About Charles Woodruff Yost
Charles Woodruff Yost (November 6, 1907 – May 21, 1981) was a career U.S. diplomat who was assigned as his country's representative to the United Nations from 1969 to 1971.
Yost was born in Watertown, New York, on November 6, 1907. He attended the Hotchkiss School, with Roswell Gilpatric, Paul Nitze, and Chapman Rose before graduating from Princeton University in 1928. He did postgraduate studies at the École des Hautes Études International in Paris. Over the next year he traveled to Geneva, Berlin, the Soviet Union, Poland, Rumania, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Spain, and Vienna.
Yost joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1930 on the advice of former Secretary of State Robert Lansing, and he served in Alexandria, Egypt as a consular officer, followed by an assignment in Poland. In 1933 he left the Foreign Service to pursue a career as a freelance foreign correspondent in Europe and a writer in New York. After his marriage to Irena Rawicz-Oldakowska, he returned to the U.S. State Department in 1935, becoming assistant chief of the Division of Arms and Munitions Control in 1936. In 1941, he represented the State Department on the Policy Committee of the Board of Economic Warfare. Yost was appointed assistant chief of special research in 1942, and he was made assistant chief of the Division of Foreign Activity Correlation in 1943. In February of the next year he became executive secretary of the Department of State Policy Committee. He attended the Dumbarton Oaks Conference from August to October 1944, when he worked on Chapters VI and VII of the United Nations Charter. He then served at the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco in April 1945 as aide to Secretary of State Edward Stettinius. In July of that year he was secretary-general of the Potsdam Conference.
In 1945 Yost was reinstated in the Foreign Service, and later that year he served as political adviser to U.S. Lieutenant General Raymond Albert Wheeler on the staff of Lord Louis Mountbatten in Kandy, Ceylon. He then became chargé d'affaires in Thailand during the short reign of Ananda Mahidol. Throughout the late 1940s and the 1950s, his assignments took him to Czechoslovakia, Austria (twice), and Greece. In 1954, he was named minister to Laos, and he became the first United States ambassador there a year later. In 1957, he was minister counselor in Paris. At the end of the same year he was named ambassador to Syria. Shortly after his appointment, Syria and Egypt formed the United Arab Republic, and the U.S. was asked to close its embassy in Syria. Yost was then sent as ambassador to Morocco in 1958.
In 1961, he began his first assignment at the United Nations as the deputy to Ambassador Adlai Stevenson. After Stevenson's death in 1965, Yost stayed on as deputy to Ambassador Arthur Goldberg. Yost was promoted to the rank of Career Ambassador, the highest professional Foreign Service level, before resigning from the Foreign Service in 1966 to begin his career as a writer, at the Council on Foreign Relations, and as a teacher, at Columbia University.
In 1969, President Richard Nixon called Yost out of retirement to become the permanent United States representative to the United Nations. He resigned in 1971 and returned to writing, at the Brookings Institution, and teaching at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.
Yost set forth his views in a syndicated newspaper column, for the Christian Science Monitor, and in four books — The Age of Triumph and Frustration: Modern Dialogues, The Insecurity of Nations, The Conduct and Misconduct of Foreign Relations, and History and Memory.
In 1979, Yost was co-chairman of Americans for SALT II, a group that lobbied the Senate for passage of the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty. He was a trustee of the American University in Cairo, Egypt, and director of the Aspen Institute for cultural exchanges with Iran. He took part in the unofficial Dartmouth Conferences of United States and Soviet scholars. In 1973, he was named head of the National Committee on United States-China Relations; he visited the People's Republic of China in 1973 and 1977.
Yost died of cancer on May 21, 1981 at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.
His papers are at Princeton University Library. Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections under call number MC193.
Yost’s ancestors, who were driven out of the German Palatinate by Louis XIV’s armies at the end of the 17th century, settled in the Valley of the Mohawk River in New York State. Others were of Scotch-Irish origin and came to this country with the immigration that took place about the middle of the 18th century.
Yost’s ancestor, Edward Howell, founded Watermill on Long Island, New York and his ancestor Abraham Cooper founded Oxbow, New York. His ancestor, Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer, was a Revolutionary War hero.
Yost’s father Nicholas, an attorney, judge and bank president was married to his mother Gertrude by Pastor Dulles the father of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles.
In 1934, Yost married Irena Rawicz-Oldakowska in Poland. They had two sons, Nicholas and Casimir, and a daughter Felicity.