Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Douglas G. Hartley
HARTLEY: Well, I guess my senior year was when I took most of the courses I took that were in some way oriented toward the Foreign Service, including the exam. I could see what a broad range of knowledge you needed. I can't really remember what my specific courses were that senior year except for a course in German history. Then I took the Foreign Service Exam a second time. That was after I left Harvard. Maybe it was in the summer of '55. I got a 67. So then I found a cram course that was given in a building on Massachusetts Avenue. I don't even remember the name of the course nor the name of the person who gave it, unfortunately. I have a very bad memory for names. But there were a number of guys in that course. My cousin, Charlie, was there. Peter Lord, I think, and others. I was able, by virtue of that, when I did finally take it for the third time—I got a 75, so I was well over the top. Meantime, I had gotten married, moved to Washington, and we rented an apartment here. I was, at that time—when I passed the exam—which would have been in early '56, still not 22 years old. I was very young and very wet behind the ears. By that time, of course, the exam had changed, too. It was now multiple choice. In fact, it had the multiple choice the second time I took it. I still think an essay exam is probably more thorough. I should mention that the draft was breathing down my neck. Joining the Foreign Service and getting married led to a deferral. I feel very fortunate to have escaped involvement in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Q: You must have taken the oral exam. I would have thought— in a way—I mean just the very fact that you had gone to Eton would have raised some eyebrows when you went in to take it—were you American enough and that sort of thing.
HARTLEY: Well, that was definitely in their minds, and though I had taken American history courses in Harvard—I took courses by Schlesinger and they were very good—but basically, my background in American history was pretty weak, so they spent a lot of time asking about American history. I had also been coached on American history and all of the things that were my weaknesses while I was doing this cram course. So I was able to blunder my way through it. But one question they asked me was “What did I think about the Washington Senators?” I said—and this may have gotten me through the exam—I said “Their spirit is willing but their flesh is weak.” And that got a big laugh out of the board. Afterwards I sat there and thought, “Oh, God, I've fouled this one up!” Back to the drawing boards, a miserable performance. I felt I hadn't answered very many questions right. Bluffed my way through the whole thing. And then they came and said “Well, Mr. Hartley, after serious consideration we have decided to pass you. However, we strongly suggest that you study current events, American history—they reeled off about five or six things they wanted me to do. But at that point I had passed. That was the important thing as far as I was concerned.
Q: So you came into the Foreign Service when?