Claude G. Bowers Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Claude Gernade Bowers (BOW-urz) was a journalist, political commentator, historian, and diplomat. His formal education ended when he graduated from public high school, and after a brief flirtation with the law he began his journalism career as an editorial writer for the Indianapolis Sentinel. Bowers, an avowed and partisan Democrat, twice ran for the Congress but was defeated on both occasions. After serving as a secretary to an Indiana senator during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, he returned to Indiana and journalism in 1917 as the editor of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette. Beginning in 1923, Bowers wrote editorials for the New York Evening World for several years before becoming a political columnist for the New York Journal from 1931 to 1933.

A prominent orator, Bowers was the keynote speaker at the 1928 Democratic National Convention, and his long services to the party were rewarded when Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed him U.S. ambassador to Spain. There he served with distinction until the end of Spanish Civil War, when he resigned to protest the victory of Francisco Franco. Bowers was thereupon appointed ambassador to Chile from 1939 to 1953, where he became the most popular U.S. ambassador that country had ever had. His sympathetic understanding of Chile is apparent in his delightful and illuminating Chile Through Embassy Windows.

During his long career, Bowers was the author of several works of history, most notably about the Democratic presidents Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and Andrew Johnson. His historical studies later came to be seen as being too politically partisan and journalistic to stand the test of time. Other than his autobiography, Bowers’s most lasting and satisfactory study, and perhaps his personal favorite, was Beveridge and the Progressive Era, a biography of his fellow Hoosier, the Republican Albert Beveridge.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Banta, R. E., ed. Indiana Authors and Their Books, 1816-1916. Crawfordsville, Ind.: Wabash College, 1949.

Garraty, John Arthur, and Jerome L. Sternstein, eds. Encyclopedia of American Biography. 2d ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1996.

Jackson, Kenneth T., ed. Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1994.

“Personal Glimpses of Our New Ambassador.” Literary Digest, June 24, 1933.

Sehlinger, Peter J., and Holman Hamilton. Spokesman for Democracy: Claude G. Bowers, 1878-1958. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 2000.