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George W. Ball Papers

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Introduction; The George W

Introduction; The George W. Ball Papers


Editorial Note


The George W. Ball Papers document Balls career as alawyer, diplomat, investment banker and author. His involvement in Democraticpolitics and his service as undersecretary of state for John F. Kennedy andLyndon B. Johnson is well documented, as is his often overlooked role with JeanMonnet in European integration.


The George W. Ball Papers are housed in the PublicPolicy Papers Collection at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library. Themicrofilm edition of the George W. Ball Papers contains the followingseries from the collection:


Series 1, Correspondence, 1916-1994


Series 2, Appointments, 1945-1994


Series 3, Writings, 1933-1994


Series 4, Public Statements, 1942-1994


The material is arranged chronologically unless otherwisenoted and includes items in Arabic, French, German, Japanese, Korean, andSwedish.


Series 1, Correspondence, 1916-1994, contains twosubseries, Subject Files and Chron Files, and chronicles Balls life fromchildhood to death. Subseries 1, Subject Files, 1916-1994, containsincoming and outgoing correspondence, memoranda, reports, clippings,manuscripts, speeches, press releases and publications, and is filedalphabetically by author or subject. The subject files mainly document Ballslife prior to his appointment as under secretary of state for economic affairsand after his resignation as ambassador to the United Nations. These filescontain information on his work on the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, whichincluded the interrogation of Albert Speer, his years spent at Cleary,Gottlieb, and his international banking experience gained at Lehman Brothers.


While his career accomplishments were vast and varied, Ballconsidered his work with Jean Monnet on the perestroika of Western Europe themost interesting and more productive than his rearguard action against theVietnam War. Balls work with Monnet on European integration is detailedthroughout numerous folders in this subseries. The seventeen memoranda Ballwrote outlining his opposition to the Vietnam War are included in thissubseries as well. The relationships Ball developed with various colleagues aredocumented here as well. One of his earliest ties born from an employmentassociation was with Adlai Stevenson. Ball and Stevensons correspondencereveals a close relationship that started in 1939 while both were employed withthe law firm of Sidley, McPherson, Austin & Harper, and continued untilStevensons death.


The relationships Ball developed while undersecretary ofstate are also well documented. Despite some disagreements over U.S.involvement in Vietnam, Ball developed a close relationship with Secretary ofState Dean Rusk that continued until Balls death. Their respect and mutualadmiration for each other is evident in their correspondence. Another secretaryof state whom Ball respected and admired was Dean Acheson. The two became closeduring Balls tenure at the Farm Credit Administration.


Ball was involved in numerous membership organizations,including the Council on Foreign Relations, the Century Association, theInternational Chamber of Commerce, and the highly secretive Bilderberg Group.The group took its name from a hotel in the Netherlands where the group firstmet in 1954. It was established to foster frank, confidential discussionsbetween Europeans and North Americans on current issues affecting foreignaffairs and the international economy. The group meets once a year in variouslocations throughout Western Europe and North America. Men and women of notableachievement are invited by members of a permanent steering committee on eachoccasion to attend. Ball was one of the first North American members of thisgroup and attended every meeting except for one. Ball considered Bilderberg tobe the most useful organization to which he belonged.


Series 1, Subseries 2, Chronological Files, 1952-1993largely contains outgoing correspondence and memoranda, although there is someincoming correspondence during his tenure as undersecretary of state, and bothare filed in reverse chronological order. This subseries contains the mostcomprehensive documentation of Balls involvement in the shaping of foreign anddomestic policy.


Series 2, Appointments, 1945-1994 containsappointment books, desk and pocket calendars, and billing logs. Ballssecretary recorded his schedule of meetings, conferences, and trips.


Series 3, Writings, 1933-1994, is divided into twosubseries: Books, and Articles and Miscellaneous Writings. Each subseries isarranged alphabetically and chronologically thereunder. Series 3, Subseries1, Books, 1945-1993 includes correspondence, lists, reviews, clippings,reference material and drafts for Balls five published books and oneunpublished work. Series 3, Subseries 2, Articles and MiscellaneousWritings, 1933-1994 contains articles, readers comments, book jacketblurbs, college and law school papers, essays, forewords, letters to theeditor, a memorandum, and poems. A prolific writer, Ball produced over 270articles during his lifetime for a variety of domestic and foreignpublications. During the early 1970s, Ball wrote a guest columnist series for Newsweek.These articles focused largely on foreign policy and tackled such issues asBiafras loss of independence, the Nixon doctrine, the Middle East, and therealities of a settlement in Vietnam. Ball was not afraid to write on difficultsubjects and received a large amount of mail from readers who disagreed withhis stated positions. His articles criticizing Israeli policy drew the mostfire from incensed readers, who often labeled him an anti-Semite.


Series 4, Public Statements, 1942-1994 includesinterviews, oral histories, speeches and testimony. The material is arranged inthree sections: interviews, oral histories, and speeches/testimony. Ball was apopular speaker, actively giving speeches before foreign and domestic groupsuntil the month before he died. He was also a frequent guest on the Sundaymorning news programs and was generous in granting interview requests. Hetestified before Congress over sixty times on a variety of issues that includedthe International Development Act, the future role of NATO, U.S.-Japaneserelations, the Trade Expansion Act, SALT II, and the Persian Gulf crisis.


Please note that some folders are split across more than onereel and are marked with a (contd.) note. Series in the George W.Ball Papers that are not included in this microfilm edition are availableto researchers who visit the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library at PrincetonUniversity.


Preferred Citation: Identification of specific item; Date(if known); George W. Ball Papers, Box and Folder Number, Public PolicyPapers, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton UniversityLibrary.


Grateful acknowledgment is made to the Seeley G. MuddManuscript Library at Princeton University for allowing the publisher toreprint portions of the Description of the George W. Ball Papers in thiscollection guide.




George Wildman Ball was born on December 19, 1909 in DesMoines, Iowa. Named after his paternal uncle, George was the youngest of threesons born to Amos and Edna Wildman Ball. Ball grew up in Des Moines andEvanston, Illinois, where the family moved in 1922 after his father received apromotion to the Standard Oil Company headquarters located in Chicago. Ednadecided the family should settle in Evanston due to the proximity ofNorthwestern University, where it was decreed all three sons would attend.According to Ball, his mother was determined to keep the family intact as long aspossible. There would be no reason for her sons to leave home for college, ifhome was located near a college.


Ball attended Northwestern (as did his brothers Stuart andRalph) where he served as president of the university poetry society and wasthe first editor of a new literary magazine entitled MS. He graduated in1930 and entered Northwestern Law School after briefly considering pursuing adoctorate in English. Prior to the start of his second year of law school, Ballmarried Ruth Murdoch, whom he had met on a European vacation during the summerof 1929. He graduated from law school in 1933 at the top of his class andserved on the law review editorial board. The law school dean nominated him fora position in the General Counsels Office, under the direction of HermanOliphant, in the newly established Farm Credit Administration. Ball acceptedthe position after consulting with his family and headed off to Washington,D.C. in May 1933. His work included developing credit facilities for farmersand negotiating a contract for the sale of $75 million worth of Federal FarmBureau cotton.


Ball moved to the Treasury Department in November 1933 uponthe appointment of Henry Morgenthau as Secretary of the Treasury. When FranklinD. Roosevelt named Morgenthau to this post, Morgenthau brought along Oliphantas his legal advisor, and he, in turn, brought along Ball. In his new position,Ball prepared briefs on international trade and tax legislation. Despiteworking on major New Deal policies, Ball felt his law training was lacking andreturned to the Midwest in 1935 to master the profession of law. He joined aChicago law firm where he served as a tax attorney before moving to theprestigious firm of Sidley, McPherson, Austin & Harper in 1939. Balls workinvolved the reorganization of railroads, but more defining was the closerelationship he developed with junior partner Adlai Stevenson while at thefirm. It was also during this time that Ball started to become interested inforeign affairs. He began to attend Friday luncheons hosted by the ChicagoCouncil on Foreign Affairs, which Stevenson chaired.


The bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the declaration ofwar against America by Germany galvanized Ball into action. He conferred withStevenson, who was now an assistant to the Secretary of the Navy, on his courseof action. Stevenson could have arranged for a commission in the Navy butencouraged Ball to put his Washington experience to better use. FollowingStevensons advice, Ball accepted an associate position in the GeneralCounsels Office of the Lend-Lease Administration under the guidance of OscarCox. Balls first months in his new position were spent investigating thesynthetic rubber program and assisting Englishman Geoffrey Pykes ploughproject. Pyke theorized that if the Allies mastered the snow, they wouldcontrol Europe, and he proposed parachuting men and tanks into snow-coveredareas. Although the overall goal of the project never fully materialized, theproject did produce an amphibious vehicle later known as the Weasel. Theseduties soon evolved into serving as operating head of the office and thus legaladviser to Edward R. Stettinius, Administrator of Lend-Lease.


Ball resigned in August 1944 after the Lend-LeaseAdministration merged with the Foreign Economic Administration, claiming hecould no longer work for the combined offices inept chairman Leo Crowley. Heaccepted a position as a civilian member of the Air Force Evaluation Board tostudy the effects of tactical operations in Europe. Shortly thereafter, he wasappointed director of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, which would appraisethe whole strategic air offensive. Ball was specifically responsible forassessing the effectiveness of the Allied bombing of German cities and transportationsystems. In May 1945, after Germany had surrendered to the Allies, Ball andJohn Kenneth Galbraith debriefed Albert Speer, the Nazi minister for armamentsand war production, in an effort to confirm their speculations on theineffectiveness of Allied bombings. Ball was awarded a Medal of Freedom forthis work.


After the war, Ball returned to Washington, D.C. and took aninterim assignment with Jean Monnet as general counsel of the French SupplyCouncil. Ball had met Monnet during his years in the Lend-Lease Administration.In this new assignment, Ball worked with Monnet to promote Frances post-warrecovery. Ball agreed to serve for a three-month period prior to the officialopening of a law firm he had formed with friends. Balls departure was delayedwhen Monnet asked Ball to serve as former French Premier Lon Blums advisorduring his mission to Washington to discuss Franco-American relations.


Ball was finally able to join his firm, Cleary, Gottlieb,Friendly & Cox in July 1946. Monnet retained the firm to represent theFrench Government, and Ball soon found himself conferring with Monnets deputyRobert Marjolin on the creation of the Organization for European EconomicCooperation (OEEC). He continued to work with Monnet on establishing a Europeaneconomic plan throughout 1949, and this preliminary work laid the foundationfor the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). Despite hisclose relationship with Monnet, Ball was not involved in authorizing the finalproposal, later known as the Schuman Plan, to establish a European commonmarket for coal and steel under an independent authority. He was not broughtinto the fold until a month after the proposal had been given to French ForeignMinister Robert Schuman. After the ratification of the Treaty of Paris inAugust 1952, Ball was retained as the ECSCs adviser and later served as anadviser to the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) and the EuropeanEconomic Community (EEC).


His interest in European affairs did not preclude Ball fromtaking an interest in American politics. In 1952, Ball established ProjectWintergreen, the code name for the Stevenson information center established inBalls Washington, D.C. office. Ball tested the waters for a possible Stevensonpresidential campaign, while at the same time trying to convince Stevenson heshould be a candidate. When Stevenson finally declared his candidacy, Ballserved as executive director of Volunteers for Stevenson. Ball continued toadvise Stevenson after his defeat and later served as his director of publicrelations during the 1956 campaign. Even after the 1956 defeat, Ball remainedloyal to Stevenson and supported his candidacy in 1960. As the pressure onStevenson to support John F. Kennedy mounted, Ball urged Stevenson not toendorse Kennedy at the Democratic National Convention, reasoning that Stevensonhad an obligation to his supporters who wanted him to remain available for apossible draft.


After the nomination of Kennedy, Ball sent Stevenson amemorandum encouraging him to suggest a study of post-election foreign policyto Kennedy. Kennedy approved the idea and asked Stevenson to undertake thestudy. Stevenson passed the responsibility to Ball since he would becampaigning on Kennedys behalf. The Stevenson report laid out immediate andlong-term goals for American foreign policy. Ball cited the gold drain, NATOstrategic deterrent talks, new initiatives in disarmament, and formation of theOrganization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as a few of theissues requiring immediate attention. Kennedy viewed the report favorably andrequested additional task forces be formed. Ball spent the next six weekspreparing task force reports on the OECD, balance of payments, and foreigneconomic policy. Balls hard work eventually led to his appointment as undersecretary of state for economic affairs. In his new position, Ball worked onissues regarding trade and tariffs, economic affairs, the Congo, and Europeanintegration. He worked closely with Secretary of State Dean Rusk and dealtdirectly with the President on these matters. As the year progressed, Ballbecame more involved with political matters and eventually replaced ChesterBowles as under secretary of state. This promotion allowed Ball to play a keyrole in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. While Balls tenure as undersecretary of state is most noted for his vociferous opposition to the VietnamWar, other highlights include participating in Kennedys inner sanctum duringthe Cuban Missile Crisis, negotiating a wheat deal with the Soviets, attendingNational Security Council meetings, brokering an international textileagreement, and serving as a mediator of crises in Cyprus, Pakistan, the Congoand the Dominican Republic.


As the war in Vietnam escalated, Ball realized his abilityto influence policy had diminished. He submitted his resignation to PresidentLyndon B. Johnson on September 17, 1966, effective September 30. Citingpersonal and family reasons, Ball stated he must return to private life, and heaccepted a senior partner position with the investment firm of Lehman Brothers.However, he had not completely disengaged himself from governmental service,and was frequently summoned to the White House in an advisory capacity. In1968, he served as chair of the committee investigating the U.S.S. Puebloincident and was asked to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations uponArthur J. Goldbergs resignation. Ball initially refused but found himselfoutmaneuvered when Johnson pressured his partners at Lehman Brothers to supporthis nomination. Ball resigned his partnership in the firm in May.


Balls service as permanent representative to the UnitedNations was short-lived. Fearing a Nixon victory in the presidential election,Ball resigned in September to campaign for his friend Hubert Humphrey. AfterHumphreys defeat, Ball returned to Lehman Brothers where he remained until hisretirement in 1982. Ball remained active in political affairs throughout the1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. He served as an adviser to President Jimmy Carterduring the crisis in Iran and on the Panama Canal treaties, delivered numerousspeeches and lectures, testified before Congress, appeared on various newsprograms, and penned five books and scores of articles. In fact, he was workingon his sixth book when he entered New York Hospital on Wednesday May 25, 1994and was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He died the next evening. Balls wifeRuth had predeceased him in 1993 after battling Alzheimers. Two adopted sons,John C. and Douglas B. Ball, and two grandchildren survive him.


Grateful acknowledgment is made to the Seeley G. MuddManuscript Library at Princeton University for permission to reprint thisbiography.