Appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Christian Herter was born in Paris in 1895 to American parents. Both his father and mother were artists—Albert Herter being a noted painter of murals and Adele McGinnis Herter a specialist in portraiture and still life—and during his school and undergraduate years their son cultivated similar tastes. He graduated from Harvard in 1915 with a degree in art and enrolled at New York's School of Fine and Applied Arts shortly afterward. There he embarked on a course of study in architecture and interior design. Yet, Herter discovered that he had little heart for the artist's life, and when a chance meeting with a classmate-turned-diplomat resulted in an invitation to join the Foreign Service he leaped at the opportunity. Within the week he dropped out of school and had shipped off for Berlin.
Herter's tour as diplomatic attaché in the kaiser's capital included the events attending the Great War then convulsing Europe. A transfer to Brussels at the end of 1916 coincided with the onset of the protracted illness of U.S. Minister Brand Whitlock, with the result that Herter, at the age of 22, served for six weeks as acting chief of mission.
When the United States entered World War I in the spring of 1917, Herter returned to the United States to enlist in the army, only to fail the physical exam. Secretary of State Robert Lansing invited him to join the State Department, and in the autumn of 1917 he set to work on problems of prisoner exchange and repatriation of interned aliens.
At war's end Herter sailed with the U.S. delegation for Paris and the peace conference, where he assisted in drafting the charter of the League of Nations. Herter was hardly less enthusiastic about the League than was its chief sponsor, Woodrow Wilson, and when the Senate rejected the Versailles treaty, he was equally dismayed. Herter resigned from the State Department in spring of 1920.
A 1917 marriage to an oil heiress had made Herter financially independent, enabling him to indulge his belief that men of means could best fulfill their social duties in the public sector. Herter joined Herbert Hoover's relief mission to