Livingston T. Merchant

Livingston Tallmadge Merchant (November 23, 1903 – May 15, 1976) was a United States official and diplomat. He twice served as United States ambassador to Canada and was Under Secretary for Political Affairs from 1959 to 1961.[1]

Livingston T. Merchant
Livingston T. Merchant.jpg
5th and 7th United States Ambassador to Canada
In office
March 15, 1961 – May 26, 1962
PresidentJohn F. Kennedy
Preceded byRichard B. Wigglesworth
Succeeded byWilliam Walton Butterworth
In office
May 23, 1956 – November 6, 1958
PresidentDwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded byR. Douglas Stuart
Succeeded byRichard B. Wigglesworth
United States Secretary of State
Ad interim
In office
January 20, 1961 – January 21, 1961
PresidentJohn F. Kennedy
Preceded byChristian Herter
Succeeded byDean Rusk
2nd Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
In office
December 4, 1959 – January 31, 1961
PresidentDwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Preceded byRobert D. Murphy
Succeeded byGeorge C. McGhee
2nd and 4th Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
In office
November 18, 1958 – August 20, 1959
PresidentDwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded byCharles Burke Elbrick
Succeeded byFoy D. Kohler
In office
March 16, 1953 – May 6, 1956
PresidentDwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded byGeorge Walbridge Perkins Jr.
Succeeded byCharles Burke Elbrick
Personal details
Livingston Tallmadge Merchant

(1903-11-23)November 23, 1903
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedMay 15, 1976(1976-05-15) (aged 72)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Elizabeth Stiles
(m. 1927)
Parent(s)Huntington Wolcott Merchant
Mary Cornelia Tallmadge
EducationHotchkiss School
Alma materPrinceton University

Early lifeEdit

Merchant, who was nicknamed "Livy," was born in New York City on November 23, 1903. He was the son of Huntington Wolcott Merchant (c.1870–1918) and Mary Cornelia (née Tallmadge) Merchant,[2] who lived at 1172 Park Avenue in New York City.[3] His sister was Elizabeth Wolcott "Betty" Merchant (b. 1902), who married Philip Gallatin Cammann.[3]

He was a descendant on his father's side of Oliver Wolcott Jr., the second Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington following Alexander Hamilton. Through his mother, he was descended from Sir Thomas Tallmadge, who emigrated to the colonies in 1632, Benjamin Tallmadge, and Gen. William Floyd, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.[1] His maternal grandparents were Chester Livingston Tallmadge and Fanny Amelia Hamilton.[4]

Merchant was educated at the Hotchkiss School in 1922, where his classmates included Charles W. Yost and Paul Nitze, and Princeton in 1926, where he was a member of the University Cottage Club and the Board of Trustees of Princeton University.[5]


He joined Scudder Stevens and Clark, an investment counselling firm. He became a general partner in 1930.[6]

Following his successful business career, Merchant joined the Government in 1942 following the attack on Pearl Harbor and moved up in the U.S. Department of State during the height of the Cold War. In 1949, when the Chiang Kai-shek regime collapsed, Merchant was in Nanking, China to assist. In the early 1950s, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (under Dean Rusk who served as Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs and Dean Acheson, then US Secretary of State) in the Truman administration.[7][8] He was twice appointed as Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs.[9][10] In 1959, he was appointed Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, succeeding his former boss, Robert Daniel Murphy.[11]

He was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Canada under Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy.[12] In 1961, while Ambassador, President Kennedy appointed Merchant as his personal representative to negotiate the border dispute between Afghanistan and Pakistan.[13]

Merchant served as Acting Secretary of State in January, 1961. [14]

In 1964, he co-authored the Merchant-Heeney Report which examined bilateral relations between Canada and the United States. In his obituary in The New York Times, Merchant was described by the late Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and the late President Eisenhower as "the ideal of a Foreign Service officer."[1]

Later workEdit

In 1963, he was a director of the Glen Falls Insurance Company.[15] From August 11, 1965 to October 31, 1968, he was executive director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.[16] Also in 1968, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Harvard University that cited "in a long career, this discerning diplomat has advanced the interests of our country with faithfulness and distinction."[1]

Personal lifeEdit

On December 11, 1927,[3] Merchant was married to Elizabeth Stiles (b. 1904) at the Bethlehem Chapel at the Washington National Cathedral.[17][18] She was the daughter of Dr. Charles Wardell Stiles and Virginia Baker Stiles and the granddaughter of Lewis Baker, who served as President of the West Virginia Senate, and U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua, Costa Rica and El Salvador. Together, they were the parents of a son and two daughters:

Merchant died of heart failure in Washington, DC on May 15, 1976.[1] He was buried at Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington.


Through his daughter Mary, he was the grandfather of Robert Merchant Jasperson and Leslie Wrenn Jasperson Tesei.[25]


  1. ^ a b c d e Tomasson, Robert E. (May 17, 1976). "Livingston Merchant, 72, A Top Diplomat, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  2. ^ "Wolcott Family Papers II, 1754-1932". Massachusetts Historical Society. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "ELIZABETH STILES ENGAGED!; Washington Girl to Wed Livingston. T. Merchant of New York. t". The New York Times. November 9, 1927. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  4. ^ Revolution, Daughters of the American (1913). Index of the Rolls of Honor (ancestor's Index) in the Lineage Books of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Volumes 1 to 160. Press of Pierpont, Siviter & Company. p. 68. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  5. ^ "Princeton Alumni Weekly". Princeton Alumni Weekly. 1948. p. 12. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  6. ^ *"Diplomat Livingston Merchant Dies". Washington Post. May 17, 1976.
  7. ^ *Department of State (1977), Foreign Relations of the United States, 1951, Volume VI, Asia and the Pacific (two parts), Government Printing Office
  8. ^ "Living With Panama". The New York Times. November 26, 1959. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  9. ^ "Diplomat Back in Old Job". The New York Times. November 19, 1958. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  10. ^ "Rapt Diplomat; Livingston Tallmadge Merchant". The New York Times. November 26, 1959. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  11. ^ "MURPHY JOB GOES TO HIS ASSISTANT; L. T. Merchant Is Appointed Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs". The New York Times. November 1, 1959. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  12. ^ "Livingston T. Merchant Oral History Interview - JFK #1, 5/28/1965". John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  13. ^ "Livingston Merchant Going to Asia at Kennedy's Request; Ambassador to Canada Will Seek End of Border Rift". The New York Times. October 18, 1961. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  14. ^ "Livingston Tallmadge Merchant (1903–1976)". Office of the Historian. Retrieved November 13, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ "Livingston T. Merchant To Fill Insurance Post". The New York Times. March 21, 1963. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  16. ^ "Livingston T. Merchant - Executive Director from the United States -August 11, 1965 - October 31, 1968". World Bank Group Archives Holdings. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  17. ^ "NEW WEDDINGS ARRANGED; Many New Yorkers to Go to Washington for Stiles-Merchant Nuptials Saturday". The New York Times. December 4, 1927. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  18. ^ "Merchant -- Stiles". The New York Times. December 11, 1927. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  19. ^ "History | The Episcopal Church of the Annunciation". Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  20. ^ The Living Church. Morehouse-Gorham Company. February 5, 1978. p. 16. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  21. ^ "Washington Girl Is Engaged to J Lieut. O. R. Leutz Jr., USMO". The New York Times. September 11, 1949. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  22. ^ "MISS E. MERCHANT BRIDE OF MARINE; Married to Lieut. Charles R. Leutz Jr, in Bethlehem Chapel of Washington Cathedral". The New York Times. December 18, 1949. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  23. ^ "MRS. LEUTZ REMARRIED; Daughter of Ambassador to Canada Wed to William Tyson". The New York Times. June 26, 1956. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  24. ^ "MARY MERCHANT BRIDE IN CAPITAL; Wears Chinese Silk Gown at Wedding in St. Alban's to Robert W. Jasperson". The New York Times. December 28, 1954. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  25. ^ a b "JASPERSON, Robert Wrenn". SFGate. May 1, 2005. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  26. ^ "Obituaries: Oct. 15: Molinaro, Sturgeon, Hicks, Wagstaff, Woodward". Santa Cruz Sentinel. October 16, 2010. Retrieved January 4, 2018.

External linksEdit

Government offices
Preceded by Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
March 16, 1953 – May 6, 1956
Succeeded by
Preceded by Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
November 18, 1958 – August 20, 1959
Succeeded by
Preceded by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
December 4, 1959 – January 31, 1961
Succeeded by
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by United States Ambassador to Canada
May 23, 1956 – November 6, 1958
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Ambassador to Canada
March 15, 1961 – May 26, 1962
Succeeded by