Llewellyn Thompson

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Llewellyn E. Thompson
Wfm us embassy llewellyn thompson.jpg
United States Ambassador to Austria
In office
September 4, 1952 – July 9, 1957
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by Walter J. Donnelly
Succeeded by H. Freeman Matthews
United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union
In office
July 16, 1957 – July 27, 1962
President Dwight David Eisenhower
Preceded by Charles E. Bohlen
Succeeded by Foy D. Kohler
In office
January 23, 1967 – January 14, 1969
President Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded by Foy D. Kohler
Succeeded by Jacob D. Beam
United States Ambassador At Large for Soviet Affairs
In office
October 3, 1962 – December 26, 1966
President John F. Kennedy
Personal details
Born (1904-08-24)August 24, 1904
Las Animas, Colorado
Died February 6, 1972(1972-02-06) (aged 67)
Bethesda, Maryland
Spouse(s) Jane Monroe Goelet
Profession Artist

Llewellyn E. "Tommy" Thompson Jr. (August 24, 1904 – February 6, 1972), was a United States diplomat. He served in Sri Lanka,[1] Austria, and, for a lengthy period, in the Soviet Union where his tenure saw some of the most significant events of the Cold War. He was a key advisor to President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis.[2]

Early lfe[edit]

Thompson was born in Las Animas, Colorado,[1] the son of a rancher.[3] He studied economics at the University of Colorado.[4]

Diplomatic career[edit]

In 1928, he joined the foreign service. He was the first US representative to the International Labor Organization of the League of Nations. He was the second secretary at the US Embassy to the Soviet Union from 1941 and remained in Moscow with a skeleton staff after the German invasion of the Soviet Union forced the US Embassy to withdraw to Kuybyshev in October, 1941.[3] He was present at the first conference of the United Nations and participated in discussions that resulted in the Truman doctrine.

Thompson was the High Commissioner/U.S. Ambassador to Austria from 1952 to 1957. There, he negotiated the settlement of the Free Territory of Trieste between Yugoslavia and Italy. In 1955, he represented the United States in the final negotiations for an Austrian State Treaty, which returned then-occupied Austria's sovereignty.

He served as Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1957 to 1962 and again from 1967 ti 1969. In his first term there, he developed a unique relationship with Nikita Khrushchev that helped to contain the Berlin crises. He was the first American to give an address on Soviet television.

Gary Powers' ill-fated U-2 high-altitude spy flight took place during his tenure, as did the American exhibition and the famous "kitchen debate" with Richard Nixon. He participated in both the Camp David summit between Dwight Eisenhower and Khrushchev and the Vienna summit between Kennedy and Khrushchev.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, he served on Kennedy's Ex-Comm (Executive Committee of the National Security Council) when the US received two messages from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, one quite conciliatory and the other much more hawkish. Thompson advised Kennedy to react to the first message and said that the second had probably been written with Politburo input. Thompson's belief was that Khrushchev would be willing to withdraw the Soviet missiles as long as he could portray the avoidance of a US invasion of Cuba as a strategic success.[5] He also testified before the Warren Commission, which was investigating the assassination of President Kennedy.

He held a number of other positions throughout his foreign service career, including Ambassador-at-Large for Soviet Affairs[6] and Deputy Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs. In his second term in Moscow under President Lyndon Johnson, he was present at the Glassboro Summit Conference between Johnson and Alexei Kosygin to discuss US-Soviet relations with Soviets. He was a pivotal participant in the formulation of []Johnson administration]]'s non-proliferation policy on nuclear weapons and was instrumental in beginning the SALT Strategic Arms Limitation Talks ) process. After his retirement, he was recruited by President Richard Nixon to participate in the SALT I negotiations.

Family[edit]

Thompson's wife, Jane Monroe Goelet, an artist, brought art from the US State Department's Art in Embassies Program to the ambassador's residence at Spaso House, the Moscow. The program exhibits original works by US citizens in the public areas of ambassador’s residences all over the world.[3]

His daughters have written a biography published in March 2018 by Johns Hopkins University Press: "The Kremlinologist: Llewellyn E Thompson, America's Man in Cold War Moscow" (ISBN 978-1421424095).

Death and legacy[edit]

Thompson died of cancer in 1972 and is buried in his hometown of Las Animas.[1]

U.S. Route 50 through Las Animas was renamed to Ambassador Thompson Boulevard. [1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Kestenbaum, Lawrence. "The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Thompson, K to N". politicalgraveyard.com. 
  2. ^ "The Kremlinologist: Llewellyn E. Thompson - America's Man in Cold War Moscow" JHUP 2018 - Chapter 27: Thirteen Days in October pp. 298-333
  3. ^ a b c "U.S. Ministers and Ambassadors to Russia". United States Embassy, Moscow. Archived from the original on 18 December 2005. 
  4. ^ "Hall of Alumni" Archived 2007-02-03 at the Wayback Machine., University of Colorado Alumni Association website, URL retrieved November 4, 2006
  5. ^ Robert McNamara, interviewed in The Fog of War
  6. ^ Zelikow, Philip; Allison, Graham (1999). Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (2nd ed.). New York [u.a.]: Longman. p. 110. ISBN 0-321-01349-2. 

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Walter J. Donnelly
United States Ambassador to Austria
1952 – 1957
Succeeded by
H. Freeman Matthews
Preceded by
Charles E. Bohlen
United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union
1957 – 1962
Succeeded by
Foy D. Kohler
Preceded by
Foy D. Kohler
United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union
1967 – 1969
Succeeded by
Jacob D. Beam