Maryland senator arrives to rescue Marguerite

In early June Marguerite’s case went to the highest authority in Soviet Russia—Vladimir Lenin. Maryland Sen. Joseph France wrote to Lenin asking permission to enter Russia to discuss the release of the American prisoners in exchange for food aid. France, who was facing reelection in the fall, was especially eager to free one of his constituents. Russian foreign minister Leonid Krasin urged Lenin to approve France’s visit, hoping it signaled a turning point in American–Soviet relations. Lenin agreed and met France in Moscow on Friday, July 15. France explained to Lenin the realities of American politics. He had long advocated for diplomatic recognition of the Bolshevik government and restored trade between the two countries, but many Americans abhorred Communism and distrusted the Reds. He told Lenin that he did not believe Marguerite was being tortured and that he thought she indeed was a spy, but he needed to do something to help her because she was a citizen of Maryland and her former brother-in-law was the governor. Lenin promised give him an answer by the following Monday.

While he awaited word on Lenin’s decision, France visited Marguerite in the Novinsky prison. Marguerite had never met France, but she recognized him from pictures she had seen in the newspaper. Marguerite recalled that her first thought was the senator had become a Bolshevik. Almost at the same time, she thought “perhaps he has come to take me home!”

Sen. Joseph France

France told her he was hoping to take her with him the following Monday, but she put the idea out of her mind when he left. Too many times she had been disappointed. Monday came and went without news. So did Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday night, the head of Cheka’s American Bureau ordered her to pack her bags to go with him to Lubyanka for her trial, which was to be the next day. The doctor at Novinsky, however, refused to let her leave because she was running a fever. Instead, two guards and attendant searched her and took her papers, including the verses to Russia songs and poems that she had learned in prison.

“What does this mean?” she asked.

“It means you will be deported tomorrow,” one the guards told her.

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