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William T. Pheiffer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

From the September 1953 edition of the Chi Phi Chakett magazine
From the September 1953 edition of the Chi Phi Chakett magazine

William Townsend Pheiffer (July 15, 1898 – August 16, 1986) was an American lawyer, Republican politician and diplomat. He was a Representative from New York in the 77th Congress and ambassador to the Dominican Republic.


He was born in Purcell, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), the son of William Pfeiffer (1869-?) and Susan Garfinkel (1869-?). His brother was Harry R. Pfeiffer (1896-?).[1] His father was a lawyer. His maternal uncle was Julius Garfinckel, wealthy merchant. He attended the public schools of Purcell, Ardmore[2] and Oklahoma City, and the University of Southern California, where he was a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity.

During World War I, Pheiffer served as a private in the cavalry of the U.S. Army, in 1918.[3] He earned a law degree at the law school of the University of Oklahoma, in 1919. That same year, he was admitted to the bar and began working in general practice like his father.[4] He practiced in Sayre, Oklahoma, from 1923 to 1926. In 1924, he was a candidate for the 2nd District in the Oklahoma Senate.

Pheiffer moved to Amarillo, Texas, in 1926, and continued the practice of law.[5] In 1932, he was an alternate delegate from Texas at the Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. He was a delegate to the Republican State conventions in 1936 and 1942.

In 1939, he moved to New York City. The following year, he was elected by a wide margin to represent the 16th Congressional District[6] on the East Side of Manhattan in the 77th Congress, January 3, 1941 to January 3, 1943. Pheiffer was the first Republican to carry the district, defeating the Democratic incumbent, James Fay. He was defeated for reelection by Fay by 80 votes in 1942. The 16th District was merged with others in a 1944 reapportionment.

During World War II, Pheiffer entered the Army as a captain of the cavalry and served from March 12, 1943, to April 22, 1944. On August 1, 1944, he was appointed counsel to the Petroleum Administration for War, Washington, D.C., and served until February 8, 1945. He then resumed private practice as a member of the New York and Washington law firm of Pheiffer, Stephens & Weaver. He was also an executive assistant in charge of the New York headquarters of the Republican National Committee from 1945 to 1948.

President Eisenhower appointed Pheiffer the Ambassador to the Dominican Republic[7] on May 28, 1953. His full title was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and his presentation of credentials took place on June 29.

On March 20, 1954, he was married in the fashionable Everglades Club in Palm Beach, Florida, to Frances Margaret Laacke (September 30, 1892 – July 8, 1993) (She was first married to and divorced from physician Samuel G. Higgins; she then married and became the widow of Milwaukee brewer/real estate dealer George E. Uihlein).[8][9]

Pheiffer then returned with his bride to the Dominican Republic and they took up residence together at the U.S. Embassy in Ciudad Trujillo (now Santo Domingo).[10] He served at his post as envoy until June 2, 1957. He and his wife then returned to New York, where he carried on his practice of law. At his death, his law office was at 645 Madison Avenue.[11][12]

He died at age 88 at his home in New York City.

See also


  1. ^ 1900 Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory, U.S. Federal Census, Purcell, June 6 & 7, Enumeration Dist. 155, sht. 4 A, p. 96 A, line 28.
  2. ^ 1910 Carter Co., OK, U.S. Federal Census, Ardmore Ward 3, April 18 & 19, Enumeration Dist. 43, sht. 3 A, p. 96 A, line 17
  3. ^ World War I Draft Registration Cards, September 12, 1918, Oklahoma City, OK, Serial No. 3637, Order No. 3431, Registrar's No. 35-3-28-C
  4. ^ 1920 Oklahoma Co., OK, U.S. Federal Census, Oklahoma City Ward 1, 800 W. 19th St., January 6, Enumeration Dist. 121, sht. 5 A, p. 183 A, line 11
  5. ^ 1930 Potter Co., TX, U.S. Federal Census, Amarillo, April 14, Enumeration Dist. 13, sht. 25 A, p. 54 A, line 7
  6. ^ The New York Times, Nov 6, 1940, "City Margin Wide; Lead Totals 727,254-- Queens, Richmond Won by Willkie; P. R. System Upheld; Abolition Move Defeated by About 206,550-- Simpson is Elected. Roosevelt's Lead 727,254 In The City," p. 1
  7. ^ The Los Angeles Times, May 22, 1953, from Washington, May 21 (UP), "Ambassador Choises Made," p. 7
  8. ^ The New York Times, March 14, 1954, "W.T. Pheiffer To Wed; Envoy to Dominican Republic Will Marry Mrs. Uihlein," p. 97
  9. ^ The New York Times, March 21, 1954, from Palm Beach, March 20 (UP), "W.T. Pheiffer Marries; Envoy to Dominican Republic Weds Mrs. Frances Uihlein," p. 91
  10. ^ The Los Angeles Times, March 21, 1954, from Palm Beach, March 20 (UP), "U.S. Envoy to Dominican Republic Takes Bride," p. 24
  11. ^ The New York Times, August 19, 1986, "William T. Pheiffer, Ex-Ambassador, 88," p. B6
  12. ^ The Los Angeles Times, August 23, 1986, from Times Wire Services, "William T. Pheiffer; Ex-Envoy," p. E7

External links

  • United States Congress. "William T. Pheiffer (id: P000288)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • William T. Pheiffer at the Political Graveyard
  • U.S. Department of State - U.S. Ambassadors to the Dominican Republic
  • Famous Unitarians, Universalists and Unitarian-Universalists
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
James H. Fay
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 16th congressional district

January 3, 1941–January 3, 1943
Succeeded by
James H. Fay
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Phelps Phelps
United States Ambassador to the Dominican Republic
June 29, 1953–June 2, 1957
Succeeded by
Joseph S. Farland
This page was last edited on 26 December 2020, at 02:45
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