Wharton, Clifton Reginald, Sr.

Wharton, Clifton Reginald, Sr. (b. May 11, 1899, Baltimore, Md.; d. April 28, 1990, Phoenix, Ariz.), American lawyer and ambassador who was the first African American to enter the Foreign Service and the first African American diplomat to head a United States delegation to a European country.

Clifton Reginald Wharton, Sr. was raised in Boston, Massachusetts, where he graduated from English High School and in 1920 received a law degree from Boston University. He received an advanced law degree from the same institution after practicing law in Boston from 1920 to 1923. After this, he left Boston and worked in Washington, D.C., as an examiner in the Veteran's Bureau and as a law clerk in the State Department. In Washington, Wharton embarked on his career in international diplomacy. From 1925 to 1945, he served as a diplomat in Liberia (1925-1929), Spain (1930-1941), and Madagascar (1942-1945). Following these assignments, he was consul general at the UNITED STATES Embassy in Portugal from 1949 to 1950.

Wharton practiced diplomacy under both Democratic and Republican administration. In 1953, he became the consul general in France. Five years later, President Dwight D. Eisenhower re-appointed him as UNITED STATES Minister to Romania, and in 1961 President John F. Kennedy appointed him UNITED STATES Ambassador to Norway. Wharton retired from the foreign service in 1964, one year after having received an honorary doctorate of law degree from Boston University.


Contributed By:
Aaron Myers