|United States Ambassador to China|
January 8, 1945 – September 22, 1945
|President||Franklin D. Roosevelt|
Harry S. Truman
|Preceded by||Clarence E. Gauss|
|Succeeded by||Leighton Stuart|
|United States Minister to New Zealand|
April 24, 1942 – August 12, 1942
|President||Franklin D. Roosevelt|
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||William C. Burdett|
|51st United States Secretary of War|
December 9, 1929 – March 4, 1933
|Preceded by||James Good|
|Succeeded by||George Dern|
Patrick Jay Hurley
January 8, 1883
County Waterford, Ireland
|Died||July 30, 1963 (aged 80)|
Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.
|Education||Bacone College (BA)|
National University (LLB)
George Washington University (LL.D)
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Years of service||1914–1919|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
World War II
|Awards||Army Distinguished Service Medal (2)|
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
Patrick Jay Hurley (January 8, 1883 – July 30, 1963) was an American politician and diplomat. He was the United States Secretary of War from 1929 to 1933, but is best remembered for being Ambassador to China in 1945, during which he was instrumental in getting Joseph Stilwell recalled from China and replaced with the more diplomatic General Albert Coady Wedemeyer. A man of humble origins, Hurley's lack of what was considered to be a proper ambassadorial demeanor and mode of social interaction made professional diplomats scornful of him. He came to share pre-eminent army strategist Wedemeyer's view that the Communists could be defeated and America ought to commit to doing so even if it meant backing the Kuomintang Party and Chiang Kai-shek to the hilt. Frustrated, Hurley resigned as Ambassador to China in 1945, and publicised his concerns about high-ranking members of the State department, alleging they believed that the Chinese communists were not totalitarians and the United States priority was to avoid allying with a losing side in the civil war.
Patrick was born in County Waterford, Ireland, the son of Pierse Hurley and Mary Anne Kelly. His parents immigrated to the United States in 1883 and settled in what is now Oklahoma. Perhaps his upbringing on the prairie frontier gave rise to his story of having been born in a log cabin on the Oklahoma frontier. Hurley worked as a coal miner and as a cowboy, who had often hunted with Choctaw Indians during his teenage years before he saved enough to go to college. He graduated from Indian University, now Bacone College, in 1905, and received his law degree from the National University School of Law, Washington, in 1908.
He started a law practice in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1908. He was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court in 1912 and was national attorney for the Choctaw Nation from 1912 to 1917.
He received a second law degree, from George Washington University, in 1913. While attending George Washington University he was initiated into Epsilon Chapter of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. An active alumni, Hurley was elected the 34th Grand Consul of Sigma Chi in 1946. Hurley had also become active as a Republican in Oklahoma politics.
Hurley also served in the Indian Territorial Volunteer Militia from 1902 to 1907 and in the Oklahoma National Guard, from 1914 to 1917.
During World War I, Hurley served with the Judge Advocate General's Department of the 6th Army Corps, American Expeditionary Force, in France. He thus received the Army Distinguished Service Medal.
In November 1918, Hurley was detached to the 76th Field Artillery Regiment and participated it in the battles near Louppy-le-Château, France. Hurley voluntarily conducted a reconnaissance despite heavy enemy fire and so was 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 William Good and served in Hoover's cabinet until 1933.
Hurley received a promotion to brigadier general (from colonel in the reserves) 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 Bataan peninsula. Dwight Eisenhower, a staff officer in Washington, sent Hurley to Australia with $10 million in cash, to arrange supplies and charters for the Philippines. According to historian Jean Edward Smith, Eisenhower had served under Hurley for the last three years at the War Department, "needed someone to organise blockade runners for MacArthur, and Hurley, an old-fashioned buccaneer in politics, with energy and decisiveness, was perfect for the job." 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 Roosevelt. He served as minister to New Zealand in 1942 and then flew to the Soviet Union, 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 Roosevelt.
Hurley was assigned by Roosevelt to be his personal representative to Joseph Stalin in November 1942. In that capacity, Hurley witnessed Marshall Georgy Zhukov's 19 November counter-attack, Operation Uranus, against Axis forces in Stalingrad. Hurley would tour the battlegrounds around the city during the fighting, often seeing the remains of Romanian forces after having been destroyed by the advancing Soviets, which he claimed the Soviets reported as being German for propaganda reasons. He stayed in the Stalingrad area for ten days before returning to Moscow.
The first and potentially only high-ranking U.S. military officer to be granted access to Soviet combat operations on the Eastern Front, Hurley reported amiable relations with Soviet military officers. He gave his Soviet aides nicknames from Native Americans chiefs, "Rain-in-the-Face" and "Sitting Bull." He also reported that the Soviet generals "were interested in the amount of war supplies–especially planes, tanks, and trucks–that the United States [could] furnish Russia" and that they were adamant that a second front needed to be opened soon.
When Hurley arrived in Tehran, he made a great impression by wearing cowboy hats and rejecting normal diplomatic protocols, with many in the Iranian élite used to strict diplomatic protocol saying they had never met a diplomat like Hurley. An Iranian-American historian, Abbas Milani, described Hurley as "an odd and eccentric character" who was "horrified" by the "abject poverty amongst the people and arrogant disdain for the populations by the British and Soviet ambassadors." Hurley, an Anglophobe, felt that the British Empire was a malign force in international affairs, and he believed that Iran's backwardness and poverty was caused by the country being in the British sphere of influence. Hurley often met with Iranian officials, especially the young Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who had inherited the Peacock Throne only two years earlier. Hurley had the responsibility of organizing preparations on the American side for the Tehran summit in November 1943. Hurley accepted the Soviet claim that there was a German plot to assassinate Roosevelt, which required for Roosevelt and the rest of the American delegation to stay in the Soviet embassy, which allowed the Soviets, who had bugged the rooms of Americans, to listen to their deliberations.
After the Tehran summit, Roosevelt had a long talk with Hurley about the future of Iran and then asked for a report. The Hurley Report argued that Iran was "a country rich in natural resources," with excellent prospects for becoming a nation with a government "based upon the consent of the governed." Hurley argued that Iran's two main problems were the illiteracy of most Iranians and Iran's semi-colonial status to the Soviet Union and Britain. Hurley argued that it was wrong for the United States to spend so much blood and treasure in the war to maintain the decaying British Empire, which needed to go. Hurley ended his report by saying that American policy in Iran should be to end Soviet and British influence in that nation, promote literacy, and sponsor economic development. Roosevelt passed on the Hurley report to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, with the note "This is for your eyes only. I rather like his general approach."
Milani suggested that Roosevelt had passed along the report to make "mischief," as he must have known that Churchill would not like Hurley's negative remarks about the British Empire or its role in Iran. Churchill, predictably enough, did not like the anti-British tone of the report. In his reply to Roosevelt, he wrote: "I make bold, however, to suggest that British imperialism has spread and is spreading democracy more widely than any other system of government since the beginning of time."
In the course of his duties, Hurley 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. He was appointed US Ambassador to China in 1944.
Despite being a Republican, Hurley had often supported the Roosevelt administration. Hurley was a prominent Republican with many connections in Oklahoma, Roosevelt owed a political debt to Hurley, which he paid by appointing him his special envoy to China. In the spring of 1944, the Japanese had launched Operation Ichigo, the biggest Japanese offensive of the entire war as Tokyo decided to "liquidate the China affair" by knocking China out of the war once and for all. Committing a half-million men and 800 tanks, supplied by 70,000 to 100,000 horses pulling wagons and 12,000 to 15,000 vehicles, the Japanese overran vast areas of China. Since 1938, the Japanese had been stalemated in China by a lack of logistical infrastructure, but over six years of building roads and railroads, the Japanese now had the capacity to strike deep into China. Operation Ichigo saw the Japanese take much of Henan and Hunan Provinces and finally take the city of Changsha, which they had failed to take in three previous attempts from 1938 onwards. The city had become a symbol of Chinese resistance, and the fall of Changsha was a major blow to Chinese morale. The success of Operation Ichigo brought to a head the long simmering conflict between the abrasive and arrogant General Joseph Stilwell ("Vinegar Joe") and the equally stubborn and proud Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. It was that crisis that brought Roosevelt to send Hurley to China.
Hurley arrived in China in August 1944, as a personal envoy from Roosevelt to Chiang. His written directive from the President was as follows:
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.
Military operations in China against the Japanese had been severely hampered by a lack of co-operation, bordering upon personal enmity, between Stilwell and Chiang. Stilwell had reported that Chiang had not committed his best troops or American aid to fight the Japanese, but instead held back troops and supplies for an eventual showdown with wartime Communist allies. On his way to Chongqing, the capital of the Republic of China at the time, Hurley had stopped in Moscow to meet Joseph Stalin and Vyacheslav Molotov, who falsely claimed to him that Mao and the rest of the Chinese Communists were not really Communists and that the Kremlin had no connections with them. The claims were accepted by Hurley at face value. Besides getting Chiang to cede more command powers to Stilwell, Hurley was also to ensure that Chinese Communists accepted Stilwell as their commander and to see if it were possible for American Lend-Lease aid to go to Mao in Yan'an. Eventually, Stilwell's belief in Chiang's incompetence and corruption reached such proportions that Stilwell sought to cut off Lend-Lease aid to China in October 1944.
Hurley maintained that his talks with Chinese Foreign Minister T. V. Soong were going well and that Stillwell's ultimatum had ruined everything. Hurley warned Stilwell at a meeting at the U.S. embassy in Chongqing that the harsh language of the ultimatum was bound to offend the easily enraged Chiang and that Stilwell should not submit it. Despite Hurley's pleas, Stilwell insisted on having the meeting. Hurley tried to soften the blow by asking at the meeting between Stilwell and Chiang if Stilwell had a Chinese text to offer Chiang, but Stilwell said that he did not. Stilwell spoke fluent Mandarin and handed Chiang the ultimatum. The ultimatum caused a major crisis in Sino-American relations, but as the Americans were not prepared to either take over China or cease supplies, the ultimatum was a bluff, which Chiang called by rejecting it. Chiang told Hurley that the Chinese people were "tired of the insults which Stilwell has seen fit to heap upon them." In a speech before the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang that was leaked to the Chinese press, Chiang denounced Stilwell and said that to accept the American ultimatum would be to accept a new imperialism that would make him no different from the Japanese collaborator Wang Jingwei in Nanjing. Hurley spent the night of 12 October 1944, incapable of sleep and indecisive, pacing back and forth. Finally, at 2 am on 12 October 1944, Hurley reported to Washington that Stilwell was a "fine man, but was incapable of understanding or co-operating with Chiang Kai-shek." He went on to say that if Stilwell remained in command, all of China might be lost to the Japanese. Before sending his cable, Hurley showed it to Stilwell, who accused Hurley to his face of "cutting my throat with a dull knife." Hurley eventually came down on the side of Chiang and instead 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. Hurley claimed that they were unduly sympathetic to the Communist forces, led by Mao.
On 7 November 1944, Hurley visited Yan'an to meet Mao with the aim of creating a "united front" to unite the Communists and the Kuomintang to fight the Japanese, which Hurley viewed as a chance for personal glory for himself. Chiang wanted Hurley to meet Mao, partly to please Roosevelt and partly because he expected Hurley to fall out with the Communists. When Hurley arrived via plane at Yan'an, he was greeted by Zhou Enlai and Colonel David D. Barrett of the American Dixie Mission to the Communists. When Mao arrived with General Zhu De in a Chevrolet ambulance, Hurley greeted him with a Choctaw war cry "Yahoo!" During the ride back to Yan'an in the ambulance, Hurley using Colonel Barrett, who was fluent in Mandarin, as a translator exchanged stories with Mao about their rural childhoods. Colonel Barrett later recalled that translating General Hurley into Mandarin was difficult "due to the saltiness of the General's remarks, and the unusual language in which he expressed himself. His discourse, in addition, was by no means connected by any readily discernible pattern of thought." Later that night, a banquet was held in Yan'an by the Communist leadership in honor of the Russian Revolution of 1917 during which a drunken Hurley kept interrupting by shouting "Yahoo!" over and over again.
During his talks with Mao, Hurley was told that all of China's problems were the work of the Kuomintang. Mao called for a coalition government, a joint military council with an equal number of Communist and Kuomintang generals, U.S military aid to the Chinese Red Army, and the freeing of all political prisoners, most notably Marshal Zhang Xueliang, the "Young Marshal and former warlord of Manchuria who had kidnapped Chiang in 1936, during the Xian incident. Hurley informed Mao that he agreed and during the third day of the talks, Hurley added in demands for democracy and liberty to the draft declaration written by the Communists. Colonel Barrett remembered: "The Chinese traditionally do not much show their feelings in their faces, but it was evident from their expressions that they were greatly pleased". Mao and Hurley both signed the declaration with Hurley proudly writing next to his name "Personal Representative of the President of the United States".
When Hurley returned to Chongqing, Chiang was furious with the declaration that Hurley had signed without even informing Chiang. Soong told Hurley he had been "sold a bill of goods by the Communists" and Chiang would never agree to the declaration. Chiang then accepted the declaration if he was given complete power of command over the Red Army, a demand that Mao rejected. When Hurley tried to persuade Mao in a letter to accept the declaration with Chiang's proviso, under the grounds the Communists would "get a foot in the door," Mao replied in his letter, "A foot in the door means nothing if the hands are tied behind the back." Mao called Chiang a "turtle's egg" (an extremely insulting term in China) and threatened to publish the declaration that Mao and Hurley had signed. The publication of the Mao-Hurley declaration would have been extremely embarrassing for Hurley, who signed the declaration making commitments on behalf of Chiang without even informing him of what he was doing and would have raised questions in the press about Hurley's basic competence as a diplomat. When Barrett translated Mao's threat, Hurley looked confused and stunned before shouting at the top of his lungs over and over again, "The motherfucker, he tricked me!" When he calmed down, Hurley then repeated an old Oklahoma folk saying: "Why do the leaves turn red in the fall? Because they were so green in the spring."
After Hurley had implored Mao in a letter not to publish the declaration, he held back for the moment. Hurley blamed the failure of his mission on Soong and accused him of turning Chiang against Hurley.
In early November 1944, upon the resignation of Ambassador Clarence E. 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 Roosevelt on November 17, urging him to take the job because of the critical nature of the situation, he reluctantly accepted. Hurley's appointment was greeted with dismay by the professional diplomats at the embassy in Chongqing, who complained that Hurley knew nothing of China and was out of his depth.
An American diplomat, Graham Peck, wrote, "His handsome aquiline head suggested a Roman burst capriciously passed up with butterflies of a huge bow tie, pinch-nose glasses, curly white mustache and coiffure." Hurley liked to be addressed as "General," always wore all of his medals at public events, and used "we" instead of "I" to address people as if everyone was in agreement with what he was saying, a speaking habit that many found very annoying. Hurley's first acts as ambassador were to buy a new Cadillac and to have the embassy redecorated in a grandiose style that he saw fit for an ambassador of the United States. Hurely did not speak Mandarin, knew nothing of China, pronounced Mao as "Moose Dung," and had a habit of addressing Chiang as "Mr. Shek" (in Chinese, the surname comes first). One American diplomat Arthur Young called Hurley "a senile old man who couldn't keep his mind on any subject." An American journalist who went to lunch with Hurley recalled that they spent three hours drinking hard booze before they started to eat while Peck was invited to dinner with the ambassador, who forgot what his name was and had to ask Peck who he was several times. At a dinner with senior diplomats and Chinese leaders, Hurley toasted the journalist Annalee Jacoby, who was present as "the most important person in the world, my tall, blonde goddess of a bride." He went on to give a rambling, sexually explicit speech about their children, all of the joy she had given him, and all the pleasures of having sex with her. Everyone else maintained a stunned silence as Jacoby was a short brunette, who was not Mrs. Hurley and had no children with him, and she maintained most vehemently that she had never been the lover of the ambassador. Vain, pompous, arrogant, ignorant of China and of questionable mental stability, Hurley was easily manipulated by both Chiang and Mao during their meetings. As Hurley saw Chiang more than Mao, it was the former who had the most influence on him. On 2 December 1944, Hurley, in a cable to Washington, argued that China's recent problems were the work of the British who were the "greatest obsolete to the unification of China."
In January 1945, Hurley met the US admiral, Miles, and the Chinese secret police chief, Dai Li, who first informed him of a secret visit to Yan'an by Colonel William Bird of the OSS of which the ambassador had been unaware. Bird and Barret of the "Dixie Mission" had offered to have 5,000 American paratroopers land in the Communist base area, and one American division would be landed in Shandong province to link up with the Chinese Red Army. The American officers had told TTV Soong and the War Minister General Chen Cheng of their plans and naively asked them not to tell Chiang. Chen and Soong promptly informed Chiang, who reacted by having Hurley informed, who predictably enough, was engaged that the OSS should make such an offer without telling him. Hurley accused Bird and Barrett in a cable to Washington of offering recognition to Mao and further accused Wedemeyer of plotting against him. Mao and Zhou both preferred to negotiate with Wedemeyer, which further increased tensions between the ambassador and the general. As Wedemeyer was living at the embassy with Hurley, that made for unpleasant living arrangements; Jacoby later recalled that the two had "loud, noisy quarrels" lasting well into the night and Wedemeyer sent several cables to Washington questioning Hurley's mental fitness to be ambassador. Finally, Hurley refused to speak to Wedemeyer for several days before coming into his room. Wedemeyer recalled, "He sat on the edge of my bed, clasped my right hand in both of his and said he was sorry for his behavior towards me."
Hurley's dealings with the State Department did not improve. Hurley hired two press attaches to improve his image as an ambassador, and American journalists in China who tried to report unfavorable news about Hurley had those sections of their dispatches cut by the censors. Hurley fired much of his staff, most notably John Paton Davies. When Hurley visited Washington, all of the senior diplomats at the Chunking embassy sent a joint cable to the State Department for Hurley to be fired, under the grounds that he was incompetent and not entirely sane. Hurley was furious with the cable. Although he had started out as a believer in creating a Communist-Kuomintang "united front" in 1944, he was by 1945 a solid supporter of the Kuomintang and regarded anyone who wanted to talk to Yan'an as his "personal foe." Hurley fired the diplomats who signed the cable asking for his sacking and went on to accuse "the imperialist governments of France, Britain and the Netherlands" as being the ones responsible for all of China's problems.
Moreover, Roosevelt's February 1945 Yalta Conference with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin resulted in a secret agreement in which the Soviet Union was granted concessions in China that the Russian Empire had lost in the Russo-Japanese War in the early 20th century. That, Hurley believed, was the beginning of the end of a non-Communist China. Hurley, an Anglophobe, wanted to eliminate British influence in China. In 1945, Hurley repeatedly suggested for the United States threaten to cease Lend-Lease supplies to Britain until the British promised not to retake Hong Kong, a city that the anti-imperalist Hurley believed rightfully belonged to China. When the American military attache suggested in a cable in March 1945 that the Chinese might be willing to accept Hong Kong being liberated from the Japanese by the British, Hurley wrote to Washington that it was "British imperialist propaganda-and while supporters of this propaganda may be entitled to their own views in their premises, I know of no reason why American officers serving in China should undertake to sponsor such propaganda or to disseminate it within the American government." Hurley's relations with General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart who was Churchill's special envoy to China were not good, as Hurley saw Carton de Wiart as a sinister figure upholding the British Empire, which Hurley wanted to see dismantled. Roosevelt had also sent Hurley to China to keep "an eye on European imperialism," a directive that Hurley very seriously, believing America had a special mission to end all European power and influence in Asia.
He held out hope that after 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. After Japan had signed an armistice with the Allies on 2 September 1945, Chiang had suggested a meeting with Mao in Chongqing. The civil war was expected to resume in China, and Chiang wanted to be seen by the Chinese people as having done everything to avoid the civil war before it started again. Mao said he would not fly to Chongqing unless Hurley was on the plane as he believed that otherwise, Chiang would shoot it down. Chiang wrote in his diary: "How comical this is! Never imagined that the Communists could be so chicken-hearted and shameless. Only three days ago communist newspapers and radio denounced Hurley as a reactionary imperialist. This selfsame imperialist has become Mao's guarantor of safety".
In September 1945, a plane landed in Chongqing, out of which the first man to emerge was Hurley who in the words of the British journalist Jonathan Fenby had "a broad smile on his face as he waved his fedora hat in triumph," followed by Mao.
The summit in Chongqing was not a success as Mao and Chiang both wanted power for themselves, and the civil war in China was soon to resume. In November 1945, Hurley visited Washington to complain to Truman that too many "China Hands" in the State Department were sympathetic to Chinese communism and/or European imperialism in Asia.
On November 26, 1945, Hurley submitted a scathing letter of resignation, two hours after his meeting with Truman. Hurley wrote in his letter of resignation, "I requested the relief of the career men 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." Besides liberal diplomats, Hurley lashed out against the "imperialist" powers of France, Britain and the Netherlands, which he accused of seeking to maintain their empires in Asia at the expense of American interests.
Though Hurley had attempted in 1944 to create a "united front" in China and at times had been very sympathetic towards Mao himself, all of that was forgotten as Hurley reinvented himself as a hard-right Republican who promptly become to American conservatives a "martyr," an honest diplomat who had been undercut by the supposed "fellow travellers" and Soviet spies in the infiltrated State Department's Soviet spies, who had controlled America's China policy. American conservatives accepted the reinvented Hurley, as he presented himself as an ultra right-wing Republican diplomat who been struggling against the "fellow travellers" in the State Department, and they conveniently forgot about his efforts to befriend Mao, as Hurley had become a tool against the Democratic Truman administration.
The Nationalists' defeat by the Communists in the Chinese Civil War in 1949 caught the US by surprise and led to the question "Who Lost China?" to become a popular subject as recriminations set in against the State Department officials' China Hands. In 1950, when Senator Joseph McCarthy accused the State Department of being ridden with Soviet spies who were all "Communists and queers" and were the ones responsible for the United States "losing" China, Hurley publicly endorsed McCarthy's in a 1950 speech. Hurley stated that his efforts to aid Chiang had been undercut by Roosevelt, whom Hurley portrayed as the puppet of Soviet spy Alger Hiss. Hurley said that at his last meeting with Roosevelt in March 1945, he was "little more than a bag of bones," who was not interested in his claim that the State Department was passing information to "armed Chinese Communists," something that Hurley had not until then "remembered.". Hurley ended his speech with the claim that Stalin had not broken any agreements "because we cowardly surrendered to him everything he wanted and we did it in secret. ... Yalta was the State Department's blueprint for the Communist conquest of China!"
Hurley was the Republican candidate for a seat in the United States Senate for the state of New Mexico in 1946, 1952 and 1958, but he lost all three attempts against the Democratic candidate Dennis Chávez. 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. 
Both contemporary and modern assessment of Hurley have not been kind. Michael Burleigh wrote, "US policy was not well served by its Ambassador to China from late 1944 onwards, a former Republican secretary of war called Patrick Hurley, a drunken idiot given to Choctaw war cries. Oblivious of China's delicate protocols, he referred to Chiang as 'Mr. Shek' and Mao Zedong as 'Moose Dung' in the course of shuttle trips designed to bring the two together to convert China into a springboard for the final showdown with the Japanese. Mao's cronies called Hurley 'the Clown'; his US diplomatic colleagues dubbed him 'the Albatross.'"
Aside from Hoover himself, Hurley was the last living member of the Hoover administration.
Major General Hurley served in two World Wars and received many decorations for bravery and distinguished service. Here is the list of his decorations:
|Army Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster|
|Legion of Merit|
|Distinguished Flying Cross|
|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|
|Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with two service Stars|
|World War II Victory Medal|
|Order of the White Eagle|