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January 1, 2000

I hope you can help me out with some information. I am from Canada and trying to learn about American history and in particular U.S. presidents. I came across the following question in a quiz and despite my best efforts, I have not been able to find an answer. I have searched various web sites and sources to no avail. Your site has an extensive amount of information with regards to presidents and military service so that is why I am sending the question to you. Here it is: “Who was the only U.S. president to actively lead troops while in office?” Any help you can provide will be much appreciated.

Bill Mitton


Good question. I don’t know the answer off hand myself, and I claim to know a bit about U.S. presidents & their military service. I would guess that George Washington is the answer, that is, he possibly led troops to put down something like the Whiskey Rebellion during his first term in office. But I’ll have to look into this and get back to you. Are you sure that someone actually did?   ~Ed.

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American Diplomacy
February 5, 2000

I am currently researching the life of Mr. John Clark Higgins, American Consul in Dundee, between 1897 and 1909. As part of this study I have copies of consular inspection reports, obtained from the National Archives in Washington, relating to Consul Higgins’ effectiveness in promoting American trade expansion over that period.

Mr. Higgins was personally appointed to the Consulate in Dundee by President McKinley, as a “family favour”.

What particularly interests me is the role of these inspection reports would have had in his “sacking” on the grounds of inefficiency. The assessment of his ability seems at odds with the clear fondness he achieved with those in Dundee, who classed him better than the two previous Consuls, covering 1886-87 period.

Firstly, on several pages in these reports a rubber stamped “recorded efficiency in report” has been placed in the column where any comment detrimental to the Consul’s activity is noted. Do you know how these inspection and efficiency reports were assessed? The inspector himself admits of not understanding the Dundee environment, yet, complains of Mr. Higgins in terms of the Consul’s assessment of the trade opportunities and his reluctance “to be considered obtrusive.” Is this evidence of centralized control based in Washington failing to accept the intelligence delivered by delegated authority? The stories of Consuls Straight in Manchuria and Sutton in Mexico spring to mind as a contrasting comparison. Is this fair?

Secondly, on his sacking, which, I have no evidence of the analysis for the action. Mr. Higgins’ brother, Anthony Higgins (ex-Senator from Delaware), had written to the President with a five page support of the Consul (missing, I think?), on I think, 7th of May 1909, calling for the President to reassess Consul Higgins’ claim and asking to recall the Senate to do so. In the response on 14th May, it was claimed a recall and reassessment was not in the “public interest” to do so. It also indicated that the Senate had appointed Mr. Higgins’ successor on the 1st of May. Would this indicate that Mr. Higgins had no right of appear and therefore infringing the 14th Amendment?

Thirdly, was this type of sacking a common occurrence?

How important were such Consuls in the development of trade expansion strategies? If Mr. Higgins was personally appointed to Dundee by the President does that mean the office in Dundee was an important one? How would he have been informed of his sacking? What would have been the process of appeal, if he indeed, he had such a right? How many consulates and consuls did America have around the World at the beginning of the 1900s?

The Higgins story seems an interesting one as it would tell me more of the Dundee-American commercial relationship, a complex and intriguing one. The Dundee Consulate office seems to have played an important part in trade development in the 1840 period onwards. I hope you can help me answer these or relating questions.

Graham Duncan
Dundee, Scotland

Mr. Duncan,

You raise several interesting questions, detailed answers to which I don’t have at hand and would be unable to provide without doing considerable research, I’m afraid. I note, however, that the U.S. Consular Service of that day was a highly politicized branch of the U.S. Government: appointments were made based largely on the political influence of an individual with the political party in power in the the White House, not necessarily on experience or qualifications. Might I suggest that you peruse my book published about ten years ago by Kent State Univ. Press. So, the individual you’re interested in may have gotten himself caught up in the political buzzsaw; it may have been much more a function of the timing of his problem. Have you checked the dates against possible changes of administration in Washington? There’s not much more I can provide in the way of illumination at this moment, but I am interested in the subject. Would you please keep me informed of any further light you’re able to shed on the matter?   ~Ed.

MORE Letters from Readers . . .

January 24, 2000

One of the wisest and most far-reaching decisions made by the U.S. Government at the end of World War II was to NOT prosecute Emperor Hirohito as a war criminal, but on the contrary, to leave him on the throne, thus putting a revered Japanese face on our occupation of Japan. [See editorial, The Best and the Rest, in the present issue of this journal.]

We installed General MacArthur as Shogun—the power behind the throne. This was a position well known to and accepted by the Japanese people, at least since the beginning of the Tokugawa period in the seventeenth century. MacArthur did not occupy any portion of the Imperial Palace, but installed himself in a modern office building—the Dai Ichi (Number One) building—across the moat from the palace.

Had Truman followed the urgings of some of his more vengeful advisors and removed/prosecuted the Emperor, we would have faced probably armed resistance in many parts of Japan instead of the willing cooperation we actually received, which I personally witnessed in 1947-48. And it is hard to say what kind of peace treaty we would have had, or what effect the certain resistance would have had on the political and industria1 developmont of Japan. We would not have had Japan as a dependable ally against the attempted (and still ongoing) Marxist domination of East Asia and the Western Pacific. And any failure by Japan to develop industrially, as it in fact did, would have had a negative inmpact on our own technological/ industrial development. It is a truism (disputed by Marxists and the teachers unions) that competition improves everything. Where would our industries, such as automotive, be now had they not faced serious competition from smaller, better Japanese cars and other products?

In short, Japan is what it is today in large part because of one wise and far-seeing decision. We obviously had learned something from the harsh treatment dealt out to Germany after WW I and its results.

J. Edgar Williams
Fearrington, NC

The foregoing, written by a member of American Diplomacy’s editorial review board, was sent as comment on the editorial in the current issue of the journal. Retired diplomat Ed Williams served as a U.S. Army officer in Japan shortly after the end of the Second World War.    ~Ed.



ACCIDENTAL DIPLOMATS Send email to The Editor at
American Diplomacy
March 2, 2000 

In her review [Foreign Service Spouses, Winter 2000] of my book, The Accidental Diplomat: Dilemmas of the Trailing Spouse, Linda Killen faults the book for saying “little to diplomatic historians.” If that is the kind of book she is interested in, she should have reviewed Jewell Fenzi’s . That book does address the kinds of topics Killen seems to have been looking for in my book, topics that she says are “still unexplored” in the literature. My book is not a history but a sociological analysis of how and why the lives of diplomats’ wives are constrained and determined by their husbands’ profession, and the ramifications for the women, their marriages, and the Department of State. Ms. Killen may believe this is unimportant, but to Foreign Service, military, and corporate spouses, as well as to America’s government and top corporations, it is an issue of increasing importance.

Katherine Hughes

Mrs. Hughes,

Thank you for your message concerning the review of your book. I’m sure you’re aware that very frequently authors gain the impression that the reviewer has read some book other than the one he or she wrote. I myself have had that experience — and the reviewer spelled my surname wrong, to boot.

March 5, 2000

Can you suggest any reading material covering the embassies and the repatriation of the officials from Japan. I’m looking for some first hand accounts that are verifiable.

Robin Baker

Dear Robin Baker,

Yes, indeed, I can. A member of the journal’s editorial review board, Dr. Roy M. Melbourne, was a young US diplomat assigned in Japan at the time of Pearl Harbor. He was interned and eventually repatriated. Dr. Melbourne is the author of (1993). You may contact him at 2701 Pickett Rd., #2049, Durham, NC 27705. (Dr. Melbourne is not on the Internet.) There are others without doubt, but this one name, for obvious reasons, springs immediately to mind. To seek out others, we’ll put your query up in our “Letters” section of the current issue.  ~Ed.

March 10, 2000

I found your commentary while looking for information about the ASTP [, by Curtis F Jones, ]. I cannot find other sites with information on ASTP; could you provide a link or information regarding names of men who were in the ASTP at Univ. of Nevada, Reno?

Colvin Caughey

Mr. Caughey,

Thank you for your message. I myself have no information on other Internet sites concerned with the ASTP, but we will post your communication in the journal’s “Letters” section. Possibly another reader will be able to help you out.
~ Ed.

March 4, 2000

I am working on my senior thesis on American Foreign Policy in Latin America during the 60s and need to find some good historical sources. I am writing a historiography, and I am not very familiar with American historians who have written about this period. Please, give me some feedback on this.

Rachel Sellers

Miss Sellers,

You have an interesting and challenging topic. If I were you, I’d start with Richard Dean Burns, ed., Guide to American Foreign Relations since 1700 (1983). Others monographs specifically in the Latin America field (addressing the question from differing perspectives) are Cole Blasier, The Hovering Giant (1985); Walter LaFeber, Inevitable Revolutions (1993); Robert A. Pastor, Whirlpool (1992); Stephen G. Rabe, Eisenhower and Latin America (1988); and Bryce Wood, The Dismantling of the Good Neighbor Policy (1985). Note that you will have to look up the complete citations to the above—I’ve given a very brief version—for your bibliography. Best of luck with your thesis.

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