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A Guide to the United States’ History of Recognition, Diplomatic, and Consular Relations, by Country, since 1776: Austrian Empire

Summary

Note: This entry is for the former state, the Austrian Empire. Please click here for information on the modern Republic of Austria.

Austria was the German-speaking heartland of the Holy Roman Empire (until 1806), the Austrian Empire (until 1867), and the Austro-Hungarian Empire (until 1918). Relations between the United States and the Austrian Empire (and subsequently, the Austro-Hungarian Empire) were friendly. An exception was the period 1849-50 in the aftermath of Austrian suppression of the 1848 Hungarian revolt. At the time there was widespread sympathy for Hungarian national aspirations and Hungarian exiles were warmly received by the United States. This changed during World War I. After the United States declared war on Germany, Austria-Hungary severed diplomatic relations with the United States on April 8, 1917. The United States did not declare war on Austria-Hungary until December 7, 1917.

Recognition

Austrian Empire Recognition of the United States, 1797.

Austria recognized the United States in 1797 by accepting Conrad Frederick Wagner as U.S. Consul at Trieste, a city under the jurisdiction of the Habsburg Empire. Unfortunately no correspondence from this earliest appointee has survived. The earliest surviving correspondence is from the second U.S. Consul at Trieste, John Lamson, who although appointed on December 24, 1799, did not arrive in Trieste until December 29, 1801. By March 18, 1802, Lamson had received an exchequer from the Habsburg Emperor Francis I.

Prior to the Empire’s recognition of the United States, Congress commissioned William Lee on July 1, 1777, as U.S. representative to Vienna; however, Austria did not officially receive him at that time. One explanation for why Austria did not recognize the United States during the 1780s was that it would have put them in the difficult position of recognizing a country that had rebelled against a monarchy – a dangerous precedent given the internal difficulties posed by unrest in the Habsburg domains (Austrian Netherlands and Hungary) at the time.

Consular Presence

U.S. Consulates in Venice, Trieste, and Vienna, 1797-1917, with interruptions.

U.S. consuls were appointed to Venice and Trieste in 1797. In the case of Venice, the first appointee declined the assignment and was reassigned to Barcelona. There was no record that a second appointee in 1807 ever served. There was no permanent U.S. presence in the Austrian Empire until 1830. Venice first passed into Austrian control as the result of the Treaty of Campo Formio of October 17, 1797, and became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1866.

In the case of Trieste, no dispatches from the earliest appointee have survived. There were consuls serving there between 1801 and 1809, but there was no permanent U.S. presence there until 1816. Trieste was part of the Austrian Empire until its breakup in 1918.

A U.S. Consulate was established in Vienna on October 10, 1829. It became a Consulate General on June 17, 1874. It was closed April 9, 1917, after the Austro-Hungarian Empire severed diplomatic relations with the United States.

Consulates in other parts of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire (i.e. Hungary and the former Czechoslovakia) will be mentioned under the countries in which they are presently located.

Diplomatic Relations

Establishment of Diplomatic Relations and the American Legation in Vienna, 1838.

Henry A. Muhlenberg was appointed as the first U.S. Minister to Austria on February 8, 1838. He presented his credentials on November 7, 1838.

Establishment of the Austrian Legation in Washington, 1838.

The Austrian Empire’s first Minister to the United States, Baron de Mareschal, presented his credentials October 13, 1838.

Elevation of American Legation to Embassy Status, 1902.

U.S. Minister Robert S. McCormick, who had been appointed Minister on March 7, 1901, was appointed Ambassador on May 27, 1902. He presented his new credentials on June 26, 1902.

Termination of Diplomatic Relations, 1917.

On April 8, 1917, Austro-Hungarian Empire severed diplomatic relations with the United States. Several months later, on December 7, 1917, the United States declared war upon Austria-Hungary.

Treaties and Agreements

On December 20, 1825, Secretary of State Henry Clay announced that the United States was ready to conclude a commerce and navigation convention with the Austrian Empire. On March 18, 1828, Emperor Francis I appointed Lewis, Baron de Lederer, the Austrian Consul in New York, to negotiate a treaty. A Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between the United States and Austria was signed in Washington on August 27, 1829, and entered into force February 10, 1831 after the exchange of ratifications.

Resources

  • Bevans, Charles I. Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America, 1776-1949. Volume 5: Afghanistan-Burma. Department of State Publication 8543, October 1970.
  • Miller, Hunter. Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America: Volume 3, Documents 41-79: 1819-35. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1933.