Robert Sanderson McCormick

Robert Sanderson McCormick (July 26, 1849 – April 16, 1919) was an American diplomat. Born in rural Virginia, he was part of the extended McCormick family that became influential in Chicago.

Robert Sanderson McCormick
Robert Sanderson McCormick.jpg
Photograph of McCormick, c. 1896
United States Ambassador to France
In office
May 2, 1905 – March 2, 1907
PresidentTheodore Roosevelt
Preceded byHorace Porter
Succeeded byHenry White
United States Ambassador to Russia
In office
January 12, 1903 – March 27, 1905
PresidentTheodore Roosevelt
Preceded byCharlemagne Tower, Jr.
Succeeded byGeorge von Lengerke Meyer
1st United States Ambassador to Austria
In office
June 26, 1902 – December 29, 1902
PresidentTheodore Roosevelt
Preceded byHimself (as Minister)
Succeeded byBellamy Storer
United States Minister to Austria
In office
April 29, 1901 – June 26, 1902
PresidentWilliam McKinley
Preceded byAddison Clay Harris
Succeeded byHimself (as Ambassador)
Personal details
Born(1849-07-26)July 26, 1849
Rockbridge County, Virginia, U.S.
DiedApril 16, 1919(1919-04-16) (aged 69)
Hinsdale, Illinois, U.S.
Katherine Medill
(m. 1876; his death 1919)
RelationsSee McCormick family
ChildrenJoseph M. McCormick
Katrina McCormick
Robert R. McCormick
ParentsWilliam Sanderson McCormick
Mary Ann Grigsby
EducationUniversity of Chicago
Alma materUniversity of Virginia

Early lifeEdit

McCormick was born July 26, 1849 on the family plantation known as Walnut Grove in Rockbridge County, Virginia.[1] His father was William Sanderson McCormick (1815–1865) and his mother was Mary Ann (née Grigsby) McCormick (1828–1878), whose family owned the Hickory Hill plantation.

When Robert was an infant, his family moved to Chicago to join the McCormick family agricultural machinery business, which became known as International Harvester. He attended prep school at the University of Chicago and went to college at the University of Virginia.


McCormick formed a partnership with his paternal cousin Hugh Leander Adams,[2] which they named McCormick & Adams, to invest in a grain elevator at St. Louis, Missouri in 1876. In the continuing national economic troubles in the aftermath of the panic of 1873, the enterprise failed.[3]:39

Diplomatic careerEdit

Politically active and a major donor to the Republican Party, in 1889 McCormick was appointed as Second Secretary of the American Legation in London, where he served from 1889 to 1892, under Minister Robert Todd Lincoln.[4] That led to his appointment as official representative for the Chicago 1893 Exhibition.

His diplomatic career took off when President William McKinley appointed him as U.S. Minister to Austria-Hungary on March 7, 1901. McCormick presented his credentials on April 29, 1901 and served through McKinley's assassination at the Pan-American Exposition on September 14, 1901. McCormick continued in the role during Theodore Roosevelt's term and when the relationship between the two countries was upgraded, he was promoted becoming the first American ambassador to Austria-Hungary on May 27, 1902 and served in that role until December 29, 1902.[5]

On September 26, 1902, Roosevelt appointed him to St. Petersburg to serve as United States Ambassador to Imperial Russia.[6] He was commissioned during a recess of the Senate and recommissioned on December 8, 1902 after confirmation. McCormick presented his credentials on January 12, 1903 and was present in St Petersburg during the Bloody Sunday protests of that year. After reaching appointment as U.S. Ambassador to France on March 8, 1905, he presented his recall on March 27, 1905.

He presented his credentials in Paris on May 2, 1905 and replaced Horace Porter.[7] McCormick served for almost two years, retiring from the diplomatic services in 1907 when his health started to decline. He presented his recall on March 2, 1907 and was replaced by Henry White, who had been the Ambassador to Italy.[7]

Personal lifeEdit

On June 8, 1876, he married Katherine van Etta "Kate" Medill (1853–1932). She was a daughter of Joseph Medill (1823–1899), who owned and managed the Chicago Tribune newspaper. Together, they were the parents of three children:[1]

McCormick died from pneumonia on April 16, 1919 at his home in Hinsdale, Illinois.[4] He was buried in Graceland Cemetery.


Family treeEdit


  1. ^ a b Leander James McCormick (1896). Family record and biography. p. 308.
  2. ^ a son of Hugh Adams, who married Amanda McCormick. She was the youngest sister of his father William Sanderson McCormick.
  3. ^ Richard Norton Smith (2003). The Colonel: The Life and Legend of Robert R. McCormick, 1880–1955. Northwestern University Press. pp. 23–25. ISBN 978-0-8101-2039-6.
  4. ^ a b c "R.S. M'Cormick, Ex-Diplomat, Dies; Father of Illinois Senator and of Chicago Tribune Editor a Pneumonia Victim" (PDF). The New York Times. April 17, 1919. p. 11. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
  5. ^ "Former U.S. Ambassadors to Austria" (PDF). U.S. Embassy in Vienna. Retrieved December 29, 2010.
  6. ^ "Latest Intelligence - American diplomatic appointments". The Times (36884). London. 27 September 1902. p. 5.
  7. ^ a b "Robert Sanderson McCormick - People - Department History - Office of the Historian". Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs United States Department of State. Retrieved 5 May 2019.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
A. C. Harris
United States Ambassador to Austria
Succeeded by
Bellamy Storer
Preceded by
Charlemagne Tower, Jr.
United States Ambassador to Russia
Succeeded by
George v. L. Meyer
Preceded by
Horace Porter
United States Ambassador to France
Succeeded by
Henry White