Kingman Brewster, Jr.

American diplomat

Kingman Brewster, Jr. (17 June 19198 November 1988) was an American educator, President of Yale University, and US diplomat.


  • If I take refuge in ambiguity, I assure you that it’s quite conscious.
    • On appointment as President of Yale University, as quoted in The New York Tribune (14 October 1963)
  • Universities should be safe havens where ruthless examination of realities will not be distorted by the aim to please or inhibited by the risk of displeasure.
    • Inaugural address as President of Yale University (11 April 1964)
  • The newspaper fits the reader’s program while the listener must fit the broadcaster’s program.
  • While the spoken word can travel faster, you can’t take it home in your hand. Only the written word can be absorbed wholly at the convenience of the reader.
    • The Enduring American Press (October 1964) edited by The Hartford Courant
  • You and I know that there is a correlation between the creative and the screwball. So we must suffer the screwball gladly.
    • The Enduring American Press (October 1964) edited by The Hartford Courant
  • Maybe you are the “cool” generation … If coolness means a capacity to stay calm and use your head in the service of ends passionately believed in, then it has my admiration.
    • Baccalaureate address as President of Yale (12 June 1966)
  • There is no greater challenge than to have someone relying upon you; no greater satisfaction than to vindicate his expectation.
    • Baccalaureate address as President of Yale (12 June 1966)
  • None of these strictures, however, should inhibit any one of us, in his individual capacity, from declaring himself on the issues of the trial and its fairness … So in spite of my insistence on the limits of my official capacity, I personally want to say that I am appalled and ashamed that things should have come to such a pass in this country that I am skeptical of the ability of black revolutionaries to achieve a fair trial anywhere in the United States. In large part this atmosphere has been created by police actions and prosecutions against the Panthers in many parts of the country. It is also one more inheritance from centuries of racial discrimination and oppression…. The first contribution to the fairness of the trial which anyone can make is to cool rather than heat up the atmosphere in which the trial will be held.
    • Statement to a meeting of the faculty of Yale College, explaining why the university could not use its funds to help defendants in a Black Panther murder trial, as quoted in The Washington Post (5 May 1970), p. A16
  • It is satisfying for the descendant of a dissident refugee from Elizabeth I to present his credentials to Elizabeth II.
    • As quoted in The Observer [London] (3 July 1977)
  • The function of a briefing paper is to prevent the ambassador from saying something dreadfully indiscreet. I sometimes think its true object is to prevent the ambassador from saying anything at all.
    • Address in Edinburgh, Scotland (8 September 1977)
  • Incomprehensible jargon is the hallmark of a profession.
    • Address to the British Institute of Management (13 December 1977)
  • We all live in a televised goldfish bowl.
    • Lecture, St George’s Chapel, Windsor, England (5 May 1978)
  • Judgment is more than skill. It sets forth on intellectual seas beyond the shores of hard indisputable factual information.
    • Address at University of Exeter (26 October 1978)
  • I’m very curious to know what the hell they’re saying on the phone, but I’d be more worried if they weren’t talking.
    • On direct telephone communications between heads of state, as quoted in The Observer [London] (10 June 1979)
  • It is the natural desire of each nation to use the other as an instrument of its own purposes and policies. By dint of our mutual dependence, your influence is amplified by our power. Our power is made more responsible and more effective by your influence.
    • On relations between the US and the UK, as quoted in "Kingman Brewster Jr., 69, Ex-Yale President and U.S. Envoy, Dies" in The New York Times (9 November 1988)
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