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Chester Bliss Bowles

In office
January 5, 1949 – January 3, 1951
Lieutenant William T. Carroll
Preceded by James C. Shannon
Succeeded by John Davis Lodge

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Connecticut's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1959 – January 3, 1961
Preceded by Horace Seely-Brown
Succeeded by Horace Seely-Brown

In office
January 25 – December 3, 1961
President John F. Kennedy
Preceded by C. Douglas Dillon
Succeeded by George W. Ball

In office
October 10, 1951 – March 21, 1953
President Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by Loy W. Henderson
Succeeded by George V. Allen

In office
July 19, 1962 – April 21, 1969
President John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon
Preceded by John Kenneth Galbraith
Succeeded by Kenneth B. Keating

Born April 5, 1901(1901-04-05)
Springfield, Massachusetts
Died May 25, 1986 (aged 85)
Essex, Connecticut
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) (1) Julia Fisk
(2) Dorothy Stebbins
Religion Congregationalist

Chester Bliss Bowles (April 5, 1901 – May 25, 1986) was a liberal Democratic American diplomat and politician from Connecticut.



Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, Bowles attended The Choate School (now Choate Rosemary Hall) in Wallingford, Connecticut, graduating in 1919, and the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 1924. After working for a year as a reporter, Bowles became an advertising copywriter and later established the Benton & Bowles advertising agency with William Benton in 1929. Despite the Great Depression, by the mid-1930s Benton and Bowles was a multi-million dollar company. Bowles served as chairman of the board for the company from 1936, and by 1941 was making $250,000 per year.

Bowles sold his shares in the company in December 1941 for a substantial profit and attempted to join the Navy, but was rejected because of an ear problem. He then took a job with the state of Connecticut in the wartime rationing administration, later becoming state director of price administration. He was appointed by President Roosevelt in 1943 as administrator of the Office of Price Administration, and also served on the federal boards for War Production and Petroleum.

In 1946 he was appointed director of the Office of Economic Stabilization, and also ran an unsuccessful race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Connecticut. That year Bowles also was one of the American delegates to the first UNESCO conference in Paris. He served as special assistant to UN Secretary General Trygve Lie in 1947-8, and was International Chairman of the United Nations Children's Appeal from 1948-51.

Bowles was elected to the governorship of Connecticut in 1948, defeating James C. Shannon, and served one term, during which time he signed into law an end to segregation in the state national guard. During his term, Bowles was also active in improving education, mental health, housing and workmen's compensation. His liberal views and policies while governor are attributed by most as the main reason he lost his re-election bid in 1950.

He was appointed as United States Ambassador to India and Nepal by President Truman, serving from 1951-53. He then won a seat in the House of Representatives for Connecticut's second district, serving one term (1959-60). On more than one occasion he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Selected as a foreign policy adviser in 1960 to Senator John F. Kennedy, Bowles went on to act as chairman of the platform committee for the Democratic National Convention that year. President Kennedy appointed Bowles to the post of Under Secretary of State in 1961. In early December 1961 he was replaced by George Ball as Undersecretary, a consequence of his perceived failure to adequately fulfill his duties as an administrator in the Department of State, and his earlier leaking of his opposition to the Bay of Pigs Invasion. His removal was made part of a broader bureaucratic reshuffle, which became known as the 'Thanksgiving Day Massacre.' In December 1961 he was named the President's Special Representative and Adviser on African, Asian, and Latin American Affairs, and Ambassador at Large. Ostensibly the new position was a promotion, but as was recognised by all involved at the time, this improvised posting was intended to ease Bowles's removal from the Undersecretary's office. In July 1963 Bowles was again made Ambassador to India, a position he would hold through the remainder of the Kennedy administration, and for the duration of Lyndon B. Johnson's presidency.

Bowles was an exceptionally passionate advocate for stronger relations between the United States and India. He enjoyed good relations with India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and he believed that the United States and India shared fundamental democratic values.

In March 1967, Bowles was formally petitioned for political asylum by Svetlana Alliluyeva, a writer and the only daughter of Joseph Stalin, which was then provided and arranged for her to leave India immediately for Switzerland, via Rome.

Bowles died at the age of 85 after suffering a stroke in Essex, Connecticut and is buried there in River View Cemetery.

Books and essays by Chester Bowles

  • Tomorrow Without Fear (1946)
  • Ambassador's Report (1954)
  • The New Dimensions of Peace (1955)
  • Africa's Challenge to America (1956)
  • What Negroes Can Learn From Gandhi (1958)
  • Ideas, People, and Peace (1958)
  • The Coming Political Breakthrough (1959)
  • The Conscience of a Liberal (1962)
  • The Makings of a Just Society (1963)
  • Promises to Keep: My Years in Public Life (1971)


  • Howard B. Schaffer, Chester Bowles: New Dealer in the Cold War, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
James C. Shannon
Governor of Connecticut
Succeeded by
John Davis Lodge
Preceded by
C. Douglas Dillon
Under Secretary of State
Succeeded by
George Ball
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Horace Seely-Brown
United States Representative for the 2nd Congressional District of Connecticut
Succeeded by
Horace Seely-Brown
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Loy W. Henderson
United States Ambassador to India
1953– 1954
Succeeded by
George V. Allen
Preceded by
John Kenneth Galbraith
United States Ambassador to India
1963– 1969
Succeeded by
Kenneth Keating


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Chester Bliss Bowles (1901–1986) was an American politician and diplomat.


The Conscience of a Liberal

  • And why should we, of all people, expect the proud new developing nations to see the world precisely as we see it? Was any new nation ever more outspoken, independent and unaligned than the young America of Jefferson, Jackson, and Lincoln?
    • Page 256
  • To some extent we are all the prisoners of stereotypes; we see each other in terms of distorted and oversimplified images. Better communication in the realm of ideas, of the arts, and of science can help refashion these false images. And by seeing more clearly we may act more wisely.
    • Page 255


  • Government is too big and too important to be left to the politicians.


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