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Laurits S. Swenson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Laurits S. Swenson.jpg

Laurits Selmer Swenson (aka Selmer) (June 12, 1865–November 4, 1947) was an American diplomat who served as Ambassador (called Minister at the time) to Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Denmark.


Laurits Selmer Swenson was born in New Sweden, Minnesota to Norwegian immigrant parents. His father, Swen Swenson (1836–1905) was a Minnesota State Representative.[1] He graduated from Iowa's Luther College with bachelor's (1886) and master's (1889) degrees and became Principal of Lutheran Academy in Albert Lea, where he worked from 1888 to 1897.[2][3] From 1895 to 1897 Swenson served on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.[4] Swenson also pursued a business career, serving as Vice President of Union State Bank and President of the Wiprud Land & Colonization Company, an effort to attract European immigrants to settle in Minnesota.[5]

Diplomatic career

In 1897 Swenson started a diplomatic career when he was appointed Minister to Denmark.[6] He served in Copenhagen until 1905.[7] In this post Swenson negotiated the terms for the sale of the Danish West Indies (now the U.S. Virgin Islands).[8]

In 1909 he was appointed Minister to Switzerland, where he served until 1911.[9][10]

Swenson served as Minister to Norway from 1911 to 1913.[11][12] In 1921 Swenson was again appointed Minister to Norway, and he held this position until 1930.[13][14] Swenson was a popular diplomat, particularly in Norway, maybe due to his Norwegian ancestry. In 1929 Time Magazine wrote: "Europeans have always marveled that the diplomatic and consular representatives of the U. S. are so often of the same strain as the people to whom they are accredited".[15]

In 1925 Swenson received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, on behalf of the US vice president Charles Gates Dawes. The prize was shared with the British secretary of state Austen Chamberlain.

In 1931 Swenson was named Ambassador to the Netherlands, where he served until 1934.[16][17] He then retired and moved back to Norway where his only daughter lived.

Swenson died in Oslo on November 4, 1947.[18] He is buried in Lake Prairie, Minnesota's Norseland Lutheran Cemetery.[19]

See also


  1. ^ "Political family: Swenson family of Minnesota". Political Graveyard. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  2. ^ Luther College, Luther College Through Sixty Years, 1861-1921, 1922, page 424
  3. ^ Minnesota Historical Society, Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, Volume 14, page 763
  4. ^ James Terry White, The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Volume 12, 1904, page 108
  5. ^ Albert Nelson Marquis, The Book of Minnesotans, 1907, page 503
  6. ^ New York Times, Presidential Appointments: Prof. Laurits S. Swenson for Minister to Denmark, October 6, 1897
  7. ^ Hartford Courant, Minister Swenson Comes Homes, June 26, 1905
  8. ^ New York Times, The danish West Indies: Report From Copenhagen of Agreement for Their Sale, December 13, 1901
  9. ^ New York Times, No Serious Fight on Bacon for Envoy: Taft's Whole List of Diplomatic Appointments Recommended for Senate Approval, December 21, 1909
  10. ^ Los Angeles Times, The Initiative in Switzerland and its Disappointments, May 13, 1913
  11. ^ Christian Science Monitor, Mr. Taft Names new Diplomats, April 24, 1911
  12. ^ Spokane Daily Chronicle, To Invite Swenson: Former Minister to Norway Will be Asked for the Seventeenth of May, March 18, 1914
  13. ^ Baltimore Sun, Named for Norway Post, October 7, 1921
  14. ^ New York Times, Philip is Appointed Minister to Norway: Veteran of Foreign Service Is Chosen by Hoover to Succeed Swenson, July 14, 1930.
  15. ^ Time Magazine, FRANCE: Paris Uber Alles, February 11, 1929
  16. ^ Boston Globe, Netherlands Post Given to Swenson, February 27, 1931
  17. ^ New York Times, Emmet is Named Envoy to Hague, December 31, 1933
  18. ^ American Foreign Service Association, The American Foreign Service Journal, Volume 24, 1947, page 44
  19. ^ Laurits Selmer Swenson at Find A Grave, accessed December 13, 2012

External resources

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John E. Risley
U.S. Minister to Denmark
Succeeded by
Thomas J. O'Brien
Preceded by
Brutus J. Clay II
U.S. Minister to Switzerland
Succeeded by
Henry Sherman Boutell
Preceded by
Herbert H. D. Peirce
U.S. Minister to Norway
Succeeded by
Albert G. Schmedeman
Preceded by
Albert G. Schmedeman
U.S. Minister to Norway
Succeeded by
Hoffman Philip
Preceded by
Gerrit J. Diekema
U.S. Minister to the Netherlands
Succeeded by
Grenville T. Emmet
This page was last edited on 30 January 2021, at 22:19
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