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Shortly after Christmas in 1942, the U.S. minister to Australia, Nelson Trusler Johnson, decided the time was right for a break from his wartime duties. Johnson and his wife, Jane, agreed that a seaside vacation with their young children was in order. The Johnson family duly motored to Narooma, about 150 miles southeast of Canberra, for what they expected to be a three-week holiday during the peak of the Australian summer. They chose the spot for its beauty—and because the children would be able to swim without worrying about sharks.The Johnsons’ holiday was cut short on January 8, when wire copy began circulating in Australia with unexpected and unwelcome news. Johnson was to be replaced as minister by a political confidant of President Franklin D. Roosevelt—Democratic National Committee Chairman Edward J. Flynn of New York. Not only would Flynn succeed Johnson in Canberra, he would be given an upgraded title—Ambassador Plenipotentiary—and expanded duties as a “roving Ambassador” in the South Pacific. He would also get nearly twice the salary Johnson was making. (Johnson was paid $10,000 a year; Flynn’s salary would be $17,000.) [excerpt]



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