DeWitt Clinton Poole Jr., the son of DeWitt Clinton Poole, Sr., was born on 28th October, 1885 at a U.S. Army post near Vancouver, Washington. His father was a veteran of the American Civil War and the Sioux Wars in South Dakota. He attended the University of Wisconsin in 1906 and obtained his Master of Diplomacy from George Washington University in 1910.
In 1911 he found work with the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Trade Agreements. Later that year he was sent on his first foreign service assignment as Vice-Consul in Berlin, where he worked until 1914, when he was transferred to Paris. In 1916, he was promoted to American Consul in Paris. The following year he was sent to Russia to serve as Vice Consul General in Moscow.
Poole arrived on 1st September, 1917, on the same train as Somerset Maugham. He was working with MI6 and had been sent to Russia to help support the Provisional Government that had taken power following the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II. After Lenin gained power, Poole became head of a spying network that sought to remove the Bolshevik administration. In May 1918, Poole became the Consul General in Moscow.
Poole's main agent in Russia was Xenophon Kalamatiano. He had been obtaining important military information from Colonel Alexander V. Friede, a member of the Russian General Staff. Friede also supplied him with a Russian passport made out in the name of Sergei Nikolayevich Serpukhovsky. This allowed him to travel around Russia and he successfully established a spy network in the Ukraine. According to one message sent to Dewitt Clinton Poole the network included seven agents and two couriers.
President Woodrow Wilson was initially opposed to intervention against the Bolshevik government. This was partly because he did not want to do anything that increased the power of the British and French empires. Secondly, as a democrat, he had no desire and did not want to help the return of the Russian monarchy. In March 1918 he sent a telegram to the Bolshevik government, via the American consulate in Moscow: "The whole heart of the people of the United States is with the people of Russia in the attempt to free themselves for ever from an autocratic government and to become the masters of their own fate."
In April 1918, Mansfield Smith-Cumming, the head of MI6 sent George Reilly to Russia. He joined a team that included the Robert Bruce Lockhart, the Head of Special Mission to the Soviet Government with the rank of acting British Consul-General, George Alexander Hill, Paul Dukes, Cudbert Thornhill, Ernest Boyce, Oswald Rayner and Stephen Alley. The main objective of this group was to bring about the overthrow of Lenin and the Bolshevik government. DeWitt Clinton Poole joined this conspiracy.
On 3rd August, 1918, Archangel was seized by 1,500 British and French troops under the command of Major General Frederick Cuthbert Poole. The following morning Cheka rounded up 200 British and French residents in Moscow. American citizens like Kalamatiano were left untouched as American forces did not join in the invasion until the following month. According to Alexander Orlov, a secret agent working for Cheka: "Lenin came to the conclusion that the British and French were definitely plotting the overthrow of the Soviet government. He suggested to Dzerhinsky that it would be a good thing if the Cheka could catch the foreign plotters red-handed and expose them to the world."
That summer, Jan Buikis, a Soviet soldier, made contact with Francis Cromie, the naval attaché at the British Embassy, and requested a meeting with Robert Bruce Lockhart. On 14th August, 1918, Buikis and Colonel Eduard Berzin, met Lockhart. Berzin told Lockhart that there was serious disaffection among the Lettish troops and asked for money to finance an anti-Bolshevik coup. Lockhart, who described Berzin as "a tall powerfully-built man with clear-cut features and hard steely eyes" was impressed by Berzen. He told Lockhart that he was a senior commander of the Lettish (Latvian) regiments that had been protecting the Bolshevik Government ever since the revolution. Berzin insisted that these regiments had proved indispensable to Lenin, saving his regime from several attempted coups d'état.
Lockhart claimed that initially he was suspicious of Berzin but was convinced by a letter that had been sent by Cromie: "Always on my guard against agents provocateurs, I scrutinized the letter carefully. It was unmistakably from Cromie. The handwriting was his... The letter closed with a recommendation of Berzin as a man who might be able to render us some service." Lockhart also believed Berzin's claim that the Latvian regiments had lost all enthusiasm for protecting the Revolutionary Government and wanted to return to Latvia. Another agent involved in the plot, George Alexander Hill, also believed Berzin was telling the truth and the men were in the ideal position to overthrow the Bolshevik government: "The Letts were the corner stone and foundation of the Soviet government. They guarded the Kremlin, gold stock and the munitions."
Robert Bruce Lockhart arranged for it to be an Allied operation. On 25th August 1918, Consul-General Dewitt Clinton Poole attended a meeting with French Consul-General Joseph Fernand Grenard where the plot was discussed. Xenophon Kalamatiano arranged for 200,000 rubles to be contributed to the operation. Colonel Henri de Vertemont, the leading French intelligence agent in Russia also contributed money for the venture. Over the next week, George Reilly, Ernest Boyce and George Alexander Hill had regular meetings with Colonel Eduard Berzin, where they planned the overthrow of the Bolsheviks. During this period they handed over 1,200,000 rubles. Unknown to MI6 this money was immediately handed over to Felix Dzerzhinsky, the head of Cheka. So also were the details of the British conspiracy.
Berzin told the agents that his troops had been to assigned to guard the theatre where the Soviet Central Executive Committee was to met. A plan was devised to arrest Lenin and Leon Trotsky at the meeting was to take place on 28th August, 1918. Robin Bruce Lockhart, the author of Reilly: Ace of Spies (1992) has argued: "Reilly's grand plan was to arrest all the Red leaders in one swoop on August 28th when a meeting of the Soviet Central Executive Committee was due to be held. Rather than execute them, Reilly intended to de-bag the Bolshevik hierarchy and with Lenin and Trotsky in front, to march them through the streets of Moscow bereft of trousers and underpants, shirt-tails flying in the breeze. They would then be imprisoned. Reilly maintained that it was better to destroy their power by ridicule than to make martyrs of the Bolshevik leaders by shooting them." Reilly's plan was eventually rejected and it was decided to execute the entire leadership of the Bolshevik Party.
Reilly later recalled: "At a given signal, the soldiers were to close the doors and cover all the people in the Theatre with their rifles, while a selected detachment was to secure the persons of Lenin and Trotsky... In case there was any hitch in the proceedings, in case the Soviets showed fight or the Letts proved nervous... the other conspirators and myself would carry grenades in our place of concealment behind the curtains." However, at the last moment, the Soviet Central Executive Committee meeting was postponed until 6th September.
On 31st August 1918 Dora Kaplan attempted to assassinate Lenin. It was claimed that this was part of the British conspiracy to overthrow the Bolshevik government and orders were issued by Felix Dzerzhinsky, the head of Cheka, to round up the agents based in British Embassy in Petrograd. The naval attaché, Francis Cromie was killed resisting arrest. According to Robin Bruce Lockhart: "The gallant Cromie had resisted to the last; with a Browning in each hand he had killed a commissar and wounded several Cheka thugs, before falling himself riddled with Red bullets. Kicked and trampled on, his body was thrown out of the second floor window."
Ernest Boyce and Robert Bruce Lockhart were both arrested but George Reilly had a lucky escape. He arranged to meet Cromie that morning. He arrived at the British Embassy soon after Cromie had been killed: "The Embassy door had been battered off its hinges. The Embassy flag had been torn down. The Embassy had been carried by storm." George Alexander Hill and Reilly both went into hiding and were eventually smuggled out of Russia.
On 2nd September, 1918, Bolshevik newspapers splashed on their front pages the discovery of an Anglo-French conspiracy that involved undercover agents and diplomats. One newspaper insisted that "Anglo-French capitalists, through hired assassins, organised terrorist attempts on representatives of the Soviet." These conspirators were accused of being involved in the murder of Moisei Uritsky and the attempted assassination of Lenin. Lockhart and Reilly were both named in these reports. "Lockhart entered into personal contact with the commander of a large Lettish unit... should the plot succeed, Lockhart promised in the name of the Allies immediate restoration of a free Latvia."
An edition of Pravda declared that Lockhart was the main organiser of the plot and was labelled as "a murderer and conspirator against the Russian Soviet government". The newspaper then went on to argue: "Lockhart... was a diplomatic representative organising murder and rebellion on the territory of the country where he is representative. This bandit in dinner jacket and gloves tries to hide like a cat at large, under the shelter of international law and ethics. No, Mr Lockhart, this will not save you. The workmen and the poorer peasants of Russia are not idiots enough to defend murderers, robbers and highwaymen."
The following day Robert Bruce Lockhart was arrested and charged with assassination, attempted murder and planning a coup d'état. All three crimes carried the death sentence. The couriers used by British agents were also arrested. Lockhart's mistress, Maria Zakrveskia, who had nothing to do with the conspiracy, was also taken into custody. However, Sidney Reilly, George Alexander Hill, and Paul Dukes had all escaped capture and had successfully gone undercover.
DeWitt Clinton Poole and Xenophon Kalamatiano had been on a special mission in Siberia and only arrived back in Moscow on 18th September. He was immediately arrested. He refused to answer questions but one of the Cheka officers noticed that he never parted with the cane he held in his hands. The officer asked to see the cane and began to examine it closely. Alexander Orlov, later recalled in his memoirs: "Kalamatiano turned pale and lost his composure. The investigation soon discovered that the cane contained an inner tube and he extracted it. In it were hidden a secret cipher, spy reports, a coded list of thirty-two spies and money receipts from some of them." When he heard of Kalamatiano's arrest, Poole fled to Finland.
On 2nd October, 1918, the British government arranged for Robert Bruce Lockhart to be exchanged for captive Soviet officials such as Maxim Litvinov. After his release the remaining plotters were put on trial. They were all found guilty and Kalamatiano and Colonel Alexander V. Friede were condemned to death. The court also passed death sentences on Lockhart, Reilly, Joseph Fernand Grenard and Colonel Henri de Vertemont, noting that "they had all fled". They would all be shot if ever found on Soviet soil. Friede was executed on 14th December but Kalamatiano was sent to Lubyanka Prison. In the early weeks of his incarceration he was taken out several times into the courtyard for a mock execution. However, Felix Dzerzhinsky had decided that Kalamatiano was more use alive than dead.
Negotiations for Kalamatiano release began straight away. The Bolshevik government told the American government that "Kalamatiano had committed the highest crime against the soviet state, was properly tried according to Russian revolutionary law and is still considered dangerous to Soviet Russia." It was made clear that Kalamatiano would remain in custody as long as the American government gave support to the White Army.
On 19th November 1920 Xenophon Kalamatiano managed to send out a message to the man who recruited him as an intelligence agent, Professor Samuel N. Harper: "Just a few words to tell you, and whichever of my friends you run across, that I am still very much alive - although skinny... Yesterday celebrated my 30th month of imprisonment in various institutions... However, as whatever happens outside finally is concentrated here I consider I have been given a box seat to watch the revolution and am not complaining of such an unusual opportunity. Several of your acquaintances have been here at various times. I trust sometime to tell you more about them all. At the present, names on paper are odious things... If I pull out alive, and I have every hope of doing so now - although at one time chances seemed to be rather on the undertaker's side - I hope we will have a chance of talking things over."
In the summer of 1921 famine was raging in the country and over 25 million Russians were facing starvation. On 27th July, the American Secretary of State, Charles Evans Hughes, warned the Soviet Foreign Minister, Maxim Gorky, in writing: "It is manifestly impossible for the American authorities to countenance measures of relief for the distress in Russia while our citizens are detailed." Three days later, the Bolsheviks agreed to release their American prisoners in return for American Relief Administration emergency help. Kalamatiano and five other Americans were released on 10th August 1921.
Xenophon Kalamatiano was warned by Dewitt Clinton Poole that he must not tell anyone about his activities in Russia. He was dismissed from the State Department in December 1921 and given a job as a foreign language instructor at the Calver Military Academy. Despite official dissuasion, he did write his memoirs but no publisher was willing to accept his manuscript.
DeWitt Clinton Poole became Director of the State Department’s Division of Russian Affairs and was soon promoted to the rank of Consul General. He resumed his foreign service in 1923 as Consul General in Capetown, South Africa, and served at the embassy in Berlin from 1926 until he resigned from the Department of State in 1930 and became chairman of the advisory board of the School of Public and International Affairs, which was founded at Princeton University that year, and served as its director from 1933 to 1939.
In 1941, Poole was selected to manage the day-to-day operations at the Foreign Nationalities Branch (FNB) within the Office of the Coordinator of Information (COI), later renamed the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and became America's main intelligence agency. After the Second World War Poole became a special representative of the U.S. Secretary of State and advocated the permanent division of Germany along the Elbe River. Poole warned that a united Germany would develop into a “dangerous” Germany.
DeWitt Clinton Poole died in 1952.
Like their governments, the Western secret services sought to remove, wherever practicable, the embarrassment of their failed challenge of 1918 and the Bolsheviks occasionally obliged. The best example is the case of Kalamatiano. The State Department's master-spy (it is idle to call him anything else) was not in Moscow when the Chekist raids on Western missions and their intelligence outposts took place. He had left the capital only a few hours before they were launched, on a special mission to Siberia agreed with Poole. The American consul shared the general Allied conviction that the regime could be toppled militarily only if the various anti-Bolshevik forces operating in the east, north and south of the country could somehow join hands. Samara, a key city in central Siberia where the great railway crossed the Volga, could serve as this strategic link and was already the seat of an imposing regional government. It was when Kalamatiano reached there after a week's arduous travel that he first heard of the mayhem in Moscow and Petrograd; even then, he had no idea how serious things were until he got back to the capital on 18 September.
Kalamatiano described his arrest in a long memorandum he was able to deliver to Washington later on, and corroborative details have been supplied by both American and Soviet sources. He realized the game was up as soon as he got back to the capital and learned from those of his contacts who were still on the run about the evacuation of Western diplomats, the disappearance of their key agents and the imprisonment of Lockhart. The arrest which troubled him most was that of Colonel Friede of the Red Army Moscow Communications Centre. Among other vital services to the network, Friede had supplied him with a genuine Russian passport made out in the name of Sergei Nikolayevich Serpukhovsky, under which he was now travelling. The colonel had presumably been made to tell all. The alias was not merely useless; it was damning.
Before leaving for Finland a few hours before, Poole had placed the American consulate-general under the protection of Norway, relations, of which it emerges as the mirror image. and its flag now flew over the building. Even the Cheka would surely not dare to raid those premises, and Kalamatiano's hopes were raised when he cautiously reconnoitered the area by daylight. There were Red Guard sentries posted around the building but all seemed peaceful enough and he could even see some of the Allied refugees who had already made it to this safe haven playing football in the gardens, as though their cares were over. All that was needed to join them was a fifty-yard dash through the adjoining grounds of the British church and then a clamber over the high perimeter fence around the consulate itself. He decided to wait until after dusk to make his attempt. Rain set in which made the ground slippery but, as he had hoped, the sentries outside the main gate started huddling over a wood fire to keep warm. He waited until the comrades still on patrol were on the other side of the perimeter and then rushed towards the fence - elegantly dressed in a dark coat and hat with grey spats over his well-polished shoes and clutching his precious walking stick in his left hand. That ornate cane proved his downfall in more senses than one. By refusing to abandon it, he was left with only his right arm to seize the top of the fence and lever himself over it. It was not enough. As his grip began to slacken on the wet top rail he felt a pair of arms grab him by the waist from below and heard the owner of the pair of arms yelling out for help. It was the janitor who had his hut by the gate which Kalamatiano had overlooked.
The second doleful consequence of hanging on to that cane came later that night when the top Cheka official, I.K. Peters (whom we have met already interrogating Lockhart), came to join in questioning the false 'Serpukhovsky'. The Cheka had already raided Kalamatiano's apartment and found nothing; a body search of the prisoner, who was refusing to talk, had been equally fruitless. The Chekists seemed at a dead end when eyes started to focus on that heavy walking stick, which the American was refusing to put down, even when moving across the room. The reason why was revealed when they took it from him for examination. It turned out to be hollow and the space inside was stuffed with bundles of roubles, cyphered messages and, most damaging of all, receipts for money from more than thirty coded informants. Kalamatiano had proved the case against him without uttering a word....
He (Kalamatiano) stuck to his story but at a cost. Norwegian consular officials were now his only link with the outside world as well as for representations to his Moscow jailers. The Norwegians managed, via the Russian Red Cross, to make his food supplies more than tolerable. Three times a week they sent in a parcel containing a pound of meat, a pound of potatoes, some bread, tea, sugar and cigarettes. There were also three weekly deliveries of very British fare (roast beef, mutton chops and veal cutlets for example) prepared especially for him at the former British consulate. Moreover his cigarette ration was eventually increased to the heavy smoker's allowance of fifty per day. But despite these creature comforts, his health continued to fail badly as the months went by in 1919 with seemingly no prospect of his release - so much so that his Norwegian consular visitors feared at one point that he might even be going mad.
On September 1st, No. 5, his sister, mother, other sister and brother were arrested when his sister carried a report to Reilly's place where she was arrested and the report taken... All others, i.e. 24, 10, 11, 8 were caught by the watch on No. 5's house. No. 12 was arrested after I was through a receipt found on me. 7 was arrested because of the blackmailing letter he had written and which I had kept in my old home... 28, 2 and 4 are safe. You could communication with the former. The Ukraine organisation is safe and you could get in touch with it through No. 2 at Charkov. We have there No. 2, 3, 16, 17, 18, 21, 23 and two couriers.
Meet Mayor DeWitt Clinton, the man who built New York City’s future
Dewitt Clinton was so much more than a mayor of New York City of course.
He also served as a two-term governor, ran for president against James Madison and helped oversee one of the greatest engineering projects in American history.
He negotiated the choppy waters of early American politics with dexterity, building upon the reputation of his family name to fuel economic and cultural growth in the state he called home.
His greatest achievement was the Erie Canal, the cross-state canal which linked the Hudson River and New York Harbor with the interior of the United States.
No other civic project — with the possible exception, at the start of the 20th century, of the subway system — would affect the fortunes of New York City in such a dramatic and unambiguous way.
Clinton in a portrait made by Rembrandt Peale
So, yes, the many accomplishments in Clinton’s storied career tend to overshadow his work as the mayor of New York.
Yet most historians place him among the greatest mayors the city has ever employed. He might even be the greatest in terms of his long-term impact.
Clinton served ten one-year terms non-consecutively — 1803-1807, 1808-1810 and 1811-1815 — weaving together an extraordinary period of city growth during tumultuous political times and a potentially deadly foreign war. (Why not consecutive terms? I’ll explain in the next Know Your Mayors column.)
Clinton on the Rise
Dewitt Clinton was born in Little Britain, New York, on March 2, 1769, into one of the most politically important families in America.
Major-General James Clinton, DeWitt’s father, fought next to George Washington during the Revolutionary War (and brutally killed hundreds of Iroquois people during the 1779 Sullivan Expedition). DeWitt’s uncle George Clinton rose the political ranks following the war to become the governor of New York (from 1777-1795 and again from 1801-1804).
By the 1890s, according to author Evan Cornog, “three families presided over New York State politics — the Schuylers, the Clintons and the Livingston.”
So DeWitt Clinton had easy access to the corridors of power — Uncle George even made him his secretary in a bold gesture of nepotism — but he built upon that privilege, instead of resting on it. More importantly, he’s often considered to have the genuine needs of New Yorkers in mind in his accumulation of power, believing the city’s cultural and economic prosperity could be worn as a badge of honor for himself.
His most influential job during this period was as a member of the Council of Appointment, the body charged with appointing all the governmental positions that were not elected. This included the mayor of New York. In fact, he helped appoint the last mayor in our Know Your Mayors series — Edward Livingston.
While the Clintons were aligned with Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans, DeWitt held personal animus towards his party’s Aaron Burr, the Vice President, who many believed had attempted to steal the 1800 election from the preordained Jefferson. When Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in 1804, Jefferson replaced him — with George Clinton, DeWitt’s uncle.
By then, DeWitt himself had dabbled in federal office, serving as the Senator from New York for almost two years from 1802 to 1803. But he hated Washington D.C. — which was an unpleasant and barely developed swamp then — and wanted to return to the comforts of New York.
So he resigned and took a new job which was then offered to him — the mayor of New York City.
New York City Hall, dedicated in 1811 and opened for government business by 1812
Setting the Foundations
At first it appeared this was just another step in the political ladder for DeWitt. According to Gotham, Clinton told his uncle that “being mayor was the better job [than being a U.S. senator] because its influence in presidential elections made it ‘among the most important positions in the United States’.”
But he quickly fleshed out the mayor’s role in surprising ways, having the unique political connections that allowed him to expand local government’s role. In later years, these expanded powers would be reduced by the influence of political machines like Tammany Hall.
Among the fledgling organizations he either founded or vigorously supported during his time in office:
— New York Board of Health: Clinton entered office with yellow fever the city’s greatest enemy. According to NYC Health, “Led by Mayor De Witt Clinton, the board evacuated stricken neighborhoods and started collecting mortality statistics, to ‘furnish data for reflection and calculation.'”
From this department came a newly created role — city inspector — which expanded to collect data (births, marriages and deaths) on city residents.
— New-York Historical Society: Clinton believed in upgrading the city’s cultural life, and the Historical Society, essentially New York’s first museum, allowed the city to celebrate its role in the new American cause and exalt the New Yorkers who fought for independence (which naturally included Clinton’s family).
Clinton was a founding committee member in 1804 and even gave the institution some space at City Hall (then at Wall Street aka Federal Hall).
He also chaired both the American Academy of the Arts and the Literary and Philosophical Society in their early years.
— Free School Society: Clinton championed the social education model which eventually became the New York public school system.
According to Evan Cornog, “In 1805, two measures transformed primary education in New York. The first was the allotment by the legislature of 500,000 acres of state lands and three thousand shares of bank stock for the benefit of public school. The second was the establishment of the New York Free School Society, whose president, from its inception to his death, was DeWitt Clinton.”
— The Grid Plan: Seeing a need to plan the city’s growth as it galloped up Manhattan island, the city’s Common Council formed a committee — “doubtless at DeWitt Clinton’s instigation” — that would draft up ideas for a possible grid of streets and avenues.
By 1811 Clinton would sign the Commissioner’s Plan into operation.
— A System of Fortifications: In addition, Clinton faced the impending crisis of a new war with Great Britain. Although the War of 1812 never came to New York City, Clinton oversaw the construction of new fortifications through the city, including a new fort at the Battery which eventually bore his name — Castle Clinton.
Castle Garden (within the old Castle Clinton) courtesy the Museum of the City of New York
A Complicated Record
Clinton innovated a form of governance which can be seen either as forward thinking or incredibly opportunistic (and quite possibly both) — the improved rights of immigrants.
Christian Luswanger, a member of the city’s night watch, became the first officer killed in the line of duty in New York during a Christmas Day anti-Catholic riot in 1806, the most violent of a series of skirmishes aimed at immigrants. New Irish arrivals faced Nativist backlash in a heavily Protestant city.
/>DeWitt Clinton. Library of Congress
The mayor, however, was a supporter of the Irish, laying the groundwork for one of the most successful collaborations in 19th century New York City politics.
As a U.S. senator, Clinton had supported liberal immigration laws. As mayor he also supported the elimination of a citizenship test oath for Catholics. As a result, his opponents quickly painted Clinton as a puppet of foreign influence.
But Clinton was no paragon of human rights reform. While he earlier supported the Gradual Emancipation Act of 1799 — and a second Emancipation Act passed in his first year as governor in 1817 — his family had kept enslaved people for decades. And DeWitt himself owned at least a couple people during his years as mayor, including a coachman named Henry.
And many decisions Clinton made did seem more bluntly opportunistic.
He directed that the city’s funds be held by the banks of Manhattan Company, formed in 1799 — by his foe Aaron Burr, no less — to build a water system for the city. But the Company never did fund a truly adequate system, existing only as a bank. (Clinton, by the way, was also a company director. Seems like a conflict of interest!)
Clinton ceremonially pours water from Lake Erie into the Atlantic Ocean, 1825
The Billion Dollar Idea
For decades, prominent New Yorkers had pondered the idea of an upstate canal system, and even Clinton had considered canal making schemes years before reaching any significant prominence, extending back to his days as a student at Columbia College.
His interest in a massive canal project was renewed during his tenure as mayor (and those years in between his non-consecutive terms). By the time he became the governor of New York in 1817, he was so associated with the canal project that it became known by detractors as Clinton’s Folly.
No folly at all. When the Erie Canal finally opened in 1825, the engineering marvel — one of America’s greatest early achievements — proved genius. It not only created new wealth of New York City, it boosted the economic strength of the entire country.
Clinton had created new opportunities for New York City. The rise of the city as an economic and cultural power begins with him.
DeWitt Clinton Park in Hell’s Kitchen, photography by Greg Young
For more information on DeWitt Clinton, we have an older show in our catalog on Clinton and his role in creating the Erie Canal:
Assassination in Vichy: Marx Dormoy and the Struggle for the Soul of France
Gayle Brunelle and Annette Finley-Croswhite
During the night of 25 July 1941, assassins planted a time bomb in the bed of the former French Interior Minister, Marx Dormoy. The explosion on the following morning launched a two-year investigation that traced Dormoy’s murder to the highest echelons of the Vichy regime. Dormoy, who had led a 1937 investigation into the “Cagoule,” a violent right-wing terrorist organization, was the victim of a captivating revenge plot. Based on the meticulous examination of thousands of documents, Assassination in Vichy tells the story of Dormoy’s murder and the investigation that followed.
At the heart of this book lies a true crime that was sensational in its day. A microhistory that tells a larger and more significant story about the development of far-right political movements, domestic terrorism, and the importance of courage, Assassination in Vichy explores the impact of France’s deep political divisions, wartime choices, and post-war memory. [From the publisher]
An American Diplomat in Bolshevik Russia
The Bolshevik Revolution and the Russian Civil War which followed are two of the most momentous events of the 20th century. This book - whose author was an eyewitness to both events in his capacity as a U.S. diplomat of consular rank - is an absolute gem. It is a memoir that Poole (the author) had crafted in a series of oral interviews he gave months before his death at age 67 in September 1952. Any scholar of the Cold War and U.S.-Russian history will find much to admire about this book, which The Bolshevik Revolution and the Russian Civil War which followed are two of the most momentous events of the 20th century. This book - whose author was an eyewitness to both events in his capacity as a U.S. diplomat of consular rank - is an absolute gem. It is a memoir that Poole (the author) had crafted in a series of oral interviews he gave months before his death at age 67 in September 1952. Any scholar of the Cold War and U.S.-Russian history will find much to admire about this book, which has been introduced and annotated by the historians Lorraine M. Lees and William S. Rodner. Footnotes populate this book, which for me, as a laymen, I found especially useful in enhancing my understanding of the history and personalities of these long ago events.
Poole arrived in Russia in September 1917 during the last months of the Provisional Government, which had assumed power there in March 1917 after the abdication of Czar Nicholas II. It kept Russia in the war on the Allied side. But this government proved unsustainable as the Russian Army failed to defeat German forces in a last gasp offensive, while contending with the Bolsheviks yapping at its heels.
Two months after Poole's arrival, the Bolsheviks seized control of the government and over the next 2 years sought to consolidate its power in Russia while fighting for its very survival against counter-revolutionary and Allied forces. Poole played an active part "in implementing U.S. policy, negotiating with the Bolshevik authorities, and supervising American intelligence operations that gathered information about conditions throughout Russia" inclusive of "monitoring anti-Bolshevik elements and areas of German influence" prior to the armistice that ended the First World War in November 1918. By this time, Poole was no longer residing in Moscow because it had become increasingly dangerous for him to remain there. He left the city the previous September for Petrograd (St. Petersburg). From there, he crossed the frontier to Finland, where he spent a short time before going on to Norway.
Poole returned to Russia early in 1919. He was now a Special Assistant to the U.S. Ambassador in Archangel, a city in the north (not far from the Arctic Circle) which was under Allied control. Both British and U.S. forces had been in Northern Russia since June 1918 to act as a possible buffer against German efforts from Finland (which was newly independent and host to a German division) to seize the nearby Murmansk-Petrograd railway, the port of Murmansk, and Archangel itself which had stockpiles of Allied war material. Now, with Germany defeated, there seemed to be little purpose in maintaining an Allied presence in Northern Russia -- unless a decision was made to align with anti-Bolshevik forces and overthrow Lenin's government. Poole shares with the reader the challenges he had to face, not just from the Bolsheviks, but also in curbing dissension among soldiers in the U.S. force who felt like they had been put on a fool's errand by Washington and simply wanted to go home. Indeed, he goes on to state that "[n]early all the American troops were evacuated in June  in two transports. I had hoped to have leave when I came out from central Russia in September, 1918. The winter at Archangel hadn’t been too strenuous, in one sense, but it had been a strain, and now I asked for leave which was granted. I went to England on one of the troop ships, turning over the embassy to my very able colleague, Felix Cole."
There is more to this story. But I will leave it to any curious reader of this review to find out for him/herself by reading this truly remarkable eyewitness account of 2 historical events that rocked the world.
Clinton was born on March 2, 1769, the second son born to Major-General James Clinton and his wife Mary De Witt (1737–1795), who was a descendant of the Dutch patrician De Witt family.  He was born in Little Britain, New York, now a hamlet in the west of New Windsor. He attended Kingston Academy and began his college studies at the College of New Jersey before he transferred to King's College.  Kings was renamed Columbia College, and Clinton was the first to graduate under the school's new name.  He was the brother of U.S. Representative George Clinton Jr., the half-brother of U.S. Representative James G. Clinton, and the cousin of Simeon De Witt. He became the secretary to his uncle George Clinton, who was then governor of New York.  Soon after, he became a member of the Democratic-Republican Party. 
New York Legislature and U.S. Senate Edit
Clinton was a member of the New York State Assembly in 1798, and of the New York State Senate from the Southern District in 1798–1802 and 1806–1811  He was a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention in 1801. He was a member of the Council of Appointments in 1801–1802 and 1806–1807.  He won election by the New York State Legislature to the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the resignation of John Armstrong Jr. and served from February 9, 1802 to November 4, 1803.  He resigned over unhappiness with living conditions in the newly built Washington, DC, and was appointed Mayor of New York City. 
Mayor of New York City Edit
He served as Mayor of New York from 1803 to 1807, from 1808 to 1810, and 1811 to 1815. He organized the New-York Historical Society in 1804 and was its president, and he was a leader in launching the Erie Canal. He also helped to reorganize the American Academy of the Fine Arts in 1808 and served as its president between 1813 and 1817. He was a Regent of the University of the State of New York from 1808 to 1825. Clinton was also elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1814  and served as its vice president from 1821 to 1828.  In 1816, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 
Lieutenant Governor of New York Edit
In 1811, the death of John Broome left a vacancy in the office of Lieutenant Governor of New York. In a special election, Clinton defeated the Federalist Nicholas Fish and the Tammany Hall candidate Marinus Willett to become Lieutenant Governor until the end of the term, in June 1813. 
Presidential campaign Edit
Clinton's uncle, George Clinton, had attempted to challenge James Madison for the presidency in 1808 but was chosen as the party's vice presidential nominee instead. In 1812, after George Clinton's death, the elder Clinton's supporters gravitated towards DeWitt Clinton. Clinton ran for president as candidate for both the Federalist Party and a small group of antiwar Democratic-Republicans. In the close election of 1812, Clinton was defeated by President Madison. Clinton received 89 electoral votes to Madison's 128. It was the strongest showing of any Federalist candidate for the Presidency since 1800, and the change of the votes of one or two states would have given Clinton the victory. 
Governor of New York Edit
After the resignation of Daniel D. Tompkins, who had been elected vice president, he won a special gubernatorial election in which he was the only candidate 1,479 votes were cast for Peter Buell Porter against Clinton's 43,310, because the Tammany organization, which fiercely hated Clinton, had printed ballots with Porter's name on them and distributed them among the Tammany followers in New York City. On July 1, 1817, Clinton took office as Governor of New York. He was re-elected in 1820, defeating Vice President Tompkins in a narrow race DeWitt Clinton received 47,447 votes, as opposed to Tompkins's 45,900, and served until December 31, 1822. 
During his second term, the New York State Constitutional Convention of 1821 shortened the gubernatorial term to two years and moved the beginning of the term from July 1 to January 1, which actually cut off the last six months of his three-year term. The gubernatorial election was also moved from April to November, but Clinton was not renominated by his party to run for re-election in November 1822. Even so, he kept his post as President of the Erie Canal Commission. In April 1824, most of his political opponents, the Bucktails, voted in the New York State Legislature for his removal from the Canal Commission, which caused such a wave of indignation among the electorate that he was nominated for governor by the People's Party and was re-elected governor against the official candidate of the Democratic-Republican Party, fellow Canal Commissioner Samuel Young. He served another two terms until his sudden death in office. 
Clinton was a York Rite Freemason.  He was initiated in the "Holland" Lodge No. 16 (now No 8), NY on September 3, 1790,   and, in 1806, he was elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York. Clinton was essential in establishing the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar in the United States and served as its first, second, and third grand master from 1816 to 1828.   He retained the title until his death in 1828. 
In 1826, the William Morgan Affair occurred in Batavia. Morgan, who threatened to publish an exposé of the rituals of Freemasonry, disappeared and was apparently kidnapped and supposedly murdered by Masons. Clinton issued three proclamations, each increasing the reward for information and conviction of the perpetrators until it reached $2,000.  Clinton's proclamations had no effect, however, and the Masonic fraternity underwent a period of severe decline in many regions of the United States because of criticism set off by the scandal. 
The Grand Lodge of New York has established the DeWitt Clinton Award, which recognizes distinguished or outstanding community service by non-Masonic organizations or individuals whose actions exemplify a shared concern for the well-being of Mankind and a belief in the worldwide brotherhood of Man. 
From 1810 to 1824, Clinton was a member of the Erie Canal Commission. He was among the first members, who were appointed in 1810 and planned and surveyed the route to be taken.
As governor, Clinton was largely responsible for the construction of the Erie Canal. He was persuaded by Canal proponent Jesse Hawley to support construction of a canal from the eastern shore of Lake Erie to the upper Hudson River. Many thought the project to be impracticable, and opponents mocked it as "Clinton's Folly" and "DeWitt's Ditch."  But in 1817, he got the legislature to appropriate $7 million for construction.
When the canal was finished in 1825, Clinton opened it and traveled in the packet boat Seneca Chief along the canal to Buffalo. After riding from the mouth of Lake Erie to New York City, he emptied two casks of water from Lake Erie into New York Harbor to celebrate the first connection of waters from the East to the West. The canal was an immense success, carrying huge amounts of passenger and freight traffic. The cost of freight between Buffalo and Albany fell from $100 to $10 per ton, and the state was able to quickly recoup the funds that it had spent on the project through tolls along the canal. The completion of the canal brought about a significant shift in public opinion on Clinton, who was now hailed for completing the canal.
That change in public opinion was reflected in the newspapers of the time. Previously being filled with harsh criticisms of Clinton and the canal, they now celebrated his accomplishment. For example, an article in the New Hampshire Sentinel began saying, "The efforts of Gov. Clinton to advance the best interest of the State over which he presides are very generally acknowledged both by his constituents and the public abroad. His exertions in favor of the great canal have identified his name with that noble enterprise, and he will be remembered while its benefits are experienced" It ended, "Yield credit to Clinton, and hail him by name".
Together with financier Thomas Eddy, he was a director of New York's earliest savings bank established to serve laborers and the poor, The Bank for Savings in the City of New-York. 
Clinton was married twice. On February 13, 1796, he married Maria Franklin, daughter of the prominent New York Quaker merchant Walter Franklin and descendant of John Bowne and Elizabeth Fones. With her, he had ten children, and four sons and three daughters had survived at the time of her death in 1818. Among his children with Franklin was George William Clinton, who served as mayor of Buffalo, New York from 1842 to 1843.
On May 8, 1819, Clinton married Catharine Jones, the daughter of a New York physician, Thomas Jones and his wife, Margaret (née Livingston) Jones (a daughter of Edward Livingston). Catharine's sister, Mary (née Jones) Gelston, was the wife of Deacon Maltby Gelston of Southampton, and the mother of David Gelston, Collector of the Port of New York. Catharine outlived her husband. 
In 1813, Clinton became a hereditary member of the New York Society of the Cincinnati in succession to his brother, Lieutenant Alexander Clinton, who was an original member of the society.  In that same year, he was elected as a member to the American Philosophical Society. 
When Clinton died suddenly in Albany on February 11, 1828, he left his family in poor financial condition. While he was a fine administrator in government, he had handled his own financial affairs rather poorly. As a result, the Clinton family was badly in debt and had no means of support after the governor's death. One creditor alone put in a claim for $6,000. Fearing that he might not get his money, the creditor obtained a judgment that resulted in a public sale of most of the Clinton family possessions. Enough money was realized from the sale of the property to satisfy the judgment, but nothing was left to help the Clinton family through the difficult years ahead. The governor received the grandest of state funerals, but when it was all over, the family had no place to bury him. His widow was completely without funds to purchase a suitable grave site. As a result, Clinton's remains were placed in the family vault of Dr. Samuel Stringer (1735-1817), an old friend and fellow Mason from Albany, in the old Swan Street Cemetery.
Sixteen years later, enough money was collected to provide a suitable burial. On June 21, 1844, a newspaper in Albany printed this small announcement: "The remains of DeWitt Clinton, which had been deposited in the cemetery in Swan Street, were removed to New York for interment under a monument created by the family." Clinton was reinterred at the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.
Clinton accomplished much as a leader in civic and state affairs, such as improving the New York public school system, encouraging steam navigation, and modifying the laws governing criminals and debtors. The 1831 DeWitt Clinton locomotive was named in his honor. The community of Whitestone, New York, was for several decades after his death known as Clintonville, but reverted to its traditional name however, the governor is memorialized by Clintonville street, a major local road.
- An engraved portrait of Clinton appeared on the Legal Tender (United States Note) issue of 1880 in the $1,000.00 denomination. An illustrated example can be found on the website of Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco's "American Currency Exhibit".
- In 1926 the DeWitt Clinton Professorship of American History was established at Columbia University the first to hold the chair was Evarts Boutell Greene. 
- DeWitt Clinton became a focus of public attention related to the Erie Canal's bicentennial, which began in 2017 (the 200th anniversary of the original canal's groundbreaking) and will continue through 2025 (the 200th anniversary of the canal's opening). In a New York City event on July 4, 2017, actor Kyle Jenks read Clinton's 1815 canal manifesto on the steps of Federal Hall in lower Manhattan. In December 2017, the Museum of the City of New York completed a renovation of a statue of Clinton, along with one of Alexander Hamilton, located on the museum's exterior. Also that year, a book featuring descendants of DeWitt Clinton exploring ruins of the original canal, titled In DeWitt's Footsteps, was published by journalist Kenneth Silber.
- March 2, 2019 was the 250th anniversary, or semiquincentennial, of DeWitt Clinton's birth. The milestone was marked by events at the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse and the Buffalo Maritime Center.
- Following his New York Governorship, DeWitt became a popular given name - see DeWitt (name).
- Clintonia, a genus of flowering plants described by Rafinesque in 1818,  was named in honor of DeWitt Clinton. 
His portrait appears on many tobacco tax stamps of the late 1800s to early 1900s. 
The original DeWitt Clinton was a 0-4-0 locomotive which measured 12 feet 10 inches in length and weighed 6,758 pounds, while its 1893 replica was heavier at a weight of 9,420 pounds.  The locomotive had a design very similar to future locomotive designs with a horizontal boiler and a smokestack at the front.  The top of the smokestack rested at about 12 feet off the ground.  The locomotive also had an early flatbed tender to store its fuel. 
DeWitt Clinton was born on March 2, 1769, in Little Britain, New York.  Clinton entered politics in 1790  and for the next five years worked as a secretary for his uncle, Governor George Clinton.  DeWitt Clinton served in the New York House of Representatives from 1797 to 1798,   the New York Senate from 1798 to 1802,   and the United States Senate from 1802-1803.   From 1803 to 1815, Clinton was the mayor of New York City.  
From 1810 to 1824, Clinton was New York Canal Commissioner.  Construction of the Erie Canal under Clinton would begin in 1817 and continue until 1825, when the Canal was officially opened.  The Mohawk and Hudson Railroad Company (the owner of the DeWitt Clinton locomotive) would be founded two years later in 1826.  During the construction of the Erie Canal, Clinton was governor of New York State. He held from office from 1817 to 1823 and was re-elected in 1825.  After 38 years of political service, DeWitt Clinton died on February 11, 1828, at the age of 58.  The steam locomotive named in his honor would be completed in 1831 or three years after his death.
Incorporated in 1826 at Albany, the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad Company was the first railroad company in the state of New York.  The Mohawk and Hudson Railroad was named after the two rivers the company hoped to connect the Hudson river in Albany and the Mohawk river in Schenectady.  The state of New York had a set of waterways between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes which had been used for transport since before colonization.   These waterways would become the basis for the Erie Canal between Albany and Buffalo in 1825.  It was during this time that railroads were being considered as a faster, more efficient alternative to waterways. The construction of the M&H was overseen by its two directors, George William Featherstonhaugh and Stephen Van Rensselaer, with no other directors being identified in the charter. 
Due to its increasing urban population, a route alongside the Erie Canal was considered the most logical option for the first New York railroad.  In order to construct the new railroad, the railroad company had to overcome political opposition fueled by the popularity of the Erie Canal opposition which would only cease by the 1860s, as canals were becoming obsolete in favor of the more efficient railroads.  The canal distance between Albany to the south and Schenectady to the north was about 22 or 23 miles.  With a railroad, goods and passengers would be able to travel from one city to the other in a straight line, or a distance of only 16 or 17 miles.   Featherstonhaugh argued that the railroad would reduce the travel time between Albany and Schenectady from 2 or 3 days to 3 hours.  On March 27, 1826 a bill was passed in Congress and Featherstonhaugh and Rensselaer were granted a sum of $300,000-$500,000 for the construction of one of the first chartered railroads in American history.  
In 1831, the M&H constructed its first locomotive, the DeWitt Clinton. The locomotive was then delivered by boat on July 25, and given its first test run on July 30.  The test showed that the Clinton was unable to make much heat from its supply of Lackawanna coal, and only reached a top speed 7 miles per hour.  To solve this problem, the railroad decided to replace the coal with coke.  On August 3, another test was conducted with the substitute fuel. This time, the Clinton made the run between Albany and Schenectady in an hour and 45 minutes.  This equates to an average speed of about 9–10 miles per hour.
August 9, 1831 was the day Clinton made its first passenger run on the same line.  The locomotive was attached to a train of three coaches from Goold works in Albany.  These three coaches were part of a collection of six specifically designed by James Goold for the M&H.  The so-called “Goold Cars” were built from six stagecoach bodies and sold to the M&H for $310 a piece.  Each coach could accommodate between 15 and 18 passengers.  During its inaugural run, the locomotive impressed its passengers by completing the run in a record 38 minutes,  with an average speed of 25–27 miles per hour. A similar trip on the Erie Canal, by comparison, would have taken hours due to a longer route and boats being slowed down by more than a dozen locks. 
The Mohawk and Hudson Railroad was officially opened on September 24, 1831. 
After 2–3 years of continued service, the DeWitt Clinton was eventually scrapped by the railroad in 1833. 
"DeWitt Clinton" Locomotive
One of the early steam locomotives to ever be used in the United States was the DeWitt Clinton, an 0-4-0 model that was American built.
It is historically recognized as not only one of the first to operate in the country but also the very first to offer regularly scheduled passenger service in New York along the Mohawk & Hudson Railroad.
The locomotive was named after a former state governor, who ironically had championed the building of the Erie Canal (a slow, but the nonetheless, competitor to the railroad) some years earlier between Buffalo and New York City that was to be the future of transportation.
The Clinton was built with a now-classic design for a steam locomotive and even operated with a matching set of early passenger cars.
Unfortunately, as was so often the case in those days no one thought to retain it for its historical significance and it was scrapped within a few years. Today, a replica is now available to the public preserved at the Henry Ford Museum.
The Mohawk & Hudson was New York's first chartered railroad, and upon its creation the M&H was the second such system ever incorporated behind only the private Granite Railway of Massachusetts, formed a month earlier in March to move stone from a small granite quarry.
The railroad received its name for the two tributaries that it hoped to connect the Hudson River at Albany and the Mohawk River at Schenectady. Due to funding issues, however, it took more than four years until construction actually began.
During this time a number of lines would be chartered and operated before the M&H including the B&O and South Carolina Canal & Rail Road based in the port city of Charleston. The line was meant to compete against the recently completed Erie Canal although its original intention was only to haul passengers, not freight.
Other Notable Early LocomotivesAnother scene of the "DeWitt Clinton" on display at the Chicago Fair of 1933.
The railroad opened to much fanfare on August 9, 1831 when the DeWitt Clinton pulled the first regularly scheduled passenger train from Albany to Schenectady.
Interestingly, crowds were eager to ride this little 0-4-0 locomotive although tickets were so expensive only the rich were able to afford a the trip on such a futuristic piece of technology.
This was quite the contrary on the nearby Delaware & Hudson Canal Company when it had tested its English-built Stourbridge Lion two years earlier on August 8, 1829.
The locomotive was the first ever operated in the U.S. and it grabbed the intention of a large crowd as well, although many thought it would be a complete disaster (as a result, no one would ride behind it!).
That locomotive operated flawlessly and by 1831 steam technology had been proven to the point that most had a very different opinion, believing that railroads were the future in transportation.
Most of the early steamers built in America were either constructed by the West Point Foundry in Cold Spring, New York (near NYC) or reassembled there after having been shipped across the Atlantic Ocean from England.
The DeWitt Clinton was no different. It was the third U.S.-built locomotive in the country behind only Peter Cooper's Tom Thumb (which was not built at West Point) and the SCC&RR's Best Friend of Charleston.
The steamer had been ordered by the Mohawk & Hudson's then chief engineer, John B. Jervis, who was already very familiar with the new machines.
Prior to coming over to the M&H in 1831 he had worked for the D&H and sent his apprentice, Horatio Allen, to learn more about steam locomotives to ultimately decide if it was worth purchasing one or more for use on the railroad. This led to the D&H acquiring the Stourbridge Lion and three others.
Additionally, it used a somewhat matching set of early passenger cars, which were basically customized horse carriages patrons riding aboard would either be seated inside the cars or on rumble seats placed on the roofs.
The trip transpired without incident and the DeWitt Clinton remained in use on the M&H for only a few years before being scrapped by the railroad in 1833. However, a complete replica, including cars, was built by successor New York Central for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago which was entirely operational.
It was used by the railroad for on-an-off again promotional purposes until being purchased in 1934 by Henry Ford for his famed museum in Dearborn, Michigan, where it still resides to this day next to the behemoth Chesapeake & Ohio Class H-8 2-6-6-6 "Allegheny".
Among the Sioux of Dakota (1881)
In 1869 DeWitt Clinton Poole (1828-1917), was appointed by General Sherman an "Agent for the Sioux Indians," and was stationed in Whetstone Creek Reservation in Dakota Territory.
In 1881 he published "Among the Sioux of Dakota"---an interesting narrative by an army officer, o An "extremely well written and entertaining account of these Indians." -The Literary World, 1881
In 1869 DeWitt Clinton Poole (1828-1917), was appointed by General Sherman an "Agent for the Sioux Indians," and was stationed in Whetstone Creek Reservation in Dakota Territory.
In 1881 he published "Among the Sioux of Dakota"---an interesting narrative by an army officer, of his experiences among the Sioux he describes their character and mode of life, the difficulties arising from their relations with the white settlers, and the perplexities encountered in the administration of the agency system. Written in a spirit of fairness, and appreciation of the good traits in Indian character.
The author gives a comprehensive account of what he knows, having passed eighteen months among the Sioux as Agent for Indians in the Sioux District, Whetstone Creek, Dakota Territory, and pays a just tribute to the simple form of government of this noted tribe of Indians their patriarchal surroundings their hospitality the bravery and endurance of the men, and the virtue and faithfulness of the women and pictures them when removed from disturbing influences, living in quiet and peaceful contentment, easily persuaded and governed.
Touching upon the various duties of the Indian Agent, beyond the bounds of civilization, isolated from the association and comforts of a home, and tormented by some of the worst specimens of white humanity, the author shows very clearly how the credulity of the Indian is imposed upon, and the good effects of honorable dealing neutralized, often traduced and vilified by these bad white men, whom he (the agent) may have thwarted in some nefarious scheme, and denies the allegation that association with the Indian leads to dishonesty.
His station was at Whetstone, the junction of a creek of that name with the Missouri River. It was under his escort that Spotted Tail and his party made their memorable visit to Washington and New York in 1870, Captain Poole returning with them to Dakota, and completing a term of eighteen months’ service in his capacity of Indian Agent. . more
A Russian Revolution Reading List
AN AMERICAN DIPLOMAT IN BOLSHEVIK RUSSIA
DeWitt Clinton Poole
Edited by Lorraine M. Lees and William S. Rodner
“A fascinating edition of US diplomat DeWitt Clinton Poole’s oral account of his experience in revolutionary Russia from 1917 to 1919. . . . His views of the early Bolshevik government, like those of other Americans who were there, are critical as the centennial of the Russian Revolution approaches. Highly recommended, all levels/libraries.“ —Choice
“A historical treasure trove for an era that will never be short on paradoxes, colorful characters, brutal conflict, and harrowing circumstances. Poole, one of the last American diplomats in Russia after the Bolshevik revolution and before recognition in 1933, was a cool, detached observer of events, and rather prescient in his predictions.” —Russian Life
THE BODY SOVIET
“The Body Soviet is the first sustained investigation of the Bolshevik government’s early policies on hygiene and health care in general.”—Louise McReynolds, author of Russia at Play: Leisure Activities at the End of the Tsarist Era
“A masterpiece that will thoroughly fascinate and delight readers. Starks’s understanding of propaganda and hygiene in the early Soviet state is second to none. She tells the stories of Soviet efforts in this field with tremendous insight and ingenuity, providing a rich picture of Soviet life as it was actually lived.”—Elizabeth Wood, author of From Baba to Comrade: Gender and Politics in Revolutionary Russia
The Aesthetics and Ideology of Speed in Russian Avant-Garde Culture, 1910–1930
“The book is well-written and richly illustrated. It is a pleasure to read both in the old-fashioned slow way and to browse in the accelerated fast-forward mode. This highly stimulating study responds to a long-standing need to address speed as an aesthetic category in modern Russian art and constitutes a very welcome and important contribution to the field.”—Nikolai Firtich, Slavic Review
Fast Forward reveals how the Russian avant-garde’s race to establish a new artistic and social reality over a twenty-year span reflected an ambitious metaphysical vision that corresponded closely to the nation’s rapidly changing social parameters.
WHEN PIGS COULD FLY AND BEARS COULD DANCE
A History of the Soviet Circus
“A beautifully written, compact history of the Soviet circus.”—Janet M. Davis, author of The Circus Age: Culture and Society under the American Big Top
For more than seven decades the circuses enjoyed tremendous popularity in the Soviet Union. How did the circus—an institution that dethroned figures of authority and refused any orderly narrative structure—become such a cultural mainstay in a state known for blunt and didactic messages? Miriam Neirick argues that the variety, flexibility, and indeterminacy of the modern circus accounted for its appeal not only to diverse viewers but also to the Soviet state. In a society where government-legitimating myths underwent periodic revision, the circus proved a supple medium of communication.
Russian History and Literature as Stalinist Propaganda
Edited by Kevin M. F. Platt and David Brandenberger
“Platt and Brandenberger have collected first-rate contributors and produced a coherent and powerful volume that amplifies what we know about the uses and abuses of history in the Soviet 1930s.”—Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Chicago
“A boon to graduate students and a delight to aficionados of Soviet culture.”—Jeffrey Brooks, John Hopkins University
Imperial Visions, Messianic Dreams, 1890–1940
Judith E. Kalb
A wide-ranging study of empire, religious prophecy, and nationalism in literature, Russia’s Rome provides the first examination of Russia’s self-identification with Rome during a period that encompassed the revolutions of 1905 and 1917 and the rise of the Soviet state.
“Gives a new and significant context to the work of some of Russia’s major poets and prose writers of the early twentieth century. Kalb’s main contribution is to show that the interest in the Roman Empire was not an incidental part of Russian literature in this period, but a genuine obsession.” —Michael Wachtel, Princeton University
Notes on the Jesse Halsey History Project
An American diplomat and educator who was also a spymaster during the Russian Bolshevik revolution of 1917 and an expert in anti-communist propaganda and psychological and political warfare.
Poole was born on October 28, 1885 at a U.S. Army post near Vancouver, Washington. He was descended from 17 th century English stock in New England and was proud of his heritage. He was particularly proud of his father, DeWitt Clinton Poole, Sr., a veteran of the Civil War and the Sioux wars in South Dakota. Poole received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1906 and his Master of Diplomacy from George Washington University in 1910. Later that year, he began his career as a researcher at the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Trade Agreements. In 1911, Poole was sent on his first foreign service assignment as Vice-Consul in Berlin, where he worked until 1914, when he was transferred to Paris. In 1916, he was promoted to American Consul in Paris. He returned to the Department of State in early 1917.
In mid-1917, Poole was sent to Russia to serve as Vice Consul General in Moscow. He took a trip from Vladivostok on the Trans-Siberian Railway in the company of the famed British spy and novelist, Somerset Maugham, arriving in Moscow on September 1, 1917. Soon after the Bolshevik revolution of October 1917, he was drafted into a growing information network, which included the consuls of several Western nations. Its goal was to establish contact with anti-Bolshevik forces and to gather information on the political, economic and military situation in Russia. In December 1917, Poole went on a rather dangerous reconnaissance mission, traveling undercover in South Russia, and returned to Petrograd (modern St. Petersburg, which was then the Russian capital) in mid-January 1917 to report to the U.S. Ambassador. In May 1918, Poole became the Consul General in Moscow. By that time, he was running a clandestine espionage network, which at its height in the summer of 1918 numbered 30 sources in Moscow and various other Russian cities. Poole had also become a self-initiated back channel between the Bolshevik Commissariat of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Department of State — trying to push for American aid to Russia as a “carrot” to lead the Bolsheviks to cooperate in the face of German advances on military and commercial fronts. However, by early August 1918 his efforts were exhausted, and Poole had to burn his codes, close the American Consulate General in Moscow and arrange for the evacuation of all Americans left in Moscow. He barely managed to escape to Finland in September 1918.
He was soon detailed to the city of Archangel in the Russian north, which was then occupied by Allied expeditionary forces, as Special Assistant to the U.S. Ambassador. He finally left Russia in late 1919 as American chargé d’affaires. 1
Returning to Washington, D.C., Poole became Director of the State Department’s Division of Russian Affairs and was soon promoted to the rank of Consul General. He resumed his foreign service in 1923 as Consul General in Capetown, South Africa, and served at the embassy in Berlin from 1926 until he resigned from the Department of State in 1930. 2
In 1930, Poole became chairman of the advisory board of the School of Public and International Affairs, which was founded at Princeton University that year, and served as its director from 1933 to 1939. In 1937 he co-founded a quarterly publication called Public Opinion Quarterly (POQ), which was designed to serve as a forum for experts in public opinion surveys. Eventually, the publication also became a forum for the discussion of American experience in psychological warfare in the emerging Cold War. 3
In 1941, Poole was selected to manage the day-to-day operations at the Foreign Nationalities Branch (FNB) within the Office of the Coordinator of Information (COI) — the predecessor of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the American wartime strategic intelligence agency. After the COI was replaced by the OSS in July 1942, Poole became the head of the FNB, which served as an important source of political intelligence for the Roosevelt Administration during World War II. After the OSS was terminated in late 1945, Poole became a special representative of the U.S. Secretary of State and was sent to Germany to interview political prisoners. Upon his return to Washington, D.C. he advocated the permanent division of Germany along the Elbe River, warning that a “restored” Germany would develop, in time, into a “dangerous” Germany. 4
In 1949, Poole joined the National Committee for a Free Europe (NCFE), which had been established with his active participation to deploy Eastern European exiles to distribute psychological warfare materials and run covert operations behind the Iron Curtain. Poole soon became the president of the NCFE, which included Radio Free Europe as its most important division, and remained in this position until January 1951. 5 From 1951 until he retired in April 1952, Poole was the president of the Free Europe University in Exile.