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


When the United States announced its independence from Great Britain in 1776, Bavaria was a sovereign, independent state. One of the largest German states (after Austria and Prussia), Bavaria was elevated from an electorate into a kingdom in 1806. In 1808, the King of Bavaria issued a constitution that granted basic rights, freedoms, and religious toleration, and the 1818 constitution established a bicameral legislature named the Stände-Versammlung. The first act of mutual recognition between the United States and the Kingdom of Bavaria occurred in 1833 and relations between the two countries expanded through 1871 when Bavaria joined the German Empire. From this point forward, foreign policy of the German Empire was made in Berlin, with the German Kaiser (who was also the King of Prussia) accrediting ambassadors of foreign nations. Relations were severed when the U.S. declared war upon Imperial Germany in 1917.


Mutual Recognition, 1833.

The first known act of mutual recognition between the United States and the Kingdom of Bavaria was the establishment of a U.S. Consulate in Bavaria. A letter from U.S. Consul Robert de Ruedorffer dated July 4, 1833, informs U.S. Secretary of State Edward Livingston that Ruedorffer will discharge the duties of Consul for the United States in Munich.

Consular Presence

The first U.S. Consulate in the Kingdom of Bavaria was opened in 1833.

The first U.S. Consulate to open in the Kingdom of Bavaria was in 1833. The second one opened on December 26, 1843. Other U.S. Consulates opened in the kingdom during the nineteenth century were: Augsburg, which opened on June 26, 1846, and closed on July 28, 1906; Rhenish, which opened on August 4, 1862, and closed on April 21, 1870; Nuremberg, which opened on December 26, 1868, and closed on February 5, 1915; and Bamberg, which opened on January 25, 1892, and closed on May 11, 1908.

Diplomatic Relations

Expansion of Relations, 1868.

The relationship between the United States and the Kingdom of Bavaria continued to expand through the 1860s. On May 26, 1868, specially accredited U.S. Minister Plenipotentiary George Bancroft signed a naturalization treaty with Bavaria. At the time, Bancroft was also accredited to Prussia and the North German Confederation and, after 1871, to the German Empire. Yet, although Bancroft was recalled from his position in Berlin in 1874 (at his own request), he was never officially recalled from the court of Bavaria. In 1895, four years after his death, Bancroft still “officially stood as the diplomatic representative of the United States to Bavaria.” (See entry on German Unification for greater details.)

Cessation of Relations, 1917.

On February 3, 1917, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson instructed the Secretary of State to notify the German Ambassador to the United States that all diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the German Empire were severed. As the foreign affairs of Imperial Germany were run out of Berlin and decided upon by the Kaiser, this constituted the severance of relations with Bavaria, as part of the German Empire. On April 6, 1917, Wilson declared war upon Imperial Germany.

Treaties and Agreements

Convention Abolishing Droit D’Aubaine and Taxes on Emigration, 1845.

On January 21, 1845, the U.S. signed a convention to abolish droit d’aubaine and taxation upon emigration with the Kingdom of Bavaria. Droit d’aubaine was when a state would confiscate all territory and possessions, moveable or immoveable, of the deceased rather than the deceased’s heirs receiving the property.

Extradition Convention, 1853.

An Extradition Convention was signed between the Kingdom of Bavaria and the United States on September 12, 1853, in London by the U.S. Minister to Britain James Buchanan and the Bavarian Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary at the Court of Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Augustus Baron de Cetto.

Naturalization Treaty, 1868.

On May 26, 1868, the U.S. signed a Naturalization Treaty with the Kingdom of Bavaria. The treaty was negotiated and signed by U.S. Minister to the Kingdom of Bavaria George Bancroft and his Bavarian counterpart, Dr. Otto, Baron of Völderndorff, Councillor of Ministry.

Key Diplomatic Events

Bavaria Joins the German Empire, 1871.

The Kingdom of Bavaria was one of the founding states of the German Empire, which was proclaimed on January 18, 1871.

German Unification.

Bavaria was one of the states involved in the process of German unification during the mid-nineteenth century. See “Unification of German States” for greater detail.

Issues Relevant to U.S. Foreign Diplomacy

The Second Reich, Trade, Citizenship, and Extradition.

As with all of the German states that the United States had treaties with, after Bavaria joined the Second Reich in 1871 there were questions as to whether U.S. officials abided by treaties concluded with Bavaria or with Prussia in dealing with issues of trade, citizenship, or extradition with subjects of the Kingdom of Bavaria. It was decided that a variety of different circumstances would guide U.S. foreign policy towards German states. First, “where a State has lost its separate existence, as in the case of Hanover and Nassau, no questions can arise.” Second, “where no treaty has been negotiated with the Empire, the treaties with the various States which have preserved a separate existence have been resorted to.”

Despite the Constitution of the German Empire of 1871, which stipulated that the Empire was responsible for treaties, alliances, and representing the Empire amongst nations, the smaller states still retained the right of legation. This included the right to legislate, to grant exequaturs to foreign consuls in their territories (though not to send German consuls abroad), and to enter into conventions with foreign nations as long as they did not concern matters already within the jurisdiction of the Empire or the Emperor.


  • William M. Malloy, Treaties, Conventions, International Acts, Protocols, and Agreements Between The United States of American and Other Powers, 1776-1909 (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1910).
  • John Bassett Moore, A Digest of International Law (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1906).
  • John Bassett Moore, Four Phases of American Development (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1912).
  • James J. Sheehan, German History 1770-1866, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989).