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Christian Herter

Christian Archibald Herter (March 28, 1895 - December 30, 1966) was a United States politician and statesman, governor of Massachusetts, and Secretary of State 1959-1961.

He was born in Paris to American parents, and attended school there before moving to New York City, where he attended the Browning School. He graduated from Harvard University in 1915 and in the following year was attache to the American Embassy in Berlin. He participated in the 1919 meeting that resulted in the US Council on Foreign Relations.

He married Mary Caroline Pratt. (when?) They had a son, also named Christian Herter, who is active in international relations.

In 1931 Herter was first elected to the Massachusetts house of representatives, where he stayed until 1942, when he was elected as a Republican representative to Congress, and was notable as a supporter of the Marshall Plan. He stayed in Congress until 1953, when he was elected governor of Massachusetts. In 1956, Harold Stassen attempted (unsuccessfully) to get Eisenhower to replace Richard Nixon with Herter for vice-president.

Herter did not run for governor in 1956, but soon (February 21, 1957) found himself appointed Under Secretary of State for the second term of the Eisenhower administration, and later, when John Foster Dulles became seriously ill, Christian Herter was appointed Secretary of State, April 22, 1959. (Dulles died a month later.)

As an unemployed "elder statesman" after the election of 1960, he 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.

Christian Herter's lifetime reputation was as an internationalist, especially interested in improving political and economic relations with Europe.

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.

The World Affairs Council of Boston ("WorldBoston" as of 2002), who Christian Herter helped organize in the 1940s, also has a Christian A. Herter Award honoring individual contributions to international relations.


Christian Herter, Toward an Atlantic Community (1963)


G. Bernard Noble, Christian A. Herter (Cooper Square, 1970)