Chester Bowles

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Chester Bowles
File:Chester Bowles (Connecticut Governor and Congressman).jpg
78th Governor of Connecticut
In office
January 5, 1949 – January 3, 1951
Lieutenant William T. Carroll
Preceded by James C. Shannon
Succeeded by John Davis Lodge
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Connecticut's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1959 – January 3, 1961
Preceded by Horace Seely-Brown
Succeeded by Horace Seely-Brown
22nd Under Secretary of State
In office
January 25, 1961 – December 3, 1961
President John F. Kennedy
Preceded by C. Douglas Dillon
Succeeded by George W. Ball
3rd United States Ambassador to India
In office
October 10, 1951 – March 21, 1953
President Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by Loy W. Henderson
Succeeded by George V. Allen
8th United States Ambassador to India
In office
July 19, 1963 – April 21, 1969
President John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon
Preceded by John Kenneth Galbraith
Succeeded by Kenneth B. Keating
Personal details
Born Chester Bliss Bowles
(1901-04-05)April 5, 1901
Springfield, Massachusetts
Died May 25, 1986(1986-05-25) (aged 85)
Essex, Connecticut
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) (1) Julia Fisk
(2) Dorothy Stebbins
Children Chester, Barbara, Cynthia, Sally, Sam
Religion Congregationalist

Chester Bliss Bowles (April 5, 1901 – May 25, 1986) was a liberal Democratic American diplomat and politician from Connecticut.

Education and early career

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, Chester Bowles attended The Choate School (now Choate Rosemary Hall) in Wallingford, Connecticut, graduating in 1919. He matriculated at the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 1924.

After working for a year as a reporter, Bowles became an advertising copywriter and in 1929 established the Benton & Bowles advertising agency with William Benton. Despite the Great Depression, by the mid-1930s Benton & Bowles was a multimillion-dollar company. Bowles was appointed chairman of the board in 1936, and by 1941 it was making $250,000 per year. Bowles sold his shares in the company in December 1941 for a substantial profit and attempted to join the Navy but was rejected because of an ear problem.

Political career

He then took a job with the state of Connecticut in the wartime rationing administration, later becoming state director of price administration. He was appointed by President Roosevelt in 1943 as administrator of the Office of Price Administration, and also served on the federal boards for War Production and Petroleum.

In 1946 he was appointed director of the Office of Economic Stabilization, and also ran an unsuccessful race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Connecticut. That year Bowles also was one of the American delegates to the first UNESCO conference in Paris. He served as special assistant to UN Secretary General Trygve Lie in 1947–48, and was International Chairman of the United Nations Children's Appeal from 1948 to 1951.

Bowles was elected to the governorship of Connecticut in 1948, defeating James C. Shannon, and served one term, during which time he signed into law an end to segregation in the state national guard. During his term, Bowles was also active in improving education, mental health, housing and workmen's compensation. His liberal views and policies while governor are attributed by most as the main reason he lost his re-election bid in 1950.

He was appointed as U.S. Ambassador to India and Nepal by President Truman, serving from 1951 to 1953. He then won a seat in the House of Representatives for Connecticut's second district and served one term, from 1959 to 1960. On more than one occasion he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Bowles at his 1961 swearing in as President Kennedy's Special Representative.

Selected in 1960 as a foreign policy adviser to Senator John F. Kennedy, Bowles served as chairman of the platform committee for the Democratic National Convention that year in Los Angeles, California. President Kennedy appointed Bowles to the post of Under Secretary of State in 1961. In early December 1961 he was replaced by George Ball as Undersecretary, a consequence of his perceived failure to adequately fulfill his duties as an administrator in the Department of State, and his earlier leaking of his opposition to the Bay of Pigs Invasion. His removal was made part of a broader bureaucratic reshuffle, which became known as the "Thanksgiving Day Massacre". In December 1961 he was named the President's Special Representative and Adviser on African, Asian, and Latin American Affairs, and Ambassador at Large. Ostensibly the new position was a promotion, but as was recognised by all involved at the time, this improvised posting was intended to ease Bowles's removal from the Undersecretary's office. In July 1963 Bowles was again made Ambassador to India, a position he would hold through the remainder of the Kennedy administration, and for the duration of Lyndon B. Johnson's presidency.

Bowles was a passionate advocate for stronger relations between the United States and India. He enjoyed good relations with India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and he believed that the United States and India shared fundamental democratic values.

In March 1967, Bowles was formally petitioned for political asylum by Svetlana Alliluyeva, a writer and the only daughter of Joseph Stalin, which was then provided and arranged for her to leave India immediately for Switzerland, via Rome.

Personal life

Bowles had two children (Chester and Barbara) by his first wife and three (Cynthia, Sally, and Sam) by his second wife.[1] Daughter Sally Bowles continued her father's tradition of public service,[2]Chester Jr. is an architect, and Samuel Bowles is a well-known economist.

Bowles died at the age of 85 after suffering a stroke in Essex, Connecticut, and is buried there in River View Cemetery.[3]


  • Tomorrow Without Fear (1946)
  • Ambassador's Report (1954)
  • The New Dimensions of Peace (1955)
  • Africa's Challenge to America (1956)
  • What Negroes Can Learn From Gandhi (1958)
  • Ideas, People, and Peace (1958)
  • The Coming Political Breakthrough (1959)
  • The Conscience of a Liberal (1962)
  • The Makings of a Just Society (1963)
  • Promises to Keep: My Years in Public Life (1971)


  • Howard B. Schaffer, Chester Bowles: New Dealer in the Cold War, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993

External links


  1. Schaffer, Howard B., Chester Bowles: New Dealer in the Cold War, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993, p. 13.
  3. Chester Bowles at Find a Grave
Political offices
Preceded by
James C. Shannon
Governor of Connecticut
Succeeded by
John Davis Lodge
Preceded by
C. Douglas Dillon
Under Secretary of State
Succeeded by
George Ball
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Horace Seely-Brown
United States Representative for the 2nd Congressional District of Connecticut
Succeeded by
Horace Seely-Brown
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Loy W. Henderson
United States Ambassador to India
Succeeded by
George V. Allen
Preceded by
John Kenneth Galbraith
United States Ambassador to India
Succeeded by
Kenneth Keating