Sheldon Whitehouse (diplomat)

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Sheldon Whitehouse
U.S. Minister to Colombia
In office
December 6, 1933 – December 8, 1934
PresidentFranklin Roosevelt
Preceded byJefferson Caffery
Succeeded byWilliam Dawson
U.S. Minister to Guatemala
In office
March 21, 1930 – July 23, 1933
PresidentHerbert Hoover
Preceded byArthur H. Geissler
Succeeded byMatthew E. Hanna
Personal details
Edwin Sheldon Whitehouse

(1883-02-05)February 5, 1883
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedAugust 5, 1965(1965-08-05) (aged 82)
Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.
Mary Crocker Alexander
(m. 1920)
Children3, including Charles
EducationEton College
Alma materYale University

Edwin Sheldon Whitehouse (February 5, 1883 – August 5, 1965) was an American diplomat who served as the U.S. Minister to Guatemala and U.S. Minister to Colombia.[1]

Early life[edit]

Whitehouse was born on February 5, 1883 in New York City. He was one of five children born to William Fitzhugh Whitehouse (1842–1909), a New York lawyer, and Frances Sheldon (1852–1944), the niece of William B. Ogden, the first Mayor of Chicago.[2] His brothers included Norman Ogden Whitehouse,[3] Henry John Whitehouse (1874–1965) and William Fitzhugh Whitehouse Jr. (1877–1955).[2] His sister, Lily Whitehouse, was married to the Hon. Charles Coventry, a British Army officer who was the second son of George Coventry, 9th Earl of Coventry.[4] Their son, and Whitehouse's nephew, was Francis Henry Coventry, 12th Earl of Coventry (1912–2004).[5] Another sister was Frances Whitehouse (d. 1936),[6] who married Baron Constantine Ramsay of Russia, a gentleman-in-waiting to the Czar Nicholas II of Russia, in 1903.[7]

His paternal grandparents were Henry John Whitehouse (1803–1874), the 2nd Episcopal Bishop of Illinois, and Evelina Harriet Bruen (1806-1864).[8]

Whitehouse was educated at Eton College, an English boarding school for boys in Eton, near Windsor.[2] He graduated from Yale University in 1905.[2]


In 1908, Whitehouse entered the diplomatic service as a secretary to Whitelaw Reid, then the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom.[9] From 1909 until 1911, he served as secretary to the American legation in Caracas, Venezuela.[2]

In 1911, he was appointed second secretary in Paris, France,[10] followed by service in Madrid, Athens, Stockholm and Saint Petersburg, Russia. In fact, Whitehouse acquired the touring car in which Alexander Kerensky fled St. Petersburg in after he was overthrown as the head of the Russian Provisional Government in 1917 during the October Revolution.[2]

In 1919, Whitehouse was a part of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace at Paris.[11] From 1920 to 1921, he was chief of the Near Eastern division of the U.S. State Department.[2] In the late 1920s, he was chargé d'affaires at the American embassy in Paris.[12] While in this role, in 1927, he officially presented James J. Walker, then Mayor of New York City, who later accused Whitehouse of hiring spies to "get something" on the mayor.[13] This was disproved when the Paris police stated that they assigned two plainclothes policemen to protect the mayor as he was a distinguished visitor.[2][14]

Minister to Guatemala and Colombia[edit]

On December 16, 1929, he was appointed by Herbert Hoover as the U.S. Minister to Guatemala.[15] He presented his credentials on March 21, 1930 and succeeding Arthur H. Geissler. He served in this role until July 23, 1933 when he was succeeded by Matthew E. Hanna.[1]

On July 15, 1933, he was appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt to replace Jefferson Caffery as the U.S. Minister to Colombia.[16] He presented his credentials on December 6, 1933 and served until he left his post on December 8, 1934 when he was succeeded by William Dawson.[1][17]

Later life[edit]

In 1940 during World War II, Whitehouse flew to Europe to bring home his mother, who was then 88 years old, and who had been living in Paris at 48 Avenue Henri-Martin,[4] for 20 years. She managed to travel through wartime Europe to Lisbon, Portugal and flew home as what was said to be the oldest woman ever to make the trip by air.[18]

Whitehouse was a member of the Knickerbocker Club, the Brook Club, the Huguenot Society, and the Sons of the Revolution.[2]

In 1952, his wife Mary, along with Helen Rogers Reid (the wife of Ogden Mills Reid) and Mary Cushing Astor (the wife of Vincent Astor), became the first women elected trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[19]

Personal life[edit]

In October 1920,[3] Whitehouse was married to Mary Crocker Alexander (1895–1986),[19] the daughter of Charles Beatty Alexander and Harriet (née Crocker) Alexander.[4] Mary was the granddaughter of railroad executive Charles Crocker.[20] Mary's sister, Harriet Alexander, was married to Winthrop W. Aldrich, who was the CEO of Chase Bank and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom.[21]

The Whitehouses' had a home in Newport, Rhode Island built by his father and known as "Eastbourne Lodge", an apartment at 1040 Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side of New York City, and a large estate outside Tallahassee, Florida.[2][22] Together, they were the parents of:

Whitehouse died at the Newport Hospital in Newport, Rhode Island on August 5, 1965.[2] He was buried at St. Mary's Church in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.


Through his son Charles, he was the grandfather of Sheldon Whitehouse (b. 1955), the U.S. Senator from Rhode Island, Charles Whitehouse, and Sarah Whitehouse Atkins.[23]

Through his daughter Sylvia, he was the grandfather of George Blake, Lucy Blake,[25] and Robert O. Blake, Jr. (b. 1957), a career diplomat and the former U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia. He formerly served as the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs from 2009 to 2013 and U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives from 2006 to 2009.[28]


  1. ^ a b c "Sheldon Whitehouse - People - Department History". Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs United States Department of State. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Sheldon Whitehouse Dies at 82; Career Diplomat for 26 Years". The New York Times. 7 August 1965. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  3. ^ a b "MARY C. ALEXANDER WEDS S. WHITEHOUSE; Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C.B. Alexander Married in Fifth Av. Presbyterian Church. THRONG AT THE CEREMONY". The New York Times. 15 October 1920. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "MISS ALEXANDER TO WED S. WHITEHOUSE; Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles B. Alexander Engaged to Diplomatist. FIANCEE NOW IN EUROPE Mr. Whitehouse Is Chief of the New Eastern Division, Department of State". The New York Times. 30 July 1920. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  5. ^ Preece, Stephen. "The Croome Collection | The History of the Coventry Family". Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  6. ^ "BARONESS DE RAMSAY DIES IN CANNES AT 62; Former Frances Whitehouse of Boston Was Wife of Czar's Master of Ceremonies". The New York Times. January 28, 1936. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  7. ^ "MISS WHITEHOUSE TO MARRY.; Eldest Daughter of W. FitzHugh White- House to Wed a Russian Nobleman". The New York Times. 23 April 1903. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Henry John Whitehouse". Project Canterbury. Retrieved 20 September 2017.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "REID LEAVES LONDON.; Ambassador to Spend Several Weeks at Cannes with His Daughter". The New York Times. 22 March 1908. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  10. ^ "EMBASSY APPOINTMENTS.; Sheldon Whitehouse Among the New Second Secretaries". The New York Times. 1 March 1911. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  11. ^ United States National Archives (2006). "Records of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace". Archived from the original on 13 December 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  12. ^ "OUR EMBASSY IS READY TO TALK PEACE IN PARIS; It Notifies French That Exchange of Views Over Briand Plan Can Be Held There". The New York Times. 22 June 1927. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  13. ^ "DENIES SHADOWING WALKER.; Whitehouse Says Paris Embassy Had No Funds for Such Work". The New York Times. 9 December 1927. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  14. ^ "SAYS PARIS EMBASSY SHADOWED WALKER; Gallivan Charges in Debate That Whitehouse Put Detectives on Mayor's Trail. HE SAYS HOUGHTON "FLED" And Only Diplomat Who Didn't Ignore Walker Was Sterling, Minister at Dublin. SAYS PARIS EMBASSY SHADOWED WALKER". The New York Times. 8 December 1927. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  15. ^ "WHITEHOUSE IS NAMED ENVOY TO GUATEMALA; New York Career Diplomat, Now Counselor at Madrid, Gets Ministerial Post". The New York Times. 7 November 1929. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  16. ^ "GETS COLOMBIAN POST.; Sheldon Whitehouse Transferred as Minister From Guatemala". The New York Times. 20 July 1933. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  17. ^ "WHITEHOUSE IS HONORED.; New Minister to Colombia Is Guest of Pan-American Society". The New York Times. 10 November 1933. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  18. ^ "Daladier Ex-Aide Arrives on Clipper; Among Yesterday's Dixie Clipper Arrivals". The New York Times. 28 July 1940. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  19. ^ a b "Mary Whitehouse, 90, Leader of Civic Groups". The New York Times. January 24, 1986. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  20. ^ Lawrence Kestenbaum. "Index to Politicians: Whitehouse". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
  21. ^ Lissner, Will (26 February 1974). "Winthrop Aldrich Dead; Banker and Diplomat, 88". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  22. ^ "MANY ARE GUESTS AT DINNER PARTIES; Mrs. Sheldon Whitehouse Is Hostess Before Benefit Theatre Performance IRVING CHASES ENTERTAIN Mr. and Mrs. William Ewing Honor Group--Luncheon Given by Lady Duveen W. H. Beerses Are Guests Mrs. John N. Willys Hostess". The New York Times. 11 November 1938. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  23. ^ a b Lewis, Paul (1 July 2001). "Charles S. Whitehouse, 79, Diplomat and C.I.A. Official". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  24. ^ "G. B. WHITEHOUSE KILLED; Member of Navy Fighter-Pilot Squadron Dies in Pacific". The New York Times. 30 December 1944. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  25. ^ a b Langer, Emily (31 December 2015). "Robert O. Blake, career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to Mali, dies at 94". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  26. ^ "MISS WHITEHOUSE BECOMES ENGAGED; Barnard Alumna Will Be Wed to Robert O. Blake, Who Is State Department Aide". The New York Times. 12 June 1956. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  27. ^ "Miss Sylvia Whitehouse Is Wed To Robert O. Blake in Newport; Couple Attended by Eight at Nuptials in Trinity--Bride Wears Parisian Gown". The New York Times. 29 July 1956. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  28. ^ "Robert O. Blake, Jr". U.S. Department of State. U.S. State Department. Archived from the original on 10 June 2009. Retrieved 18 November 2013.

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Arthur H. Geissler
U.S. Minister to Guatemala
Succeeded by
Matthew E. Hanna
Preceded by
Jefferson Caffery
U.S. Minister to Colombia
Succeeded by
William Dawson