The Life of Benjamin Sumner
Utilizing his privileged background, intelligence and dignified public presence to ascend through the ranks of the Foreign Service, Welles became one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s most reliable diplomatic advisers specializing in Latin American affairs.
He formed friendships with several individuals connected with the transcendentalist movement, such as Thoreau, Bronson Alcott and Hawthorne; later helping establish the Concord School of Philosophy.
Early Life and Education
Charles Sumner was born into a wealthy New York family in 1892 and named for his great-uncle Charles Sumner, an abolitionist senator from Massachusetts. He attended Groton School and Harvard before entering the foreign service.
As World War II started, he was an obvious candidate to replace Cordell Hull as Secretary of State, but suspicions that he might be homosexual forced him out. Homophobia in government at that time was widespread.
Once his term as the PAC had concluded, he relocated to Park City, Utah and now works as a physician assistant at a clinic there. With extensive experience in emergency medicine and orthopedics as well as skiing for recreation during his free time – not forgetting his profound love of his family and nature!
Sumner was an advocate for clinical pharmacist participation in all areas of pediatric research and practice. Additionally, he promoted pediatric clinical pharmacology as an independent field of study while advocating for equal access to competitive grant funding opportunities.
Sumner made many original contributions to drug pharmacology. His studies of drug-metabolizing enzyme development demonstrated, for instance, how exposure of pregnant mothers to metals and vitamins could have lasting hepatic drug metabolism effects upon newborn babies.
As a senator, Sumner was one of America’s foremost advocates for racial equality, working closely with Thaddeus Stevens to guarantee civil rights for freed slaves after the American Civil War. As leader of the Radical Republican faction in opposition to President Ulysses S. Grant over Santo Domingo annexation.
Achievement and Honors
Sumner was an innovator in introducing clinical pharmacists into pediatric research and care settings, while advocating for equal access to competitive grant funds – making a lasting contribution to pediatric clinical pharmacology as a field. For his efforts, he is truly deserving of receiving the Society’s Sumner J. Yaffe Lifetime Achievement Award.
Servant class was at the core of society during those times; children were cared for from infancy by nurserymaids and governesses, taught to stand when grown-ups entered a room, put their cheeks up for kissing, and speak only when spoken to directly by adults. But within their families was an atmosphere that fostered a sense of achievement and self-reliance.
Sumner was educated at Groton School, an elite preparatory institution steeped in New England values. At this institution, which also included students like Franklin Roosevelt and Averell Harriman, those born into privilege believed passionately that they owed it to their country to serve it with public service.
Sumner had to work hard despite coming from an affluent family, to reach his goals. First he became certified EMT before later going on to become a physician assistant and working at Granger Medical Clinic in Park City Utah as a specialist for sports medicine and orthopedics.
This collection includes papers related to the McKenzie and Sumner families including estate settlements, inventories and family correspondence. There is also one letter written in 1869 from Philo White discussing political and economic matters both locally and nationwide.
Sumner was an immensely successful career diplomat who played an instrumental role in developing U.S. relations with Latin America and earned President FDR’s respect as a major foreign policy advisor. Unfortunately, his brilliant career was abruptly cut short when allegations that he sexually propositioned Pullman car porters led to an official investigation and ultimately caused his resignation in 1943.
At 63 years old, Sumner is still making millions from his lab-equipment company and investing most of it back into Boston-area charities – such as chairing last year’s Boston Pops Fourth of July Esplanade concerts on Boston Common.
His mother played an outsized role in his early life. Elegant and attractive, she taught him to value refined tastes and high ideals; to stand up when adults entered a room, kiss cheeks on command, and only speak when addressed; decorum was of paramount importance to him.
He now commands an estimated net worth of $3 billion and manages Bain Capital with his personal fortune, investing his own in KaBloom florists, Zoots dry cleaners and Olly Shoes chains of children’s shoe stores. A major donor to Mitt Romney, this heir of Staples stock invested some of his funds in Boston-area companies such as Waters Lab Equipment Company as well as actively contributing to community efforts there.