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420. Letter From the Ambassador to Guyana (Carlson) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Gorden)1

Dear Mr. Gordon:

I trust you may have seen my telegram (Georgetown 99)2 reporting how impressed Prime Minister Burnham was with his visit to the United States. He was especially taken with President Johnson and believes that the President strongly supports him. I thought you would be interested in the Prime Ministerʼs brief confidential summary to me of the topics discussed with the President privately.3
The President expressed appreciation for Burnhamʼs congratulatory telegram on the successful flight of Gemini 10.
Burnham raised the subject of Viet Nam, apparently indicating support of the United States and expressing wonder as to how the Communists always seem to get away with their case before much of the world.

After the discussion of Viet Nam, which was relatively short, the conversation turned to civil rights. Burnham expressed admiration for all that had been accomplished to promote Negro voting rights and education. His remarks were complimentary of the Presidentʼs achievements in this field.

It was not clear from Burnhamʼs rather sketchy account whether it was at this point, earlier, or as seems probable later, that the President said something along the following lines: “Remember you have one friend in this corner going for you and his name is Lyndon Johnson.”

Finally, Burnham related to the President the idea of migration from the over-populated British West Indian islands to Guyana and the needed electoral benefit to the Burnham administration. The Presidentʼs subsequent inquiry to you as to whether we are “on top” of this [Page 930]idea has been interpreted as a very significant indication of the Presidentʼs sympathetic attitude toward it.
While I assume that this private meeting was intended as off-the-record, I thought it might be useful for you to have the highlights as they appear from this end. If no record of any sort is appropriate, please destroy this letter and so advise me. I am not sending a copy to anyone else but you may wish to let John Hill and Bill Cobb see it.
Incidentally, I note that the Prime Ministerʼs account corresponds to a considerable extent with my prediction about the points which he would raise, as reported in Bill Cobbʼs memorandum of July 22 to Bill Bowdler,4 and that he did not raise any of a variety of specific economic matters more appropriate to lower levels.

Best regards,


  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 7 BR GU. Secret; Official Informal.
  2. Dated August 3. (Ibid., POL 7 GUYANA)
  3. Burnham had a private meeting with President Johnson at 5:11 p.m. on July 22 at the White House. They were joined from 5:32 to 6 p.m. by Guyanese Ambassador Sir John Carter, Assistant Secretary Lincoln Gordon, and Ambassador Carlson. According to a notation in the Presidentʼs Daily Diary, Rostow and Bowdler said that there was no substantive reason for this meeting. No other record of this conversation has been found. (Johnson Library)
  4. Not printed. (Ibid., National Security File, Country File, Guyana (Brit. G.), Vol. 1, Cables, Memos & Misc., 5/66–11/68)