On July 15, 1971, Richard Nixon announced to the nation that he had accepted the PRC’s invitation for him visit China.
President Nixon’s trip to China in 1972 ended twenty-five years of isolation between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). He viewed his trip as the first step in a long process of contact between the United States and the PRC. Further, he believed it would reduce tension between the United States, the PRC, and the Soviet Union.
The President’s trip to China required a tremendous amount of planning. Part of this effort involved matters of protocol and etiquette, such as the use of chopsticks.
Image: Transcript of Speech President Nixon Gave Announcing Upcoming Trip to China. 7/15/1971.
More on Ping Pong Diplomacy: Nixon’s Trip to China on the Presidential Timeline.
An Evening of Memories
After dinner the Fords, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, and their guests moved inside to the East Room for the entertainment portion of the evening. British-born comedian Bob Hope, who had been specially requested by Her Majesty, led a program that also included the musical duo Captain and Tennille.
Hope had previously entertained the British Royal Family at four command performances. On this occasion he sang his trademark song “Thanks For the Memory” with special lyrics recognizing the British guests of honor.
Although the “Captain” Daryl Dragon had been feeling under the weather earlier in the day the show still went on for him and Toni Tennille. Their set included their hits "Love Will Keep Us Together" and “Muskrat Love,” which some commentators felt was not an appropriate song choice to play for Her Majesty.
President Ford dances with Queen Elizabeth II while Mrs. Ford partners with Prince Philip following a state dinner honoring Her Majesty on July 7, 1976.
Day 19: Visits by Winston Churchill
“It is fun to be in the same decade with you.”
-Franklin Roosevelt to Winston Churchill, January 1942
The friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill formed the core of the Anglo-American alliance during World War II.
On September 11, 1939—ten days after Germany invaded Poland— FDR wrote a confidential letter to Churchill, who had just entered the British cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty. Roosevelt wanted to open a direct line of communication with him. He encouraged Churchill to “keep me in touch personally with anything you want me to know about.”
FDR’s note was the start of an extraordinary six-year correspondence between the two men that totaled almost 2000 messages.
Between 1941 and 1945, they would also spend 113 days together, beginning with an August 1941 meeting in the North Atlantic and ending at the Yalta Conference in February 1945. Churchill made visits to the United States in 1941, 1942, 1943 & 1944, including a trip to Washington, D.C. shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
FDR and Winston Churchill - the original #BFF’s?
The Allied Landings at Normandy, France
Seventy years ago today Allied troops crossed the English Channel and landed on the beaches of Normandy, France. The amphibious invasion, code named Operation Overlord, was the first step in a long fight to liberate France from the German Occupation.
There was no U.S. diplomatic presence in metropolitan France at the time of the invasion—nor had there been since 1942. That November, following the Allied invasion of French North Africa, the severance of relations between Vichy and Washington, and the subsequent German occupation of Vichy France, the last U.S. diplomats on French European soil were arrested by German authorities. In violation of diplomatic immunity, these U.S. diplomats were held in German internment camps from November 1942 through March 1944, when an agreement was made to exchange them for German prisoners of war.
Douglas MacArthur II was one of the U.S. diplomats freed in the swap. That spring, the Office of Secret Services (OSS) suggested that MacArthur be parachuted into France ahead of the Normandy landing. The Department of State, however, did not agree. According to MacArthur, “the department felt that a better use of me could be made by having me go into Normandy after we landed, and then at the liberation of Paris, presume a place in the embassy political section.”1 The Department of State’s preference won out, and MacArthur did not enter Paris until just after Liberation in August 1944.
To learn more about MacArthur’s experience read his oral history interview on the Association for Diplomatic Studies & Training (ADST) website.
On May 20, 1797, President John Adams nominated his son, John Quincy Adams, to be Minister Plenipotentiary to the King of Prussia. JQA served in this position until 1801.
Nomination of John Quincy Adams to be Minister Plenipotentiary, 5/20/1797, McCormick Collection, Records of the U.S. Senate (NARA ID 306287)
All In the Planning
Selecting dishes to serve at this state dinner was trickier than usual, as President and Mrs. Kaunda both had significant dietary restrictions. The final menu featured filet of sole to start and capon as the main course.
For centerpieces, Mrs. Ford borrowed porcelain made by Cybis Studio, America’s oldest existing porcelain arts studio, from Blair House. The sculptures represented major North American Indian tribes of the United States.
The Fords also continued to invite people representing wide and varied backgrounds. Guests at this dinner included recently appointed Secretary of Transportation William T. Coleman, sportscaster Howard Cosell, choreographer Jerome Robbins, fashion designer Gloria Sachs, and architect Gordon Bunshaft, who designed the Hirshorn Museum.
The Treaty of Kanagawa
One hundred and sixty years ago on March 31, 1854, the first treaty between Japan and the United States was signed. The Treaty was the result of an encounter between an elaborately planned mission to open Japan and an unwavering policy by Japan’s government of forbidding commerce with foreign nations. Two nations regarding each other as “barbarians” found a way to reach agreement.
San Franciscans Give Their Heart to De Gaulle
While French President François Hollande arrives in San Francisco today, our colleagues at historyatstate take us back to April 1960 when Charles de Gaulle paid the city its first official visit by a President of France:
French President Charles de Gaulle made his first State Visit as head of the Fifth Republic in April 1960. De Gaulle’s trip aimed to improve relations between the two countries after diverging policy objectives in the 1950s strained the relationship. Moreover, it was hoped that better acquainting U.S. policymakers with the French president could facilitate the bilateral relationship in the future. Lastly, the trip provided an opportunity for de Gaulle and President Dwight Eisenhower to prepare for the May 1960 joint summit meeting in Paris with British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev.
De Gaulle and his wife, Yvonne, arrived in Washington, D.C., on April 22 for four days of meetings, a speech in front of a joint session of Congress, and a state dinner. Eisenhower first met de Gaulle 18 years earlier during the Second World War and the two men forged a firm friendship over the years. Thus, a visit to Eisenhower’s farmhouse in Gettysburg, PA, was part of de Gaulle’s itinerary.
The trip was also notable as the first time that a French head of state paid a formal visit to San Francisco and New Orleans. On April 26, the de Gaulles went to New York, then flew to San Francisco on April 27, where an estimated 250,000 San Franciscans lined the streets of de Gaulle’s motorcade route from the San Francisco International Airport to City Hall.1 The San Francisco police estimated the welcome to be “the biggest ever given here to the head of a foreign state.”2 Among his engagements that day, de Gaulle met with California Governor Edmund G. Brown and toured the bay before spending April 28-29 in New Orleans. The de Gaulles were accompanied around the United States by Department of State Under Secretary Douglas Dillon, who served as U.S. Ambassador to France from 1953 through 1957.
View the video retrospective of French presidential visits to the United States via France’s Institut National Audovisuel (INA).
The First French President to Formally Visit the United States
As French President Francois Hollande begins his visit to the United States today, our colleagues at the State Department’s historyatstate tumblr take us back to the first formal visit by a President of France in 1951.
(Find more photos from President Vincent Auriol’s 1951 visit in our online catalog.)
The first formal visit by the President of a French Republic to the United States was Vincent Auriol in Spring 1951. The trip sought to convince U.S. lawmakers and the public that France was steadily recovering from wartime destruction, thanks to Marshall Plan aid, and reinforce the Fourth Republic’s commitment to the transatlantic alliance.
President Auriol took daily English lessons to prepare for his visit because, according to the New York Times, he wanted to “speak at least a few words of English in each of the many talks he expects to make in the United States, notably in an address he will make before a joint session of Congress.”1 In March 1951, Auriol sailed for New York from Le Havre aboard the Ile de France with his wife, son, and Robert Schuman, French Foreign Minister, among others.2 The French presidential party landed in New York then took a train to Washington D.C.’s Union Station on March 28.
Auriol made another notable “first” when he became the first French head of state to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress on April 2. He was also awarded the Legion of Merit, Degree of Chief-Commander, by President Harry Truman. Returning to New York on April 2, Auriol received an honorary doctorate from Columbia University. On Wednesday, April 4, the Auriols visited Eleanor Roosevelt in Hyde Park, NY, and presented her with the Order of Commander of the Legion of Honor before sailing for France that evening.
View the video retrospective of French presidential visits to the United States via France’s Institut National Audovisuel (INA).
On the Menu: Suprême of Royal Squab
Chefs in the White House kitchen begin preparing the squab that will be the main course at the state dinner for Prime Minister Harold Wilson of Great Britain.
One of the first steps in planning what to serve at a state dinner involved contacting the State Department to inquire about dietary restrictions and likes or dislikes of the visiting guests. In this case, they were informed Prime Minister Wilson didn’t like oysters.
White House executive chef Henry Haller would prepare sample menus that were sent to the First Lady’s staff. Mrs. Ford approved this menu on January 23, a week before the actual dinner.
Deng Xiaoping in America
Jimmy Carter, Deng Xiaoping, Rosalynn Carter and Madame Zhuo Lin stop for a formal pose on their way to the state dinner for the Vice Premier of China., 01/29/1979
In 1949, the Communist Party seized power in China, and in response, the United States severed diplomatic relations. Thirty years later, the United States resumed diplomatic relations with China, and this 1979 photograph shows President Jimmy Carter in a formal, public ceremony greeting Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping. It was the first time a Communist Chinese leader had visited the United States.
Strong Voices, Strong Women
Entertainers Carol Burnett and Helen Reddy serenaded guests with a medley of songs of the Sixties at a state dinner honoring Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel on January 27, 1976.
Then starring in the ninth season of her Emmy-winning variety program “The Carol Burnett Show,” Burnett was also known for her roles in musicals. Reddy, one of country’s leading recording artists, had achieved success on the popular music charts after moving to the United States from Australia in 1966.
They followed the medley with a rendition of Reddy’s hit song “I am Woman” dedicated to Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Rabin.
President Ford hosted a working stag dinner for Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau on December 4, 1974.
The event outline illustrates how streamlined the evening would be. All of the guests were high-ranking U.S. and Canadian government officials. Unlike other state dinners spouses were not invited, and there was no after-dinner entertainment.
We asked Senior Paper Conservator, Kathy Ludwig, about the most interesting project she’s worked on. The most intrinsically valuable document she has treated at the National Archives is the Monroe Doctrine. The document is the Senate version the 36-page text of President James Monroe’s seventh annual Message to Congress on December 2, 1823. The Monroe Doctrine, hand-written by an administrative assistant and signed by the President, was a defining moment in American foreign policy. We’ll explore its conservation treatment in the next few posts.