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John Jacob Rogers - Father of US Foreign Service Celebration

While the crowd was modest at last night’s John Jacob Rogers – 90th Anniversary of the US Foreign Service Act Celebration their spirits were high. Library Trustees, Nancy Pitkin and Marianne Gries along with myself and Dna. Maria St. Catherine McConnell accepted a proclamation from Mayor Elliot at the opening of last night’s city council meeting. We then walked next door to the library and were joined by Trustee Salmira Mitchell, and a small but spirited audience of history enthusiasts (and cake enthusiasts) to celebrate the life and legacy of John Jacob Rogers. UML Chancellor Marty Meehan said a few words about the history of the 5th Congressional District which he and Rogers both represented at one time. Then Dna McConnell gave a brief talk about John Jacob Rogers, his life, his legacy, and the facts behind his authorship of the 1924 Foreign Service Act which created the US Foreign Service.

Some interesting interconnections were noted, including the fact that the Rogers Act was signed into law by,  another prominent Massachusetts politician: President Calvin Coolidge. Also an interesting tidbits about the 5th district is that the seat was held by Edith Nourse Rogers for 35 years after her husband John Jacob Rogers died in office in 1925. She is noted for her work for veterans,  co-sponsoring the “Serviceman’s Readjustment Act” a.k.a. the GI Bill and introducing a bill to establish the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps which later became the Women’s Army Corps. The VA Hospital in Bradford is named for her. After she too died in office in 1960 the seat went to fellow Republican F. Bradford Morse. Then in 1972, Morse was appointed to be Under Secretary General for the United Nations which sparked an exciting campaign to fill the seat. Current Secretary of State John Kerry emerged that year as the Democratic nominee from a deep field but ultimately lost the election to Republican Paul Cronin. Cronin held the seat until 1975 when it was won by Paul Tsongas. Chancellor Meehan shared a funny anecdote that when he was in office as the Representative from the 5th (somewhere between 1993-2007), then Sen. John Kerry introduced Meehan to Kerry’s family by saying—here’s Congressman Meehan, he’s the guy who’s sitting in the seat that I lost.