Truman’s Testy Letter to Grady
Or: “Headaches of a U.S. President” (1952)

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | July 14, 2020                    

President Harry S. Truman and Ambassador Henry F. Grady

Following stints in India and Greece, Henry F. Grady’s resignation as U.S. Ambassador to Iran in Sept. 1951 also marked his retirement from government.

Then came “Headaches of an Ambassador”, a mini-memoir in the November 15, 1952 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, his second piece for the magazine that year.

Ruffled by the article, President Harry S. Truman responded with a sarcastic, defensive letter to Grady, a career diplomat whom Truman had thrice appointed as U.S. Ambassador. Grady replied Nov. 22, leading to another handwritten note from Truman on the 27th.

Despite clear disagreement, the two statesmen maintained a cordial relationship until Grady’s death in 1957.


November 18, 1952

My dear Henry,

Or should I say Dr. Grady? [He had a PhD from Columbia University] I’ve just read your Saturday Evening Post piece about the trial of an Ambassador. To me it is a very interesting article — from the appointee’s view point.

I wonder if you’d be at all interested in the view point of the one who makes the appointment? Well here goes, whether you are or not.

Henry Francis Grady, U.S. Ambassador to Iran You were a most able and efficient representative of the President in India. In fact you were so good that it was decided to send you to a real trouble spot — Greece. Another remarkable record was chalked up and then came Iran. That Soviet crack about blood and Mrs. Grady by the Soviets got you. [DNC official and former actress Lucretia del Valle Grady accompanied her husband in Iran, promoting women’s suffrage. Upon their transfer to Tehran from Athens, wrote Grady, Soviet radio dubbed her “Henry Grady’s blood-drinking woman”] Henry I wonder if you have any idea of that same propaganda machine’s attacks on the President of the United States? I wonder if you realize what Winchell, Pegler, Pearson, Fulton Lewis, Trohan, Roy Howard and the unspeakable Hearst have said and done to the character and private life of one Harry S. Truman?

[Syndicated columnists Walter Winchell, Westbrook Pegler, Drew Pearson, and Fulton Lewis, Jr., Chicago Tribune reporter Walter J. Trohan, plus two publishing giants: Scripps Howard News Service chairman Roy Howard and William Randolph Hearst Jr. of Hearst Newspapers.]

Sitting at the President’s desk, surveying world situations[,] when a man stands out, he’s used on hard, thankless assignments. He becomes fed up, frustrated and then comes — a Saturday Evening Post article — a justification, maybe a sop to his ego.

When George Marshall was Secretary of State I asked him to give Stanton Griffis a diplomatic post. He didn’t want to do it — finally sent him to Poland.

About six months after that the great general came in to see me and said we were in trouble in Egypt and he needed a tiptop man there. He asked if I’d send Griffis — and then said “now laugh if you like”. When that job was cleaned up I sent Griffis to the Argentine and then to Spain. Then he went sour — and I didn't blame him anymore than I blame you. “The life of a trouble shooter is not a happy one”.

I have appointed more career diplomats to top places than all the Presidents together — and fewer “fat cats” than any other President.

I’m sorry you found it necessary to take a crack at Chester Bowles and Dean Acheson. Chester is one of our best and has improved our Indian relations 100%. [U.S. Ambassador to India] Dean will be rated by history as our greatest Secretary of State. But a man has to have a kick in the form of a personal attack if he sells an article to any of the dirty, slick, postal subsidized magazines and I understand.

I’m still grateful for India, Greece and Iran — but I wish you could have understood better the President’s problems. Sincerely, H.S.T.

[Annotations by Arash Norouzi]

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70th Anniversary of TIME’s Man of the Year Article


Related links:

Time For Truman Action | Sarasota Herald Tribune, Dec. 12, 1951

Amb. Henry Grady Meets Premier Mossadegh For First Time: May 2, 1951

Truman’s Hatred of Press Seems Almost Psychopathic (Oct. 9, 1951)

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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