Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


John Paton Davies, Jr. Papers

Dates: 1916-1997.

Foreign Service Officer, 1931-1954.

The John Paton Davies, Jr. Papers include correspondence, printed materials, diaries, handwritten notes, photographs, transcripts, articles, reports, and other items relating to Davies’s life and career as a diplomat, government official, author, and expert on China.

[Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List]


ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: 5 linear feet, 8 linear inches (about 10,400 pages).
Access: Open, with the exception of a few documents that are closed for reasons of national security.
Copyright: The donor gave her copyrights in this collection to the U.S. government. Documents created by U.S. government officials in the course of their duties are also in the public domain. Copyrights in documents that do not fall into these two categories presumably belong to the creators of those documents, or their heirs.
Processed by: Randy Sowell, Janice Davis, Kamera Moore, Amy Crossley, and Sharie Simon (2010); Janice Davis and David Clark (2015).


[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

1908 (April 6)Born, Kiating, China
1931Received B.S. Degree from Columbia University
1931-1954Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Government
1932-1933Vice Consul, Windsor, Ontario
1933Vice Consul, Yunnanfu, China
1933-1935Language Attache, Peiping, China
1935-1938Vice Consul, Mukden, China
1938-1940Vice Consul, Hankow, China
1940-1942Assigned to the State Department, Washington, D.C.
1942 (August 24)Married Patricia Grady
1942-1945Assigned to the U.S. Embassy, Chungking, China, and detailed to Joseph Stilwell, Commanding General of U.S. Forces in the China-Burma-India Theater
1945-1947Second and (later) First Secretary, U.S. Embassy, Moscow, U.S.S.R.
1947-1952Member, Policy Planning Staff, State Department, Washington, D.C.
1948Awarded Medal of Freedom for wartime service in China and India
1952-1953Director, Office of Political Affairs, U.S. High Commissioner for Germany
1953-1954Counselor, U.S. Embassy, Lima, Peru
1954 (November 5)Dismissed from the Foreign Service as a security risk by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, on the recommendation of a Security Hearing Board that found him to be loyal to the United States but lacking in “judgment, discretion and reliability”
1955-1965Head of furniture business in Lima, Peru
1964Published memoir, Foreign and Other Affairs
1969Received security clearance from the State Department
1972Published memoir, Dragon by the Tail
1999 (December 23)Died, Asheville, North Carolina

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The Papers of John Paton Davies, Jr. contain materials relating to his life and career as a diplomat, government official, author, and expert on China. The papers include correspondence, newspaper clippings, other printed materials, diaries, handwritten notes, photographs, transcripts, articles, reports, speeches, lectures, and other items.

The Davies Papers are especially rich in information concerning two topics: the history of China and U.S.-Chinese relations from the 1930s to the 1990s; and the loyalty and security investigations of U.S. government officials that occurred during the 1940s and 1950s. Davies was a prominent figure in both of these historical narratives. As a diplomat in China during the 1930s, and as an advisor to General Joseph “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell in the China-Burma-India Theater during World War II, Davies was involved in the development of U.S. policy toward China during a critical and contentious period. In the process, he became embroiled in a dispute with General Patrick Hurley, the U.S. Ambassador to China, who accused him of favoring Mao Tse-tung’s Chinese Communists in their struggle with Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists.

After the war, Davies was formally charged with disloyalty and subjected to a series of investigations by the State Department and other government agencies. Prompted in part by allegations that Communist sympathizers in the State Department had contributed to the loss of China to the Communists, the investigations ultimately led to the dismissal of Davies from the government as a “security risk”—even though each investigation confirmed Davies’s loyalty to the United States.

The collection is organized into two series, a Subject File and a Chronological File. The Subject File includes correspondence between Davies; his wife, Patricia Grady Davies; his father-in law, Henry Grady, who served as U.S. Ambassador to India, Greece, and Iran during the presidency of Harry S. Truman; and other relatives. Also included is Davies’s correspondence over the years with fellow “China hands” from the State Department, other friends and associates, journalists, organizers of lecture tours, motion picture producers, graduate students, and historians. Among the persons whose correspondence appears in the series are Dean Acheson, George F. Kennan, Rodney Loehr, Paul Nitze, Eric Sevareid, John Stewart Service, Joseph Stilwell, Cy Sulzberger, Walter Sterling Surrey, John Carter Vincent, and Theodore H. White.

Newspaper clippings and other printed materials in the Subject File mostly pertain to China, U.S. foreign policy, the security investigations of Davies, and the aftermath of the investigations, including Davies’s success in obtaining a security clearance from the State Department in 1969, and the public rehabilitation of Davies and other “China hands” that followed President Richard Nixon’s rapprochement with the People’s Republic of China during the early 1970s.

The Subject File also contains a diary kept by Davies from 1942 to 1945, recording his activities as General Stilwell’s advisor and his wartime meetings with Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and other Indian leaders; published and unpublished articles by Davies on foreign affairs and other topics; transcripts of testimony before the 1954 Security Hearing Board that recommended Davies’s dismissal; photographs from his travels in China; notes for his speeches and lectures; reports prepared by Davies while serving in Asia or on the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff from 1947 to 1952; and documents relating to his security case that Davies later obtained from the government.

The Chronological File contains materials that are similar in type to those that are included in the Subject File: correspondence, newspaper clippings, speeches, reports, handwritten notes, and State Department documents. Among the correspondents in this series (in addition to Davies’s wife and other members of his family) are Soong Ching-ling (Madame Sun Yat-sen), Chou En-lai, Frank Merrill, Dean Rusk, and Charles Bohlen. The Chronological File contains a number of newspaper clippings concerning Davies’s adventures in August 1943, when he was forced to parachute from a disabled aircraft into the Burmese jungle. (Davies and the rest of his party, which included the journalist Eric Sevareid, were assisted by Naga tribesmen and eventually rescued.) This series also contains material relating to the loyalty investigations of Davies, including drafts of a speech he intended to deliver on television in 1953, in response to allegations made against him by Senator Joseph McCarthy in an earlier television broadcast. (Davies’s superiors in the State Department dissuaded him from making the speech.) Other materials in the series relate to Davies’s efforts to obtain a pension and a security clearance from the State Department after his dismissal.

For the most part, Davies’s own folder titles were used in arranging the collection. Whenever necessary, additional information was added to the folder titles in brackets.

Related collections at the Truman Library include the Henry Grady Papers, the John Melby Papers, the John Stewart Service and Charles Rhetts Papers, and the Sally Cahalan Papers.

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos. Series
1-11 SUBJECT FILE, 1916-1997
Correspondence, newspaper clippings, other printed materials, diaries, handwritten notes, photographs, transcripts, articles, reports, and other items. Arranged alphabetically.
11-13 CHRONOLOGICAL FILE, 1928- 1992
Correspondence, newspaper clippings, speeches, and other items. Arranged chronologically.

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


FOLDER TITLE LIST

Box 1
  • Ambrica Productions
  • American Film Institute
  • Annex C1 [loyalty investigation, 1952]
  • Annex C2 [loyalty investigation, 1953]
  • Annex C3 [loyalty investigation, 1956]
  • Assignments, Promotions, and Travel
  • At Home in Moscow
  • Berlin, Isaiah
  • CBS News Film, 1954
  • China [press clippings and notes, c. 1970-1995]
  • China Lobby
  • China, People’s Republic of—Correspondence, 1973-1993
  • Chinese Communist Publications [and related materials]
  • Christopher, Warren
  • Chronology and Digest [loyalty investigation]
  • Clippings, c. 1940-1953
  • Clippings, 1954
Box 2
  • Clippings, 1956-1961
  • Clippings, 1962
  • Clippings, 1963-1970
  • Clippings, 1971-1995
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • Code Words
  • Comments on Manuscripts
  • Congratulations, 1969
  • Correspondence, 1916-1937
  • Correspondence, 1938-1939
  • Correspondence, 1940-1948
  • Correspondence, 1950-1953
Box 3
  • Correspondence, 1954: Family
  • Correspondence, 1954-1955
      [1 of 3]
      [2 of 3]
      [3 of 3]
  • Correspondence, 1956-1960
  • Correspondence, 1961-1964
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • Correspondence, 1965-1970
  • Correspondence, 1971
  • Correspondence, 1974-1980
  • Correspondence, 1982-1991
Box 4
  • Correspondence, 1997: Pending
  • Council on Religion and International Affairs
  • Culp, James—Film History Foundation, 1987-1992
  • Diary: Feb. 25-May 9, 1942
  • Diary: May 10-June, 1942
  • Diary, Nov. 7-30, 1942
  • Diary, Nov. 30, 1942-Feb. 6, 1943
  • Diary, Feb. 9. 1943-April 3, 1943
  • Diary, April 4-May 15, 1943
  • Diary, 1944-1945
  • Disposition of Davies Documents
  • Docudrama, 1979
  • Eisenhower Library Documents
  • Fairbank, J. K.
  • Foreign Relations of the United States, 1947-1950
  • Grade, Michael
  • Grady, Henry F.—“The Palestine That Never Was”
  • Heer, Paul
  • India—Memoranda and Dispatches
  • India—Reports to Stilwell, Etc.
  • Institute of Pacific Relations
  • Issues: Issues in Defense, Intelligence, and Foreign Relations, Spring 1976
  • Kajiura, Atsushi
  • KCET—Power in the Pacific Documentary
  • Kennan, George F.
Box 5
  • Korea
  • Latin America
  • Lattimore, Owen
  • Lecture Notes
  • Lectures [correspondence and related materials regarding lectures, 1971-1976]
  • Lima, Peru
  • Loyalty Investigation
  • Loyalty Review Board Transcripts, November 13-19, 1952
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
Box 6
  • Loyalty Security Board and Loyalty Review Board Actions
  • Loyalty Security Board Transcripts, July 23, 1951
  • Manuscript [memoirs]
  • Manuscripts, Aborted [unpublished articles and notes]
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • McCarran and McCarthy
  • Mnemonic Relics [letters from prominent persons, personnel records, and memorabilia]
  • Monitors, White House
  • Montana, University of
  • Motion Pictures
  • Nazis and Collaborators, Immigration of
  • Newman, Robert P.
  • Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK)
  • Noble, G. Bernard
Box 7
  • Notes and Printed Materials
  • Notes from Readings and Research
  • Nowak, Walter
  • Office of Policy Coordination
  • Pacem in Terris III Conference, 1973
  • Passports, Cancelled
  • Personnel Records
  • Photographs, China Travel
  • Photographs, Chungking
  • Photographs, Hankow
  • Photographs, Mukden
  • Photographs, Peking
  • Photographs, Yunnan
  • Policy Planning Staff, State Department
  • Portugal, Notes on
Box 8
  • Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act
  • Publications
  • Queries from Historians and Buffs
  • Response to Charges, 1954
  • Russian Research Center
  • Schroth, Fr. Raymond
  • Security Clearance Investigation, 1968-1969
  • Security Hearing Board Transcripts, June 23, 1954
  • Security Hearing Board Transcripts, June 24, 1954
Box 9
  • Security Hearing Board Transcripts, June 25, 1954
  • Security Hearing Board Transcripts, June 26, 1954
  • Security Hearing Board Transcripts, June 28, 1954
  • Security Hearing Board Transcripts, June 30, 1954
  • Security Hearing Board Transcripts, July 1, 1954
  • Security Hearing Board Transcripts, July 2, 1954
  • Security Hearing Board Transcripts, July 7, 1954
  • Security Hearing Board Transcripts, July 8, 1954
  • Security Hearing Board Transcripts, July 8, 1954: Evening Session
  • Security Hearing Board Transcripts, July 9, 1954
  • Security Hearing Board Transcripts, July 15, 1954
  • Security Hearing Board Transcripts, July 16, 1954
  • Selverstone, Marc
  • Senate Hearings and Reports, 1945-1971
  • Service and Melby Oral Biographies
Box 10
  • Service, John Stewart
  • Shute, Benjamin
  • Sino Biographical Information
  • Sources [writings by or about Davies]
  • Soviet Union
  • Speeches
  • Speeches and Important Papers, 1949-1954
  • State Department, 1951-1952
  • State Department, 1952-1953
Box 11
  • State Department, 1953-1966
  • State Department, 1967-1969
  • State Department Citations
  • State Department Security Office
  • State Department Security Office and the FBI
  • State Department Seminar, 1977
  • Stilwell, Joseph W.
  • Sulzberger, Cy
  • Sun, Shirley—Stilwell-in-China Documentary
  • Surrey, Walter Sterling
  • Thorne, Christopher
  • Time Runs Out in CBI [photocopied excerpts]
  • “Vinegar Joe” Screenplay
  • Virginia, University of
  • Wedemeyer, A. C.
  • Wills, Michael
  • 1928-1938
  • 1942-1945
      [1 of 3]
      [2 of 3]
      [3 of 3]
Box 12
  • 1946
  • 1947
  • 1948-1949
  • 1950
  • 1951
  • 1952
  • 1953
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
Box 13
  • 1954
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • 1955
  • 1956-1958
  • 1959-1971
  • 1973
  • 1975-1992

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]