His work abroad and the backwash from Princeton had not diminished Buchman's activities in his own country. In the first three months of 1929 he held half a dozen house-parties in the United States, the last being in Briarcliff, thirty miles up the Hudson from New York. Indeed, Briarcliff became so well known as a centre of his activities during the next years that when he called on the Governor of New York State, Franklin D. Roosevelt, at Hyde Park in May 1932, Roosevelt's first remark was, 'Hello, Buchman. What's happening at Briarcliff?' Shortly afterwards Buchman was received by President Hoover, who was preoccupied by the Depression, now reaching its deepest point. The realisation that the prosperity of the twenties had gone, perhaps for good, brought with it despair and the threat of violence. Harper's magazine carried an article headed 'Are We Going to Have a Revolution?'1 There were thirty-eight suicides in Detroit in a single weekend.

Buchman had brought a group of twenty to North America on a reconnaissance that year. He held large meetings in the East and Middle West of the United States, arriving in Detroit in June. Here a couple whose marriage had been saved through meeting the Oxford Group introduced him to Mr and Mrs Henry Ford. Ford, noticing that Buchman's watch was not working, offered him the duplicate of his own - a dollar watch on a neat leather cord attached to his coat lapel. Buchman was celebrating his fifty-fourth birthday, and had asked his Penn State friend, Bill Pickle, now eighty-four years old, to join him for the occasion. He introduced Bill Pickle to the Fords. 'Henry Ford showed himself to me as simply a common man,' was Bill's verdict. 'If he was a neighbour of mine, we could just be good friends.'

Buchman had kept in touch with Bill through the years, and had sent him financial help when times were hard. Hearing that his 'benefactor', as he always called Buchman, planned to visit Europe again, Bill had written, 'Hear you are sailing for Oxford, England, on 15 June, which would be my soul's delight in my last days. Now, Frank, you know I have never asked for anything and have no reason to ask, but you don't know how I would like to go with you to Oxford. We are all quite well and spiritually on the mountain top. Yours in fellowship, love and truth, Your brother, W. I. Gilliland.'2