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Richard Washburn Child

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Richard Washburn Child
Child 5456217494 d07995695b o.jpg
Born(1881-08-05)August 5, 1881
DiedJanuary 31, 1935(1935-01-31) (aged 53)
EducationHarvard University
Harvard Law School

Richard Washburn Child (August 5, 1881 – January 31, 1935) was an American author, diplomat, and promoter of fascism, in particular Italian Fascism, in the early 20th century.

Early life and career

Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1881, Child went to Harvard University and Law School where he graduated in 1906 to become a business lawyer. Child founded the Progressive Republican League in Massachusetts, a forerunner of the Progressive Party. During World War I, he worked first as a correspondent in Europe and Russia, then for the U.S. Treasury, writing propaganda.

In 1916 he published a book, calling for U.S. investment in Russia. After the war he became editor of Collier's Weekly (1919).

In 1919 and 1920, Francis X. Bushman and Beverly Bayne successfully toured the play The Master Thief, based on a story by Child.[1]

In 1920 he wrote campaign material for Presidential candidate Warren G. Harding, who rewarded him with the ambassadorship in Italy (from May 1921 to February 1924), where among other diplomatic activities he encouraged Benito Mussolini to start his March on Rome, as he records in his memoir A Diplomat looks at Europe (1925).[dubious ] He also promoted U.S. investment in Italy under Mussolini, especially from the J. P. Morgan bank. After his return to the United States, he became editor for The Saturday Evening Post and served on the National Crime Commission in 1925. In 1926 he divorced.[2]

In 1928 he became a paid propaganda writer for Benito Mussolini, whose notes he ghostwrote and serialized as My Autobiography in The Saturday Evening Post, and whose politics he praised in numerous articles for the Hearst press. Together with Thomas W. Lamont he rates as one of the most influential American promoters of Italian Fascism until his death in 1935.[3] Child also wrote a number of crime stories and promotional tracts throughout his career. His Paymaster stories, in which his anti-hero - a criminal dubbed “the Paymaster” - regularly outwitted his opponents, including the police, and other more dangerous villains, were widely known in the first decades of the 20th century.[4][5]

Child was a critic of spiritualism and skeptical of paranormal claims. In his article The Will to Believe he dismissed the medium Eusapia Palladino as a fraud.



  1. ^ Staff, “‘The Master Thief’,” Riverside Daily Press, Riverside, California, Saturday evening, 13 December 1919, Volume XXXIV, Number 269, page 8.
  2. ^ "Richard Washburn Child Sues for Divorce. Grounds for Ex-Envoy's Action Kept Secret". New York Times. August 5, 1926. Retrieved 2011-02-19. Richard Washburn Child, author and former Ambassador to Italy, has filed a suit for divorce in the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, at Stroudsburg, against his wife, Maude Parker Child, who is also a well-known writer.
  3. ^ "Richard Washburn Child, Author-diplomat Dies". United Press. January 30, 1935. Retrieved 2011-02-02. ... ambassador to Italy and Internationally known publicist, died early today of pneumonia. Child was 54 years old. He probably was best known to the American ...
  4. ^ Flom, Eric L., “Silent Film Stars on the Stages of Seattle: A History of Performances by Hollywood Notables,” McFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina, 2009, ISBN 978-0-7864-3908-9, pages 155-156.
  5. ^ Flom, Eric L. (5 March 2009). Silent Film Stars on the Stages of Seattle: A History of Performances by Hollywood Notables. ISBN 9780786439089.

Further reading

  • American National Biography. Vol. 4 (1999)
  • D'Agostino, Peter R., Rome in America. Transnational Catholic Ideology from the Risoregimento to Fascism. U of North Carolina P, 2004.
  • Diggins, John P., Mussolini and Fascism: the View from America. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 1972.
  • Lindberg, Kathryn V., Mass Circulation versus The Masses. Covering the Modern Magazine Scene. In: National Identities- Postamerican Narratives. Ed. Donald E. Pease. Duke UP, 1994, 279-310.
  • Sinclair, Upton., Money Writes! New York: Boni, 1927, 62-68.

External links

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
United States Ambassador to Italy
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 15 October 2021, at 00:27
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