|United States Ambassador to Canada|
|Preceded by||Jay Pierrepont Moffat|
|Succeeded by||Laurence Steinhardt|
Ray Atherton was born in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1883. He was educated at Harvard College, graduating with a B.A. in 1905. He then moved to Paris to study architecture, becoming known as the "beau of the Beaux-Arts". Returning to Boston, Atherton spent time working as a banker and as an architect. 
In 1917, Atherton joined the U.S. diplomatic service as a secretary of legation in Peking. He was married for a time to Constance Crowninshield Coolidge, a Boston Brahmin, an American expatriate and French countess. Constance didn't care what others thought about her. She loved anything risky and was addicted to gambling.:214 Atherton also served on the Philippine Commission and at the United States Department of State in Washington, D.C. He was then posted to Athens and in 1923-24, served as ad interim United States Ambassador to Greece.
Atherton then moved to London and worked at the U.S. Embassy in London for twelve years, first as secretary, and then, from 1930 to 1937 as counselor. When Cordell Hull became United States Secretary of State in 1933, he was impressed by Atherton and came to rely on his judgment on European and Middle Eastern affairs. Atherton also was an adviser at the London Naval Conference of 1930 and 1935.
In 1937, President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Atherton Minister Plenipotentiary to Bulgaria. Atherton presented his credentials on October 21, 1937, and served there until July 5, 1939. He then became Minister Plenipotentiary to Denmark, serving there from September 8, 1939 until June 5, 1940. As such, he was present in Denmark at the time of the German invasion of Denmark.
In June 1943, the United States and Canada agreed to upgrade the state of their mutual diplomatic missions from legation to embassy. Atherton thus became the first United States Ambassador to Canada, presenting his credentials to Alexander Cambridge, 1st Earl of Athlone, the Governor General of Canada, on August 3, 1943 and serving until August 30, 1948. He was also accredited as minister to the government in exile of Denmark, which was established in Canada during the German occupation of Denmark. Atherton was also named U.S. minister to the government in exile of Luxembourg, which was also under German occupation.
Atherton was married to the former Maude Hunnewell. Together they had a son, John, and a daughter, Maud Isabel Atherton Wood.
- "Ray Atherton, 76, Diplomat, is Dead", New York Times, March 17, 1960
- "Ray Atherton (1883-1960)". U.S. Department Of State. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
- Geoffrey Wolff (2003). Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby. New York Review of Books. ISBN 1-59017-066-0.
- Atherton Address to the Empire Club of Canada Looking Forward to the Postwar World (February 1, 1945)
Frederick A. Sterling
|United States Ambassador to Bulgaria
October 21, 1937 – July 5, 1939
George Howard Earle III
Alvin M. Owsley
|United States Ambassador to Denmark
September 8, 1939 – June 5, 1940
Monnett Bain Davis
Jay Pierrepont Moffat
|United States Ambassador to Canada
August 3, 1943 – August 30, 1948