The Foreign Service Journal - November 2014 - page 66

66
NOVEMBER 2014
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
ROBERT C. SCHENCK:
POLITICAL AMBASSADOR
AND SCOUNDREL
Stephen H. Muller spent 26 years as a Foreign Service economic-cone
officer, serving in Quito, Brasilia, Mexico City, Ottawa, London and
Washington, D.C. After retiring from the Service in 2000, he worked for
12 years as a writer and editor for a group of newsletters serving the
electric utility industry. He currently lives in Troy, New York, where he
does freelance writing and serves on the boards of several nonprofits.
When non-career ambassadors are bad,
they are sometimes
very
bad.
BY STEPHEN H . MUL L ER
M
ost Foreign Service officers serve under
a political ambassador at least once
during their careers; I served under five
of them at three embassies. While some
non-career appointees are unprofes-
sional and poor managers, few are as
deplorable as Robert C. Schenck, an
Ohio lawyer, politician and Civil War general who was the U.S.
minister (ambassador) to the Court of St. James’s from 1871 to
1876.
Appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant, Schenk used his
position for personal gain, becoming entangled in promoting
the fraudulent Emma Silver Mine to British investors. His con-
duct was investigated by the House of Representatives Com-
mittee on Foreign Affairs. But though the committee issued a
scathing report, the minister was merely reprimanded, and by
that time had finally resigned as minister.
FEATURE
Robert C. Schenck
Library of Congress/Brady National Photographic Art Gallery
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