Earl E. T. Smith

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Earl Edward Tailer Smith

Birthplace: Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island, United States
Death: February 15, 1991 (87)
Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Sydney Johnson Smith and Fannie B. Smith
Ex-husband of Consuelo Earl and Florence Pritchett Smith
Father of Iris Ada Van Ingen and Private

Managed by: Emily V Wade
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Earl E. T. Smith


Earl Edward Tailer Smith (1903–1991) was a United States foreign diplomat, ambassador to Cuba (1957–1959), mayor of Palm Beach (1971–1977), and husband of model Florence Pritchett Smith (1920–1965).


Smith was born in Rhode Island and studied at Yale University (1926–28) before becoming an investment broker and a member of the New York Stock Exchange. He also became a partner in the investment brokers, Paige, Smith, and Remick (1930–1939).

In 1941 U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Smith as special assistant in the Office of Production Management (later War Production Board). He left this post to serve in the United States Army during the Second World War. He served overseas and by the end of the war reached the rank of lieutenant colonel.

As a successful businessman, he became the finance chairman of the Florida Republican Committee.


"Until Castro, the U.S. was so overwhelmingly influential in Cuba that the American ambassador was the second most important man, sometimes even more important than the Cuban president."

— Earl T. Smith, former American Ambassador to Cuba, during 1960 testimony to the U.S. Senate

In June, 1957, U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower appointed Smith ambassador to Cuba, replacing Arthur Gardner. Smith was a businessman who had never held a diplomatic position and who did not speak Spanish. On arrival, Smith was urged by his staff to leave Havana in order to get a better feel of the country, which was in a state of some turmoil. On a visit to Santiago de Cuba, Smith witnessed first-hand the funeral and burial of Frank Pais, one of the leaders of the M-26-7 movement. After his death, well over 200,000 people attended the event, and that convinced Smith that something had to be done about the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Smith was also critical of what he perceived as Washington's ambivalent attitude towards the growing 26th of July movement led by Fidel Castro, feeling that the CIA were underestimating the strength of the Communist Party of Cuba.

Smith resigned his post on 20 January 1959, to be replaced by Philip Bonsal, three weeks after the Cuban Revolution led by Castro. In 1960 Smith testified to the Senate Committee on the subject of the "Communist threat to the United States through the Caribbean". During the hearings Smith made the following analysis of the evolving situation in Cuba and U.S. foreign policy in the region:

If we are to intervene sufficiently to bring about the overthrow of dictatorships, then we should intervene to whatever extent is required to fulfill our purpose. Otherwise, in my opinion, we must wait for the normal self-development of a people and not assist revolution. And we must be prepared to receive the criticism of supporting friendly governments recognized by the United States, although they have been labeled dictatorships. To make my point more clear, let me say that, we helped to overthrow the Batista dictatorship which was pro-American only to install the Castro dictatorship which is pro-Russian.

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Earl E. T. Smith's Timeline

July 8, 1903
Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island, United States
March 7, 1927
Sands Point, Nassau County, NY, United States
February 15, 1991
Age 87
Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida, United States