Edward Stettinius

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Person.png Edward Stettinius  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Edward Stettinius, as lend-lease administrator, September 2, 1941.jpg
Born22 October 1900
Died31 October 1949 (Age 49)
Alma materUniversity of Virginia
WW2 Secretary of State from corporate background

Employment.png US/Permanent Representative to the UN Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
January 17, 1946 - June 3, 1946
Succeeded byHerschel Johnson
First holder of this post

Employment.png United States Secretary of State Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
December 1, 1944 - June 27, 1945
Preceded byCordell Hull

Employment.png United States Under Secretary of State

In office
October 4, 1943 - November 30, 1944

Edward Reilly Stettinius Jr. was an American businessman who was US Secretary of State under Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman from 1944 to 1945, and the first US Ambassador to the United Nations from 1945 to 1946.

Early life

He was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 22, 1900, the younger of two sons and third of four children of Edward R. Stettinius Sr. and Judith Carrington. His mother was a Virginian of colonial English ancestry.

His father, Edward R. Stettinius Sr. was president of Diamond Match Company in Barberton, Ohio. After the start of World War I, he worked at J. P. Morgan and Company coordinating the purchase of war supplies for the Allies.[1][2] Stettinus Sr. became the most important consumer on earth, buying goods for $10 million every day.[3]

The younger Stettinius grew up in a mansion on the family's estate on Staten Island and graduated from the Pomfret School in 1920 after which he attended the University of Virginia until 1924. He finished very few courses and never took a degree, Instead he spent his time on charitable outreach to poor families. He became a member of the secret Seven Society.[4]

On May 15, 1926, Stettinius married Virginia Gordon Wallace, daughter of a prominent family of Richmond, Virginia. They had three children: Edward Reilly and twins Wallace and Joseph.


In 1926, Stettinius began working at General Motors as a stock clerk, but his connections made for rapid advancement. He became assistant to John Lee Pratt, a friend of the family (and possible member of the Seven Society), and by 1931 he had become vice president of public and industrial relations. At General Motors, he worked to develop unemployment relief programs and came into contact with Franklin Roosevelt.

In the 1930s, Stettinius's work in the private sector alternated with public service. He served on the Industrial Advisory Board of the National Recovery Administration (1933), but in 1934 he returned to the private sector when he joined U.S. Steel, the nation's largest corporation; he eventually become chairman in 1938.[5]

He then returned to public service, serving on the National Defense Advisory Commission, as chairman of the War Resources Board (1939) and administrator of the Lend-Lease Program (1941).[6] He held the latter position until he became undersecretary of state in 1943. The poor health of Secretary of State Cordell Hull made him chair the 1944 Dumbarton Oaks Conference and, in December 1944, succeed Hull as Secretary of State. Stettinius was a member of the US delegation to the 1945 Yalta Conference.[7]

Truman thought Stettinius was too soft on communism and had yielded too much to Moscow when he was Roosevelt's advisor at Yalta. Truman had an old Senate friend in mind as a replacement, James F. Byrnes. Stettinius resigned as Secretary of State to take up the position of the first United States Ambassador to the United Nations. He chaired the United States delegation to the United Nations Conference on International Organization held in San Francisco from April 25 to June 26, 1945, which brought together delegates from 50 Allied nations to create the United Nations. Charles W. Yost, who had been Under Secretary of State Stettinius' assistant in the State Department, was named Stettinius' Executive Secretary at the United Nations Conference. Stettinius resigned in June 1946, as he became critical of what he saw as Truman's refusal to use the UN as a tool to resolve tensions with the Soviet Union.[8]

Later life

For three years after his return to private life, he was rector of the University of Virginia. In 1947, Stettinius and friend William Tubman, the president of Liberia, helped form the Liberia Company (now International Registries), a partnership between the Liberian government and American financiers to provide funds for the development of the African nation. During his retirement, Stettinius lived at his Virginia estate, The Horseshoe, on the Rapidan River.[9] He died of a coronary thrombosis on October 31, 1949, at the home of a sister in Greenwich, Connecticut, at the age of 49, and was buried in the family plot in Locust Valley Cemetery, Locust Valley, New York.

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