“A Short History of the Department of State” has been retired and is no longer maintained. For more information, please see the full notice.
The Practice of Diplomacy
From the earliest days of the Republic, a U.S. envoy overseas was known as “minister” since an “ambassador” traditionally was the representative of a king. But in 1893, the United States bowed to the now-common diplomatic practice and upgraded its envoys to the most important foreign nations to the rank of ambassador. Embassies were established in Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy after those nations conferred ambassadorial rank on their representatives in Washington. The elevation of ministers to ambassadors and legations to embassies was a gradual process and continued until the late 1960s when all U.S. chiefs of mission finally held the rank of ambassador.