Historical Highlights

A House Reception for Boris Bakhmetieff from Russia

June 23, 1917
A House Reception for Boris Bakhmetieff from Russia Image courtesy of Library of Congress Featured in this image is Ambassador Boris Bakhmetieff with his wife, and their dog.
On this date, Boris Bakhmetieff, the Russian Ambassador to the United States, spoke before the House of Representatives at a reception in the House Chamber. In the midst of the Russian Revolution and World War I, the House anxiously awaited the address of Bakhmetieff, an official representative of the Russian provisional government. Speaker of the House “Champ” Clark of Missouri welcomed the diplomatic mission to the U.S. and praised Russia’s determination to create a republic. Before the crowded chamber and galleries, Clark reminded the Russian delegation of America’s leading role in the modern democratic experiment, “not by conquering armies, not by the mailed hand, but by the wholesomeness of our example; by teaching all creation the glorious fact that men can govern themselves.” Bakhmetieff expressed gratitude to those in attendance and referred to his nation as the “new-born Russian democracy.” He went on to promise that “what Russia is aiming for is the establishment of a firm and lasting peace between democratic nations.” At the conclusion of the well-received address, Speaker Clark assisted with the introduction of Bakhmetieff and the members of the Russian delegation to the Representatives of the 65th Congress (1917–1919). According to the Washington Post, Jeannette Rankin of Montana, the first woman elected to Congress and one of a handful of Members to vote against U.S. entry into World War I, “received extra attention” from the invited guests. Leading up to the highly anticipated proceedings, House Doorkeeper Joe Sinnott guarded against rumored protests by militant woman suffragists looking for the opportunity to draw attention to their cause. Ultimately, two women were arrested for assembling on the House steps and displaying a banner warning Russian leaders of American “deception” for touting democracy while withholding the right to vote for women.

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