Portland State University. Department of History
Date of Publication
Master of Arts (M.A.) in History
Hurley, Patrick J. 1883-1963, China -- Foreign relations -- United States, United States -- Foreign relations -- China
1 online resource (209, 37 leaves, 28 cm.)
On November 26, 1945, the Ambassador to China, Patrick J. Hurley, announced his resignation to the American press. In doing so, he leveled charges against the State Department and a number of its Foreign Service officers—charges which questioned the integrity of many, in their relation with what Hurley termed the “Imperialist” and communist nations in China. Those charges were the beginning of two and one-half decades of ideological crusading in America by many who developed the theory that those men charged by Hurley had been responsible for America’s “loss of China”
Hurley was sent to China in 1944 as President Roosevelt’s personal representatives to Chiang Kai-shek. His directive was to promote efficient and harmonious relations between Chiang Kai-shek and General Stilwell, Commander of American Forces, China Theatre. Hurley was, further, to facilitate Stilwell’s exercise of command over the Chinese armies, which, it was hoped, would soon be placed under him.
Failing in this mission, Hurley was ultimately appointed to the rank of Ambassador after the resignation of Clarence T. Gauss. Hurley had by this time, taken on the responsibility of promoting negotiations between the Kuomintang Government of Chiang Kai-shek and the Chinese Communist Party, headquartered in Yenan.
Rather than simply offering his “good offices” in the negotiations, Hurley became personally involved, interjecting his personal, ideological beliefs into the proposals of each side. Through his involvement, Hurley became personally committed to unification on his terms and eventually gave the Kuomintang Party and Chiang Kai-shek the impression that the United States was permanently committed to support of the Central Government.
Hurley soon came into conflict with a number of Foreign Service officers and the Department of State, below the level of the Secretary of State, over opposing interpretations of American policy in China. Hurley became intransigent in his overwhelming support of the National Government, while members of the State department believed that the United States should remain flexible in its approach to the problems in China to avoid supporting the losing side in what was seen as an inevitable civil war.
Hurley came to see criticism of Chiang Kai-shek’s government and suggestions for alterations in policy, as personal criticism directed to him. In the face of this perceived threat to himself, he had a number of Foreign Service officers re-called or transferred, only to discover that they had been reassigned to positions which he thought were superior to his.
In the face of these events and rising criticism, in addition to eventual failure to bring the two Chinese factions together and impending civil war. Hurley submitted his resignation to the Secretary of State, after first announcing his reasons to the press. Experiencing one of the few failures of his life , the man who had risen from the coal mines of Oklahoma to become a millionaire twice over, Secretary of Defense und0er President Hoover, and Ambassador to China under Roosevelt, turned the blame for his failure to those with whom he had come into conflict, the Department of State being the principal culprit.
This study of Hurley’s experience in China is based upon several secondary accounts of the period, recently published Department of State papers (Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers), Hurley’s several testimonials before Congressional Committees, and interviews with Mr. John Stewart Service, upon whom attention was focused in numerous loyalty investigations subsequent to Hurley’s resignation.
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Handy, Robert T., "Patrick J. Hurley and China, 1944-1945" (1971). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1462.