Chabot, Frederick Charles (1891–1943)

By: Michael L. Krenn

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: September 18, 2019

Frederick Charles Chabot, diplomat and historian, was born in San Antonio on May 11, 1891. He was the son of Charles Jasper and Pauline Minter (Waelder) Chabot. After graduating from San Antonio High School in 1909 (with the "highest honors any graduate had received up to that time," according to his obituary), he embarked upon studies overseas at the Sorbonne and the University of Berlin, where he focused on music and languages.

After returning to Texas, he had a brief career as a concert pianist and organist. He also apparently tried his hand in the insurance and real estate businesses, as well as doing historical research in 1915–16. Perhaps because his grandfather, George S. Chabot, had served in the British Foreign Service, Chabot decided to prepare for a career in the State Department by attending classes at George Washington University in Washington. In 1917 he found his first government employment working for the Library of Congress; by April of that year he was performing duties as a special agent of the Department of Justice.

In June 1917 he embarked upon his career in the diplomatic service. During the next eight years he moved from posting to posting-Paris, Athens, Sofia, Rio de Janeiro, San Salvador, San José, and finally, in 1923, Caracas. His service in the diplomatic corps was not smooth: he had conflicts with superiors, was reprimanded several times for infractions of State Department rules, and, while serving in San Salvador, was arrested by local officials on what appeared to be trumped-up charges of being drunk and disorderly. His last chance for saving his diplomatic career had been in Caracas, but his poor and sometimes incoherent reports from the field eventually moved the State Department to ask him to resign or face being fired. Despite protests that he was a victim of "Republican politics," Chabot tendered his resignation in December 1924.

After returning to Texas he made a more positive contribution in the field of historical research. He published his first book, The Alamo, Altar of Texas Liberty, in 1931, and continued his writing and research on Texas and Mexican history for the remainder of his life. Through the auspices of the Yanaguana Society, founded by Chabot in 1933 and devoted to promoting the study of Texas history, he published and edited a number of brief books on a variety of topics. His most notable works are With the Makers of San Antonio (1937); Excerpts from the Memorias for the History of Texas, by Father J. A. Morfi (1932), a translation of those parts of Juan A. Morfi's work that dealt with Indians in Texas; and Texas in 1811, a translation done in 1941. He also contributed articles dealing with the history of Texas to a local newspaper, the San Antonio Light. Other significant contributions made by Chabot include his locating thirteen original paintings by Theodore Gentilz, which were later placed in the Alamo, helping in the restoration of La Villita and San José Mission in San Antonio, and compiling an album entitled Pictorial Sketch of Mission San José (1935). Chabot died of uremic poisoning while on a research trip to Mexico on January 18, 1943, and was buried in San Luis Potosí. At the time of his death, he had been preparing four more books for publication.

Florence Elberta Barns, Texas Writers of Today (Dallas: Tardy, 1935). Frederick Charles Chabot Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. San Antonio Light, January 22, 1943. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

  • Visual Arts

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Michael L. Krenn, “Chabot, Frederick Charles,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 30, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 18, 2019