37. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between President Johnson and the Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Mann)1

The President said that they had been giving a lot of thought to making Jack Vaughn the Peace Corps Administrator to succeed Shriver.2 He did not know whether Vaughn would be interested, but what would we do if he were?

Mr. Mann said he did not know. The President said we needed someone with a liberal image who could get rid of this crowd. Mr. Mann said he thought it would be a good move for Jack and good for the President, because Mr. Mann thought Bobby K. had his knife sharpened for Mr. Vaughn and perhaps Morse and a couple of others also. Mr. Mann said he thought they fully intended to cut Vaughn down in [Page 91] 66. The President agreed and asked about Ambassador Gordon. Mr. Mann said he thought he would be as good as the President could get. He has some lines out to the left—he belonged to the left three years ago. He came in with Kennedy. Mr. Mann said he thought that Berle and Gordon had been on an advisory committee to the President3 and had had a lot to do with the Alliance and the liberal image, so presumably this would stand him in good stead. Mr. Mann said on the other hand, Gordon is a determined guy, but all good people are. He has his own views and he sticks to them.

The President asked about his loyalties. Mr. Mann said he did not think he had any strong ones to Kennedy but that he did not consider Kennedy his enemy. The President asked what Ambassador Gordon had reported about the Kennedy visit down there and Mr. Mann said he would have to look this up.4

The President asked if Mr. Mann thought that Vaughn would go for this. Mr. Mann said he did not know but he thought he could help talk him into it. The President asked who we would put in Brazil and Mr. Mann said he did not know. The President mentioned Berle, but Mr. Mann said no, he was too old, too contentious and too arrogant. He thought he would talk down to the Brazilians.

The President told Mr. Mann to think about who we could put in there. He asked if Oliver would do it instead of coming home. Mr. Mann said Oliver was a Spanish type. He said he would think about it and call the President back. The President said to call him back in an hour.5

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Papers of Thomas C. Mann, Telephone Conversations with LBJ, May 2, 1965–June 2, 1966. No classification or drafting information appears on the memorandum.
  2. R. Sargent Shriver was also Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity.
  3. Adolf A. Berle served as the chairman of two task forces on Latin America, November 1960–July 1961; Gordon was a member of both.
  4. See footnote 6, Document 33.
  5. In that telephone conversation with the President, at 12:10 p.m., Mann reported that “he had done a little looking around and he thought that the choice of Gordon for ARA would be the best the President could do.” Mann expected that Vaughn would agree to the proposed change; he also suggested several candidates to replace Gordon in Rio. (Johnson Library, Papers of Thomas C. Mann, Telephone Conversations with LBJ, May 2, 1965–June 2 1966) Johnson called Vaughn at 1:50 p.m. and received a call at 3:14 p.m. from Gordon in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Ibid., President’s Daily Diary) One hour later the President announced that Vaughn would replace Shriver as Director of the Peace Corps. (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1966, Book I, pp. 24–25) After meeting Gordon the next morning Johnson announced his nomination as Assistant Secretary. (Ibid., p. 26) Gordon took office on March 9. On May 22 John W. Tuthill was appointed to succeed Gordon as Ambassador to Brazil.