392. Memorandum From the Department of State Executive Secretary (Battle) to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)0


  • Presidential Message to Chief Luthuli, Winner of 1960 Nobel Peace Prize

Chief Albert John Luthuli, President of the African National Congress and the best known opponent of the South African Government’s racial policies, has been awarded the 1960 Nobel Peace Prize. This is in recognition of Chief Luthuli’s consistent efforts over the past thirty years against racial discrimination and his attempts to advance his people, using non-violent methods.

A congratulatory message from the President will be a source of encouragement to him and all opponents of apartheid, and will be beneficial to us in the over-all African context. The Government of South Africa will, of course, be greatly displeased. However, such a message falls clearly within the strong position this Government has taken on apartheid, and there will be important segments of the South African white population and the press who will understand and applaud our move.

In accordance with the White House request1 there is enclosed a proposed message from the President to Chief Luthuli to be delivered to him at Oslo in the form of a letter.2 The award is to be made on December 10, and Chief Luthuli should be arriving in Oslo sometime early in December.

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The Department recommends that the President’s message be published shortly following delivery to Chief Luthuli.

M L Manfull3
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, President’s Office Files, Countries, South Africa, Republic of. Official Use Only. No drafting information appears on the source text.
  2. A previous Department of State memorandum proposing that the President send a message to Chief Luthuli bears a handwritten notation that reads: “JFK does not approve—no message.” (Memorandum from Battle to Bundy, October 26; ibid., National Security Files, Countries Series, Africa) On November 3, Assistant Secretary Williams sent Kennedy a personal letter strongly recommending that it was in the interest of the United States that Luthuli’s great cause be recognized and celebrated anew by a public message from the President of the United States. He noted that Luthuli, who was an avowed protagonist of building a future based on equality and cooperation among all the races of the Republic, might well play an important role in the future of South Africa. (Ibid.)
  3. The message attached to the source text reads: “I have been moved by the award to you of the 1960 Nobel Peace Prize and I join with many others from all parts of the world in extending sincere congratulations to you. This high recognition of your past and continuing efforts in the cause of justice and the advancement through peaceful means of the brotherhood of man is applauded by free men everywhere. Please accept my best wishes for your continued health and well-being.” (Ibid., President’s Office Files, Countries, South Africa, Republic of) On December 14, Chief Luthuli sent Kennedy a letter from Oslo expressing his very sincere thanks for the President’s most inspiring message. (Ibid.)
  4. Printed from a copy that indicates Manfull signed the original above Battle’s typed signature.