Exhibit: Swaney Family Papers
Upon returning from the War, Alexander reenrolled at the University of Montana but found the University experience lacking compared to the military lifestyle and the excitement of the Great War. By chance, he inquired to the State Department about Consulships and was immediately offered a position at Edinberg, Scotland.
Alexander remained there for two years until 1922, mostly filling out requisition requests for “Scottish Whiskey” to treat a wave of the common cold that had seized America after the Prohibition set in. Almost immediately after his return to Montana he was appointed vice-consul in Chefoo, China, where he remained from 1923 to 1927.
Besides countless letters between home and other consulates, Alexander also generated an incredible amount of reports on American and Chinese incoming and outgoing goods; anything from toilets to wigs. He was also an active member of the English Horse Club, competed in fox hunts, and ran in races called “Gymkhana.”
When he wasn’t working or riding, Alexander was reading. Through a journal kept while stationed in China, Alexander kept track of what books he read or desired to read, collected poetry, and even composed some of his own. There are even some of the earliest notes of his geneological research within its pages, which he later used to compose his autobiography.
Though never completely peaceful, by 1927 the political tension in China was at its peak: the working class was destitute, warlords were desperate to keep their power, the Nationalist Party was gaining traction, and banditry was on the rise. In late March, Nanking fell to the National Revolutionary Party, generating chaos and violence. Alexander preemptively arranged for an evacuation of American Nationals and immediately sounded the alarm. By April 12th, 316 of 365 American’s had been evacuated. Shortly thereafter, Alexander resigned from the consulate due to the long hours, stress, and the desire to take the government career exams.