Peace Corps At Day One, # 2

A small group of Peace Corps planners began to gather in the two-room suite at the Mayflower Hotel in February 1961 to develop the concept of a Peace Corps. At first with Shriver was Harris Wofford, then a Presidential Aide, and Richard Goodwin, also a Presidential Aide who went onto become a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. They were soon joined by others recruited by Shriver and Wofford: Edwin Bayley, Executive Assistant to the Governor of Wisconsin; Bradley Patterson, Jr., Assistant Secretary of the Eisenhower Cabinet. He would become the Peace Corps Executive Secretary. Gordon Boyce, President of the Experiment in International Living; Bill Moyers, then Vice President Johnson’s Administrative Assistant; Lawrence Dennis, the Vice President of Pennsylvania State University, William Haddad, a newspaper reporter and former assistant to Robert Kennedy and Estes Kefauver; Atlanta lawyer Morris Abram; Al Sims, Vice President of the International Institute of Education; psychologist, Dr. Nicholas Hobbs, state government executive Thomas Quimby; John D. Young of NASA; William P. Kelly from the Navy. Also, early members of the planning were Padraic Kennedy, a teaching fellow at the University of Wisconsin; Louis Martin, a Chicago newspaperman; Tom Mathews, from the San Francisco Chronicle.

None of them, however, were as important as  Warren Wiggins, Deputy Director at the International Cooperative Administration, and Bill Josephson, a lawyer, and also at ICA. They had written “The Towering Task” which became the blueprint for the agency. Wiggins, who began the Associate Director for Program Development and Operations, was an experienced government hand and brought to the agency a know-how that few of the  ‘non-government types’ had.

Besides these men–and it was all men–others, men and women, came to work for the Peace Corps, often working free in those first months when there was still no legal authority for the new government agency. These men and women came from foundations, business, labor, etc., all responding to calls from Shriver to “help set up the Peace Corps.”

And they did!

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