35. Telephone Conversation Between President Johnson and Secretary of State Rusk 1

President: Hello?

Rusk: Mr. President?

President: Yes, sir.

Rusk: I’ve looked and thought about this Dick Gardner thing more. I’m not prepared in view of the checking that I’ve done to cash that blank check you’ve offered me so I’ll drop that. I do want to get Patricia Harris, but she’s not the person for that particular post. We need somebody with a lot of foreign affairs experience in that, whether professional or non-professional. But I would like to get her in a top spot over here. I’m trying now to find out what we can offer her, but I’ll be in touch with you again about that.

President: Why don’t we make her ambassador to one of the, ah, Luxembourg?

Rusk: Well—

President: What I’ve been doing is talking to these women and I want to move them up—women and Negroes.

Rusk: Well, one thing, for example, if she were our deputy legal adviser, she’d do a lot more work and be more help to us than she would as ambassador to Luxembourg.

President: Yes, but it wouldn’t have the, ah, the honor and the standing and the status and the glory that all the Negroes want. And the women.

Rusk: Well, let me look at it but—

President: I don’t want to send her to Jamaica. But I want to send her to some Scandinavian country or Luxembourg or—

Rusk: Right, well, let me—

President: Something like that.

Rusk: She’s got fantastic background.

President: She’s got excellent, and she’s a good administrator and I thought that’s what you wanted at Geneva?

Rusk: Well, she’s had no foreign affairs experience. We have 70 or 80 delegations a year in Geneva and that takes a person of really a great [Page 76] amount of foreign affairs experience. We need to improve on the man we’ve got there now.2 That’s the point.

President: All right, now has he—

Rusk: I’ll work on this question.

President: Has he not done a creditable job?

Rusk: Well, he’s done a creditable job but he hasn’t made use of the opportunities there.

President: Now, he didn’t have much foreign affairs experience, did he?

Rusk: No, he was here for about 2 years, 2–1/2 years, before he went over there. But he hasn’t done the job we wanted him to do.

President: Well, let’s see if we can’t move some ambassador out of some of these places, move him there, then move some of these people into some of those places.

Rusk: All right. Well, I’ll drop Dick Gardner and we’ll pick up Mrs. Harris and see what we can do about that.3

President: All right.

Rusk: All right.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of a Telephone Conversation between the President and Rusk, Tape F65.10, Side B, PNO 4. No classification marking. This transcript was prepared in the Office of the Historian specifically for this volume.
  2. Roger W. Tubby was Representative to the European Office of the United Nations in Geneva with the rank of Ambassador; W. True Davis, Jr., was Ambassador to Switzerland in Bern.
  3. Patricia Roberts Harris was appointed Ambassador to Luxembourg on June 4, 1965, presented her credentials on September 7, and served until September 22, 1967.