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October 4, 2013

Ambassadors to Canada

Bruce Heyman will be the 30th U.S. ambassador to Canada —when the Senate gets around to confirming his nomination.

Heyman, a Chicago businessman and fundraiser for Barack Obama, succeeds Chicago lawyer and Obama bagman David Jacobson, who left Ottawa in July after his four-year stint.

It’s worth noting that Jacobson’s final official visit of his posting outside Ottawa was to Quebec City, where he went to the Citadelle military fortress to thank Canadian troops for their role in Afghanistan.

Coincidentally, it was at the Citadelle in May 1939 that an earlier U.S. envoy to Canada Daniel Calhoun Roper had personally presented his credentials to none other than King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The royal couple was on the first stop of a month-long tour of Canada and the United States ostensibly to drum up support for Great Britain as war with Nazi Germany loomed.

A fictionalized version of this royal visit features in the film “Hyde Park on Hudson,” starring Bill Murray and Laura Linney, as President Franklin Roosevelt and his lover-cousin Daisy.

Oddly enough, another Roosevelt cousin, career diplomat Warren Delano Robbins, served for two years in Ottawa. He may have caught a bad cold in the northern capital, as he died of pneumonia shortly after he quit the posting in March 1935.

Roper didn’t stay long in Ottawa either, feeling a need to return to Washington as dark clouds in Europe gathered. As it turned out he left Canada two weeks before England declared war on Germany on Sept. 3, 1939.

Roper’s replacement was James “Jimmy” Cromwell, an ardent supporter of FDR who was, as his biography notes, “connected to three of the greatest fortunes in America through two of his marriages and one of his mother’s.”

His widowed mother, Lucretia, met on an ocean cruise and married E. T. Stotesbury, a railroad financier and associate of J. P. Morgan. Cromwell’s first marriage was to an heiress of the automotive Dodge dollars, and his second to one 22-year-old Doris Duke, once known as “the richest girl in the world,” thanks to her father’s tobacco fortune.

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