Preferred Citation: Newman, Robert P. Owen Lattimore and the "Loss" of China. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1992 1992. http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft296nb15t/


 
Chapter Twenty China Attacks

Chapter Twenty
China Attacks

On August 1, 1950, McCarthy waved before the Senate the affidavit John Farrand had obtained from Willi Foerster in March; it contained the charge that Lattimore had worked with Sorge. There is no reason to believe that McCarthy had learned anything new from Foerster or any other informant; what he told the Senate was all stale stuff, and the FBI agents cringed. Willard Edwards reported in the Chicago Tribune , "McCarthy said this evidence, like that revealed last week connecting Lattimore with two known Communists in a real estate deal, was another connecting link in his charge that Lattimore was a Communist agent. The discharge of the Tydings investigating committee, after a report whitewashing Lattimore and all others accused of communism, forced him to take such evidence to the Senate floor, McCarthy said."[1]

The mainstream press ignored McCarthy; the AP did not even report his speech. This treatment McCarthy found intolerable. On August 4 he wrote the editor of every daily newspaper in the country, enclosing the Foerster affidavit, complaining about the AP's lack of interest and noting that "the press coverage of our fight to rid the State Department of Communists left much to be desired." The editors were largely unsympathetic; AP responded that "the senator's statement lacked news value.[2]

But Lattimore was making news in August. Traveling through New England, he accepted the invitation of a friend, William G. Wendell of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to visit Portsmouth and speak to the guests of the Wentworth-by-the-Sea Hotel after that hotel's regular Sunday night concert on August 27. When this speech was announced, there was an immediate outcry from local McCarthy supporters. The regent of the lo-


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cal chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the past president of the New Hampshire Congress of Parent-Teacher Organizations led opposition to the Lattimore appearance.[3]

The hotel president, James B. Smith, was taken aback. Not wanting to offend either his guests or the local citizenry, he polled the hotel guests: 121 opposed Lattimore's talk, 89 approved it. Smith canceled, telling the New York Times , "Like the food we serve, it must meet with the approval of the greater percentage of our guests." Mrs. William E. Travis of the local PTA was more assertive: "Just now, with the critical condition of this country, anyone about whom there is any question should not be allowed to speak. I'm just against Communism, that's all." Lattimore was hurt and angry: "I am very sorry that any group of Americans would allow themselves to be panicked into refusing an opportunity for free discussion of subjects that must be openly debated. . .. There is no other democratic process for the spread of information and the formation of opinion."[4]

Four days later McCarthy roused the faithful with a stinging attack on Acheson and his advisers at the Fifty-second Annual Encampment of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in New York. The audience "applauded wildly."[5]

Also in August, Alfred Kohlberg swung into action. He was reading the Tydings committee report and found a statement to the effect that Father Kearney, who wrote the 1949 Columbia article attacking Lattimore, had told the FBI that he, Kearney, "had no direct knowledge of Mr. Lattimore's activities and that the principal source of his information had been Alfred Kohlberg of the American China Policy Association." Kohlberg had met Kearney several times but did not remember discussing Lattimore. Kohlberg fired off an immediate letter to Kearney. Was this true? Had Kearney actually said that to the FBI? Kohlberg would like Kearney to put what he told the FBI in an affidavit and indicate if Kohlberg was free to use it as he saw fit.[6]

Kearney had left Santa Clara University and was on missionary duty in the Philippines. When he got Kohlberg's letter, he was much disturbed. He had been interviewed by two men who claimed to be FBI agents in January, he had thought that anything he said would be kept strictly confidential. He understood them to ask him if he "had any further information on Mr. Lattimore than that contained in the article." He told them no, that they should contact Kohlberg. As Kearney's affidavit reads, "At no time do I recall saying, or intending to say, that most of the matter in the article in question came from Mr. Kohlberg." [7]


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Kearney put all this in his statement, had it notarized September 21, and sent it off to his Jesuit superior, Father John K. Lipman, assistant procurator for American Jesuits in China. Kearney's letter to Lipman reveals the dominant Catholic attitude toward Tydings:

Enclosed is a copy of an affidavit I am sending to be censored by the editor of America before being turned over to Mr. Kohlberg. The question of the F.B.I. is curious. Was it a frameup? Two men came instead of one, which seemed a bit strange. They seemed very much interested in a bit of information I gave them from Bullitt, which I had intended to be, like the rest, strictly confidential.

Could you make discreet inquiries, through Blake, e.g., and see if any real F.B.I. men contacted me in January at Santa Clara. If so, why the breaking of a confidential interview, and why was it done so stupidly? I have had a very high idea of the F.B.I., and this doesn't seem to fit in. We could make it hot for Tydings, if he faked the whole thing. And I suggested as much to Kohlberg. We did speak a bit about Lattimore, as I told K., and as you may remember at the dinner in S.F. But not much. . .. Is it possible to get a copy of that Tydings report in S.F.? If not, Freddy McGuire could get one. You might pass on this info to him, if he thinks it is useful. He might be able to blow those fellows up at dose quarters better than I could do it here. (Kearney's italics)[8]

If Freddy McGuire blew up Tydings or any of those fellows, it has escaped public notice. The Reverend Robert C. Hartnett, S.J., editor of America , told Kohlberg to use the affidavit as it was. Kohlberg used it to challenge the FBI, sending it to Hoover on October 5 with a cover letter concluding: "It seems to me that your agents inaccurately reported their interview with Father Kearney. That they did so for any ulterior motive seems to be ruled out by the fact that their interview was in January, some months before the McCarthy charges against Lattimore were made. As I intend to make this matter public, may I suggest to you, Sir, that the original reports of your agents now be made public."[9] Kohlberg then notes that this might seem a small matter but that it was important to everyone who thought the Tydings report a whitewash.

The bureau regarded this challenge as serious enough to require the two San Francisco agents to write an expanded account of their visit to Kearney. They did, retracting not a word of their original report: Kearney had indeed claimed that he got most of his information about Lattimore from Kohlberg, and they repeated several concrete particulars Kearney had given them.[10]


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Hoover referred the whole mess to Deputy Attorney General Peyton Ford. Ford wrote back on October 21: "I think the record should be straight—but I hesitate to start a running controversy with Kohlberg. If you have any thoughts I would appreciate them." Attached was a draft letter to Kohlberg, which Hoover approved; in it Ford said the two agents "confirmed the facts as set forth in my letter dated June 22, 1950, to Senator Millard E. Tydings."[11]

There is no record of a Kohlberg reply. There is, in fact, no further record of bureau contact with Kohlberg. His informer status with the FBI reached its zenith in June and died suddenly in October.

As for Father McGuire, it is doubtful that the Kearney suggestion reached him. He was one of the few anti-McCarthy Catholics, and he later became involved in a bitter feud with Fulton Sheen, Budenz's protector.[12]

Budenz was under heavy pressure from the bureau to complete his "four hundred names" project. By midsummer 1950 he had dictated to an FBI stenographer the names and all he could remember about 380 "concealed" Communists. The list was amazing. As noted previously, Budenz had trouble coming up with the promised number and "refreshed his memory" from lists of officers and sponsors of left-wing organizations. In July, HUAC agents came to Budenz, telling him that the committee was "interested in obtaining the names of the 400 concealed Communists." Budenz demurred. He wanted to leave the list in the hands of the FBI. HUAC was not to be put off; the committee issued a subpoena for Budenz to appear on August 29 with his list. He did appear, but something caused the committee to leave him sitting in an anteroom until they disbanded. Willard Edwards thought it was administration pressure. [13]

In 1987 the FBI still declined to release the Budenz four hundred file. Even in 1950 they were unwilling to encourage Budenz to release parts of it to a confirmed Communist hater, Cecil B. DeMilie, who wanted it for his blacklist. The matter was referred to Hoover, who responded, "Since Budenz seems to talk to others freely & without clearance with FBI I don't see why he passes the buck to us in this particular matter. Pass it right back to him." [14]

Budenz did name many on his list before congressional committees, which gave him immunity from suit. Many of them had no Communist connections at all. Budenz got around to putting Lattimore on the list in September 1950. We will probably never know how many prominent citizens were refused passports, failed to get jobs they applied for, or were


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turned down for grants or scholarships because they were on the Budenz list.

Lattimore returned to Johns Hopkins in early September. There were disturbing press reports waiting in his mail. One that particularly aroused his ire was a Chicago Tribune story of July 21. Kenneth Colegrove, political scientist at Northwestern University, was now attacking Lattimore publicly. Colegrove claimed that Lattimore was a member of "a pro-communist clique in and out of the State Department that sold President Roosevelt on the idea that Chinese Communists were only agrarian reformers; Lattimore has been an advisor of the State Department despite Acheson's denials."

Lattimore exploded. He wrote Colegrove September 5: "It is a lie, and you know it is a lie, that I ever belonged to any kind of 'pro-communist clique'; it is a lie, and you know it is a lie, that I ever 'sold' or attempted to 'sell' President Roosevelt on the idea that the Chinese Communists were only agrarian reformers; it is a lie, and you know it is a lie, that I was ever an advisor of the State Department." Lattimore asked for an apology and a retraction.[15] It never came.

The fuss in Vermont calmed down somewhat in late summer. Stefansson, who had previously been inclined to give Ordway Southard the benefit of the doubt, had changed his mind. Southard came uninvited to visit the Stefanssons, wanting a reduction in his mortgage if he paid it off early. Stefansson refused and was outraged when Southard confirmed his Party membership. In a blazing letter to the Lattimores, which Stefansson titled "The Wretched Southards" as if it were an article for publication, he wrote that he had forbidden Southard to set foot on Dearing farm again. Evelyn Stefansson wrote Eleanor Lattimore on September 11; her mood was upbeat. "Everywhere we hear words of praise for Owen's wonderful fight. Mrs. Bundy [local Republican attorney] met a group in Barre last week of 6 women from all over the country. They were all eager for details and all convinced that not only was Owen guiltless, but he had struck such a fine blow for freedom of academic thought, etc." [16]

On October 16 Evelyn wrote again, still impressed by the sanity of Vermonters and happy that she and Stef would be able to meet Owen and Eleanor shortly at a conference in Philadelphia, which was the best they could do since the Lattimores could not afford to be seen in Vermont. [17]

But sanity in Vermont did not cancel out the fact that the country as a whole was in the grip of a growing hysteria. Passage of the Internal Security Act of 1950 (the McCarran Act) over Truman's veto on September


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23 proved this hysteria. The major feature of the act was a preventive detention or concentration camp clause. This act was one of the most repressive ever passed by Congress, which rolled over the veto 248-48 in the House and 57-10 in the Senate. Senators William Benton of Connecticut and Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota later expressed shame that they too had caved in to the pressure. Humphrey congratulated Estes Kefauver for resisting it.[18]

Lattimore continued to have trouble on the lecture circuit. There was a furious row when Wellesley College invited him to speak under the auspices of the Mayling Soong Foundation. The press was filled with attack and counterattack, pro- and anti-Tydings, pro- and anti-McCarthy. One Wellesley trustee, Mrs. Maurice T. Moore, returned early from Europe to take part in a board meeting on the matter. Mrs. Walter Brookings, widow of the founder of the Brookings Institution, wired a protest to Wellesley's president. Unlike the New Hampshire hotel, Wellesley stood its ground.[19]

But the ground under freedom of speech was crumbling. Despite FBI knowledge of the shaky nature of evidence against Lattimore, and despite near-unanimous testimony of those who knew him that he was not a Communist, the bureau was forging ahead with its investigation, seeking—and retaining—whatever testimony it could find against him, discarding or ignoring the contrary evidence. Hoover, for instance, was never told that Budenz had described his own testimony as "flimsy"; this revealing adjective dropped out of FBI reports as they went up the hierarchy.

The Baltimore FBI office was always more suspicious of Lattimore than was headquarters. Perhaps active American Legion, Catholic church, Minute Women of America, and other local opposition to Lattimore had infected the Baltimore agents. Perhaps the suspicion was simply a desire on the part of Baltimore, the "office of origin" in the Lattimore case, to capitalize on what they hoped would be a successful prosecution. Whatever the case, on October 13, 1950, the Baltimore SAC volunteered to headquarters that his office was "in the process of preparing a report summarizing information available which will establish instances wherein LATTIMORE committed perjury in his testimony before the Senate Sub-Committee."[20] There was no mention of espionage. It took Baltimore until December 28 to put its perjury summary together. During this period the country went from agitation to full hysteria.

The November 1950 midterm elections stirred things up. Republicans, almost without exception, ran on a "Democrats are soft on Communism"


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platform. Acheson was the chief scapegoat, Lattimore a close second. Nixon, typically, rode them both: he challenged his opponent, Helen Gahagon Douglas, to state "whether she subscribes to the Acheson-Lattimore policy."[21]

Democrats had counted on Truman's quick response to the North Korean attack to defuse the Communist issue, but things didn't work out that way. McCarthy's analysis in June was correct; as casualties mounted, so did public anxiety. MacArthur's brilliant Inchon landing temporarily eased concerns about the war, but on October 25, just before the election, Chinese forces appeared in Korea. This disturbing event again heightened public uneasiness.

The election in Maryland was particularly salient: Tydings was running. McCarthy and his staff took an active part, and there were dirty tricks aplenty, some of them carried out by Surine.[22] At the time many respected observers credited McCarthy with Tyding's loss, and McCarthy was quite happy to accept this judgment. In retrospect, McCarthy's attacks on Tydings did not account for the outcome; but what appeared then to be the case was what really mattered, and belief in McCarthy's prowess was strongly reinforced. Scott Lucas, another foe of McCarthy, lost to Everett Dirksen in Illinois, and McCarthy claimed credit for that victory, too. Overall the Democratic vote was good for an offyear election, and the Republicans did not capture either house of Congress; but McCarthy, Nixon, Dirksen, and their friends declared victory and vowed to keep up the anti-Communist battle.

Lattimore lectured to the Maryland Furniture and Carpet Association November 14, mostly on his early experiences in China. During the question period he was asked, "In your opinion, why was Tydings defeated?" Lattimore disclaimed any expertise about Maryland politics but ventured the tentative opinion that the outcome might have been different if Tydings had fought the whitewash charge "offensively rather than defensively. The senator had nothing to be ashamed of and everything to be proud of." [23]

But Lattimore was in a losing battle. McCarthy and his political and journalistic allies were always attacking, Lattimore defending. November and December were not good months. Johns Hopkins was still behind him, but the country was steadily moving into McCarthy's camp. Lattimore threw himself into the academic concerns neglected during the spring. He worked particularly hard to secure an American Philosophical Society grant for Father Louis M. J. Schram, a Belgian Catholic expert on Mongolia who wanted to continue his studies in the United States; he also


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tried to help the Indian Council of World Affairs in New Delhi to obtain young Mongol scholars who were neither Communist nor Kuomintang. [24]

The seminal event of 1950, however, was yet to come. More than the Hiss conviction, the McCarthy crusade, the Rosenberg arrest, or the original North Korean attack, it was the defeat of the U.S. Eighth Army by Chinese forces beginning on November 26 that traumatized the country. The panic about Korea and what events there meant for the United States began, in New York Times coverage, on November 29, with a three-line scarehead. For twenty-two days Korean War headlines in the Times averaged five columns in width. On November 30 Truman threatened use of nuclear weapons if pushed to it. At the height of the rout, on December 3, the Times editorialized, "In the short space of ten days, the whole world outlook had changed." An editorial December 4 claimed that the situation was "reminiscent of the days when Hitler's armies started on their march of conquest." On December 8 New York Governor Thomas Dewey instructed his civil defense leaders to prepare for "a possible million evacuees" from urban areas in the event of a nuclear war. Truman declared a national emergency December 16, and one of the many alarmist stories the next day had the federal government preparing to disperse. The crowning touch was provided by skiers in the Pacific Northwest. On December 18, 1950, they organized as "defense guerillas" to protect western mountain passes during a Communist invasion. And on Christmas Eve the Very Reverend Edmund A. Walsh, vice president of Georgetown University, said the U.S. should consider a preemptive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union.[25]

The Chinese entry into the Korean War and the defeat of MacArthur's finest drowned out Tydings's report in a crescendo of fear and frenzy. If those State Department types were not serving the Communists, how could all this happen? America's virile self-image took a beating in Korea.[26] The disaster there, added to the already powerful anti-Communist atmosphere, seemed to make McCarthy's case: against Acheson, against Jessup, against Lattimore. Budenz and Utley also benefited from the Chinese attack; they had said all along that communism was a monolith and that the People's Republic of China would do Stalin's bidding.

Baltimore FBI agents continued to dig up new ways of nailing Lattimore. On November 16, 1950, that office wrote Hoover suggesting an investigation of possible use by Lattimore of a pseudonym. "Pacificus" and "Asiaticus" were pen names that appeared in periodicals dealing with China and Japan. Asiaticus was clearly pro-Communist and had written


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for Pacific Affairs when Lattimore was editor; but Baltimore's immediate concern was Pacificus; "The purpose of attempting to identify PACIFICUS as LATTIMORE is to determine whether it would be practical to run down articles written by PACIFICUS on the theory that LATTIMORE may have given more open expression to his pro-Communist leanings in writings under his pen name." [27]

The search for Pacificus hung around for months. Nobody was able to tell the bureau who Pacificus was—except, unfortunately, someone whom J. Edgar Hoover hated so much he forbade agents to contact the man. This was I. F. Stone, Washington correspondent for the Nation . Stone had been the channel for the Pacificus articles. But as Branigan wrote Belmont, "Stone [is] reportedly a Communist since the mid 1930's, has been most vituperative in attacks on Bureau and the Director and cannot be expected to be cooperative. . .. Recommendations made that (1) we do not interview Stone unless requested to do so by the criminal Div. and (2) that we advise Criminal Div. of this decision." Below this Hoover wrote, "We will not do so under any circumstances. If they want him interviewed, they will have to do so themselves."[28] They never found out the identity of Pacificus.

Baltimore was also suspicious of Lattimore's claim to have supported Finland when Russia invaded. One of Lattimore's letters in IPR files (which the bureau had thoroughly inspected in 1950) asked Carter if he had seen any plausible explanation of the Soviet attack. Baltimore thought this letter might mean that Lattimore supported the Russians. He hadn't. The bureau decided his support of Fighting Funds for Finland had been genuine. [29]

Two weeks later Baltimore had five more suggestions, one of which was astounding: "numerous rather reliable sources" had indicated that Lattimore had served on the Strategic Bombing Survey. They thought this report should be checked out further. Headquarters paid no attention.[30]

By December 28 Baltimore had prepared its 545-page perjury summary. There were sixteen charges against Lattimore that presented "the best possibility for successful prosecution," all derived from Lattimore's testimony before Tydings. Baltimore thought a case might be made that Lattimore lied when he

1. denied Communist party membership and/or support of Communist principles;

2. denied affiliations with organizations on the attorney general's list;


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3. denied knowing that the Washington Committee for Aid to China was Communist;

4. denied saying that the Chinese Communists were agrarian reformers and non-Marxists;

5. claimed he supported Finland against Russia;

6. claimed that Pacific Affairs was not pro-Communist while he was editor;

7. denied knowing Fred Field was a Communist;

8. denied knowing Chi Ch'ao-ting was a Communist;

9. denied knowing Chew Sih Hong was a Communist;

10. denied knowing the China Daily News was Communist;

11. denied taking initiative in placing any person in U.S. government service;

12. described his relationship with Amerasia ;

13. described his relationship with Dr. Walter Heissig;

14. described his contact with Soviet officials in 1936;

15. described his association with Alger Hiss;

16. described the circumstances of his appointment as advisor to Chiang Kai-shek.[31]

Of this long list, only items one and eight survived the following two years of investigation. None of them impressed FBI headquarters. They had no evidence of Party membership at all, and "support of Communist principles" was vague. As to Chi Ch'ao-ting, he had been chief aide to H. H. K'ung as Nationalist China's finance minister. If K'ung had thought Chi non-Communist, so might Lattimore.[32]

Baltimore was reasonably sure they had done a thorough job, and they thought there was evidence to prosecute Lattimore. Just in case Justice thought otherwise, however, the report concluded, "Should the Department after reviewing [this] report, conclude that no violation exists insofar as the Perjury Statute or other Federal statutes are concerned, then it is recommended that the case be dosed." [33]

Baltimore did not anticipate the future interest in the Lattimore case from a powerful and unexpected source: Patrick Anthony McCarran.


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Chapter Twenty China Attacks
 

Preferred Citation: Newman, Robert P. Owen Lattimore and the "Loss" of China. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1992 1992. http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft296nb15t/