Jorden studied at Yale University, receiving a bachelor's degree in international relations in 1947. His university studies were punctuated by service in the Army during World War II, during which he learned Japanese at Yale and the University of Michigan. He received a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University in 1948.
On completion of his studies, he worked for the New York Herald Tribune, the Associated Press and, from 1952, The New York Times. He covered the Far East for the early part of his journalism career, including assignments in Japan and Korea. Later, he was Moscow bureau chief for The Times. His marriage to linguist Eleanor Harz ended in divorce.
After a series of diplomatic and national security positions (as well as taking time from government to assist president Lyndon B. Johnson with his memoirs), he was appointed by president Richard M Nixon to the position of ambassador to Panama in 1974, where he played an instrumental role in negotiating the Torrijos-Carter Treaties that returned ownership of the Panama Canal to Panama. As outgoing ambassador in 1978, he was sent to garner regional support for mediation regarding the Nicaraguan political crisis of the Somoza regime, successfully convincing Somoza to accept mediation.
After government service, Jorden served as scholar in residence at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library. In 1984, he published "Panama Odyssey", a comprehensive study of the Panama Canal Treaty negotiations, to wide critical acclaim. He was consulted as an expert commentator by several news organizations prior to and following the United States invasion of Panama.
- Fox, Margalit (February 28, 2009). "William J. Jorden, Reporter and Envoy, Dies at 85". The New York Times. Retrieved March 1, 2009.
- "The Pulitzer Prize, International Reporting". Retrieved March 1, 2009.
- "Nicaraguan rebels routed, Somoza faces new threat". The New York Times. September 21, 1978.
- "Carter seeks end to crisis Nicaragua accepts U.S. offer of mediation". The Associated Press. September 26, 1978.
- Levi, Isaac A (September 26, 1978). "Nicaraguan Pres Anastasio Somoza accepts offer by US to mediate and help". The New York Times.
- Gardner, David (March 5, 1988). "Man In The News: Master manipulator in a world of intrigue – Gen Manuel Antonio Noriega". The Financial Times.
- Gumbel, Bryant (December 22, 1989). "Interview: William Jorden and Colonel Harry Summers on Noriega search". NBC News.
- "Noriega – A pock marked Caligula still a hard man to nail". The Financial Times. December 21, 1989.
Robert M. Sayre
|United States Ambassador to Panama
Ambler Hodges Moss, Jr.