122 Facts About Averell Harriman


William Averell Harriman, better known as Averell Harriman, was an American Democratic politician, businessman, and diplomat.

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Averell Harriman was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1952 and 1956, as well as a core member of the group of foreign policy elders known as "The Wise Men".

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Averell Harriman owned parts of various other companies, including Union Pacific Railroad, Merchant Shipping Corporation, and Polaroid Corporation.

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Averell Harriman served as Secretary of Commerce, and coordinated the implementation of the Marshall Plan.

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In 1954, Averell Harriman defeated Republican Senator Irving Ives to become the Governor of New York.

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Averell Harriman served a single term before his defeat by Nelson Rockefeller in the 1958 election.

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Averell Harriman unsuccessfully sought the presidential nomination at the 1952 Democratic National Convention and the 1956 Democratic National Convention.

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Averell Harriman helped negotiate the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty during President John F Kennedy's administration, and was deeply involved in the Vietnam War during the Lyndon B Johnson administration.

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Better known as Averell Harriman, he was born in New York City, the son of railroad baron Edward Henry Harriman and Mary Williamson Averell.

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Averell Harriman was a close friend of Hall Roosevelt, the brother of Eleanor Roosevelt.

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Young Averell Harriman would have his first introduction to Russia, a nation on which he would spend much attention in his later life in public service.

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Averell Harriman attended Groton School in Massachusetts before going on to Yale, where he joined the Skull and Bones society and Psi Upsilon.

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Averell Harriman served as Chairman of The Business Council, then known as the Business Advisory Council for the United States Department of Commerce, in 1937 and 1939.

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Harriman's older sister, Mary Rumsey, encouraged Averell to leave his finance job and work with her and their friends, the Roosevelts, to advance the goals of the New Deal.

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Averell Harriman joined the NRA National Recovery Administration, an effort to cartelise the American economy via a Corporate State model, marking the beginning of his political career.

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Averell Harriman raced in partnership with Walker under the name Log Cabin Stable before buying him out.

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Averell Harriman's banking business was the main Wall Street connection for German companies and the varied US financial interests of Fritz Thyssen, who was a financial backer of the Nazi Party until 1938.

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Averell Harriman, who owned vast coal reserves in Poland, was handsomely compensated for them through an agreement between the American and Polish governments.

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Averell Harriman was dispatched to Moscow to negotiate the terms of the Lend-Lease agreement with the Soviet Union in September 1941, together with the Canadian publishing millionaire Lord Beaverbrook, who represented the United Kingdom.

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Averell Harriman believed if Germany defeated the Soviet Union, then all of the vast natural resources of the Soviet Union would be at the disposal of the Reich, making Germany far more powerful than it already was.

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Averell Harriman pointed out that the defeat of the Soviet Union would free up three million men of the Wehrmacht for operations elsewhere, allowing Hitler to shift money and resources from his army to his navy and potentially increasing the threat to the United States.

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Averell Harriman told Roosevelt that if Operation Barbarossa was successful in 1941, Hitler would almost certainly defeat Britain in 1942.

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Averell Harriman hoped that, with our support, the Red Army would be able to keep the Axis forces engaged.

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The Beaverbrook-Averell Harriman mission promised that the United States and Great Britain would supply the Soviet Union every month with 500 tanks and 400 airplanes, plus tin, copper, and zinc.

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Averell Harriman had spent much time after the meeting at the Kremlin reminding Churchill that the Allies needed the Soviet Union and to try not to take Stalin's remarks too personally, saying the fate of the world was hanging in balance.

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On June 24,1943, Averell Harriman met with Churchill to tell him that Roosevelt did not want him to attend the up-coming summit meeting with Stalin, saying that it was important to allow Roosevelt who had never met Stalin to establish an "intimate understanding", which would be "impossible" if Churchill was there.

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Averell Harriman was appointed as United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union in October 1943.

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Averell Harriman was reluctant to part with his mistress, Pamela Churchill, the wife of Randolph Churchill.

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At a three power conference in Moscow that took place between October 19 and 30,1943, Averell Harriman played a major role in representing the United States as part of the American delegation headed by Secretary of State Cordell Hull while the Soviet delegation was headed by the Foreign Commissar Vyacheslav Molotov and the British delegation headed by the Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden.

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At the Tehran Conference in late 1943 Averell Harriman was tasked with placating a suspicious Churchill while Roosevelt attempted to gain the confidence of Stalin.

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Averell Harriman mistrusted the Soviet leader's motives and intentions and opposed the spheres approach as it would give Stalin a free hand in eastern Europe.

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Averell Harriman felt that this was a mistake, as he regarded Roosevelt's statement that the Polish government had to accept the loss of some of its territory as virtually agreeing to allow the Soviets to impose any government they wanted on Poland because it was unlikely that the Polish government-in-exile would agree with the annexation.

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Since all of the available evidence suggested that the Soviets had in fact committed the Katyn Forest massacre in April 1940, Averell Harriman later stated that he tried to avoid the subject, telling a Senate hearing "No, I do not recall the subject came up".

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In connection with this, Averell Harriman met Stalin on June 10,1944, to get from him a rather generalized statement declaring his support for Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek as China's only leader and a promise that he would use his influence with Mao Zedong to pressure him to recognize Chiang.

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Averell Harriman attended the Yalta Conference, where he encouraged taking a stronger line with the Soviet Union—especially on questions of Poland.

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The American delegation at the Yalta conference stayed at the luxurious Livadia Palace overlooking the Black Sea, and Averell Harriman was given a room of his own to stay, a sign of presidential favor as most of the American delegation had to sleep five men to a room owing to a surplus of delegates and a lack of space in the Livadia Palace.

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Averell Harriman objected, stating that Roosevelt wanted the ports on the Liaotung peninsula to be internationalized, not leased by the Soviet Union and for the Manchurian railroads to be run jointly by a Sino-Soviet commission instead of being owned by the Soviet Union.

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On February 10,1944, Averell Harriman informed Stalin that Roosevelt had agreed to the British call for the "Big Four" to become the "Big Five" by including France.

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On February 11,1945, the conference ended and the following day Averell Harriman saw Roosevelt, his friend since childhood, for the last time, as he boarded a C-54 airplane at Saki airfield to take him to Egypt.

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On May 11,1945, Averell Harriman reported in a cable to Washington that Stalin "feared a separate peace by ourselves with Japan" before the Soviet Union had moved its forces eastwards to take invade Manchuria.

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Averell Harriman served as ambassador to the Soviet Union until January 1946.

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Kennan's analysis, which generally accorded with Averell Harriman's, became the cornerstone of Truman's Cold War strategy of containment.

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Averell Harriman was then sent to Tehran in July 1951 to mediate between Iran and Britain in the wake of the Iranian nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.

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Averell Harriman paid tuition for Michael Forrestal when he attended Harvard Law School and made him make connections with New York's elite when he went into work at a law firm.

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Averell Harriman served as governor for one term until Republican Nelson Rockefeller unseated him in 1958.

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Averell Harriman was a candidate for the Democratic Presidential Nomination in 1952, and again in 1956 when he was endorsed by Truman but lost to Illinois governor Adlai Stevenson.

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Under Truman's influence, Averell Harriman had been slow to endorse Kennedy, only doing so after it became clear that Kennedy was going to win the Democratic nomination.

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However, after a luncheon, where Averell Harriman recalled his service with Roosevelt and Truman, the elder Kennedy decided that Averell Harriman's knowledge and experience might serve his administration well.

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In 1961, at the suggestion of Ambassador Charles W Yost Harriman represented President Kennedy at the funeral of King Mohammed V of Morocco.

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At the time, there was a civil war in Laos between the Communist Pathet Lao and the anti-Communist Special Forces, and Averell Harriman concluded based on his talks in New Delhi that the best outcome would be neutrality for Laos and that Souvanna Phouma was not a Communist dupe as the CIA claimed.

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Averell Harriman was visiting Turkey with the Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, when he suddenly received a call from Kennedy telling him to go to Laos at once for an assessment of the situation.

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Averell Harriman relished his job as a diplomatic trouble-shooter who was accustomed to working on his own and embraced the assignment, through he complained that he was not dressed for the tropics as he rushed off to Laos.

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However, on April 24,1961, the Pathet Lao unilaterally declared a ceasefire, and Averell Harriman headed to Geneva to head the American delegation to discuss the neutralization of Laos.

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Averell Harriman felt at 126 strong that the American delegation was too large, and believed that too much time would be wasted in meetings.

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Averell Harriman appointed William Sullivan as his deputy and ordered him to reduce the size of the delegation.

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An infuriated Averell Harriman responded that in World War II Roosevelt had let him meet anyone whom it was necessary for him to meet, and charged that Rusk was too rigid to serve as secretary of state.

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Chinese delegation accused the United States of supporting Phoumi, leading Averell Harriman to accuse the Chinese of supporting the Pathet Lao.

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Averell Harriman favored the neutralist Prince Souvanna Phouma as the next leader of Laos and urged Kennedy to drop American support for right-wing Prince Phoumi Nosavan.

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Kennedy decide to move the 7th Fleet into the Gulf of Siam to signal the possibility of American intervention in Laos, which Averell Harriman decided was too mild a statement and urged Kennedy not to move the fleet, least it be seen as a weakness by the Communists.

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Averell Harriman knew that Rusk would not grant permission, so he instead phoned Kennedy and obtained his permission.

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At the meeting with Khiem, Averell Harriman began by remembering Roosevelt's support for Vietnamese independence, saying that if Roosevelt had not died in 1945, America would have pressured the French to grant independence to Vietnam after the war.

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Averell Harriman told Khiem that North Vietnam should stop supporting the Viet Cong and then Vietnam would have peace.

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Khiem was very disillusioned by the fact that Averell Harriman believed North Vietnam and South Vietnam to be different countries with little in common.

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Khiem's translator thought that he was missing an opportunity, as Averell Harriman seemed to hint if the Laos accords were respected, then Kennedy might change his policies towards South Vietnam.

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The meeting ended inconclusively with Averell Harriman saying that North Vietnam should cease its support for the Viet Cong while Khiem stated that the partition of Vietnam was unnatural and that his government was the real Vietnam.

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At one meeting, Averell Harriman cursed the "goddamned generals" who wanted to fight a war first in Laos, and now in South Vietnam, and then, turning to General Earle Wheeler who was sitting opposite him, said "Oh, excuse me, Wheeler" without any embarrassment.

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Averell Harriman became rather enthusiastic about the appellation, and therefore had his desk decorated with miniature silver, bass and crystal crocodiles.

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Averell Harriman's image was that of a crusty and autocratic elder statesman whose brusqueness and bad temper were legendary in Washington, but whose counsel was greatly valued by Kennedy who appreciated him for his sound judgement on international affairs.

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In February 1963, when the embassy in Saigon blamed the negative reporting on South Vietnam's government on biased journalists, Averell Harriman advised Frederick Nolting, the American ambassador in Saigon, to stop treating journalists like his enemies.

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In December 1961, Anatoliy Golitsyn defected from the Soviet Union and accused Averell Harriman of being a Soviet spy, but his claims were dismissed by the CIA and Averell Harriman remained in his position until April 1963, when he became Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

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Averell Harriman retained that position during the transition to the Johnson administration until March 1965 when he again became Ambassador at Large.

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Averell Harriman held that position for the remainder of Johnson's presidency.

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Averell Harriman headed the US delegation to the preliminary peace talks in Paris between the United States and North Vietnam.

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Averell Harriman argued that before the pagoda raids, it was impossible to know the true state of South Vietnamese public opinion, but the massive demonstrations with millions protesting in the streets showed the Diem regime was deeply unpopular.

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Averell Harriman did not attend the second meeting, which weakened the case for a coup.

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At the third meeting, Averell Harriman made a vigorous case for a coup and insulted nearly everyone who was opposed to the coup.

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Averell Harriman told Taylor to his face that he had been wrong on every issue since World War II and was wrong on this issue.

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Finally, Averell Harriman's rudeness got to such a point that Kennedy asked him to please be civil to others in the room or leave.

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The meeting ended with Kennedy seemingly come around to supporting a coup as Averell Harriman argued that if South Vietnam would be lost to Communism if the Ngo brothers stayed.

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Averell Harriman, who was more polite at this meeting, told Kennedy: "Mr President, I was very puzzled by the cable from General Harkins until I read the outgoing from General Taylor".

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Averell Harriman certainly supported the coup against the South Vietnam president Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963.

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Averell Harriman followed the orders of Harriman and Forrestal rather than the CIA.

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In 1965, Averell Harriman visited Moscow to press the Soviet Union to end its support of North Vietnam, meeting the Premier Alexei Kosygin.

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Averell Harriman accused North Vietnam of being the aggressor, leading Kosygin to say the South Vietnamese would fight with bamboo sticks against their government.

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Averell Harriman took the criticism of his country personally and launched a lengthy denunciation of North Vietnam.

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Averell Harriman replied that the honor of the United States was at stake, he had the word of President Johnson that the United States would fight on until victory, and asked Kosygin to start negotiating peace.

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Averell Harriman insisted on going back to the subject of Soviet support for North Vietnam, Kosygin snapped in fury saying that the regime in Saigon was so corrupt that the Soviet Union could buy their allegiance tomorrow if it wanted, and accused the United States of supporting a hopelessly corrupt government.

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In February 1967, Averell Harriman was involved in peace negotiations in London involving his deputy Chester Cooper, the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and a visiting Kosygin who hinted that he was carrying a peace offer from Hanoi.

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Averell Harriman had Cooper draft a letter to Johnson protesting the failure of Operation Sunflower.

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In June 1967, Averell Harriman became involved in another attempt at peace code-named Operation Pennsylvania.

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Averell Harriman sent Cooper to the Paris talks, but just at the same moment, Rostow persuaded Johnson to step up the bombing of North Vietnam.

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However, Averell Harriman had been a close adviser to Johnson's hero, Roosevelt, and Johnson wanted the advice of a man who once counselled Roosevelt in World War II.

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In July 1967, Averell Harriman was silent at a meeting when Johnson considered the advice of his Defense Secretary Robert McNamara to stop bombing North Vietnam, apparently wanting to be within the presidential inner circle again, which kept him from speaking his mind.

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At the crucial meeting of the "Wise Men" group in March 1968 as Johnson considered escalating the war, Averell Harriman ignored Johnson's orders not to attend as he instead arrived in the dining room and ordered a steward to set up a table.

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Averell Harriman wanted the talks to be held in Warsaw, but Rostow persuaded Johnson to reject that city.

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Averell Harriman, who found Rusk overtly bureaucratic and cautious, complained bitterly that in World War II, Roosevelt had allowed him to do practically anything he liked when representing the United States.

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Once in Paris, Averell Harriman quickly learned that the nominal head of the North Vietnamese delegation, Xuan Thuy, had no power, and the real leader of the North Vietnamese delegation was Le Ðuc Tho, a member of the Politburo.

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Rather than talk to Xuan at the Majestic Hotel, Averell Harriman wanted to meet Tho in private at various "safe houses" rented by the CIA in the suburbs of Paris.

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The next day, an irate Averell Harriman called the French foreign minister, Maurice Couve de Murville, to tell him: "You get those damned goons away".

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Averell Harriman warned that if French intelligence continued to shadow him and the rest of the American delegation, he would call a press conference to say it was impossible to negotiate in Paris owing to the activities of French spies and he would go home.

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In July 1968, Averell Harriman reported to Johnson that a lull in fighting indicted the North Vietnamese were serious about negotiating peace, but Rusk in a press conference stated that he believed the lull proved the North Vietnamese were negotiating in bad faith and he believed that the North Vietnamese were about to launch another offensive.

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In September 1968, Kissinger went to Paris to serve as a consultant for the American delegation, and unknown to Averell Harriman began to leak information about the peace talks to the Nixon campaign.

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On September 8,1968, Averell Harriman finally met Tho in a villa in the town of Vitry-sur-Seine.

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Averell Harriman thanked Tho for his "straight talk", but said that Johnson would want certain concessions before stopping the bombing.

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Averell Harriman, who was still angry about Tho's statements at the last meeting, said that Vietnam was not the most expensive war in American history.

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Averell Harriman offered to withdraw all American forces from South Vietnam provided that North Vietnam did the same, and promised billions in economic aid to repair the damage done by American bombers to North Vietnam.

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Tho later recalled that Averell Harriman looked relieved when he made the offer to accept South Vietnam to join the peace talks.

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However, Averell Harriman added the condition that the four party talks involving the United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front had to begin the next day.

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Unknown to Averell Harriman, Thieu was being encouraged to be obstructionist by the Nixon campaign.

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Averell Harriman wanted the four-party talks to begin already two or three days after the bombing would have stopped, but Xuan wanted a longer interval to prove to the North Vietnamese people that it had indeed ended.

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Averell Harriman sent Johnson a telegram suggesting the Americans accept the North Vietnamese terms.

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On January 14,1969, Averell Harriman met with Tho, saying as of January 20 he was to be replaced with Nixon's nominee, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.

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Tho expressed regret at Averell Harriman leaving Paris, saying: "If you had stopped bombing after two or three months of talks, the situation would have been different now".

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Tho thought that Averell Harriman seemed very melancholic as he desperately wanted to clinch a peace deal to end the Vietnam War, an honor that he now knew would be denied to him.

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On October 15,1969, Averell Harriman was a featured speaker at the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam protest march in New York.

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Averell Harriman received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, with Distinction, in 1969 and West Point's Sylvanus Thayer Award in 1975.

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Averell Harriman was appointed senior member of the US Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly's Special Session on Disarmament in 1978.

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Averell Harriman was a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy Charter, Club of Rome, Council on Foreign Relations, Knights of Pythias, Skull and Bones society, Psi Upsilon fraternity, and the Jupiter Island club.

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About a year after his divorce from Lawrence, Averell Harriman married Marie Norton Whitney, who had left her husband, Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, to marry him.

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Averell Harriman died on July 26,1986, in Yorktown Heights, New York, at the age of 94.

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Averell and Pamela Harriman are buried at the Arden Farm Graveyard in Arden, New York.

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Averell Harriman State Park is a state park in eastern Idaho, United States.

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