Bullitt, William C.

Bullitt, William C. (Christian)

(1891–1967) diplomat; born in Philadelphia. From an affluent family, he worked in Europe as a newspaper correspondent, then joined the State Department (1917). A member of the American delegation to the Paris Peace Conference (1919), he was sent on a secret mission to Russia and returned to advocate recognition of the new Communist government; when this was rejected, he resigned from the State Department and gave testimony before the Senate committee (1919) that influenced the rejection of the Versailles treaty. He left the State Department and lived mainly in Europe; he turned to Freud for therapy and ended up collaborating with him on a highly negative psychological biography of Woodrow Wilson (not published until 1967). In 1932 President Franklin Roosevelt appointed him as a special assistant to the secretary of state and then as the first ambassador to the U.S.S.R. (1933–36); he soon turned against Communism, a position he increasingly promoted in the years ahead. As ambassador to France (1936–40) and a series of other special diplomatic assignments, he was one of President Roosevelt's most trusted advisors; but after the two had a falling out in 1943, Bullitt joined the Free French army (1944–45). Although regarded as a nonconformist, he spent his last years dabbling in international affairs as a respected elder statesman.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.