The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers

Chester Bliss Bowles (1901-1986)

Chester Bliss Bowles was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, into a wealthy newspaper family. Upon graduation from Yale University in 1924, he went into the advertising business and founded his own firm, Benton and Bowles, which became the sixth largest agency in the United States. During the Great Depression, Bowles actively supported FDR's New Deal and, in 1942, after the United States entered the war, the president named Bowles national director of the Office of Price Administration (OPA). In that position, Bowles used his administrative skills to not only keep down inflation but to rally public and congressional support for the necessary wartime controls over the nation's economy. After the war, Bowles served as director of the Office of Price Stabilization until 1946. When Congress failed to pass legislation he believed necessary for the nation's economic health, Bowles resigned his position. He returned to Connecticut, where he had established residency, and ran successfully for governor in 1948, defeating the Republican incumbent, James Shannon. As governor, Bowles initiated programs that supported civil rights, housing, education, and health care but lost in 1950, largely because of his liberal agenda.

Bowles served as ambassador to India from 1951 to 1953 and, although he developed a positive relationship with Prime Minister Nehru, he failed in his attempts to increase American aid to the country. Although he resigned his diplomatic post, he remained a force in U.S. foreign policy, criticizing the militarism of the Eisenhower administration and urging increased American support for Third World nations. He wrote two books, New Dimensions of Peace (1955) and Africa's Challenge to America (1956) and numerous articles to further these goals.

In 1958, Bowles was elected to the House of Representatives from Connecticut and served on the Foreign Affairs Committee. He was chair of the Democratic platform committee for John Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign and was disappointed when Kennedy did not appoint him secretary of state. He served for a brief period of time as undersecretary to Dean Rusk and, in 1963, returned to the post of ambassador to India, where he remained until he retired in 1969.

Bowles spent the rest of his life writing his memoirs and died in 1986 from Parkinson's disease.

Source: American National Biography Online. Internet on-line. Available From

Published by the Model Editions Partnership

Recommended citation: Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and the Election of 1960: A Project of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, ed. by Allida Black, June Hopkins, John Sears, Christopher Alhambra, Mary Jo Binker, Christopher Brick, John S. Emrich, Eugenia Gusev, Kristen E. Gwinn, and Bryan D. Peery (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2003). Electronic version based on unpublished letters. .

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