Hoover Institution Acquires the Papers of James Fulton Leonard, Jr.–US Ambassador to the United Nations

Thursday, October 14, 2021
Portrait of James Fulton Leonard Jr, blue background

Portrait of James Fulton Leonard Jr, blue backgroundJames Fulton Leonard, Jr., American diplomat who served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 1977 to 1979, was born on May 30, 1920, in Osborne, Pennsylvania to Margaret Trimble Leonard and James Leonard, Sr. After graduating from Andover in 1938, he received a scholarship to Princeton University, where he studied engineering (Bachelor of Science, 1942). He served in the US Army Corps of Engineers during World War II, with posts in the United States, France, and Okinawa (1942–46). Later, he attended Harvard University (1952–53) and Columbia University (1963–64). Ambassador Leonard met his wife, Eleanor Martha Hanson while they were both studying for the foreign service exam. They married in 1948.

Leonard was a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy. He spent 20 years serving in Damascus, Moscow, Paris, Taipei, New York, Geneva and Washington, DC; and he spoke six languages. His first diplomatic posting was to Damascus, Syria (1949–51). His second posting was to Moscow at the height of the cold war (1953–55). He then served at NATO in Paris (1955–57). From 1958 to 1963, he was stationed in Taiwan. He returned to Washington where he worked on Far Eastern Affairs (1965–66) and as a Director of the Office of Strategic Research (1966–68). Leonard was Country Director for Korea in the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 1968 to 1969. While serving in that position, he and his wife Eleanor were credited with devising the terms that would ultimately secure the release of the hostages on the USS Pueblo, which had been seized by North Korea.

In 1969, his career turned to arms control, the Middle East Peace efforts, and the US Ambassador to the United Nations. Ambassador Leonard was the Chief US negotiator for the Biological Weapons Convention under President Richard Nixon when he was Assistant Director of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) from 1969 to 1973. From 1979 to 1981 he was Deputy Special Representative to the Middle East Peace Negotiations (the “Palestinian Autonomy Talks”) between the US, Israel, and Egypt, which resulted from the Camp David Peace Accords.

After his second retirement from government service in 1981, Leonard was a consultant or board member for a number of non-governmental organizations. They included the Aspen Institute, the Palme Commission, the Committee on National Security, the Washington Council on Non-Proliferation, the British American Security Information Council, and the Canberra Commission. He died in August 2020 at the age of 100.

The papers of James Fulton Leonard, Jr. are currently undergoing preservation processing. Future access to this collection will be available in the Hoover Institution Library & Archives reading room. Please contact hoover-library-archives [at] stanford.edu for information concerning access.

Jean McElwee Cannon

Jean McElwee Cannon

Curator for North American Collections

Jean M. Cannon is Curator for North American Collections at the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.