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John W. Foster

American lawyer, politician and diplomat

John Watson Foster (March 2, 1836 – November 15, 1917) was an American general, journalist and diplomat.

John Watson Foster
General John W. Foster of Indiana, 1836-1917. - NARA - 298106.jpg
32nd United States Secretary of State
In office
June 29, 1892 – February 23, 1893
Preceded byJames G. Blaine
Succeeded byWalter Q. Gresham
Personal details
Born(1836-03-02)March 2, 1836
Petersburg, Indiana, U.S.
DiedNovember 15, 1917(1917-11-15) (aged 81)
Political partyRepublican
ProfessionLawyer, General, Politician
Military service
Branch/serviceUnion Army
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

Born in Pike County, Indiana, and raised in Evansville, he was a lawyer. During the American Civil War, he was a general officer for the Union.[1] The Civil war ended in 1865. Between 1865 and 1869, Foster worked as a journalist for the Evansville Daily Journal.[2] After that, he was the U.S. Minister to Mexico (1873-1880), Russia (1880-1881) and Spain (1883-1885).[2] He was U.S. Secretary of State under President Benjamin Harrison from 1892-1893.[2] In 1895, he helped the Qing Dynasty in drafting the Treaty of Shimonoseki of 1895. He worked for the Chinese as a legal consultant and commissioner.[2]

His grandchildren included John Foster Dulles, who also became a U.S. Secretary of State,[2] Allen Welsh Dulles, a Director of Central Intelligence,[3] and Eleanor Lansing Dulles, economist and diplomat.[4] He is also the great-grandfather of the Catholic theologian Cardinal Avery Dulles.[3]


  1. "The Political Graveyard". Retrieved 2010-01-08.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "John W. Foster". Retrieved 2010-01-08.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Cardinal Avery Dulles dies". Retrieved 2010-01-08.
  4. "Selected Papers of John W. Foster". Retrieved 2010-01-08.

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