Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (1902-1985) was a patrician, elitist, pragmatist, and moderate Republican politician whose career as congressman, senator, ambassador, and presidential adviser added prestige to his already famous family names.
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (he dropped the junior in 1956) was born July 5, 1902, in his parents' summer home beside the rocky shore at Nahant, Massachusetts. The circumstances of his birth could not have been more fitting for the scion of several of America's oldest and most prestigious families. Through his father, George, he inherited the legacy of George Cabot, who seized fame and fortune as a highly successful privateer during the American Revolution. His grandfather—and namesake— was none other than U.S. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge (Republican from Massachusetts), President Theodore Roosevelt's closest personal friend and political adviser. Through his mother, Mathilda Elizabeth Frelinghuysen Davis, he was related to even more congressmen, senators, and cabinet members. That Lodge perpetuated and enhanced this line-age of wealth and power was a matter of no small achievement, even granted the advantages bestowed on him by birth.
Lodge's father, a published poet, died when Lodge was seven years old. Although young Lodge graduated in the bottom half of his class at the Middlesex School, he excelled at Harvard, where he majored in Romance languages— French, German, and Latin. He joined the Republican and Conservative clubs and the Fox dining club, rowed crew, and graduated cum laude in three years.
After working several months as a reporter for the Boston Transcript, Lodge took a tour of Europe armed with letters of introduction from President Coolidge, Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, and others. He interviewed heads of state, such as Mussolini in Italy and Poincare in France. Upon his return he resumed his career in journalism with the Transcript and later with the New York Herald Tribune. As a reporter and heir of the Lodge political legacy he continued to meet the notable people of the day. In December 1928 Lodge and his wife, Emily E. Sears, began a trip around the world which, in terms of the people he met, was more like that of a head of state than that of a private citizen.
Choosing a Political Career
Back home Lodge gave more attention to politics. He did not share the prevailing Republican view that success in business was a prerequisite to govern, and he was critical of Hoover's handling of the Depression. He also pursued his career as a reserve officer in the U.S. Army, which he had begun in 1924. In 1932 he campaigned successfully for a seat in the Massachusetts general court and published The Cult of Weakness. This was a collection of essays in which he echoed the Social Darwinism of his grandfather by calling for "a return of government principles which will recognize the rights and welfare of the strong against the weak." He also advocated military preparedness, economic self-sufficiency, and government dominated by "a set of professional politicians of the highest quality, " rather than by the pressure of minority groups and special interests.
Despite his opposition to the prevailing New Deal philosophy, Lodge upset the popular Democratic governor James M. Curley for a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1936. He was re-elected by a landslide in 1942, but then he became preoccupied with World War II. In 1943 he toured both the European and Asian fronts, and in February 1944 he resigned his seat in the Senate to go on active duty with his reserve unit, the 1st Armored Cavalry. He served as an aide to Gen. Jacob L. Devers and was his interpreter when the German Army Group G surrendered in 1945.
Less than a year later Lodge won a special election and returned to the Senate. There he plunged into foreign affairs, serving on the Foreign Relations Committee and allying himself with the powerful Sen. Arthur Vandenberg (Republican, Michigan), who supported U.S. involvement in the United Nations, the Truman Doctrine, and the Marshall Plan. Lodge also tried to change his party's domestic policies. In a widely read Atlantic Monthly article of March 1950 entitled "Modernize the G. O. P." he rejected his earlier views by rebuking his cohorts for their image as a "rich man's club, " which was "a haven for reactionaries."
Mixed Success at Presidential Politics
The following year he put his new ideology into action by joining forces with Gov. Thomas E. Dewey and others to draft Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower as the Republican presidential nominee. The front-runner at the time was Sen. Robert A. Taft (Republican, Ohio), and although Lodge succeeded in nominating and electing the popular "Ike, " he alienated the "mossbacks, " as he called the conservative faction of his party. He spent so much of his time on Eisenhower's campaign at the expense of his own that he lost his Senate seat to John F. Kennedy. Consequently, Eisenhower first appointed Lodge head of his transition team and then as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, which made him a cabinet member.
Lodge's years at the United Nations were eventful, and he maintained a high profile as a major figure in such dramatic crises as the Suez Canal and Hungary in 1956. His high visibility was also a result of his bare-knuckle responses to Soviet attacks. When Nikita Khrushchev toured the United States in the autumn of 1959 Lodge acted as his escort. All this publicity made him a strong contender for the vice-presidential nomination the following year, and Richard Nixon did choose him over several others. Lodge proved a popular campaigner, by some accounts drawing larger crowds than Nixon.
After the Republican defeat by a narrow margin, Lodge joined TIME as a consultant. Several months later he was asked by Secretary of State Dean Rusk to head the Atlantic Institute, a non-profit organization to promote Euro-American cooperation. From this experience came Partnership for Progress: A Program for Transatlantic Action (1963). When Lodge presented a copy to John F. Kennedy shortly after its publication, the president asked him to serve as U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam. Lodge arrived in Saigon in August 1963 and quickly persuaded Kennedy that the U.S. commitment to the Diem regime should be curtailed or withdrawn. When Lyndon B. Johnson became president, he, too, relied heavily on Lodge's advice.
An effort was made to draft Lodge for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968. Despite winning the New Hampshire primary as a write-in candidate, decisively out-polling both Barry Goldwater and Nixon, Lodge did not resign his position, return to the United States, or actively campaign. Consequently, the boom for his candidacy collapsed, after which he did resign and return.
He did not actively campaign for the Goldwater ticket. Thus he did not alienate President Johnson, and six months later L.B.J. asked Lodge to return to his old post in Saigon. He endorsed Johnson's troop escalation and bombing of the North, but he did not believe in an exclusively military solution. "If you win the people over … the war is over."
Lodge hailed the election in September 1966—and the 80 percent turnout—as a significant indicator of American progress. He also promoted various collective efforts for a political solution in Vietnam. After the collapse of several international attempts to find a political solution in Vietnam, Lodge left Saigon in June 1967. After a year as ambassador-at-large he accepted an appointment as ambassador to West Germany. The next year President Nixon made him his personal representative, first to the Paris meetings on Vietnam and then to the Vatican, which he visited occasionally until 1977.
A Changed View of Republicanism
During these years he published two memoirs, The Storm Has Many Eyes (1973) and As It Was (1976). Both of these works reveal the changes that had occurred in his thinking since his first publication 40 years earlier. On the Republican Party he said, "In becoming a Republican, I thought I was joining something affirmative, evolutionary, and idealistic which demanded sacrifice and generosity— not a party which said no to all proposals for change." On U.S. foreign policy he advocated collective security—a noticeable move away from his earlier and inherited isolationism—but he still showed signs of his old elitism by calling for policy-making by knowledgeable insiders. As for the United Nations, he thought that the ten elected seats in the Security Council should be rotated among the larger states and that Japan should be a permanent member.
On the domestic front Lodge spoke fervently of the merits of drafting presidential candidates. This, he thought, would greatly increase the peoples' trust in government by reducing the influence which special interests had over the process. He also endorsed the idea of limiting senators to two terms (12 years total) and representatives to three terms of four years each (12 years total). Overall, he maintained his near obsession with the need for America to be and to stay strong, and he meant a good deal more than missiles and Marines. He meant, as he told the West Point graduating class of 1959, the strength which comes from living in terms of a code based on the spirit "which wants above all to get the job done; which does not ignore danger but refuses to take counsel of its fears (and) which is (not) interested in getting the credit for what has been achieved, or in getting the perquisites of rank." In short, a code based on "selflessness and striving." Hence, it is not surprising that Lodge kept physically fit all of his life and spent his final years occasionally lecturing at colleges near his seaside home in Beverly, Massachusetts, not far from where he was born.
Further Reading on Henry Cabot Lodge Jr
The bibliography on Lodge is extensive. In addition to his own works—Cult of Weakness (1932), The Storm Has Many Eyes (1973), and As It Was (1976)—which are the best source for his own thinking, the most extensive biography is William J. Miller, Henry Cabot Lodge (1967), but it excludes the last 15 years of his life. For a relatively full account of Lodge's U.N. years see Seymour M. Finger, Your Man at the U.N. (1980).