Harry S. Truman photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing the Foreign Service Act.

August 13, 1946

IT IS SIGNIFICANT that this bill (H.R. 6967, "to improve, strengthen, and expand the Foreign Service of the United States and to consolidate and revise the laws relating to its administration") comes to me for signature at just the time that the efforts of Secretary Byrnes at the Peace Conference are demonstrating how great a stake the United States has in world affairs. While we strive to reach international agreement on the large and confused issues, we can make progress by trying to perfect those instruments of international relations which it lies in our power to improve. This administrationist is doing everything possible to back up participation in the United Nations and ancillary organizations, and in the International Bank and the International Monetary Fund. This Foreign Service legislation is consistent with all our efforts in this field. It seeks to make the Service as efficient an' instrument of our foreign policy as possible and to make our efforts to win the peace that much more effective.

The traditional responsibilities of the Foreign Service have increased in complexity and importance and many new duties have been added as a result of the inclusion in the Department of State of some of the functions of war-time agencies. The efficient performance of this service is now more vital to the Government and individual American citizens than before the war. It must keep our Government informed with the greatest foresight and accuracy; it must make effective our policies in great countries and small; it must protect our citizens abroad in a troubled world and must promote our commerce under conditions of trade still influenced by the war and subject to controls not always familiar to the private trader.

The Foreign Service is now functioning as best it can on an outmoded plan laid down in 1924. In this bill we create a "New Model" service. One of the basic reforms is a revision of the salary structure so that a man without independent means can serve his country as an Ambassador or Minister or in any Foreign Service position as effectively as a wealthy man. At the same time that the bill improves compensation it subjects the Service to more rigid requirements in regard to promotion and training; it seeks to keep our diplomats and consuls from losing touch with American life and thought by providing more frequent and varied assignments in this country; and it tries to make the Service truly representative of the whole government and people by making it possible for the best qualified men and women in the country, in or out of the government, to have tours of duty with the Foreign Service in any of its ranks.

We hope to speed the success of our foreign policy by improving its instruments. For a country situated as we are, only the best possible Foreign Service will suffice; this new act will, I hope, provide the foundations on which we can build such a Service.

Note: The Foreign Service Act of 1946 is Public Law 724, 79th Congress (60 Stat. 999).

Harry S Truman, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Foreign Service Act. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232020

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