Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


John Stewart Service and Charles Edward Rhetts Papers

Dates: 1945-1963, Bulk Dates: 1950-1957

United States Foreign Service Officer, 1935-1951, 1957-1962

The Papers of John Stewart Service and Charles Edward Rhetts include a wealth of materials relating to and documenting John S. Service's experiences with loyalty investigations during the 1950s. The collection also represents the work of Charles E. Rhetts, Service's attorney during his loyalty hearings and in the aftermath of his discharge from the U.S. Foreign Service. The collection's one series, a Subject File arranged alphabetically, includes documentation accumulated by Service and Rhetts during Service's loyalty hearings, his dismissal from the U.S. Foreign Service, and the ensuing court cases seeking reinstatement and correction of Service's record. Principally, the collection contains copies of Service's and Rhetts's correspondence, legal and government documents, and newspaper articles pertaining to the Service case. Other documents found in the collection are memoranda, press releases, transcripts, printed material, handwritten notes, and various publications relating to the Service case.

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


ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: 1.6 linear feet (approximately 3,200 pages).
Access: Open.
Copyright: Mrs. Ruth F. Rhetts, wife and heir of the late Charles E. Rhetts, and John S. Service donated their copyright interest in any unpublished writings in this collection to the United States Government. Documents prepared by United States Government employees in the course of their official duties are also in the public domain. Copyright interest in documents which do not fall into the above categories is presumed to remain with the writers of their documents, or their heirs.
Processed by: Erwin J. Mueller (May 1977)
Updated by: Marcia Kottemann (2004) as part of the Truman Library Internship Program.
Supervising Archivists: Randy Sowell and Amy Williams.


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


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
John Stewart Service

1909 (August 3) Born in Chengtu, China to American parents
1920-1924 Student, American school, Shanghai, China
1925 Graduated, Berkeley, California high school
1931 A.B., Oberlin College
1931-1932 Post-graduate student
1933 Married Caroline E. Schulz
1933 Foreign Service Clerk, Kunming, China
1935-1951, 1957-1962 Foreign Service Officer
1935-1938 Language Attache, American Embassy, Peiping, China
1938-1941 Vice-Consul, Shanghai, China
1941-1943 Third Secretary of Embassy, Chungking, China
1943 Second Secretary of Embassy, Chungking, China
1943-1945 Political officer attached to staff of General Joseph W. Stilwell, Commander of U.S. Army Forces, China-Burma-India
1945 Duty at Department of State, Washington, D.C.
1945 Arrested for connection to the Amerasia Case
1945-1946 Executive officer to U.S. political adviser, Supreme Commander for Allied Powers, Tokyo, Japan
1946-1948 First Secretary, American Legation, Wellington, New Zealand
1948-1951, 1957-1959 Duty at Department of State
1952-1957 President, Sarco International Corporation, New York City, New York
1959-1962 American Consul, Liverpool, Great Britain
c. 1960s Resident China Scholar, University of California, Berkeley
1999 (February 3) Died

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Charles Edward Rhetts

1910 (May 21) Born in Columbus, Indiana
1931 A.B., Darmouth College
1934 L.L. B., Harvard University
1938 (April 9) Married Ruth Fischer
1934-1935 Counsel, National Rifle Association
1935-1937 Resettlement Administration
1937-1938 Private practice
1938-1939 Counsel, Power Division, Federal Emergency Administration, Public Works
1939-1941 Associate Solicitor, U.S. Department of Labor
1941-1942 Executive Assistant, Director of Materials, War Production Board
1942 Director, Foreign Division
1942-1944 Special Assistant to Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice
1944 Lieutenant, Junior Grade, U.S. Naval Reserve
1944-1946 First Assistant, War Division, U.S. Department of Justice
1945 Acting Assistant Attorney General
1946 Director, U.S. Department of Justice, Mission in Europe
1946-1962, 1964-1971 General practice law
1962-1964 U.S. Ambassador to Liberia
1963 L.L. D., Cuttington College, Liberia
1971 (November 15) Died in London, England

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


COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The Papers of John Stewart Service and Charles Edward Rhetts document John S. Service’s experiences with loyalty hearings, his dismissal from the U.S. Foreign Service, and the various court cases which ensued. Following his involvement in the Amerasia incident of 1945, Service underwent a series of investigations by the State Department, all of which pronounced Service to be a loyal U.S. Government employee. Accusations from Senator Joseph McCarthy, however, incited another hearing before the Loyalty Review Board in 1951. The Review Board ruled there was “reasonable doubt” concerning Service’s loyalty and he was subsequently discharged in late 1951. Following this action, Service and Rhetts appealed the State Department’s decision to dismiss Service in Service v. Bingham, et al. (also entitled Service v. Dulles, et al.). The men fought for Service’s eventual reinstatement into the Foreign Service with back pay and benefits. In 1957, Service was reinstated as a Foreign Service officer as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Service v. Dulles, et al.

The Papers of Service and Rhetts thoroughly document the men’s legal activities during Service’s loyalty investigations and the appeals process. During this time, Service and Rhetts accumulated many materials pertaining to the Service case, including correspondence, legal and government documents, newspaper clippings, memoranda, press releases, transcripts, printed material (primarily articles and editorials), handwritten notes, telegrams, transcripts of Service’s hearings and court cases, and various publications. The collection includes correspondence with prominent liberals such as Edward F. Prichard, Jr. and Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. (who assisted Service and Rhetts in their legal efforts), and information concerning donations to a fund that was established to help pay Service’s legal expenses. The majority of the correspondence and legal documents are carbon copies of originals.

The collection spans the period from Service’s involvement in the Amerasia case in 1945; through Senator McCarthy’s original accusation of Service’s disloyalty in 1950, basing his claim on evidence from the Amerasia incident to infer that Service was pro-communist; through Service’s retirement from the Foreign Service in 1963. Most of the documentation, however, falls between 1950 and 1957, detailing the loyalty hearings and the Service v. Dulles, et al. appeals case. The collection measures 1.6 linear feet (approximately 3,200 pages). The entire collection is organized into one series, a Subject File, which is arranged alphabetically according to folder title.

One of the most notable features of this collection is the high concentration of newspaper clippings concerning the Service case as well as documents connected to Service and Rhetts’s legal activities. The newspaper clippings, gathered as the Service case progressed, are useful in understanding public reaction to the Amerasia incident, Service’s loyalty hearings, and the rash of communist accusations associated with McCarthyism. The bulk of these newspaper clippings date from 1950 and 1951. Similarly, the collection contains a good deal of relevant legal and government documents, including transcripts of Service’s 1951 hearing before the Loyalty Review Board and the later appeals case, Service v. Dulles, et al. before the Supreme Court. Additionally, Service and Rhetts collected and compiled all pertinent sections of the Congressional Record, which can be found in several locations within the collection. As a result, much of the official documentation of the Service proceedings is centralized and easily accessible.

Other information relating to the Service case or Senator McCarthy’s accusations of communism in the U.S. government can be found in other collections at the Truman Library. General information on McCarthyism is located in a Student Research File entitled “President Truman’s Confrontation with McCarthyism.” The Confidential File of the White House Central Files of the Harry S. Truman Papers contains information on Truman’s creation of the Loyalty Review Board itself. Information pertaining more particularly to Service and the Loyalty Review Board can be found in the oral history interviews of Arthur S. Flemming, Donald Hansen, Walter H. Judd, Stephen J. Spingarn, and Dr. Arthur N. Young.

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SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos. Series
1-4 SUBJECT FILE, 1945-1963 (Bulk Date Span, 1950-1957)

Correspondence, legal and government documents, newspaper clippings, memoranda, press releases, transcripts, printed material, handwritten notes, telegrams, transcripts of hearings and court cases, and various publications relating to John S. Service’s loyalty hearings. Arranged alphabetically by folder title.

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


FOLDER TITLE LIST

Box

1

 

    SUBJECT FILE, 1945-1963 (Bulk Date Span, 1950-1957)
  • Articles and press releases
  • Court Case - John S. Service
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • Discharge from the U.S. Foreign Service - December 13, 1951
  • Hearings by U.S. State Department Loyalty Security Board
  • Loyalty Review Board - 1951
    • [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • Loyalty Review Board - 1952
  • Newspaper Clippings - public reaction to loyalty hearings
    • [1 of 3]

2

      [2 of 3]
      [3 of 3]

  • Publication - In the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, John S. Service Complaint for Declaratory Judgment on Mandatory Order
  • Publication - State Department Employee Loyalty Investigation: Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Eighty-First Congress, Second Session, Part 1
  • Publication - State Department Employee Loyalty Investigation: Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Eighty-First Congress, Second Session, Part 2, Appendix
3
  • Publication - State Department Employee Loyalty Investigation: Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Eighty-First Congress, Second Session, Part 3
  • Publication - State Department Employee Loyalty Investigation: Report of a Subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Relations
  • Publication - The Amerasia Papers: Some Problems in the History of US-China Relations, by John S. Service
  • Publication - In the Supreme Court of the United States, October Term, 1956, John S. Service v. John Foster Dulles
  • Publication - In the Supreme Court of the United States, October Term, 1956, John S. Service v. John Foster Dulles, Brief for the Petitioner
  • Publication - Transcript of Record: Supreme Court of the United States, October Term, 1956, John S. Service vs. John Foster Dulles
  • Reinstatement in the U.S. Department of State, July 3, 1957
  • Suit in U.S. District Court
    • [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • Tydings subcomittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - 1950
    • [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
4
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, April 13 - June 14, 1956
  • U.S. Court of Claims - suit for back pay, 1958-1963
  • U.S. District Court - Actions by after reversal of verdict by Supreme Court
  • U.S. Supreme Court - June 17, 1957
    [1 of 2]
    [2 of 2]

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