The Foreign Service Journal - March 2014 - page 49

MARCH 2014
Nearly five years ago, I wrote
The Foreign Service Journal
about my discovery of three
U.S. diplomats who died in
the line of duty under “tragic
or heroic circumstances,”
but their names did not
appear on the AFSA Memo-
rial Plaques in the C Street
lobby of the Harry S Truman
Since that time, I have
found an additional 32
names. Almost all of them
predate the establishment of
the Foreign Service in 1924.
Because the department did
not maintain a list of those
who died in the line of duty, I
turned to the ProQuest His-
torical Newspapers database
and Google Books to find
almost everyone listed below.
All of the people I have
found died either through
violence, accidents or
due to diseases. Perhaps
not surprisingly, diseases
caused the deaths of by far
the greatest number. Yellow
fever claimed many of them,
including John Howden,
consul to Bermuda, who
died of yellow fever in 1853
after merely 19 days in office.
Yellow fever also caused
the deaths of William Little,
consul to Panama City, on
Jan. 29, 1867; Louis Prevost,
consul to Guayaquil, on May
23, 1867; Elphus Rogers,
consul to Veracruz, on Aug. 1,
1881; William Stapp, consul
to Pernambuco, on April 13,
1860; and James Torbut,
consul at St. Thomas, on Dec.
26, 1858.
Various other fevers
caused the deaths of numer-
ous appointees, including
Samuel Shaw, first consul
to Canton, who died at sea
on May 30, 1794. Fever also
claimed the lives of Alexan-
der Clark, consul in Monrovia,
on May 31, 1891; Samuel
Collings, consul at Tangier,
on June 15, 1855; William
McCracken, consul to La
AFSAMemorial Plaque: The Forgotten, Found
Union, San Salvador, on July
7, 1857; Seth Phelps, minister
to Peru, on June 24, 1885;
and William Tudor, chargé
d’affaires in Rio de Janeiro,
on March 9, 1830.
Typhoid claimed the life of
Daniel Brent, consul to Paris,
who died on Jan. 31, 1841;
cholera felled Joseph Cosag-
eny, vice consul in Barcelona,
who died in November 1865,
and William Irvin, consul to
Amoy (Xiamen), who died
from the disease on Sept.
9, 1865. Dysentery took the
lives of Edward Ely, consul to
Bombay (Mumbai), who died
on Jan. 17, 1858; Hiram Lott,
consul to Managua, who died
on June 6, 1895; Alexander
McKee, consul to Panama
City, who died Sept. 3, 1865;
and James Thornton, chargé
d’affaires to Peru and Bolivia,
who died on Jan. 25, 1838.
Accidents involving
automobiles or trains caused
the deaths of Constantine
Corafa, vice consul in Athens,
died in March 1929; Henry
H. Ford, consul general in
Frankfurt, died on March 9,
1965; Allen Francis, consul to
St. Thomas and Port Stan-
ley, Canada, died on Aug. 4,
1887; and James Parsons, Jr.,
consul general in Mexico City,
died on Dec. 5, 1905.
Boating accidents and
shipwrecks were responsible
for the loss of William Ashby,
consul at Colon, who died
on Jan. 17, 1898; and Robert
Sterry, consul to La Rochelle,
who died in a shipwreck off
the coast of Long Island while
returning from France on Jan.
17, 1820.
George Atcheson Jr.
an FSO assigned to Gen.
MacArthur’s staff in occu-
pied Japan, died in a plane
crash between Kwajalein
and Hawaii on Aug. 17, 1947.
Similar accidents claimed the
lives of George Henderson,
consul in Dhahran, who died
on April 15, 1948, and Carlin
Treat, vice consul to Casa-
blanca, who died on Oct. 10,
Several appointees died
by violent means. These
include William Baker, consul
in Guaymas, Mexico, who was
killed by “Apaches” in Mazat-
lan on Dec. 20, 1862; Henri-
cus C. J. Heusken, secretary
at the U.S. legation in Edo
(Tokyo), who was assassi-
nated by anti-foreign samurai
on Jan. 16, 1861; Henry Saw-
yer, consul in Paramaribo,
who was murdered by a sailor
in his custody on May 7, 1877;
and William Stuart, vice con-
sul in Batum, who was shot
on May 20, 1906.
Note from AFSA:
names may be added to
AFSA’s Memorial Plaque in
the future. The AFSA awards
committee is discussing the
possibility of establishing
a virtual memorial plaque
in the new Museum of
American Diplomacy.
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