George Brinton McClellan Harvey

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George Brinton McClellan Harvey
George Harvey
United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom
In office
May 12, 1921 – November 3, 1923
PresidentWarren G. Harding
Preceded byJohn W. Davis
Succeeded byFrank B. Kellogg
Personal details
Born(1864-02-16)February 16, 1864
Peacham, Vermont
DiedAugust 20, 1928(1928-08-20) (aged 64)
Dublin, New Hampshire

George Brinton McClellan Harvey (February 16, 1864 - August 20, 1928) was an American diplomat, journalist, author, street railway magnate, and editor of several magazines. He used his great wealth in politics. He was an early promoter of Woodrow Wilson, but they became bitter enemies. Harvey was a conservative who wanted Washington to protect big business and harass labor unions. He repudiated Wilson when he saw Wilson oppose political machines and threaten big business in the style of progressive era reformers.

Harvey then supported conservative Republican causes, such as opposition to the League of Nations.[1]


Born in Peacham, Vermont, he was educated at Peacham Academy. At the age of 18, he became a reporter on the Springfield (Massachusetts) Republican and later on the New York World, where he reported on New Jersey politics. He was appointed by Governor Robert Stockton Green of New Jersey as aide-de-camp on his staff, and was reappointed by Governor Leon Abbett. The latter also made him insurance commissioner of New Jersey in 1890. A protégé of publisher Joseph Pulitzer, at the age of twenty-seven he became managing editor of the New York World (1891-4). It was the flagship newspaper of the Democratic Party; its editorials were widely reprinted by the party press.[2]

Harvey then became associated with Thomas F. Ryan and William C. Whitney leading Democrats who were millionaire promoters of street railways. In 1898 Harvey organized a syndicate which acquired the lines in Havana, Cuba. Having accumulated a great fortune, he purchased prestige magazines, the North American Review in 1899. It had long been the leading national magazine in arts, letters, and politics, but it was soon overshadowed and outsold by the muckraking magazines Harvey disapproved of.[3] In 1901 he also purchased Harper's Weekly, which he edited until 1913. He was president of Harper and Company until 1915. In 1903, Harvey purchased the Metropolitan Magazine.


A conservative Democrat, Harvey was a top advisor to New Jersey governor Woodrow Wilson. As early as 1906 he became the first leader to suggest Wilson, then president of Princeton University, would be a strong presidential possibility. Arthur Link says, "More than any other single individual, he was responsible for Wilson's political career."[4] In the runup to the start of the 1912 campaign he gave Wilson strong support. But Wilson was moving left and needed to shake off the image that he was under the thumb of Wall Street. Wilson sensed he was jeopardized by Harvey's officiousness and conservatism, while Harvey was alarmed by Wilson's move to the left of the party. Their breakup was the talk of the hour in the national press, and helped Wilson gain support among liberal Democrats.[5]

In 1916 Harvey urged the election of Charles E. Hughes, the Republican candidate for president.[2]

Despite retiring from Harper's Weekly as editor in 1913, he returned in 1918 to use it as a medium for attacking the policies of President Wilson.[6] In 1918, he established The North American Review's War Weekly, later called Harvey's Weekly, which bitterly denounced Wilson's foreign policy.[2]

Harvey was a central figure in the "smoke-filled room" that played a major role in the GOP national convention in Chicago in 1920. The politicians there recognized that the three leading contenders were stalemated and that a dark horse like Warren G. Harding was needed as the Republican nominee. Harvey himself favored Will H. Hays, another dark horse but one with less support.[7] Harding was elected and he appointed Harvey to the highly prestigious post of Ambassador to the Court of St. James's (perhaps better known as Ambassador to Great Britain). He served from 1921 until 1923, but was not comfortable in the role. He gained a reputation for being acid-tongued and was quoted in 1923 as saying that "the national American foreign policy is to have no foreign policy."[8]

From 1906 until 1908, he promoted the artificial language Esperanto in the North American Review. In 1908 and 1909 he was president of Esperanto-Asocio de Norda Ameriko (Esperanto Association of North America).[9] He was strongly opposed to the League of Nations in 1919 and 1920 on the ground that it involved the yielding of national sovereignty.[2]

Harvey published a number of works during his life, most notably Women in 1908 and Henry Clay Frick, the Man (1928), a biography of the industrialist, art collector, and philanthropist.[10] He died on August 20, 1928, at his home in Dublin, New Hampshire.[11] Harvey was buried in Peacham Village Cemetery.[12]


  • Harvey, George (1904). Address at the 175th Anniversary Dinner of the St. Andrew's Society of Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Harvey, George (1908). Women, Etc.: Some Leaves from an Editor's Diary (1908). New York: Harper & Brothers.
  • Harvey, George (1911). The Power of Tolerance and Other Speeches. New York: Harper & Brothers.
  • Harvey, George (1920). Opinions.
  • Harvey, George (1928). Henry Clay Frick: The Man., an authorized biography by a close friend online

See also


  1. ^ Salme Harju Steinberg, "Harvey, George Brinton McClellan" in American National Biography Online (2000)
  2. ^ a b c d Steinberg, "Harvey, George Brinton McClellan"
  3. ^ Frank Luther Mott, A History of American Magazines vol. 2 (1957)
  4. ^ Arthur S. Link, Wilson: vol.1. The Road to the White House (1947) p 359
  5. ^ Link, Wilson: vol.1. The Road to the White House (1947) pp 359-78
  6. ^ The Columbia Encyclopedia (6th ed 2005)
  7. ^ Wesley M. Bagby, "The 'Smoke Filled Room' and the Nomination of Warren G. Harding," Mississippi Valley Historical Review (1955) 41#4 pp. 657-674 in JSTOR
  8. ^ Thomas A. Bailey, A Diplomatic History of the American People (10th ed 1980) p. 1
  9. ^ Enciklopedio de Esperanto, 1934. (available on the web) Archived July 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ George Harvey (1928). Henry Clay Frick: The Man.
  11. ^ (21 August 1928) Col. George Harvey Dies In Dublin, N.H., The New York Times, Retrieved November 4, 2010
  12. ^ George Brinton McClellan Harvey at Find a Grave

Further reading

External links

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John W. Davis
United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Frank B. Kellogg
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