By Tracy Potter
Over the last few segments of Spotlight on Collections, I focused on the life and career of Henry Cabot Lodge (HCL). Now I turn to his grandson Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (HCL II) who left just as big a footprint on United States and world history as his grandfather.
HCL II was born on 5 July 1902 in Nahant, Massachusetts. He was the son of the well known poet George Cabot Lodge and Matilda Elizabeth Frelinghuysen Davis. After the death of his father, the family moved to Paris for two years, from 1912 until the beginning of World War I in 1914. To escape the war, the family returned to Massachusetts. Like his grandfather, HCL II attended Harvard University, graduating in 1924. In 1926 he married Emily Sears and they had two sons.
Seven years after his marriage to Emily Sears, in 1933, the people of Massachusetts elected HCL II to the Massachusetts legislature, where he served until 1936. In 1936 he was elected to the United States Senate. He served in the Senate until 1944 at which time he met with President Franklin Roosevelt to ask the President’s blessing for him to join the war. The President gave his consent and HCL II was on a plane to England when the Senate heard of his resignation. HCL II’s decision to join the army to fight in World War II made him the first senator to resign his seat in the Senate for battle since the Civil War.
After his return from serving in Europe, HCL II ran for and won a seat in the United States Senate in 1946. His time serving in WWII gave him a new perspective on life and politics. During the remainder of his time in the Senate, HCL II became a moderate Republican often voting against the Republican Party line (an estimated 40% of the time). He also found it easy to gather support for bills he introduced into the Senate from members of the Democratic Party. In 1952 HCL II decided to back General Dwight D. Eisenhower as the next U.S. President. He was involved in Eisenhower’s campaign from the beginning. He convinced the General he should run in the first place then became his manager during the 1952 Republican convention. Throughout the year he focused all his attention on the presidential campaign leaving little room for his own campaign to keep his seat in the Senate. By November 1952, HCL II lost his Senate seat to an up and coming Democrat named John F. Kennedy.
In 1953, Eisenhower began HCL II’s international career by appointing him a U.S. representative to the United Nations. HCL II remained in this position until 1960 when he ran as vice president on Richard Nixon’s presidential ticket. In an interesting coincidence, Nixon and HCL II lost to the young and charismatic senator that replaced HCL II in the Senate in 1952, John F. Kennedy. Kennedy, understanding the value of HCL II’s experience both in politics and in foreign relations, appointed him Ambassador to the Republic of Vietnam in 1963. HCL II arrived in South Vietnam in the midst of very turbulent times. Over the next four years he served under Kennedy and then Lyndon B. Johnson in Vietnam helping Johnson plan and execute the troop escalation until 1967.
Between 1968 and his retirement in 1977, three U.S. presidents called on HCL II to serve his country on the international stage including Lyndon B. Johnson who appointed HCL II as Ambassador to Germany in 1968, and Richard Nixon who appointed HCL II as the leader to the unsuccessful American delegation to the Vietnam peace negotiations in Paris in 1969. Both Nixon and Gerald Ford appointed HCL II as an occasional special envoy to the Vatican. In 1977 HCL II quietly retired to his home in Beverly, Mass.
Republican to the core, HCL II had the knack of crossing political and international lines always in an attempt to better the lives of the people of the United States and of Massachusetts. Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, he was never afraid to speak his mind or fight for what he believed in even if it was against the status quo. These qualities helped him excel as a senator and as an ambassador.
For more information about HCL II see:
Lodge, Henry Cabot. The Storm has Many Eyes. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 1973).
Miller, William J. Henry Cabot Lodge: A Biography. (New York: James H. Heineman, Inc., 1967).
Richardson, Elliot L. “Memoirs: Henry Cabot Lodge” Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 97, (1985): 149-152.
Join me on April 6th as I discuss HCL II’s connection with the MHS.