Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection


Don Nicoll

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date


Interview Number

MOH 241


David Newsom was born January 6, 1918 in Richmond, California. He attended Berkeley, graduating in 1938 with a B.A. in English, then on to Columbia for a graduate degree in journalism. He returned to San Francisco to work at the San Francisco Chronicle. He received Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship from Columbia (July 1940-May 1941) and traveled extensively in Japan, Indonesia, India, Africa and S. America, and met Gandhi while in India. Returning home in 1941 and entering the Navy, he became a Naval Intelligence Officer and spent time at Pearl Harbor. After the war, he returned home and ran small local newspaper in California. In 1947, he entered the Foreign Service, working in Pakistan, Norway, Iraq, England, Libya, Indonesia and the Philippines. David held various posts in Washington, D.C., including his last post as Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, which is where he worked with Muskie, who was Secretary of State at that time. He was U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Indonesia and the Philippines. He left the State Department in 1981 and became Director of the Institute for Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University. He is also the author of several books and a 2002 participant in an oral history project at the University of California, Berkely .

Scope and Content Note

Interview includes discussions of: 1940-1941 travel to India; interviewing Gandhi; writing articles on South Africa for the San Francisco Chronicle; working for Naval Intelligence in 1941, being assigned to examine Japanese companies’ files to determine intelligence on Japan; serving as Undersecretary of State when Muskie became Secretary of State; introducing Senator Muskie to issues at the time, including the Iran hostage crisis; Muskie’s involvement in State Department affairs (April 1980-Jan. 1981) concerning the following issues: U.S. Relations with Soviet Union & Eastern Europe (Poland); defining U.S. position in NATO, Arms Control Negotiation; SALT Agreement; and Muskie as Chairman of the Board at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Institute for Study of Diplomacy.

Use Restrictions

Copyright Bates College. This transcript is provided for individual Research Purposes Only; for all other uses, including publication, reproduction and quotation beyond fair use, permission must be obtained in writing from: The Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College, 70 Campus Avenue, Lewiston, Maine 04240-6018.