H. Freeman Matthews

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Person.png H. Freeman Matthews  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
H. Freeman Matthews 1956.jpg
BornMay 26, 1899
Baltimore, Maryland
DiedOctober 19, 1986 (Age 87)
Washington DC
Alma materPrinceton University, Sciences Po
U.S. career diplomat who was Ambassador to three European countries and participated in the Yalta conference.

Employment.png United States Ambassador to Austria

In office
August 5, 1957 - May 25, 1962

Employment.png United States Ambassador to the Netherlands

In office
November 25, 1953 - June 11, 1957

Employment.png Acting US/Secretary of State Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
January 20, 1953 - January 21, 1953
Preceded byDean Acheson
Succeeded byJohn Foster Dulles

Employment.png United States Ambassador to Sweden

In office
September 20, 1947 - May 24, 1950

Harrison Freeman Matthews was a career American diplomat who was Ambassador to three European countries.

Early life

Harrison Freeman "Doc" Matthews was born in Baltimore, Maryland on May 26, 1899.[1]

He was in the United States Navy during World War I, and received bachelor's (1921) and master's (1922) degrees from Princeton University. From 1922 to 1923 he studied at the Ecole Libre des Sciences Politiques, in Paris, France.[2]


Matthews became a career employee of the United States Department of State, and his assignments included secretary positions in Budapest (1924 to 1926)[3] and Bogotá (1926 to 1929).[4] From 1930 to 1933 he worked at the State Department as Deputy Chief of the Latin American Affairs Division.[5] In 1933, Matthews moved to a secretary position in Havana, Cuba, where he worked until 1937.[6] He occupied a similar position in Paris, France from 1937 to 1940, and was the consul there from 1938 to 1940. During 1939 he was acting Ambassador to Spain.[7][8]

From 1940 to 1941 he was First Secretary in the U.S. embassy to France during the Vichy French government.[9][10] Just before France's surrender to Germany in 1940 he took custody of the Versailles Treaty and the Treaty of Westphalia from the French foreign office, which he then had couriered to the United States for safe-keeping for the duration of the war[11]

From 1941 to 1943 he was counselor at the American embassy in London, England.[12]

From 1943 to 1947, he worked again at the State Department, assigned as Chief of the European Affairs Division and Director of the Office of European Affairs.[13][14] During this time he was also a representative of the State Department in 1945 on the Joint Commission for Civil Affairs at the Joint American-British Operations and Planning Staff CCS (Combined Chiefs of Staff).

During the Yalta Conference he and Harry Hopkins convinced President Franklin D. Roosevelt to accede to Winston Churchill's and Anthony Eden's demands that France be given a seat on the Allied Control Council alongside the USA, the USSR, and the UK.[15] Matthews was Ambassador to Sweden from 1947 to 1950.[16][17] From 1950 to 1953, he worked as Deputy Undersecretary of State.[18] He was acting Secretary of State for the one day between the departure of Dean Acheson and the swearing in of John Foster Dulles.[19]

In 1953, Matthews was appointed to succeed Selden Chapin as Ambassador to the Netherlands, and he remained in this post until 1957 when he was replaced by Philip Young.[20] He succeeded Llewellyn Thompson as the Ambassador to Austria from 1957 until his 1962 retirement when he was succeeded by James Williams Riddleberger.[21]

Later career

After his retirement from the Foreign Service, he was from 1963 to 1969 a member of the CIA's Board of National Estimates and as the American chairman of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense, between America and Canada, from 1963 to 1969.[1]

Personal life

In 1925, Matthews was married to Covington, Virginia born Elizabeth Rodgers "Frisk" Luke (1900–1955), daughter of Thomas Luke of Tarrytown, New York. Before his first wife's death from cancer in 1955, they were the parents of:[22]

  • H. Freeman Matthews Jr. (1927–2006), who was also a career diplomat.[23]
  • Thomas Luke Matthews (1933–1993), who married Emily Hill, daughter of Charles Beekman Hill Jr., in 1957.[24]

After the death of his first wife, in 1957 he remarried to Helen Lewis Skouland,[25] a former member of the United States Foreign Service who died aboard the MV Kungsholm in 1966.[26] He remarried for a third time to Elizabeth Bluntschli in 1967.[27]

Matthews died in Washington, D.C. on October 19, 1986.[28]

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  1. a b http://dla.library.upenn.edu/cocoon/dla/pacscl/ead.html?sort=date_added_sort%20asc&fq=date_facet%3A%221950-2000%22%20AND%20date_facet%3A%221800-1850%22&id=PACSCL_PRIN_MUDD_MC243USNjP&
  2. U.S. Government Printing Office, The Biographic Register, 1958, page 468
  3. Baltimore Sun, An Engagement Of Interest: Miss Elizabeth R. Luke Will Wed Mr. H. Freeman Matthews September 15 At Tarrytown, N.Y., August 30, 1925
  4. New York Times, American Envoy Flies to Take Bogota Post, January 23, 1930
  5. Bernard J. Reis, False Security: The Betrayal of the American Investor, 1937, page 106
  6. J.D. Phillips, New York Times, Cuban Terrorists Warn U.S. Envoy, May 29, 1934
  7. New York Times, Matthews Visits Madrid: U.S. Charge d'Affaires Praises Condition of Embassy, April 30, 1939
  8. https://books.google.com/books?id=5lIfAQAAMAAJ
  9. New York Times, Petain Entertains Matthews, November 12, 1941
  10. Chicago Tribune, U.S. Ambassador Confers With Petain, Darlan, July 20, 1941
  11. Shirer, William L. (1970). The Collapse of the Third Republic. Pan Books. p. 1002.
  12. Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Man to Become U.S. Counselor in Britain, December 6, 1941
  13. Christian Science Monitor, Matthews to Head European Division, July 14, 1943
  14. State, United States Dept of (1951). Biographic Register. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 1.
  15. Reynolds, David (2009). Summits: Six Meetings That Shaped the Twentieth Century. New York: Basic Books. p. 132. ISBN 0-7867-4458-8. OCLC 646810103.
  16. Christian Science Monitor, Envoy Nominee Backed, July 19, 1947
  17. New York Times, New Matthews Post Seen: Envoy to Sweden Expected to Get High Position in Washington, April 29, 1950
  18. https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1952-54v08/persons
  19. New York Times, Interim Secretary of State May Serve for Few Hours, January 17, 1953
  20. [H. F. Matthews, Of Baltimore, Made Ambassador To Holland https://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/baltsun/access/1686767302.html?FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:AI&type=historic&date=Oct+02%2C+1953&author=&pub=The+Sun+(1837-1985)&desc=H.+F.+Matthews%2C+Of+Baltimore%2C+Made+Ambassador+To+Holland&pqatl=google ]
  21. https://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FA0A13FF3558137A93C6A9178BD95F468685F9
  22. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1955/10/27/79395277.pdf
  23. https://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/26/us/26matthews.html?_r=0 |access-date=24 July 2019
  24. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1957/07/18/90825705.pdf
  25. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1957/04/26/84961923.pdf
  26. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1966/11/10/82948444.pdf
  27. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1986/10/21/h-f-matthews-career-envoy-dies-at-age-87/3c9c73d1-acaf-4a52-8279-99f228c4ea1a/
  28. https://www.nytimes.com/1986/10/21/obituaries/h-freeman-matthews-diplomat-since-1920-s.html
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