Allen J. Ellender

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Sen. Allen Ellender (D-LA) meeting with President Lyndon Johnson

Allen J. Ellender was a U.S. senator from Houma in Terrebonne Parish in south Louisiana. Allen J. Ellender's name was on a list declassified in 1997 of individuals who had contact with "soviet officials."

Allen J. Ellender was one of the signatories of the Southern Manifesto, otherwise known as "Massive Resistance", which "argued that the federal government had no power to force states to integrate schools."[1]

International Policy Regarding Russia

Transcripts from an oral history interview with Allen J. Ellender on August 29, 1967 held at the John F. Kennedy Library reveal that he spoke at length with John Fitzgerald Kennedy about a friendlier foreign policy approach with Russia.[2]


"Every tour that I made after he became President, why, I was called upon to go there and discuss matters with him, particularly when I made my last visit in Russia. I spent quite a lot of time with the President at different periods and discussed Russia with him quite a bit, and I'm glad to say that we saw eye to eye on many problems facing the nation at the time in respect to Russia. The predecessors of President Kennedy felt that the best way to deal with Russia was to build this ring of steel around them and try to isolate them. No effort was made to get the people of America acquainted with the people of Russia and vice versa. I felt that instead of spending billions of dollars in building armies and in building fortifications all around the periphery of Russia, if we spent a little money in exchange programs with the Russians so that more Russians could come here and visit with us and that more Americans could go to Russia, we'd probably do a better job of it. I told him that in my own judgment it was a waste of time to discuss matters with the leadership in Russia, but that it might not be a bad idea to talk to them and get their thinking. But the best approach would be for us to get a realistic exchange program whereby a lot of Russians would come here to visit and see what we have, and more or less make them envious of our way of life so as to instill in them that, although we admit that under Communism they might be getting more now than they did under the tsars, yet there was a possibility of them getting more if they could follow our way of life, or some of it, rather than be under Communism where they couldn't own property, where everything was government and all of that. I said, if we made that approach…. And I'm glad to say that the President was very much impressed with the views that I expressed, so much so that I took along with me the report that I made on my tour, I think it was in '61, of Russia."


"Now, in connection with all of this I told him this. I said…. I used to call him Jack, you know; I was old enough to be his grandfather almost. I told him, I said, "You know, it wouldn't be a bad idea for you to talk to these leaders, particularly Khrushchev [Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev]. I've talked to Khrushchev for over four hours one time in the Kremlin. When I first went to speak to that man, I thought that he was just an ordinary clown, clownish, and that there was nothing to him. But after speaking to him for five minutes, I soon found out that he was a diamond in the rough, and I soon found out that he's one of the few leaders in Russia that responded to the will of the people. I believe he'd be a good man for you to contact." Later on, he did just that. He met him in Vienna, and I talked to him later, and he said that he agreed with me about the man, that he was boisterous and this and that, but that deep down he thought that Khrushchev was not as bad as Stalin [Joseph Stalin] — I mean the predecessors of Khrushchev—and that he was approachable and that he tried to respond to the will of the people. And as I pointed out in my report of 1961, I found great changes in Russia compared to what I saw in 1955 when I first went there. There was a decided change in that the people at the local level were given more authority.
When I first went there, everything was directed from Moscow. As I recall, there were sixty bureaus there handling the entire production and distribution of everything that was produced and distributed in Russia. I told him of the changes that were taking place and that what our country ought to do was to encourage that rather than discourage it. I told him of this story that in our exchange program we spent anywhere from forty-five to as much as sixty million dollars per year in order to try to get an exchange program between us and the various countries of the world. I said, to my surprise, and I named the special year, I don't remember the particular year it was, but I think it was in '61 or '62, well, when we appropriated almost fifty million dollars and only four hundred and twenty seven thousand was spent with countries behind the Iron Curtain. I said, "We're missing the boat. I believe that more of this money should be spent so that Russians could get acquainted with what we have and that Americans could get acquainted with what the Russians have and do." He agreed with me, not that he was able to change it too much, but he was going in that direction. I really and truly believe that had he lived, emphasis would have been put on a more realistic exchange with the Russian people so as to try to change them, instead of their leaders directly. In other words, my idea was that if we could inculcate in the minds of the Russian people that there was a better way of life than they were now enjoying, they could in turn have their leaders do that. Do you see the point? And he agreed with that, I thought.


Interviewer: In your talks with him about Russia, from what I gather about yourself you had contacts with other people than Khrushchev. You had an acquaintanceship with a number of Russian leaders.
ELLENDER: The whole Politburo at the time.
Interviewer: How knowledgeable was Kennedy about these other personalities?
Did he know a great deal about them?
Interviewer: No, not personally, except what he read. My contacts were personal, don't you see. I talked to Malenkov [George M. Malenkov], to all of those people out there. In fact, Kaganovich [Lazar M. Kaganovich], one of the leaders in the Politburo at the time and Mikoyan [Anastas I. Mikoyan] and all of those people—I discussed all of that with him. And he was very much impressed, I may say. I'm sure, as I said, that he read my views on the three trips I made in Russia because I made them available to him. As I recall, I even made available to him one of the reports that I hadn't printed because in this report there was too much confidential and secret stuff that I didn't see fit to have it publicized. I do feel, I may be prejudiced when I say this, but I do feel that the late President was very much impressed with the conclusions reached by me in many of these programs. I believe that had I been able to be closer to him and talk to him, he wouldn't have been taken over by a lot of these other people who felt differently to what I did, because that's what's happening today to my good friend, Lyndon Johnson. I think he's taken over by the military, and he listens to them more than he listens to anybody else, and he's so deeply involved now in South VietNam that there's no way to get out. Of course, I'd be the last man on earth to advise him to pull out because we are too deeply involved now and we've made so many promises that we can't extricate ourselves except in an honorable way.

F.B.I. Soviet contacts memo


The memo stated:

A review of information we have developed through our coverage of Soviet officials and establishments in Washington, D. C., has disclosed a continuing interest by representatives of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) to maintain contacts with and cultivate members or staff personnel of the U. S. Congress. There appears below a compilation of such contacts which have come to our attention from January 1, 1967, to date:


  • 1967 77
  • 1968 34
  • 1969 53
  • 1970 to date 16


  • 1967 55
  • 1968 23
  • 1969 10
  • 1970 to date 6

Staff Employees

  • 1967 265
  • 1968 224
  • 1969 239
  • 1970 to date 104
Based on a review of the information disclosed through our coverage, it appears that soviet officials are making more contacts with the following Congressmen or members of their staff than with other U. S. Legislators
Group 1
Excluded from automatic downgrading and declassification

The document was declassified on September 12, 1997.