Jay Pierrepont Moffat

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Jay Pierrepont Moffat
Jay Pierrepont Moffat.jpg
7th United States Ambassador to Canada
In office
June 13, 1940 – January 25, 1943
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Preceded by James H. R. Cromwell
Succeeded by Ray Atherton
Personal details
Born January 7, 1896
Rye, New York
Died January 25, 1943
Ottawa, Canada
Spouse(s) Lilla Cabot Grew
Profession Diplomat

Jay Pierrepont Moffat (January 7, 1896 – January 25, 1943) was an American diplomat, historian and statesman who, between 1917 and 1943, served the State Department in a variety of posts, including that of Ambassador to Canada during the first year of U.S. participation in World War II.


A native of Rye, New York, Moffat was a professional diplomat who had previously served as the private secretary to the American Ambassador to the Netherlands (1917–19), followed by service as secretary of the American legation in Warsaw (1919–21) and in Tokyo (1921–23). Between 1925 and 1927 he served President Calvin Coolidge as Ceremony Officer at the White House and in 1927, at the end of his assignment, he was married in Hancock, New Hampshire to Lilla Cabot Grew, the daughter of fellow diplomat Joseph C. Grew who, while Moffat was serving in his final post as ambassador to Canada, was the U. S. Ambassador to Japan at the time of the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

Moffat continued his diplomatic career in the post of secretary to the American legation in Switzerland (1927–31) and as the U.S. consul general to Australia (1935–37). From 1937 to 1940 he again served in Washington, this time in the significant post of the Chief of the State Department's Western European Division. Finally, in June 1940, after Ambassador to Canada James H. R. Cromwell resigned after 142 days to run for the U.S. Senate, President Franklin Roosevelt nominated Moffat to his first and, as it turned out, final post as U.S. ambassador. He was immediately confirmed and served until his death, two years and seven months later, in the midst of World War II.

Jay Pierrepont Moffat died in Ottawa two and-a-half weeks after his 47th birthday with complications from surgery for phlebitis and was succeeded as ambassador by Ray Atherton. In his obituary, The New York Times remarked that "even in war, when death is knocking at such a multitude of doors, the loss of a trusted public man in the flower of his age and his powers is lamentable". In addition to his work as a diplomat, he wrote a work on Turkish history and, in 1956, his papers were donated to the Harvard University Library by his father-in-law Ambassador Joseph Grew.

Moffat's son, Jay Pierrepont Moffat, Jr., was the United States Ambassador to Chad from 1983 to 1985.