Lewis Einstein

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Lewis Einstein in 1912.

Lewis David Einstein (March 15, 1877 in New York City - December 4, 1967 in Paris, France) was an American diplomat and historian.


The son of wool magnate David L. Einstein, Lewis Einstein had two sisters: Amy, who married Joel Elias Spingarn, and Florence, who married Sir Charles Waldstein. He graduated from Columbia University in 1898, and earned a master's degree in 1899.[1]

Einstein's diplomatic career began in 1903, when he was appointed as Third Secretary of Legation at Constantinople.[2] The next year, he married Helen Ralli, a noted English beauty a number of years older than he, whose sister was married to the younger son of Francis Stonor, 4th Baron Camoys.[1] This marriage led to friction between Einstein and his father, who worried that Ralli would damage the younger Einstein's career; Ralli was twice a divorcee, and divorced women could not be received in some European courts.[1]

Einstein advanced from Second Secretary to First Secretary and then Charge d'Affairs during the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, remaining in Constantinople despite the hostilities.[3] He served as United States Ambassador to Costa Rica for one month in 1911, before his wife's ill health in the country's high altitude forced him to leave the post.[4] He returned to Constantinople in 1915 and wrote his diaries which would be later published under the name Inside Constantinople: A Diplomatist's Diary During the Dardanelles. In 1921, Warren Harding made him United States Ambassador to Czechoslovakia,[5] a position he held until 1930. He was also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Lewis Einstein was disinherited by his father after marrying Ralli, except for a sum of $125,000 .[3] After Einstein's death, newspapers reported that a $1,250,000 share of the elder Einstein's estate, valued in total at approximately $4,000,000,[6] had been set aside for Lewis Einstein in the event that he divorced his wife, and that it passed to his sister Lady Waldstein after he declined to do so.[1] This report was denied by Lady Waldstein, who indicated that the father's only wish regarding Lewis Einstein was to see that he was "taken care of", a means she accomplished by granting him an annual allowance of $20,000.[6] Earlier, Lewis had received nothing from the estate of his mother Caroline Einstein, who instead divided her property among Einstein's sisters and various friends among European nobility.[7]


Einstein wrote the following books:

  • Inside Constantinople : A Diplomatist's Diary during the Dardanelles Expedition, April–September, 1915 (1918)
  • Roosevelt : His Mind in Action (1930)
  • Divided Loyalties : Americans in England during the War of Independence (1933)
  • A Diplomat Looks Back (1968)

Einstein also engaged in a longtime correspondence with Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and in 1964 their collected letters were published in the volume The Holmes-Einstein Letters : Correspondence of Mr. Justice Holmes and Lewis Einstein 1903-1935, edited by James Bishop Peabody.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Lady Waldstein Claims $1,250,000; Names Herself Heir to Fund Trustees Say Was for Her Brother if He Left Wife", The New York Times, December 2, 1913, page 1.
  2. ^ "Diplomatic Appointments - Lewis Einstein of This City Gets a Secretaryship in the Embassy at Paris", The New York Times, May 20, 1903, page 3.
  3. ^ a b "Einstein Demands", Time magazine, August 20, 1928.
  4. ^ Marconi Transatlantic Wireless Telegraph, "Lewis Einstein in London", The New York Times, February 11, 1912, page C5.
  5. ^ "Eight Ministers Named By Harding", The New York Times, October 5, 1921, page 14.
  6. ^ a b "Lady Waldstein Denies Agreement", The New York Times, December 3, 1913, page 13.
  7. ^ "Nothing to Lewis Einstein" (scroll down), The New York Times, November 11, 1910, page 6.

Further reading[edit]

  • Liebmann, George W. Diplomacy between the Wars: Five Diplomats and the Shaping of the Modern World (London I. B. Tauris, 2008), covers Einstein