Biography and History

Joshua Butler Wright (1877-1939), a member of the diplomatic service was born in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York, on October 18, 1877, the son of Louis Bogert and Caroline Isabel (Richards) Wright. After graduating from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1899, he began a career in banking in New York until 1906 when he resigned to pursue a career in farming and stock raising in Wyoming.

After dabbling in the rural life, Wright began his foreign service career which spanned thirty years and encompassed travels all over the globe. His first appointment was as secretary of the American Legation, Tegucigalpa, Honduras from 1909-1912. Wright was assigned special duty at the Department of State and then became Secretary of the American Legation, at Brussels, Belgium from 1912-1913. He served as secretary to the American delegation to the Opium Conference at the Hague in 1913. He became Secretary to the Embassy, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1913-1915 and then Acting Chief of the Division of Latin American Affairs in 1915. He was Counselor of the Embassy at St. Petersburg 1916-1917. In 1918 he returned briefly to the United States serving at the Department of State and as Counselor of the Embassy in London from 1918 to 1921. In 1921 Wright was Expert Assistant to the American Commissioners at the Conference on Limitation of Armaments in Washington, D.C. Wright served as United States Commissioner to the Brazilian Centennial Exposition, Rio de Janeiro in 1922. He was the Secretary of the U.S. delegation to the fifth International Conference of American States at Santiago, Chile from March through May 1923. Wright was the Third Assistant Secretary of State from January 30, 1923 to July 1, 1924 and Assistant Secretary of State between 1924 and 1927. After serving as the Assistant Secretary of State, Wright held a succession of ministerships including: Hungary 1927-1930; Uruguay 1930-1934 and Czechoslovakia 1934-1937. He was Ambassador to Cuba from July 1937 until his death on December 4, 1939.

Following his death in Havana, Cuba, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the light cruiser the U.S.S. Omaha to bring back Wright's body to the United States. Funeral services were held at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. on December 11, 1939.

Source: From the finding aid for MC137

  • Joshua Butler Wright Papers. 1909-1938 (inclusive).

    Call Number: MC137

    The Joshua Butler Wright Papers (1909-1938) document a thirty year diplomatic career in legations and embassies of the United States in Europe and South America and as Assistant Secretary of State under President Calvin Coolidge. The Collection contains correspondence, documents, publications and most notably, diaries reflecting Wright's impressions of various official and non-official activities.