Mattson Photography Services, Photographer. Col. Donovan with the US President’s representative, Mr. George Wadsworth, at the US Consulate. Jerusalem, 1941. [February 6] photo. https://www.loc.gov/item/2019711723/.
This blog post was written by Consul General Mark Marano
When I learned that I was assigned to the Beirut embassy, my passion for history and research into US-Lebanese relations led me to Consul General George Wadsworth, the first top US diplomatic representative in Lebanon in 1942. Overlapping personal histories between Wadsworth and myself. For example, both my father and Wadsworth were natives of Buffalo, New York; served 42 years as a diplomat; raised an expat family; and passed away in Bethesda, Maryland. With relatives still living outside of Buffalo, I consider myself hometown (go Bills!) and have a home in Bethesda. Wadsworth, like my father, served in Iran and Iraq and Egypt, my posts before Beirut. The Wadsworths had foreign-born children, as did my father and I.
Finding these links to Wadsworth was of personal interest and fueled my research. For example, when Wadsworth first arrived in Lebanon, he rented and later bought the two Bassoul houses on Clemenceau Street near the American University Beirut Hospital. These houses became the site of the new American Legation, the forerunner of the American Consulate and Embassy.
Early diplomats like Wadsworth and my father paved the way for later diplomats like me. Remembering their past service gives us a greater appreciation of the present and motivates us to do better for the future.
Although the roles have changed somewhat over time, I am honored and humbled to serve as the US Consul General here in Beirut.
Eighty years ago today, on November 19, 1942, Consul General George Wadsworth II presented his credentials as the United States Consul General in Lebanon. Although “ambassador” was not his official title, in many ways, Wadsworth served as the highest-ranking U.S. diplomatic representative in Lebanon at a critical time in the country’s modern history. In 1944, after the official recognition of the Republic of Lebanon, he was promoted to the rank of minister. He was responsible for two armies for Syria and Lebanon, but was based in Beirut. The group was granted ambassadorial status in 1952, and Minister Harold Miner became the first US ambassador to Lebanon. As for Wadsworth, he continued his career and became ambassador to Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Wadsworth enjoyed an impeccable reputation both in the United States and in the Near East, where he served for the longest time. In a letter dated January 1958, King Saud told President Eisenhower that Wadsworth was “a man worthy of your confidence.” those Buffalo Evening News wrote the same year: “This scholarly bent was an important part of George Wadsworth’s character, and during his 44 years in the Near East and beyond, he accumulated a true knowledge and understanding of the region and its people beyond any living American. […]”
When Wadsworth arrived in Beirut in 1942, paper-records An-Nahar The newspaper wrote: “The new diplomatic representative has been recognized by Beirut in other countries of the East and Middle East. He first came to Beirut after graduating from United College in the United States. At that time he came to Beirut to teach at the American University [of Beirut]. He then retired from teaching [work at] At that time the Consulate General was concerned with matters relating to France and Great Britain and other allied countries. Most of his work was in countries close to Syria and Lebanon […] As soon as he arrived he went to see General Catroux […]”
In his writings, Wadsworth was also an advocate for Lebanese independence, an occasion we will mark with our Lebanese friends and partners in a few days on November 22nd. The telegrams, signed by Wadsworth, are available through the State Department office. Historian, take note of this fascinating period in Lebanon’s history. In a telegram dated November 22, 1943, Wadsworth wrote to the Secretary of State: “Subsequent discussion led to the decision to make the official restoration on Wednesday morning. Tomorrow, ministers will hold an unofficial function to celebrate. In the meantime, the general strike, which is scheduled to end on Wednesday with the presidential election manifesto demanding the restoration of normal life, continues. […] All this was told to me by a special envoy sent by the President assuring him of his and the Government’s highest appreciation of American support and assistance. He returned with my warm personal greetings to the President and the Government. I said I was sure I spoke for my government. I asked if I could call in person; Will meet tomorrow morning in half an hour.
Through this tribute to Wadsworth, we honor another milestone in the longstanding diplomatic relationship between the United States and Lebanon. We are in this for the long haul. As Ambassador Shia previously stated: “We are determined to help the people of Lebanon recover from the complex crises facing the country and regain its status as a beacon of entrepreneurship and prosperity, as well as democracy and freedom in the Middle East.”