5-302 Memorandum of Conversation, December 14, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: December 14, 1945

Subject: Postwar

Memorandum of Conversation

December 14, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]

Top Secret

Notes on Meeting with the Under Secretary of State,

Mr. Acheson at 2:30 P.M. Friday, December 14, 1945

I stated that it was my desire to have some official, preferably of the State Department assigned for the time being the sole duty of energizing and expediting the consideration and handling of all matters pertaining to China involved in the various departments of the government, to be in effect, my personal representative in Washington. This individual also to search for new ways or means of assisting me by government agencies. I outlined the importance, in my opinion, of developing a Chinese coast wise shipping service and a more extensive Chinese air transport service at the earliest possible date. Also the general importance of assistance to the general transportation deficiencies, motor and rail. In the same category of importance I placed the exporting of cotton from the U.S. to China and similar means to meet urgent shortages and expedite the resumption of industries which now lacked raw materials.

The currency issue was also discussed.

I suggested the names of several individuals in the State Department for the position I was proposing. Mr. Acheson suggested two names, Colonel Frank McCarthy (who I felt had not yet sufficiently recovered his health) and a Colonel James Davis, assistant to General Hilldring in the Civil Affairs Branch in the War Department. I immediately contacted General Hilldring by phone and he agreed, shortly thereafter, to release Colonel Davis to me and the State Department.1

Mr. Acheson then called in the heads or acting chiefs of the transportation section, Mr. George P. Baker, the financial, Lend-Lease, and Disposal of Surplus Property Section, Mr. E. G. Collado and the Deputy head of the Far Eastern Section, Mr. James K. Penfield.

In turn these gentlemen outlined the various factors or negotiations involved within their jurisdiction, explaining the various matters to me and answering my questions. On the suggestion of Mr. Collado, it was decided by Mr. Acheson that a letter would be prepared for the President’s signature Monday directing the various governmental heads (Treasury, War, Navy, Maritime Commission, Shipping Administration, Export Bank, etc. etc.) that no negotiations would be conducted with Chinese officials without a clearance from me, General Marshall, through the State Department.

I was informed that detailed summaries of various pending matters or negotiations would be dispatched to me in China.

The President’s directive was delivered to me by messenger at this time.2

Following this meeting, and after learning that Colonel Davis was agreeable to undertaking the task above referred to, I telephoned Mr. Acheson to that effect, and asked him if he thought it desirable for Colonel Davis to function from an office in the State Department. Mr. Acheson replied in the affirmative. I asked if an office, assistants and clerks would be assigned Colonel Davis. Mr. Acheson replied in the affirmative, stating specifically that a representative of the Transportation Section, the Financial or Currency Section, and the Far Eastern Division would be so assigned.

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the Department of State (RG 59), Lot Files, Marshall Mission, War Department, Personal China Files, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. A Cleveland, Ohio, lawyer in civil life prior to the war and at this time head of the Supply and Economics Branch of the Civil Affairs Division, James C. Davis was about to complete his military duties. Marshall convinced him to stay for an additional three months, during which time he would find and train a successor. Davis’s job would be to solve his superior’s “rear echelon” problems and to facilitate communications. General Hull told Davis that this approach was typical of Marshall’s methods. “Throughout the War Department at different times there have been things somewhat smelled up. [Marshall] has picked some man to straighten it out. He has always used that man to cut across command channels or anything else. Of course [the subordinate] always works along with the machinery in existence but he rides herd on it.” (Minutes, Conference in General Hull’s Office, December 15, 1945, NA/RG 319 [OPD, Top Secret Decimal File, Case 228, China].)

2. On December 18, Acting Secretary of State Dean Acheson sent President Truman a memorandum enclosing ten letters: “There are attached proposed letters which we have prepared at General Marshall’s request addressed to the heads of civilian agencies which may be conducting negotiations of one sort or another with Chinese representatives. These letters would request such agencies not to continue conversations regarding the extension of American economic or financial aid to China, but to permit all such discussions to be concentrated in General Marshall’s mission.” (Acheson Memorandum for the President, December 18, 1945, HSTL/H. S. Truman Papers [Official File, 150].)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 394-396.

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