Llewellyn Thompson

Llewellyn E. Thompson
United States Ambassador to Austria
In office
United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union
In office
July 16, 1957  July 27, 1962
Preceded by Charles E. Bohlen
Succeeded by Foy D. Kohler
In office
January 23, 1967  January 14, 1969
Preceded by Foy D. Kohler
Succeeded by Jacob D. Beam
Personal details
Born (1904-08-24)August 24, 1904
Las Animas, Colorado
Died February 6, 1972(1972-02-06) (aged 67)
Bethesda, Maryland
Spouse(s) Jane Monroe Goelet

Llewellyn E. "Tommy" Thompson Jr. (August 24, 1904 - February 6, 1972), was a United States diplomat. He served in Sri Lanka,[1] Austria, and for a lengthy period in the Soviet Union where his tenure saw some of the most significant events of the Cold War.


Thompson was born in Las Animas, Colorado,[1] the son of a rancher.[2] He studied economics at the University of Colorado.[3]

Diplomatic career

In 1928 he joined the foreign service. He was second secretary at the US Embassy in Moscow from 1941, and remained in the city with a skeleton staff when the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 forced the US Embassy to withdraw to Kuybyshev.[2]

Thompson was the U.S. Ambassador to Austria from 1955–1957 and to Soviet Union from 1957 to 1962 and again between 1967 and 1969. He held a number of other positions throughout his U.S. foreign service career, including being the pivotal participant in the formulation of Johnson administration nuclear weapon non-proliferation policy. He also testified before the Warren Commission, which was investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis the US received two messages from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, one quite conciliatory and the other much more hawkish. Thompson, who had lived with Khrushchev and his wife for a time[4] and knew him well, advised Kennedy to react to the first message, saying the second had probably been written with generals looking over Khrushchev's shoulder. Thompson's belief was that Khrushchev would be willing to withdraw the Soviet missiles as long as he could portray the avoidance of a U.S. invasion of Cuba as a strategic success.[4] He was present at the Glassboro Summit Conference to discuss US-Soviet relations with Soviets Alexei Kosygin, Andrei Gromyko and Anatoly Dobrynin.


Thompson's wife, Jane Monroe Goelet, an artist, brought art from the State Department's Art in Embassies Program to the Ambassador's residence at Spaso House. This program exhibits original works by U.S. citizens in the public areas of Ambassador’s residences all over the world.[2]

Thompson died of cancer in 1972 and is buried in his hometown of Las Animas.[1] U.S. Route 50 through Las Animas is named "Ambassador Thompson Boulevard".[1]


  1. 1 2 3 4 Thompson's entry in The Political Graveyard
  2. 1 2 3 U.S. Ministers and Ambassadors to Russia, US Embassy in Moscow biography
  3. "Hall of Alumni", University of Colorado Alumni Association website, URL retrieved November 4, 2006
  4. 1 2 Robert McNamara, interviewed in The Fog of War
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