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About Christian Archibald Herter
Christian Archibald Herter was an American politician and statesman; 59th Governor of Massachusetts from 1953 to 1956, and Secretary of State from 1959 to 1961.
Herter was born in Paris, France, to American artist and expatriate parents, Albert Herter and Adele McGinnis, and attended the École Alsacienne there (1901-1904) before moving to New York City, where he attended the Browning School (1904-1911). He graduated from Harvard University in 1915 and did graduate work in architecture and interior design before joining the diplomatic corps in the following year.
Herter married the wealthy heiress Mary Caroline Pratt (1895-1980) in 1917. She was the daughter of Frederic B. Pratt, longtime head of the Pratt Institute and granddaughter of Standard Oil magnate Charles Pratt. They had three sons and one daughter, including Christian A Herter Jr, who was active in international relations.
He was made attaché to the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, and he was briefly arrested while in Mainz as a possible spy. He was part of the U.S. delegation to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, where he helped draft the Covenant of the League of Nations. Later, he was the assistant to Herbert Hoover when he was instrumental in providing starvation relief to post-World War I Europe and was later Commerce Secretary. Herter also participated in the 1919 meeting that resulted in the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations.
Herter hated working for the scandal-ridden administration of President Warren Harding, and returned to Boston, where he was a magazine editor and lecturer on international affairs.
In 1931 Herter was first elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he stayed until 1942, when he campaigned for the 10th Massachusetts district seat in the United States House of Representatives held by George H. Tinkham, whose isolationist views made him vulnerable during World War II. Once Herter entered the contest, Tinkham withdrew and thereby opened the way for Herter to be elected. Although he was critical of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, Herter distinguished himself during 1943-1953 primarily for his stand on foreign affairs, especially owing to the so-called Herter Committee in 1947 whose report initiated proposals that led to Harry Truman's Marshall Plan. In those years, he refused to support a permanent congressional committee investigating un-American activities. In 1947, Herter founded the Middle East Institute with Middle East scholar George Camp Keiser; during this same time period, he served on the board of trustees of the World Peace Foundation. He stayed in Congress until 1953, when he was elected Governor of Massachusetts.
Herter did not run for Governor in 1956. On (February 21, 1957) he was appointed Under Secretary of State for the second term of the Eisenhower administration, and later, when John Foster Dulles became seriously ill, he was appointed Secretary of State, April 22, 1959. Dulles died a month later. Herter received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1961.
As an unemployed "elder statesman" after the election of 1960, Herter served on various councils and commissions, and was a special representative for trade negotiations, working for both John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson until his death in 1966 in Washington, DC, at the age of 71. He is buried at the Prospect Hill Cemetery in Millis, Massachusetts.
Secretary Herter was also an active Freemason. He was a member of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Christian Herter's lifetime reputation was as an internationalist, especially interested in improving political and economic relations with Europe.
In 1943, with Paul Nitze (a distant cousin by marriage), Herter co-founded the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), which incorporated with the Johns Hopkins University in 1950. Today, the graduate school has campuses in Washington, D.C., Bologna, Italy, and Nanjing, China, and is recognized as a world leader in international relations, economics, and policy studies.
In 1968, the American Foreign Service Association established its Christian A. Herter Award to honor senior diplomats who speak out or otherwise challenge the status quo. In 1948 Herter received an LL.D. from Bates College.
The World Affairs Council of Boston ("WorldBoston" as of 2002), which Christian Herter helped organize in the 1940s, also has a Christian A. Herter Award honoring individual contributions to international relations.
Herter Park in Brighton, MA is named in Herter's honor. His great-grandson, John Herter, currently resides in the Commonwealth. A University of Massachusetts, Amherst building devoted to the teaching of history and other liberal arts is named "Herter Hall" after statesman as well.
Herter was the last Secretary of State born in the 19th century.