John W. Foster (USA), U.S. Secretary of State

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John W. Foster (USA), U.S. Secretary of State's Geni Profile

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Col. John Watson Foster

Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of Matthew Watson Foster and Eleanor Foster
Husband of Mary Parke Foster
Father of Edith F. Dulles and Eleanor Lansing
Brother of Elizabeth Jane Copeland; George Foster; Alexander Hamilton Foster; Eleanor Foster and James Hiram Foster
Half brother of Matthew William Foster; Sarah Elizabeth Foster and Lillie Clifford

Managed by: Private User
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About John W. Foster (USA), U.S. Secretary of State

John Watson Foster (March 2, 1836 – November 15, 1917) was an American military man, journalist and diplomat.

Born in Petersburg, Indiana, and raised in Evansville, Indiana, he was first a lawyer and then served as general for the Union in the American Civil War. Following the war he worked as a journalist, editing the Evansville Daily Journal from 1865 to 1869. Thereafter he was the U.S. Minister to Mexico (1873–1880), to Russia (1880–1881) and to Spain (1883–1885). In the Benjamin Harrison Administration he served as a State Department "trouble shooter" before replacing James G. Blaine who had succumbed to what became a fatal attack of Bright's Disease. He served as U.S. Secretary of State under President Benjamin Harrison in 1892 and 1893. He also helped the Qing Dynasty in drafting the Treaty of Shimonoseki of 1895 as a legal consultant and commissioner.

His grandchildren included John Foster Dulles, who also became a U.S. Secretary of State, Allen Welsh Dulles, a Director of Central Intelligence, Eleanor Lansing Dulles, economist and diplomat. He is also the great-grandfather of the noted Catholic theologian Cardinal Avery Dulles.


Civil War Union Army Officer, US Diplomat, Presidential Cabinet Secretary.

Commissioned as Major of the 25th Indiana Volunteer Infantry in 1861. He rose to Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment, and participated in the capture of Fort Donelson before being promoted Colonel and commander of first the 65th Indiana Volunteer Mounted Infantry, then the 136th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Given command of a brigade, his troops were the first to entire Knoxville, Tennessee during General Ambrose Burnside's operations against the city.

After the War he became a journalist, and served as editor of the Evansville "Daily Journal" from 1865 to 1869. He was then appointed as United States Minister to Mexico, serving from 1873 to 1880 under Presidents Ulysses Grant and Rutherford Hayes. In 1880 President Hayes transferred him to the post of United States Minister to Russia, where he served from 1880 to 1881. In 1883 he was appointed as United States Minister to Spain, serving at that position from 1883 to 1885.

In 1892 he was appointed as United States Secretary of State during President Benjamin Harrison's Administration, serving from 1892 to 1893. He was the Grandfather of Eisenhower Administration Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who served during the height of the Cold War. (bio by: Russ Dodge)

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John W. Foster (USA), U.S. Secretary of State's Timeline

March 2, 1836
April 1864
Age 28
Indiana, United States
May 13, 1866
Age 30
Ohio, United States
November 15, 1917
Age 81