C. Douglas Dillon

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C. Douglas Dillon
File:C Douglas Dillon (cropped).jpg
Dillon in 1955
57th United States Secretary of the Treasury
In office
January 21, 1961 – April 1, 1965
President John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded by Robert B. Anderson
Succeeded by Henry H. Fowler
United States Under Secretary of State
In office
June 12, 1959 – January 4, 1961
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by Christian Herter
Succeeded by Chester Bowles
Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment
In office
July 1, 1958 – June 11, 1959
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by William L. Clayton
Succeeded by George Ball
United States Ambassador to France
In office
March 13, 1953 – January 28, 1957
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by James C. Dunn
Succeeded by Amory Houghton
Personal details
Born Clarence Douglass Dillon
(1909-08-21)August 21, 1909
Geneva, Switzerland
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Republican
  • Phyllis Chess Ellsworth (m. 1931; her death 1982)
  • Susan Sage
    (m. 1983)
Children 2, including Joan
Parents Clarence Dillon
Anne McEldin (née Douglass)
Education Groton School
Alma mater Harvard University (BA)
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Navy
Rank [[File:Invalid parameter|24px]] Lieutenant commander[1]
Battles/wars World War II

Clarence Douglas Dillon (born Clarence Douglass Dillon; 21 August 1909 – 10 January 2003) was an American diplomat and politician, who served as U.S. Ambassador to France (1953–1957) and as the 57th Secretary of the Treasury (1961–1965). He was also a member of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (ExComm) during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Early life

Dillon was born on August 21, 1909, in Geneva, Switzerland, the son of American parents, Anne McEldin (née Douglass) and financier Clarence Dillon. Although Dillon grew up as a patrician, his paternal grandfather, Samuel Lapowski, was a poor Jewish emigrant from Poland.[3] After leaving Poland, his grandfather settled in Texas after the American Civil War and married Dillon's Swedish-American grandmother. Dillon's father later changed his family name to Dillon, an Anglicization of "Dylion", his grandmother's maiden name.[3] Dillon's mother was descended from the Graham family, Lairds of Tamrawer Castle at Kilsyth, Stirling, Scotland.[citation needed]

Dillon began his education at Pine Lodge School in Lakehurst, New Jersey, which he attended at the same time as three of the Rockefeller brothers, Nelson, Laurance, and John. He continued at Groton School in Massachusetts, then at Harvard University, A.B. magna cum laude 1931 in American history and literature.[3][4] Dillon earned a varsity letter for football his senior year.[5]


In 1938, he became Vice-President and Director of Dillon, Read & Co., a firm that bore his father's name (Clarence Dillon). After his World War II service on Guam, on Saipan, and in the Philippines, he left the United States Navy as Lieutenant Commander decorated with the Legion of Merit and Air Medal. In 1946 he became chairman of Dillon, Read; by 1952 he had doubled the firm's investments.[2]

Political career

Dillon had been active in Republican politics since 1934. He worked for John Foster Dulles in Thomas E. Dewey's 1948 presidential campaign. In 1951 he organized the New Jersey effort to secure the 1952 Republican nomination for Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was also a major contributor to Eisenhower's general election campaign in 1952.[2]

President Eisenhower appointed him United States Ambassador to France in 1953. Following that appointment he became Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs in 1958 before becoming Under Secretary of State the following year.[6]

File:C. Douglas Dillon with Kennedy.jpg
Dillon and Kennedy in August 1961. Dillon had just returned from the conference in Uruguay in which the Alliance for Progress was formalized, and where Dillon did battle with Che Guevara.[7]

In 1961, John F. Kennedy, appointed Republican Dillon Treasury Secretary. Dillon remained Treasury Secretary under President Lyndon B. Johnson until 1965.

Dillon proposed the fifth round of tariff negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), conducted in Geneva 1960–1962; it came to be called the "Dillon Round" and led to substantial tariff reduction. Dillon was important in securing presidential power for reciprocal tariff reductions under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. He also played a role in crafting the Revenue Act of 1962, which established a 7 percent investment credit to spur industrial growth. He supervised revision of depreciation rules to benefit corporate investment.


A close friend of John D. Rockefeller III, he was chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation from 1972 to 1975. He also served alongside John Rockefeller on the 1973 Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs, and under Nelson Rockefeller in the Rockefeller Commission to investigate CIA activities. He had been president of Harvard Board of Overseers, chairman of the Brookings Institution, and vice chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations.[3]

Metropolitan Museum of Art

With his first wife, Dillon collected Impressionist art. He was a longtime trustee of the Metropolitan Museum, serving as its President (1970–1977) and then chairman.[3] He built up its Chinese galleries and served as a member of the Museum's Centennial committee.[8] He personally donated $20 million to the museum and led a fundraising campaign, which raised an additional $100 million.[9]

He received the Medal of Freedom in 1989 and was also a member of the Society of the Cincinnati[10] and the Society of Colonial Wars.[9]

Personal life

On March 10, 1931, Dillon married the former Phyllis Chess Ellsworth (1910–1982)[lower-alpha 1] in Boston, Massachusetts. Phyllis was the daughter of John Chess Ellsworth[11] and Alice Frances Chalifoux. The couple had two daughters:

In 1983, the widowed Dillon married the former Susan "Suzzie" Slater (1917-2019). She had first been married to Theodore "Ted" Sheldon Bassett (1911-1983) in 1939 (div.). In 1949 she married British entertainer Jack Buchanan (1891-1957). In 1961 she wed DeWitt Linn Sage (1905-1982), who again left her a widow.

Dillon died of natural causes on January 10, 2003, at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City at the age of 93.[9]


Through his daughter Joan's first marriage, he was a grandfather of Joan Dillon Moseley (b. 1954), and through her second marriage to Prince Charles of Luxembourg,[12] he was a grandfather to Princess Charlotte (b. 1967) and Prince Robert (b. 1968) followed. After Prince Charles' death in 1977, Joan married Philippe-François-Armand-Marie, 8th duc de Mouchy in 1978, without further issue.[13]

In fiction

In the Brendan DuBois novel Resurrection Day (1999), the Cuban Missile Crisis erupts into a full-scale nuclear war and Washington, D.C. is destroyed. President Kennedy is killed, as is Vice President Johnson, most of the Senate and Congress, and most members of the Kennedy administration. Dillon, the Secretary of the Treasury, is eventually found to have survived the war and becomes the 36th President of the United States.

See also


  1. Phyllis was born in South Bend, St. Joseph County, Indiana on August 3, 1910 and died in New York City, New York on June 20, 1982.
  1. "National Archives Catalog. Dillon, C. Douglas (Clarence Douglas), 1909-2003. Person Authority Record". National Archives. Retrieved May 1, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "C. Douglas Dillon, former Treasury secretary and Harvard overseer, dies at 93". Harvard Gazette. Harvard University news office. January 16, 2003. Retrieved 2009-03-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Eric Pace (January 12, 2003). "C. Douglas Dillon Dies at 93; Was in Kennedy Cabinet". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Dillon, C(larence) Douglas. Priscilla Roberts.The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives. Arnold Markoe, Karen Markoe, and Kenneth T. Jackson (editors). Vol. 7: 2003–2005. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2007. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale, 2009. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC Via Fairfax County Public Library. Accessed 2009-03-27. Document Number: K2875000085
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-10-23. Retrieved 2017-01-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "C. Douglas Dillon". John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Rabe, Stephen G. (1999). The Most Dangerous Area in the World: John F. Kennedy Confronts Communist Revolution in Latin America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina press. pp. 30–32. ISBN 080784764X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Finding aid for the George Trescher records related to The Metropolitan Museum of Art Centennial, 1949, 1960-1971 (bulk 1967-1970) Archived 2019-04-12 at the Wayback Machine. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Jackson, Harold (24 January 2003). "Douglas Dillon | The Republican behind JFK's economic boom". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 March 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Society of the Cincinnati (1998). Roster of the Society of the Cincinnati. Washington, DC: Society of the Cincinnati. p. 87.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Timothy Edward Howard, History of St Joseph County, Indiana, vol II (1907), pp. 886–887
  12. "Mrs. Joan Dillon Betrothed to Prince; She Will Be Wed in Spring to Charles of Luxembourg". The New York Times. 11 February 1967. Retrieved 22 July 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Fürstliche Häuser XVIII. "Luxemburg". C.A. Starke Verlag, 2007, pp. 83–84, 449–450. (German). ISBN 978-3-7980-0841-0.

Further reading

External links

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
James Clement Dunn
U.S. Ambassador to France
March 13, 1953 – January 28, 1957
Succeeded by
Amory Houghton
Government offices
Preceded by
William L. Clayton
Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs
July 1, 1958 – June 11, 1959
Succeeded by
George Wildman Ball
Preceded by
Christian Herter
Under Secretary of State
June 12, 1959 – January 4, 1961
Succeeded by
Chester Bowles
Preceded by
Robert B. Anderson
U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
Served under: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson

January 21, 1961 – April 1, 1965
Succeeded by
Henry H. Fowler
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Arthur Amory Houghton Jr.
President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Succeeded by
William B. Macomber, Jr.
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Eugene R. Black Sr.
Chairman of the Brookings Institute
1968 — 1975
Succeeded by
Robert Roosa
Preceded by
John D. Rockefeller III
Chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation
1971 — 1975
Succeeded by
Cyrus Vance