David Gray (ambassador)

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David Gray
United States Envoy to Ireland
In office
April 15, 1940 – June 28, 1947
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Preceded by John Cudahy
Succeeded by George A. Garrett
Personal details
Born (1870-08-08)August 8, 1870
Buffalo, New York
Died April 11, 1968(1968-04-11) (aged 97)
Sarasota, Florida
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Maude Livingston Hall
Alma mater Harvard University
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch American Expeditionary Forces
Battles/wars World War I

David Gray (August 8, 1870 – April 11, 1968)[1] was an American playwright and novelist, who served as the United States minister to Ireland from 1940 to 1947.[2]

Early years[edit]

Gray was born in Buffalo, New York, and graduated from Harvard University in 1892.[3] He was a member of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I; serving in France, he received the Croix de guerre and the Legion of Honour.[1] In 1925, he received a Doctor of Letters from Bowdoin College.[3]

Minister to Ireland[edit]

Gray was appointed minister to Ireland in February 1940, and presented his credentials in April 1940.[4] His official title was Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary.[5]

In Gray's own words, his appointment was nepotic, as he was First Lady's Eleanor Roosevelt's uncle through marriage.[6] Gray was in his post through most of World War II and the start of the Cold War. He led American efforts to convince Ireland to enter the war on the side of the Allies. His performance was such that Ireland's Taoiseach (prime minister) Éamon de Valera sought repeatedly to have Gray replaced, especially after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt.[6]:543 Gray believed Ireland was only staying neutral because de Valera actually believed the Nazis would eventually defeat the Allies. He also believed that top Irish officials were in fact colluding with Nazi Germany secretly.[7]

Views on Ireland[edit]

As a Roosevelt family member, Gray wrote privately to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt with a number of dry verses and remarks, sometimes humorous and sometimes scathing, on his opinions of de Valera and Irish policy towards the War.

Senior lecturer in U.S. Foreign Policy, Timothy J. Lynch, has observed that "his animus towards his host nation made Gray atypical of American ambassadors in Dublin."[8]

Gray, among other things, relied for guidance on seances conducted at the embassy residence, according to T. Ryle Dwyer, author of a number of publications on Irish neutrality.[9] During World War II, Gray was completely at odds with the OSS in Ireland. Gray believed the Irish government was secretly pro-Nazi. Gray consistently tried to get Ireland to join the war against the Nazis, though Ireland refused to ever do so. De Valera went so far as to ask the United States government and Franklin Roosevelt to remove Gray from his post because of opposition to Irish neutrality, though the U.S. government never did so.[9]:58

In popular culture[edit]

The character of David Gray was played in the 1983 RTÉ television series Caught in a Free State by the actor O. Z. Whitehead.

Later years[edit]

Gray donated many of his personal papers to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library before his death, including an extensive correspondence. Gray died in Florida in 1968, aged 97.



  1. ^ a b "Playwright-Novelist Dies"Free access subject to limited trial, subscription normally required. Fort Lauderdale News. Fort Lauderdale, Florida. AP. April 12, 1968. Retrieved April 15, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Chiefs of Mission for Ireland". history.state.gov. Retrieved April 14, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "Papers of DAVID GRAY" (PDF). fdrlibrary.org. Retrieved April 16, 2017. 
  4. ^ "Former U.S. Ambassadors to Ireland". ie.usembassy.gov. Retrieved April 16, 2017. 
  5. ^ "David Gray Jr. (1870–1968)". history.state.gov. Retrieved April 16, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c Coogan, Tim Pat (1999) [1995]. Eamon De Valera: The Man Who Was Ireland. Barnes & Noble. p. 542. ISBN 0-7607-1251-4. 
  7. ^ http://www.ibtimes.com/irish-nationalist-nazi-when-eamon-de-valera-paid-his-respects-adolf-hitler-1403768
  8. ^ Lynch, Timothy J. (2004). Turf war: the Clinton administration and Northern Ireland. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-7546-4294-7. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  9. ^ a b Dwyer, T. Ryle (September 3, 2010). Behind the Green Curtain: Ireland's Phoney Neutrality During World War II. Gill & MacMillan. pp. 176–179. ISBN 978-0717146505. Retrieved 2015-04-07. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John Cudahy
United States Envoy to Ireland
Succeeded by
George A. Garrett