Best known for his controversial role as the American ambassador to South Vietnam from 1963 to 1967, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. also served in a variety of other diplomatic positions as well as in the U.S. Senate during his long career in Republican politics. Born to a patrician New England family in 1902 (his grandfather had been a famous U.S. senator from Massachusetts), Lodge graduated from Harvard in 1924 and worked as a journalist for nine years before entering politics.
Lodge began his political career as a representative in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1933. Three years later he won election to the U.S. Senate where he earned a reputation as a moderate Republican. Reelected in 1942, Lodge resigned his Senate seat in 1944 to join the army, serving in Europe until the war's conclusion in 1945. The following year Lodge was elected to the Senate for a third time, emerging as a crucial supporter of Dwight Eisenhower's presidential candidacy in 1952. Believing that the Republican party needed to shed the isolationism that had long guided its views on foreign policy, Lodge helped Eisenhower win his battle for the Republican nomination against the isolationist Senator Robert Taft of Ohio.
Having focused on assisting Eisenhower with his presidential bid, however, Lodge lost his own reelection battle with Congressman John F. Kennedy. As a result, Eisenhower offered him a position as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, a position he retained until 1960. As a liberal internationalist, Lodge worked to foster a healthy American relationship with the United Nations and the Third World but, as an ardent cold warrior, he also advocated a tough line of opposition against the Soviet Union. As a successful and popular ambassador, Lodge joined the Republican presidential ticket in 1960 as Richard Nixon's vice-presidential running mate.
Briefly returning to private life following Nixon's defeat in 1960, Lodge reentered government service in 1963 when President Kennedy appointed him ambassador to South Vietnam. Anxious to use American clout with the South Vietnamese as a means of organizing their resistance to communism more effectively, Lodge quickly became frustrated with the country's president, Ngo Dinh Diem. Regarding Diem as an eccentric obstructionist who lacked the ability to lead South Vietnam's turbulent population, Lodge signaled tacit U.S. support for a military coup against Diem's regime in November 1963. Remaining with the American Embassy in Saigon until later the next year, Lodge returned in 1965 for a second tour as the American ambassador under President Lyndon Johnson. As ambassador to South Vietnam from 1965 to 1967, Lodge supported President Johnson's decision to escalate American involvement in the Vietnam War, believing strongly that a communist takeover in the South would be disastrous for U.S. foreign policy goals.
Remaining with the State Department for another ten years after leaving Vietnam, Lodge served as ambassador to Germany (1968-69), envoy to the abortive Paris Peace Talks (1969), and occasionally as the American representative to the Vatican (1969-77). Retiring in 1975, Lodge returned to his home in Beverly, Massachusetts where he wrote his memoirs. He died in 1985 at the age of eighty-three.
Source: American National Biography Online. Internet on-line. Available From http://www.anb.org.
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. .
For more information, visit The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers home page at http://www.gwu.edu/~erpapers/.
Copyright © 2006. The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers. All rights reserved.