Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference at Augusta, Georgia

April 15, 1959

THE PRESIDENT. What I have to say concerns Secretary Dulles.

Q. What was that, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. It concerns Secretary Dulles. I had a conversation this morning with him, and in view of the findings the doctors have made--yesterday--and which were not yet reported when I met him day before yesterday, he has definitely made up his mind to submit his resignation.

The formal letter of resignation will reach me in a day or so. I will then reply to it.

I want to make one or two things clear. The findings are not of the kind, so far as I am aware, that make him helpless. He is, nevertheless, incapacitated, so far as carrying on the administrative burdens of the office, as well as doing the thinking for it over there.

Q. You say he is absolutely incapacitated?

THE PRESIDENT. I am saying incapacitated for carrying on the administrative load, in addition to assisting in the making of policy. So I have asked him to remain as my consultant, and I will appoint him to some office that makes it possible for him to be useful both to the State Department and to me; because I think all of you know my opinion of Secretary Dulles. I personally believe he has filled his office with greater distinction and greater ability than any other man our country has known. He is a man of tremendous character and courage, intelligence and wisdom. Therefore my determination to keep him close where he can be useful, both to the State Department and to me and indeed in considering everything that may affect our foreign relations, I think is a very wise and proper thing to do.

With respect to a possible successor, no final decision has been made, and I will let you people know as quickly as this is practicable.

Now I believe there is no other particular additional information that I can provide, but if there are any questions on this particular subject, I would be glad to entertain any of them.

Q. One thing, Mr. President, is there anything that you would care to say as to the effect of this necessary action on the coming meeting of the foreign ministers?

THE PRESIDENT. Wall, yes; I think I should say something about it. As you know, both Foster and I have kept in close communication on this matter. He has developed a team over in the State Department of which he is very proud and in which he has great confidence. And we believe that whatever the decision is, that there will be no damage to the, you might say, effectiveness of our presentations in the next conference.

Q. Would you expect the Secretary's successor to come from within the Government?

THE PRESIDENT. I wouldn't want to say so at the moment.

Q. Mr. President, does this mean that Mr. Herter will attend both the April 29 and May 11 foreign ministers conferences as our representative?

THE PRESIDENT. I would say this: no matter who the appointee is, yes. He would be going to both, no matter who the successor. He would be going almost as a matter of necessity, I think, because he is familiar with it.

Q. Mr. President, does this mean that the Secretary will become a member of the White House staff and not a State Department employee then?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't even thought of the exact status, but it will be on a consultative basis. As you know, in each department, and for me, there are allowed certain consultants, but he will be there on that basis. And this, by the way, is something that I know that he wants to do, as well as knowing that I want him to do it.

Q. Mr. President, can you give us an idea when you might be able to make up your mind about his successor?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can just say this: it will not be long delayed. It will be a matter of days.

Q. Mr. President, as you know, it has been rather taken for granted, I guess in Washington, that Mr. Herter would succeed Mr. Dulles if he had to resign. Does your announcement that you will make the announcement later suggest that it might be somebody else when you make the decision?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there are a number of people, I think, in Government, or at least a few, who have particular talent in this field, and there are all kinds of considerations to be studied. And indeed, I shall talk--before I make final decision--to Foster himself about this thing. But I just don't want to imply either an intention to appoint a particular man or any refusal in that direction.

Is there anything else, gentlemen?

I can't tell you how much regret I feel about this. I am quite sure that the United States will share that feeling.

Goodbye, and thank you.

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and fifty-sixth news conference was held in the Colonial Room of the Richmond Hotel, Augusta, Ga., at 9:35 a.m. on Wednesday, April 15, 1959. The attendance was not recorded.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, The President's News Conference at Augusta, Georgia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235447

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