Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
Opened February, 1982
Oral History Interview with
June 5, 1975
by Richard D. McKinzie
MCKINZIE: Dr. Deimel, I think that many historians are interested in how people decided to go into Government service. A good place for us to start would be if you could say something about your background, your education, and how you came to decide upon a career in Government.
DEIMEL: Yes, I can tell that very easily. Just by way of background, I was born in June, 1899 in Brooklyn, New York. I spent my first three years traveling in Europe, in Germany and England -- my father had business affairs abroad -- and then California -- San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose. Then by 1907, I was in school
in Yonkers, New York. Then we went to Brussels; I attended a German school, so I just naturally picked up German and French there, because I had to. English was a taught language in this Deutsche Gymnasium in Brussels, where I was from 1907 to 1910. Then we moved to England; I went to a local preparatory school and then three years, from 1913 to 1916, to an English public school, Malvern College in the West of England, in Worcestershire.
I was one of a big family; there were eleven children. My mother died when I was three, so there was a second mother -- oh, a mother to me. So there were eleven of us, of whom five [Now, in 1980, only two remain -- my youngest sister and myself], may I say, are still living. Most of the family had returned to the United States, to New York and then to San Francisco, in 1914, leaving myself and an elder brother in England. We returned from England in 1916 (just before the all-out submarine warfare), to California in 1916, and then I spent seven years at the University of California in Berkeley, got my A.B. in economics, and a teaching fellowship for
three years, and my Ph.D. in May, '23.
Well, how did I get into the Government service? My problem was, I was usually pretty good most of the time at my studies, but as for occupation, I didn't know what to choose because I didn't know what there was to choose. That was the problem in those days. I had no driving thought; did I want to be a doctor, did I want to be a lawyer? Well, I didn't know anything about the needs and possibilities. But sort of by good luck Henry Francis Grady became my mentor; he had been commercial attaché in London and The Hague after the First World War. I became his teaching fellow my last year, and he became chairman of my Ph.D. committee when I finally found something to try to write a thesis on. And while he was there, he suggested that I apply to the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce for employment. That was the great new Bureau which was growing in the Department of Commerce under Herbert Hoover. Henry Grady had been in the Bureau before he came out to California. A friend of his in the
Bureau, L. [Louis] Domeratzky -- who was the assistant director of technical affairs in that Bureau -- came out to California and I met him. So I asked him, "Do you think there's a job for me there?"
He said, "Well, write to me when you're ready."
So, when I got my thesis done, or was just finishing it, I wrote to him and sent applications, and through him I got a job. I had to rush -- I didn't even stop to collect my degree; it was conferred in absentia -- because I got word from one of the division chiefs, a man named Henry Chalmers, chief of the Division of Foreign Tariffs. He had a position as assistant chief open, and if I could be there by May 15, I'd be considered for it. And meanwhile, he’d see that there would be two other possibilities, so it would be worth making the trip. So, I came out, and after some hemming and hawing I was appointed to that job, assistant chief of the Division of Foreign Tariffs, on May 30, 1923. That was a stroke of luck, because it was not only a better job than most entering jobs, it paid enough
so that winter I got married and my wife came out from San Francisco. But also, it was a remarkably good observation post.
The Division of Foreign Tariffs was set up to provide American business with information about the tariff duties and import rules and regulations in foreign countries. Our business was to keep up-to-date on all of that. We had quite a library. For those days, it was a large division; it was about 20 people. I was thrown into job number two. We not only had to be able to answer letters -- inform Black and Decker what the duties on their products were if they tried to find a market in France, for instance -- but we had to keep our own records up and publish the changes. The Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce for that day was a bureau with a mission: to promote American exports. It was one of the characteristics of that sterile era, that exports were considered good, imports were bad. It was shortly after the Fordney McCumber Tariff Act was passed in 1922; it was a deadly era.
MCKINZIE: Wasn't it difficult to promote foreign exports when, at the same time, you had to justify high American tariffs?
DEIMEL: It should have been. It wasn't, so far as I was concerned, for two reasons. We were in a service of information, and there were plenty of people wanting the information, so I didn't have to concern myself with imports. There was a lesson to it, though. I wonder if this story about Herbert Hoover would be interesting.
One of the lucky things about my job was that, as an assistant chief of division, I was admitted to his staff conferences; they were supposed to run every other week, every other Saturday morning, I think, but actually he'd skip a number. But you know, for a new, young fellow coming out of nowhere -- of course Berkeley was not exactly nowhere; it certainly isn't now -- to Washington to sit at the feet of a great figure like that and hear him tell what's what; that was a marvelous experience until I discovered the feet
of clay. I must say that I have a warm admiration for Herbert Hoover as a man. I had a few personal encounters with him and I was struck by the kindness, the warmth of his blue eyes, the friendliness. But that wasn't his public figure at all. But when it came to the discussion of import tariffs, he laid down a dictum and that was part of, what shall we say, the book we went by -- it wasn't published but I don't see any reason why not to say it: "Import duties are a controversial matter; therefore, we do not discuss them." And when it came to dicta like that, he was direct, straight-forward, and completely arbitrary. To a young man just out of university -- well, as I say, there were feet of clay.
So, we had to develop all sorts of ideological ways around that. When some American firm would complain about the high duties that they had to pay to sell into a foreign country, we'd have to say, "The height of import duties is an internal affair. A foreign government has nothing to say about it, so long as there is not discrimination.
But if there is discrimination against American goods, then we can ask our Embassies, our commercial attachés, to take up the matter." As a result, we made all sorts of efforts to find discrimination.
I remember once, for instance, that I was busy dictating an instruction, a memorandum, to go to our commercial attaché in Berlin I think. It was on the subject of the duty on canned sardines. The German import duty on our sardines, which were a large fish called the pilchard, canned in tomato sauce, was much higher than the duty on the true sardine, a smaller fish canned in olive oil from Portugal. So, I was trying to develop a thesis that that was discrimination, enough of a thesis so that the commercial attaché could go to whatever office he would go to -- I didn't know who he went to in those days -- and say, "This isn't really right, and we're good friends; can't you do something about that?"
So that's the way we tried to get around the problem, but it always did seem to me a sterile
situation and that, really, to my mind, characterized our foreign relations, and I think, our economic domestic affairs generally, too. The sterile twenties, it seemed to me, were characterized for instance by President Coolidge's famous dictum, "The business of America is business;" and Coolidge on the war debt, "They hired the money, didn't they?" The major effort of the very good few men in the Economic Advisors Office in the State Department was to settle the war debts, the thesis being they should be paid. Well, now, I don't want to blame Herbert Hoover or the officials in the State Department or anybody else or even the Congress. It was the spirit of the times; the tariff act of 1930, Hawley-Smoot was a culminating example -- it was the spirit of the times. We had had, as I see it, in World War I, a high-pressure introduction to the world, and perhaps some little excessive idealism that kind of fell flat after the war. We tried to draw back into our shell, and yet we couldn't; we were expanding. We were moving into the world, particularly in
economic affairs, so that there was a dichotomy there, an unnatural split. And that, in my mind, characterized the twenties. It was an empty era ended by the Wall Street collapse and the depression. Then came the great change, the great liberation. I can still remember the enthusiasm with which I listened over the radio to Franklin Roosevelt's acceptance speech and also his inauguration speech. It was a new era, and certainly I wasn't alone in that complete sense of enlightenment, of enthusiasm.
MCKINZIE: By this time you were in the Department of State?
DEIMEL: Oh, yes. From the time I began to know my way around Washington, I wanted to get into the Department of State. I had some friends there, notably Harry Hawkins, who was then working on commercial treaties. In fact, he later became assistant chief of the Treaty Division of the Department of State. He used to come over to my office in the Department of Commerce to check on some aspects, and we'd argue about this
and that. For instance -- a little by-line -- he was responsible for the phrase, in our commercial treaties of the time -- all, as I said, based on the principal of nondiscrimination -- "from whatever port arriving." That's a vital phrase. It was quite a victory on Charles Evans Hughes' part that this phrase was approved by the Senate in assenting to the commercial treaties. It's in the shipping field. You know, we had then built up a big wartime shipping fleet, and there was hope among the merchant marine fraternity to keep a large fleet active in peacetime. But the only way they could do it, without more costly subsidization than would be approved, would be by discriminating somehow, by what was called flag discrimination -- by requiring for instance, in a crude sense, that half of all American export and import cargoes should go in American flag ships. In other words, the cargoes should be divided between the ships in the direct trade -- German ships from German ports to America, American ships from American ports to Germany, and
reverse. Obviously they couldn't stop in the middle of the ocean and exchange cargoes, so they should be made to share the traffic equally. And higher duties should be levied in the indirect trade -- that is, for instance, a Greek tramp ship carrying coal from Newport News to Italy would have to pay a higher duty than if carried in an Italian or an American ship. Now, there was quite an effort during the twenties to put that across, and it came pretty close to being put across. But as a means of preventing that, which would have been very unfortunate for our commerce, Harry Hawkins devised the phrase to ensure that there should be no discrimination by flag of ship, in tonnage dues or import duties on the cargo and so forth, between the ships of the other contracting party and any other ships, "from whatever port arriving." In other words, a Greek ship could pick up cargo in Italy and bring it to New York, and the cargo wouldn't have to pay any higher duties. Now, that was really a landmark in the beginning of a more liberal foreign trade policy. That comes in
later again in the trade agreements policy.
So I had several friends in the small Economic Division of the State Department, who were helpful in aiding me to transfer there. Unfortunately, my chief in the Department of Commerce did not like the idea. In fact, without my knowledge -- I was told later -- he squelched several attempts by the economic adviser to get me transferred. But finally Wallace Murray, who was then chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs -- he later became Ambassador to Iran -- said he was looking for an economist for his little division, which dealt in the relations with what we now call the Middle East, the Arabian countries, and the Balkans, including Turkey. He was looking for an economist, and Harry Hawkins suggested me. And he asked me to come over. Of course, I was enthusiastic about it, and after some difficulty I got transferred. So that's how I came to get into the State Department. I had a wonderful four years in that little division as economist; I was desk officer for Egypt and
Ethiopia then. There were eleven all told in that division, including the messenger. It was a marvelous environment, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I wasn't confined to the work there. For instance, after the changeover, after Roosevelt was in, I would be called on from time to time to do broader economic work in the Department. For instance, I was interested in exchange controls, so when the London Economic Conference was set up, and preparatory papers were being written, I wrote the one on exchange controls, the preparatory paper for our delegation to the London Conference. So, on the basis of that, later on in 1935, I was given a trip to Geneva to attend a conference there on exchange controls.
MCKINZIE: But of course, President Roosevelt torpedoed the ideas...
DEIMEL: Well, I recall that. As I remember, the story was this: Cordell Hull was going with a delegation to London, and he took with him several people, including Harry Hawkins. Now Harry Hawkins was,
at that time, assistant chief of the Treaty Division in the State Department, and one of my best friends. Roosevelt said, as I was told, when he said good-bye to Cordell Hull, "Now, you want to have a good backstop committee in your department, so that when you send telegrams back they know where to go."
Cordell said, "Oh, yes, we'll take care of that."
So, three men were set up to be the backstop, Frederick Livesey, Paul Culbertson, and myself. I think we had a meeting and decided that we'd keep in touch and wait for the telegrams. The telegrams would go to Frederick Livesey, who was Assistant Economic Adviser. Herbert Feis, who was then the Economic Adviser, went to London as a part of the U.S. delegation. So, we'd see each other maybe at lunch there and say, "Well, any telegrams come in yet?"
No, no telegrams came in, and before any could come in we got this blast -- something to the effect
that it would be a terrible catastrophe to tie ourselves to gold or something like that. Anyway, it did the conference no good. There was some background, as I understood it, that might seem interesting. The conference was one of the first steps of the New Deal in the international economic field. Of course, the Roosevelt program was directed at domestic recovery. The first big thing they did, for instance, was to abolish prohibition. Hoover had said it was a noble experiment, and nobody who hadn't lived through those thirteen years could realize how disastrous and ugly an experiment it was. But Hoover did not have political courage to tackle the issue directly. Instead he called it a "noble experiment," but he wasn't going to take the risk of attacking prohibition. Yet, when Roosevelt came in with a complete change, it seemed as easy and simple as it seemed for Nixon to establish entente with Red China. (I'm not comparing the two men.) Before the London Conference,
the first step toward building up a new economic world was to call all the Ambassadors in Washington to the Department of State one by one and read them a sermon about how their countries should expand their economic policies. They shouldn't tie their currencies to gold, they shouldn't pursue deflationary policies.
MCKINZIE: A sermon by whom?
DEIMEL: I don't know who proposed the idea. Each Ambassador was called in, and at the ones I attended the sermon was delivered by Frederick Livesey, who, by the way, was a very remarkable man. He was very quiet but utterly brilliant, and yet the warmest and most broadly reflective human being I've ever known. Well, so here's the funny story. We attended these sessions; they were rather empty. The Ambassador would listen very sedately and nod his head. And after it was all over, a few weeks later, there was an Ambassador (more probably Minister) from a very small country called Albania who was alone
here, had no staff; he lived at the Mayflower Hotel. And relations with Albania were under the jurisdiction of the Near Eastern Division. So he came to Wallace Murray and said, "Now, why is this that I've been discriminated against?" He was a Minister, not an Ambassador. "Every other chief of mission has had this lecture given to him, and I have not. What shall I tell my government?"
Wallace Murray, of course, said, "We'll fix that up. Come in tomorrow afternoon."
And he phoned Fred Livesey, and Fred Livesey said, "Well, Henry Deimel can give it. Call him in."
So there I was, hauled into Wallace Murray's office the next day with this Albanian minister -- I forget his name; he had a good sense of humor though -- and Paul Alling, the assistant chief, and myself. And I gave the orthodox spiel. And at the end of it the Minister said, "I congratulate you on how well you delivered your lessons"
This was an early groping of the State Department into international economic affairs, under the
New Deal into this new world of economic cooperation.
MCKINZIE: Now, do you think that this was the influence of Cordell Hull or was this the influence of something bigger than Cordell Hull?
DEIMEL: I would say it was partly Cordell Hull's influence, but not bigger than him. I think it was smaller, in this sense; that it was trying to find the easy way -- just as I say Herbert Hoover's easy way was to say, "The tariff is controversial; we don't discuss it." So, the easy way was to preach a sermon to the other countries.
The next step was to try to do something in a great big conference, but that failed. But after that failed, Cordell Hull's turn came, and he was able to sponsor a reciprocal tariff bargaining policy, the trade agreements program. It ran counter to what had been the accepted version of international economics in the 1920's, in which high tariffs are good as long as they're import
tariffs or your own tariffs and so forth. It was part of a broader movement. The tariff of 1930, that was the tariff act, wasn't it, that Hoover did not veto? Now 1932 was the election year and Franklin Roosevelt won. It must have been the Democratic Congress of 1932, before the elections, that the House passed an act that never came to anything. It was to provide for a tariff bargaining proposition by which it was felt, well, we could get by with some reductions in our tariffs if we got countervailing reductions in other people's tariffs. The theory up till then had been rather the opposite. The flexible tariff act of 1923 allowed adjustment of the tariffs according to cost differences, but also threatened additional tariffs if we were discriminated against. Now, this was a reversal; this was a reduction in our tariffs subject to bargaining with the others. This was in a bill passed in the House to that effect, but it didn't get anywhere until after the London Economic Conference failed. Cordell Hull came
back and I think his attitude was, well, now is my turn to do something real. For years in the Senate and in the House, he had preached tariff moderation -- not free trade; one thing we were forbidden to talk about in the State Department was free trade, because that was simply playing into the hands of the high tariff people. If you were a free trader then you were anathema. But tariff moderation -- I must say that is the key to much of my admiration for Cordell Hull. He was himself, really, a very strong man, with strong convictions and, just like hickory, didn't break. His efforts were always sustained; he hung on but always with reasoned moderation. He did get the Trade Agreements Act of 1934 through Congress, and that authorized a tariff bargaining procedure, under many restrictions and for three years only. But as Harry Hawkins once told me, he had come back from a long chat with Cordell Hull about the time it was time to try to get the act renewed, and Cordell said, "Well, if you try to get it a permanent act
now, you won't get it. But we'll get it renewed this time. Maybe we'll get it a little liberalized, and next time after that we'll get a little more," just showing the way to a solid, moderate, but constantly pressing, not easily giving up, point of view. It is not the idea that you solve the problems of the universe by one formula, but of working to make things better.
MCKINZIE: Now, this idea, which you described as liberal economic -- could you say that that, itself, was an attraction for young people in the thirties to come to work for the Department of State?
DEIMEL: I think so, very much. In fact, when I moved over from Near Eastern to the Trade Agreements Division in 1935, I hated to leave Wallace Murray. He didn't try to stop me, although he said he was sorry I was going. I wanted to get back into this tariff work. That was in my case; I wanted to get back into that movement. My job was mostly to build up a division. You see, Harry Hawkins as
well as Henry Grady had their hands full getting their program started. So, somebody had to hire the new people. We'd gotten an appropriation of a hundred thousand dollars for the first year, and the next year I worked up an appropriation proposal for one hundred and eighty thousand dollars, which seemed to bother Wilbur J. Carr, the Assistant Secretary of State; he felt that was much too much. But we did start a new division, and I think it can be said it became the nucleus of much -- not all, by any means, but much -- of the economic organization of the State Department later. So I should say, yes, that was one of the attractions. There was something more than that. I would like to pay tribute beyond the State Department -- because I think this will be relevant here -- to the interdepartmental trade agreements organization. This was done very wisely under Cordell Hull and Henry Grady, who became the first chief of the Trade Agreements Division. He was Dean of the College of Commerce at the University of California and took leave in 1934 to come to head up the new
division. Harry Hawkins became his assistant chief, and a year later I became his second assistant chief.
It was recognized that the Department of State alone couldn't carry this program. What the Department of State could do was carry the political obloquy of reducing tariffs. But the wisdom and guidance and the detailed facts must, in large part, also come from other government agencies. So an interdepartmental operation was set up, with representatives from the Tariff Commission, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, the Treasury Department, and the State Department, of course. There was this about it, that idea of tariff reduction by reciprocal bargaining was -- what I think you were pointing to -- so ideologically satisfactory a proposition that it stirred the enthusiasm of numerous people, not only from the outside but a lot of very capable people in the Government who saw a chance to break out of these constricting ideas of the old era of the 1920s. I'd like to
mention a name or two. In the Tariff Commission there were many of them, but I would say that the principal one was one of the members of the Tariff Commission named Emanuel Fox. He was one of the outstanding personalities in the Trade Agreements program. He could be mean, he could be down to earth, he could say the most disagreeable things in the Trade Agreements Committee. But he had a warm heart, and he knew what he was saying. And he knew the political traps and how to get around them. Oscar Ryder, was another tariff commissioner who did marvels. Now, they insisted that their participation here was officially authorized but personal. The Tariff Commission was not involved in the approval of any reductions in duties. You see, that would endanger the Tariff Commission. But the commissioners who participated and those of their staff whom they trusted brought a lot of people to the Tariff Commission in order to participate. I think that answers your question.
Now, in agriculture, too, there was the man
who became chief of the Foreign Agricultural Division, Leslie Wheeler, later agricultural attaché in Mexico. He was a marvelous person, very honest, very intelligent, but very shrewd politically in this, the politics of the administrative side -- in other words, not participating but recognizing and knowing the politics of the Hill, and, also, how far you can go. He was marvelous in bringing the Department of Agriculture to accept actually necessary, though sometimes very unpalatable-seeming things. I remember having a long argument at some meeting down in Memphis with a professor of agricultural economics. He was casting ridicule on the trade agreements program because the farmers were not well off. The whole purpose of tariff reduction, he said, had been to restore the farmers to what they had been previously. In other words, the idea from the agricultural specialist point of view was that industrial duties should go down but never agricultural duties. Yet, that would have been like trying to race a horse with
three legs, because many of our necessary imports are agricultural -- some of them, important ones, are competitive. We need them, too. So you couldn't simply say, "No agricultural concessions." But you did have to justify them awfully hard. So Leslie Wheeler did a marvelous job in knowing how to get necessary proposals -- ultimately the wool from Australia; that was one of the items that we didn't face up to until the very late thirties, but we ultimately got by with it. I've often thought that there was not just a camaraderie, but a devotion to the ideals of tariff moderation as it was embodied in this group of people, maybe a hundred of them, drawn from numerous different agencies in which the State Department exercised leadership -- not because it tried to grab glory, but because it was willing and able to take the political obloquy. "That nasty State Department, it will do these foolish things and nobody can do anything about it." You could get by with that. We were willing to take that, and we had some very wise and shrewd
people in charge of this; Cordell Hull, who provided the political leadership and tenacity; Henry Grady, who had this marvelous -- more than practical sense -- deep realism. Oh, after the act was passed there was a lot of palaver about how the world would be set right because we would get into a big tariff conference; there was endless palaver. The Assistant Secretary of State in charge, Francis Sayre, was the head of that. His idea was this big idea; we'll get a big conference and set the world right. Well, the London Conference had just shown that it didn't work that way. So, Henry Grady said, "Well, look. You can't have a trade agreements program without trade agreements; let's negotiate some."
One was negotiated in the early months. But it was not exactly a phony, but close to one; that was the trade agreement with Cuba which was a renewal of the special economic treaty, which provided preference for sugar. And Sumner Welles, whom I knew and liked and respected -- and who had
somewhat narrower ideas, although he could accept broader ideas -- was always pushing for more preference for Cuba. There was a fight to prevent that from developing. So Henry Grady pushed for the idea that we should get into other negotiations right away, so at the end of three years we would have some agreements to show. But then the question came, what does an agreement look like? And there's where Harry Hawkins came in. Since we had been working together, I had been mostly listening to him formulate treaty clauses like "from whatever port arriving." He, for ten years, had been hoping for a tariff bargaining policy and was wondering how that tariff bargaining policy could be reconciled with the unconditional most favored nation policy, the essence of which is that if we'd give a reduction in duty on Italian tomato paste, by an unconditional most favored nation treatment, Greece gets it too. Now a lawyer will say to me, "Well, I don't see how you can bargain effectively if you bargain away a tariff concession on your
part and then give it free to somebody else." Of course, that's logic, isn't it, except it's based completely on false premises. You're not trading in real things; you are using each other's reciprocal behavior to do a thing you ought to do anyway, by opening up the channels of trade a little. But it took a lot of effort to put over this combination of a tariff bargaining policy with an unconditional most favored nation policy, and Harry Hawkins was the man who did it because he had the formula. The formula, very simply, is, you negotiate with each country on the articles of which they are the principle suppliers -- not too rigidly; you can make a concession on this or that, but generally reductions would be made only on articles of principal importance to the other country. In other words, it would be automobiles in Japan now, not automobiles from Ethiopia or something like that. Harry knew those principles and then knew how to write it into an agreement. He told me once, when he got his new job years before, Assistant Chief of the
Treaty Division, he wondered, now, what would a tariff bargaining treaty look like? You see, they had a program of commercial treaties, principally most favored nations treaties, but establishment treaties, too. He said, "Well, I thought the very sensible thing; I'd go and look up some old treaties."
So, he had studied the old treaties; he knew the sort of formulation, framework. And after another country was invited and agreed to negotiate, he could come into the meeting with a draft agreement. First, of course, though, it would have to go through the trade agreements committee. But, actually, the actual clauses, the wording, was reserved for the State Department, because that was our natural job, and there was no complaint about that.
MCKINZIE: You've established a couple of what I think are important background points to what all came later, and you've made a clear indication of the change in the atmosphere and attitudes of the State Department in the 1930s. You mentioned that there
were limits beyond which people in the State Department could not go at that time, because of political considerations and economic circumstances. You also indicated the important influences of Harry Hawkins in the Division of Trade Agreements. How did you happen to go to his office in 1935? Was that sort of an internal transfer?
DEIMEL: Oh, well, let's see; partly there was, I'll admit, some nepotism. Partly, I needed more money, and there was a possibility of an increase from $4,600 to $5,600 a year. If I had stayed in the Near Eastern Division, maybe I would have ended up as an Ambassador, which I didn't. But I was mentioned for a lot of things, too. There was an opening with the Economic Adviser that Henry Grady told me about, and I said, "Well, gee, that could mean a thousand dollars more in salary for me." I had a growing family; I needed it. "So, what's the chance of my getting it?"
So Henry Grady spoke to Herbert Feis, who said, "Yes, I'd be delighted to have him."
They spoke to Wallace Murray; would I transfer: And I regretted it and Wallace Murray regretted it, but he wouldn't stand in my way. But things didn't work out too well in the Economic Adviser's Office, for me. It's a long story, how it was kind of a mix-up; nobody knew where anybody was. I had some interesting things to do.
But after a year, there was a need for a second assistant chief and somebody to build up the structure of the Trade Agreements Division. And Henry Grady was leaving shortly, so the nepotism angle wouldn't be too much of a difficulty. Harry Hawkins wanted me, so it was a transfer within the Department. Cordell Hull was agreeable, and I got the job.
MCKINZIE: I don't want to belabor the 1930s too long here, but there are some things that historians are interested in and would be appreciative of your comments on. One of them is the often aired and often speculated-about dispute between Cordell Hull and Sumner Welles, and what effect that actually had upon the élan, the morale, of
people in the Department. Could you feel that if you received instructions from Cordell Hull or when you were operating in pursuit of some idea or some goal beloved by Cordell Hull, that you were actually doing something that President Roosevelt -- ultimately responsible for these kind of things -- really wanted done? There are indications that Cordell Hull, at one point, said he was depressed and discouraged and thought he was going to resign because the President seemed to be listening to Sumner Welles. How did that affect you, because you were in this small group?
DEIMEL: I would say it didn't affect me. I may say I was in a peculiar position -- second rank. In other words, I didn't deal very frequently personally with them. I liked them both when I did. In fact, I admired Cordell Hull tremendously and liked him. Also, when I got to know Sumner Welles better I liked him. I found him a warm person. I knew that there was ill feeling between the two. I'm not sure what it was. I think it was that Welles
was the more superficial activist. For instance, I recollect one; it was a question of whether -- and I think this is one reason I got along well with Welles -- we should agree to give Cuba a larger preferential in the sugar tariff. Harry Hawkins was on vacation, and so Sumner Welles called me in and he said, "I know that preferential tariffs are against your principles, but if you go against the principle, then you should make it effective. And if the present preferential isn't effective, it should be increased to make it so." Well, you know, that, again, is good lawyer's logic, but it's not economic realism. Well, I think most of the fellows -- I'm patting myself on the back -- would have said, "Yes sir, yes sir." I wouldn't quite go with that, so I said to him, "Yes, so long as it doesn't get too extortionist."
He kind of took a double-take, looked at me, then he smiled and said, "You're right."
I think he was pleased that I had the courage to speak up. Well, in that way and ever after,
we always got along fine. So, he was the practical man of action, but relatively limited. He was a very bright man. Cordell Hull was deeply philosophical, a long-range thinker who was a politician who tried to guide rather than make. So, there was a difference. Now, I didn't know what was going on; so far as Cordell Hull's feelings, yes, I'm sure he felt that way, discouraged at times. But, you know, I read something the other day that sort of rang a bell. I think it was Roosevelt's technique to keep his people a little off balance between each other, so that they would not be able to put anything across on him. Just the opposite happened to Lyndon Johnson. You know the story about Lyndon Johnson, after the Kennedy assassination, being briefed about the necessity of armed action in Vietnam. .And all the generals and all the politicos, the "great deep" political thinkers of the time and so forth, made so clear to him how absolutely we had to get into Vietnam in a military way. So he agreed, but later is said to have told a confidant, "You
know, I feel like a fish that's just swallowed a great big juicy worm and found a hook in it." So you see, he didn't have enough strength, knowledge in himself, to resist the pressures, coaxings, and blandishments of his advisers. Roosevelt had the trick of keeping them all a little off balance, keeping them struggling against each other a little, so he'd get a more balanced picture. Now, I would say that that may have been the case with Cordell Hull and Roosevelt. I will say this to add; one of the things I was told, that Henry Grady said, was that it was much easier to get a controversial tariff reduction approved for a trade agreement by Roosevelt than by Cordell Hull. Surprising, isn't it? Roosevelt would take the risk, the political risk. Cordell Hull would cut the duty on manganese any day, but consider cutting the duty on wool? Well, we'll have to think about that! A difference in approa