Breckinridge Long
Breckinridge Long was a diplomat and politician who served in the administrations of Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Early life and career

Born to Margaret Miller Breckinridge
-People:Breckinridge family political dynasty* Breckinridge family* Aida de Acosta Breckinridge, in 1903 flew Santos Dumont's dirigible airship* Clifton R. Breckinridge, congressman from Kentucky, Minister to Russia, son of John C...

 and William Strudwick Long in St. Louis
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

, Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

, Long was a member of the Breckinridge family
Breckinridge family
The Breckinridge family is a family of politicians and public figures from the United States. The family has included six members of the United States House of Representatives, two United States Senators, a cabinet member, two Ambassadors, a Vice President of United States and an unsuccessful...

. Long graduated from Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 in 1904 and studied at Washington University School of Law
Washington University School of Law
Washington University School of Law , is a private American law school located in St. Louis, Missouri. The law school is one of the seven graduate and undergraduate schools at Washington University in St. Louis....

 in 1905-1906, and received his M.A. from Princeton University in 1909. He was admitted to the bar
Admission to the bar in the United States
In the United States, admission to the bar is the granting of permission by a particular court system to a lawyer to practice law in that system. Each U.S. state and similar jurisdiction has its own court system and sets its own rules for bar admission , which can lead to different admission...

 in Missouri in 1906 and opened an office in St. Louis in 1907. He married Christine Alexander in 1912, and later had a daughter: Christine Blair. Long continued to practice law independently until 1917. During 1914–15 he was a member of the Missouri Code Commission on Revision of Judicial Procedure. Long then worked to establish the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 and supported Wilsonian Democracy. He was credited with drafting Woodrow Wilson's
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 "He kept us out of war" slogan, which helped secure Wilson's reelection as President in 1916.

He joined the State Department
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

 shortly after the election. In 1917, Long was appointed Third Assistant Secretary of State and remained at the post until he resigned in 1920 to pursue election to the U.S. Senate from Missouri. While in the Department of State, he held responsibility for overseeing Asian affairs. During this time he also directed attention to the improvement of U.S. foreign communications policy, and coordinated the first interdepartmental review of U.S. international communications.

In 1920 Long was the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat in Missouri held by Selden P. Spencer
Selden P. Spencer
Selden Palmer Spencer was a United States Senator from Missouri. Born in Erie, Pennsylvania, he attended the public schools there and graduated from Yale College in 1884 and from the law school of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1886. He was admitted to the bar, commencing...

, but was defeated, garnering 44.5% of the vote to Spencer's 53.7%. He would go on to lose a second bid for the Senate in 1922.

Career during the FDR administration and World War II

Long was a personal friend of future President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whom he had known as Assistant Secretary of the Navy
Assistant Secretary of the Navy
Assistant Secretary of the Navy is the title given to certain civilian senior officials in the United States Department of the Navy....

 during the Wilson Administration, and generously contributed to his 1932 Presidential campaign. Roosevelt rewarded him with the position of U.S. Ambassador to Italy, which he held from 1933 to 1936. During his ambassadorship, he was criticized for advising the president against imposing an embargo on oil shipments to Italy in retaliation for Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

. He was a member of a special mission to Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, and Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

 in 1938. Upon the outbreak of war in September 1939, he accepted appointment as a special assistant secretary of state in charge of problems arising from the war, a position he held until January 1940, when he was appointed assistant secretary of state. Through February 1941, he was responsible for overseeing twenty-three of the forty-two divisions in the department before a revision of the workload among the other assistant secretaries.

Long came to believe that he was under constant attack from what he termed radicals and the Jewish press for his stance on strict immigration controls mandated by the immigration laws that had held sway in the U.S. at the time. In an intra-department memo he circulated in June 1940 Long wrote: "We can delay and effectively stop for a temporary period of indefinite length the number of immigrants into the United States. We could do this by simply advising our consuls to put every obstacle in the way and to require additional evidence and to resort to various administrative devices which would postpone and postpone and postpone the granting of the visas." Ninety percent of the quota places available to immigrants from countries under German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 control were never filled.

In November 1943, when the House was considering two bills that would have established a separate government agency charged with assisting the rescue of Jewish refugees, Long gave secret testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee saying that the majority of 580,000 refugees admitted from Europe were Jewish, and that such legislation would be a rebuke of the State Department in wartime. Long noted in his diary that day that he'd erred by speaking without notes (the actual numbers were 568,000 visas authorized and only 545,000 issued), but historians have noted his testimony was misleading because he implied that all of those were Jews.

Long is largely remembered for his obstructionist role as the official responsible for granting refugee visas during World War II. He "obstructed rescue attempts, drastically restricted immigration, and falsified figures of refugees admitted. The exposure of his misdeeds led to his demotion, in 1944. He has become the major target of criticism of America's refugee and rescue policy." He justified this in his diary by referencing the contemporary strict laws in the United States imposing quotas on the number of immigrants from particular countries, and his great concern about the possibility that Germany and the Soviet Union would introduce spies or subversive agents into the United States amidst the large numbers of refugees.


Long resigned from the State Department in November 1944 and went into retirement. His special interests included the collection of antiques, paintings and American ship models. He maintained a stable of Thoroughbred
The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing. Although the word thoroughbred is sometimes used to refer to any breed of purebred horse, it technically refers only to the Thoroughbred breed...

 race horses
Horse racing
Horse racing is an equestrian sport that has a long history. Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in ancient Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC...

 and was a director of the Laurel Park Racecourse in Laurel, Maryland
Laurel, Maryland
Laurel is a city in northern Prince George's County, Anne Arundel County, and Howard County, Maryland, United States, located midway between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Incorporated in 1870, the city maintains a historic district including its Main Street...

, and he enjoyed fox hunting
Fox hunting
Fox hunting is an activity involving the tracking, chase, and sometimes killing of a fox, traditionally a red fox, by trained foxhounds or other scent hounds, and a group of followers led by a master of foxhounds, who follow the hounds on foot or on horseback.Fox hunting originated in its current...

, fishing, and sailing. He died in Laurel, Maryland in 1958.

His personal papers are available for research at the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

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