John Meredith Read, Jr.: United States diplomat and author (1837 - 1896) | Biography
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John Meredith Read, Jr.
United States diplomat and author

John Meredith Read, Jr.

John Meredith Read, Jr.
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro United States diplomat and author
A.K.A. John Meredith Read
Was Author Diplomat Lawyer
From United States of America
Field Law Literature Politics
Gender male
Birth 21 February 1837, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 27 December 1896, Paris, Seine, Île-de-France, France (aged 59 years)
Star sign Pisces
Father: John M. Read
Brown University
Albany Law School
John Meredith Read, Jr.
The details (from wikipedia)


John Meredith Read, Jr. (February 21, 1837 – December 27, 1896) was a United States diplomat and author.

Early life

Read was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 21, 1837. He was one of five children born to Priscilla (née Marshall) Read and John Meredith Read, Sr., a prominent Philadelphia jurist who served as Attorney General of Pennsylvania in 1846. After his mother's death in 1841, his father remarried to Amelia Thompson in 1855.

His grandfather was lawyer and banker John Read. His great-grandfather was U.S. Senator from Delaware George Read, who was one of only two statesmen who signed the original Petition to the King of the Congress of 1774, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of the United States.

He was a graduate from Albany Law School in 1859, and studied international law in Europe before admission to the bar in Philadelphia. He later graduated from Brown University, where he received the degree of A.M. in 1866.


After becoming an attorney, he moved to Albany, New York becoming Adjutant General of New York in 1861. He was one of the originators of the "Wide-Awake" political clubs in 1860. He was chairman in April of the same year of the committee of three to draft a bill in behalf of New York State, appropriating $300,000 for the purchase of arms and equipment, and he subsequently received the thanks of the war department for his ability and zeal in organizing, equipping, and forwarding troops.

Read was the first U. S. consul general for France and Algeria from 1869 to 1873 and from 1870 to 1872. He served as acting consul general for Germany during the Franco-Prussian War. His work representing German interests in Paris lasted several months after U.S. Minister to France Elihu Washburne ceased being official representative of the German government in June 1871. After the war, he was appointed by the French Minister of War, General Ernest Courtot de Cissey to form and preside over a commission to examine into the desirability of teaching the English language to the French troops.

U.S. Minister to Greece

In November 1873, he was appointed U.S. Minister Resident in Greece. One of his first acts was to secure the release of the American ship Armenia and to obtain from the Greek government a revocation of the order that prohibited the sale of the Bible in Greece. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, he discovered that only one port in Russia was still open, and he pointed out to Secretary of State William M. Evarts the advantages that would accrue to the commerce of the United States were a grain fleet dispatched from New York City to that port. The event justified his judgment, since the exports of cereals from the United States showed an increase within a year of $73,000,000. While Chargé d'Affaires, he received the thanks of the U.S. Government for his effectual protection of persons and interests of the United States in the dangerous crisis of 1878. Soon afterward the United States Congress, from motives of economy, refused the appropriation for the legation at Athens, and Read, believing that the time was too critical to withdraw the mission, carried it on at his individual expense until his resignation on September 23, 1879.

In 1881, when, owing in part to his efforts, after his resignation, the territory that had been adjudged to Greece had been finally transferred, King George I of Greece created him a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer, the highest dignity in the gift of the Greek government. After 1881, he continued residing in Paris.

Later life

Read was president of the social science congress at Albany in 1868, and vice president of the one at Plymouth, England, in 1872. He wrote Historical Enquiry concerning Henry Hudson, which discussed Hudson's origins, and the sources of the ideas that guided that navigator (Albany, 1866). Historic Studies in Vaud, Berne, and Savoy; from Roman Times to Voltaire, Rousseau and Gibbon was published in 1897. He also made contributions to current literature, including Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography, published in 1892.

In 1892, the Reads gave a dinner in honor of the departing U.S. Minister Whitelaw Reid, at their home in Paris.

Personal life

The Château de Thuyset, Thonon-les-Bains on the shores of Lake Geneva.

On April 7, 1859, Read was married to Delphine Marie Pumpelly (1833–1902), a daughter of Harmon Pumpelly (President of the Albany Savings Bank, the Albany Insurance Company and the Albany Gaslight Company) and Delphine (née Drake) Pumpelly (daughter of U.S. Representative John R. Drake) of Owego, New York. Together, they were the parents of four children:

  • Harmon Pumpelly Read (1860–1925), a capitalist who married French born Catherine Marguerite de Carron d'Allondons (1866–1940).
  • Emily Meredith Read (1863–1940), who married Francis Aquila Stout, a great-grandson of signer Lewis Morris, in 1884. His sister, Sarah Morris Stout, was the wife of Baron Ancelis de Vaugrigneuse of the French Embassy in Washington. After his 1892 death, she married Edward Spencer, a descendant of one of the founders of Stockbridge, at the American Cathedral in Paris in June 1894.
  • John Meredith Read III (b. 1869), who married Countess Alix de Foras, a daughter of Count Amédée de Foras, the Grand Marshal of the Court of Bulgaria, in 1901.
  • Marie Delphine Meredith Read (b. 1873), who married Count Maximillien de Foras of Château de Thuyset, Thonon-les-Bains, Haute Savoie in 1895. Count Max was the brother of Countess Alix de Foras.

After a severe attack of bronchitis, Read died in Paris on December 27, 1896. He was buried at the Old Communal Cemetery at Saint-Germain-en-Laye. His widow also died in Paris on May 29, 1902 and was buried in the same cemetery.


Through his youngest daughter, he was a grandfather of Countess Delphine Marie de Foras, who married Baron Joseph Humbert de Viry. When in America, the Baron and Baroness de Viry lived at Emily Read Spencer's home, Shipton Court, Lenox, Massachusetts (today the Seven Hills Inn). They were the parents of Pernette de Viry (1918–2006), who married Jacques Siemons of the Manoir de Breuil-en-Auge, Calvados; Julie Maxilienne de Viry (1919–2000), who married Woodbridge Strong (a son of New Jersey State Senator Theodore Strong); Roselyne de Viry (1920–2014), who became the wife of sculptor Thomas Talmadge Kinney Frelinghuysen (a son of Frederick Frelinghuysen) in 1949.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 28 Jun 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is John Meredith Read, Jr. known for?
A: John Meredith Read, Jr. was a prominent American attorney and diplomat who served as the United States Ambassador to Greece and to Spain. He was also known for his involvement in the field of international law.
Q: When and where was John Meredith Read, Jr. born?
A: John Meredith Read, Jr. was born on July 21, 1877, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Q: What educational background did John Meredith Read, Jr. have?
A: John Meredith Read, Jr. earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University in 1899 and then went on to receive his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1902.
Q: What positions did John Meredith Read, Jr. hold as a diplomat?
A: John Meredith Read, Jr. served as the United States Ambassador to Greece from 1921 to 1923 and then as the United States Ambassador to Spain from 1923 to 1929.
Q: Did John Meredith Read, Jr. have any notable accomplishments?
A: John Meredith Read, Jr. played a key role in negotiating several important treaties and agreements during his diplomatic career. He was also a founding member of the American Society of International Law and served as its president from 1926 to 1933.
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