John Franklin Carter

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John Franklin Carter
Born(1897-04-27)April 27, 1897
DiedNovember 28, 1967(1967-11-28) (aged 70)
Washington, D.C.
United States
Other namesJay Franklin
Unofficial Observer
EducationYale University
  • Journalist
  • columnist
  • novelist
  • biographer
  • speech writer
Employer(s)London Daily Chronicle
New York Times
Vanity Fair
Harry S. Truman
Known forWe The People (1936–1948)
ParentRev. John Franklin Carter

John Franklin Carter a.k.a. Jay Franklin a.k.a. Diplomat a.k.a. Unofficial Observer (1897–1967) was an American journalist, columnist, biographer and novelist. He notably wrote the syndicated column, "We the People", under his pen name Jay Franklin. He wrote over 30 books on a variety of subjects, including his detective novels about the character Dennis Tyler. In his column, he was one of the few who predicted Truman's victory in the 1948 presidential election.


Carter was born in Fall River, Massachusetts on April 27, 1897, as one of seven children of The Rev. John Franklin Carter. He attended Yale University, where he served as chairman of campus humor magazine The Yale Record[1]

He left Yale early to serve as a representative of the Williamstown Institute of Politics in Italy. Afterwards, he became the Rome correspondent for the London Daily Chronicle and the New York Times.

In 1928, Carter began working for the State Department as an economic specialist.

In 1935, he was hired by Rexford Tugwell as information chief for the newly created Resettlement Administration.[2] The documentary filmmaker Pare Lorentz worked under his supervision.[3]

Carter then became a correspondent for the magazines Liberty and Vanity Fair.

In 1941, Carter was appointed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to conduct investigation into the loyalty of Japanese American communities on the West Coast of the United States. Carter hired Curtis B. Munson to compile the Report on Japanese on the West Coast of the United States.[4]

He wrote the syndicated column, "We, The People" from 1936 to 1948 under his pen name "Jay Franklin". It chronicled the Franklin D. Roosevelt and Truman Administrations.

In 1948, Carter worked as a speech writer for Harry S. Truman.

Carter died in Washington, D.C., on November 28, 1967, at the age of 70. His books The New Dealers (1934) and American Messiahs (1935) remain valuable sources for historians of the New Deal era.


Detective novels written as "Diplomat"

  • Murder in the Embassy (1930)
  • Murder in the State Department (1930)
  • Scandal in the Chancery (1931)
  • The Corpse on the White House Lawn (1932)
  • Death in the Senate (1933)
  • Slow Death at Geneva (1934)
  • The Brain Trust Murder (1935)

Partial list of other novels

Political Narrative written as "Unofficial Observer"

  • The New Dealers (1934)
  • American Messiahs (1935)



  1. ^ Wilder, Thornton N., Stephen Vincent Benet, John Franklin Carter, Jr. et al., ed. (April, 1918) "Memorabilia Yalensia". The Yale Literary Magazine. New Haven: Yale Lit. p. 355.
  2. ^ Dyer MacCann, Richard (1973). The People's Films: A Political History of U.S. Government Motion Pictures. New York: Hastings House. p. 67. ISBN 0-8038-5795-0.
  3. ^ Dyer MacCann, Richard (1973). The People's Films: A Political History of U.S. Government Motion Pictures. New York: Hastings House. p. 61. ISBN 0-8038-5795-0.
  4. ^ Niiya, Brian (15 June 2014). ""Munson Report."". Densho Encyclopedia. Densho Encyclopedia. Retrieved 24 March 2018.

For more on Carter's role in war-time intelligence, see

  • Mauch, Christof (2005). The Shadow War Against Hitler: The Covert Operations of America's Wartime Secret Intelligence Service. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 48–51.

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