May 16, 1881|
St. Louis, Missouri,
September 26, 1958|
|Occupation||Lawyer, statesman, racehorse owner|
|Board member of||Laurel Park Racecourse|
|Parents||William Strudwick Long & Margaret Miller|
Breckinridge Long (May 16, 1881 – September 26, 1958) was appointed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as United States ambassador to Italy and as Assistant Secretary of State with jurisdiction over immigration and refugee issues during World War II, until his demotion for withholding thousands of visas intended for Jewish refugees.
Early life and career
Born to Margaret Miller Breckinridge Long and William Strudwick in St. Louis, Missouri, Long graduated from Princeton University in 1904 and studied at Washington University Law School in 1906, and received his M.A. in 1909. He was admitted to the bar in Missouri and opened an office in St. Louis in 1907. He married Christine Alexander in 1912, and later had a daughter: Christine Blair. Long continued to practice law independently until 1917. During 1914–15 he was a member of the Missouri Code Commission on Revision of Judicial Procedure. Long then worked to establish the League of Nations and supported Wilsonian Democracy. He was credited with drafting Woodrow Wilson's "He kept us out of war" slogan, which helped secure Wilson's reelection as President in 1916.
He joined the State Department shortly after the election. In 1917, Long was appointed Third Assistant Secretary of State and remained at the post until he resigned in 1920. While in the Department of State, he held responsibility for overseeing Asian affairs. During this time he also directed attention to the improvement of U.S. foreign communications policy, and coordinated the first interdepartmental review of U.S. international communications.
In 1920 Long was the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat in Missouri held by Selden P. Spencer, but was defeated, garnering 44.5% of the vote to Spencer's 53.7%. He would go on to lose a second bid for the Senate in 1922.
Career during the FDR administration and World War II
He was a personal friend of future President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whom he had known as Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the Wilson Administration, and generously contributed to his 1932 Presidential campaign. Roosevelt rewarded him with the position of U.S. Ambassador to Italy. During his ambassadorship he was criticized for advising the president against imposing an embargo on oil shipments to Italy in retaliation for Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia. He was a member of a special mission to Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay in 1938 and adviser to the U.S. Department of State in 1939. He was assigned to handling war emergency matters and assistant secretary in charge of the Visa division.
Long came to believe that he was under constant attack from "the communists, extreme radicals, Jewish professional agitators* (read: *those concerned individuals that Hitler and his like were systematic in their effort to murder every Jew that they could find), [and] refugee enthusiasts". Many of his views were shared by his subordinates.
In an intra-department memo he circulated in June 1940 Long wrote: "We can delay and effectively stop for a temporary period of indefinite length the number of immigrants into the United States. We could do this by simply advising our consuls to put every obstacle in the way and to require additional evidence and to resort to various administrative devices which would postpone and postpone and postpone the granting of the visas." Ninety percent of the quota places available to immigrants from countries under German and Italian control were never filled.
In November 1943, when the House was considering a resolution that would establish a separate government agency charged with rescuing refugees, Long gave testimony saying that everything was being done to save Jewish refugees, which caused a loss of support for the measure. However, his testimony was false and misleading: Long exaggerated the number of refugees and included non-Jewish refugees in his count of 580,000.
Long is largely remembered for his obstructionist role as the official responsible for granting refugee visas during WWII. He "obstructed rescue attempts, drastically restricted immigration, and falsified figures of refugees admitted. The exposure of his misdeeds led to his demotion, in 1944. He has become the major target of criticism of America's refugee and rescue policy." Wiesenthal Center
Long left the State Department in 1944 and went into retirement. His special interests included the collection of antiques, paintings and American ship models. He maintained a stable of Thoroughbred race horses and was a director of the Laurel Park Racecourse in Laurel, Maryland, and he enjoyed fox hunting, fishing, and sailing. He died in Laurel, Maryland in 1958.
His personal papers are available for research at the Library of Congress.
- ↑ "The American Experience: America and the Holocaust". PBS. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/holocaust/index.html. Retrieved 2009-07-15.