Hugh S. Gibson

Hugh Simons Gibson (August 16, 1883 – December 12, 1954) was an American diplomat.[1] He was actively involved in disarmament talks from 1925 to 1932. Throughout his career, he remained a leading proponent in the drive to establish a professional Foreign Service based on merit rather than personal wealth or political influence.

American diplomat
Hugh S. Gibson
Hugh Simons Gibson

(1883-08-16)August 16, 1883

Died December 12, 1954(1954-12-12) (aged 71)

Alma mater Pomona College

As first American minister plenipotentiary to Poland in the chaotic postwar years from 1919 to 1924, he was called upon to respond to the acute problems of a renascent state while investigating reports of pogroms and mistreatment of Polish Jews. His reporting on this highly sensitive matter was surrounded by controversy, but ultimately won the approval of significant figures in the American Jewish community.

Gibson was active in famine relief work in Europe during and after World War I and continued to pursue these efforts during and after World War II. His close friendship with Herbert Hoover began in this context. He retired from the Foreign Service in 1938, worked in London for the Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB) during the first two years of the war. He then returned to the United States and worked in publishing at Doubleday and, following the end of the war, published the journals of Joseph Goebbels, Galeazzo Ciano, and Ulrich von Hassell.

In his final years he ran the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration in Geneva.

. . . Hugh S. Gibson . . .

Hugh Simons Gibson was born in Los Angeles, California, on August 16, 1883, the son of Francis (Frank) Asbury Gibson and Mary Kellogg Simons. He died in Genthod, Geneva, Switzerland, on December 12, 1954.

He graduated from the prestigious École libre des sciences politiques in Paris in 1907 and entered the United States Foreign Service in his late twenties. He was appointed secretary of legation in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in July 1908; second secretary of the American Embassy in London in 1909–1910; private secretary to Assistant Secretary of State Huntington Wilson in 1910-1911; secretary of legation, Havana, Cuba, in 1911–1913; and secretary of legation, Brussels, Belgium, 1914–1916, as a result of which he was present when the German Army invaded the country.

Gibson was appointed as secretary to the American embassy in London on May 16, 1916. He was assigned to the U.S. Department of State on February 28, 1917; attached to British secretary of state for foreign affairs during his visit to United States from April to June 1917; attached to the Belgian war mission during his visit to the United States from June to August 1917; and appointed first secretary to the American embassy in Paris in March 1918.

He did duty with Herbert Hoover, director general of relief, from November 1918 to April 1919 and was a member of the inter-allied mission to countries of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, December 1918 – January 1919.

Gibson obtained a top-level diplomatic post with his appointment as U.S. Minister Plenipotentiary to Poland on April 16, 1919, and remained at that post until May 1924, at which point he was appointed Minister to Switzerland. Gibson was made Ambassador to Belgium and minister to Luxembourg in 1927, positions he filled until 1933 and again in 1937–1938. In the intervening years he served as U.S. Ambassador to Brazil.

During the 1920s and 1930s, in addition to his ambassadorial and ministerial appointments, Gibson served as vice-chairman of the American Delegation to the international Conference for Supervision of the International Traffic in Arms in Geneva in 1925; chairman of the U.S. delegation to the Preparatory Commission for the General Disarmament Conference, 1926–1932; chair of the U.S. delegation and chair of the Geneva Naval Conference in 1927; delegate to conference on private manufacture of arms, 1927; American delegation to Conference for limitation of Naval Armament and chairman of conference, 1927; delegate to the London Naval Conference 1930; and acting chairman, U.S. delegation at the General Disarmament Conference, Geneva, 1932–1933.

Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Gibson ambassador to Brazil from 1933 to 1937, during which period Gibson also served as the U.S. representative on the mediatory group to end the Chaco War, which met at Buenos Aires in 1935, as well as a delegate to the Chaco Peace Conference held later that year.

In 1938 Roosevelt wanted to appoint Gibson Ambassador to Berlin. Gibson felt that the situation in Germany was beyond the competence of diplomacy and offered his resignation. In 1940 he became Director General for Europe of Commission for Polish Relief and of the Commission for Relief in Belgium, 1940–1941; Director of the Commission for Relief in Belgium and of the Belgian American Educational Foundation; and Chairman of the National Committee on Food for the Small Democracies. He also served as Assistant to the Honorary Chairman of the President’s emergency famine committee.

Gibson accompanied former president Herbert Hoover on his worldwide travels to take stock of the food situation in Europe, Asia, and South America from March to June 1946, and he served as part of The President’s Economic Mission to Germany and Austria in February, 1947.

He finally served as Director of the Provisional Intergovernmental Committee for the Movement of Migrants from Europe from 1951 to 1952; as a member of the Hoover Commission, appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to reorganize the executive departments in 1953; and director of the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration, 1952–1954.

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