William Tapley Bennett Jr.

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William Tapley Bennett Jr. (April 1, 1917 – November 29, 1994) was an American diplomat who served as Ambassador to the Dominican Republic during the 1965 civil war and who recommended that President Johnson intervene with United States troops.

William Tapley Bennett Jr.
William Tapley Bennett.jpg
W. Tapley Bennett, c. 1965
Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs
In office
November 17, 1983 – January 4, 1985
Preceded byPowell A. Moore
Succeeded byWilliam L. Ball
U.S. Ambassador to NATO
In office
April 26, 1977 – March 31, 1983
PresidentJimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
Preceded byRobert Strausz-Hupé
Succeeded byDavid Manker Abshire
U.S. Ambassador to Portugal
In office
July 20, 1966 – July 21, 1969
PresidentLyndon B. Johnson
Preceded byGeorge W. Anderson, Jr.
Succeeded byRidgway B. Knight
U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic
In office
March 23, 1964 – April 13, 1966
PresidentLyndon B. Johnson
Preceded byJohn Bartlow Martin
Succeeded byJohn Hugh Crimmins
Personal details
Born(1917-04-01)April 1, 1917
Griffin, Georgia, U.S.
DiedNovember 29, 1994(1994-11-29) (aged 77)
Washington D.C.
Spouse(s)Margaret Rutherfurd White
Alma materUniversity of Georgia
George Washington University Law School
National War College

Early lifeEdit

Bennett was born in Griffin, Georgia on April 1, 1917. He was the only child of William Tapley Bennett Sr. (1891–1982) and Annie Mem (née Little) Bennett (1894–1965).[1][2]

His maternal grandparents were Peyton Brantley "Mem" Little and Julia Elizabeth (née Neal) Little.[1]

Bennett attended the University of Georgia where he was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. After doing graduate work at the University of Freiburg in Germany from 1937 to 1938, he returned to the United States and earned a law degree from George Washington University Law School.[3]


After graduation from law school, Bennett joined the Foreign Service in 1941. He served as a United States Army intelligence officer during World War II. From 1951 to 1954, Bennett was Deputy Director to the Office of South American Affairs. From 1954 to 1955, he studied at the National War College and for two years after, he served as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. From 1957 to 1964, he acted as Counselor and Minister at the U.S. Embassies in Rome, Italy, in Vienna, Austria, and in Athens, Greece.[4]

President Lyndon Johnson appointed him Ambassador to the Dominican Republic after the previous Ambassador, John Bartlow Martin, resigned after the Kennedy assassination on the very day in which Juan Bosch, then President of the Dominican Republic, was toppled in a coup d'etat. While Ambassador, Bennett "advised President Johnson and members of Congress that the revolt was led by Communists" and recommended President Johnson intervene with United States troops during the Dominican Civil War.[3] Bennett was heavily criticized for his report and recommendation.[5]

Reportedly "seeking relief from the tropical heat of the Dominican Republic,"[4] Johnson appointed him the Ambassador to Portugal in 1966. He served in that role until Richard Nixon became president in 1969 and he was succeeded by Ridgway B. Knight, who up until that point was the Ambassador to Belgium.[3]

Beginning in 1972, he began to serve concurrently as Ambassador to the United Nations Security Council and Deputy United States Representative to the United Nations.[4] After Jimmy Carter became president in 1977, Bennett was appointed the United States Permanent Representative to NATO, serving from 1977 through 1983, including when Ronald Reagan became president in 1981.[3]

On November 14, 1983 he was appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs, serving from November 17, 1983 to January 4, 1985.[6]

Later careerEdit

After retiring in 1985 he served as adjunct professor of international law at the University of Georgia.[3] From 1991 to 1992, he served as President of the Atlantic Treaty Association.[4]

Personal lifeEdit

On June 23, 1945, Bennett was married to Margaret Rutherfurd White in Bernardsville, New Jersey.[7] Margaret, a Foxcroft School graduate who attended Barnard College and the Institute of Musical Art of the Juilliard School of Music, was the daughter of John Campbell White (the U.S. Ambassador to Peru and Haiti),[8] a granddaughter of Henry White (the U.S. Ambassador to France and Italy),[9] and a niece of Jay Pierrepont Moffat, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada.[10] Together, they were the parents of five children:[3]

He died after a long illness in Washington D.C. on November 29, 1994.[3][13]


  1. ^ a b Hebron Presbyterian Church : God's Pilgrim People 1796-1996. Atlanta, Georgia: Dwight Tabor. 1995. p. 357. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  2. ^ Tapley, Ray (1993). Tapley: A Family of Georgia and the South. Greencrest Press. p. 1999. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Lueck, Thomas J. (1 December 1994). "William Tapley Bennett Jr., 77, Envoy to Dominican Republic". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d "William Tapley Bennett, Jr. Papers". russelldoc.galib.uga.edu. University of Georgia. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  5. ^ Palmer Jr., General Bruce (2015). Intervention in the Caribbean: The Dominican Crisis of 1965. University Press of Kentucky. p. 9. ISBN 9780813150024. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  6. ^ "William Tapley Bennett Jr. - People - Department History - Office of the Historian". history.state.gov. Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs United States Department of State. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Margaret R. White Prospective Bride; Their Engagements Are Announced". The New York Times. 12 March 1945. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  8. ^ "JOHN C. WHITE, 83, A CAREER DIPLOMAT". The New York Times. 12 June 1967. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  9. ^ "MARGARET R. WHITE MARRIED IN JERSEY; Daughter of Ex-Ambassador to Peru Becomes Bride of Lieut. William T. Bennett Jr. WEARS IVORY SATIN GOWN Rev. Robert Bosher Performs Ceremony in Bernardsville Church--Reception Held". The New York Times. 24 June 1945. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Elizabeth White, 94, An Environmentalist". The New York Times. 22 June 1993. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  11. ^ "Bennett-Godsall". The Atlanta Constitution. April 27, 1980. p. 103. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  12. ^ "Twins to William T. Bennetts Jr" (PDF). The New York Times. 30 June 1950. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  13. ^ "W.T. BENNETT, AMBASSADOR FOR LBJ, DIES". The Washington Post. December 1, 1994. Retrieved 29 March 2019.

External linksEdit

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John Bartlow Martin
U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic
March 23, 1964 – April 13, 1966
Succeeded by
John Hugh Crimmins
Preceded by
George W. Anderson, Jr.
U.S. Ambassador to Portugal
July 20, 1966 – July 21, 1969
Succeeded by
Ridgway B. Knight
Preceded by
Robert Strausz-Hupé
U.S. Ambassador to NATO
April 26, 1977 – March 31, 1983
Succeeded by
David Manker Abshire
Government offices
Preceded by
Powell A. Moore
Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs
November 17, 1983 – January 4, 1985
Succeeded by
William L. Ball