Oral History Interview with
Secretary of the Treasury in the Truman Administration,
1946-53. Other Federal positions once held include Executive Vice-President
and Director, Defense Plant Corporation, 1940-43; Assistant to the Director
of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, 1940-44; Federal Loan Administrator,
1945; Director, Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, 1945-46.
Secretary Snyder has been a longtime close friend of Harry S. Truman beginning
with their service in the U.S. Army Reserves after World War I.
John W. Snyder
February 26, 1969
By Jerry N. Hess
[Notices and Restrictions | Interview
Transcript | Additional Snyder Oral History
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.
Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.
Opened September, 1970
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page | Notices
and Restrictions | Interview Transcript
| Additional Snyder Oral History Transcripts]
Oral History Interview with
John W. Snyder
February 26, 1969
By Jerry N. Hess
SNYDER: In my appearance before Congress I tried to make these points:
First, that the NAC was studying the problem of what to do about the assets
of the Marshall plan countries located in the United States; two, since
it would not be possible or desirable to obtain all the goods needed in
the program from the United States, the NAC believed that the ECA administrator
should be authorized to procure supplies outside of this country (that
was what we called the off-shore procurement). Three: European countries
negotiating agreements with the United States had as a prerequisite to
coming into the Marshall plan, a requirement to carry out measures to
insure monetary and financial stability; four: counterpart funds should
be drawn on only for constructive, stabilizing purposes; five: some
adjustment of currency exchange rates should be expected in the course
of the program; and six and finally: stabilization loans to European countries
might be feasible within a year or two. In closing my remarks to Congress,
The National Advisory Council has carefully reviewed the procedures
which have been used by the inter-departmental committees of experts
in arriving at the figures which we have now settled on. The procedures
involved a critical examination of European needs, and of availability
in the United States, and in other major supplying areas, and careful
estimates of European dollar income and resources. The National Advisory
Council believes that this approach is sound, and has concluded that
the recommended amount is needed to achieve the objectives of the program.
It would serve no good purpose to ask the European countries to put
their own financial houses in order if we ourselves adopted methods
which might accentuate inflation in the United States, or upset our
own economic stability. It is my firm opinion that we should finance
the European Recovery program within a balanced budget. I am confident
that so long as we pursue a sound fiscal policy, we shall be able to
costs of the European Recovery Program out of current revenue.
Following this statement, which I read, quite a number of questions came
up from the Congressmen. I recall one exchange particularly that I thought
was of considerable interest because it revealed, I think rather well,
my attitude towards the conduct of foreign policy, and it also illustrated
the friendly attitude of Congress towards me. The committee chairman,
Charles A. Eaton of New Jersey asked if I would want to accept the responsibility
for administering the European Recovery Program. My answer to this most
friendly question was, and I quote from the record
We could get off into some petty, difficult areas if we started out
with two different Cabinet members operating in the foreign policy
I went on to say that:
If there were two Cabinet members in this
field, they might reach a time when they would not agree on certain
matters. We must have one foreign policy with the financial aspect
and the political aspect working hand in hand.
On April 3, 1948, Congress approved the Economic Cooperation Act, and
five billion three hundred million dollars was authorized for the first
year. Of this amount, one billion was set aside for loans. This proved
to be too much for loans, and the funds so earmarked were largely unused
in that year. In later appropriations, the amount for loans was decreased
until in 1949 the ECA was given the authority to decide whether its funds
should go for loans or grants. By passing the ECA bill and appropriating
money to operate the program, Congress put into motion one of the most
noteworthy Government acts of this age. It was to Winston Churchill, "the
most unsordid act in history," and thirdly, many people, both in America
and Europe, agreed with him.
The Marshall plan and the European Recovery Program, as it became officially,
was unusual and even unique in many aspects. For our purposes, it must
suffice to name but a few. The predominance of grants over loans, that
is between the fiscal years 1948 and 1952, grants totaled nine billion
one hundred and twenty-eight million dollars, while credits utilized in
this same period in the form of loans amounted only to one billion one
hundred thirty-two million dollars. This predominance of grants over loans
is fully justified by the world situation, and it marked a decisive return
to this type of foreign aid after a period immediately following the war
when loans were heavily relied on. Another innovation was the use of funds
from the ECA for off-shore purchases. The program also gave both direct
and indirect support to the inter-European monetary and economic cooperation.
One major characteristic of the Marshall plan was the use of counterpart
funds for a number of extremely worthwhile economic developments for
projects. Finally, the program put an emphasis on both technical assistance
and private investment as major components of our foreign economic policy.
By the end of 1951 when the European Recovery Program was absorbed by
the Mutual Security Program the Marshall plan appropriations totaled ten
billion seven hundred and seventy-one million six hundred and sixty-five
thousand nine hundred forty-seven dollars, while expenditures amounted
to nine billion four hundred and fourteen million thirty-eight thousand
seven hundred and eighteen dollars. This was far below the twelve to seventeen
billion dollar cost that had been estimated by the President's Committee
on Foreign Aid for the full-length program. However, there are two good
reasons why this was so. First, economic recovery in many fields exceeded
estimation, and U.S. assistance was therefore reduced, but in addition
the European Recovery Program was absorbed by the Mutual Security Administration
before it had run its entire course. There were several months still left
to go on its original four and a quarter year plan. Although many of the
many Marshall plan programs were carried to completion by the Mutual Security
Program, it cannot be denied that the latter program marked a cutting
off of the recovery program to a considerable degree. Nevertheless, during
its lifetime the Marshall plan had been a powerful tool of United States
foreign policy, and a potent weapon for world stability.
The administrator of ECA had been Paul G. Hoffman, former president of
the Studebaker Corporation, and Averell Harriman was picked for the post
of overseas representative for ECA,
with headquarters in Paris. I, fortunately, had very good relations with
both of these gentlemen. The National Advisory Council continued to be
the major, official link between me and the foreign aid programs. But
my personal contact with Hoffman and Harriman added greatly to my effectiveness
and helpfulness and inevitably to my participation in foreign aid matters.
However, my activities in direct foreign aid programs were only one facet
of my responsibility in the international economic field. Trade and monetary
problems occupied much of my time during the Marshall plan period. Most
of these problems were related to the Fund and Bank, but some of them
had a relevance to the United States outside both these institutions,
largely because of earlier commitments, or because of the unusual position
of the subject nation in regard to world economy. Such was the case with
Great Britain, a country whose affairs have
always been of great significance to the United States and who, because
of her trading position, had had much the same relationship with many
other nations of the world, as had the United States.
I think, Mr. Hess, this pretty well rounds out the ECA program and points
out its genuine success by the fact that we were able to turn the economies
of most of the European countries around and start them on a genuine recovery
program, and with much less expenditures than were estimated initially,
and in much shorter time. If there are any questions that you'd like to
ask, I'd be happy to try to talk with you about them.
HESS: I've been taking notes as we have gone along,
and I have several questions. One of them pertains to Mr. Hoover. Did
you talk to Mr. Hoover before he agreed to accept the leadership of the
food program after the war?
SNYDER: As to exact timing, Mr. Hess, I talked with him after it was
decided, by Mr. Truman, to invite him to handle the food program in Europe
following World War II. As to whether it was just before he accepted,
or during the period he was considering it, he very quickly accepted it.
I had quite a number of talks with him subsequently.
HESS: Did he seem to want to take on that task again?
SNYDER: He was delighted with the opportunity to take over the task because
he felt it was something in which he had had experience, he knew the people,
he knew their ways. Back after World War I, he had been very successful
in the food program then and he evidenced real pleasure and desire to
take over the job.
HESS: Was this the first request that Mr. Truman had made of Mr. Hoover
after Mr. Truman became President?
HESS: Do you think that he appreciated the fact that a Democratic President
was asking his advice and wanted him to help out in this period of time?
SNYDER: In later years, Mr. Hoover said a number of times to me that
Mr. Truman's invitation to him to undertake this job was a great stimulant
in his life and without doubt added ten years more to his life, because
it gave him an opportunity to do something constructive, whereas he had
been somewhat pushed in the background in the years following his Presidency.
HESS: As you know, Mr. Hoover was quite often regarded as being quite
a sobersides. You told me a story one time about Mr. Hoover and Sam Rayburn.
Would you relate that for the record?
SNYDER: Yes, I always enjoy telling that story.
At a Gridiron Club dinner one night, this incident occurred. It had been
the custom of the Gridiron Club to invite the incumbent President to make
a few remarks and then, if possible, to have the out-President, or leader
of the out-party make a few remarks.
HESS: The leader of the "loyal opposition."
SNYDER: Yes, the leader of the "loyal opposition." On this occasion,
Mr. Truman made a short talk and they called on President Hoover to respond,
and he made one of the cleverest, wittiest, short speeches that just delighted
everyone there, and greatly surprised many, because it had not been generally
thought that he had much of a sense of humor. After the dinner, we retired
to the Presidential Room at the Statler and I was talking with President
Hoover when Speaker Rayburn came up and said, "Mr. President, I want to
congratulate you on one of the most delightful, clever speeches that
I've ever listened to. It was so witty. You turned such very delightful
phrases; and to tell you the truth, I just didn't realize that you had
such a sense of humor."
To which, President Hoover replied, "Why, Mr. Speaker, I always had it,
but the damned Democrats wouldn't let it come out."
HESS: That's very good.
Well, moving on, I understand that at the end of the war there was some
effort to try to get Great Britain to ship some of the unused supplies
that we had shipped to them on to needy countries on the Continent, so
that they could get them there in a shorter period of time, and that we
would resupply Great Britain at a later date? Is that correct?
SNYDER: There was some talk around at different quarters. However we
must remember that Great Britain herself was in a pretty tight situation
at that time, as their food supplies and all other supplies were at a
very low ebb, and they were on pretty strict rations. Those of us who
went over to England shortly after V-E Day, recall the plainness of the
diet, so I don't think any great pressure was put on them to do that.
Not to my knowledge.
HESS: Were they a little reluctant? Do you recall that they were somewhat
reluctant about shipping some things over?
SNYDER: Well, as I say, I don't know if very much pressure was put on
them, but I just say that it seemed to be a rather inappropriate effort
to try to strip food away from them when they were so short in supply
HESS: And you mentioned the committee that was set up under your leadership
to communicate with the people throughout the country regarding the aid
for Greece and Turkey. What were the views of the business leaders regarding
SNYDER: After they had been told of the dire facts concerning this proposed
aid, almost 100 percent were very much for it, and agreed to write letters
and agreed to talk in favor of it. There probably were a few opposed,
as there always are. It's difficult to get unanimity in matters of this
sort, but we were highly pleased with the quick acceptance of the problem
by the businessmen, and their willingness to lend their assistance to
backing up public opinion and supporting the aid program.
HESS: Did you personally speak to any of the business
SNYDER: Oh, I must have spoken to twenty-five or thirty leaders of groups
HESS: Do you recall who?
SNYDER: Not exactly. I'd have to go back to the records, if I have them,
but I recall my pleasure at the quick response that so many gave to backing
it up, and the assurances of backing it up.
HESS: What other groups were approached at this time?
SNYDER: Well, as I recall, we tried to reach the leadership of all groups,
farming groups, labor groups, business groups, the church committees,
the international religious leadership, of course we talked to a great
many. We talked to Congressmen. We tried to reach as many different groups
and leaders of those groups as we could reach.
HESS: What were the attitudes of some of the leaders of the other groups,
take labor, for instance. What was the attitude of the labor leaders at
SNYDER: I don't recall exactly what response we did get. I just don't
HESS: Concerning Secretary Marshall's speech at Harvard in June of 1947,
the very famous Marshall plan speech, were leaders of some of the European
governments notified ahead of time of the importance, and perhaps even
of the content of the Secretary's speech?
SNYDER: Not officially, but it is my understanding that probably it was
suggested to [Ernest] Bevin to watch for the speech and give an opinion
on what he thought of it. I don't recall any other statement that was
made around that time that indicated other leaders. Someone might have
called them and flagged the fact that such a speech was to be made.
HESS: Do you recall who mentioned that, at that time, that Bevin was
SNYDER: Well, I wouldn't want to discuss that.
HESS: All right. Why was Bevin singled out as the one foreign leader
to notify in this manner?
SNYDER: That I wouldn't know. Probably because he was a quick reactor,
and might have an appreciation of this type of help and take advantage
of it quicker in a fashion that would lead the other nations to follow.
That's just a conjecture on my part.
HESS: And you spoke as being portrayed in the press as being quite conservative
and wanting to operate the foreign aid program within a balanced budget.
Why do you think you were singled out in that manner?
SNYDER: Well, probably, as I just said a moment ago, I had made statements
before Congress, and public statements, that I hoped we could work out
this program within a balanced budget, and so for that very reason, some
of the liberal press and some of the liberal people in politics tried
to attach a label of reluctance and extreme conservatism on me at the
time, probably because I had come from the banking field, and it was so
easy to label a banker as being obstructionist and opposed to these more
general, liberal ideas of one nation helping another. Of course, I have
for years been trying to determine just what the difference was between
a liberal and a conservative and it has been pretty difficult to do, because
frankly at times, I have thought I was very liberal in some of my views,
speaking, maybe because of my training and my personal inclination, I
have been somewhat conservative. So one day at a press conference, jokingly,
I said, "Well, now you can label me as a liberal conservative," and everybody
had a big laugh. There was a double serving there, but frankly that is
as near as I can come to labeling my views as liberal or conservative.
HESS: We discussed this a couple of times, but what would be a thumbnail
description of a liberal, and what would be a thumbnail description of
SNYDER: Well, you and I agreed that we were going to make a careful study
of that and come up with a definition other than the one that we could
read in the dictionary. Of course, Webster says that a liberal is one
favoring reform or progress; and a conservative is one tending to preserve
established institutions and so forth, as opposed to change, sort of
a moderate or a prudent operator. Well, frankly, from those two definitions,
I think you can see, Mr. Hess, from your knowledge of my attitudes while
I was in Government, that I have a measure of both of those. I certainly
have favored a great many reforms, and I certainly did favor progress.
I demonstrated that in the Defense Plant Corporation, the Federal Loan
Administration, and the OWMR, and while I was Secretary of the Treasury;
but at the same time, I think you find evidence at an attempt to be prudent
along with it. You can see that I have had great difficulty in working
out a label for myself that would be acceptable generally to the press
at that time, and to the general political area.
HESS: You mentioned that quite often bankers are thought of as "obstructionists."
Do you think
that that view of the banking industry is justified?
SNYDER: No, and yes. There have been some bankers who were always strongly
opposed to changes, particularly at the time of FDR. The banking fraternity
did not approve of many of his so-called New Deal projects because they
were radical changes from what had been accepted as our general policy
for many years. It was a rather interesting experience for me to observe
at the time how the bankers had just about lost all of their initiative,
all of their drive during the depression, and had just run out of ideas.
When Mr. Roosevelt took over and closed all the banks temporarily, he
actually strengthened them through reorganization, improvement in their
capital structure and in their cash positions. He saved many of the banks
from permanent closing and really put the banking business back on its
feet again. We
have had no major bank trouble since the weaker banks were weeded out
in '33 and the FDIC was set up. We've had no major banking troubles, runs
on banks and/or material crises of that type. And yet, at the time, of
course, the bankers were just hovering around looking to the Federal Government
to help them out and saying, "Save us." It wasn't very long after they
got back on their feet and began to operate smoothly again that we began
to find that there were many, many signs of opposition on the part of
the banking fraternity to some of the so-called progressive ideas that
were being advanced by the administration of Mr. Roosevelt, and later
by Mr. Truman.
I might add, though, that my experience has been very, very pleasant
in the recollection of the wonderful support that we have received from
bankers on so many occasions for important matters toward legislation,
particularly this recovery program. We received vital assistance from
banking thinking, from the bankers of both Europe and of the United States,
and the operation of the World Bank and the Monetary Fund has received
tremendous attention from the banking world.
HESS: As an opinion, would you think that most bankers were Republicans
or were Democrats?
SNYDER: My rough guess is that it is heavily weighted with Republicans.
HESS: Why do you think that the Republican Party, or the philosophy of
the Republican Party, would appeal to bankers more than the Democratic
SNYDER: Again trying to get back to that definition, I think because
the banker tends to be more conservative and the Republican Party has
long carried the label of conservatism.
HESS: You're a Democrat and you were president of one of the largest
banks in the United States in St. Louis. Why are you a Democrat?
SNYDER: Well, I've always been a Democrat. I like many of the Democratic
aims and objectives. I was brought up a Democrat. Of course, my private
business association has been largely with Republicans. The officers in
the banks that I've been associated with have been largely Republicans.
HESS: How about Mr. [Walter] Smith?
SNYDER: He was a very strong Republican. Mr. Frank Watts was a Republican
and [Richard] Hawes was a Republican. And generally speaking, the top
bankers lean towards the Republicans. There are some Democrats, of course,
but you asked for percentages. I guess the larger percentage are Republicans.
But let me repeat, I personally received tremendous help and cooperation
banks in all of my public activities.
HESS: Could we discuss for a few moments the views of the various Cabinet
members on the subject of foreign aid and the Marshall plan, and just
the gentlemen who were in those particular Cabinet posts, say in '47 and
'48, in the years in question, and tell me a little bit about your views
about what should be done in the field of foreign aid at that time?
SNYDER: This will be as a conjecture, looking back so far. But, of course,
according to protocol, let's start with the State Department: Secretary
Marshall, who proposed the Marshall plan, was naturally very strongly
in favor of it and attempted to lend every possible aid to its formation
and operation. His Under Secretary at that time, Dean Acheson, was very,
very strongly in favor of it, and worked assiduously towards its formation
and operation; and as I
think I've told you, he was, along with Will Clayton -- probably they
were the two instigators of the Marshall plan initially.
HESS: I have one question about Mr. Acheson. As you may recall, he made
a very important speech in Cleveland, Mississippi prior to the speech
that Secretary Marshall did.
SNYDER: That's right, and it was practically unnoticed.
HESS: I have read in some history books that Mr. Truman was supposed
to have made that particular appearance in Cleveland, Mississippi at that
time, and then that was called off. Is that correct?
SNYDER: That's correct I think.
HESS: Why was Mr. Truman's appearance canceled?
SNYDER: I've forgotten. Something probably came up, you know. That happens
frequently. Well, I won't say frequently, but it does happen.
HESS: Moving on to the Secretary of the Treasury, we know already about
your views. Let us move on to the Defense Department.
SNYDER: By the time ECA was being promoted, the Defense Department had
been formed, and had combined the Army and the Navy, and the new department,
the Air Force, and was under the direction of Secretary James Forrestal.
Forrestal was in favor of the program; he had so many other problems at
the time, and he didn't probably take so much active participation in
the operation of ECA, but he did indirectly, because he was forming up
the military assistance program, in which he was very effective. So I
think in fairness to Forrestal, we must say that he did take a very active
and aggressive part in the
program, because the military program was vitally essential in this whole
Tom Clark was in the Justice Department. Of course, he was kept very
busy in working out the legal phases of what we could do and couldn't
do, and in our legislation that was sent up to Congress that had to be
worked out under the Constitution, and he was cooperative and very helpful
in that fashion.
I think at the time the legislation was introduced, [Robert F.] Hannegan
was Postmaster General, and my recollection is that Mr. Truman used him
quite a bit in getting political backing for the ECA in its formative
days before the legislation was set up. This was during the time that
we were trying to get the businessman, and labor and all the others to
take a favorable attitude. Hannegan was working in the political field.
HESS: Was he effective in such actions as this in the political field?
SNYDER: Well, it's hard to measure because he resigned shortly before
the legislation actually went into effect, and following him, Mr. Donaldson
took very little other than acquiescence in the program. It's hard to
say, though, just what measure any of them from the Post Office Department
may have had, because they had programs in operation trying to work out
the mail situation, so there was the work that was done in that field;
but as a standout, Mr. Donaldson did not appear too many times in other
HESS: Was he a vigorous Cabinet member?
SNYDER: No, Donaldson had come up through the ranks from being a postal
employee in Kansas City, and through the years he had built himself up
where he was one of the top civil servants in the Post Office Department.
He had grown rather organizationally minded, but was not an aggressive,
Over in the Interior Department, Krug did not take too active a part,
although he did on a number of questions that came up in regard to raw
materials, critical materials, the distribution of oil and problems from
things of that sort, why, he did offer cooperation.
Clint [Clinton P.] Anderson initially worked very, very aggressively
in Agriculture, in the food side of it, and in reorganization of international
food committees, and international food organizations, he was very cooperative.
Averell Harriman, Secretary of Commerce in the early days of the planning
of the ECA, was extremely helpful. He had had vast experience in the diplomatic
field. He had been ambassador
to England, and of course had previously been Ambassador to Russia, which
gave him a diplomatic air and knowledge. He was extremely helpful in the
organization and planning of it, and its passage through Congress, and
later became U.S. representative to the ECA as an ambassador stationed
in Paris, after it was passed. He resigned his position as Secretary of
Commerce in April of 1948 and took the job as Ambassador.
HESS: Why was he chosen for the post of the overseas representative?
SNYDER: As being a well-fitted man diplomatically, and through experience,
and availability. He was one of our good men, and we felt he should do
HESS: As you know, Paul Hoffman was selected to be the head of ECA.
SNYDER: That was international. He was the head
of it, but Harriman was to represent the United States. Hoffman was to
be representing all people, all nations.
[Lewis] Schwellenbach in the Labor Department initially took an interest
in it. He was not well during the periods of the formation of it, and
died in the spring of 1948, just about the time that the ECA was going
Maurice Tobin in the Labor Department took a very cooperative and active
part in working with the labor organizations in Europe and their relationships
with our labor organization. That about covers it, I think, unless you
have some questions.
HESS: No, that's about all on the Cabinet.
Do you recall if President Miguel Alemán of Mexico may have had
any influence on Mr. Truman's thinking regarding aid to foreign countries?
SNYDER: I'm not too sure about how much specific influence President
Alemán had on Mr. Truman on this particular subject. He was a very
aggressive, forward-looking head of state. As a matter of fact, the real
economic growth, I think, of Mexico began under his administration. He
took office in 1946, and Mexico has been on the upgrade ever since. They
began to build a middle class, which is probably the only Latin American
country that does have one. He saw the effect that a middle class would
have, and he took the United States as his pattern. He and Mr. Truman
were very good friends and exchanged ideas, and Mr. Truman did
discuss the plan of the ECA with him. I recall his talking with me about
it, and he considered it one of the great plans of the postwar period,
and he was constantly intimating that it would be a very fine thing if
we had a Latin American program similar to it. I think that you'll find
that he actually supported it very strongly in his conversations. Whether
it had any effect on Mr. Truman I don't know. I think Mr. Truman had already
worked up his plan. He may have discussed it with him.
HESS: One of the reasons I ask that was because Mr. Truman was, as you
know, in Mexico during March of '47, and then President Alemán
was in the United States in May of that same year. Do you recall if there
was ever any official thinking in the high levels of Government as to
having something like a Marshall plan for Latin America?
SNYDER: Oh, yes, that was discussed at great length, and various substitutes
of organizations were formulated, but nothing of the intensity or of the
size of the ECA ever developed.
HESS: Do you recall why that didn't develop at that time?
SNYDER: Well, it was largely getting agreement, think, among Latin American
HESS: Who would probably have been the leader of the Latin American
leaders, in your opinion, at that time? Would that have been President
Alemán, or was there any person that you could look to and say,
"This man was the one."
SNYDER: I don't think so. I don't think there was any one, single, Latin
American leader who stood out as a [Simón] Bolívar.
HESS: Just through the strength of his own personality, there just wasn't
I mentioned Mr. Paul Hoffman a few moments ago, but why was he selected
for that particular post?
SNYDER: Well, Mr. Hoffman had made quite a reputation as head of the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He was
a tremendous speaker, very vocal. He gave the impression of firmness
and drive, and had made quite a reputation in the industrial world. He
had been a Studebaker dealer, I think, out in San Francisco, and was sent
from there to be the head of the Studebaker organization; and as head
of the Studebaker organization he became president of the U.S. Chamber
of Commerce and it gave him quite a forum to appear before the public
and demonstrate a type of leadership that was thought to be what was needed
here in his personality, and in his ability to talk with people, to compromise,
to organize. I think probably that was it.
HESS: How would you evaluate his effectiveness as head of ECA?
SNYDER: Well, at the time he did a very good job. We can always look
back and make suggestions
or criticisms, or recommendations, but at the time that he took it over
I think he did do a very good job in getting it started.
HESS: Was he a Republican?
HESS: I have heard that one of the requirements that Senator [Arthur
H.] Vandenberg made of President Truman for his support in these matters
was that the head of the ECA would be a Republican. Is that true?
SNYDER: I don't know whether it ever got that pointed. There was quite
a bit of talk that a so-called avid, liberal Democrat should not be put
at the head of it, but that it should be headed by a conservative businessman.
That was talk. I think that it was the matter of trying to select a man
who had a reputation and a name and was
fairly well-known that really swayed the choice. I know that they decided
that they did not want to put a political leader in charge of it, for
the reason that it was a business operation, largely, and they wanted
a man who could call on business leaders. You see, another very strong
factor in the selection of Mr. Hoffman was the fact that he could put
his finger on so many leaders who were used to organizing companies, industries,
big merchandising operations, because we were going to have to put men
who could take hold of a situation, size up local conditions as the heads
of these various communities in the ECA, and Mr. Hoffman had the contact
and the ability to draw that type of men into this program. This was another
factor in his favor.
HESS: Do you recall who else was under consideration during this time?
SNYDER: No, I don't.
HESS: Concerning the Marshall plan, before it was instituted, what members
of the foreign governments were thought to be the best to work with and
through in setting up such a plan?
SNYDER: Well, I think that the ones that we looked to, more than any
others, were the British, Belgian, and French.
HESS: Any particular reasons for selecting those nations?
SNYDER: I didn't say they were selected. I said that they were the most
effective because of experience in finance, and their knowledge. You see,
there was a great deal of financial operation involved in this, of the
international type, and there were exchange problems involved; and so,
you see, Italy had been an enemy, and
therefore we didn't have quite the accord there, although they had some
very fine Italian leaders, and we later used them a great deal. Of course,
the Greeks, the Turks, had good men, but for the financial community and
for the ones who could take hold, the real leadership we looked to, I
think, was largely Great Britain, Belgium, France; and later we did use
some of the other countries' leaders. But you asked the question of which
countries did we look to principally.
HESS: How great was the risk at that time, that the Communist nations,
the nations of the Communist bloc, would also join in the Marshall plan
and drain great amounts of aid to their countries, and to the Communist
SNYDER: Well, I don't think there was any great concern about that. They
were invited to take part. They were invited into the World Bank.
But it required certain actions on their part to reveal what their monetary
plans were, and what their economic plans were, and they weren't going
to do that, so we had no real concern that that would ever happen, that
they would join and draw off great amounts of aid. We had already had
an example of that in our program of assistance to them prior to the end
of the war, you know.
HESS: Just as a matter of pure conjecture, but wouldn't it have been
possible for them to submit a false set of economic plans?
SNYDER: I don't think that their imagination had reached that point at
HESS: They didn't have as much imagination as I do, is that right?
The next subject that I have concerns point 4, do you want to cover that
wait until next week?
SNYDER: I'd rather wait until next week.
[Top of the Page | Notices
and Restrictions | Interview Transcript
| Additional Snyder Oral History Transcripts]