FOREIGN OFFICE FILES: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Series One: USA - Politics & Diplomacy, 1960-1974
(Public Record Office Class FO 371: American Department - United States)
Part 1: The John F Kennedy Years, 1960-1963
Anglo-American Relations [FO 371/162593]:
Anglo-American relations are fundamentally good. The alliance of World War II has continued in the form of close co-operation which has not been affected by changes of government in either country. A common language, a shared cultural heritage and history are valuable elements in close Anglo-American links, but much more important is our community of interest in the maintenance of the Western alliance.
In the United States eyes our main assets as an ally are our political stability and our reputation in world affairs together with our dependability, good sense and flexibility. On the other hand, our role and influence would be accorded considerably more weight in the United States if our contribution to the Western defence effort were greater. The Americans would also like us to provide more aid to the developing countries. Our economic problems are fairly well understood by the Administration but in the wider circles of congressional and public opinion there is some tendency to suspect that we are not willing to make the required effort to set our economic house in order. Americans put a very high value on business success and enterprise; nothing could persuade them more effectively of our worth as an ally than a lasting success in solving our problems over the balance of payments. There is also still an inclination to place certain of our troubles at the door of the Welfare State.
A letter from Ormsby-Gore to the Foreign Secretary, dated June 14, 1962 [FO 371/162600]:
My Dear Alec [Douglas Home],
We had dinner alone with the president and his wife on Tuesday evening before going to a play. For the first time since I have been here I found him really worried and preoccupied. His depression was not caused by anything in the international field, but by his domestic troubles, particularly with regard to his bad relations with the business world. He could see no early solution in sight regarding the drain on the gold reserves; the expected upswing in the economy seemed to be petering out; his tax bill designed to give modest help to industry was being blocked in Congress which also now seemed quite likely to vote against his recommended increase in the national debt. He told me that if this happened it would have the effect of withdrawing from the economy the sum of $2 billion. Nothing could be more ill-timed as all the indications were that the economy badly needed a shot in the arm...
...I unfortunately did not receive your letter about his wild statements made on the occasion of Archbishop Makarios's arrival in Washington. However, we both of us took him to task about the adjectives he had used on that occasion. I said that I did not think that the Archbishop should be praised for being a courageous fighter when this courage took the form of sending his gunmen to shoot innocent men and women in the back. He seemed to be rather ashamed of the language he had used but, as you know, he makes a more or less impromptu statement on these occasions and the words "fighter for freedom" come rather readily to his lips whenever he is welcoming the leader of an ex-colonial power. He certainly does not take them seriously himself and was somewhat surprised that they had made such a bad impression. Having had your letter I will find a further opportunity of impressing upon him the extremely bad impression his remarks had made upon a great many people in England, including the Prime Minister.
Crisis in Louisiana, A report from the British Consul in New Orleans to the Embassy in Washington November, 1960 [FO 371/ 148637]:
On Monday last, November 14, four little Negro girls entered the first grade of two previously all-white public schools in New Orleans. The principle, as well as the fact, of integration had thereby been established. Nothing of the sort had been seen here since the days of Reconstruction; and New Orleanians have lived uneasily since then through three days of turmoil and near disaster.
The days immediately preceding the deadline set by the Federal District Court were marked by a bewildering series of legal moves as the State Legislature struggled in vain to avoid the ineluctable. From the beginning the legislators were up against a Federal Judge (Skelly Wright) determined to brook no further procrastination; and as State Resolution succeeded State Resolution each was countered, frustrated and nullified by an injunction or restraining order from the lonely man in the Federal Building, on whom fate and duty had placed one of the most exquisitely painful tasks which a Southerner could be confronted...
...The Governor (Jimmie Davis) made a television address in which he stated the States Rights case in moderate terms and appealed to the white and Negro communities to go on living their separate lives. He emphasised that it was not his intention or policy to close the schools, and he gave every appearance of a man who, having gone as far as he can to discharge his political obligations, wants to wash his hands of the whole ugly mess.
Unfortunately, if the Governor is not a man cast in the mould of the dangerous radical extremist, he is sufficiently pusillanimous to be incapable of containing the danger from the lunatic element. The three days since integration was carried out have belonged to the White Citizens' Councils, their poor white followers, and the truant teen-age boys and girls from the local high-schools. It is the latter rather than the embattled parents of white children at the two integrated schools, who have raised the temperature to near flash point and who were the main actors in yesterday's mob scenes and in the after dark assaults on individual Negroes.
..In retrospect, it now seems a great pity that the schools selected for the integration of the pupil placement scheme were both situated in poor white-cum-Negro districts. It is here that the economic rivalry between white man and Negro is at its keenest ; and if the poor white man is often less well off than his more assiduous Negro rival he has at least been able to tell himself that he is the Negro's social superior. Deprive him of this security, however illusory, and he joins the wild, unreasoning mob in the streets. Had integration been inaugurated in one of the up-town middle class areas it would have provoked a far milder reaction. Indeed it is precisely in these areas that you find the bulk of those elements who have organised the opposition to the extremists and have worked actively for a reasonable and peaceful solution.