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April 15-17, 1959 – News reports and commentary on John Foster Dulles resignation – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
On April 15th 1959 Secretary of State John Foster Dulles announced his resignation. The reason was simple; he was in advanced stages of Cancer and it was only a matter of months before his death. At the time it wasn’t entirely clear just how ill Dulles was, but what was certain was the state of shock President Eisenhower was in over the news and how upset he was as he delivered the news during a Press conference.
Of concern to sources close to the President were fears the anxiety could have disastrous consequences, since Eisenhower had already suffered one heart attack while in office. The added stress and his clear upset over the news caused some to wonder just how close the nation was coming to vice-President Nixon assuming duties of The White House.
But even as the news was being presented in a “bad-but-not-hopeless” light, leaders throughout the world were assuming the worst was just around the corner. Dulles, who had shaped Foreign Policy during the Eisenhower Administration were now wondering who his successor was going to be and would things change as a result.
It was no secret that John Foster Dulles was a major driving force in the Foreign Policy of the Eisenhower Administration – our Cold War stance and our increasing presence in Southeast Asia were largely attributed to him. As a staunch anti-Communist, it was Dulles who conveyed the notion of “the domino theory” – and how Communist influence in the region, if left unchecked, would spread and dominate the entirety of Asia.
But it was also our policy where Western Europe was concerned – how the loss of Dulles would impact NATO and the brewing instability of Berlin – and in our own hemisphere; with the toppling of the Bautista regime in Cuba and the emergence of Fidel Castro to prominence on the world stage.
Much concern, much speculation and a goodly degree of worry, as was expressed in this series of newscasts between April 15 and 17, 1959. Uncertain times and complicated moves and the loss of a major ingredient in the glue holding America’s fragile diplomacy together.
Here are a few of those newscasts.