated that he told the President that this possibility had not been mentioned. Smith told Dulles, however, that if there were a vacancy, “I hope the Department will consider my availability and my willingness to serve—even though it be for a short period of time.” In forwarding Smith’s letter to Dulles under cover of a memorandum of January 28, Herter recalled that when he had talked with Smith on January 6, the question of another assignment had been raised and Smith declined. Herter then noted, “My embarrassment with regard to the attached letter is that the President may well think that I neglected to carry out his wishes, and I am somewhat at a loss as to how to answer Smith. It is my strong feeling, however, that during the present session of Congress it would be very difficult to get Smith confirmed for any other post, and it would be a great mistake for the President to make any such attempt.” (Eisenhower Library, Herter Papers) No reply to Smith has been found.