The Foreign Service Journal, March 2021

62 MARCH 2021 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL O ver nearly 250 years of American diplomacy, several pairs of fathers and sons (and, more recently, daughters) have served as ambas- sadors. Occasionally, they have even served as ambassadors to the same country. No doubt the most famous are John Adams and John Quincy Adams in London. The December 2018 Foreign Service Journal carried the story of FSO Ronald Neumann and his father, Robert Neumann, in Afghanistan. Letters to the editor in the June 2019 Foreign Service Journal identified other examples. But one father and son are truly unique in U.S. diplomatic history: John M. Francis (1823-1897) and son Charles S. Francis (1853-1911) of Troy, New York. They not only served as ambas- sadors in the same country; they served as ambassadors in the same two countries. John Francis served in Athens from 1871 to 1873, and later in Vienna from 1884 to 1885, while Charles Like Father, Like Son The FrancisAmbassadorships Although John M. Francis and son Charles are not well known, they share an important distinction: Both served as ambassadors—in the same countries. BY STEPHEN H . MUL L ER Stephen H. Muller had a 26-year Foreign Service career with the State Department, serving as an eco- nomic officer in Quito, Brasilia, Mexico City, Ottawa, London and Washington, D.C. He retired to Troy, New York, and has published two works on local history: Troy, New York, and the Building of the USS Monitor (2009) and Washington Park, Troy, New York: A Social History (2017). FS HERITAGE Francis served in Athens from 1901 to 1902 and in Vienna from 1906 to 1910. Note that I am referring to the Francises as “ambassadors.” The United States did not begin to call the chief of a foreign mission an ambassador until after Charles Francis’ service. Technically, the Francises’ title was “minister,” and they headed a legation, not an embassy. A Family Dynasty Born in 1823 in the rural community of Prattsburgh, New York, John Morgan Francis began his career in publishing as an apprentice for the Ontario Messenger in New York’s Finger Lakes region. He subsequently became an editor for successively larger newspapers and, in 1846, moved to Troy—at the time, a boom- ing transportation and manufacturing center at the confluence of the Hudson River and the Erie Canal—to become editor and joint owner of the Northern Budget . Five years later, he founded the Troy Daily Times , which became one of the city’s chief news- papers. Yet Francis’ interests went beyond publishing. According to an obituary, “Mr. Francis became a member of the Republican party at its birth.” He was active in New York state Republican politics, which brought him to the attention of President Ulysses S. Grant and resulted in his diplomatic appointment to Greece in 1871. Following service as minister resident/consul general in Portugal from 1882 to 1884, he was appointed envoy extraor-