286. Memorandum of a Conference Between the President and the Acting Secretary of State, Augusta, Georgia, April 18, 19591

[Here follows discussion of matters unrelated to Cuba.]

Mr. Herter then said he was sorry in a way that the President had missed meeting Castro. He described him as a most interesting individual, very much like a child in many ways, quite immature regarding problems of government, and puzzled and confused by some of the practical difficulties now facing him. In English he spoke with restraint and considerable personal appeal. In Spanish, however, he became voluble, excited, and somewhat “wild.” Castro made a plea for patience while his government tries to deal with the situation in Cuba. He acknowledges that he has no knowledge of administration. Mr. Herter added that Castro’s bearded “wild eyed” bodyguard was one of the most startling sights seen in a long time—although they seemed to be quite unskilled in really providing any degree of personal safety. The President recalled a comment that Nehru had made concerning the Arabs and their leaders. When they begin to speak, a kind of accumulated emotional frenzy develops, with the speaker exciting the mob and the mob exciting the speaker.

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After a brief further discussion, the President indicated he would like to escort Mr. Herter in to meet the press and have photographs taken, and to present him as his nominee for the great post he was about to assume. Mr. Herter expressed his deep gratitude to the President for the confidence the President was according to him.

Brigadier General, USA
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, DDE Diaries. Confidential. Drafted by Goodpaster on April 22. The President had left Washington for Augusta, Georgia, on April 14. The time of the meeting is uncertain. According to the President’s Appointment Book, at 9:04 a.m. Herter arrived by helicopter at the Augusta National Golf Club and met with the President. Although Goodpaster’s presence is not mentioned, that is apparently the conference described here. At 9:40 the President met briefly with the press, then returned to his office to announce the appointment of Herter as Secretary of State. (ibid., President’s Appointment Book)