Cass Canfield

Cass Canfield (April 26, 1897, New York CityMarch 27, 1986, New York City) was an American publishing executive who was the longtime president and chairman of Harper & Brothers, later Harper & Row.

Early life

Canfield was the son of wealthy engineer Augustus Cass Canfield and the great-grandson of Presidential candidate Lewis Cass. He attended the Groton School and Harvard University, graduating from Harvard in 1919 after serving as a lieutenant in the United States Army during World War I. He studied at New College, Oxford and trekked through Asia, retracing the route of Marco Polo.

Publishing career

After returning to New York, he worked as a reporter and advertising salesman for the New York Post. In 1924, he invested in Harper & Brothers and became manager of its London office. He held various executive positions with Harper's in London and New York between then and 1931; among the writers who he signed to Harper's contracts were James Thurber, E. B. White, J. B. Priestley, Harold Laski, John Gunther, and Julian Huxley.

Canfield was president of Harper & Brothers from 1931-45, board chairman from 1945-55, and chairman of the executive committee from 1955-67. From 1967 until his death in 1986, he was House Senior Editor at Harper's. He also wrote seven nonfiction books.

Government and political activities

During World War II, Canfield took a leave of absence from Harper's to serve as a member of the Board of Economic Warfare, the Foreign Economic Administration, and the United States Office of War Information. He was a founder of the journal Foreign Affairs.

Canfield campaigned for Adlai Stevenson in 1956. He was a strong supporter of birth control, served as chair of the executive committee of Planned Parenthood, and traveled extensively giving speeches and raising money to support the organization.


Canfield married Katherine Temple Emmet in 1922. They had two sons, Michael Temple Canfield (adopted) (1926-69), the first husband of Lee Radziwill, and Cass Canfield Jr., an executive at Harper & Row. Canfield and Katherine were divorced in 1937, and Canfield married sculptor Jane White, who died in 1984. In 1984, Canfield married Joan H. King.


"I am a publisher - a hybrid creature: one part star gazer, one part gambler, one part businessman, one part midwife and three parts optimist."


  • The Publishing Experience (1969)
  • Up and Down and Around (1971)
  • The Incredible Pierpont Morgan (1974)
  • Samuel Adams' Revolution (1976)
  • The Iron Will of Jefferson Davis (1978)
  • Outrageous Fortunes: The Story of the Medici, the Rothschilds and J. Pierpont Morgan (1981)
  • The Six (1983)

External links

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