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Joseph D. Coppock Oral History Interview

Joseph D. Coppock

Oral History Interview with
Joseph D. Coppock

Economist, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1941; special assistant to the vice chairman, War Production Board, 1942; price executive, Chemical and Drugs Bureau, Office of Price Administration, 1943; economic adviser, International Trade Policy, Department of State, 1945-53; member, U.S. delegations to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, New York, Geneva, Santiago, 1946-52; Civilian Faculty, National War College, 1951-53.

State College, Pennsylvania
July 29, 1974
by Richard D. McKinzie

See also Joseph D. Coppock Papers finding aid

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]

 


Notice
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.

Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. [45]) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.

RESTRICTIONS
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.

Opened August, 1980
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

 

[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]

 



Oral History Interview with
Joseph D. Coppock

 

State College, Pennsylvania
July 29, 1974
by Richard D. McKinzie

 

[1]

MCKINZIE: Professor, you have an academic background and I think people are always interested in what brings individuals into Government service, and I wonder if we might begin by asking you to describe what brought you into the Government at about the time of the Second World War?

COPPOCK: Well, I had been in academic work from 1934, when I first started teaching, until 1941. It so happened in the spring of 1941 that I was in the process of searching for a new academic job when I had a chance to join the Government at considerably more pay, and in a job of

 

[2]

interest, in the Department of Agriculture. So I took it.

I had wanted to have some Government experience; many of my economist associates had worked in the New Deal agencies and I felt they got a lot out of doing so. Two times I'd turned jobs down in the thirties. One was with the WPA research staff and the other was in the Department of Commerce.

In the spring of 1941 I was interviewed by various agencies in Washington. Of particular interest was a job at the Treasury Department, Division of Monetary Affairs, which involved planning for the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank, created in 1945. I interviewed [Edward] Bernstein and [Frank A.] Southard, who were major figures under Harry White, who was the head of the Division of Monetary Research during that time. But the Agriculture job was available immediately, so I took it. So

 

[3]

that's how I got into Government.

But after Pearl Harbor, the day after Pearl Harbor really, a friend I had known at the Department of Agriculture who had gone to the Office of Production Management (later the War Production Board), telephoned me in Philadelphia and asked, "How about coming to the War Production Board to work as a special assistant to a man named William L. Batt, Vice Chairman of OPM?"

So, I went down to Washington to talk about it. I accepted the job in a day or so after discussing it with my wife. I stayed at the War Production Board for nearly a year. During that time I worked mainly on the problems of getting supplies to the countries which had been given lend-lease aid. It was one thing to get the financial assistance, another thing to get the priorities established, and the orders placed so that the goods would get delivered to England or Russia.

 

[4]

Batt was given the assignment of pushing for the Russian aid, because there were all kinds of efforts to block that aid, even though the Russians were doing most of the fighting against Germany at that time (1942).

MCKINZIE: Internal Government opposition?

COPPOCK: Yes, internal, within the Government, in the War Department, Navy Department at that time, and in the OPM, which had been renamed the War Production Board in early 1942.

MCKINZIE: On what grounds was this opposition based?

COPPOCK: Well, many industrial and military people didn't like the Soviet Union and they felt that we needed the supplies, especially in the Pacific theater. Also, they felt it was hard to get the stuff to the Russians. And it was very difficult, very time consuming, to move things around the North Cape (Norway) or through Iran. Also many

 

[5]

of the things that the Russians wanted did not have, or didn't seem to a lot of people to have, very high priority for near-term military purposes. Some cases of this sort turned up later.

But [Averell] Harriman had negotiated the protocol, as they called it, with the Russians, in July 1941, shortly after the June 22 invasion of Russia by the Germans, with President Roosevelt's complete approval Batt had been Harriman's deputy in that negotiation with the Russians, and Batt was put in charge, when he came back, of pushing that project along.

So the first Russian protocol was under his general supervision. I think very little was happening on it in the latter part of 1941, but in 1942, after we got into the war, there was quite a push to get ahead with it and the Russians kept pushing very hard to give them the supplies they had requested in July 1941.

But that's a long story, adequately described elsewhere.

 

[6]

MCKINZIE: Yes, I was just going to say that events there may have had some bearing on what happened, how things ultimately turned out. I know that the Soviets were never very sympathetic to the desire of the State Department, or in this case the War Production Board, to have a lot of the information that was requested, to justify their requests; that they regarded it either as irrelevant or as some kind of espionage.

COPPOCK: That's right, they were very secretive. A specific example of that was the placing of a lot of orders for specific items, which somebody, a technical man, I've forgotten his name, in the War Production Board, recognized as a rubber tire factory when you put all the requisitions together. They dribbled them in and sent them different places, but they all got funneled into the WPB. "Well, what on earth are they going to do with a rubber tire factory? It takes a long time to assemble this; it would

 

[7]

be years." This was the WPB reaction. But when we called them in to discuss this, my recollection is that they sort of hung their heads and said, "Yes," that's what they wanted.

Well, it so happened that there was a rubber tire factory available. WPB called in people from the rubber industry as special advisers on this, and I worked directly with the chief adviser they had from one of the major rubber companies. The Ford Motor Company had a sort of reserve capacity plant, not in use, that could be dismantled and shipped. And so that was eventually done after a tremendous amount of negotiation and work.

So they got their whole tire factory and it eventually was put up some place in Russia, but I think it was near the end of the war by the time that it really got functioning. I've forgotten, if I ever knew, the exact outcome of it. It illustrates your point. I think the members of the Soviet Purchasing Commission

 

[8]

in Washington often didn't know what the rationale was; they had requests and they were expected to get what they could of these things.

MCKINZIE: But from your point of view it was appropriate to request this information from all recipients of lend-lease aid.

COPPOCK: Oh, sure, that's what the procedure was for, so that the different priorities could be judged. This was done through a committee called the Requirements Committee, chaired by W. L. Batt at first, which eventually emerged as quite an efficient organization after the reorganization of the War Production Board under [Ferdinand] Eberstadt after [Donald M.] Nelson had left in late 1942. But that's a long story.

Now, I don't know to what extent the Truman Committee got into all of this. There were a good many squabbles between the supply part of the War Department and the War Production Board.

 

[9]

The supply people in the War Department felt that the War Production Board should just expedite what they wanted without reference to other considerations (like the Russians) and there was a tendency for them to ask for more and more, but to neglect the civilian supply aspects of the problems.

One result of the Eberstadt reorganization of the WPB was that the foreign supply unit was moved out from under Batt. Our small staff was scattered. They offered me a job in the central secretariat of the War Production Board. At the same time, somebody offered me a job as associate director of the Chemicals and Drugs Division of the OPA. There were a lot of jobs available for technically able people in that situation. So I took the OPA job, which seemed more interesting.

And shortly thereafter, my OPA chief, Patrick Murphy Malin, who was from Springfield, Missouri,

 

[10]

where his father was a banker, went to the State Department to work with Governor [Herbert H.] Lehman to help plan UNRRA, the relief organization. And so in early 1943 I became head of the OPA Chemicals and Drugs Branch and remained so until the fall of 1943, when there was organizational turmoil in the OPA. Congress was extremely critical of the OPA, as a result of business pressure to relax price controls. They asked for a complete reorganization. Chester Bowles was made head of the OPA, and a very able man from one of the distilleries, James Brownlee, became Deputy Administrator. All non-business employees above the branch level were fired. About a half dozen of the most able people had to leave. Only Donald Wallace, a truly devoted person, stayed on, but only as an adviser to Brownlee.

MCKINZIE: And you?

COPPOCK: Well, I wasn't at that level; I was at the

 

[11]

next echelon down. They did not fire the academicians who were in charge of branches. They just made things less comfortable for us.

So I remained in OPA for quite some months. About that time (late 1943) my draft number came up, even though I was nearly 35. Obviously, they were getting toward the bottom of the barrel. Somebody suggested, "Why don't you move into a military organization?" The OPA situation was becoming rather difficult and I had got defeated on an effort to get the prices of vitamins rolled back. There was a tremendous profit margin on them and there had been a great expansion of production. It was within the scope of the price control law to reduce prices. I was becoming less and less effective in the organization. Also some of the other very good people, e.g., Gardner Ackley, who was later chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, was a member of my staff. Kermit Gordon, who is now (1974) president of the

 

[12]

Brookings Institution, was also a section chief of staff. Jim Nelson, who was a Rhodes scholar and had taught at Amherst College for some years, was also a section chief. A lot of these people went off to the military. Frankly the main job of OPA had shifted from devising price controls to enforcement. A very different kind of personnel was called for.

So in late 1943, I went to the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), first on a civilian basis. In early 1944 the OSS arranged for me to be given a naval commission (lieutenant, junior grade).

MCKINZIE: Was this job in the Research Branch of OSS?

COPPOCK: No, it was on the Planning Staff, the planning unit of OSS. In the spring of 1944 I was shifted from the Planning Staff to what they called the Operations Office. I was the head of the European Operations Office -- as the backstopper in Washington for European OSS operations. I wore a Navy uniform and went through naval

 

[13]

officer training school, but I was never a real Navy character. I was like a lot of other people during the war -- a civilian in uniform.

And then I got sick in the winter of 1944-45 and was sent to the Naval Hospital at Bethesda. It was pretty evident by then that there was a great surplus of naval officers and other people of my sort so I began to think about what I should do when I would get out of the hospital. I could go back to the OSS on a civilian basis or on military basis, but I learned that I was going to be discharged with a minor, minimal disability. This was in April 1945. Then events took an interesting twist for me.

In the fall of’44, after Cordell Hull had resigned as Secretary of State [Edward R., Jr.] Stettinius was brought in. One of the few sensible things that Stettinius did as Secretary was to hire William L. (“Will”) Clayton of Texas as his

 

[14]

Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs. Clayton had been brought to Washington by Jesse Jones to work in the RFC. He had also worked problems of disposal of war surpluses.

Will Clayton inquired around who would be the best academic economist to be his deputy. Well, he wouldn't have had to inquire very long to learn it would be Ed [Edward S.] Mason of Harvard, a simply tremendous guy who had been the deputy to William Langer, the head of the Research Division of OSS pretty much all during the war. Mason had been an All-American football player (Kansas), a Rhodes Scholar, etc. So Ed Mason was brought in as Will Clayton's dept and with instructions to beef up the whole economic end of the State Department.

With Ed Mason's broad acquaintance and prestige, he was able to recruit a lot of people, a lot of good people to strengthen the rather minimal economic unit in the State

 

[15]

Department. The conviction was widespread that the problems of the postwar period in the international realm would be very largely economic so it was desirable to have a large, strong, staff in that field.

MCKINZIE: You attribute the personnel selection largely then to Edward Mason...

COPPOCK: That's right.

MCKINZIE: ...rather than to Will Clayton himself?

COPPOCK: Oh, yes, he didn't know very many people of the sort who could do this kind of thing, because high level bureaucratic work is much more like academic work than most any other. Lawyers are extremely valuable and useful in it, but most businessmen, except for investment bankers, are not used to it. Investment bankers are used to sizing up a total situation, but most businessmen are used to a more narrow managerial task. They

 

[16]

are often very bright, very alert, and know how to organize things, but they are not used to sizing up broader issues. I had discovered this empirically both at the War Production Board and the OPA. There were many very bright people from business, but they were not used to thinking in large terms.

MCKINZIE: Well, Will Clayton is now especially well-known for having an outlook favoring international economic integration through more trade. Did he see the broader economic picture, despite his business background?

COPPOCK: Yes, he certainly did.

MCKINZIE: Did Ed Mason, as far as you know, make a special effort to bring in people of like spirit?

COPPOCK: Well, in this particular branch of economics (international) for nearly two hundred years,

 

[17]

ever since Adam Smith wrote his famous book in 1776, the orthodox view has been that free trade is a good thing in the absence of special considerations to the contrary. The presumption is always in favor of opportunities to trade, simply on the ground that if a person wants to buy something, he knows better than somebody else whether he should or shouldn't; if a person wants to sell something, he knows better than somebody else what he should do.

So any artificial interferences with his freedom are presumptively bad. There are exceptions, and a good bit of intricate economic theory in the last hundred years or so has dealt with such exceptions. If you happen to have a strong monopoly position, then you can apply some tariffs and extract a little benefit from it, if the other country doesn't retaliate. And there's the usual defense argument, but if you really want 16-inch guns, there's no use

 

[18]

putting a tariff on 16-inch guns. You build 16-inch guns.

So the tariff is not an issue among economists, basically. They know the advantages of trade. That’s one of the first things you learn in the study of economics. There are exceptions that are worth considering in particular situations, but you have to know how to weave your way around in that kind of thing.

So, if I may correct you a little bit on that, there’s no particular school of economists on the trade questions -- any trained economist would think the same on these matters. Now they might differ on the matter of strategy or whether it was more important to do this or that or the other at this particular time, but the broad push would be the same.

The differences between liberal and conservative economists, or you might call them New Dealers and non-New Dealers, would make

 

[19]

little or no difference in the field of international economics.

MCKINZIE: Will Clayton was fairly optimistic in the summer of 1945, I think, about what was going to happen in the future and it seems to be that one of the important things you had to do in that office was to think about the future, especially in 1945.

COPPOCK: Yes, I might mention various things. I don’t know how much of this you want me to go into.

MCKINZIE: I would appreciate some details.

COPPOCK: The economic work of the State Department for about, oh, twelve, fifteen years before 1945, had been in the hands of a very small group of people. A man named Herbert Feis had been the Economic Adviser for over a decade. Incidentally, I held his nominal slot. My job happened to be the same job description that he

 

[20]

had had earlier, but he was a much more important person relatively, because there weren't very many economic people around. Then when the trade agreements program started in 1934, under the so-called Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act June 1934, Secretary Hull established a Commercial Policy Division, and that became the key economic unit in the State Department. Many very able people were involved in this work. Some were then, as well as later, very prominent economists. Alvin Hansen from Minnesota (later Harvard) was in that work for a time. Henry Grady, of the University of California and later an Assistant Secretary of State, was involved in that work. Secretary Hull viewed this program as an extremely important aspect of his foreign policy.

The Commercial Policy Division was still existence in 1944-45 when Clayton and Mason came in, although some of the people had gone off to war agencies. There was also a small war

 

[21]

problems unit at that stage.

Clayton and Mason reorganized the economic work of the Department into three broad offices, as they called them then, under the Assistant Secretary of Economic Affairs. One was the Office for International Trade Policy, another was the Office for International Monetary and Financial Policy, and the other was the Office for International Transportation and Communication Policy. The names might not be exactly right.

Bernard Haley, who had left OPA in the 1943 imbroglio and had gone to State, was put in charge of trade. Clair Wilcox, also pushed out of the OPA in 1943, came on July 1st, 1945 to replace Haley, who went back to Stanford University. My position was "Adviser, Office of International Trade Policy." A man named Emilio Collado, called "Peter" Collado, whose name you no doubt have heard, was chosen to head the finance office.

 

[22]

Collado had formerly been a deputy to White in the Treasury. He was an extremely able, aggressive person with an Horatio Alger kind of career. By 1947 he was the U.S. representative on the World Bank (IBRD) board and by about 1950 he was treasurer of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. Charles Taft, the brother of Senator Robert Taft, from Cincinnati, was the head of the transportation and communications office. He had had various high level positions during the war. Each of these office heads had excellent deputies: Leroy Stinebower in trade, Norman Ness in finance, and Walter Radius in transport. Willard L. Thorp replaced Mason as deputy to Clayton on July 1, 1945.

Then there were units under these offices, called divisions, that dealt with various types of problems.

MCKINZIE: Yes.

 

[23]

COPPOCK: For example, Emile Despres was in charge of economic aspects of our German policy. There was a lend-lease section, which was to negotiate the settlements for lend-lease transfers. Other key units were the Division of Monetary Policy and the Division of Investment Policy. The names were changed from time to time, but these two were the units that were State links to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Export-Import Bank.

The person who succeeded Collado was Norman Ness, an extremely able person whom Will Clayton later took down to Anderson, Clayton and Company in Texas, where he served many years as treasurer.

Did you get an interview with him before he died, by the way?

MCKINZIE: No, I didn't, unfortunately.

COPPOCK: Too bad you didn't, a brilliant person.

Well, each of these offices had a group of

 

[24]

people. We were very fortunate to have as our deputy Leroy D. Stinebower. Do you have that name?

MCKINZIE: I've talked to him.

COPPOCK: Well, he has more knowledge and a greater memory, unless he's slipped in recent years, than almost anybody in this whole realm. He has tremendous, simply tremendous, knowledge, particularly on international organizations in the economic field. He was at all of the major conferences and was involved in the planning and detailed negotiations. He was the deputy, and I was the adviser, under Haley and then Wilcox. Also we had two younger administrative offices, and a special assistant, J. Robert Schaetzel. You've met him?

MCKINZIE: I know the name; I have him on the list.

COPPOCK: You should interview him because he has

 

[25]

just retired as U.S. Ambassador to the Common Market and is living in Washington now. He's a Pomona graduate, a student of Norman Ness's. He and Dave Bell were Pomona's pride and joy. That was about the class of '39. They went to the Harvard School of Public Administration and came to work at the Bureau of the Budget, which was a very favorite place for the really bright, governmentally ambitious people to go to at that stage. A man named Harold Smith, I think, was the moving spirit there.

In early 1945 (I think) Schaetzel, as a staff member of the Bureau of the Budget, was reviewing the State Department budget. Bernard Haley was so impressed by him that he just "up and hired him." This happened frequently to people from the Bureau of the Budget, because these were some of the brightest and the most alert Government career people of the era.

MCKINZIE: Could I ask a couple of questions?

 

[26]

COPPOCK: Sure.

MCKINZIE: One, did this fragmentation, in a sense, allow the right hand to know what the left hand was doing? And secondly, was it a good idea to have segregated the economic work from the political work of the Department?

COPPOCK: That's a good question. Among the economic offices coordination was provided by almost daily staff meetings with Will Clayton, his deputy, and the office directors. (Incidentally, Clayton first offered the deputy job to Wilcox, but he said he didn't plan to stay a long time and he would rather concentrate just on the trade aspect, rather than take on the general administrative responsibility. So, Thorp whom you've interviewed, I assume, was chosen.) Clayton attended the staff meeting of the Secretary of State. The office directors held frequent meetings with their division chiefs.

 

[27]

MCKINZIE: Yes.

COPPOCK: Thorp had a lot of experience with Dun and Bradstreet, the Department of Commerce, and a major utility company. He had not been in a war agency, so he came in rather fresh to the situation. And so he served really from July 1945 until July 1953, clear through the whole Truman administration as the deputy to Clayton and then later as the Assistant Secretary when they jumped Clayton up to the Under Secretary level. I suppose he probably has more comprehensive knowledge of everything that went on in this economic realm than anyone else, although many things go on that an Assistant Secretary doesn't learn about. The higher up you go the less you know, in many ways. How to organize the work of the State Department is something that has been debated and wrangled over and fought over immensely.

 

[28]

For one thing, many of these economic questions get more technical or more specialized than the usual Foreign Service officer or departmental officer can handle. He feels at sea in international monetary affairs, and is somewhat lost in investment matters, and some trade matters. The focus of many of the Foreign Service officers, very fine officers administratively, most of them, is on international politics, which is understandable and I think appropriate. Many foreign policy issues do not involve much economic content.

Also, many of the economic policies require a long sustained program to put them through. The ordinary Foreign Service desk officer, at whatever level it may be, operates, as they say, "off the cables." He's a responder to whatever bad news comes in, and he's in a hectic rush to put out that particular fire.

So these other matters, e.g., the prolonged

 

[29]

GATT negotiations, were not of great interest to them. Without strong, separate economic units, they would be neglected by the political offices.

Another aspect of this potential or actual neglect by State is that other agencies around town (Washington) would say, "Well, we'll just take over that function." So Treasury had, in essence, full charge of the international financial policy, since Secretary Hull concentrated so much on tariff reduction. Treasury's Division of Monetary Research, under White and the others, with Morgenthau's full blessing, practically wrote the documents setting up the Bretton Woods agencies and the U.S. law setting up the National Advisory Council on International Monetary and Financial Affairs. And Treasury has administered it ever since.

So here you have this major aspect of international affairs being run by the Treasury. That was a power play, you see, a bureaucratic power

 

[30]

play, which came about because of failure of State to assert itself in this realm.

Well, Clayton saw what ought to be done, and Mason saw what ought to be done, and so they moved in, and that's when they brought Collado over from Treasury, you see, to operate in that realm. But it was too late. Foreign policy is essentially set by Treasury in the whole international financial field. The State Department twiddles its thumbs and says, "Yes, me too."

On the agricultural side the Department of Agriculture moved eagerly into any vacuum left by State. They'd say, "We'll take charge of the international aspect of any agricultural problems."

MCKINZIE: Was there strong pressure by these other agencies?

COPPOCK: Yes. Very able people, very knowledgeable people, staffed the international or foreign units in other departments. They had their

 

[31]

whole system of attaches, so they were practically independent of the Foreign Service.

MCKINZIE: How about Commerce?

COPPOCK: The Department of Commerce was (and still is, I'm sure), constantly making a bid to take over the whole trade and tariff negotiations program, so if you didn't have a strong economic unit in State, these other agencies would just take over the functions, so you get a splintering of the foreign policy. Foreign economic policy was a big element in the whole Truman period. So Interior would take over all the international oil problems; Labor would do anything having to do with that. So right down the line, whatever it was, they were all ready to move in as soon as State weakened on any of these matters. And so other departments -- and State's political offices, manned by Foreign Service officers -- were delighted when the

 

[32]

Hoover Commission came out for the near-abolition of the economic offices in 1949. It was at that point the economic offices were stripped, I'd say, of two-thirds of their personnel. Some were distributed among the geographic (political) offices and some of the work was grabbed by other agencies. State was cut down to size in the economic realm in 1949. Will Clayton's departure facilitated the reorganization. Thorp did not have the political clout of Clayton. The Wriston report of about 1953 furthered the whittling down of State's control of the economic aspect of foreign policy.

These were factors that caused a lot of us to draft away from Government. The Foreign Service people within State were generally pleased to see this, because they were confronted in meetings with people who were highly trained academically, who could write better than they could, who could argue better than they could,

 

[33]

and who were generally more knowledgeable. We had lawyers as well as bankers and economists. Most of the Foreign Service officers had got their training doing consular or similar kinds of work. They didn't like the competition. I'm probably speaking a little bit too frankly. There were not many Kennans or Bohlens among them.

MCKINZIE: Yes, of course.

Was there any kind of what you might call a cultural division between the Foreign Service officer and the academically trained economist?

COPPOCK: You're talking about social relations?

MCKINZIE: Yes, within the Department.

COPPOCK: Oh, I'd say that everybody was polite and civil and all that; they behaved nicely toward each other. In terms of the outside social life I would guess that -- and it would certainly

 

[34]

be true in our case -- it would be only incidentally that we'd be dealing socially with ordinary Foreign Service officers. They had their own social life. And the rest of us had our professional and sort of the "old college tie" kind of informal association that we had developed. I'd say that those of us in the upper Civil Service level concerned with foreign affairs tended to have more rapport. We didn't fraternize very much with the Foreign Service officers, but the relations weren't antagonistic at all. It's just the nature of the thing. Although when we would go on missions abroad on various things, we would get acquainted with the Foreign Service officers and generally get to like them. But the ordinary course of the work doesn't throw you with them because our dealings, you see, would be with people in other agencies, on economic matters, or with representatives of foreign governments.

 

[35]

If you invited a political officer to a meeting, he’d get bored with all the technical talk. He didn’t find it very interesting and would ask to receive a copy of the report or something like that.

I should add that the Foreign Service encouraged many of us “Departmental Officers” to join the Foreign Service. Some did; many did not because they did not want to be subject to assignments without reference to their special talents. I fell in the second category.

MCKINZIE: Surely.

COPPOCK: There was another aspect of this organizational problem. It’s the question of the multilateral versus the bilateral in your dealings with other governments. A lot of the things that we were dealing with on trade matters, monetary matters, etc., are essentially multilateral in their character. You wanted the same general rules to

 

[36]

apply to different countries. If you didn’t you were in one heck of a mess, and although you might have negotiated bilateral treaties, you might want to have a most-favored-nation clause in there so you give and receive equal treatment, but you have to take into account the repercussions of it on other countries. So, we (in the economic offices) thought, you see, in broad, essentially global terms, groups of countries, or something like that, not in terms of bilateral relations involved. The people in the United Nations section of the Department shared our view.

Most of the political officers, you see, thought in terms of bilateral dealings, of maintaining good relations with particular countries, either in Washington or in the other countries, rather than through groups of nations. This issue involved more than just a bureaucratic power play.

 

[37]

MCKINZIE: Was it perceived to be a problem at the time?

COPPOCK: Oh, definitely. It was recognized fully. Everybody knew what the argument was about, but it's hard to resolve. You can make a pretty good case both ways.

MCKINZIE: Yes.

COPPOCK: Most of us economists felt that economic problems are economic problems wherever they happen to be. You wanted to know the facts of a particular country and situation, of course, but detailed knowledge of a particular country wouldn't make very much difference as to exchange rate policy or the investment situation or trade regulations and so on. You could learn pretty quickly enough about the particular situation in a country to know whether the policy pattern would be appropriate or not. So there was a tendency of people in these economic and other "functional"

 

[38]

offices, as contrasted with the geographic, to disregard the detailed differences among the different countries. This is a perpetual kind of problem.

MCKINZIE: In the summer of 1945, I gather at just when you were beginning to get ahold there, Will Clayton made some very optimistic statements about the future. He talked about reconstruction of Europe; he said that within two or perhaps three years there'd be a reduction in the trade barriers. Did he mean that the early operations of the IMF and IBRD, and maybe even some bilateral loans, were a necessary prelude to new trade agreements? That by 1947 or 1948 there would be a kind of upward economic spiral that would facilitate trade liberalization?

COPPOCK: Let me comment on your statement from a procedural rather than a substantive point of view. Will Clayton spoke on such matters after

 

[39]

discussions with his staff and others. We on his staff had the background, the training that enabled us to move into these matters easily. Will Clayton, from his very broad business experience and his tremendous native ability, could understand these situations promptly.

So I should point out that many of these statements that Will Clayton made were written by the rest of us, not that he wasn’t able to. He could make an absolutely fantastically persuasive oral presentation; he was a tremendously effective person. A colleague told me once that he could best get his ideas listened to in the proper places by writing speeches for the higher-ups. They’d presumably think about them if they read them. He hoped they’d read the speeches before they delivered them.

Most of the speeches by the high officials in this period that had any economic content were written by people in the economic offices.

 

[40]

Kermit Gordon, whom I mentioned earlier, wrote several major speeches. He's the head of the Brookings Institution now, and you ought to interview him. He didn't stay around State very long, but he's extremely knowledgeable in all this field. Clair Wilcox wrote some speeches for the Secretary of State. He wrote the Baylor University speech for President Truman. Did you know that?

MCKINZIE: No, I didn't. That was a very important speech as far as economic policy is concerned.

COPPOCK: Yes, Clair Wilcox wrote it and Truman and whoever edited his speeches left it almost verbatim. Wilcox was an extremely able writer. He had been the editor of the University of Pennsylvania "Purple Parrot," the undergraduate humor magazine. He always had a very pithy style. You didn't interview him, did you?

MCKINZIE: No.

 

[41]

COPPOCK: He died a couple of years ago. He wrote editorials for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch during the thirties. He wrote the Wickersham Report that led to the repeal of the 18th Amendment, incidentally. I think he met with President Truman to explain the crucial ideas before the Baylor speech. Truman was not, and as far as we could tell, particularly knowledgeable in this whole area, but he was interested, as far as we could see, he always wanted to do the right thing. I don't think it was through a slavish following of his advisers, but with his native horse sense, he could see that there are the things you ought to do.

MCKINZIE: I see. You've made a very good case for the fact that much policy is made in the course of speechwriting.

COPPOCK: Now those speeches were