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William Trueheart
Born December 18, 1918
Chester, Virginia
Died December 24, 1992
Washington, D.C.
Occupation Diplomat
Spouse(s) Phoebe Trueheart
Children Charles & Joshua Trueheart
Parents Sally Shepard & William C. Trueheart

William Trueheart (December 18, 1918 – December 24, 1992) was a diplomat in the service of the United States. Serving as the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria from 1969–1971, he is better known for being the acting U.S. Ambassador and chargé d'affaires of South Vietnam from May–July 1963.

Born on December 18, 1918, in Chester, Virginia, Trueheart earned a bachelor's degree (1939) and a master's degree in philosophy (1941) from the University of Virginia.[1]

Trueheart was a civilian intelligence analyst in the United States Department of the Navy 1942–43. He then served in the Army, rising to the rank of captain. In 1949 he joined the United States Department of State as an intelligence officer.[1]

In Vietnam, Trueheart was notable for being the American deputy chief of mission from 1961-1964, in the final years of President Ngô Ðình Diệm's rule, and prior to the American military escalation. During this time, Trueheart served as deputy to the ambassador, Frederick Nolting. The spring and summer of 1963 marked the reversal of Nolting's appeasement of the autocratic regime of Diem, largely as a consequence of the widely-reported Buddhist crisis. These events occurred while Trueheart was in charge of the American embassy due to the absence of the vacationing ambassador. As a result, he was one of the first American diplomats to raise the concern of the possible liability of Diem's government in South Vietnam, noted as "let[ting] loose the floodgates of doubt".[1]


Historical context

In October 1955, following a fraudulent referendum in which Diem had secured 98.2% of the vote, the Republic of Vietnam was established (known generally known as South Vietnam) in which Diem declared himself President.[2] Stemming from this impossibility, Trueheart was shown to have little or no faith in the autocracy of the Diem government in South Vietnam, noted variously as to have been part of a "get Diem faction",[3] and rebuking Diem with the fact that he would lose American support if the oppression of the Buddhist monks continued.[4] At this stage, during the mid 1960s, the media had become an integral part of the reporting of news in the Vietnam conflict with most infractions and incidents highlighted in national news.[5] Polarisation between Diem and the Buddhists grew worse on June 11, 1963 when Thích Quảng Đức set himself alight in the process of self-immolation.

Political career

Trueheart's position as the deputy chief of mission for the United States, was to involve himself in the political turmoil which South Vietnam had had to embrace after the forced coup d'etat of Emperor Bao Dai in 1955. He did not start in the area until May 1963 when Nolting was on a resting period from the position.[6] Diem's assassination later in November 1963, just before that of the President John F. Kennedy, was favoured by Trueheart but he had admitted there were no better alternatives within the Vietnamese theatre whilst also indicating that it was possible that "half [the peasants] don't know who Diem is".[7] However, this was immediately contradicted by his superior, Nolting stating emphatically that [Diem's] picture was "everywhere".[8]


  1. ^ a b c "W. C. Trueheart, 74, Ex-Diplomat in Saigon" (Obituary). The New York Times. December 28, 1992.  
  2. ^ Jacobs, p. 95.
  3. ^ "The Kennedy Assassination and the Vietnam War (1971)". History Matters. Retrieved 2008-10-07.  
  4. ^ "Online version (cached for emphasis) of The Charleston Gazette's Editorial Response to the Vietnam War". West Virginia history.,+vietnam&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=14&gl=uk. Retrieved 2008-10-07.  
  5. ^ "Television Reporting of the Vietnam War; or Did Walter Cronkite Really Lose the War?". The World and I. 2004. Retrieved 2008-10-07.  
  6. ^ "Google Books hosting Vietnam and Beyond - Page 68". GoogleBooks.,M1. Retrieved 2008-10-07.  
  7. ^ "Google Books hosting of Mansfield and Vietnam: A Study in Rhetorical Adaptation". Google Books.,+vietnam&ei=uLfrSLCDJprStQO1pujLBg&sig=ACfU3U2r6gDnE5SVEn7az8k1SGxCP-nREA#PPA68,M1. Retrieved 2008-10-07.  
  8. ^ Jacobs 2006, p. 147.



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