Francis Bowes Sayre, Sr.

(April 30, 1885 – March 29, 1972)

Francis Bowes Sayre was born on April 30, 1885. He was a professor at Harvard Law School and High Commissioner of The Philippines. He married Jessie Woodrow Wilson on November 25 1913 in a ceremony at the White House, thus he was also a son-in-law of President Woodrow Wilson.

He later served as foreign affairs adviser to the government of King Chulalongkorn of Siam as successor to American Foreign Affairs Adviser Edward Henry Strobel, Jens Westerngard and Eldon James Assistant Secretary of State of State, High Commissioner of the Philippines, and U.S. representative to the United NAtiones Trusteeship Council.

While Sayre was Siam’s foreign affairs adviser, he was appointed by King Prajadhipok as Siam’s representative on the Permanent Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Crown of Siam , and was the second American adviser to be awarded the title Phya Kalyanamaitri or “the beautiful in friendship.” The first American Adviser in Foreign Affairs, also a Harvard law professor, was Edward Henry Strobel. 

Sayre’s immediate subordinate in his capacity of Assistant Secretary of State was Alger Hiss. Sayre declined to testify as a character witness for the defense at Hiss’s perjury trials.

Francis Bowes Sayre is known among Thai people for his good deeds in helping Thailand free of The Bowring Treaty (an agreement signed on April 18, 1855 between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Siam that liberalized foreign countries to trade in Thailand, causing a huge economic crisis in the country).

As he used to teach law in Havard, he’s very talented and was the one who encouraged King Rama 6 to announce Thailand to join World War I. Joining The World War I made powerful countries support Thailand and The United Kingdom finally canceled the treaty after almost 70 years.

Actually he was also the one to help King Rama 7 to write a constitution for Thai people because the King thought Thailand needed a democracy system but there was a coup taking the power from the king before he could give the constitution to the people.

Thai people owe him a lot and really appreciate what he did for our country.

That’s also a reason we call him Phya Kanlayanamaitri ( Good friend )

Sayre’s son, Francis Bouwes Sayre, Jr., (1915-2008) was the dean of the National Catherdral in Washington from 1951 until his retirement in 1978.

The Sayre Highway stretching from Cagayan de Oro City to Kabacan, Cotabato  in the Philippines was named after him, formerly named Route 3, since he was the one who spearheaded its construction.

He died on March 29, 1972.

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