January 4, 2006 Jeffrey Matthews to Discuss 1920s U.S.-German Relations on Jan. 27

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: The Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

American foreign policy in the 1920s, including U.S.-German relations prior to the rise of Hitler, will be highlighted by Jeffrey J. Matthews, who will discuss his new biography, “Alanson B. Houghton: Ambassador of the New Era,” at noon on Friday, Jan. 27, in Dining Room A on the sixth floor of the Library’s James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.

A book signing will follow the presentation, which is part of the Books & Beyond author series sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. The European Division is cosponsoring the event. The program is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservation are required.

Matthews’ book is the first full study of industrialist and influential Republican Alanson B. Houghton, who served as president of Corning Glass, ambassador to Germany from 1922 to 1925 and ambassador to Great Britain from 1925 to 1929. The biography presents a fresh interpretation of American diplomacy of the period, focusing on how U.S. foreign policy failed to adequately support Germany’s first democratic government, thus contributing to the rise of Hitler.

Houghton played a key role in the major diplomatic achievements of the era, including the Dawes Plan, the Treaties of Locarno and the Kellogg-Briand Pact. He was the leading ambassador in Europe, yet he also became the chief critic of U.S. foreign policy within the Harding and Coolidge administrations.

Although a dedicated Republican, Houghton considered the Republican approach to promoting international peace and prosperity too timid and shortsighted. As early as 1922, he warned Washington, D.C., about the potential of a “young Austrian named Adolph Hitler” to gain popularity in Germany and destroy Germany’s first democracy. In 1925 he cautioned President Coolidge that the Second World War would start on the German-Polish border.

Matthews is associate professor and director of the business leadership program at the University of Puget Sound. He holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Kentucky. His many published articles include “Yankee Enterprise: The Houghtons of Massachusetts and the Rise & Fall of Corning Incorporated, 1851-1871” in Essays in Economic and Business History.

The Library’s European Division was established in 1978 to provide collection development, reference and bibliographic services covering all of Europe (except Iberia and Great Britain), including the Russian-speaking areas of Asia. The Library’s European collections are among the finest in the world. For further information, consult www.loc.gov/rr/european.

Established in 1977 as a public-private partnership, the Center for the Book uses resources of the Library of Congress to stimulate public interest in books and reading, and libraries. For information about its activities and forthcoming book and literary events in Washington, D.C. and across the country, visit www.loc.gov/cfbook.


PR 06-002
ISSN 0731-3527