3. Editorial Note
During a telephone conversation with Secretary of State Rusk that began at 9:25 p.m. on January 20, 1964, President Johnson revealed that he had offered Mary Lasker the Ambassadorship to Finland but she had turned it down. He then stated that “I want to get some real outstanding woman in this country pretty soon, so you think of that,” concluding that “I want to get that pretty soon before these women run me out.” (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of a Telephone Conversation between President Johnson and Dean Rusk, Tape 64.12, Side B, PNO 2) At a midday news conference on January 25, the President announced that he expected a report the following week from his Cabinet officers regarding women in government service. Johnson stated that “you are going to find more attractive, capable women working for this government than you ever saw before.” (Public Papers [Page 4] of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963–64, Book I, page 232) That evening the President had the following discussion with Under Secretary of State Ball during a telephone conversation that began at 6:29 p.m.:
President: “Now are you all going to get some good woman for me over at the State Department in a relatively high position?”
Ball: “Yep, we’re working on that one.”
President: “They’re going to ask me for a report in about 2 weeks, and I want to get one in each Cabinet place that you can call your top woman, so she can [go] out and brief these women.”
President: “And you just get a good one. Now I know you got Katie Louchheim, but I want a real outstanding woman. I want a George Ball or a Dean Rusk.”
Ball: “Well, we’re working on it right now, and this one we have very much in mind.”
Johnson then discussed with Ball the possible appointment of Aline Saarinen as Ambassador to Finland. (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of a Telephone Conversation between President Johnson and George Ball, Tape 64.08, Side A, PNO 4)
The President pursued the issue of appointing women to positions in the Department of State during a telephone conversation with Assistant Secretary of State Mann that began at 7:10 p.m. on February 3, 1964:
President: “Have you got any good women that you can appoint as an ambassador? Haven’t you got some woman that you can make an ambassador to Latin America? Don’t you know somebody that you’ve kind of brought up other there or raised? Haven’t you got some attractive, able, smart Spanish girl that you can put in one of those places?”
Mann: “I don’t have anybody able in the Latin American Division. Well, I don’t know of any women that I can recommend now but I’ll—”
President: “Well I’m going to recommend some. If you don’t I’ll go back and get some of these Mexicans I taught down there in Cotulla, at that school, and get you one. Cause I’m going to appoint some women. You better come up with one or two.”
Mann: “We’ll come up with some.” (Ibid., Recording of a Telephone Conversation between Johnson and Mann, Tape 64.10, Side A, PNO 5)
In a memorandum to Secretary Rusk on women in the State Department, February 18, 1964, Deputy Under Secretary of State for Administration Crockett stated that “while there are more women in upper-level jobs in the State Department than in any other government agency, the Department is giving high priority to increasing the number [Page 5] of women in key positions, as requested by the President,” a claim for which Crockett then provided details. (Kennedy Library, Crockett Papers, MS 74–28, Secretary-1964-Mr. Crockett’s Book Copies) Crockett gave the memorandum to Rusk for use at a Cabinet meeting that began about 4:30 that afternoon. On March 4, 1964, President Johnson announced the appointment of women to a number of positions in his administration, including Katharine Elkus White as an ambassador, the first of four women to be named ambassadors during the Johnson administration. White served as Ambassador to Denmark from April 4, 1964 until September 9, 1968.
While at the LBJ Ranch in Texas on March 28, the President again raised the issue of appointing women as ambassadors during a telephone conversation with Rusk that began at 3:35 p.m. CST:
President: “Have you got any women ambassadors in mind?”
Rusk: “We’ve got one who is a Foreign Service officer we’re hoping to put to you in a few days. We’re working on that further.”
President: “What’s her name?”
Rusk: “Gee, I don’t have it in front of me. I’m out here at the—”
President: “Call and give it to me when you come back. I don’t guess we can say anything about it. Sure wish we could though. Look at it and see what country you’ve got her in mind for, and I might even give a hint that we’ll have another one or something like that. I need something and I haven’t got anything from the Department. You call me back around 5:30 or 5:15 [EST] or something. Bye.” (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of a Telephone Conversation between Johnson and Rusk, Tape 64.21, Side A, PNO 43) The portions of the conversations printed here were prepared in the Office of the Historian specifically for this volume.
Rusk called the President back at 4:21 p.m. CST, but no record of the conversation has been found. (Ibid., President’s Daily Diary) At 4:30 p.m. CST the President opened his news conference at the LBJ Ranch and announced that “we have named, or planned to name, as Ambassador, Miss Margaret Joy Tibbetts, who is a Foreign Service Officer of the first class.” The President then announced the appointment of women to several other positions in the administration. (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963–64, Book I, pages 425–426) Margaret Joy Tibbetts was appointed Ambassador to Norway on July 31, the second woman ambassador to be named by Johnson. She served until May 23, 1969.