Christian Herter

Christian Herter
Christian Archibald Herter
53rd United States Secretary of State
In office
April 22, 1959 – January 20, 1961
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by John F. Dulles
Succeeded by Dean Rusk
1st United States Trade Representative
In office
President John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded by None
Succeeded by William M. Roth
59th Governor of Massachusetts
In office
January 8, 1953 – January 3, 1957
Lieutenant Sumner G. Whittier
Preceded by Paul A. Dever
Succeeded by Foster Furcolo
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 10th district
In office
January 3, 1943 – January 3, 1953
Preceded by George H. Tinkham
Succeeded by Laurence Curtis
Under Secretary of State
In office
February 21, 1957 – April 22, 1959
Preceded by Herbert Hoover, Jr.
Succeeded by C. Douglas Dillon
Personal details
Born March 28, 1895(1895-03-28)
Paris, France
Died December 30, 1966(1966-12-30) (aged 71)
Washington, D.C.,
United States
Resting place Prospect Hill Cemetery, Millis, Massachusetts
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Mary Caroline Pratt
Alma mater Harvard University

Christian Archibald Herter (March 28, 1895 – December 30, 1966) was an American politician and statesman; 59th governor of Massachusetts from 1953 to 1957, and United States Secretary of State from 1959 to 1961.



Early life

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.

Diplomatic career

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.

Political career

In 1930 Herter was first elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he served for 12 years. In 1942 he sought the Massachusetts 10th 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. Herter served five terms in Congress; he did not seek re-election to the House in 1952, instead running successfully for governor of Massachusetts.

He was re-elected governor in 1954, but did not seek a third term in 1956. On February 21, 1957 Herter 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 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.


  • Christian Herter, Toward an Atlantic Community (1963)


  • G. Bernard Noble, Christian A. Herter (Cooper Square, 1970)
  • Herter, Christian Archibald, in American National Biography, 2000, American Council of Learned Societies.

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
George H. Tinkham
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 10th congressional district

January 3, 1943 – January 3, 1953
Succeeded by
Laurence Curtis
Massachusetts House of Representatives
Preceded by
Horace T. Cahill
Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Rudolph King
Political offices
Preceded by
Paul A. Dever
Governor of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Foster Furcolo
Preceded by
Herbert Hoover, Jr.
Under Secretary of State
Succeeded by
C. Douglas Dillon
Preceded by
John Foster Dulles
United States Secretary of State
Served under: Dwight D. Eisenhower

Succeeded by
Dean Rusk
Government offices
Preceded by
None; first in line
United States Trade Representative
Succeeded by
William M. Roth

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Christian Herter — ist der Name folgender Personen: Christian Herter (Designer) (1839–1883), deutsch amerikanischer Designer Christian Herter (Politiker) (1895–1966), US amerikanischer Politiker Christian Archibald Herter (1865–1910), US amerikanischer Mediziner… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Christian Herter — Christian Archibald Herter Mandats Représentant du 10e district du Massachusetts 3 janvier 1943 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Christian Herter (Politiker) — Christian Herter Christian Archibald Herter (* 28. März 1895 in Paris; † 30. Dezember 1966 in Washington D.C.) war ein US amerikanischer Politiker der Republikanischen Partei. Er war von 1953 bis 1956 Gouverneur von Massachusetts und von 1959 bis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Christian Herter (Designer) — Christian Augustus Ludwig Herter (* 8. Januar 1839 in Stuttgart; † 2. November 1883) war ein deutschstämmiger Designer und Mitinhaber der Firma Herter Brothers. Christian Herter war ein Sohn des gleichnamigen Stuttgarter Ebenisten und seiner… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Herter Brothers — war eine Unternehmen in New York, das hochwertige Möbel und Innenausstattungen für Privathäuser und öffentliche Einrichtungen herstellte. Das Unternehmen existierte von 1864 bis 1906. Inhaber waren die deutschstämmigen Halbbrüder Gustave (Gustav) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Herter — Herter, a surname, may refer to:* Albert Herter, American painter; son of Christian, the furniture maker * Christian Archibald Herter (1895 ndash; 1966), American politician; son of Albert, the painter * Christian Archibald Herter (1865 ndash;… …   Wikipedia

  • Herter — bezeichnet: Burg Dußlingen, eine Burgruine in Ortslage der Gemeinde Dußlingen im Landkreis Tübingen in Baden Württemberg Herter ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Balz Herter (* 1984), Schweizer Politiker (CVP) Christian Herter (Designer)… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Christian Archibald Herter — may refer to: Christian Herter (1895–1966), American politician Christian Archibald Herter (physician) (1865–1910), American physician Christian Archibald Herter, one of the Herter Brothers, 19th century New York decorator. This disambiguation… …   Wikipedia

  • Christian Archibald Herter (physician) — For other people of the same name, see Christian Archibald Herter (disambiguation). Christian Archibald Herter (physician) Christian Archibald Herter (physician) …   Wikipedia

  • Herter Brothers — The firm of Herter Brothers, New York, (working 1864 – 1906), founded by Gustave (1830 – 1898) and Christian Herter, (1839 – 1883) begun as an upholstery warehouse, became one of the first firms of furniture makers and interior decorators in the… …   Wikipedia

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