Henry Richardson Labouisse, Jr. - Second World War

Second World War

When the United States entered the Second World War, Labouisse chose to serve his country by accepting a position in the State Department. He began there in 1941 and rose through a variety of positions over the next several years, most concerned with forming and implementing foreign economic policy. His first position was as assistant chief of the Division of Defense Materials in December 1941. He was promoted to chief of the division in February 1943. Later in 1943, he was made deputy director of the Office of Foreign Economic Coordination, and in January 1944 he was appointed chief of the Eastern Hemisphere Division. In March 1944, he was transferred to the Office of European Affairs, where he was special assistant to the director.

Labouisse was appointed chief of the Foreign Economic Administration mission to France in November 1944 and served concurrently as minister for economic affairs at the American Embassy. He became special assistant to Under Secretary of State, William L. Clayton, in November 1945. Through his work with the undersecretary, and his previous work coordinating aid to various European reconstruction points, Labouisse played an important role in the aid efforts that culminated in the Marshall Plan. In July 1946, he returned to his role as special assistant to the director of the Office of European Affairs.

Labouisse then served as the principal State Department officer working with the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) during the initial implementation of the Marshall Plan. He traveled to Paris in March 1948 as head of the mission to establish the ECA as the agency to administer United States economic aid to Europe. He returned to Europe in May 1948 as the head of the United States delegation to the Geneva meeting of the Economic Commission for Europe. Labouisse then served as coordinator of foreign aid and assistance in the State Department from June 1948 until October 1949, when he became director of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs. He held this post until September 1951. He began arguing for a tougher stance on aid in 1949, one that would force European economies to adjust to market forces. In September 1951, Labouisse was named head of the ECA's mission to France, journeying to Paris as head of the Marshall Plan mission. When the ECA was replaced by the Mutual Security Administration and the Foreign Operations Administration, Labouisse headed the Paris missions of both agencies from 1951 to June 1954.

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