Loftin  Setzer    Goble    Johnson


Dodd, Jr.

(1905 - 1952)

Dodd, Sr.

(1869 - 1940)

(1848 - 1941)

(1812 - 1896)


(1765 - 1851)


(1738 - 1813)


(1690 - 1746)


































































































































Dr. William "Willie" Edward Dodd, Sr.


Born: 21 Oct 1869, Clayton, Johnston County, NC
Died: 09 Feb 1940, Rock Hill, Loudoun County, VA 

William Edward Dodd was born 21 Oct 186 in Clayton, Johnston County, NC. He was the first child born to John Daniel Dodd (1848-1941) and Evaline Creech (1848-1909). William was called "Willie" by his family and friends.

William Edward Dodd, Sr.

John Daniel Dodd and Evaline Creech Dodd had at eight children - with William Edward Dodd being the eldest.
Children of John Daniel Dodd and Evaline Creech
Name Birth Death Spouse
William "Willie" Edward Dodd, Sr. 21 Oct 1869
Johnston Co, NC
09 Feb 1940
Loudoun Co, VA
1) Martha Ida "Mattie" Johns
Rev. Walter Henley Dodd 18 Nov 1872
Johnston Co, NC
26 Apr 1950
Davie Co, NC
1) Lenora Taylor
2) Jessie Mallonee
Alonzo Lewis Dodd 09 Mar 1875
Johnston Co, NC
14 Dec 1952
Bibb Co, GA
Dora D. Williams
John Ivan Dodd 16 Sep 1876
Johnston Co, NC
23 Aug 1961
New Hanover Co, NC
Clemmie Newell
Martha "Mattie" Ella Dodd 07 Nov 1878
Johnston Co, NC
08 Jan 1828
Wake Co, NC
Ivon Dennis Jones
Mary Dodd 27 Sep 1881
Johnston Co, NC
13 May 1882
Johnston Co, NC
(Died in Infancy)
Eff David Dodd 11 Feb 1884
Johnston Co, NC
13 Oct 1966
Union Co, nC
Nora Finch
Anna R. Dodd Feb 1886
Johnston Co, NC
The 1880 Census shows the Dodd family living in the Clayton Township of Johnston County, NC. John Daniel Dodd was 33 and working as a farmer. His wife, Eveline, was 30. There were five children living on the family farm in 1880: Willie/William Edward (age 10), Walter Henley (age 8), Alonzo Lewis (age 6), John Ivan (age 3) and Martha Ella (age 1).

1880 Johnston County, NC, Census

Name Personal Description Relationship Civil Condition Occupation Birth
Last First Race Sex Age Single Married Self Father Mother
Dodd John W M 33 (Head)   / Farmer NC NC NC
------ Eveline W F 30 Wife   / Keeping House NC NC NC
------ Willie W M 10 Son /   Laborer NC NC NC
------ Walter W M 8 Son /     NC NC NC
------ Alonzo W M 6 Son /     NC NC NC
------ John W M 3 Son /     NC NC NC
------ Martha W F 1 Daughter /     NC NC NC
Willie helped his parent on the family farm and attended Clayton High School. He left home to attend Oak Ridge Military Academy, a college-preparatory military school in northwestern Guilford County, North Carolina. Later, unsuccessful in his efforts to gain admission to the University of North Carolina and the United States Military Academy, Willie enrolled in the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical School in Blacksburg, Virginia, where he studied history and earned his bachelor's degree in 1895.
After his graduation from Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical School, Willie chose to remain in Blacksburg while teaching history and attending graduate school. He received his master's degree in 1897 and soon after that sailed to Germany where he entered the University of Leipzig. From June 1897 to November 1899, he remained in Europe working toward his doctorate and devoting his vacations to travel.  Willie, now William, earned a Ph.D. in history in 1900 and soon returned to the US.
William Edward Dodd (no longer "Willie") applied for a US Passport on 10 Jun 1897 for the purpose of going to Germany to study for two years. The application shows that he was born on 21 Oct 1869 in Garner, Wake Co, NC, but his Death Certificate shows that he was born in Clayton, NC. The passport application also describes his physical appearance as follows: Age (27), Stature (5 feet 9 inches), Forehead (Medium), Eyes (Blue), Nose (Aquiline or Hook Nose), Mouth (Large), Chin (Medium), Hair (Light), Complexion (Fair) and Face (????).

1897 USA Passport Application

After William's return from Germany, he moved back in with his parents, John and Eveline Dodd. The 1900 Census, which was taken on 06 Jun 1900, shows William living with his parents in the Little River Township of Wake County, NC. He is listed as a "Boarder" on the census and his occupation is listed as "Teacher". He is 30 years old.

1900 Wake County, NC, Census

Name Relation Personal Description Birth Occupation
Last First Race Sex Birth
Age S
Children Self Father Mother
Month Year Born Living
Dodd John Head W M Nov 1847 52 M 31     NC NC NC Farmer
------ Eveline Wife W F Mar 1849 51 M 31 9 7 NC NC NC  
------ David E. Son W M Feb 1884 16 S       NC NC NC At School
------ Anna R. Daughter W F Feb 1886 14 S       NC NC NC At School
Jarvis William Laborer B M   1880 20 S       NC NC NC Farm Laborer
Watkins William Laborer B M   1887 15 S       NC NC NC At School
Dodd Walton Boarder W M Nov 1871 25 S       NC NC NC Minister
Dodd William E. Boarder W M Oct 1869 30 S       NC NC NC Teacher
William spent most of the year after his return from Germany in a futile search for a teaching position - while working in the Library of Congress on his biography of Nathaniel Macon. Not until the autumn of 1900 did he secure an appointment as professor of history at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, VA. Here, in spite of a heavy teaching load and inadequate library facilities, he kept up his interest in research.
William married Martha "Mattie" Ida Johns on Christmas Eve, 24 Dec 1901, at her home in Auburn, Wake County, NC. Mattie was born 10 Mar 1876 in Wake County, NC, to Thomas Jefferson Johns and Martha Ida Eccles Dodd, also of Wake County, NC.

1901 Marriage License for William Edward Dodd and Martha Ida "Mattie" Johns

In 1903, William gained public recognition with the now completed biography, Life of Nathaniel Macon. Other publications, such as Jefferson Davis and Statesmen Of The Old South, gained him national recognition as an expert on the history of the Old South.
In time, William and Mattie started a family. William Edward Dodd and Martha "Mattie" Ida Johns Dodd had two children - William Edward Dodd, Jr. and Martha Eccles Dodd.
Children of William Edward Dodd, Sr. and Martha Ida Johns
Name Birth Death Spouse
William Edward Dodd, Jr. 08 Aug 1905
Hanover Co, VA
18 Oct 1952
San Francisco, CA
1) Audrey Ruth Koolish
2) Katherine Hubbard
Martha Eccles Dodd 08 Oct 1908
Hanover Co, VA
10 Aug 1990
Prague, Czech Republic
1) George Barrett Roberts
2) Alfred Kaufman Stern

(Left to Right) William Edward Dodd, Jr., Martha Eccles Dodd and their mother Martha "Mattie" Ida Johns Dodd


William's success in teaching and the publication of scholarly work soon attracted attention. In 1908, he was offered a professorship at the University of Chicago. There he spent the remainder of his academic life. He had been expected to offer courses in both western and southern history, but his interests soon pushed the West aside and centered his attention almost exclusively on the South. Quickly, he began gathering materials in that field for the university library and introducing seminars for graduate study. Slight of build and always giving the impression of frail health, he nevertheless proved himself an unusually effective lecturer. His classes were always crowded, but he had the rare ability to keep them personal and intimate. As a director of research he was particularly successful. Students found him stimulating and suggestive. Some fifty doctoral candidates wrote their dissertations under his direction.
William had a 25-year career as Professor of American History at the University of Chicago.
The 1910 Census shows William and Martha/Mattie living in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. He was 40 years old and she was 34. Son William Edgar Dodd, Jr. (age 4) and daughter Martha Eccles Dodd (age 1) were also listed on this 1910 Census. The census also show that the family had a "cook", Nora Carr (age 23) who had been born in Ireland.

1910 Chicago, Cook County, IL, Census

Name Relation Personal Description Birth Occupation
Last First Sex Race Age S/M Years
Children Self Father Mother Occ. Trade
Born Living
Dodd William E. Head M W 40 M 5     NC NC NC Teacher University
------ Martha J. Wife F W 34 M 5 2 2 NC NC NC None  
------ William E. Son M W 4 S       VA NC NC None  
------ Martha E. Daughter F W 1 S       VA NC NC None  
Carr Nora Servant F W 23 S       Ireland Ireland Ireland Cook Private Family
The 1920 Census shows the Dodd family still living in Chicago, Cook County, IL. William Sr. was 50 and wife Martha/Mattie was 43. William Jr. was 14 and daughter Martha was 11. The family also had a lodger living with them - Ruth Closson, who was working as an Assistant Chief Operator at the local Telegraph company.

1920 Chicago, Cook County, IL, Census

Name Relation Home Personal Description Education Birth Occupation
Last First O/R F/M Sex Race Age S/M Attend
in 1919
Self Father Mother Occ. Trade
Dodd Wm. E. Head O F M W 50 M   Yes Yes NC NC NC Professor University
------ Martha J. Wife     F W 43 M   Yes Yes NC NC NC None  
------ Wm. E. Son     M W 14 S Yes Yes Yes VA NC NC None  
------ Martha E. Daughter     F W 11 S Yes Yes Yes VA NC NC None  
Closson Ruth Lodger     F W 30 S   Yes Yes Indiana Michigan Indiana Asst. Chief Operator Telegraph Op.
An autographed copy of his Jefferson Davis secured William an invitation to dinner at the White House with Theodore Roosevelt.
A zealous Democrat, William  campaigned for and wrote speeches for presidential candidate Woodrow Wilson in 1912. He became a friend of President Wilson, visited him in the White House frequently, and authored a biography of him, Woodrow Wilson and his Work, that appeared in 1920. William's writings frequently showed his progressive political positions. In the 1920s, following Wilson's death, William lectured on Wilson's administration and its accomplishments, revised the biography he had written, and co-edited the six-volumes of The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson (6 vol., 1925-27). He wrote in defense of Wilson for both scholarly journals and the popular press. Through these efforts, he developed connections to a number of figures in the Democratic Party.
Some of the other works by William E. Dodd were: The Cotton Kingdom: A Chronicle of the Old South (also called Chronicles of America, 1919); Statesmen of the Old South (1911); Lincoln or Lee: Comparison and Contrast of the Two Greatest Leaders in the War between the States (1928);  and The Old South: Struggles for Democracy (1937).
The significance of much of William Dodd's work lies in its pioneer character. He was among the first to treat the South's past in scholarly, objective fashion. For a time he was the only professor in the country whose teaching efforts were given entirely to the southern field, and he made the University of Chicago the center for such graduate study. Yet in spite of his sectional emphasis his writings impressed contemporaries as being fair and balanced. He could admire Robert E. Lee without being blind to the virtues of Abraham Lincoln. He could see the faults in the South's past without losing sight of the virtues. His aim was to present the South as the documents revealed it and as a region whose history was essential to an understanding of national history.
William Dodd continued his writing in Chicago with an increasing amount of his time used for lecturing.
The following Passenger List for the S.S. Aquitania, shows William E. Dodd departing from Southampton, England, on 24 Nov 1928, and arriving at the Port of New York on 01 Dec 1928. He was 59 years old. The Passenger List also shows that he was born in Clayton, NC, on 21 Oct 1869. His U.S. address is listed as the University of Chicago, Illinois.

1928 Passenger List for S.S. Aquitania sailing from Southampton, England, to New York

The 1930 Census shows the Dodd family living in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. William Sr's age was 60, Martha/Mattie was 54 and daughter Martha Eccles was 21. The census shows that the Dodd family own their home and that the value of their home is $10,00. William's occupation is listed as a "Professor" at "University". The family had a 29-year-old female lodger by the name of Mildred Wilkinson. Mildred was a teacher at a parochial school.

1930 Chicago, Cook County, IL, Census

Name Relation Home Personal Description Education Birth Occupation
Last First O/R Value Sex Race Age S/M Age
Read &
Self Father Mother Occ. Trade
Dodd William Head O 10,000 M W 60 M 31 No Yes NC NC NC Professor University
------ Martha J. Wife     F W 54 M 25 No Yes NC NC NC None  
------ Martha Daughter     F W 21 S   Yes Yes VA NC NC None  
Wilkinson Mildred Lodger     F W 29 S   Yes Yes IL OH IL Teacher Parochial
*Now chairman of the history department, Dodd had been a professor at the university since 1909, recognized nationally for his work on the American South and for a biography of Woodrow Wilson. He was sixty-four years old, trim, five feet eight inches tall, with blue-gray eyes and light brown hair. Though his face at rest tended to impart severity, he in fact had a sense of humor that was lively, dry, and easily ignited.
**As a supporter of Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and an advisor to the Wilson administration in planning the post-World War I peace conference, Dodd became involved in the highest levels of national and international policy. It was Dodd's contacts with Wilson's inner circle that brought him to the attention of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Franklin D. Roosevelt became the 32nd President of the United States on 04 Mar 1933. Roosevelt's administration had difficulty filling the post of U.S. Ambassador to Germany. The volatile political situation in Germany presented diplomatic challenges, but most observers expected German politics would stabilize before too long. The ambassadorship, normally a patronage position rather than one filled by a State Department professional, was offered to several men, but they turned it down.
In 1932, William Dodd resigned from his teaching position to take a position within the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. The following year President Roosevelt offered him the ambassadorship to Germany, which he promptly accepted.
On 08 Jun 1933, President Roosevelt offered William Edward Dodd the ambassadorship position, and on 10 Jun 1933, Roosevelt sent the Senate his nomination.. William was confirmed the same day. Before his departure to Germany, William's old friend, Carl Sandburg, told him he needed "to find out what this man Hitler is made of, what makes his brain go round, what his blood and bones are made of" and still "be brave and truthful, keep your poetry and integrity." William had been instructed by the State Department to maintain cordial diplomatic relations with Germany and to do his best to  ensure that the German government did not default on its debts to American lenders. "Unofficially", President Roosevelt  asked him to do what he could to protest the Nazi treatment of Jews in Germany.

The Dodd Family Moves to Germany

William, along with his wife Mattie, and two children William Jr. and Martha, left for Germany on 05 Jul 1933. At his departure he said, "The realities of the American past as well as the dilemma of the present reconcile me to the adventure I am about to undertake. Germany can hardly fail to realize the importance of friendly cooperation with the 120,000,000 people of the United States, and the United States can hardly fail to realize the value of social and economic cooperation with the land of Luther, Stein and Bismarck. Though difficulties lie ahead, one can hardly think that an honest, frank mission to Berlin can fail of good result."

(Left to Right) Martha Eccles Dodd, William Edward Dodd Jr., William Edward Dodd Sr., and Martha "Mattie" Ida Johns Dodd



Many in the State Department had reservations about Dodd's suitability for the job. He was neither a political figure of the sort normally honored with such a prestigious appointment, nor a member of the social elite that formed the higher ranks of the Foreign Service. In Berlin some of his subordinates were embarrassed by his insistence on living modestly, walking unaccompanied in the street, and leaving formal receptions so early as to appear rude. Dodd considered his insistence on living on his $17,500 annual salary a point of pride and criticized the posh lifestyle of other embassy officials.



Andre Francois-Poncet (French Ambassador), William E. Dodd (U.S. Ambassador) & Mattie, Eric Phipps (British Ambassador)

Some in the Democratic Party advised him that he should do what he could "to ameliorate Jewish sufferings," but cautioned, "the Jews should not be allowed to dominate economic or intellectual life in Berlin as they have done for a long time." Based on this view of the "proper" role of Jews in society, William Dodd advised Hitler in March 1934 that Jewish influence should be restrained in Germany as it was in the United States. William wrote in his diary, "I explained to him [Hitler] "that where a question of over-activity of Jews in university or official life made trouble, we had managed to redistribute the offices in such a way as to not give great offense." Hitler ignored Dodd's advice and responded that "if they [the Jews] continue their activity, we shall make a complete end of them in this country."

(Left) Ambassador William Dodd is standing front-center in front of the US and Nazi flags;
(Right) Ambassador William Dodd is sitting in the balcony top-left, Adolf Hitler is sitting in the center



(Center) New Year reception by Adolf Hitler at the Presidential Palace in Berlin;
Adolf Hitler in conversation with diplomats, from left, Andre Francois-Poncet (France), William Edward Dodd (USA), Sir Eric Phipps (Great Britain), Mehmet Hamdi (Turkey) and Jakob Suritz (USSR)


(Below) Franz Von Papen with William E. Dodd

Franz Von Papen was a German nobleman and politician. He served as Chancellor of Germany in 1932 and as Vice-Chancellor under Adolf Hitler from 1933-34. He belonged to the group of close advisers to President Paul Von Hindenburg in the late Weimar Republic (a semi-presidential representative democracy, which emerged in the aftermath of the German Revolution of 1918–19). It was largely Von Papen, believing that Hitler could be controlled once he was in the government, who persuaded Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as Chancellor in a cabinet not under Nazi Party domination. However, Von Papen and his allies were quickly marginalized by Hitler and he left the government after Night of the Ling Knives, during which some of his confidants were killed by Nazis.

The following passenger list from the S.S. Manhattan, shows Dr. Dodd - sailing from Hamburg, Germany, on 14 Mar 1934,  and arriving at the Port of New York, on 23 Mar 1934.

1934 Passenger List for S.S. Manhattan sailing from Hamburg, Germany, to New York

Early in his tenure as ambassador, Dodd decided to avoid attending the annual Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg rather than appear to endorse Hitler's regime. In 1933, the State Department left the decision to him. As the Nazi Party became indistinguishable from the government, however, the State Department preferred that Dodd attend and avoid giving offense to the German government. State Department pressure increased each year until Dodd determined to avoid attending in 1937 by arranging a visit to the United States at the time of the rally.

Ambassador William E. Dodd sitting at his desk in the US Embassy in Germany



On October 12, 1933 Dodd gave a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Berlin, with Joseph Goebbels (Nazi Propaganda Minister) and one of Hitler's closest associates) and Alfred Rosenberg (Reich Minister of Occupied Eastern Territories) in attendance, and used an elaborate analogy based on Roman history to criticize the Nazis as "half-educated statesmen" who adopted the "arbitrary modes" of an ancient tyrant. His views grew more critical and pessimistic in June – July 1934, when the Nazis killed prominent political opponents including many dissenters within the Nazi movement.

Joseph Goebbels and William Dodd


Germany's Third Reich hosted a reception of the "Foreign Policy Office" at the Hotel Adlon, Berlin, at which Alfred Rosenberg
 (Reich Minister of Occupied Eastern Territories) made a speech about "Europe's cultural fight against international Bolshevism/Communism".


(Left to Right) Undersecretary Of State Otto Meissner, U.S. Ambassador William E. Dodd,
Nazi leader Alfred Rosenberg and British Ambassador Sir Eric Phipps


(Left) Martha "Mattie" Ida Johns Dodd and Ambassador William Edward Dodd, Sr., 1934; (Right) Ambassador Dodd



William and Mattie Dodd with a group of German children at Christmas

(Left) Martha/Mattie, William and daughter
(Right) Joachim von Ribbentrop, 1936, with Ambassador William & Martha/Maddie Dodd
In May 1935 William reported to his State Department superiors that Hitler intended "to annex part of Czechoslovakia, and all of Austria." A few months later he predicted a German—Italian alliance, but was largely ignored. Feeling ineffectual, Dodd offered to resign, but Roosevelt allowed him only a recuperative visit to the U.S. The President wrote to U.S. Ambassador to Italy in September 1935 that he and Dodd had been "far more accurate in your pessimism for the past two years than any of my other friends in Europe."

(Left) William Jr., Mattie, Martha and William Sr.; (Right) William Jr., Martha, William Sr. and Mattie


(Left) Mattie, William Sr. and Martha; (Right) William Jr., Mattie and William Sr.


The three major camps in the Nazi concentration camp system in Germany were Dachau, Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald. Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp in the state of Bavaria. Located just outside Munich, it was opened on March 22, 1933, less than two months after Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. In 1935, the Jews were being persecuted relentlessly and pressured to leave Germany, but no Jews were being sent to any of the concentration camps. The only Jews sent to the camps at this time were political dissidents, trade union organizers, asocials, vagrants, criminals, race mixers and homosexuals (who had broken the law). For a while, Hitler took care to give his dictatorship the appearance of legality. Germany even hosted the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Adolf Hitler with German Nazi troops



Dodd considered resigning several times from his position as Ambassador to Germany, beginning as early as July 1934. His health declined seriously by 1936 and his clear hostility toward the German government increased his personal sense of defeat.

Letter written by Ambassador William Edward Dodd, April 24, 1937


                                                                                                                                                                                            April 24, 1937

Dear Mr. McCordock,

At the moment I have no photograph suitable. When I have some, expected in a week or so, I shall send you one. You may pick a quotation from my Lincoln or Lee book in case you wish to use one. I have no copy here. The book was published a few years ago by the Century Company, New York.

I am glad you have several history co-women. No profession can be worth more than ours the next two decades, if its members know the truth and track it. Our colleges and schools are about the freest in the world for such teaching - only we have none too many history teachers and our freedom is not free enough.

                                                                                                                                                                                             Yours sincerely,
                                                                                                                                                                                             William E. Dodd

In Berlin Dodd lived simply and worked hard. Deeply disapproving of the Hitler regime, he "presented unflinchingly the American democratic point of view" in rather undiplomatic fashion. He got on neither with the German government nor with the representatives of other nations whom he thought undemocratic. His efforts to live within his salary and to keep down expenses in the embassy did not please his staff; the failure of his hopes to exert a moderating influence on Nazi policies depressed him and he was increasingly at odds with the U.S. State Department.

(Left & Right) Ambassador William E. Dodd; (Center) Ambassador William & Martha Dodd

 In September 1937, his dispute with the State Department over the U.S. diplomatic presence at the Nuremberg rallies became public. The German government told the State Department that Dodd could no longer function in Berlin. Dodd’s tenure as Ambassador to Germany lasted four years, a term that coincided with the rise of the Nazi Party. He was convinced from first hand observation that the Nazis were an increasing threat. In 1937, having run afoul of the State Department for writing materials negative to the Nazi-controlled government, Dodd was recalled the following year. Dodd left Berlin without notifying the press. The New York Times reported that upon arriving in New York on January 6, 1938, he said that he "doubted if an American envoy who held his ideals of democracy could represent his country successfully among the Germans at the present time.
The following passenger list for the S.S. Washington, show Dr. & Mrs. William Dodd (William and Martha) returning to the US, departing Hamburg, Germany, on 29 Dec 1937, and arriving at the Port of New York, on 06 Jan 1938.

1937/38 Passenger List for S.S. Manhattan sailing from Hamburg, Germany, to New York

On 28 May 1938, less than five months after her return to the US from Germany, Martha "Mattie" Ida Johns Dodd died as a result of a "heart lesion" (a stress or trauma delivered to the interior walls of the heart). William and Mattie were living in Mt. Gilead, Loudoun County, VA, at the time. She was 62 years old at the time of her death. Her parent's names listed on the Death Certificate are Thomas and Martha Johns, of Auburn, NC.

Martha "Mattie" Ida Johns Dodd's Death Certificate

After William Dodd's return to the US in early 1938, Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels denounced Dodd by name in a speech at the Nuremberg Congress the following September (1938) for Dodd's "laments on the decay of German culture".
After leaving his State Department post, William Dodd campaigned to warn against the dangers posed by Germany, Italy, and Japan, and detailed racial and religious persecution in Germany. He predicted German aggression against Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. Dodd, who was in failing health, traveled on a speaking tour of Canada and the US, establishing his reputation as a statesman who opposed the Nazis.
William Sr. continued to live on his farm in Loudon County, Virginia, where he died of pneumonia on 09 Feb 1940. His Death Certificate listed his cause of death as "Aspiration Pneumonia". Aspiration Pneumonia is a lung infection that develops after you aspirate (inhale) food, liquid, or vomit into your lungs. He was 70 years old at the time of his death. The Death Certificate list his occupation as "Farmer".

Ambassador/Dr. William Edward Dodd's Death Certificate

William Dodd, Sr. was buried on his farm initially. In 1946, his daughter Martha, had him and her mother reinterred at Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington D. C.


The Obituary of William E. Dodd (Sr.)

The Smithfield Herald, Smithfield, NC
13 Feb 1940



Noted Historian and Former Ambassador to Germany Succumbs to Pneumonia at Country Estate in Virginia. DR. WILLIAM E. DODD, a Johnston County farm boy, who became one of the nation's leading authorities on American history and then United States Ambassador to Germany, died Friday afternoon at his Virginia estate, Stoneleigh Farm, near Round Hill. Bitter opposition to the Nazi regime led Dr. Dodd to resign his post in Berlin two years ago and return to this country where he launched a speaking tour criticizing the Hitler government.
He (Dr. Dodd) suffered a partial physical breakdown and in recent months had been spending most of his time at his estate. Seventy years old, Dr. Dodd was further weakened by an attack of pneumonia, which was the immediate cause of his death. He was placed in an oxygen tent Thursday but death came at 3:10 P.M. the following day.
The funeral rites were conducted Sunday at noon at the home and burial followed in the family burying ground on the estate. Dr. Dodd is survived by a son William E. Dodd, Jr. of Stoneleigh Farm and a daughter, Mrs. Alfred Stern of New York. Surviving also are two brothers, Rev. E. D. Dodd of Norlina, former Methodist pastor on the Four Oaks charge and Rev. W. H. Dodd of Mocksville, and a sister, Mrs. Annie Dodd Griffin, who also lives in North Carolina.
Dr. Dodd was born near Clayton October 21, 1869, a son of John D. and Evelyn Creech Dodd. He attended the schools of Johnston and Wake Counties and Oak Ridge Institute and was graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1895 with the Bachelor of Science degree. Two years late he received his Master's degree from V.P.I. Leaving V.P.I., he attended the University of Leipzig in Germany for three years and won his Ph.D. degree in 1900.
For eight years Dr. Dodd was a member of the history faculty of Randolph-Macon College and in 1908 he joined the history department of Chicago University where he served a quarter of century, resigning in 1933 when President Roosevelt appointed him to become Ambassador to Germany.
Cordially received by President Paul Von Hindenburg as one having "warm appreciation of the cultural bonds between the two countries," Dr. Dodd left the diplomatic post in January 1938, a bitter foe of Nazism, with no word of farewell from Berlin officialdom. He quit the country more unceremoniously than any other American envoy.
He had, meanwhile, lost face in Washington by intervening in the 1937 Congressional fight against reorganization of the Unites States Supreme Court. Writing from Berlin in April to several Senators, he warned them of a "dictatorship plot in the United States, backed by an American billionaire," refused to reveal the source of his information or to name the "billionaire," and brought down on himself the denunciation of the late Senator William E. Borah.
The following September, while Dr. Dodd was on vacation in America, he protested to the State Department over the acceptance by his charge d'affaires, Prentiss Gilbert, of an invitation to attend the Nazi Party congress at Nurnberg.
Cordell Hull, Secretary of State, overruled Dr. Dodd's objections. The latter soon after resuming his post in November, sent in his resignation.
Relieved of his diplomatic status, Dr. Dodd bitterly assailed the government to which he had been accredited. He wrote and spoke to audience in Canada and the East attacking the Nazi regime.
Before going to Germany in 1933, Dr. Dodd lived a quiet life as a historian. On December 24, 1900, he had married Martha Johns of Auburn in Wake County, (NC).
He wrote a number of books which stamped him as an authority on American history and particularly history of the South. Among his best known work are "Life of Jefferson Davis," "Statesman of the Old South," and "Woodrow Wilson and His Work." With Ray Stannard Baker, he edited "Public Paper of Woodrow Wilson."
During the last twenty years of his life, Dr. Dodd's visits to his old home in North Carolina were infrequent. Recently his 92-year old father, John Dodd of Fuquay Springs, said of his distinguished son's visits home: "Will never stays long. He's like a humming bird, in and out like a flash. Will always stays busy. I guess he has done more than any other man alive."
Dr. Dodd's passing brought many messages of sympathy to the family from high officials of the Federal government, including Secretary of State Hull.
In April 1946, during the Nuremberg Trials, William Dodd's diaries were used as evidence against Hjalmar Schacht, a liberal economist and banker, and a Nazi government official until the end of 1937. Schacht praised Dodd's character but suggested his views in the 1930s were tainted by his less than fluent German. He testified that Dodd was his friend who invited him to emigrate to the United States. Schacht's attorney described Dodd as "one of the few accredited diplomats in Berlin who very obviously had no sympathy of any sort for the (Nazi) regime in power".

Children of Ambassador/Dr. William Edward Dodd, Sr. and Martha "Mattie" Ida Johns Dodd


William "Bill" Edward  Dodd, Jr.

Born: 08 Aug 1905, Ashland, Hanover Co, VA

Died: 18 Oct 1952, San Francisco, CA

William Edward Dodd, Jr. was born in Ashland, Virginia, to Ambassador/Dr. William Edward Dodd and Martha "Mattie" Ida Johns Dodd on 08 Aug 1905. William Jr. received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago where his father worked as a Professor of History, and his master’s degree from Harvard University. He taught history in Washington D.C., Rutgers, The College of William and Mary, and the University of California. William Jr. and his sister Martha Eccles had a close relationship with Daniel C. Roper, President Roosevelt’s first Secretary of Commerce. Some sources say that it was through William Jr. and Roper, that William Sr. passed on to President Roosevelt his interest in receiving an ambassadorship.

(Left) William Edward Dodd, Jr.


After his return from Berlin, William Jr. initially returned to teaching but he was drawn to political activism. In 1936, he testified in London in favor of protecting Spain’s republican government against attacks from fascist-backed rebels, and in 1937 raised money on behalf of homeless Spanish children of the Basque region. He served as chairman of the Japanese Boycott Committee, the American League Against War and Fascism, and the American Committee for Anti-Nazi Literature.
In 1938, at age 32, William Jr. sought the Democratic nomination for Virginia’s 8th congressional district, which was directly across the Potomac River from Washington. The seat was held by four-term incumbent Howard W. Smith, a conservative Democrat on the United States House Committee on Rules who used his position to obstruct parts of the Roosevelt Administration’s New Deal agenda. Dodd ran as an ardent supporter of the New Deal, with the support of Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes and others in the President’s circle. William Jr., however, was not known to many voters, had little campaign organization in the district, and very little political experience. Like several other New Dealers seeking to unseat “disloyal” incumbent Democrats in 1938 primaries, William Dodd, Jr. lost badly. Smith outpolled Dodd by a 3 to 1 margin. He was later appointed to a position in the Works Progress Administration.

To find out more about William "Bill" Edward Dodd, Jr. and his life


Martha Eccles Dodd

Born: 08 Oct 1908, Ashland, Hanover Co, VA

Died: 10 Aug 1990, Prague, CZECH REPUBLIC


Martha Eccles Dodd was the second child born to William Edward Dodd, Sr., and Martha "Mattie" Ida Johns. Martha was born 08 Oct 1908 in Ashland, Hanover County, VA. Martha grew up in Chicago where her father was a Professor of History at the University of Chicago.

Martha Dodd studied at the University of Chicago before spending time in Paris. She served briefly as assistant literary editor of The Chicago Tribune.
Martha and her brother, William E. Dodd Jr., joined their parents in Berlin when her father, Dr. William Edward Dodd, Sr., was appointed as the first US Ambassador to Germany. At first she was impressed with Adolf Hitler and "became temporarily an ardent defender of everything going on" and admired the "glowing and inspiring faith in Hitler, the good that was being done for the unemployed."

Martha Dodd married Alfred Stern on 04 Sep 1938, in Norfolk, Hamilton, Virginia.


 William Dodd, Sr., Martha and Alfred Stern



Martha lived a very "colorful" life. She and Alfred eventually became Soviet Communist Agents.


To find out more about Martha Eccles Dodd Stern, her life before going to Germany,
how she became interested in Socialism while living in Germany,
and about the Stern's lives once they returned to the US,


North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program - William E. Dodd 1869-1940 - Click Here

Ambassador William E. Dodd - Wikipedia

*William Dodd - The U.S. Ambassador in Hitler's Germany - Click Here

**The University of Chicago Faculty - William E. Dodd - Click Here

Hall of Holography - World War I - Click Here

Biography in Contest: William E. Dodd - Click Here

William Edward Dodd, Sr. - Obituary - RootsWeb - Click Here

Find-A-Grave - Click Here

Martha Eccles Dodd - Wikipedia
Martha Eccles Dodd - Spy - Click Here
Spies & Spymasters - Martha Dodd - Click Here
Martha Dodd and Boris Binogradov - Click Here