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

Summary

The Hanseatic Republics were composed of the three Free Hanseatic Cities that remained by the late eighteenth century: Bremen, Lübeck, and Hamburg. When the United States announced its independence from Great Britain in 1776, these three Free Cities were sovereign, independent city-states within the Holy Roman Empire. Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, and in 1811 annexed Bremen, Lübeck, and Hamburg directly to the First French Empire. The three Hanseatic cities regained independence in 1813, and the 1815 Congress of Vienna reaffirmed that Bremen, Lübeck, and Hamburg were independent and sovereign city-states.

Historically major trading hubs for the northern German States and Baltic Sea, the three cities joined together to conduct one streamlined policy in their relations with the United States during the nineteenth century. Yet, each Hanseatic city remained independent of the others. After initial recognition in the 1790s, relations were expanded in the following decades, driven by the increased trade and commercial ties between the Hanseatic Cities and the United States. By the late 1840s, Bremen was one of the main ports through which goods moved between the United States and the German States.

Direct diplomatic relations between the United States and the Hanseatic Republics were established in 1853 but were severed in 1868 when the three republics joined the North German Confederation. Three years later at the conclusion of the process of German unification, the three republics entered into 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 with the German Empire were severed when the U.S. declared war upon Imperial Germany in 1917.

Recognition

Mutual Acts of Recognition, 1790-1793.

The first known act of recognition between the United States and Hamburg came in 1790 when the Free City of Hamburg accepted the credentials of U.S. Vice Consul John Parish, who was appointed to that position on June 17, 1790. Additionally, on February 19, 1793, the U.S. Congress resolved that John Parish was to be accredited as U.S. Consul in Hamburg.

Recognition between the U.S. and Breman, 1794.

The first known act of recognition between the United States and Bremen was in 1794 when Arnold Delius, who on May 28, 1794, was appointed as U.S. Consul at Bremen, arrived to open the first U.S. consulate in that city. The U.S. did not open a consulate in Lübeck until August 6, 1824.

Hanseatic Representation in the U.S., December 4, 1827.

The first time that the Hanseatic Republics were represented in the United States Government as a joint delegation came on December 4, 1827, when the U.S. received Hanseatic Republic Minister Plenipotentiary near the United States of America Vincent Rumpff. Rumpff was sent to the United States to negotiate and sign the first treaty between the United States and the three Hanseatic Republics.

Consular Presence

First consulate opens in Bremen, May 29, 1794.

The first U.S. Consulate to open in Bremen was on May 29, 1794, which closed in September 1985.

U.S. consulate opens in Bremerhaven, June 27, 1882.

Another U.S. consulate was opened in nearby Bremerhaven on June 27, 1882, which closed on May 1, 1949. (Bremerhaven became part of Bremen in 1947, after the Second World War.)

U.S. consulate opens in Hamburg, June 17, 1790.

The first U.S. Consulate to open in Hamburg was on June 17, 1790. It closed on January 2, 1967.

U.S. consulate opens in Lübeck, August 6, 1824.

The U.S. Consulate in Lübeck opened on August 6, 1824 and closed on March 1, 1916.

U.S. consulate opens in Hanseatic and Free Cities, January 24, 1857.

The U.S. Consulate to the Hanseatic and Free Cities opened on January 24, 1857 and closed on July 17, 1862.

Diplomatic Relations

Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, 1853.

The United States established diplomatic relations with the Hanseatic Republics in October 1853 when it received Rudolph Schleiden as Minister Resident of the Hanseatic Legation in Washington D.C

Cessation of Relations, 1868.

On September 25, 1868, the Hanseatic Republic Acting Chargé d’Affaires A. Schumacker presented the letters of recall of Dr. Johannes Rosing, the Hanseatic Republic’s Chargé d’Affaires. The withdrawal of the Hanseatic mission was due to the three Republics (Bremen, Hamburg, and Lübeck) joining the North German Union.

Treaties and Agreements

Convention of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation, 1827.

A Convention of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation was signed between the United States and the Hanseatic Republics on December 20, 1827, which facilitated commercial intercourse and navigational privileges. The Convention was signed by U.S. Secretary of State Henry Clay and the Hanseatic Republic Minister Plenipotentiary near the United States of America Vincent Rumpff.

Additional Article to Convention of 1827, 1828.

On June 7, 1828, and Additional Article to the Convention of 1827 was signed by the United States and the Hanseatic Republics, which conferred greater powers upon each other’s consuls and vice-consuls.

Consular Convention, 1852.

The United States and the Hanseatic Republics signed a Consular Convention on April 30, 1852, which further extended the jurisdiction of their respective Consuls. With this agreement, consuls and vice-consuls could now act as judges and arbitrators to mediate differences between masters and crews of vessels of their respective nations.

Declaration of Accession of the Senate of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen to the Convention for the Extradition of Criminals, Fugitives From Justice, Between Prussia and Other States of the Germanic Confederation and the United States, 1853.

On September 6, 1853, the Declaration of Accession of the Senate of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen to the Convention for the Extradition of Criminals, Fugitives from Justice, between Prussia and Other States of the Germanic Confederation and the United States was signed by the President of the Senate of Bremen, Herr Smidt.

Key Diplomatic Events

Bremen, Lübeck, and Hamburg Join the North German Confederation, 1867-68.

Following the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, several German states joined to form the North German Confederation, with the King of Prussia acting as head of the union. All three Hanseatic Republics joined the North German Confederation, thus, diplomatic relations between Bremen, Lübeck, and Hamburg and the United States drew to a close in 1868.

Bremen, Lübeck, and Hamburg Join the German Empire, 1871.

The three Hanseatic Republics joined the German Empire, which was proclaimed on January 18, 1871.

Issues Relevant to U.S. Foreign Diplomacy

Trade and Commerce.

Trade was a major element to shape U.S. foreign policy towards the three Hanseatic Republics, especially as, in the first half of the nineteenth century, Bremen, Hamburg, and Lübeck were the main ports for goods entering or exiting the German states.

Resources

  • 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).
  • History of U.S. Recognition and Relations: Germany
  • A Century of Lawmaking: U.S. Congressional Documents, 1775-1874