Averell W. Harriman press dinner

Wednesday, August 07, 1963

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Averell Harriman addresses members of the press at an Overseas Press Club dinner. He opens his talk with a few jokes. He makes his allegiance to the Democratic Party very clear. He says that since becoming a Democrat his life has become "a heck of a lot more fun." He also mentions that the President had made it clear that since joining the State Department he must make no political speeches, the audience responds with much laughter.

He recalls his first visit to Russia in 1936, when he had much misinformation. Upon arriving in Moscow he got a great briefing from the press.

He speaks about the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and his mistrust of Khrushchev. Despite this, he notes that the United States and the Soviet Union have common interests - both wish to avoid nuclear war. Particularly, the people of the Soviet Union, who have experienced great losses in past wars, do not want to be involved in another war.

Harriman describes what the Nuclear-Test-Ban guidelines, which would limit nuclear testing to underground.

He notes that the people of the world crave peace and are also concerned about the pollution caused by any testing.

Harriman describes China's challenge to the Soviet Union. The policies of Peking, he insists, will lead the world to nuclear war.

He makes a side remark that President Kennedy was a voracious reader of newspapers, and is very well informed. Throughout the talk Harriman makes fond references to Kennedy.

Questions and answers follow. Many regard the President's views on international relations related to the cold war.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 71991
Municipal archives id: RT282


W. Averell Harriman


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About Overseas Press Club

Comprised of both speeches and question-answer sessions, this news program brings together foreign correspondents and public figures from culture and politics.

The Overseas Press Club (1940-1967) contains voices from the past that help us understand their time and place in history. What sets these talks apart from others like them is the presence of a live audience of foreign correspondents — reporters with international perspectives and questions. The resulting sessions have a distinctly different dynamic than would those with an audience of American journalists of the period.

Speakers include the German writer Günter Grass talking about his fascination with American prize fighters; a fiery young LeRoi Jones (later known as Amiri Baraka) telling his audience "where it’s at with Mr. Charlie"; James Farmer on the civil rights movement and where it should be going; David Halberstam on the trials of covering the war in Vietnam; Josephine Baker on the focus of her later years, her adopted children; and Herman Kahn on being pushed to the nuclear edge.  Other notable speakers include the actor Alec Guinness, Richard Nixon, and a gaggle of early female pilots competing in the air race known as the Angel Derby. 

With presentations ranging from rambunctious and spirited to contentious and political, this collection provides invaluable access to the language and nomenclature of America's burgeoning global culture.


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