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Leon Fraser | Lionbliss Research


There is little put together on the web for Leon Fraser, but here's a little bit.

  • While a graduate student at Columbia, Fraser also served on the editorial staff of the New York World (1913 - 14) and spoke on street corners for various political candidates.

  • He enlisted in the army, in which he rose from private to major and served in the Judge Advocate General's Department of the A. E. F. in France.

  • Upon his return, in 1920, he served briefly in the Bureau of War Risk Insurance in Washington and, the next year, as executive officer and acting director of the federal Veterans' Bureau. He then joined the Paris staff of Coudert Brothers, an international law firm which specialized in counseling American banking and industrial companies on European loans and investments.

  • Leaving Coudert Brothers, Fraser served from 1924 to 1927 as general counsel for the Dawes plan and as Paris representative of the office of the Agent General for Reparation Payments. Three years (1927 - 30) followed as the New York correspondent of the Boston legal firm of Ropes, Gray, Boyden and Perkins.

  • In 1930 he returned to Paris at the invitation of Owen D. Young to serve as his legal and economic expert in connection with the drafting of the Young Plan and the charter of the Bank for International Settlements. When the B. I. S. was organized in 1930, Fraser was made director and alternate of the president, Gates W. McGarrah [Supp. 2]; he was president from 1933 to 1935.

  • During these years Fraser promoted central bank cooperation, helped develop the standstill agreements with Germany, and participated in the granting of emergency credits to the Reichsbank and to central banks in Hungary, Austria, Yugoslavia, Danzig, and the United Kingdom.

  • His ability at the B. I. S. to reconcile divergent points of view, to obtain the harmonious cooperation of directors representing many nationalities, and to enlist the loyalty of the staff greatly advanced the cause of international monetary cooperation. Upon his return to the United States, Fraser joined the First National Bank of New York, at first as vice-president (1935 - 36) and then (from Jan. 1, 1937) as president.

  • He nonetheless emerged as a spokesman for the banking community, and in 1941 was elected for a three-year term as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

  • Fraser's support of pacifist causes in the years before America's entry into World War I caused Columbia to drop him as an instructor, but when America declared war on Germany, Fraser enlisted in the Army as a private.

  • He rose to the rank of major by the end of the war and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his efforts; after the war he held a variety of administrative positions in both government and private industry, and he served as a director, trustee, chairman, and treasurer for a number of businesses and charitable organizations. Fraser and another American, Gates McGarrah, served as the first two presidents of BIS, the Bank for International Settlements. (Fraser is another anachronism in this piece: the BIS was not founded until 1930 and Fraser did not become its president until 1935, so he could not accurately have been described as "president of the Bank for International Settlements" in 1923.) In 1945, while the 55-year-old Fraser was president of First National Bank of New York, he committed suicide at his summer home in North Granville, NY.

  • In April 1945, at fifty-five, Fraser returned to his boyhood home of North Granville and took his own life.


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