Bruce, James, 1730-1794

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James Bruce (1730-94) was a great African traveller. He was educated for the legal profession, but in the course of a visit to Spain and a study of the manuscripts of the Escurial he developed a taste for oriental and especially Ethiopian literature. He was consul at Algiers in 1763-5, and from 1765 to 1773 led a roving life in Ethiopia and Upper Egypt. From 1774, until his death in 1794, he lived chiefly in Scotland. His Travels to discover the source of the Nile was first published in 1790. See the Dictionary of National Biography for details.

From the guide to the Arabic and Ethiopic manuscripts of James Bruce, 13th-18th century, (University of Oxford, Department of Oriental Collections, Bodleian Library)

Epithet: traveller

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000795.0x000140

Epithet: Captain

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000795.0x000138

Epithet: Alderman

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000795.0x000137

Epithet: Collector at Mobile, W Florida

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000795.0x000139

Epithet: Presbyterian Minister at Killeleagh, county Down

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000795.0x00013f

A businessman, ambassador, and member of a prominent Maryland family, James Bruce was born on December 23, 1892 in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of lawyer, author, and U. S. Senator William Cabell Bruce and Louise Este (Fisher) Bruce.

After attending the Gilman School in Baltimore, Bruce entered Princeton University in 1910, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in literature in 1914. The following year, Bruce attended the training camp of the U. S. Army at Plattsburgh, New York. During 1916, he lived in Rome, working as private secretary to the U. S. Ambassador to Italy, his uncle Thomas Nelson Page. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Bruce enlisted in the U. S. Army, serving in France and Germany. In 1918, Bruce received a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Maryland in Baltimore. In early 1919, Bruce served as assistant military attache to the American Embassy in Rome and went to the Balkans as a representative of the Paris Peace Conference to investigate the conflict between Albania and Montenegro.

Bruce returned to the United States in 1919 and married Ellen McHenry Keyser on May 24 of that year. In 1920, their daughter Ellen was born, followed in 1924 by a second daughter, Louise.

Upon his return to the United States in 1919, James Bruce embarked upon a career in banking, working for the Mercantile Trust Bank of Baltimore and for the Atlantic Trust Company. In 1926, Bruce left Baltimore for New York, where he worked for several banks, including Chase National, until he returned to Baltimore in 1931 to become president of the Baltimore Trust Company.

In 1933, Bruce was appointed financial advisor to the Homeowners Loan Corporation in Washington, D.C. He ended this government service one year later to become vice president of the National Dairy Products Corporation. In addition, Bruce became the director of a large number of companies and corporations, which, over the course of his life, included American Airlines, the Maryland Casualty Company, Republic Steel, the American Shipbuilding Company, and Loew's Theatres, to name only a few.

In 1947, James Bruce accepted an appointment as United States Ambassador to Argentina, making his acceptance dependent on President Truman's promise to appoint him Ambassador to Great Britain upon the resignation of the present ambassador in London. Bruce spent two years as Ambassador to Argentina, returning to the United States on occasion, once to lead a fundraising campaign for the reelection of President Truman. In 1949, Bruce resigned from his position in Argentina and returned to Washington expecting to be named the new Ambassador to Great Britain. Due to various political circumstances, including consideration of Bruce's brother David for the post of Ambassador to France and the impossibility of having relatives posted to two of the nation's most important diplomatic positions, President Truman withdrew his offer from Bruce. In subsequent years, Bruce blamed a conspiracy by Secretary of State Dean Acheson for the denial of the ambassadorship.

Bruce accepted an appointment as director of the Mutual Defense Assistance Program, a forerunner of NATO, in 1949, but resigned in 1950 to return to a career in business. He spent the remainder of his professional life in the business world, entering politics only in 1958 to run, unsuccessfully, for the United States Senate and to conduct fundraisers for Democratic candidates during election campaigns.

Aside from his business and political careers, James Bruce authored the books College Journalism (with James Forrestal), Those Perplexing Argentines, and Memoirs. He was also a member of many social and patriotic organizations, including the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Brook Club of New York.

James Bruce died on July 17, 1980, in New York, New York, five months after his wife, Ellen Keyser Bruce, who died on February 5, 1980.

From the guide to the James Bruce papers, 1734-2002, 1910-1960, (State of Maryland and Historical Collections)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Donald Hyde and Mary Hyde Eccles Autograph Collection, 1505-1957 (inclusive), 1702-1854 (bulk). Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard
referencedIn Johnsoniana; or, Supplement to Boswell: being anecdotes and sayings of Dr. Johnson, extra-illustrated, 1738-1840 (inclusive), 1784-1837 (bulk). Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard
referencedIn Vol. XCI (ff. 352). 25 Sept.-13 Nov. 1819.includes:f. 1 William Howley, Archbishop of Canterbury: Letter to Lady Liverpool: 1819. ff. 3, 118 Charles Chetwynd Chetwynd Talbot, 2nd Earl Talbot of Hensol; Viceroy of Ireland: Correspondence with the 2n... British Library
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives. Record Group IIj, 1898-1988 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Arabic and Ethiopic manuscripts of James Bruce, 13th-18th century University of Oxford, Department of Oriental Collections, Bodleian Library
referencedIn News and Information Services (University of Michigan) Faculty and Staff Files, 1944-2005, 1960-1995 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives, 1743-1984 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Autograph File, B, ca.1500-1976. Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard
referencedIn Vincent, William, 1739-1815. "Bruce's system of the Monsoons for proving that Sofala is the Ophir of Solomon," together with, "Systems contrary to Bruce" : autograph manuscript unsigned, undated [ca. 1799?]. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Vincent, William, 1739-1815. Autograph letter signed : "Deans yard," to Alexander Dalrymple, 1799 June 4. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Boswell, Winthrop Palmer. Three typescripts, 1985, 1991, and 1998. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf James Bruce papers, 1734-2002, 1910-1960 State of Maryland and Historical Collections
referencedIn New York Times Company records. Arthur Hays Sulzberger papers, 1823-1999 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Liebert, Herman W.,. Herman W. Liebert manuscript collection, 1604-1987. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Murray, Alexander, 1775-1813. [Materials for the life of James Bruce (1730-1794)], [ca. 1802]. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Vol. XII (ff. 388). 18 June-Dec. 1763.includes:f. 1 John Skelton: Letter to the 1st Earl of Liverpool: 1763. f. 2 1770 Sackville, 1st Viscount Sackville 1782; afterwards Germain (Lord George): Correspondence with the lst Earl of Liverpool: 1762-178... British Library
referencedIn Antiquarian Maps Collection, 1493 - 1962 Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections.
referencedIn Johnsonian Miscellanies, extra-illustrated, 1538-1900 (inclusive);, 1738-1866 (bulk). Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard
referencedIn " A COLLECTION of Ancient Scotish Poems ... by upwards of twenty of our Ancient Composers ... written January, Anno Dom. 1724," by James Bruce, Alderman. With a table of the pieces prefixed. Paper; ff 90. Small Quarto. British Library
referencedIn Herman W. Liebert manuscript collection, 1604-1987 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Liebert, Herman W.,. Herman W. Liebert manuscript collection, 1604-1987. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Arabic and Ethiopic manuscripts of James Bruce, 13th-18th century University of Oxford, Department of Oriental Collections, Bodleian Library
referencedIn Sir Hans Sloane, Baronet: Original correspondence, chronologically arranged: 17th-18th centt.includes:f. 1 James Knapton, Bookseller, of London: Letter to Sir H. Sloane: 1702.f. 2 James Sutherland, Superintendent of the Physic Garden at Edinburgh... British Library
referencedIn Letters of Samuel Johnson, LL.D., collected and edited by George Birkbeck Hill, extra-illustrated, 1413-1900 (inclusive), 1775-1839 (bulk). Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard
referencedIn Vol. VII (ff. 221). Letters to C. G. Woide: Arcularius-Hobman. Preceded by a letter of condolence from Mrs Alice Goodhart to Woide's younger daughter on the death of her brother-in-law, Joseph Goodhart.includes:f. 1 Mrs Alice Goodhart: Letter to M... British Library
referencedIn Sir Hans Sloane, Baronet: Original correspondence, chronologically arranged: 17th-18th centt.includes:ff. 1, 45, 218 Levinus Vincent: Letters to Sir H. Sloane: 1725.f. 3 S-H-: Letter to Sir H. Sloane: 1725.ff. 5, 264-266 b Michael Angelo Tilli... British Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Acheson, Dean person
associatedWith American Philosophical Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Argentina. corporateBody
associatedWith Boswell, Winthrop Palmer. person
associatedWith Bruce, Ellen person
associatedWith Bruce family family
associatedWith Bruce, James person
associatedWith Bruce, Louise Este Fisher person
correspondedWith Croker, John Wilson, 1780-1857 person
associatedWith Dulles, John Foster person
associatedWith Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David) person
associatedWith Harriman, W. Averell (William Averell) person
correspondedWith Hill, George Birkbeck Norman, 1835-1903 person
associatedWith Hoover, Herbert person
associatedWith Illinois. corporateBody
associatedWith Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines) person
correspondedWith Johnson, Samuel, 1709-1784 person
associatedWith Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald) person
associatedWith Liebert, Herman W., person
associatedWith Liebert, Herman W., collector. person
associatedWith Marshall, George C. (George Catlett) person
associatedWith Murray, Alexander, 1775-1813. person
associatedWith New York (State). corporateBody
associatedWith New York Times Company corporateBody
associatedWith Perón, Eva person
associatedWith Rusk, Dean person
associatedWith Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections. corporateBody
associatedWith Stevenson, Adlai E. (Adlai Ewing) person
associatedWith Truman, Harry S. person
associatedWith United States. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. News and Information Services. corporateBody
associatedWith Vincent, William, 1739-1815. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Argentina
Havana, Cuba
India, Asia
Guadeloupe, Mexico
Japan, Asia
Scotland, Kingdom of, United Kingdom
Virginia, U.S.A.
Epping Forest, Essex
United States
Griffinrath, Kildare
Subject
Manuscripts, Oriental
Manuscripts, Ethiopic
Manuscripts, Arabic
Diplomatic and consular service, American--History--Sources
Occupation
Cartographer
Engravers
Function

Person

Birth 1730-12-14

Death 1794-04-26

Britons

English

Information

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