May 03, 1947

President Truman, about to Implement the Truman Doctrine in Greece, Calls Greek-American Politicians “Connivers”

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Truman might look like a Missouri farmer in this letter, railing as he does against Greeks as connivers, but if his description of Greek-Americans seems small-minded at best, and bigoted at worst, that is almost beside the point – for this is a letter about the newly postulated Truman Doctrine, rolled out before Congress just weeks before, and about to be put into service on behalf of the Greek people. The Doctrine, which stated "it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures," meant that 300 million dollars military and economic aid would, within the month, be brought to bear in the Greek Civil War. Truman, quite wisely, didn’t want the aid to be hopelessly dissevered among various anti-Communistic factions. His expression of that policy here is, undoubtedly, crude and stereotypical, but nonetheless not without a point:

It would be bad policy to appoint any Greek on a Commission to administer funds for the Greeks. Nearly every Greek in this country belongs to some political faction in Greece and, as you know, there are not any more active connivers and politic[i]ans than are the Greeks, so I am sure that if I expect to get a result that will be in the public interest of the United States I must have an organization that can't be influenced by local politics.

Truman’s objective, to assure the defeat of guerilla forces allied with the Greek Communist Party, was ultimately successful – and for this, he earned a special place of love and veneration,in the Greek American community.

Typed Letter Signed (“Harry”), as President, with autograph postscript, 1 page, quarto, The White House, Washington, D.C., May 3, 1947. To former Secretary of War, Harry H. Woodring.

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Transcript

The White House
Washington

May 3, 1947

Dear Harry:

I appreciated very highly your good letter of May first and I'll keep your friend Leonida in mind but it is my opinion that it would be bad policy to appoint any Greek on a Commission to administer funds for the Greeks.  Nearly every Greek in this country belongs to some political faction in Greece and, as you know, there are not any more active connivers and polit[i]cans than are the Greeks, so I am sure that if I expect to get a result that will be in the public interest of the United States I must have an organization that can't be influenced by local politics.  I do appreciate very much your interest in it and I am sorry that I can't tell you yes right off the reel.

I am glad the Democrats are in good shape in Kansas.  I can't say the same for Missouri - in fact it looks as if things get more tangled up there every day.

General Marshall, as you are well aware, is one of the ablest and I appreciate very much your efforts in getting him in as Chief of Staff - he really filled the bill.

Sincerely yours,

HARRY.

Honorable Harry H. Woodring
Topeka
Kansas

My best to Mrs. W. & the family.