Vance, Grace Sloane, 1918-

Birth 1918

Biographical notes:

Cyrus Roberts Vance was born 27 March 1917, in Clarksburg, West Virginia, to John Carl and Amy (Roberts) Vance. A year later, the family moved to Bronxville, New York, where they resided until 1922 when Vance's father unexpectedly died of pneumonia. Both Vance brothers, Cyrus and John, spent the following year in Switzerland attending private school at the Institut Sillig. Vance also spent time with his uncle John W. Davis, who was President Wilson's ambassador to the Court of St. James, and then the Democrat candidate for president in 1924.

From 1930 to 1935, Vance prepared at the Kent School, Kent, Connecticut. He then attended Yale University, graduating in 1939 with a B.A. in Economics. While an undergraduate, he was a member of Scroll and Key, the Torch Honor Society, the hockey team, and the Fence Club. He continued his studies at the Yale Law School and earned an LL.B. with honors in 1942. Later that year, he joined the military, serving as a World War II naval gunnery officer in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. He left the Navy in 1946 with the rank of lieutenant senior grade .

In 1947, Vance worked as an assistant to the president of the Mead Corporation and passed the New York State Bar. He then joined the law firm of Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett, and specialized in civil litigation. In addition to legal work, he began governmental service in 1957 as associate counsel to the Senate Armed Forces Preparedness Investigation Subcommittee, serving alongside Texas Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson. In 1958, Vance was appointed consulting counsel to the Senate Committee on Space and Aeronautics and helped to draft the National Space Act of 1958, which led to the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Vance general counsel for the Defense Department. He provided important assistance to Kennedy in shaping Cuban policy after the Bay of Pigs incident. The President promoted him to secretary of the army the following year. Journalists reported that Kennedy had also intended to promote Vance to deputy secretary of defense, but President Johnson was actually the one to issue the promotion in January 1964, after President Kennedy was assassinated. Reporting to Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, Vance negotiated and calmed political crises in the Dominican Republic and in the Panama Canal zone. In 1967, Vance resigned his post.

President Johnson continued to engage Vance's diplomatic expertise, even after his resignation. Vance secured federal recovery assistance for Detroit after the July 1967 riot. In November, he negotiated between Greece and Turkey to avert war in Cyprus. In 1968, Johnson made him an emissary to Korea and then to Washington D.C. during the riot following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. In April, the President appointed him co-negotiator with Ambassador W. Averell Harriman for the Paris Peace Talks on Vietnam, at which Vance attempted to negotiate a cease-fire. He resigned from this position in 1969, after President Richard Nixon took office.

Vance returned to Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett in 1969 and worked extensively in the private and public sectors. From 1970 to 1972, he was a member of the Commission to Investigate Alleged Police Corruption in New York City. In the early 1970s, he served as chairman of the UNA (United Nations Association) - USA Policy Studies Committee, and from 1974 to 1976 he served as New York State Bar President.

In December 1976, President-elect James E. (Jimmy) Carter designated Vance the next secretary of state. Once in office, Vance worked to improve United States - Soviet relations, which led to the signing of the SALT II agreement in 1979. He also negotiated and coordinated Middle East peace efforts alongside Carter, which led to the Camp David Summit in 1978 and the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty signing in 1979. When Americans were taken hostage in Iran on 4 November 1979, Vance focused on negotiating their release. On 28 April 1980, Vance unexpectedly resigned. Mainly, he was opposed to the ill-fated hostage rescue attempt in Iran and he sensed that the extensive use of force would make the United States dangerously vulnerable to further acts of hostility. Chronicling his work in the Carter administration, Vance, in 1983, wrote Hard Choices: Critical Years in America's Foreign Policy, which he explained as "...a story of our country and those who led it during four critical and turbulent years [1977-1980]."

Vance resumed working in the private and public sectors after his resignation. He became active in the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for National Policy, the Palme Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues, and the Williamsburg Conferences, which address economic issues in the Asia-Pacific region. He and Lord David Owen served in 1993 as United Nations special envoys to the former Yugoslavia to advise on peace-making efforts.

In recognition of his achievements and distinguished national service, Vance has received many awards. Yale University gave him an honorary degree in 1968 and elected him to the Yale Corporation. In 1969, he was awarded the Medal of Freedom. During the 1970s and 1980s, he received honorary degrees from Salem College, Brandeis University, West Virginia Wesleyan College, Amherst College, General Theological Seminary, Colgate University, Harvard University, Williams College, University of Notre Dame, Mount Holyoke College, University of Haifa, Davidson College, and Brown University. In 1994, Vance was knighted to the British court.

Grace Sloane Vance was born 2 June 1918 in New York City. Her father was J. W. Sloane of the W. And J. Sloane Company, a furniture business. She attended Bryn Mawr College and the Parsons School of Design before marrying Cyrus Vance on 15 February 1947. During the 1960s, she was vice-chairman of the Tom Sawyer Project, which, in association with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, selected children from around the country to create and to paint large panels representing their home states. She was also director of Widening Horizons, a project of the D.C. public schools Urban Service Corps, which allowed teenagers to experience governmental and business professions, cultural events, and educational opportunities first hand through job fairs, summer camps, and field trips. During the Carter presidency, she attended foreign and domestic diplomatic events, and, in 1977, traveled to Latin America with First Lady Rosalynn Carter to relate the administration's policies and to foster good will. During the 1980s, she was active in the work of the Foreign Policy Association. Vance died on March 22, 2008.

The Vances have five children: Elsie Nicoll, Amy Sloane, Grace Roberts, Camilla, and Cyrus Roberts.

Cyrus Vance died on January 12, 2002.

  • 1917 March 27: Born, Clarksburg, West Virginia to John Carl and Amy (Roberts) Vance
  • 1930 - 1935 : Attended Kent School, Kent, Connecticut
  • 1935 - 1939 : Attended Yale College, B.A., Economics major. Member of Scroll and Key, the hockey team, Torch Honor Society, and the Fence Club
  • 1939 - 1942 : Attended Yale Law School, LL.B. with honors
  • 1942 - 1946 : United States Navy: Gunnery Officer-Destroyer service aboard the U.S.S. Hale, achieved lieutenant senior grade
  • 1946 - 1947 : Served as assistant to the president of the Mead Corporation
  • 1947: Admitted to the New York State Bar Association. Joined the law firm of Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett, in New York, and specialized in civil litigation
  • 1947 Feb 15: Married Grace Elsie Sloane
  • 1957 - 1958 : Served as associate counsel to the Senate Armed Forces Preparedness Investigation Subcommittee and began acquaintanceship with Lyndon Baines Johnson
  • 1958: Served as consulting counsel to the Senate Committee on Space and Aeronautics. Helped to draft the National Space Act of 1958, which led to the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • 1961 January 29: Sworn in as general counsel to the Defense Department in the Kennedy Administration under Secretary Robert S. McNamara, active in formulating United States policy toward Cuba following the Bay of Pigs invasion
  • 1962 July 5: Promoted to secretary of the army
  • 1964: Appointed as deputy secretary of defense in the Johnson administration
  • 1965 April - 1965 May : Served as special representative to help calm the crisis in the Dominican Republic
  • 1967 May - 1967 June : Served as Defense Department representative on the Control Committee dealing with the Middle East crisis
  • 1967 June 10: Resigned as deputy secretary of defense
  • 1967 July - 1967 Aug : Served as President Johnson's emissary to the Detroit riot
  • 1967 November: Appointed as special representative to mediate between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus
  • 1968 February: Appointed as President Johnson's emissary to Korea
  • 1968 April: Served on President Johnson's behalf to help calm the Washington D.C. riot, which followed the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • 1968: Elected fellow of the Yale Corporation, Yale University
  • 1968 - 1969 : Served as United States negotiator with W. Averell Harriman at the Paris Peace Talks on Vietnam
  • 1969 January: Awarded the Medal of Freedom
  • 1969: Declined post of assistant secretary of state to the Nixon administration under Secretary of State William P. Rogers
  • 1970 - 1972 : Served on the Commission to Investigate Alleged Police Corruption in New York City
  • 1974 - 1976 : Served as president of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York
  • 1976 December 3: Designated as secretary of state by President-Elect Carter
  • 1977 January: Sworn in as the 59th Secretary of State
  • 1979 March 16: Peace agreement between Egypt and Israel signed following the Camp David accords
  • 1979 June 18: SALT II agreement signed
  • 1979 November 4: Americans taken hostage in Iran
  • 1980 April 28: Resigned as secretary of state
  • 1980 - 1989 : Participated in the Palme Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues
  • 1981 - 1986 : Participated in the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies
  • 1981 - : Williamsburg Conferences participation
  • 1982: Co-authored the Vance-Owen letter to NATO foreign ministers on creating nuclear-free zones at the East-West frontier
  • 1983: Hard Choices published
  • 1987 Jan 14: Delivered policy statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the Iran/Contra Arms Deal Hearings
  • 1993: Appointed as United Nations special envoy with Lord David Owen to the former Yugoslavia
  • 2002 January 12: Cyrus Vance died in New York.

From the guide to the Cyrus R. and Grace Sloane Vance papers, 1919-2005, (Manuscripts and Archives)


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Ark ID:


  • Diplomacy
  • Iran--Contra Affair, 1985-1990
  • Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975--United States
  • International relations
  • Iran Hostage Crisis, 1979-1981
  • Nuclear disarmament
  • Presidents--United States--Election--1976
  • Detente
  • Riots--Michigan--Detroit--History--20th century


not available for this record


  • Cyprus (as recorded)
  • Latin America. (as recorded)
  • Soviet Union (as recorded)
  • Middle East. (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • East Asia. (as recorded)