David Bruce Centre for American Studies
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A Portrait of David Bruce
David Kirkparick Este Bruce was born in 1898 in Baltimore, Maryland. He studied at Princeton and the Universities of Virginia and Maryland, and served in the army in both wars. In 1944 he was amongst the advanced party liberating Paris, but he arrived only to find Ernest Hemingway already ensconced in the writer's favourite bar!
Bruce was a member of the Maryland and Virginia Houses of Delegates (1924-6 and 1939-42 respectively) and he entered the diplomatic service in 1926, a service to which he was to return after the war, entering the European Cooperation Administration in 1948. He was US ambassador to France (1949-52), West Germany (1957-59) and Great Britain (1961-69), playing a leading role in assisting the postwar recovery of Western Europe. David Bruce died in 1977.
Professor D.K.Adams writes:
Ambassador Bruce was an honorary graduate of Keele University and a man whom we held in the highest regard. Those who came to know him also felt deep affection. With his death in 1977 the world of diplomacy lost one of its outstanding practitioners.
Bruce was an old-fashioned diplomat, literate, courteous and almost serene, for whom language was a means of communication rather than obfuscation. He did not seek headlines, and saw no good in public posturing; nor did he find it necessary, unlike some stars, to get a daily shot of adrenalin from the managing of the media. He devoted himself to accommodating the interests of his country to the world environment, and believed that principles should pervade positions even if they could not always dictate policies.
His experience, and the cultural world that he inhabited was international, not provincial; but he had a confident sense of place and his roots were deep in the Maryland and Virginia societies of his family background. As U.S. Ambassador to Paris, Bonn and London, head of the Vietnam Peace talks, first head of the Liaison Office in Peking, Ambassador to NATO, he built a record unsurpassed in the history of the American Foreign Service.
In 1976 the Bruce Centre sponsored a series of lectures in his honour that were given by Lord Home, Roy Jenkins, and George Ball. Our first Memorial Lecture was delivered in 1979 by Sir Harold Wilson, whose subject "The Prime Minister and the Ambassador in the Conduct of Diplomacy" reflected the close professional relationship they had enjoyed.
From the Introduction to "An Atlantic Approach to North-South Relations" by Edward Heath, the Second David Bruce Memorial Lecture delivered at the University of Keele, 19th November, 1982. Copyright. The David Bruce Centre, Keele University, 1982.