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April 2013
the foreign Service journal
whose Washington jobs
were opened to Foreign
Service personnel.
Tis transformation of
the Service from a small,
collegial body to a more
democratic, if bureau-
cratic, organization took
place during a time of
vicious political pressures.
In the early 1950s Senator Joseph McCarthy, R-Wis., and his
allies accused members of the Foreign Service of pro-commu-
nist sympathies; the leadership of the department, also under
attack, did not defend its personnel, many of whom saw their
careers destroyed. Even after McCarthy’s fall in 1954, Secretary
of State John Foster Dulles demanded “positive loyalty” that
punished candor and rewarded conformity.
Te American Foreign
Service Association in the
late 1950s and early 1960s
was a quiet place that
operated out of a couple of
rented rooms. Its assets in
1960 were worth less than
$200,000, including $95,000
in a dedicated scholarship
fund. AFSA was, in the judg-
ment of one of its members, “an efete club of elderly gentle-
men whose headquarters could not be located and who took
care never to fght for any cause.”
Others had similarly harsh words for the state of the Foreign
Service as an institution. A report prepared by President John
F. Kennedy’s transition team said that the Service sufered from
“professional deformations,” due to its vast increase in size and
the “trauma of the Dulles-McCarthy years.”
Te report went on to note that the whole Department of
State exerted a “tremendous institutional inertial force,” and
“even such a distinguished career group as the Foreign Service
has failed to keep pace with the novel and expanding demands
of a changing world.” George F. Kennan, then in private life,
dismissed the senior men in the Service as “empty bundles of
good manners.”
The Postwar Foreign Service
In particular, the Foreign Service was struggling to absorb
new personnel. With new postwar responsibilities, the Service
had grown tenfold in a single decade: from about 800 employ-
ees in 1940 to about 8,000 in 1950. In 1948, when a blue-ribbon
commission recommended combining the Foreign Service and
the State Department’s Civil Service corps, Secretary of State
George C. Marshall said no. His successor, Dean Acheson, did
likewise when he received a similar recommendation two years
later from another panel.
But when Henry Wriston’s commission recommended a
partial merger of Foreign and Civil Service employees in 1955,
Secretary of State John Foster Dulles agreed. Over the next two
years, to the dismay of many old-school ofcers, the Foreign
Service took in about 1,500 State Department civil servants,
Harry W. Kopp, a former FSO, is the co-author (with the late Charles
Gillespie) of
Career Diplomacy: Life and Work in the U.S. Foreign
(Georgetown University Press, 2008). He is now at work on a
history of AFSA.
Above: In the early 1950s Senator Joseph McCarthy, R-Wis.,
accused members of the Foreign Service of pro-communist
sympathies. On p. 19: AFSA members and staf depart for a
day of lobbying on Capitol Hill.
As late as the 1960s, AFSA
was still widely dismissed
as “an efete club of elderly
gentlemen…who took care
never to fght for any cause.”