Military Wiki
Patrick Jay Hurley
51st United States Secretary of War

In office
December 9, 1929 – March 4, 1933
President Herbert Hoover
Preceded by James W. Good
Succeeded by George H. Dern
Personal details
Born (1883-01-08)January 8, 1883
Indian Territory, U.S. (near present day Lehigh, Oklahoma
Died July 30, 1963(1963-07-30) (aged 80)
Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.
Political party Republican
Alma mater George Washington University
Profession Politician, Lawyer
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Department of the Army Seal.svg United States Army
Years of service 1914-1919; 1941-1945
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
Purple Heart

Patrick Jay Hurley (January 8, 1883, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory — July 30, 1963, Santa Fe, New Mexico) was a highly decorated American soldier with the rank of Major General, statesman, and diplomat.

He has since been known as 赫爾利 hè ěr lì in China, a phonetic rendering of his last name into Chinese.


Hurley (second from right) being sworn in as Assistant War Secretary by John B. Randolph. Outgoing Assistant Secretary Charles B. Robbins and Secretary of War James W. Good look on.

Hurley started a law practice in Oklahoma in 1908.

During World War I, Hurley served with the Judge Advocate General's Department of the 6th Army Corps, American Expeditionary Force in France. For his service in this capacity, Hurley received the Army Distinguished Service Medal.

In November 1918, Hurley was detached to the 76th Field Artillery Regiment and participated with this unit in the combats near Louppy-le-Château, France. Hurley voluntarily proved a reconnaissance under heavy enemy fire and was subsequently awarded with Silver Star for gallantry in action.

After the war, he attended George Washington University, where he became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He became active in the Republican Party and was appointed Assistant Secretary of War by President Herbert Hoover in 1929. He was promoted to Secretary of War after the death of James W. Good and served in President Hoover's cabinet until 1933.

World War II

Hurley received a promotion to brigadier general in 1941 when the United States entered World War II, and General George C. Marshall dispatched him to the Far East as a personal representative to examine the feasibility of relieving American troops besieged on the island of Bataan. He was successful in delivering additional food and ammunition to the soldiers on three separate occasions, but could not evacuate them.

After the conclusion of this mission, he embarked on a series of assignments as a personal representative of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He served as minister to New Zealand in 1942 and then flew to the Soviet Union, becoming the first foreigner to receive permission to visit the Eastern Front. Over the next two years, he visited the Near East, Middle East, China, Iran and Afghanistan on behalf of the president. In the course of his duties, he met with a number of local political leaders, including the nominal head of the Zionist movement in Palestine, David Ben-Gurion. The report that he sent to the president on Ben-Gurion and Zionism was quite negative.[1] He was appointed US Ambassador to China in 1944.


Major general Hurley served in two World War and received a lot of military decorations for bravery of distinguished service. Here is the list of his decorations:

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
Purple Heart
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
World War I Victory Medal with three battle clasps
Army of Occupation of Germany Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with two service Stars
World War II Victory Medal


Hurley arrived in China in August 1944, as a personal envoy from President Roosevelt to Chiang Kai-shek. His written directive from the President was as follows:

Patrick Hurley at center (in bow tie) with Communist leadership in Chongqing, 1945

You are hereby designated as my personal representative with the Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, reporting directly to me. Your principal mission is to promote efficient and harmonious relations between the Generalissimo and General [Joseph] Stilwell to facilitate General Stilwell's exercise of command over the Chinese armies placed under his direction. You will be charged with additional missions.[2]

Military operations in China against the Japanese had been severely hampered by a lack of cooperation, bordering upon personal enmity, between Stilwell and Chiang. The strongly anti-Communist Hurley eventually came down on the side of the Generalissimo, and he supported the replacement of Stilwell with General Albert C. Wedemeyer.

Throughout his tenure in China, Hurley felt that his efforts were being undermined by State Department officials, principally John Stewart Service and John Paton Davies in China, and John Carter Vincent in Washington, who he felt were unduly sympathetic to the Communist forces led by Mao Zedong.

In early November 1944, upon the resignation of Ambassador Clarence Gauss, Hurley was officially offered the ambassadorship to China, but initially declined "with a statement that the duties he had been called upon to perform in China had been the most disagreeable that he had ever performed--and further, he felt that his support of Chiang Kai-shek and the National Government of China had increased the opposition directed toward himself by the un-American elements in the State Department." Upon receiving a telegram from the President on November 17, urging him to take the job because of the critical nature of the situation, he reluctantly accepted.[3]

Hurley's dealings with the State Department did not improve. Moreover, President Roosevelt's February 1945 Yalta Conference with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin resulted in a secret agreement in which, among other things, the Soviet Union was granted concessions in China that Czarist Russia had lost in the Russo-Japanese War early in the century. This, Hurley believed, was the beginning of the end of a non-Communist China.

He held out hope that after President Roosevelt's death, President Harry S. Truman would recognize what he regarded as the errors of Yalta and would rectify the situation, but his efforts in that direction were in vain. On November 26, 1945, he submitted a scathing letter of resignation.

"I requested the relief of the career men," he wrote, "who were opposing the American policy in the Chinese Theater of war. These professional diplomats were returned to Washington and placed in the Chinese and Far Eastern Divisions of the State Department as my supervisors. Some of these same career men whom I relieved have been assigned as supervisors to the Supreme Commander in Asia. In such positions most of them have continued to side with the Communist armed party and at times with the imperialist bloc against American policy."[4]

Besides Hoover himself, Hurley was the last living member of the Hoover administration.

Political candidacy

Hurley was the Republican candidate for a seat in the United States Senate for the state of New Mexico in 1946, 1948, and 1952, but he lost all three attempts.


Hurley started the United Western Minerals Corporation of Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was involved in the rush to start uranium mining in the Ambrosia Lake region of New Mexico in the 1950s. See Uranium mining in New Mexico. [5]


  1. Patrick J. Hurley Meets David Ben-Gurion, David Martin, October 31, 2006
  2. Don Lohbeck, Patrick J. Hurley (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1956), 280.
  3. Lohbeck, 309.
  4. Lohbeck, 430.
  5. John Masters (2004). Secret Riches: Adventures of an Unreformed Oilman. Gondolier Press. ISBN 1-896209-97-1.  page 81-82


  • Russel D. Buhite, Patrick J. Hurley and American Foreign Policy, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1973. ISBN 0-8014-0751-6
  • Don Lohbeck, Patrick J. Hurley, Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1956.
  • Merle Miller, "Plain Speaking: an oral biography of Harry S. Truman", New York, NY; Berkley Publishing Company, 1974. pp. 251–252.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
James W. Good
U.S. Secretary of War
Served under: Herbert Hoover

Succeeded by
George H. Dern
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Clarence E. Gauss
US Ambassador to China
Succeeded by
Leighton Stuart

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