William Richards Castle, Jr.

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William Richards Castle, Jr.

Birthdate: (85)
Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of William Richards Castle and Ida Beatrice Castle
Husband of Margaret Castle
Father of Rosamond Castle

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About William Richards Castle, Jr.


William Richards Castle, Jr. (1878–1963) was an educator and diplomat. With great wealth from his family's Hawaiian holdings, he rose rapidly to the highest levels of the United States Department of State. He took a strong interest in Pacific issues, in part because of his background in Hawaii.


William Richards Castle, Jr. was born in Honolulu on June 19, 1878 when it was the Kingdom of Hawaii. His father, William Richards Castle served King David Kalākaua as attorney general and later as Hawaiian Minister to the United States, where he was an active proponent of annexation. His grandfather Samuel Northrup Castle founded agricultural giant Castle & Cooke corporation. William Richards Castle, Jr. graduated from Punahou School and then Harvard College in 1900, where he was a member of the Phoenix S.K. Club. His mentor was Professor Barrett Wendell. He remained at Harvard as an English instructor and assistant dean in charge of freshmen from 1904–1913. In 1910 he was President and one of the founders of the Hawaiian Trail & Mountain Club which has been active for over 100 years. From 1915 through 1917, he was editor of the Harvard Graduates' Magazine[2] and wrote several articles. He published two novels and a book on Hawaiian history.

During World War I he opened an American Red Cross bureau in Washington, DC to assist in reuniting families and locating missing men overseas. As Director of Communications, his department handled 10,000 letters per day.


In 1919 Castle joined the State Department, rising quickly in part because of his family’s money and connections with the Republican Party. He served as assistant chief of the division of Western European affairs, from 1921 as its chief. He was appointed Assistant Secretary of State on February 26, 1927 during the administration of Calvin Coolidge.


He was U.S. Ambassador to Japan for five months of 1930 to negotiate the changes in war ship limits that Japan requested from the five-power London Naval Conference. He was named to this position December 11, 1929 in large part because he could afford it; at that time, a large private income was necessary to offset the cost of an ambassadorship because the State Department's salaries were so low. Tokyo had the highest cost of living of any post, so had been left vacant since Charles MacVeagh (1860–1931) resigned December 6, 1928. His appointment to Japan was only for the duration of the conference. The press called him a "pinch hitter".[6] He presented credentials January 24, 1930 and left May 27, 1930. The day before he laid the cornerstone of a new American Embassy in Tokyo, to replace the structure destroyed in the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake. Japanese dignitaries attending the ceremonies included Prince Tokugawa Iesato (President of the America-Japan Society), Kijūrō Shidehara (who was Japanese Foreign Minister), and industrialist Shibusawa Eiichi

Although the modification of the treaty was supported by Japanese Prime Minister Osachi Hamaguchi, the Japanese military was outraged at any restrictions. Naval Chief of Staff Admiral Kanji Kato refused to attend a farewell dinner for Castle. When Naval Minister Takarabe Takeshi repeated the invitation, the Admiral resigned rather than attend. Another Japanese Naval officer Yeiji Kusakari committed the traditional suicide known as Seppuku, widely thought to be in protest of the treaty.

He returned to the United States to his post of Assistant Secretary of State on June 4, 1930. The Japan ambassador position was left open again until William Cameron Forbes (1870–1959) presented his credentials on September 25, 1930.

Under Secretary

On April 1, 1931 he was appointed Under Secretary of State after the death of Joseph Potter Cotton (confirmed December 17, 1931) and served until March 5, 1933. It was the second-ranking post in the department to Henry L. Stimson in the Herbert Hoover administration. He was acting Secretary of State during negotiation of the Hoover Moratorium on World War I reparations in 1931. The press appreciated his communications on the negotiations. In September 1931 Castle tried to peacefully defuse the situation after the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. With the election of Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, Castle was replaced by William Phillips (1878–1968) as Under Secretary.

Out of power

Following his departure from the State Department, Castle was an outspoken critic of the New Deal. He opposed conflict with Japan, in part because he feared the potential impact of such a conflict on Hawaii. Hawaii did receive those first impacts in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. During World War II he continued to oppose Roosevelt's policies. However, the US had been caught off-guard (being distracted by the war in Europe), so Cordell Hull, the new Secretary of state, often consulted Castle behind-the-scenes as one of the few experts on Japanese affairs. Being a former English instructor, Castle spoke out against misleading propaganda. He advocated realistic dialog with compromises from negotiation and mutual trade. He also influenced the Treaty of San Francisco and occupation of Japan after the war.

He married Margaret Farlow on June 3, 1902 and had one daughter Rosamond Castle who was born March 4, 1904, married Alan Francis Winslow October 20, 1923, and died February 26, 1932. Winslow was in the Lafayette Flying Corps in World War I.

Castle was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1932. He received honorary degrees from the University of Rochester in 1932, Doctor of Civil Law from the University of the South in 1935 and Bryant College in 1936. He was elected to the Harvard Board of Overseers from 1935 to 1941. In 1937 he worked for John Hamilton on the Republican National Committee to rebuild the party after the defeats of the 1936 elections. He served as president of Garfield Memorial Hospital in Washington, DC from 1945–1952. He died October 13, 1963 in Washington, DC. His diaries were donated to Harvard papers were donated to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library by his grandsons in April 1970.


William Richards Castle, Jr. (2008) [1912]. The Green Vase. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-4374-1299-4.
William Richards Castle, Jr. (2008) [1914]. The Pillar of Sand. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-4373-2669-7.
William Richards Castle, Jr. (1917) [1915]. Hawaii Past and Present. Dodd, Mead and Company.
William Richards Castle, Jr. (1916). Wake up, America: a plea for the recognition of our individual and national responsibilities. Dodd, Mead and Company.
William Richards Castle, Jr.; Paul Kaufman (1926). Essays in memory of Barrett Wendell. Harvard University Press.
William Richards Castle, Jr. (1960). Life of Samuel Northrup Castle. Hawaiian Historical Society and Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation.
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William Richards Castle, Jr.'s Timeline

Age 26
Age 85