When the United States became independent, Lebanon was part of the Ottoman Empire and its foreign relations were conducted through the Sultan’s government at Constantinople (Istanbul). In 1922, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the League of Nations approved a French Mandate for Lebanon and Syria, which gave France exclusive control over their foreign relations. The United States appointed George Wadsworth as “Agent and Consul General” on October 9, 1942, to provide a quasi-diplomatic presence in Beirut until the United States determined that Lebanon achieved effective independence in 1944.
Modern Flag of Lebanon
The United States recognized Lebanon as an independent state on September 8, 1944, when the Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs informed the United States that Lebanon fully recognized and would protect existing rights of the United States and its nationals. This Lebanese assurance was in response to a letter sent on September 7, 1944, by the American Diplomatic Agent and Consul General in Lebanon that offered “full and unconditional recognition” upon receipt of such written assurances.
The United States established diplomatic relations with Lebanon when George Wadsworth presented his credentials as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary on November 16, 1944. Wadsworth had been serving as Diplomatic Agent and Consul General to Syria and Lebanon while the United States considered them to be “semi-independent” states.
The American Legation in Beirut was raised to embassy status on October 3, 1952, when Harold B. Minor was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.
The United States withdrew all personnel including Ambassador John Thomas McCarthy from the American Embassy in Beirut on September 6, 1989. In a statement to the press, the Department of State explained that the step was taken after supporters of a faction in the civil war had surrounded the embassy, endangering the safety of embassy personnel and preventing the embassy from functioning effectively.
The American Embassy in Beirut was reopened on November 29, 1990, when new Ambassador Ryan Crocker presented his credentials.