Breckinridge Long (1881-1958)


An affluent Democrat from Missouri whom FDR appointed ambassador to Italy in 1933, Breckenridge Long was born in St. Louis in 1881 and studied at Princeton University and Washington University Law School. After receiving his law degree, Long deepened his involvement in Democratic politics, both in Missouri and elsewhere, and in 1917 he was rewarded with an appointment to the position of third assistant secretary of state. Long remained with the State Department until 1920 when he resigned his position to run for the U.S. Senate from Missouri. Losing the election, Long was also defeated in a second bid for the Senate in 1922. Notwithstanding his electoral setbacks, Long remained an avid supporter of Democratic candidates and contributed generously to FDR's 1932 campaign, earning himself the Italian ambassadorship in the process. Long returned to private life after three years at the embassy in Rome, only to rejoin the State Department in 1940 at which time he assumed supervision over the Department's Immigrant Visa Section — a position Long would use to impede the ability of Jews and other victims of Nazi persecution to seek refuge in the United States. ER, who received an avalanche of petitions from Europeans desperate to flee German occupation, had a tense relationship with Long. ER found him not only unsympathetic but also opposed to the policies she supported and, as much as possible, she tried to work around Long (through working with Sumner Welles or appealing to FDR directly) to respond to the petitioners. Long left the State Department in 1944 and died in 1958.



The Concise Dictionary of American Biography. 5th ed. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1997, 745.

Dallek, Robert. Franklin Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980, 66-67, 125-126, 446-448.

Lash, Joseph. Eleanor and Franklin. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1971, 667.