Ambassador Thomas Pickering holds the personal rank of career ambassador, the highest in the United States Foreign Service. Over five decades, he served as the United States ambassador to the Russian Federation, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. In 2005, Ambassador Pickering became the fourteenth recipient of the Bowdoin Prize, the College’s highest honor. In his presentation, “Civil War to Civility: Bowdoin’s Sons and Ending Strife-Then and Now”, he spoke about the peace reached on April 9, 1865, as part of the College’s commemoration of the end of the Civil War.

He also addressed the challenges and failure of Reconstruction to move the country forward after the war. He drew upon his vast experience to address the theme of how war does not resolve political issues – diplomacy and politics do. All wars end with political arrangements. He also touched upon current affairs in places such as Iraq and Syria.