Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection


Don Nicoll

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date


Interview Number

MOH 299


Harold Saunders was born December 27, 1930 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Marian Weihenmayer Saunders and Harold Manuel Saunders. He grew up in Philadelphia and attended Germantown Academy, graduating in 1948. He went to Princeton University and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with high honors in English and the American Civilization Program in 1952. He earned his Ph.D. in American Studies at Yale in 1956. That year, he entered military service in a program sponsored by the CIA and was eventually assigned to be a staff assistant to the deputy director for intelligence, Bob Amory. After that, he moved to the National Security Council in the White House under President Kennedy, where he worked under the next two presidents until 1974, when he moved to the state department, where he stayed until Reagan was elected in 1981.

Scope and Content Note

Interview includes discussions of: Saunders family and educational background; Saunders’ first wife; Golda Meir; diplomatic vs. political strategies of dealing with the Arab-Israeli war of 1967; Cy Vance; Saunders’ interest in foreign policy; King David Hotel; Muskie’s transition from Senator to Secretary of State 1980; Muskie’s relationship with Saunders and the state department; Jimmy Carter; Secretary Muskie vs. Secretary Vance; Iranian hostage situation; “Rose Garden strategy”; Sol Linowitz; Arnie Raphel; Saunders’ involvement in the government post-Carter; Sadac Ammahdi; and Muskie’s symbolic gesture to the new Iranian foreign minister.

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.