Cyrus Vance

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Cyrus Vance
57th United States Secretary of State
In office
January 20, 1977 – April 28, 1980
PresidentJimmy Carter
DeputyWarren Christopher
Preceded byHenry Kissinger
Succeeded byEdmund Muskie
United States Secretary of the Army
In office
July 5, 1962 – January 21, 1964
PresidentJohn F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded byElvis Jacob Stahr, Jr.
Succeeded byStephen Ailes
United States Deputy Secretary of Defense
In office
PresidentLyndon B. Johnson
Preceded byRoswell Gilpatric
Succeeded byPaul H. Nitze
Personal details
BornMarch 27, 1917 (1917-03-27)
Clarksburg, West Virginia
DiedJanuary 12, 2002 (2002-01-13) (aged 84)
New York City
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Grace Sloane
Alma materYale University
Military service
Branch/serviceUnited States Navy
UnitUSS Hale

Cyrus Roberts Vance (Clarksburg, West Virginia, March 27, 1917–January 12, 2002) was the United States Secretary of State under President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1980. He approached foreign policy with an emphasis on negotiation over conflict and a special interest in arms reduction. In April 1980, Vance resigned in protest of Operation Eagle Claw, the secret mission to rescue American hostages in Iran. He was succeeded by Edmund Muskie.

Vance was the nephew (and adoptive son) of 1924 Democratic Presidential Candidate and noted lawyer John W. Davis.


Vance graduated from Kent School in 1935, and received a bachelor's degree in 1939 from Yale University, where he was a member of the secret society Scroll and Key. He also earned three letters in ice hockey at Yale. He graduated from Yale Law School in 1942.

Military and legal career

Vance served in the United States Navy as a gunnery officer on the destroyer USS Hale until 1946, and then joined the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York City, before entering government service.

Political career

Vance was the Secretary of the Army in the Kennedy administration. He worked on sending United States Army units into northern Mississippi in 1962 to protect James Meredith, and put down the resistance to the court ordered integration of the University of Mississippi. As Deputy Secretary of Defense under President Lyndon Johnson, he at first supported the Vietnam War but changed his views by the late 1960s, advising the president to pull out of South Vietnam. In 1968 he served as a delegate to peace talks in Paris. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969.

As Secretary of State in the Carter administration, Vance pushed for negotiations and economic ties with the Soviet Union, and clashed frequently with the more hawkish National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. Vance tried to advance arms limitations by working on the SALT II agreement with the USSR, which he saw as the central diplomatic issue of the time. He was heavily instrumental in Carter's decision to return the Canal Zone to Panama, and in the Camp David Accords agreement between Israel and Egypt.

The Iranian Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi meeting with Arthur Atherton, William H. Sullivan, Cyrus Vance, President Jimmy Carter, and Zbigniew Brzezinski,1977

After the Accords, Vance's influence in the administration began to wane as Brzezinski's rose. His role in talks with People's Republic of China was marginalized, and his advice for a response to the Shah of Iran's collapsing regime was ignored. Shortly thereafter, when fifty-three American hostages were held in Iran, he worked actively in negotiations but to no avail. Finally, when Carter ordered a secret military rescue, Operation Eagle Claw, Vance resigned in opposition after the rescue attempt failed.

In 1997 he was made the original honorary Chair of the American Iranian Council.

Later life and death

Vance returned to his law practice at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in 1980, but was repeatedly called back to public service throughout the 1980s and 1990s, participating in diplomatic missions to Bosnia, Croatia, and South Africa.

In January 1993, as the United Nations Special Envoy to Bosnia, Vance and Lord David Owen, the EU representative, began negotiating a peace plan for the war-torn region. Their plan was criticised as conceding too much to Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and for treating him as a diplomatic equal to the leaders of Bosnia and Croatia, when others regarded him as a war criminal. Croatian president Franjo Tudjman agreed to Vance's plan, but the Krajina Serb leaders rejected it, even though it offered Serbs quite a large degree of autonomy by the rest of the world's standards, as it did not include full independence for Krajina. The plan, then named Z-4, was effectively superseded when Croatian forces retook the Krajina region (Operation Storm) in 1995.

In 1993, he was awarded the United States Military Academy's Sylvanus Thayer Award.

He died aged 84 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, and was interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Vance also was a member of the Trilateral Commission.

External links

Military offices

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Political offices

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