May 16, 2005 | Leave a Comment
Dr. Rorin Platt, associate professor of history at Campbell University, presented a paper on the role of Virginians in America's intelligence agencies during the World War II at the annual meeting of the North Carolina Association of Historians. "A Cavalier in Cloak: Francis Pickens Miller and the Secret War against Hitler," examines the background, ideology and wartime exploits of Francis Pickens Miller, a prominent Southern internationalist and outspoken advocate of war against Nazi Germany well before Pearl Harbor. A native of Middlesboro, Ky., Francis Pickens Miller entered the army following the U.S. declaration of war against Germany in 1917. Following a brief teaching stint at Yale Divinity School in 1934, he became field secretary of the Foreign Policy Association and helped found the National Policy Committee in 1935, an organization whose primary goal was to develop a sense of national policy based on general interests of the American people rather than special interests. He became a member of the Virginia House of Delegates in 1937 and went on to become organization director for the Council on Foreign Relations, headquartered in New York City. He and other like-minded associates established the Century Group in support of economic and military aid to Britain in recognition of the threat from Nazi Germany. Miller was convinced that Germany posed a threat to a free society and the American way of life. Following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Miller became the director of the British section of what was soon to become the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). His major contribution to the Allied war effort was the OSS participation in Operation Sussex in which 50, two-man teams were dropped throughout northern France in advance of the Allied landings. The teams collected and transmitted information crucial to the impending invasion. "This modern Christian warrior's contribution to the Allied victory over Nazi tyranny cannot be understated," Platt said in his paper. "Motivated by his strongly-held Christian faith, Miller played a key role in undermining the pre-Pearl Harbor isolationism that opposed aid to Britain. His superb spy craft during the Normandy invasion accelerated the demise of the barbarous Nazism he detested and earned him a special place in the hearts of his fellow Virginians who shed their blood for freedom on the fields of France."Dr. Rorin Platt is a book review editor for "American Diplomacy" and a member of American Diplomacy Publishers Board of Directors. A native of Virginia, he received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master's degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Platt received a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland at College Park. He has also studied at Georgetown University and at the University of Virginia and taught at a number of institutions. A diplomatic historian who specializes in American intelligence history, Platt has authored two books and a number of articles and book reviews, including "Virginia in Foreign Affairs, 1933-1941." He is presently writing a history of Virginians who served in America's World War II intelligence services, "Cavaliers in Cloak: Virginians in the Secret War, 1941-45." In addition, Platt served as a judge for two sessions at the annual meeting of the North Carolina Association of Historians, "Twentieth Century America II" and "Military History." The Web site for "American Diplomacy" is based at UNC-Chapel Hill.
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