Clare Boothe Luce

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Ann Clare Boothe Luce
Clare Boothe Luce bioguide portrait.jpg
Former United States Ambassador to Italy
From: May 4, 1953 – December 27, 1956
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Predecessor Ellsworth Bunker
Successor James David Zellerbach
Former U.S. Representative from Connecticut's 4th Congressional District
From: January 3, 1943 – January 3, 1947
Predecessor Le Roy D. Downs
Successor John Davis Lodge
Party Republican
Spouse(s) George Tuttle Brokaw
(div. 1929)
Henry Luce (died 1967)
Religion Roman Catholic[1]

Ann Clare Boothe Luce (March 10, 1903 – October 9, 1987) was an author, playwright, and diplomat from New York City who represented Connecticut's 4th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives for two terms. She is mostly known for her tenure as U.S. Ambassador to Italy under the Eisenhower Administration, where she was an outspoken anti-Communist.

Luce summed up her philosophy with the phrase:[2]

America first but not only.

Political career

Prior to her fiercely anti-communist, conservative-oriented politics, Luce was at one point a supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs in the 1930s and even briefly a sympathizer of communist causes.[2][3] She later broke from FDR.

U.S. House of Representatives

In the 1942 midterms, Luce sought a U.S. House seat in Connecticut, running against incumbent Democrat Le Roy D. Downs. She won the GOP nomination despite criticisms from intraparty opponents that she was a "carpetbagger," and campaigned with the following platform:[2]

  1. To win the war.
  2. To prosecute that war as loyally and effectively as we can as Republicans.
  3. To bring about a better world and a durable peace, with special attention to postwar security and employment here at home.

Although an internationalist unlike many isolationists who had dominated the GOP for a long period, Luce campaigned against Downs in the general election as a "rubber stamp" for the Roosevelt Administration.[2] Gaining traction from an endorsement by unsuccessful Republican presidential nominee Wendell Willkie, she defeated Downs by five percentage points.[2][4] A socialist candidate in the race siphoned away 15,000 votes, likely having been the primary reason for Luce's victory, which afterwards the representative-elect declared:[2]

I have campaigned for fighting a hard war—not a soft war. Therefore this election proves how the American people want to fight this war. They want to fight it efficiently and without bungling. They want to fight it in an honorable, all-out, plain-spoken partnership with our Allies.

During her House years, Luce was also an outspoken advocate for racial equality.[3]

Although she supported the "general outlines" of FDR's foreign policy, she sharply criticized his single-person decision making, asserting that the U.S. was becoming:[2]

...a dictatorial bumbledom.

In the 1944 election cycle, Luce assailed Roosevelt for "lying" the United States into World War II and not having previously taken further actions to combat fascism globally.[2] In her concurrent re-election bid, she once again benefiting from a Socialist Party candidate drawing support away from her Democrat opponent.[5]

Following the conclusion of the world war, Luce turned her attention to the atrocities of Eastern communism, contending that the Soviet Union "incorporated the Nazi technique of murder."[2]

Family tragedy, House retirement

While campaigning in 1944, Luce's 19 year-old daughter Ann Clare was killed in an automobile accident.[3] The tragedy ended some of her political hopes, and she declined to seek re-election to a third House term in the 1946 midterms.[2] When talking to Catholic bishop Fulton J. Sheen, she asked: "Listen, if God is good, why did He take my daughter?"[3]

After conferring with Sheen for some time, Luce converted to Roman Catholicism in 1946. A friend said of her transition:[3]

Twenty years ago she was like a diamond – beautiful, brilliant and cold. Now she is beautiful, brilliant and compassionate. She has become a kind and remarkably unselfish woman.

Later political involvement

Luce consistently gave active support to Republican presidential nominees. In the 1964 presidential election, she joined the (ultimately unsuccessful) campaign of Barry Goldwater[3][6] even as the conservative Arizona senator was shunned by the moderate/liberal Rockefeller Republicans.[7]


  1. Barnes, Bart (October 10, 1987). CLARE BOOTHE LUCE, RENAISSANCE WOMAN, DIES AT 84. The Washington Post. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 LUCE, Clare Boothe. US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Krebs, Albin (October 10, 1987). Clare Boothe Luce Dies at 84: Playwright, Politician, Envoy. The New York Times. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  4. CT District 4 Race - Nov 03, 1942. Our Campaigns. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  5. CT District 4 Race - Nov 07, 1944. Our Campaigns. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  6. Clare Boothe Luce. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  7. October 13, 1999. Clare Boothe Luce. Britannica. Retrieved September 25, 2021.

External links

  • Profile at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress