Skip to main content

Ambassador’s Return: 1933

March 2023
1min read

On the evening of December 8, 1933, William C. Bullitt boarded a train bound from Paris to Moscow. This time he traveled as the first American Ambassador to Russia since the Bolsheviks had come to power in 1917. For Bullitt, who had long worked for the recognition of the Communist government by the United States, it seemed a moment of triumph. As one observer commented, his new appointment was a chance for him to “enjoy from a box seat one of the greatest mass social experiments in history …”

Though Bullitt had all but retired from the public scene after his sensational testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in igig, the intervening years had not been inactive ones. He had lived in the Bosporus and consulted with Freud in Vienna, raised German shepherds and Mclntosh apples in New England, and had written a best-selling novel, It’s Not Done . For a brief time he had been married to Louise Bryant, widow of the American Communist John Reed, whose ashes arc enshrined in the walls of the Kremlin ( see “The Harvard Man in the Kremlin Wall,” A MERICAN H ERITAGE , February, 1960).

As ambassador, Bullitt worked with his accustomed zeal, making heroic efforts to cement the long-lost friendship of America and Russia (he even brought with him quantities of baseballs, bats, and gloves). But he came to realize that the idealistic social experiment of 1917 had hardened into an oppressive dictatorship. Later, after World War II, he was to become an outspoken critic of the “soft” policy toward the Soviet Union. In 1936, however, more in sorrow than in anger, a disillusioned Bullitt left his Russian post to become ambassador to France.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "April 1961"

Authored by: Marshall B. Davidson

To him, said Morse, art had been only “a cruel jilt.” Then Providence found other work for this complex, difficult Yankee

Authored by: Robert Froman

The huge, cloven-footed creature that terrorized southeast Arizona was no figment of the mind. The grisly story of its origin and fate was more macabre in fact than any fiction

Authored by: The Editors

A century ago this month began the war that set
These unpublished letters show how one family was bitterly split

Authored by: Robert S. Rifkind

Against a background of postwar turmoil, a 28-year-old State Department aide was sent to negotiate with the Bolshevik leaders. His rebuff by Wilson caused a national uproar

Authored by: The Editors

The eccentric Timothy Dexter finally found a sympathetic biographer in his fellow townsman, novelist John Marquand

Enraged by losses from their herds a band of respectable cattle barons took the law into their own hands—and barely escaped with their lives

Authored by: William G. Mcloughlin

In Toledo a civic crusade matched the popular mayor against a famed evangelist—both with the same name

Authored by: Irma Reed White

Philip II’s cédula real evoked from his overseas domains vivid picture-maps of life in Spanish America

Authored by: Lawrence Lader

How gnarled, upright ex-President John Quincy Adams broke the South’s gag rule in Congress and at last won popular applause

Authored by: Clifford B. Hicks

The search for perpetual motion is a tragicomedy of obsessed inventors, an eager faith, and humbug

Featured Articles

Rarely has the full story been told about how a famed botanist, a pioneering female journalist, and First Lady Helen Taft battled reluctant bureaucrats to bring Japanese cherry trees to Washington. 

Often thought to have been a weak president, Carter was strong-willed in doing what he thought was right, regardless of expediency or the political fallout.

Why have thousands of U.S. banks failed over the years? The answers are in our history and politics.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.

Native American peoples and the lands they possessed loomed large for Washington, from his first trips westward as a surveyor to his years as President.