Warren Austin

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The Honorable
Warren Austin
Austin Warren Robinson.jpg
United States Senator
from Vermont
In office
April 1, 1931 – August 2, 1946
Preceded by Frank C. Partridge
Succeeded by Ralph E. Flanders
2nd United States Ambassador to the United Nations
In office
January, 1947 – January, 1953
President Harry S. Truman
Preceded by Herschel Johnson (Acting)
Succeeded by Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
Personal details
Born Warren Robinson Austin
November 12, 1877
Franklin County, Vermont
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Burlington, Vermont
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Mildred Marie Lucas (1874-1973) (married 1901)[1]
Alma mater University of Vermont
Religion Congregationalist[2]

Warren Robinson Austin (November 12, 1877 –- December 25, 1962) was an American politician and statesman who served as United States Senator from Vermont and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Early life

Warren Austin was born in Highgate Center on November 12, 1877.[3] He attended local schools and Bakersfield's Brigham Academy, and also studied in Quebec in order to obtain fluency in French.[4] He graduated from the University of Vermont in 1899.[5] He then studied law with his father, attained admission to the bar, and in 1902 entered practice in partnership with his father.[6][7]

Early career

A Republican, he held local offices in St. Albans, including Grand Juror and Chairman of the Republican committee. (In Vermont, Grand Jurors used to serve as city and town prosecutors. After revisions of the court system, it is now a vestige or legacy office.) In 1904 he was elected State's Attorney of Franklin County, a position he held for two years.[8][9]

Austin was chairman of the Vermont Republican State Convention in 1908, and Mayor of St. Albans in 1909.[10]

He served as a Commissioner for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1907 to 1915.[11] In 1912 he served on the Assay Commission for the United States Mint, which reviewed Mint operations by examining and testing coins for weight and fineness.[12]

In 1914 he was appointed a trustee of the University of Vermont in 1914, a position he retained until 1941.[13]

From 1916 to 1917 he practiced before the United States Court for China as the representative of the American International Corporation and the Siems-Carey Railway & Canal Company.[14][15]

In 1917 Austin moved to Burlington, where he continued to practice law.[16]

From 1925 to 1937 Austin served as a special counsel for Vermont during the process of setting the official boundary between Vermont and New Hampshire, working with John G. Sargent.[17]

In the early 1930s Austin employed Harold J. Arthur as a stenographer. Arthur studied law with Austin, attained admission to the bar, and later served as Governor of Vermont.[18]

United States Senator

He was elected to the Senate on March 31, 1931, defeating appointed Senator Frank C. Partridge in the special election to complete the term of the deceased Frank L. Greene.[19] Austin took his seat the next day, and won re-election in 1934 and 1940.[20]

In the Senate, Austin opposed the New Deal, but championed internationalist causes, standing with President Franklin D. Roosevelt on issues such as Lend-Lease.[21] He became Assistant Minority Leader (Minority Whip) in 1939, served until 1942, and acted as Minority Leader during incumbent Charles L. McNary's run for Vice President in 1940.[22] In 1943 he became a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.[23]

Austin resigned his Senate seat on August 2, 1946 in order to accept appointment as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. In November he was succeeded by Ralph E. Flanders.[24][25]

United Nations Ambassador

In June, 1946 President Harry S. Truman nominated Austin to be Ambassador to the United Nations. Because the provision in the United States Constitution prohibiting members of Congress from accepting an office created during their terms applied, he could not assume the post until January, 1947. As a result, Truman appointed Austin Special Representative to the President and advisor to U.N. Ambassador Herschel Johnson.[26][27]

When he did take office in January, 1947 Austin was the first official U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. -- Edward Stettinius, Jr. and Johnson had been representatives to the United Nations Conference on International Organization, the body which established the full United Nations.[28]

He was a key figure at the start of the Cold War. During his term the U.N. was involved in the creation of Israel. The U.N. was also involved when India and Pakistan fought the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 and were partitioned. In 1948, there was a Communist coup in Czechoslovakia, the Soviets blockaded Berlin and precipitated the Berlin Airlift, and Congress passed the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe. In 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created, and Mao Tse-tung established the People's Republic of China. In 1950, China occupied Tibet and North Korea invaded South Korea. The U.N. debated, considered responses and took action on all of these issues, and Austin became known internationally for his advocacy of Western Bloc positions.[29]

Austin's term at the U.N. is also remembered for a supposed quote which is likely not completely accurate. In discussing the conflict between the Muslim Palestinian people and the Jewish people of Israel at Israel's founding, Austin supposedly said "I hope Arabs and Jews will settle their differences in a truly Christian spirit."[30] According to his deputy, the language of this supposed quote was inexact when reported by the media, and Austin was attempting to communicate that as a Christian, he would not show partiality to either Muslims or Jews in the dispute over the creation of Israel.[31]

He retired after being succeeded by Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. in January 1953, at the start of the Eisenhower Administration.[32]


He was a member of the American Bar Association,[33] Vermont Bar Association,[34] American Judicature Society, Loyal Legion,[35] Sons of the American Revolution,[36] Society of the Cincinnati (honorary),[37] Freemasons,[38] Shriners,[39] Elks,[40] Owls,[41] Odd Fellows,[42] Rotary Club,[43] and the Kappa Sigma fraternity.[44]

Death and burial

An amateur orchardist, Austin tended to his trees and pursued other hobbies while living in retirement in Burlington.[45] In October, 1956 he suffered a stroke that caused him to curtail many of his activities.[46] Austin died in Burlington on December 25, 1962. He is buried at Lakeview Cemetery in Burlington.[47]


Austin received honorary degrees from Columbia University, Norwich University, Bates College, Princeton University, Lafayette College, the University of Vermont, Dartmouth College, Boston University, American University, University of the State of New York, and the University of Santo Domingo.[48][49]

He is memorialized in the Vermont State House Hall of Inscriptions.[50]


In 1901 Austin married Mildred M. Lucas (1874-1973).[51] Their children included Warren R. Austin, Jr. (1902-1979),[52][53] and attorney and Edward Lucas Austin (1910-1980), a career United States Army officer.[54][55]

Warren Austin's brother Roswell M. Austin served as Speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives from 1925 to 1927.[56][57]


  1. A. N. Marquis, Who's Who in New England, 1909, page 50
  2. Prentiss Cutler Dodge, Encyclopedia of Vermont Biography, 1912, page 104
  3. James G. Ryan, Leonard Schlup, Historical Dictionary of the 1940s, 2006, page 34
  4. The Rotarian, Austin: That Man from Vermont, September 1950, page 11
  5. George Derby, James Terry White, The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Volume 60, 1981, page 319
  6. William Hartley Jeffrey, Successful Vermonters: A Modern Gazetteer of Lamoille, Franklin and Grand Isle Counties, Vermont, 1907, page 325
  7. The Rotarian magazine, Austin: That Man from Vermont, September 1950, page 11
  8. William Richard Cutter, New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial, Volume 2, 1914, page 913
  9. Vermont Secretary of State, Who’s Who in Local Government, October, 2008
  10. The Republican, Warren Austin, Volumes 9-13, 1944, page 4
  11. United States Department of Justice, Register of the Department of Justice and the Courts of the United States, 1918, page 191
  12. Director, United States Mint, Annual report, 1913, page 59
  13. Vermont Secretary of State, Legislative Directory, 1943, page 585
  14. University of Vermont, Warren R. Austin Collection: China period; description, retrieved February 18, 2014
  15. H. W. Wilson Co., Current Biography Yearbook, Volume 5, 1945, page 18
  16. James G. Ryan, Leonard Schlup, Historical Dictionary of the 1940s, 2006, page 34
  17. Cornell University Law School, State of Vermont v. State of New Hampshire, 1933, retrieved February 18, 2014
  18. James Terry White, The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Volume 57, 1977, page 135
  19. Associated Press, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Austin Picked for Vermont's Senator, March 4, 1931
  20. Vermont State Archives, United States Senators, Terms of Service, 2013, pages 3, 5
  21. Lysohir, John W., "Warren R. Austin and the Republican Embrace of Internationalism, senior thesis, Middlebury College, April, 2008.
  22. Richard E. Darilek, A Loyal Opposition in Time of War: The Republican Party and the Politics of Foreign Policy from Pearl Harbor to Yalta, 1976, pages 19, 61
  23. U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Millennium Edition, 1816–2000, 2000, page 81
  24. United Press, Altoona Mirror, Primaries Held in Four States, August 14, 1946
  25. Associated Press, Suggest Novel Way to Avert Strikes: Invite Union Plan; Four GOP Senators Urge New' Methods to Halt Crippling Strikes, December 11, 1946
  26. Associated Press, Atchison Daily Globe, Names Vermont Senator to United Nations Post], June 5, 1947
  27. Associated Press, Troy Record, Senator Austin Named to Succeed Slettinius, June 6, 1946
  28. Paul M. Edwards, Korean War Almanac, 2006, page 456
  29. Peter Gilbert, Vermont Public Radio, Warren Austin, September 7, 2005
  30. Robert Beisner, Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War, 2009
  31. A. F. K. Organski, The $36 Billion Bargain: Strategy and Politics in U.S. Assistance to Israel, 1991, page 263
  32. Harper & Row, Celebrity Register: An Irreverent Compendium of American Quotable Notables, 1960, page 447
  33. American Bar Association (President 1923), Annual Report, 1918, page 202
  34. Vermont Bar Association, Annual report, 1963, page 23
  35. Vermont Secretary of State, Legislative Directory, 1943, page 585
  36. Sons of the American Revolution, The Sons of the American Revolution Magazine, Volumes 57-59, 1962, page 34
  37. University of Vermont, Warren R. Austin Collection: Chronological Biography, retrieved February 18, 2014
  38. Grand Lodge of Vermont, Free and Accepted Masons, Well-Known Vermont Masons: James H. Douglas, Inaugurated Governor State of Vermont January 9, 2003, retrieved February 18, 2014
  39. The New Age Magazine, Warren R. Austin Is 33rd Degree Mason, Volume 54, 1946, page 504
  40. George T. Mazuzan, Warren R. Austin at the U. N., 1946-1953, 1977, page 9
  41. A. N. Marquis, Who's Who in New England, Volume 1, 1909, page 50
  42. H. W. Wilson Co., Current Biography Yearbook, Volume 5, 1945, page 21
  43. The Rotarian magazine, Rotary Club Activities, April 1923, page 226
  44. Kappa Sigma Fraternity, Caduceus of Kappa Sigma, Volume 11, 1896, page 549
  45. Vermont Historical Society, News and Notes, Volumes 11-15, 1959, page 42
  46. Associated Press, Plattsburgh Press-Republican, Austin Suffers Stroke; Condition Listed as 'Serious', October 13, 1956
  47. United Press International, Pittsburgh Press, Warren Austin Dies, December 26, 1962
  48. Christian E. Burckel, Who's Who in the United Nations, Volume 1, 1951, page 26
  49. University of Vermont, Warren R. Austin Collection: Timeline, retrieved February 18, 2014
  50. George T. Mazuzan, Warren R. Austin at the U. N., 1946-1953, 1977, page ii
  51. Vermont Vital Records, 1720-1908, marriage record for Warren Robinson Austin and Mildred May Lucas, retrieved February 14, 2014
  52. Vermont Vital Records, 1720-1908, birth entry for Warren Robinson Austin, retrieved February 18, 2014
  53. Florida Death Index, 1877-1998, entry for Warren Robinson Austin, retrieved February 18, 2014
  54. Vermont Birth Records, 1909-2008, entry for Edward Lucas Austin, retrieved February 18, 2014
  55. U.S. Social Security Death Index, entry for Edward Lucas Austin, retrieved February 18, 2014
  56. James Roger Sharp, Nancy Weatherly Sharp, American Legislative Leaders in the Northeast, 1911-1994, 2000, page 50
  57. Vermont Secretary of State, Legislative Directory, 1981, page 140

External links

United States Senate
Preceded by
Frank C. Partridge
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Vermont
1931 – 1946
Served alongside: Porter H. Dale, Ernest W. Gibson, Sr.,
Ernest W. Gibson, Jr., George Aiken
Succeeded by
Ralph E. Flanders
Political offices
Preceded by
Charles L. McNary
Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate

Succeeded by
Charles L. McNary
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Herschel Johnson
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
1947 – 1953
Succeeded by
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.