Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


The purpose of this thesis is to examine the diplomacy of the mission of General George Catlett Marshall to China in 1946. By utilizing material gleaned chiefly from United States Relations with China, with Special Reference to the Period 1944-1949, the Congressional Record, and the New York Times, a step-by-step account of the Marshall Mission is attempted. Moreover, the effort is made to see the mission in its proper setting, against the backdrop of Oriental Communism and of antique Chinese Confucian authoritarianism. Thirdly, the narrative of the mission itself is coupled with the news of developing public opinion in the United States, China, and the Soviet Union, in an endeavor to determine the relationship and impact of the public temper on the mission, or visa versa. In brief, the salient purpose is to observe the power of the democratic practice of diplomacy when it is pitted against the anti- democratic force of ideology. One fully positive correlation is yielded by the study: Marshall followed his directives to the letter. Indeed, his austere, military obedience was so straight and unwavering that the biographical chapter on him seems to have been included, in the last analysis, as a matter of scholarly convention. His directives, moreover, had written into them an element which largely pre-empted any "diplomatic" battle in China and made it rather one of opposing ideologies. The United States was irrevocably tied to support of Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalist faction. Stage by stage, this persistent fact inexorably alienated the Chinese Communists from the negotiations and made then more amenable to support from, and collusion with, the Kremlin. When this potentiality was early manifested, Chiang himself became minatory, finally settling upon a policy of force when he had seen that he could obviate Marshall's constraints with impunity and still count on an American sentiment that was growing more and more mono-maniacally anti-Communist in temper. The result was that Chiang went the way of reaction, suppression, and cruelty, and the Chinese population, in the words of Dean G. Acheson, “moved out from under” his despotic leadership. Chinese Communism soon took over the China mainland, felling nationalism in violent struggle which took place as if there had been no diplomatic intervention by the United States. The determining factor seems to have been in an American foreign policy, which, from 1946 through 1949, as Archibald MacLeish notes, was a “mirror image" of Soviet foreign policy. It was a policy based on anti-Communist ideology, and one which thereby passed over many of the political, social, military, and exigencies of postwar China-exigencies which needed to have been taken into consideration if diplomacy was to be given a chance to function.


Wilda M. Smith

Date of Award

Spring 1963

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


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