Draft of Letter from President Truman to General Marshall 28

My Dear General Marshall: On the eve of your departure for China I want to repeat to you my appreciation of your willingness to undertake this difficult mission.

I have the utmost confidence in your intelligence and judgment [ability to] handling[e] the task before you but, to guide you in so far as you may find it helpful, I will give you some of the thoughts, ideas, and objectives which Secretary Byrnes and I have in mind with regard to your mission.

I attach several documents which I realize you have seen: but which I desire should be considered as part of this letter. One is a statement of U. S. policy towards China which was, I understand, prepared in the War Department and modified and amplified to some extent in the State Department as shown on the face of the document [after consultation with you and with officials of the War Department.29] Another [The second] is a memorandum from the Secretary of State to the War Department30 in regard to China. And the third is a copy of my [press] release of . . . . . on policy in China.31 [I understand these documents have been shown to you and received your approval.]

The fact that I have asked you to go to China is the clearest evidence of my very real concern with regard to the situation there. Secretary Byrnes and I are both anxious that the unification of China by peaceful democratic methods be achieved as soon as possible. It is my desire that you, as my Special Representative, bring to bear in an appropriate and practicable manner the influence of the United States to this end. Specifically, I desire that you endeavor to persuade the Chinese Government to call a national conference of representatives of the major political elements to bring about the unification of China and, concurrently, to effect a cessation of hostilities, particularly in north China. It is my understanding that there is now in session in Chungking a Peoples’ Consultative Council made up of representatives of the various political elements, including the Chinese Communists. The meeting of this Council should furnish you with a [Page 765] convenient opportunity for discussions with the various political leaders.

Upon the success of your efforts, as outlined above, will depend largely, of course, the success of our plans for evacuating Japanese troops from China, particularly north China, and for the subsequent withdrawal of our own armed forces from China. I am particularly desirous that both be accomplished as soon as possible.

In your conversations with Chiang Kai-shek and other Chinese leaders you are authorized to speak with the utmost frankness. Particularly, you may state, in connection with the Chinese desire for credits, technical assistance in the economic field, and military assistance (I have in mind the proposed U. S. military advisory group which I have approved but only in principle), that a China disunited and torn by civil strife could not be considered realistically as a proper place for American investments [assistance] along the lines enumerated.

I am in complete accord with the statements made by Secretary Byrnes before the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate on December 7 in regard to unification of China. The pertinent paragraphs are quoted in the attached memorandum for the War Department. As Secretary Byrnes states, “This problem is not easy one”. But we must succeed in bringing about a peaceful unification of China. The alternatives seem to me clearly to be disunity or prolonged civil war, neither of which would be in our interests or in the interests of international peace.

I am anxious that you keep Secretary Byrnes and me currently informed of the progress of your negotiations and of obstacles you may encounter. You [will] have our fullest [full] support and we shall endeavor at all times to be as helpful to you as possible.

  1. Apparently drafted by John Carter Vincent. Deletions indicated by overlining and substitutions in brackets, presumably made by the Secretary of State.
  2. For text, see p. 754; this was amended on December 9 at the conference described in the memorandum of December 10, p. 761.
  3. Dated December 9, p. 760.
  4. Released December 15, p. 770.