Clarence Streit

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Clarence Streit
Born Clarence Kirshman Streit[1]
(1896-01-21)January 21, 1896
California, Missouri, U.S.A.
Died July 6, 1986(1986-07-06) (aged 90)
Washington, D.C.
Occupation war correspondent
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Montana
The Sorbonne
Oxford University
Notable works Union Now
Spouse Jeanne Defrance


Clarence Kirschmann Streit (German pronunciation: [ʃtʀaɪ̯t]; January 21, 1896 – July 6, 1986) was an American journalist who played a prominent role in the Atlanticist and world federalist movements.

Life and career[edit]

Streit was born in California, Missouri, the son of Emma (Kirschman) and Louis Leland Streit. Of Palatine German origin, he moved with his family to Missoula, Montana, in 1911. In Missoula, he founded the Konah, a high school paper that is now one of the oldest in the United States in continuous publication.[2] While a student at Montana State University (now the University of Montana), he volunteered for military service during World War I, serving in an Intelligence unit in France and assisting the American delegation at the Conference of Versailles. He was a Rhodes scholar at University of Oxford in 1920. He married Jeanne Defrance in Paris in 1921, after which he became a foreign correspondent for The New York Times.

In 1929, he was assigned to cover the League of Nations in Switzerland, where he witnessed the League's slow disintegration and collapse. That experience, coupled with the rise of totalitarian regimes in Europe, convinced him that mankind's best hope was a federal union of democracies, modeled on American federalism. This led him to write Union Now, a book advocating the political integration of the democracies of Western Europe (including their colonies) and the other English-speaking countries at that time (the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa). The book was published in 1939, on the eve of World War II.[3] It had sold over 300,000 copies by 1972.[4]

In the aftermath of the book's publication, Streit founded Federal Union, Inc. (later renamed the Association to Unite the Democracies) to promote his vision. Seeking what he described as "a man of national stature" to lend credence to his efforts, he was able to secure the support of Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts, who would be a friend and collaborator in subsequent years.[5] In 1949, Streit joined the board of the Roberts-chaired Atlantic Union Committee, which sought to pressure Congress to pursue a federation of democratic states.[6]

The Streit Council, a successor organization to the Association to Unite the Democracies, was named after him.

Personal life[edit]

He was married to Jeanne Defrance of Lille, France, niece of French jurist Fernand Payen, known for defending Marechal Petain in his trial for treason. They met at a bus stop at the Place de l'Opéra in 1920.[7] His daughter, Jeanette Streit (1924-2012), married Felix Rohatyn in 1956; they divorced in 1979.[7]


  1. ^ Who Was Who, Vol. IX, pp. 345-346.
  2. ^ Guide to the Clarence Streit Papers at the University of Montana
  3. ^ 'Elijah *from Missoula', Time, Mar. 27, 1950.
  4. ^ Kuehl, Warren F., and Dunn, Lynne K. (1997). Keeping the Covenant: American Internationalists and the League of Nations, 1920-1939, pp. 102-03. Kent State University Press. ISBN 0-87338-566-7.
  5. ^ Streit, Clarence K. (December 1955). "Owen J. Roberts and Atlantic Union". University of Pennsylvania Law Review. 104 (3): 354–367. Retrieved June 5, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Atlantic Union Committee Formed!" (PDF). Freedom & Union. Federal Union, Inc. April 1949. Retrieved June 5, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b New York Times obituary on "JEANNETTE S. ROHATYN Obituary" April 29, 2012


  • Who Was Who, Volume IX, 1985-1989. Marquis Who's Who, Inc. 1989. ISBN 0-8379-0217-7. 

External links[edit]