A Brief Biography of Henry Cabot Lodge
Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. was born in 1902 to a Boston Brahmin family of immense heritage and pride. Lodge was descended from many prominent families including a founder of the Federalist Party, George Cabot. Lodge’s grandfather was a Republican statesman and noted Historian. Lodge himself demonstrated his independence of mind early on. As senator of Massachusetts, he quit his position in 1944 (the only senator to do so since the Civil War era) to join the army and fight in Europe.
In 1953, as ambassador to the U.N. under Eisenhower, Lodge had knowingly contradicted State Department (herein referred to as DOS) orders and voted no on a key Korean resolution, prompting a quick response from the DOS, to which he wryly retorted: “I take note of the Department’s opinion.” In 1959, Lodge then had the opportunity to accompany the Soviet Leader on his trip to the United States. In a subsequent letter, Khrushchev thanked his host while jokingly referring to Lodge as his “tormentor and protector.”
And then again in 1960, when an American U2 spy plane was shot down over Soviet territory prompting an international crisis, Lodge displayed to a mesmerized crowd at the United Nations the actual U.S. embassy seal which supposedly had been bugged by the Soviets. In many ways then, it is this spirit of independence and strong sense of duty that later convinced Kennedy to look at Lodge as the ideal appointee for the South Vietnamese ambassadorship. But by the same token, as we shall see later, it is these same qualities, combined with the Kennedy administrations lack of leadership in Vietnam, that precluded any opportunity of controlling either the ambassador or the unfolding events.