Coming and going: Harrison’s next assignment

Marguerite Harrison returned to the United States the summer of 1919 went back to work at the Baltimore Sun while she waited for Military Intelligence Division officials to decide on her next assignment.

Her superiors had been so impressed with her work, they fought over where she should go next.

Colonel Edward Davis, who ran a successful spy ring from The Hague, wanted her to work from Berlin as the chief agent in charge of contiguous countries. “By moving about in that fashion, she can take care of the outside of the spider web while other people nearer Berlin can take care of the center of the web,” he wrote to MID Director Marlborough Churchill. Davis had heard that Col. Ralph Van Deman wanted to send Marguerite to Japan, but Davis thought that foolish.  “’White folks’ can’t get very far in Japan,” he argued. Another idea was to dispatch Marguerite to Mexico, but Davis thought that would be a waste of a good agent. “It seems to me that whenever it comes to a choice as to missions for capable agents, Germany ought to be their field in preference to Mexico,” he wrote.

Harrison was anxious for the matter to be settled. Although in Baltimore she was a celebrity, she soon grew bored speaking to women’s clubs and writing feature articles for the newspaper. “What interest could I take in a State Democratic Convention after having seen the adoption of the Weimar Constitution? What thrill was there in a front page murder to anyone who had seen wholesale murder in the streets of Berlin?” she wrote.

Initially, Churchill was inclined to accede to Davis’ request and return Harrison to Germany, but then he changed his mind. In October he decided on the place for her next assignment: Russia.

Davis’ letter to Marlborough Churchill

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