Ely Palmer

Ely E. Palmer
1st United States Ambassador to Afghanistan
In office
June 5, 1948 – November 18, 1948
President Harry S. Truman
Preceded by Himself (as Minister)
Succeeded by Louis G. Dreyfus
4th United States Minister to Afghanistan
In office
December 6, 1945 – June 5, 1948
President Harry S. Truman
Preceded by Cornelius Engert
Succeeded by Himself (as Ambassador)
Personal details
Ely Eliot Palmer

(1887-11-29)November 29, 1887
Providence, Rhode Island
Died August 12, 1977(1977-08-12) (aged 89)
San Bernardino, California
Citizenship United States
Eno Ham Johnson
( m.  1913; died  1961)
Education Brown University (A.B.)
George Washington University (M.Dip.)
University of Paris
Profession Diplomat

Ely Eliot Palmer (November 29, 1887 – August 12, 1977) was an American diplomat who served as the first United States Ambassador to Afghanistan in 1948. He later served on the United Nations Conciliation Commission as its chairman.

Early life and education

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, on November 29, 1887,[1] Palmer studied at Brown University, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1907; and at George Washington University, which awarded him a master's in diplomacy in 1909 (which, as he would later note, is no longer awarded).[2][3]

Palmer later studied at the University of Paris.[4]:232


In December 1910, Palmer joined the United States consular service as a consular assistant,[5] and was later posted to Mexico City and Bucharest.[1] With the establishment of the United States Foreign Service in 1924, pursuant to the Rogers Act, Palmer became one of the original class of foreign service officers; he was thereafter sent to Madrid, Paris, Jerusalem, and Sydney.[1]

From Sydney, Palmer was posted to Afghanistan, in 1945.[6] He proceeded to serve as the United States minister to Afghanistan, from 1945 to 1948; thus, upon the elevation of the legation to an embassy, he became the first United States Ambassador to Afghanistan, which lasted for a few months. Like President Harry S. Truman, who nominated him, Palmer found Afghanistan to be "a fascinating country".[2] His successor, Louis G. Dreyfus, took office in 1949.[7]

Following his time in Afghanistan, Palmer succeeded Paul A. Porter as the representative of the United States on the United Nations Conciliation Commission, in October 1949.[4]:117 After President Harry S. Truman approved his appointment in November,[8] Palmer began to work within the week.[9] During the course of his appointment, Palmer met with diplomats and stakeholders to try to find a solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict.[10]

He also served as the chairman of the commission, starting in January 1950.[4]:118 Amidst a diplomatic impasse, he had to convince French diplomat Claude Bréart de Boisanger in matters regarding remuneration for Palestinian refugees, a position rejected by Dean Acheson; ultimately, even the study of possible compensation was tabled in fanciful hopes of more negotiation.[4]:118-120

However, Palmer considered the question of compensation to be the most pressing matter,[4]:123 and many of his actions as chairman would attempt to resolve this issue. Nonetheless, it became clear to both the Israelis and the Arab League, (as James Grover McDonald noted), that the Commission was rather ineffective, and disliked by both sides.[4]:121

Despite the warnings of John Blandford Jr., a conference in Paris was organized in an attempt to facilitate peace negotiations and to investigate the possibility of compensation.[4]:134 Held from September 1951 to November 1951, it failed to produce any progress, in either monies or peace.[4]:134-136 Lacking support from his superiors, Palmer's term as the American representative on the Commission proved to be rather ineffectual; and his work proved to be for naught.[11]

Under the Foreign Service Act of 1946, career diplomats of certain prominence could retire, but only at the rank of Career Minister. So, Palmer retired from the Foreign Service, at the rank of Career Minister, on July 31, 1952.[5] At that point, he went to live on his ranch in California.[6][12]

Personal life

Palmer married Mrs. Eno Ham Johnson, in Paris, June 1913;[13] His Canadian-born wife would follow him from posting to posting. She predeceased him in 1961.[14]

Their son George went into the Foreign Service as well: George Palmer served in Spain, Panama, Canada, and Mexico. George also predeceased Palmer, in 1976.[15]

Both before and after retiring,[16] Palmer was known for his acquaintance with Eugene Ormandy.[17] Throughout his career, he collected autographs.[2]

Ely Eliot Palmer died on August 12, 1977, in San Bernardino, California.[12]


  1. ^ a b c "Obituaries". Department of State Newsletter. No. 194. October 1977. p. 71. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  2. ^ a b c Johnson, Jimmy (April 7, 1976). "Ely Eliot Palmer is a master of diplomacy". The San Bernardino County Sun. p. 34. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  3. ^ "Ely Eliot Palmer, 1st American Ambassador to Afghanistan". Washington Post. August 28, 1977. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Waldman, Simon A. (2015-10-02). Anglo-American Diplomacy and the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1948-51. London: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137431523. OCLC 941872318.
  5. ^ a b "Foreign Service Officer Retires After 41 Years". The New York Times. July 25, 1952. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Roddick, Bob (September 9, 1949). "First U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Spending Summer at Ranch in Del Rosa". The San Bernardino County Sun. p. 10. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  7. ^ "ENVOY TO AFGHANISTAN; Louis G. Dreyfus Jr. of Foreign Service Named Ambassador". The New York Times. 1949-04-09. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  8. ^ "Truman Approves Choice For U. N. Palestine Group". The New York Times. November 5, 1949. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  9. ^ "REPLY TO ISRAEL DRAFTED; Palmer Represents U. S. at U. N. Conciliation Group Meeting". The New York Times. November 10, 1949. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  10. ^ "Israeli Envoy Meets with U. N. Conciliation Commission Head". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 1951-11-08. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  11. ^ Tiller, Stian Johansen; Waage, Hilde Henriksen (2011). "Powerful State, Powerless Mediator: The United States and the Peace Efforts of the Palestine Conciliation Commission, 1949–51". The International History Review. 33 (3): 501–524. doi:10.1080/07075332.2011.595245. ISSN 0707-5332. JSTOR 23033196.
  12. ^ a b "First U.S. envoy to Afghanistan dies". The San Bernardino County Sun. August 14, 1977. p. 20. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  13. ^ "Mrs. Eno Ham Johnson remarries in Paris to Eli Eliot Palmer". The New York Times. June 20, 1913. p. 3. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  14. ^ "Mrs. Palmer, Spouse of Envoy, Dies". The San Bernardino County Sun. February 23, 1961. p. 42. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  15. ^ "George Palmer, ex-San Bernardino". The San Bernardino County Sun. June 6, 1976. p. 45. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  16. ^ "Mr. Eugene Ormandy Entertained". The Sydney Morning Herald. June 1, 1944. p. 6. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  17. ^ Perlee, Chuck; Perlee, Virginia (July 31, 1964). "Place in the Sun". The San Bernardino County Sun. p. 45. Retrieved November 12, 2019.

External links

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Cornelius Van Hemert Engert
United States Minister to Afghanistan
Promoted to Ambassador
New title United States Ambassador to Afghanistan
June 1948-November 1948
Succeeded by
Louis G. Dreyfus

Other Languages