David K. E. Bruce

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His Excellency
David K. E. Bruce
10th United States Ambassador to NATO
In office
October 17, 1974 – February 12, 1976
Appointed by Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Preceded by Donald Rumsfeld
Succeeded by Robert Strausz-Hupé
Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office to the People's Republic of China
In office
May 14, 1973 – September 25, 1974
President Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by George H. W. Bush
United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom
In office
March 17, 1961 – March 20, 1969
Monarch Elizabeth II
President John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard Nixon
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan
Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Harold Wilson
Preceded by John Hay Whitney
Succeeded by Walter Annenberg
United States Ambassador to Germany
In office
April 17, 1957 – October 29, 1959
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by James B. Conant
Succeeded by Walter C. Dowling
United States Ambassador to France
In office
May 17, 1949 – March 10, 1952
President Harry S. Truman
Preceded by Jefferson Caffery
Succeeded by James Clement Dunn
Under Secretary of State
In office
Preceded by James E. Webb
Succeeded by Walter B. Smith
Personal details
Born David Kirkpatrick Este Bruce
(1898-02-12)February 12, 1898
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Died December 5, 1977(1977-12-05) (aged 79)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Spouse(s) Ailsa Mellon
(m. 1926; divorce 1945)

Evangeline Bell (1914-1995)
(m. 1945; his death 1977)
Education University of Maryland Law School

David Kirkpatrick Este Bruce (February 12, 1898 – December 5, 1977) was an American diplomat, intelligence officer and politician. He served as Ambassador to France, the Republic of Germany, and the United Kingdom, the only American to be all three.


Born in Baltimore, Maryland, his father was William Cabell Bruce and older brother James Cabell Bruce. He studied for a year and a half at Princeton University. He dropped out to serve in the United States Army during World War I. At parental insistence, he then attended the University of Virginia School of Law (1919-1920) and the University of Maryland School of Law (1920-1921) without taking a degree before being admitted to the Maryland bar in November 1921.[1]


State service[edit]

He served in the Maryland House of Delegates (1924-1926) and the Virginia House of Delegates (1939-1942).[2][3]

Federal service[edit]

During World War II, he headed the Europe branch of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which was based in London and coordinated espionage activities behind enemy lines for the United States Armed Forces branches. Other OSS functions included the use of propaganda, subversion, and post-war planning. He observed the invasion of Normandy landing there the day after the initial invasion.[4]

After leaving the OSS at the end of World War Two, and before entering the diplomatic field, in 1948-1949 David Bruce was with the Economic Cooperation Administration which administered the so-called Marshall Plan. It was during this time that David Bruce and his new 2nd wife became an early member of the informal Georgetown Set within D.C.

Diplomatic service[edit]

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.

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.[6]

Personal and death[edit]

On May 29, 1926, Bruce married Ailsa Mellon, the daughter of the banker and diplomat Andrew W. Mellon.[7] 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 was ever found. Audrey and Stephen Currier left three children: Andrea, Lavinia, and Michael.

He married Evangeline Bell (1914–1995) on April 23, 1945, three days after his divorce.[7] They had two sons and one daughter, Alexandra (called Sasha). Alexandra died under mysterious circumstances (possibly murder or suicide) in 1975 at age 29 at the Bruce family home in Virginia.[8][9]

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 Allen Dulles's leadership.[10] This claim likely has some basis, since in January 1956, according to Ira David Wood 3rd, David K.E. Bruce was among the very first appointees, by Eisenhower, to the new President's Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities which, years later, became known as the President's Intelligence Advisory Board.

Bruce purchased and restored Staunton Hill, his family's former estate in Charlotte County, Virginia.

He died on December 5, 1977 of a heart attack at Georgetown University Medical Center.[11]


Bruce received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, with Distinction, in 1976.


The David K.E. Bruce Award was established in 2007 at the American School in London.[12]


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).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bruce-david-kirkpatrick-este
  2. ^ Harry S. Truman Library-Oral History of David K.E. Bruce
  3. ^ Bio data
  4. ^ David Kirkpatrick Este Bruce; Nelson D. Lankford (January 1991). OSS Against the Reich: The World War II Diaries of Colonel David K.E. Bruce. Kent State University Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-87338-427-8. 
  5. ^ "David Bruce, 75, Selected To Head Office in Peking". New York Times. March 16, 1973. 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. ^ School Web site Retrieved 2010-02-20.
  7. ^ a b Pitz, Marylynne (November 15, 2009). "Ailsa Mellon Bruce's artworks part of Carnegie collection". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 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. 
  8. ^ Nation: A Gothic Romance in Old Virginia
  9. ^ Public Service and Private Pain
  10. ^ Tim Weiner, The Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (London: Allen Lane, 2007), p. 133.
  11. ^ "U.S. envoy David Bruce is dead at 79". Chicago Tribune. December 6, 1977. 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. 
  12. ^ School Web site Retrieved 2010-02-20.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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[edit]

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