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Short, William, 1759-1849



  • Existence: 1759 - 1849

Biographical Note

William Short was born in 1759 in Surry County, Virginia. He graduated in 1779 from the College of William and Mary, where he founded the Phi Beta Kappa fraternity. He was elected to the Virginia Executive Council of State at the age of 24. Today considered America's first career diplomat, Short acted as Thomas Jefferson's private secretary when he accompanied Jefferson to France in 1784. His first important task was to exchange drafts of the U.S.-Prussian Treaty with the Prussian minister at The Hague. Short was made Charge d'affairs at Paris in 1789 and continued Jefferson's policy of seeking liberation of French domestic and colonial commerce in favor of the United States. Short's capabilities and social skills came to be widely appreciated in French diplomatic and social circles. Short served as the fiscal agent of the United States from 1790 to 1792. He was Minister of The Hague in 1792 and then of Madrid in 1793. He returned to France in 1795 and lived there until 1810. He then returned to the United States and devoted himself to private affairs. Short was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1804 in recognition of his distinguished achievements as a scholar, diplomat and financier. He died in 1849.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

William Short Papers

Identifier: Ms-1957-002

Correspondence of diplomat William Short with Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, George Tucker and Ben Stoddart, together with other selected materials relating to Short. It also includes microfilm, photostatic copies and typed transcripts.

Dates: 1785 - 1921