Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Michael Newlin
Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project
AMBASSADOR MICHAEL NEWLIN
Interviewed by: Thomas Dunnigan
Initial interview date: October 10, 1997
Copyright 2000 ADST
Q: This is Thomas Dunnigan speaking and the date is October 10, 1997. Today I will be talking with Ambassador Michael Newlin, who spent more than 40 years in the field of foreign affairs in both the Department and at major overseas posts. I'm doing this on behalf of the oral history program of the Foreign Service and of the Association of Diplomatic Studies and Training.
Mike, suppose we begin with your telling me how you became interestein foreign affairs; how you entered the Foreign Service.
NEWLIN: I was born in North Carolina, and during the depression my father was CEO of a very small company that built trains which they managed to sell in Latin America. My earliest remembrances of my father were his taking trips to exotic places like Columbia and Argentina. In 1940, his company was bought out so he wound up working for the Panama Canal Company. We moved to Balboa. That was when I really became interested in foreign affairs. While in high school there, a member of the American Foreign Service came over from the American Embassy, John J. Muccio, who later was Ambassador in Korea in 1950. Muccio's description of what it was like to be an American diplomat caused me to join the Foreign Service, and that was always my primary interest, my first career goal that I had.
Q: When did you take the Foreign Service examination?
NEWLIN: I took the Foreign Service exam between the years that I was at the Harvard Business School. I went to Harvard Business School in '49 and graduated in '50. I took it in the summer of 1950. Of course, you have to wait quite a while before you hear [the results]. I was fortunate enough to pass. I came to Washington after graduating from the business school in 1951, and, I guess to have something to do while I was waiting for my oral exam, I worked for the Air Force in the Air Targets Division in a temporary building at 12th and Constitution Avenue. I worked there for about nine months until I had my oral exam, I guess in the summer, passed that, and then I entered in September of '52.