Jesse Isidor Straus: Ambassador to France
The New York Times reported on February 26th that Jesse Isidor Straus (1872-1936) would be a popular choice if appointed Ambassador to France. On March 9th 1933 Jesse was formally nominated. The French Foreign Office approved his selection citing his frequent visits to France and his ability to speak the language. A March 15th article in the Christian Science Monitor reported, “In the naming of Mr. Jesse Isidor Straus as Ambassador to France, another glamorous chapter is added to the legend of America’s merchant princes. Of the second American generation of his house, Mr. Straus is following the tradition of the public and arty distinction attained by his father, Isidor, and his uncles, Nathan and Oscar.”
Jesse’s appointment was confirmed in the Senate without debate on March 19th and his swearing in ceremony at the State Department was held ten days later. He expected to remain in Washington for about a week where he would become acquainted with his new duties and then return to New York to wrap up his responsibilities at home. On April 6th he resigned as president and member of the board of directors of R. H. Macy & Co., Inc. Jesse and Irma sailed for Europe on the US liner “Manhattan” on May 24th, landing at Le Havre, the same port from which his grandfather Lazarus left Europe 85 years earlier. A welcoming delegation from the government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the municipality of Le Havre boarded the ship to greet them when they arrived.
Jesse entertained the diplomatic representatives of all the American republics at a luncheon in the American Embassy in Paris on the 1936 anniversary of Washington’s birth. He said, “All of us can rejoice together at our increasing friendship, mutual confidence and interest in each other’s peace, prosperity and economic progress. In the midst of the many uncertainties that prevail in other parts of the world, we can point with just pride to the fact that at no time in the history of the American republics had the spirit of cooperation, confidence and mutual helpfulness reached a higher level than at present.”
On August 18th, 1936 poor health forced Jesse to tender his resignation. On August 26th, 1936 President Roosevelt issued a statement saying that he had accepted Jesse’s resignation with “deep regret.” French officials expressed much regret at Jesse’s resignation. The New York Times reported on August 27th, “During the three years that he has represented the United States in France, French leaders say he has shown such qualities of heart and such keen comprehension of how best to find the middle way between French and American differences of view and interest that he has won a very genuine affection and respect.” Jesse Isidor Straus died in New York October 4th, 1936 with his family at his side.
“Jesse Isidor Straus 1872-1936” Straus Historical Society Newsletter Vol. 6 No. 1 (New York: August 2004); pp. 3-7.
“Jesse Isidor Straus 1872-1936: Part Two” Straus Historical Society Newsletter Vol. 6 No. 2 (New York: February 2005); pp. 1-7.
“Jesse I. Straus ‘Businessman for Roosevelt’ and Ambassador in Paris” Straus Historical Society Newsletter Vol. 14 No. 2 (New York: February 2013); pp. 8-9.
Source: The Straus Historical Society