82. Telegram From the Embassy in Ghana to the Department of State0

551. From Henderson.1 After becoming acquainted with problems faced by our skeleton or semi-skeleton staffs in Bamako, Freetown and Abidjan, and after looking at situation Ouagadougou and Niamey, I convinced no representation countries this area would be preferable to merely token embassy. Strains on skeleton staffs have been almost unbearable. These staffs deserve great credit for manner in which they have established good relations with local governments, but manifestly they cannot perform functions of modern embassy.

We must bear in mind that diplomatic missions in these areas no matter how small, must bear heavy burdens in field of administration, communications, et cetera. Housekeeping chores are usually more numerous and time consuming than in countries with long-established institutions.

Unless embassy has personnel and facilities enable it maintain constant exchange of communications with Washington and various other missions it will be operating in vacuum filled only by outdated newspapers and fragmentary broadcasts. In fast changing world situation Ambassador not kept abreast of international developments and fully informed re US attitudes toward such developments would be so severely handicapped that he would be ineffective and his mission would be disappointing to local governments who hope to obtain counsel from him. I therefore convinced we plan supply embassies established this area with adequate staff and facilities.

Not necessary, I believe stress here that developments in some of these small African states can influence trends in all of Africa and eventually affect our own security and future. For this reason we are suggesting in certain instances we move particularly fast and that we plan immediately make our presence felt in every African country in which we would be welcome.

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As result experiences obtained thus far on my trip I believe we shall find it necessary eventually to establish embassies with resident ambassadors in those newly independent countries which we have not yet visited.2 We shall make firm recommendations with regard to composition of mission and timing after having visited them.

Department will note we not prepared at this time recommend resident ambassador to Mauritania. It likely, however, one will be needed within next few years.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 120.270/11–660. Confidential; Priority.
  2. Between October 19 and November 22, Henderson visited Cameroun, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Congo (Brazzaville), Dahomey, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, the Ivory Coast, the Malagasy Republic, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Upper Volta. En route to Africa, he met with President William V.S. Tubman of Liberia in Zurich; see Document 36. He also passed through the Congo (Léopoldville) on his way to the Malagasy Republic; see footnote 1, Document 270. Documentation on his trip, including memoranda of conversations with leaders in the countries he visited, is in Department of State, Central Files 110.13–HE and 120, but in some cases under country numbers; for example, see footnote 2 below and Document 83.
  3. Telegram 358 from Lagos, November 8, reported that the Prime Ministers of Togo and Dahomey had urged the appointment of resident ambassadors to their countries as soon as possible. Henderson had informed them that the United States planned to do so in the near future but that it might not be possible to appoint a new ambassador before January 20. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.70D/11–860)