David K. E. Bruce

David K. E. Bruce

David Kirkpatrick Este Bruce (February 12, 1898 - December 5, 1977) was an American diplomat, and the only American to serve as Ambassador to France, the Republic of Germany and the United Kingdom.



Bruce graduated from the University of Virginia in 1920.[1]

On May 29, 1926, Bruce married Ailsa Mellon, the daughter of the banker and diplomat Andrew W. Mellon.[2] They divorced on April 20, 1945. Their only daughter, Audrey, and her husband, Stephen Currier, were presumed dead when a plane in which they were flying in the Caribbean disappeared on January 17, 1967, after requesting permission to fly over Culebra, a U. S. Navy installation. No trace of the plane, pilot, or passengers were ever found. Audrey and Stephen Currier left three children: Andrea, Lavinia, and Michael.

Bruce married Evangeline Bell (1914-1995) on April 23, 1945, three days after his divorce.[2] They had two sons and one daughter, Alexandra (called Sasha). She died under mysterious circumstances (possibly murder or suicide) in 1975 at age 29 at the Bruce family home in Virginia.[3][4]

During World War II, he served with the Office of Strategic Services operation in London and observed the invasion of Normandy landing there the day after the initial invasion.

He served as the United States Ambassador to France from 1949 to 1952, United States Ambassador to West Germany from 1957 to 1959, and United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 1961 to 1969. He was an American envoy at the Paris peace talks between the United States and North Vietnam in 1970 and 1971. Bruce also served as the first United States emissary to the People's Republic of China from 1973 to 1974.[5] He was the ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization from late 1974 to 1976. Bruce was a candidate for director of its successor the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1950. He is said to have written a secret report on the CIA for President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 that was highly critical of its operation under Allan Dulles's leadership.[6]

Bruce purchased and restored Staunton Hill, his family's former estate in Charlotte County, Virginia. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1976.

Bruce served as the Honorary Chair on the Board of Trustees of the American School in London during his diplomatic career in the United Kingdom. The David K.E. Bruce Award was established in 2007 at the school.[7]

He died on December 5, 1977 of a heart attack at Georgetown University Medical Center.[8]


Bruce wrote a book of biographical essays on the American presidents originally published as Seven Pillars of the Republic (1936). He later expanded it as Revolution to Reconstruction (1939) and again revised it as Sixteen American Presidents (1962).


  1. ^ Mr. Jefferson's University: A History. University of Virginia Press. 1981. pp. 426–427. ISBN 081390904X. 
  2. ^ a b Pitz, Marylynne (November 15, 2009). "Ailsa Mellon Bruce's artworks part of Carnegie collection". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09319/1013040-437.stm#ixzz0Z8KF5ZPx. Retrieved 2009-12-08. "In 1926, the beautiful, reserved and stubborn young woman married David K. E. Bruce, a talented lawyer and the son of Maryland Sen. William C. Bruce. For wedding presents, A.W. Mellon gave his daughter a pearl necklace valued at $100,000 and a 200-acre estate in Syosset, Long Island." 
  3. ^ Nation: A Gothic Romance in Old Virginia
  4. ^ Public Service and Private Pain
  5. ^ "David Bruce, 75, Selected To Head Office in Peking". New York Times. March 16, 1973. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FA0914F83F5C1A7A93C4A81788D85F478785F9. Retrieved 2009-12-08. "President Nixon announced today that he had recalled Ambassador David K. E. Bruce from retirement to head a United States liaison office in Peking." 
  6. ^ Tim Weiner, The Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (London: Allen Lane, 2007), p. 133.
  7. ^ School Web site Retrieved 2010-02-20.
  8. ^ "U.S. envoy David Bruce is dead at 79". Chicago Tribune. December 6, 1977. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/chicagotribune/access/618355302.html?dids=618355302:618355302&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:AI&type=historic&date=Dec+06%2C+1977&author=&pub=Chicago+Tribune&desc=U.S.+envoy+David+Bruce+is+dead+at+79&pqatl=google. Retrieved 2009-12-08. "David K. E. Bruce, a veteran American diplomat who served in a variety of posts including mainland China, died of a heart attack Monday at Georgetown University Medical Center. He was 79." 

Further reading

  • Lankford, Nelson D. The Last American Aristocrat: The Biography of David K. E. Bruce, 1898–1977 (1996).
  • Lankford, Nelson D., ed. OSS against the Reich: The World War II Diaries of Colonel David K. E. Bruce (1991).

External links

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Jefferson Caffery
U.S. Ambassador to France
Succeeded by
James Clement Dunn
Preceded by
James E. Webb
Under Secretary of State
Succeeded by
Walter B. Smith
Preceded by
James B. Conant
U.S. Ambassador to Germany
Succeeded by
Walter C. Dowling
Preceded by
John Hay Whitney
U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Walter H. Annenberg
Preceded by
Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in Beijing
Succeeded by
George H. W. Bush
Preceded by
Donald Rumsfeld
U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO
Succeeded by
Robert Strausz-Hupe

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