Jefferson Thomas Caffery (December 1, 1886 – April 13, 1974) was a distinguished American diplomat. He served as U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador (1926–1928), Colombia (1928–1933), Cuba (1934–1937), Brazil (1937–1944), France (1944–1949), and Egypt (1949–1955).
Caffery was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, to Charles Duval Caffery and Mary Catherine (née Parkerson) Caffery. He was privately educated in primary and secondary school. He was a member of the first graduating class of Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute, which later became the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He also graduated with a bachelor's degree from Tulane University in 1906. He was admitted to the Louisiana bar in 1909.
Caffery launched his career of international diplomacy in 1911 when he entered the Foreign Service as second secretary of the legation in Caracas in 1911 during the William Howard Taft administration.
He traveled to Iran (then named Persia) in 1916, to Paris after World War I with President Wilson’s peacemakers, then to Washington, D.C., to arrange details for visits by the King of Belgium and the Prince of Wales. In 1920, he was named second-in-command at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid. In 1933, Caffery briefly served as assistant secretary of state under Cordell Hull.
Service in Colombia
As the U.S. ambassador to Colombia, Jefferson was heavily involved in the Banana Massacre that occurred in 1928 in the small, coastal town of Ciénaga. Tired of terrible working conditions and very little wages (workers were paid in United Fruit Company store credit), banana farmers went on strike in protest. In order to protect the interests of the United Fruit Company, Caffery reported to U.S. Secretary of State Frank Billings Kellogg that leaders of the strike would be immediately arrested and sent to prison in nearby Cartagena. Martial law was declared soon after and an unknown number of workers and their families were shot by a firing squad in the town square.
Service in Cuba
In 1934, while ambassador to Cuba, four assailants attempted to assassinate Caffery in front of his home in Havana. The assailants waited outside of his residence for his daily departure to his yacht club. One assailant was killed by a bodyguard, the others escaped. Caffery was not hurt. The event was reported on the front page of the New Orleans Times Picayune, dated May 28, 1934.
Service in Egypt
After his appointment to Cairo in 1949, there was a coup d'etat headed by a junta of Egyptian army officers that led to the abdication of King Farouk on July 23, 1952. The junta was headed by Mohammed Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser, who demanded the departure of the British from the Suez Canal zone.
Caffery served as intermediary between the Egyptian and British Governments in the negotiations, and his "long experience in diplomacy, together with the respect in which he was held by the Egyptian Government, enabled him to arrange for the gradual departure of the British." In 1954, the British agreed to evacuate their military bases in the Canal Zone until the summer of 1956, but were given the right to return in case of an attack by an outside power against an Arab League member state or Turkey.
He retired with his wife in 1955 to reside in Rome, where he was the honorary private chamberlain to Popes Pius XII, Pope John XXIII, and Paul VI. He returned to Lafayette in 1973, shortly before Mrs. Caffery's death on July 13, 1973. Caffery himself died on April 14, 1974. The Cafferys are buried behind St. John’s Cathedral in Lafayette.
Honors and awards
He was awarded the Foreign Service Cup in 1971 by his fellow Foreign Service officers. He held several honorary degrees and decorations, including the Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, in 1954. He received the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour from the president of France in 1949 and the Order of the Cordon of the Republic from the president of Egypt in 1955.
A portion of Louisiana Highway 3073 in Lafayette is named the "Ambassador Caffery Parkway" in his memory. In 2000, Caffery was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.
- "Jefferson Caffery - People - Department History". history.state.gov. Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs United States Department of State. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
- Griffin, Harry Lewis (1959). The Attakapas Country: A History of Lafayette Parish, Louisiana. Pelican Publishing. pp. 203–205. ISBN 9781455600465. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
- "Jefferson Caffery Dean of Diplomatic Service, Dies". The New York Times. 14 April 1974. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
- Croft, Clare (2017). Queer Dance. Oxford University Press. p. 136. ISBN 9780199377343. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
- Koeppel, D. (n.d.). Banana : The fate of the fruit that changed the world. New York: Hudson Street Press.
- "Cuba's Trade with Us". The New York Times. 24 February 1935. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
- "Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Egyptian Government regarding the Suez Canal Base" (PDF). treaties.fco.gov.uk/. Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
- "RETIRING CAFFERY HONORED BY EGYPT; U.S. Envoy Wins Recognition for Major Role in Ending Cairo-London Disputes". The New York Times. January 10, 1955. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
- "JEFFERSON CAFFERY TO WED SATURDAY; United States Ambassador to Brazil to Marry Gertrude McCarthy of Chicago". The New York Times. 18 November 1937. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
- "CAFFERY WEDDING TODAY; Ambassador's Bride Will Be Miss Gertrude McCarthy of Chicago". The New York Times. 20 November 1937. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
- "CAFFERY, DIPLOMAT, MARRIED IN BRAZIL; Cardinal Leme de Silviera Officiates at Bridal of Miss McCarthy and Ambassador". The New York Times. 21 November 1937. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
- "Caffery Funeral Is Set for Today". The New York Times. 15 April 1974. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
- "Dijon Honors Caffery". The New York Times. 19 May 1947. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
- "Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame". cityofwinnfield.com. Archived from the original on July 3, 2009. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
- "Jefferson Caffery". A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography. 1. New Orleans, La.: Louisiana Historical Association. 1988. p. 141. ISBN 0-940984-37-7. OCLC 18400915.
- Dur, Philip F. (1974). "Jefferson Caffery of Louisiana: Highlights of His Career, Part I: 1911-1933". Louisiana History. Louisiana Historical Association. XV. ISSN 0024-6816. OCLC 1782994.
- Dur, Philip F. (1974). "Jefferson Caffery of Louisiana: Highlights of His Career, Part II: 1933-1944". Louisiana History. Louisiana Historical Association. XV. ISSN 0024-6816. OCLC 1782994.
- Corrigan, Robert Foster (November 1967). "An Appreciation of a Diplomat". Foreign Service Journal. Washington: American Foreign Service Association. ISSN 0146-3543.
- Jefferson Caffery Papers at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette
- Cemetery Memorial by La-Cemeteries
- Jefferson Caffery at Find a Grave
Montgomery Schuyler, Jr.
| U.S. Minister to El Salvador
20 July 1926–22 July 1928
Warren D. Robbins
Samuel H. Piles
| United States Minister to Colombia
28 November 1928–20 May 1933
| United States Ambassador to Cuba
J. Butler Wright
Hugh S. Gibson
| United States Ambassador to Brazil
17 August 1937–17 September 1944
Adolf A. Berle, Jr.
William D. Leahy (to 1942)
| United States Ambassador to France
David K. E. Bruce
| United States Ambassador to Egypt
Henry A. Byroade