Henry P. Fletcher

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Henry Prather Fletcher
Henry P. Fletcher.jpg
Chairman of the
Republican National Committee
In office
1934 – 1936
Preceded byEverett Sanders
Succeeded byJohn Hamilton
United States Ambassador to Italy
In office
April 2, 1924 – August 3, 1929
PresidentHerbert Hoover (1929-1929)
Calvin Coolidge (1924-1929)
Preceded byRichard Washburn Child
Succeeded byJohn W. Garrett
United States Ambassador to Belgium
In office
1922 – 1924
PresidentCalvin Coolidge (1923-1924)
Warren Harding (1922-1923)
Preceded byBrand Whitlock
Succeeded byWilliam Phillips
Under Secretary of State
In office
March 8, 1921 – March 6, 1922
PresidentWarren G. Harding
Preceded byNorman H. Davis
Succeeded byWilliam Phillips
United States Ambassador to Mexico
In office
March 3, 1917 – January 25, 1919
PresidentWoodrow Wilson
Preceded byHenry Lane Wilson
Succeeded byCharles B. Warren
United States Ambassador to Chile
In office
November 19, 1914 – March 9, 1916
PresidentWilliam Howard Taft
Preceded byUnited States diplomatic mission upgraded from Legation
Succeeded byJoseph Hooker Shea
United States Minister to Chile
In office
September 9, 1910 – November 19, 1914
PresidentWilliam Howard Taft
Preceded byThomas C. Dawson
Succeeded byUnited States diplomatic mission upgraded to Embassy
Personal details
Born(1873-04-10)April 10, 1873
Greencastle, Pennsylvania
DiedJuly 10, 1959(1959-07-10) (aged 86)
Newport, Rhode Island
Resting placeArlington National Cemetery
Beatrice Bend
(m. 1917; her death 1941)
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Battles/warsSpanish–American War

Henry Prather Fletcher (April 10, 1873 – July 10, 1959) was an American diplomat who served under six presidents.[1]

Early life

Fletcher was born in Greencastle, Pennsylvania in 1873 to Louis Henry Fletcher (1839–1927) and Martha Ellen (née Rowe) Fletcher (1840–1896). His siblings included James Gilmore Fletcher (1875–1960), David Watson Fletcher (1880–1957) and Florence Fletcher (1883–1957).[2] He was the fourth cousin once removed of William McKinley.[3]

Fletcher planned to attend Princeton University, but his family could not afford to send him, therefore, he studied law and shorthand in his uncle's law office.[2]

Shortly after beginning to practice law, the Spanish–American War broke out and the United States declared war on Spain in 1898.[4] Fletcher joined Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders as a private in Troop K.[5] He served in the U.S. Army, both in Cuba and in the Philippines for two years.[2]


After returning from the Philippines, he entered the diplomatic service under President Roosevelt's administration as secondary secretary of the United States legation in Havana, Cuba. In 1903, he was transferred to Peiping and then, in 1905, as secretary to the legation in Lisbon, Portugal. In 1907, he returned to China and was negotiated an agreement whereby US capital was allowed to participate on equal terms with European capital for the first time.[4]

As a reward, President William Howard Taft named him US Minister to Chile in 1909.[6] He was in that position until 1914, by which time the mission had been raised to the status of an Embassy, making him the first United States Ambassador to Chile.[7][8] He served in that role until March 9, 1916.[9][10]

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson appointed him United States Ambassador to Mexico, his term coinciding with the height of World War I.[11] On January 19, 1917, the German Secretary of State, Arthur Zimmermann, sent a message to Mexico promising Texas, New Mexico and Arizona to Mexico if it entered the War on German's side. The note was intercepted in Washington and made public and is considered one of the immediate causes for the United States entering the war six weeks later.[12] He presented his credentials on March 3, 1917 and served as ambassador in Mexico until January 25, 1919, when he returned to the United States.[4][13]

In 1920, after directing the State Department's Latin American affairs for a year, he resigned and was appointed Under Secretary of State by President Warren G. Harding, serving from March 8, 1921 to March 6, 1922, under Secretary Charles Evans Hughes.[4][14][15][16]

Thereafter, he served as Ambassador to Belgium from 1922 until 1924 under both Harding and his successor, Calvin Coolidge, who became President after Harding's death in 1923. In 1923, he was sent to the Pan-American Conference in Santiago, taking the place of Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, who had declined to go. At that time, the United States Secretary of State was ex officio chair of the Pan-American Conference, although that changed in Santiago after Latin American criticism.[17]

From April 2, 1924 to August 3, 1929, he was appointed by Coolidge and served as the Ambassador to Italy.[18] He was on close terms with the Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini.[19][20][21]

Later career

On April 22, 1930, President Hoover appointed him chairman of the United States Tariff Commission after the Tariff Act of 1930. He was said to have accomplished more work in one year than what had been done in the previous seven.[2]

From 1934 to 1936, he was the Chairman of the Republican Party[22] and was a delegate to the Republican national conventions in 1936 and 1940.[23][24]

Personal life

In 1917, he married Beatrice Bend (1874-1941),[25] a daughter of George H. Bend, a member of the New York Stock Exchange who had gone bankrupt.[26] Bend's sister, Amy Bend (1870-1957), was married to Cortlandt F. Bishop in 1899.[27][28][29] Henry and Beatrice did not have any children.[2]

He died in 1959 at his home in Newport, Rhode Island,[30][2] and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He left an estate worth $3,000,000, and donated his personal papers to the Library of Congress. He also left a portrait of George Washington, by Edward Savage, to the National Gallery in Washington, D.C..[32]


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