From the Foreign Service Journal's 1936 photographic supplement.
While the word "hooker" most likely conjures up images of ladies of the night plying their trade in the big city, you probably would have never figured on an American public official with it as a first name! Career diplomat Hooker Austin Doolittle was an Empire State native who went on to represent the United States as Vice Consul and Consul General in locations in Russia, Spain, France, Canada, North Africa, and Pakistan. During the latter portion of his career abroad Doolittle would develop a special fondness for Tangier in Morocco, and, following his retirement from the foreign service continued to reside in that country until his death in 1966. The son of Frank Hooker and Minnie Katherine (Schall) Doolittle, Hooker Austin Doolittle was born in Mohawk, New York on January 27, 1889.
A student at the Utica Free Academy, Doolittle continued his studies at Cornell University, graduating with his A.B. degree in 1911. Following graduation, he was engaged in clerical work in Rahway, New Jersey until 1913, and in the next year resettled in Atlanta, Georgia, where he worked in the auto accessories business. Doolittle's residency in the south later saw him employed with the Retail Credit Co. of Atlanta and New Orleans. By 1916 he had returned to New York, where he took his first steps into international affairs, working as a commercial agent with the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce. After deciding upon a career in the foreign service, Doolittle passed an examination and in January 1917 was named to his first diplomatic post, that of Vice Consul in Tiflis (now known as Tbilisi), the capital of Russian Georgia.
From the Canajoharie, New York Courier.
Entering into his duties in February 1917, Doolittle's time in Georgia extended until 1921, and would "organize the evacuation of American citizens from Russia" that year. Doolittle would meet his future wife, Veronica Bergmann (1893-1976) during this time, and following their marriage in Batum, Russia in March 1921 had two daughters, Katherine Elena (1922-2003) and Natalia Marie Louise Doolittle.
In April 1921 Doolittle was transferred to the U.S. Consulate in Madras, India, and in addition to serving as vice consul in that area later held the post of acting consul in Calcutta. In December 1921 Doolittle was attacked and bitten by a rabid dog while serving in Calcutta, an incident that was written up in several American newspapers. The Utica Herald-Dispatch relates that Doolittle underwent "the Pasteur treatment" for his injuries, and in 1923 left India to take on the Vice Consulship in Marseilles, France.
Through the 1920s and early 1930s, Doolittle continued to advance through the diplomatic ranks, moving from foreign service office class seven to class five by 1930. This period saw him stationed as Consul at Bilbao, Spain from 1926-32 and Consul in Sarnia, Ontario from 1932-33. In the last named year, he was transferred to Tangier, Morocco, beginning a long period of service in that country. His time in Tangier saw him designated as first secretary of ligation in 1937 and in that year briefly held the acting consulship in Seville, Spain. Doolittle would remain in North Africa through the 1940s, and in 1941 was transferred from Tangier to Tunis, Tunisia.
As U.S. Consul General in Tunis, Doolittle had a front row seat to the existing conflict between the French and native Tunisians (Tunisia then being a protectorate of France.) Among Doolittle's contacts in Tunis was Habib Bourguiba (1903-2000), a lawyer and independence activist who had been imprisoned by the French on two occasions in the 1930s. Following his return to his native country in 1943, Bourguiba made his first contact with Doolittle, in the hope that he and the United States would be of aid in the struggle for Tunisia's freedom from French occupation. Still viewed as a threat by French colonial administrators, Bourguiba was aided by Doolittle in his relocation to Egypt in March 1945, and with Doolittle's later role as U.S. Consul General in Alexandria, further aided him with a U.S. Visa so that Bourguiba could travel to the United States to attend the opening session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City. Tunisia would finally win independence in 1956, with Bourguiba serving as its president from 1957-1987. Grateful for Doolittle's input in the struggle for Tunisian independence, Bourguiba later acknowledged him as "my great friend Hooker, who saved my life" during trips abroad to the United States.
Doolittle as he appeared late in his diplomatic career.
While serving in Tunis Hooker Doolittle served as acting Consul in Morocco's capital of Rabat in 1943 and in April 1944 succeeded to the post of Consul General in Alexandria, Egypt. He remained here until 1947 when he was designated Consul General in Lahore, Pakistan, which had achieved independence from Great Britain that year. Doolittle's final years in the diplomatic service saw him as the United States representative on the United Nations Committee to Indonesia in 1950, and, following his resignation from that body retired from the foreign service in December 1950.
Doolittle and his wife later returned to Tangier, Morocco where they would reside for the remainder of their lives. This period of Doolittle's life saw him as the director of the Tangier Gazette (a city newspaper), serve as the first president of the American School of Tangier, and until 1956 sat as a member of the legislative assembly of the International Zone of Morocco. Doolittle died in Tangier on November 30, 1966, aged 77, and later was interred at the St. Andrew's Church Cemetery in that city.
Hooker Doolittle in Tangier.
From the Foreign Service Journal, January 1967.