United States Ambassador to South Africa

Ambassador of the United States to South Africa

Seal of the United States Department of State
Patrick Gaspard

since August 26, 2013
Nominator Barack Obama
Inaugural holder Ralph J. Totten
as Minister Resident/Consul General
Formation December 19, 1929
Website U.S. Embassy - Pretoria

Before 1902, The southern part of Africa that is now South Africa was under the hegemony of Great Britain. There also were two self-proclaimed independent states: Transvaal (also known as the South African Republic) and the Orange Free State. The British and the Boers fought two wars known as the First Boer War (1880–1881) and the Second Boer War (1899–1902). After the second war, in which the British prevailed, the republics were incorporated into the British Empire. On May 31, 1910, the two ex-republics and the British colonies of the Cape and Natal formed the Union of South Africa, a self-governing dominion of the British Empire.

The United States appointed its first ambassador to South Africa, Ralph J. Totten, in 1929. He was appointed as Minister Resident/Consul General and promoted to Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary the following year.

South Africa was renamed the Republic of South Africa on May 31, 1961 after links to the British crown were severed.


U.S. diplomatic terms

Career FSO
After 1915, The United States Department of State began classifying ambassadors as career Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) for those who have served in the Foreign Service for a specified amount of time.

Political appointee
A person who is not a career foreign service officer, but is appointed by the president (often as a reward to political friends).

The date that the ambassador took the oath of office; also known as “commissioning”. It follows confirmation of a presidential appointment by the Senate, or a Congressional-recess appointment by the president. In the case of a recess appointment, the ambassador requires subsequent confirmation by the Senate.

Presented credentials
The date that the ambassador presented his letter of credence to the head of state or appropriate authority of the receiving nation. At this time the ambassador officially becomes the representative of his country. This would normally occur a short time after the ambassador’s arrival on station. The host nation may reject the ambassador by not receiving the ambassador’s letter, but this occurs only rarely.

Terminated mission
Usually the date that the ambassador left the country. In some cases a letter of recall is presented, ending the ambassador’s commission, either as a means of diplomatic protest or because the diplomat is being reassigned elsewhere and replaced by another envoy.

Chargé d'affaires
The person in charge of the business of the embassy when there is no ambassador commissioned to the host country. See chargé d'affaires.

Ad interim
Latin phrase meaning "for the time being", "in the meantime". See ad interim.


  1. 1 2 Totten was promoted to Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary while in office. This required a new commission.
  2. 1 2 Winship was promoted to Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary while in office. This required a new commission.
  3. Erhardt died while in office on February 18, 1951.
  4. Wailes was commissioned during a recess of the Senate and recommissioned after confirmation on December 3, 1954.
  5. 1 2 Satterthwaite was reaccredited to the Republic of South Africa when South Africa became a republic. A new letter of credence was submitted to the Foreign Office on May 31, 1961 but was not formally presented.

See also


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