Governor W. Averell Harriman Oral History Interview, January 10,1980

Oral History Interview with
Governor W. Averell Harriman

During the Truman administration served as U.S. Ambassador to Russia, 1943-46, to Great Britain, Apr.-Oct. 1946; Secretary of Commerce, Oct. 1946-Apr. 1948; U.S. representative in Europe under the Economic Cooperation Act of 1948, with rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, 1948-50; special assistant to the President, 1950-51; American representative on North Atlantic Treaty Organization Committee to study Western defense plans, 1951; and director of the Mutual Security Agency, 1951-53.

Washington, D.C.
January 10,1980
by Bernard W. Poirier, Director.

See Also Additional W. Averell Harriman Oral History by Richard D. McKinzie and Theodore A. Wilson done in 1971

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

This transcript is based on the tape recorded statements of W. Averell Harriman who has made minor emendations in the draft edited by Bernard W. Poirier, Director of Iroquois Research Institute.

Copies of the transcript and of the taped interview have been donated by Iroquois Research Institute to the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, Independence, Missouri; and to the Program of Oral History, Columbia University, New York. Transcripts alone have been donated to the repositories listed on the inside of the back cover.

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

This transcript may be read, quoted from by giving proper credits, and cited by researchers and writers. Publication rights are retained by Iroquois Research Institute. The transcript may be reproduced freely for research and scholarly purposes.

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

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

Oral History Interview with
Governor W. Averell Harriman

Washington, D.C.
January 10,1980
by by Bernard W. Poirier, Director.



Biographical Sketch, Harriman
Biographical Sketch, Poirier
The Marshall Plan
Truman and MacArthur, Wake Island
Mutual Security Agency
Preserving Historic Monuments
Importance of Allied Cooperation


Biographical Sketch


W. Averell Harriman was born in 1891. During his business career, he served as Chairman of the Board of the Union Pacific Railroad and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Illinois Central Railroad and was an active partner in the banking firm of Brown Brothers, Harriman Company.

During the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he served as Administrative Officer for the National Recovery Administration, and for three years he was Chairman of the Business Advisory Council of the Department of Commerce. During World War II President Roosevelt sent him to England as his Special Representative in Great Britain in charge of Lend-Lease and other military activities. Subsequently, President Roosevelt appointed him Ambassador to the Soviet Union. He attended the Teheran and Yalta Conferences and all but one of the meetings between Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Under President Truman he was Ambassador to Britain, Secretary of Commerce, European Administrator of the Marshall Plan, and Chairman of a Committee of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. He was Special Assistant to President Truman during the Korean War, and later served as Director for the Mutual Security Program.

He was elected Governor of New York State, 1955-59. Under President Kennedy and President Johnson he served as Under Secretary of’ State for Political Affairs and Ambassador-at-Large. He was the Senior U.S. Negotiator for the Limited Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union in 1963 and for the peace negotiations with North Vietnam in 1968.

In early 1977, Governor Harriman was appointed by President Jimmy Carter a member of the Presidential Advisory Board on Ambassadorial Appointments and continues to serve in this capacity. In July 1978, Governor Harriman was appointed the senior member of the United States Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Disarmament. During 1979 and 1980, he was active in speaking in support of the ratification of the SALT II Treaty.

His books are: Peace with Russia?, 1959; America and Russia in A Changing World, 1971; and with Elie Abel, Special Envoy to Churchill and Stalin 1941-1946, 1975.

Prepared: 1 April 1980


Biographical Sketch


Bernard W. Poirier was born in Rhode Island in 1931. His parents had immigrated to the United States from Canada and enrolled him in a French-speaking boarding school in Massachusetts. During his business career he lived in Europe for seven years conducting research and managing laboratory operations in Belgium and France. His research activities were conducted on four continents and in arctic and tropical areas.

He worked as a civilian scientist with the U.S. Navy Department from 1959-1963. His assignments included scientific service on nuclear submarines, special duties at the State Department, and representation at the Admiralty, London and at the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Paris. He also served as Executive Advisor to a United States Senator, 1969-1971. His writings have been published in newspapers and magazines in the United States and abroad, He has been the author or co-author of scientific works including regional and topical histories. In 1972, he founded the Iroquois Research Institute which specializes in environmental, historical and archaeological studies.

Prepared: 1 April 1980


This is the oral history transcript of the taped interview of W. Averell Harriman by Bernard W. Poirier, Director of Iroquois Research Institute at Governor Harriman’s home in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. on Thursday, January 10, 1980.

POIRIER: Would you speak a bit so I can get the tone level?

HARRIMAN: Well, how about this, is this about right or shall I get the microphone closer?

POIRIER: Fine. Can you hear me alright, Governor?

HARRIMAN: Yes, sir.

POIRIER: There are two things that we would like to discuss with you, one of’ these has to do with construction after World War II and the financing of construction; and the other issue is a peripheral issue but it has to do with monuments and fine arts and I understand that perhaps you may want to pass on that.

HARRIMAN: Well no, I can say a word or two about it, but there wasn’t much of that during the Marshall Plan days.

POIRIER: General Eisenhower in his book mentions that you were among the personalities that had visited him to discuss American activities in Europe after D-Day and he issued quite a number of orders to his commanders before the invasion and one of those had to do with the preservation of historical monuments.

HARRIMAN: Do we want to do this historical monuments first or the other one? Then why don’t we do the other one first?

POIRIER: OK. In the priorities that took place when you came back to help convince the Congress to go with the Marshall Plan, had you and the President at that time already developed the sort of priorities of how you would allocate these funds in Paris?

HARRIMAN: You say I came back. Actually, I was Secretary of Commerce at the time. I came back from being Ambassador in London in October, 1946 in order to take the position as Secretary of Commerce, and I was Secretary during the period when Congress acted on the so—called Truman Doctrine that gave aid to Greece and Turkey. Then came the development of the Marshall Plan. I played a role in all those events and for the Marshall Plan the President appointed three committees; the one of which I was chairman had the most effect because it was made up of representatives of civilian life; business, labor, agriculture,


economists, and all aspects of life. We reported on the economic recovery of Europe which was called the Harriman Report. That was in the late summer and autumn of 1947.

During the winter of 1948, I was very active when the Marshall Plan was before Congress and particularly with Senator Vandenberg who was Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee at that time. He was a Republican from Michigan who played a very important role. I’ve always given him parallel credit with Truman for the passage of the Marshall Plan in Congress and also as an originator of NATO.

I came back from Russia in January or early February, 1946 and then went to London as Ambassador. I had been in London for two and a half years during the war dealing with supply and military assistance to the British, Russians and other allies in Europe and stayed with headquarters in London.

If you look at the report of the so-called Harriman committee, you’ll see that we had a very full report of the amount of money it would take. We estimated how it could operate. Vandenberg said it was one of the most important documents and helped to get it through the Congress. In the meantime, of course, the State Department had a very able group of men working for Under Secretary Lovett of which Colonel Bonesteel was a member and testified on all aspects of the program.

The purpose of the program was to help Europe help itself in recovery and we were supplying the money. The money was allocated for specific purposes, country by country. After the first year, I induced the Europeans to agree with the rather reluctant agreement of Washington to assign the aid between the different countries. I thought it was very important for them to have that responsibility, otherwise they would be coming to Washington each one working against the other. This way they would uphold General Marshall’s objective and that of the administration which was to have the Europeans develop the European plan which it was.

The problems of each country were different and we used the monies for different purposes depending upon the needs of each country. The first year I think we appropriated about $5.7 billion. Eventually, it was reduced from the year it was originally estimated to be $17 billion and I think the final cost was less than $13 billion. It succeeded beyond the early expectations and part of that money, of course, was in the form of loans which were repaid by the Europeans.

POIRIER: That was part of the 13 billion?

HARRIMAN: Yes. As I recall, it was around 20%. Not necessarily 20% from each country, but 20% from those who could afford to do so. I mean, the amount totaled about 20% but was divided differently.

POIRIER: While you were in Paris you were given a staff, I’m sure. Did you have a Chief of Staff who coordinated the work sessions between Europeans?


HARRIMAN: I had a Deputy who was also Ambassador in William Foster who was my Deputy in the Commerce Department and he worked with me. I had my office in Paris, I wasn’t given a staff. I selected a staff and included some of the ablest men in the country, such as lawyers, economists, and businessmen. It was a period when this was a patriotic adventure and we had little difficulty in recruiting the top people. Do you want me to talk about the military side?


HARRIMAN: On the military side, Colonel Lemnitzer, later on he was, of course, General Lemnitzer, Chief of Staff of the Army, came to me. I think it was in 1949 and said he’d been sent over there to find out how much the Europeans could afford to expend on the military. I said, “Well you’ve come to the right place because we have all the figures and we’ll give you any figures that you want or else get from the OEEC the figures which you may need.” The OEEC was the organization of the European countries and the Pentagon made its own report.

Mr. Hoffman was rather reluctant to have anything to do with military matters because he wanted this program to be entirely for economic and humanitarian objectives. But I was fully aware of the danger from the communist side, having been Ambassador to Russia. I was very strongly for NATO and for the Europeans developing their share of the military forces required to protect Europe from any threat from Russia after the war. We demobilized very rapidly and the Russians kept very large forces and there were the problems in Berlin.

You remember we had the Berlin Blockade and that was in 1948 and we had to have forces in Europe. There was cooperation between my office and the Pentagon starting at that time. But, of course, it was left to each individual country to decide what they wanted to spend, what they were willing to spend and what forces they were willing to maintain. It wasn’t until General Eisenhower came over that they finally agreed to the establishment of a command that was in 1952. I was chairman and had returned to Washington by that time. I was Assistant to the President on national matters during the Korean War.

I was appointed in 1951, no 1952 I think it was, and in October, 1951 to be Chairman of the so called Three Wise Men which was made up of the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, representing the British and Jean Monnet representing the French. We made a study of what the European nations could afford and therefore should develop in the way of military fortes. That report was made to the Foreign Ministers of the NATO countries in Lisbon. I think it was early February or the end of January in 1952 and that was when more progress was made at that time.

They appointed a permanent Secretary General and the organization of the political organization of the countries were developed at that time which has lasted to the present day. The Lisbon Conference was one of the most important events of the early days of the development of the NATO cooperation under a supreme commander. This was the political organization which was parallel to the military organization under the supreme commander.


POIRIER: Dean Acheson made reference to your role at the Lisbon meeting in his book and he portrays a very human side when he talks about you and Omar Bradley going at it in a private session. The argument was over a 400 million dollar commitment by NATO for fighter and bomber airfields.

HARRIMAN: For what?

POIRIER: Military airfields. You were holding out for the other allies putting up 60% and that the United States would put up 40%. Eventually, at the end of the presidential term, or rather during the Eisenhower administration, they followed through and eventually did exactly what you wanted. But could you recall what was the basic discussion between you and General Bradley?

HARRIMAN: No, I haven’t the least idea of that discussion. I know how we arrived at our conclusions and in fact, eventually my statements were right. General Bradley just took it out of the air. I took it from a detailed analysis of the capabilities of each country and what they could afford to spend and still carry on the economic recovery which was required.

You couldn’t have a military establishment from a bankrupt country. You couldn’t afford to keep it. The figures I used which had been agreed to between the Three Wise Men and among the discussions with the countries. In our consideration of the NATO matters, we discussed the matter, of course, with the group as a whole, but we discussed in detail the capabilities of each country and we had the Marshall Plan figures from the OEEC, we had a very able group of people and my principal assistant at that time was Abe Lincoln, if you remember him.

POIRIER: What was his name?

HARRIMAN: His nickname was Abe Lincoln. He later went to West Point and taught. He started, really, the first West Point courses in social and economic matters. Sociology was, I think, his discipline. He had been a member of the planning staff during the war, a very able man. I’m amazed you haven’t heard of him because he was one of the great personalities of the tithe. He was my principal military advisor. I had economists and so did the British and so did the French.

We went at it with a great deal of care and in most cases came to an agreement with the countries, but not in every case. In most cases we came to an agreement with the countries as to the amount that they ought to spend. This was a result of negotiation as well as analysis of the figures first, then of negotiation.

My discussion with General Bradley must have taken place if Acheson describes it, but General Bradley was taking figures out of the air, I was taking them from a detailed analysis, which I’m not surprised to find that my figures were used. They were based on most careful analysis and discussion with the governments involved.


POIRIER: Who was Robert Marjolin?


POIRIER: Robert Marjolin, he was the French fellow.

HARRIMAN: I knew him well, of course. He was the Secretary General of the OEEC, which was the European organization controlling the Marshall Plan, and I worked closely with him from 1948 to 1950.

POIRIER: We’re trying to identify some of the individuals who could help us focus on how the countries themselves presented their plan to the staff and to you and when Robert Marjolin’s name came up.

HARRIMAN: What does Al Friendly say about him?

POIRIER: He described him as a real “bull goose.” And apparently Mr. Friendly thought he had influence on the matters that he dealt with.

HARRIMAN: Well, that was in 1948 when Mr. Friendly was in Paris with me.

POIRIER: Jean Monnet was obviously a very intelligent man.

HARRIMAN: Very intelligent. And he played a very important role. He had been involved over here first representing the French. Then they went to Vichy. He helped the British in relations with the United States in getting the material we needed. He had been a banker on Wall Street and he went back to France and was a member of one of the committees that were established to represent the French in North Africa and I thought he was going to play a very important role politically because of his extraordinary capable mind and understanding. But he very much preferred to remain on the issue which he thought was of great importance, which was the unification of Europe.

I used to see him, of course, and he was very active, and originated, I think, with some help from others, the European Coal and Steel Community and later on step by step, finally came to the European Economic Community which is now the Common Market. I suppose no individual deserves more credit than he does.

The French were very cooperative in the early days, partially due to his influence. He was a member of the French Organization and he wasn’t an international personality, nor was he a political personality. At that time I dealt with the different people who were foreign ministers and finance ministers. There are several personalities, Mr. Peche was one of them who was very cooperative at that time.

Probably the most important single thing that happened was the development of the European Payments Union. We had to break down the trade barriers when these different countries were not able to buy anything abroad. They put quotas on their imports and the trade was really at a very, very low point. We thought that the development of trade within Europe itself was absolutely essential in promoting recovery and permanent well-being.


The European Payments Union made it possible for countries to go into a deficit position temporarily because we put two or three hundred million dollars into the European Payments Union and they were able to charge their purchases. Some of the countries were on credit and some of them were on a debited position. This cushion took care of it and that really was one of the most important steps taken because it released trade between the countries, reduced the trade barriers, and was an important step in the development of the European Community. That took place in 1950. I was very much involved with the Ministers.

Cripps was the British Minister and the British were very much opposed to this. They always were very much opposed to entering Europe. Whereas the French, the Belgians, and the Italians were very helpful. I remember that Spaak was, particularly, a very driving force at that time. I finally got them to appoint one of their members a permanent chairman of the OEEC, otherwise the chairmanship of the OEEC was rather a casual affair. But Mr. Stikker of Holland was appointed. He had been the foreign minister. He spent all of his time as chairman, that was I think in 1949 and then the OEEC began to play a very important role in coordinating the activities of the countries, too.

You see, self help and mutual aid was the slogan of the day and the cooperation between the countries was one of the very important factors that led to the recovery far more rapidly, more effectively, than we dreamed of in the beginning. It was more successful than, I think, anyone’s fondest dreams.

POIRIER: The record from 1945 to the early 1950’s is somewhat clouded when we try to identify a rather large construction job that may have taken place and who paid for it. The record gives us this list of dollars, Governor, I’ll just read them off and maybe you might help to clarify this. We have the commodity funds’ dollars, invasion dollars, (invasion, these are the marks that we were producing with the plates.) We had the German plates and we were printing some of the money when we first got there, if you recall.

HARRIMAN: We were doing what?

POIRIER: In 1945, when the United States military forces arrived in Germany, we had the plates to produce German money.

HARRIMAN: Yes, that’s right, the plates. I didn’t understand that.

POIRIER: Then we had “occupation dollars, infrastructure dollars (NATO), Marshall Plan dollars, mutual security dollars,” and then the regular appropriations from Congress, military and military construction, and then we have counterpart funds.


POIRIER: Can you help straighten out this scramble?


HARRIMAN: Well, I don’t know, you read them so fast. The last one was counterpart funds. I’m sure you understand what the counterpart funds were, do you not? If we gave a country food, for instance, and they sold that to their citizens, which they did, that money was put aside as counterpart funds which could be drawn on by the United States for certain purposes for its expenses. They were credited with it. These were the funds that the governments acquired in selling whatever the item might be that came from the United States under the Marshall Plan and which they sold to their citizens. They got the cash for it.

If they built roads, or something of that kind, the European government paid for it itself.  In such cases there were no counterpart funds. It was food, or machinery or any item which we sent over which was sold to citizens or corporations of the country. Now for these other items, do you want to ask any questions about those that puzzle you?

POIRIER: Yes. We interviewed a General who said he built American housing for NATO outside of Paris and he said that he used “commodity funds.”

HARRIMAN: Well, I think he probably must have meant counterpart funds. I never heard that expression used.

POIRIER: OK. I might add that we did interview General Donovan who was Chief of Engineering in Europe about six years ago. He said that his most important staff member at that time was the comptroller who kept track of the various funds that he had to work with for the infrastructure program, under his command in Western Europe.

HARRIMAN: This was under General Eisenhower was it?

POIRIER: No, this is more recently. This was about six to eight years ago.

HARRIMAN: Oh, yes. When did this other man use this expression, “commodity funds”, what date?

POIRIER: That was in the mid 50’s.

HARRIMAN: Well, I think it must have been what we used to call counterpart funds. We shipped in the commodities and they sold them to the people. Commodities were given the government and sold to the people.

POIRIER: Right. Do you recall, Governor, where the records are for your tenure in Paris, for Marshall Plan? Were these sent to the State Department or to the American Embassy?

HARRIMAN: I think to the State Department. I was entirely independent of the Embassy. I am sure it’s in the State Department. You could find out where they are. You see, I was called the roving Ambassador. I wasn’t the roving Ambassador. I was the Ambassador in charge of the operations in Europe in line with my understanding with Mr. Hoffman. He handled the United States and the Congress and did an amazing job.


I was in charge of European operations and of the missions which we established in the 14 nations. They reported to Mr. Hoffman, of course, but through me. When they sent telegrams to Washington, the copies came to my office so I had the understanding with Mr. Hoffman that I was able to control and coordinate the activities. Otherwise, it would have been quite chaotic. I did that. I had a very able group, not too large, and they worked with the mission of each country, but with the OEEC, which developed the program for the Europe as a whole.

You see, the whole conception of the program as proposed by General Marshall, was to give the Europeans a recovery program, and we would assist them. That was the principle on which we operated in Paris. I remember we tried our best to make it plain that the Europeans were doing most of the work themselves. The Congress wanted to have a lot of gratitude from Europe. I thought that was a very limited emotion, but the important thing was to get cooperation, and I remember we used to minimize our assistance in it. You will be surprised when I tell you that the 14 nations’ gross national product in 1948 was only about one hundred million dollars. We gave them $5.7 billion.

So, at this was the time we spoke of when Mr. Friendly, our publicity man, stressed that we were only doing five percent of the job and the Europeans were doing 95%. You see the morale question in Europe was very great because they had gone through a lot of suffering during the war and immediately after the war when they were very short of food and coal. They had the bad winter, you remember . . .

POIRIER: In 1945 . . .

HARRIMAN: and had a great deal of suffering. We wanted to develop the morale and we did. We helped to do it by our publicity policies. Have you got the Colonel Lemnitzer reports of May, 1949, when . . .?

POIRIER: We may have some of those and we have some of the reports that you sent in, but I have not personally gone through them, but we have historians who have.

HARRIMAN: Do you know where the papers of my office are?

POIRIER: We are almost positive they are in Suitland, Maryland.

HARRIMAN: Will you let me know where they are? I would be very interested in knowing where they are.

POIRIER: All right. I will let you know, Sir. I will give you the specific file numbers.

HARRIMAN: Good. Anything that related to my personal files, as well the files of my office.


POIRIER: Yes, Sir, I would be pleased to do it.

HARRIMAN: See, I left the night when the Korean War broke out. It had been arranged with the President that I would come back sometime in early August. When the Korean War broke out, I was talking to Mr. Truman, President Truman, on the telephone. He says he called me, I thought I called him, but in any event, I asked him if he was short-handed. He said for me to come back, and I said, “How soon do you want me?” He said, “As soon as you can get here,” so I left the same afternoon.

I left all my papers and I did not take anything with me. So I have none of my personal papers. My secretary, of course, came back later on, but I didn’t keep any orderly accounts. I then became Special Assistant to the President during the Korean War, which I like to call “Pre-Kissinger, -Kissinger job,” but I considered it an anonymous position. Very few people knew that I held it because I was anonymous.

I attempted under President Truman’s orders to coordinate the activities of the agencies involved with the problems he was facing for the war, particularly in the State and Defense Departments. So the fact that I left so rapidly was the reason why I have a very limited number of papers. I think there is a very good file someplace on the operations of the Three Wise Men which covered the period from October to February, 1952.

POIRIER: Have you spoken to Milton Katz of the housing . . .?

HARRIMAN: Yes. I appointed him. He was my first assistant; my deputy was Mr. Foster. Katz had been my lawyer whom I asked to come over. I had worked with him in the. National Recovery Administration and I had high regard for his abilities. He came over as my legal counsel. He had a number of very able assistants. I asked President Truman to appoint him my Deputy when Mr. Foster came home to become Deputy to Mr. Hoffman in the second year of the Marshall Plan. Then when I went home, he was the acting ambassador. I asked President Truman to make him my successor, which he did.

POIRIER: I want to address the issue of the difference between the Marshall Plan and the Mutual Security Agency, but before I do, since you mentioned President Truman in your coming back. If you do not mind, may I ask you a question about when you went to the Pacific to speak to Douglas MacArthur? If I recall, you were on that famous flight to Wake Island.

HARRIMAN: Yes, that’s right.

POIRIER: Hollywood and everyone else has continually hopped on this business about who made whom wait. Would you tell me a little about that?

HARRIMAN: Yes. I have . . . Ask my secretary to come in!


CHAPMAN: It’s probably the back part of it. Here is a transcript of it. Suppose I just read him that or let him read the transcript. That is the typed version of what you said.

HARRIMAN: These are my pencil notes and here’s the typed version. Do you want to read them?

POIRIER: Alright, I’ll read it, I’ll turn the mike around. “On landing at Wake Island, I walked towards General MacArthur’s quarters to talk with him. I met him half way. He asked me “What is this meeting about?” I told him that the President wanted to discuss with him how political victory in Korea could be attained now that MacArthur had won the brilliant military victory. Also Japanese peace treaty and all matters in Far East. He seemed relieved, saying “Good. The President wants my views.” After a word or two of greeting to General Bradley and Secretary Pace, who then had come up, I had a further talk. He took my arm and walked towards the President’s incoming plane.

HARRIMAN: That explains who landed first!

POIRIER: (reading from Harriman’s transcript): “I explained to him the strong support the President had given him for the operation. MacArthur said that, though the action was now successful, he (MacArthur) had taken a grave responsibility. I pointed out that perhaps the President’s was at least equally grave in backing him. MacArthur showed keen interest (Conversation with MacArthur after Conference). MacArthur stated he was much impressed by the President. Newspaper accounts and articles did not do him justice. (See Dean Rusk’s notes on Formosa). MacArthur expressed high regard for Rankin (our Chargé d’ Affaires) in Formosa. His messages were objective, not biased as the former Chargé.  In answer to my question, MacArthur said he would come home after Japanese peace treaty was concluded. He would remain in Tokyo until then. Hoped it would be over in one year. I commented on the scene of the returning Proconsul. I asked him and he agreed to let Ross give out his statement at conference. (Get exact from Ross). No commander in history has received such support from all agencies In Washington as I have?”

HARRIMAN: These are the pencil notes that the transcript is taken from. There is hardly any question of the validity.

POIRIER: That must have been a very agonizing period for President Truman and his closest advisors when the decision was finally made to recall

HARRIMAN: Is a copy of this of any importance to you?

POIRIER: If we could have the Xerox of that, we would be very grateful.

HARRIMAN: Margaret (Chapman)! Have I got plenty of Xeroxes of this one?

CHAPMAN: Sir, I could make one in a second. I’d like to keep this attached to (the) Donovan (material) because we want to keep track of what he returned, you see. So I’ll go and Xerox it fresh, you can make a Xerox from a Xerox, it’s clear enough for him to read. Do you want the pencil or only . . .


HARRIMAN: You want a Xerox of the transcript, don’t you? Is this clear enough?

CHAPMAN: I’ll make it of the whole thing.

POIRIER: I’d like both.

HARRIMAN: Is that what this is?


HARRIMAN: I can’t see . . .

CHAPMAN: Yes, those are the Princeton notes, Xeroxed, and this is the transcript but I’ll read it through and make sure this is the same thing.

HARRIMAN: I’ll be glad to have you have that because it proves beyond question . . .  is the tape running?

POIRIER: Yes, sir.

HARRIMAN: The Ambassador, our Ambassador to Korea, told me that he (MacArthur) had come, he landed about 6:00 the evening before President Truman arrived. He had flown from Tokyo. And the notes of what you just read were made of my talk with him. Truman’s party had two planes and I came with the forward party.

I wanted to talk to General MacArthur before he saw him because I knew him quite well and the brief notes of the conversation both before and after absolutely explode any question of there being any unpleasant arguments between the two men at Wake Island. The President gave him a medal, it was a very high one. I’ve forgotten which one it was and their conversation was very businesslike and as I recorded, General MacArthur told me he retained a high impression of President Truman. So that ends the idea that there was a big argument.

POIRIER: Did President Truman share the same impression of General MacArthur?

HARRIMAN: Well, he was, I have reported, if you remember, in the long telegram I sent back which was printed in Mr. Truman’s book, I suppose you’ve seen that, haven’t you? Well, in that one, I’ve pointed out the fact that I’ve been authorized to tell General MacArthur a number of things. This was in the first week of August. We flew out there in General Norstad’s plane, General Ridgeway and I. The three of us went together and I had long talks with MacArthur. The three of us had long talks together, too.

But President Truman asked me to tell General MacArthur two things: one, that he wanted him to leave Chiang Kai-shek alone. Truman said, “I don’t want you to get me into a war with mainland China!” The second was, “I want to find out what General MacArthur wants and tell him I want to give him everything he needs to the best of my ability.”


The first part of the President’s statements MacArthur accepted as a soldier. But it was quite clear that he did it reluctantly and I told the President in that message I had some doubt as to whether he would fully agree to carry out his instructions. So that in a sense I warned him. Then, of course, he did give us his requirements.

He outlined, there had been some talk of it before, the Inchon landings in detail, and we brought those home and I submitted them to Mr. Truman on my return. He asked me to tell the Secretary of Defense, Louis Johnson, and Bradley about them. They agreed and the President’s Chiefs of Staff agreed to give consideration to it shortly afterwards. Carnes went out there and they agreed to his plan.  So that the President did back General MacArthur 100%.

But I had doubts about whether he would abide by the other instructions which I gave him that he was not to get involved in Mainland China. Later on when he clearly disobeyed the instructions he had been given, General Marshall, General Bradley, Dean Acheson, and myself were the four the President consulted three of four times between Friday noon and Monday afternoon when he decided to relieve MacArthur. So I was involved in it, but I gave some warning of the feel that I had that General MacArthur was very strongly for fighting communists wherever they were.

POIRIER: Yes, I remember the account of that.