Henry Cabot Lodge, who died yesterday at 82, was one of America's premier statesmen-politicians, and his service ranged from the U.S. Senate as a Massachusetts Republican to Saigon as U.S. ambassador for two Democratic presidents during the critical early stages of the Vietnam War.

Mr. Lodge, long associated with the moderate wing of the Republican Party, played a major role in winning the Republican presidential nomination for Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 when he led the fight against the party's conservatives who were backing Sen. Robert A. Taft of Ohio for president.

He served 7 1/2 years as Eisenhower's ambassador to the United Nations, then ran unsuccessfully for vice president on the ticket headed by Richard M. Nixon in 1960. Four years later, Mr. Lodge himself was the subject of a presidential draft movement, and he won the 1964 New Hampshire primary as a write-in candidate.

When it later appeared that Sen. Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona had a lock on the Republican presidential nomination that year, Mr. Lodge resigned as U.S. ambassador in Saigon and came home to do battle with the conservative Republicans once again. He threw his support to Pennsylvania Gov. William Scranton, and to lend credibility to his efforts, he announced he would not accept a presidential draft. But it was a last-ditch effort and it failed.

He completed another term as ambassador in South Vietnam, then served as ambassador-at-large, ambassador to West Germany and spent a frustrating year as head of the U.S. delegation to the Paris peace talks aimed at bringing about a halt to the war in Vietnam.

The scion of a Massachusetts family that traced its ancestry eight generations, Mr. Lodge counted six U.S. senators, a secretary of state, a secretary of the Navy and a governor of Massachusetts among his forebears. His grandfather and namesake was Henry Cabot Lodge, who served as U.S. senator from Massachusetts from 1893 to 1924 and led the fight against ratification of the Treaty of Versailles after World War I and against U.S. membership in the League of Nations.

Mr. Lodge had a patrician demeanor and a tendency toward bluntness and inflexibility, and he looked and dressed like an aristocrat. But he also had an affable charm, an easy politician's handshake, a pleasant manner and, it was often said, a twinkle in his eye.

After four years as a Massachusetts state representative, Mr. Lodge won his first seat in the Senate in 1936, defeating Gov. James Michael Curley, a legend in Massachusetts, by 135,000 votes. He was the only Republican to win a Senate seat away from the Democrats in that year of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's landslide second-term victory.

As a young senator, Mr. Lodge was less hostile to the New Deal than most of the Republican minority. He voted for the Wagner Act, which encouraged union organization, and the Wages and Hours Act, and he supported increased Social Security payments to the elderly. But in matters of foreign policy he generally sided with the isolationists, and in May 1940 he opposed aid to Great Britain.

A captain in the Army Reserve, Mr. Lodge went on active duty in the summer of 1941 and served in North Africa, but the following summer Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson denied his request for further service, saying the nation needed legislators as badly as it needed soldiers.

Mr. Lodge was reelected to the Senate in 1942, but in February 1944 he resigned his seat to go on active duty with the Army, thus becoming the first senator since the Civil War to resign from the Senate to fight in a war. He served in Italy, France and Germany, and his decorations included the Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit and the French Croix de Guerre.

Back from the war, Mr. Lodge abandoned his isolationist sentiments. He supported the United Nations, calling it "our best hope." He told the Minneapolis Foreign Policy Association that "the idea of a provincial nation has given way to the realization that we have become the world's greatest power." He ran for the Senate again in the fall of 1946 and won handily.

In the Senate, Mr. Lodge served on the Foreign Relations Committee, backed postwar aid to Europe and supported the Taft-Hartley Act. In 1951, he assumed leadership of a "Draft Eisenhower" for president movement and spent the better part of the next year in that endeavor, which culminated in Eisenhower's election in November 1952.

He was not as successful in his own bid for reelection to the Senate. A young congressman named John F. Kennedy beat Mr. Lodge by 70,000 votes out of 2.3 million cast in Massachusetts that year, helped in part by the antipathy for Mr. Lodge on the part of many conservative Republicans because of his role in Taft's defeat. "Managing someone else's campaign, that's fun," Mr. Lodge once said in discussing his role directing Eisenhower's campaign. "But yourself. Having to get up every morning and tell everyone what a great guy you are, that creates nausea."

Soon after his election, Eisenhower named Mr. Lodge to head the U.S. delegation to the United Nations, and during the next 7 1/2 years he gained a wide popular following for "talking tough" to the Russians. Rarely did he let a Soviet accusation go unanswered, and often his answers made the television evening news.

When Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev visited the United States in 1959, it was Mr. Lodge who was assigned to escort him around the country.

But for most of his U.N. service, Mr. Lodge and the representatives of the Soviet Union were at bitter odds. He accused the Russians of "wholesale brutality" in putting down the Hungarian uprising in 1956. When the Soviets tried to exploit the downing of an American spy plane over Russia in 1960, Mr. Lodge made a public display of a gift from the Soviet Union to the U.S. ambassador in Moscow -- a replica of the Great Seal of the United States, fitted with a hidden electronic eavesdropping device.

Once, after the Soviet Union had accused the United States of worldwide aggression, Mr. Lodge answered, "Membership in the United Nations gives every member the right to make a fool of himself, and that is the right of which the Soviet Union in this case has taken full advantage."

As a vice presidential candidate in 1960, Mr. Lodge angered some Republican Party stalwarts who considered his campaign pace less than energetic. Several complained that he started the day late and ended it early, and he was said once to have canceled an appearance in Upstate New York to take his wife to visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

In August 1963, President Kennedy named Mr. Lodge ambassador to South Vietnam, at a time when the fighting there was beginning to escalate and the United States was becoming increasingly involved. Mr. Lodge arrived as U.S. confidence in the government of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, head of the secret police, was at a low ebb.

The United States, which had supported the Diem regime for nine years, had promised, unbeknown to Diem, not to interfere in a coup that toppled Diem and Nhu on Nov. 1, 1963. That afternoon a desperate Diem telephoned Mr. Lodge at the embassy asking where the United States stood, but Mr. Lodge would only say that Diem should call back if he feared for his physical safety. The next morning Diem and Nhu were killed after having surrendered to the generals who organized the coup.

Less than a year later, in June 1964, Mr. Lodge resigned and returned to the United States in his unsuccessful effort to capture the Republican presidential nomination for Scranton. He had been back a little more than a year when President Johnson sent him back to Saigon for a second tour as ambassador.

It was during Mr. Lodge's second assignment in Saigon that the bulk of the U.S. military buildup took place. When he arrived in the summer of 1965, the U.S. commitment consisted of an advisory group and about two divisions of combat troops. When he left in April 1967 there were 435,000 American troops in Vietnam, in addition to the ships and aircraft of the 7th Fleet.

While in Vietnam, Mr. Lodge tended to leave the prosecution of the war to the military, concentrating instead on advising the government of Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, with whom he was said to have developed a warm relationship. Among his accomplishments were the prodding and influencing of Ky and his associates toward governmental reform and civilian rule, although Mr. Lodge's critics complained that he was too close to the Saigon government and should have pressed harder for reforms. He also was faulted sometimes for failing to interest himself sufficiently in the details of his job and for being too much the aloof cold warrior for a position of such demanding subtlety, but he was also credited with acquiring a sounder grasp of the situation in South Vietnam than most Americans who were there at the time.

In his final press conference on leaving Vietnam, Mr. Lodge acknowledged that a "satisfactory" outcome had not yet been achieved. He predicted erroneously that the enemy "cannot win and we cannot be pushed out."

After serving as an ambassador-at-large and ambassador to West Germany, Mr. Lodge once again turned his energies toward Vietnam, this time as President Nixon's representative at the Paris peace talks. He resigned in November 1969 after 11 months, complaining that while the United States was prepared to negotiate, "the other side has flatly refused to reciprocate in any kind of meaningful way."

Henry Cabot Lodge -- his family and friends called him Cabot -- was born July 5, 1902, in Nahant, Mass. on the North Shore of Massachusetts Bay. As a boy, he spent summers in Massachusetts and France and most winters at his grandfather's house in Washington. He graduated from Harvard in 1924 and took up journalism, following his grandfather's advice that this would be the best preparation for a career in politics. Mr. Lodge first worked for the old Boston Transcript and later for the old New York Herald Tribune, and he covered the Republican national conventions that nominated Calvin Coolidge in 1924 and Herbert Hoover in 1928 and 1932.

Mr. Lodge retired from public life in 1977 after serving seven years as special envoy to the Vatican, and in retirement he taught politics and diplomacy at North Shore Community College near his home in Beverly.

Survivors include his wife, Emily, and two sons, George Cabot Lodge and Henry Sears Lodge, all of Beverly; a sister, Baroness Edouard de Streel of Brussels; a brother, John Davis Lodge, U.S. ambassador to Switzerland; 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.