July 27, 1789

An “act establishing an Executive Department, to be denominated the Department of Foreign Affairs” (1 Stat. 28) created the Department of Foreign Affairs. The Department’s second-ranking officer, who was in charge of its records, was designated the Chief Clerk.

September 11, 1789

An “act establishing the Salaries of the Executive Officers of government, with their Assistants and Clerks” (1 Stat. 67) established the first pay scale of the Department of Foreign Affairs: the Secretary’s salary was $3,500, the Chief Clerk’s was $800, and other clerks’ salaries were not to exceed $500 each.

September 15, 1789

An “act to provide for the safe-keeping of the Acts, Records, and Seal of the United States, and for other purposes” (1 Stat. 68) changed the name of the Department of Foreign Affairs to the Department of State and assigned to it certain domestic duties. These included publication and distribution of Acts of Congress, custody of the Great Seal of the United States, affixing the seal to civil commissions of officials appointed by the President, and custody of Departmental records. Other domestic duties acquired by the Department were operation of the U.S. Mint, issuance of patents and copyrights, and administration of the census.

September 26, 1789

Thomas Jefferson was commissioned as the first Secretary of State. He had just ended an assignment as Minister to France and assumed his new duties March 22, 1790.

February 10–August 5, 1790

President George Washington appointed the first 17 U.S. Consular officers: 12 Consuls and 5 vice Consuls. The nominees were Americans engaged in trade in the city to which they were assigned; if none could be found, foreigners were appointed. No salaries were provided; compensation was from private trade and the fees charged for official services.

July 1, 1790

An “act providing the means of intercourse between the United States and foreign nations” (1 Stat. 128) established the first pay scale for U.S. diplomats. A Minister’s salary was $9,000; a Chargé d’Affaires earned $4,500. Overall expenses for “foreign intercourse” were set at $40,000.

August 26, 1790

Secretary of State Jefferson issued the first circular defining the duties of U.S. consuls. Consuls were supposed to report every six months on the number of American ships entering their ports, to report on political and commercial developments, including any preparations for war in their country of assignment. They were also to warn American ships of potential hazards. Consuls could appoint consular agents to represent them in other cities in their districts.

October 1–November 10, 1790

The Department of State moved its offices from a building on Broadway in New York to 307 Market Street in Philadelphia.

October 24, 1791

The first U.S. Census, taken in 1790, was published “from the original returns deposited in the office of the Secretary of State.”

April 14, 1792

Congress defined the duties of U.S. consuls in law for the first time in “An act concerning Consuls and Vice Consuls” (1 Stat. 254). They were to receive protests or declarations regarding American ships, to take provisional possession of the estates of Americans who died abroad, to take charge of stranded American ships, and collect fees for taking statements and administering estates. Only those consuls assigned to the Barbary States of North Africa received salaries. Consuls were also to care for stranded or shipwrecked American sailors, including arranging for their passage home. Appointees were required to provide bonds for the faithful performance of their duties.

February 21, 1793

“An act to promote the progress of useful arts” (1 Stat. 318) abolished a Cabinet-level board for review of patents, and required that patent applications be submitted to the Secretary of State.

July 10, 1797

A supplemental appropriations act authorized the hiring of a clerk who would serve as an accountant, for $800 (1 Stat. 535).

January 30, 1799

“An act for the punishment of certain crimes therein specified” (the Logan Act, 1 Stat. 613) conferred upon the Department of State the exclusive right to engage in negotiations with foreign governments.

May 28–June 7, 1800

The Department of State moved its offices from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. Its first home was in the Treasury Department building. In September, it moved to one of the “Six Buildings,” a complex on Pennsylvania Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets, N.W.

May 5, 1801

The Department of State moved to new offices in “the public building west of the President’s House.”

August 27, 1801

A Department circular directed U.S. Customs Houses to forward newspapers and other documents to Public Ministers of the United States. The Collector of Customs for the Port of New York handled most of the Department’s overseas mail.

February 26, 1803

“An act making further provision for the expenses attending the intercourse between the United States and foreign nations” (2 Stat. 202) elaborated on the duties of Consular officers toward American sailors and provided penalties for the issuance of false citizenship documents.

April 21, 1806

“An act to regulate and fix the compensation of clerks, … and for other purposes” (2 Stat. 397) required the Secretary of State to submit a report to Congress at the beginning of each year, enumerating the name of each clerk, their salaries, and the duties they performed.

August 24, 1814

Secretary of State James Monroe became the only Secretary of State to direct U.S. armed forces in combat during the Battle of Bladensburg. After the British won the battle, Monroe instructed Chief Clerk John Graham to evacuate the Department’s records from Washington. Graham, assisted by clerks Stephen Pleasonton and Josiah King, also saved the Declaration of Independence, the secret journals of Congress, and the correspondence of George Washington. The records were moved to a vacant mill on the Virginia side of the Potomac River, and later to a house in Leesburg. The British burned the Department of State’s office building. From September 1814 to March 1816, the Department of State was located in “the house lately inhabited by Judge Duvall,” on G Street near 18th Street, N.W.

April 1, 1816

The Department of State moved to a rebuilt public building west of the White House.

April 27, 1816

A Joint Resolution of Congress (3 Stat. 342) made the Department of State responsible for compiling and publishing the Official Register, a list of all U.S. civilian officials and military officers. The Register was published in odd-numbered years beginning in 1817. Publication was assigned to the Interior Department on February 20, 1861 (12 Stat. 141).


An executive order specified the duties and salaries of Department personnel. The Chief Clerk, whose salary was $2,000, became the chief administrative officer of the Department. Other clerks’ salaries ranged from $1,250 to $1,500.

April 9, 1818

The General Appropriations Act (3 Stat. 422) was the first legislation to enumerate the funds allocated to each diplomatic mission.

April 20, 1818

An Act of Congress (2 Stat. 433) required consuls to certify the value of goods exported to the United States that were subject to customs duties.

March 2, 1819

“An act regulating passenger ships and vessels” (3 Stat. 489) required captains of ships arriving in the United States to submit passenger lists to the Collectors of Customs, who would in turn submit quarterly returns of persons entering the country to the Secretary of State.

May 24, 1819

The earliest recorded trip by a U.S. courier took place, when Post Office employee Nat Crane took dispatches from Savannah, Georgia, to London. “Bearers of Despatches” were appointed by the Department as required; they received no pay, but were issued special passports to facilitate their travels.

August 21–September 11, 1819

The Department of State moved to the Northeast Executive Building.

December 4, 1821

The United States acquired its first foreign property, when Sultan Moulay Suleiman of Morocco made a gift of a building in Tangier to U.S. Consul John Mullowny. This building later housed the U.S. Legation and became a Consulate General in 1956. It became the Center for the Study of Moroccan-American Relations and the Museum of Moroccan-American Relations on July 6, 1976.

March 1, 1823

An Act of Congress (3 Stat. 729) required consuls to certify invoices of goods exported to the United States as representing their approximate value, so that the appropriate customs duty could be charged.

January 14, 1825

The Department of State appointed its first language student. William Brown Hodgson was assigned to Algiers to study “oriental languages,” as Arabic and Turkish were then known. He served there until 1830, when he was assigned to the Department as a translator.

April 23, 1830

“An act to regulate and fix the compensation of the clerks of the Department of State” authorized a Superintendent and two clerks in the Patent Office (4 Stat. 397).

November 18, 1830

The Department of State opened its first Despatch Agency in New York City, hiring William B. Taylor at $500 per year. Prior to this date, the Secretary of State would ask the Collector of Customs to arrange deliveries of mail, periodicals, and parcels to U.S. diplomatic and consular posts. The title of “Despatch Agent” was not officially used until 1842.

February 1, 1831

Former Consul Daniel Strobel submitted a report to Secretary of State Martin Van Buren and the Congress on the state of the U.S. Consular Service. Strobel favored the appointment of salaried consuls who would not engage in trade, a uniform system of fees for official services, and more oversight by the Department.

March 2, 1831

The Appropriations Act for 1831 (4 Stat. 452) enumerated in detail the salary to be paid at each diplomatic or consular post.

March 3, 1831

A House Resolution called on the Department of State to prepare a digest of foreign commercial regulations. Later in the year the Department charged consuls with collecting and forwarding the commercial laws of the countries in which they were stationed. A three-volume digest of foreign commercial regulations was published in 1836.

May 30, 1832

At the request of Chargé d’Affaires Aaron Vail, Secretary of State Edward Livingston appointed John Miller, a dealer in American books, to serve as Despatch Agent at the U.S. Legation in London. Miller received an allowance of $500 per year, and did not officially receive the title of Despatch Agent until 1842.


Secretary of State Edward Livingston issued the first General Instructions to Consuls and Commercial Agents of the United States. These covered record keeping, documenting citizenship, administration of estates, and dealing with ship captains. Consuls were to inform the Department of changes in commercial regulations and to report to the Department at least every three months. Livingston’s instructions also instituted a schedule of fees for services such as authenticating documents and administering oaths.

June 30, 1833

Secretary of State Louis McLane conducted the first reorganization of the Department since its establishment. He established seven bureaus: Diplomatic; Consular; Home; Archives, Laws and Commissions; Pardons, Remissions, Copyrights, and Library; Disbursing and Superintending; and Translating and Miscellaneous.

October 31, 1834

Secretary of State John Forsyth issued a Departmental Order reducing the number of bureaus to four. The Bureau of Pardons, Remissions, and Copyrights was abolished and its duties transferred to the Home Bureau. A Keeper of the Archives replaced the Bureau of Archives, Laws, and Commissions. A Disbursing Agent replaced the Disbursing and Superintending Bureau and assumed charge of the Department building. The Translator assumed responsibility for the Library.

July 4, 1836

“An act to promote the progress of the useful arts” established the Patent Office as part of the Department of State, and changed the Superintendent’s title to Commissioner of Patents (5 Stat. 117).

November 30, 1836

Secretary Forsyth made further changes in the responsibilities of the Department bureaus. The Diplomatic Bureau assumed responsibility for countries in Africa and Asia, along with consular missions in the Barbary States. The workload of the Consular Bureau was allocated along geographical lines. It was also responsible for collecting information about the commercial regulations of foreign countries. Responsibility for the Library was shifted from the Translator to the Home Bureau.

July 20, 1840

An Act of Congress (5 Stat. 394) further specified the duties of consuls concerning ships and sailors. It made consuls liable for damages resulting from misconduct, and provided for fines and imprisonment for “malversation and corrupt conduct in office.” This proviso seems not to have been enforced.

August 16, 1842

Congress required the Department of State to make an annual report on changes in foreign commercial systems (5 Stat. 507) and authorized the appointment of a clerk to prepare statistical information.

February 28, 1844

Abel P. Upshur became the first Secretary of State to die in office. He was killed by the explosion of an experimental cannon, “The Peacemaker,” aboard the U.S.S. Princeton during a VIP cruise on the Potomac River.

August 11, 1848

An Act of Congress (9 Stat. 276) authorized American consuls in China and Turkey to try criminal cases involving American citizens.

August 12, 1848

An Act of Congress (9 Stat. 284) authorized the appointment of a clerk to examine the claims of American citizens against foreign governments. The first Claims Clerk was appointed October 1, 1848. William Hunter, Jr., held the new position.

March 3, 1849

“An act to establish the Home Department” (9 Stat. 395) transferred the Patent Office from the Department of State to the newly-formed Department of the Interior.

May 23, 1850

Congress transferred administration of the census from the Department of State to the Interior Department (9 Stat. 428).

March 3, 1853

A federal appropriations act (10 Stat. 212) created the position of Assistant Secretary of State as the second-ranking officer in the Department. A. Dudley Mann was appointed on March 23, and served until May 8, 1855. The Act raised the Secretary’s salary to $8,000 (the Assistant Secretary’s salary was $3,000) and those of principal clerks to $2,000. The position of Claims Clerk was eliminated, but was re-established in 1857. The Commission Clerk’s position was also abolished, to be revived in 1867 as the Clerk of Appointments and Commissions.

June 1, 1853

Secretary of State William L. Marcy issued a circular that encouraged American diplomats to wear “the simple dress of an American citizen” on ceremonial occasions.

December 14, 1853

Appointment of a Superintendent of Commercial Statistics who was charged with preparing trade reports based on information compiled by the Department.


Establishment of a Statistical Office in the Department.

March 1, 1855

An “act to remodel the Diplomatic and Consular Systems of the United States” (10 Stat. 619) attempted to systematize ranks, posts, and salaries in the Diplomatic and Consular Services. All appointees were to be American citizens, all Ministers Resident would become Ministers Plenipotentiary, all legations would have an assigned secretary, and all consular fees would go to the government. The practice of appointing unpaid attachés to diplomatic missions was forbidden. President Franklin Pierce, Secretary of State Marcy, and Attorney General Caleb Cushing concluded that the law imposed unconstitutional restraints on the President’s power of appointment by requiring them to appoint representatives of certain grades to specific countries.

The Act divided consulates and commercial agencies into two classes: Schedule B and Schedule C. Schedule B posts had salaries ranging from $1,000 to $7,500; persons assigned to them could not engage in trade. Schedule C posts paid $300 to $1,000; trade was permissible but fees could not be kept. Holders of 30 posts not listed in either schedule could trade and keep their fees. The Act also provided for the appointment of up to 25 “consular pupils,” who were expected to become the nucleus of a professional consular corps. Consuls were to collect receipts for fees received and to report annually on money collected.

After passage of the Act, the Department published its first General Instructions to the Consuls and Commercial Agents of the United States. Future editions of Consular Regulations were published in 1857, 1870, 1874, 1881, 1888, and 1896.

March 3, 1855

An appropriations act (10 Stat. 669) established four grades of clerks in the Department of State. Their pay grades were: Class 1 ($900), Class 2 ($1,200), Class 3 ($1,500), and Class 4 ($1,800). The Act also eliminated references to bureaus within the Department until 1870.

August 18, 1856

An “act to regulate the Diplomatic and Consular Systems of the United States” (11 Stat. 52) eliminated the objectionable provisions in the 1855 Act. The President was authorized to prescribe fees for official services. Diplomatic salaries ranged from $10,000 to $17,500; the latter figure remained the maximum salary for an Ambassador until 1946. These were classed as Schedule A. The Schedule B and C system for Consular salaries was continued. The provision for “Consular pupils” remained, but was repealed a year later. Consular accounts were to be audited by the Treasury Department.

The Act also gave the Department of State sole authority to issue passports and made it a crime for a Consular officer to issue a passport to a non-citizen (11 Stat. 60).

An Act of Congress (11 Stat. 139) created the new position of Superintendent for Statistics and provided for annual publication of reports on foreign commerce. Consuls were required to collect the information. Commercial Relations of the United States was an annual Department of State publication from 1857 until July 1, 1903, when the Department of Commerce and Labor took charge of it.

June 22, 1860

An Act of Congress (12 Stat. 72) allowed Diplomatic and Consular officers in China, Japan, Siam, and Persia to exercise extraterritorial judicial functions to try criminal cases involving American citizens in those countries.

May 6, 1861

Secretary of State William H. Seward issued a circular instruction forbidding the issuance of passports to persons whose loyalty to the Union was questionable. During the first months of the U.S. Civil War, Seward took an active role in internal security, establishing a special bureau that arrested or detained up to 200 suspected Confederate sympathizers. Most were released by February 14, 1862, when the War Department assumed responsibility for internal security.

August 19, 1861

Secretary Seward issued another circular instruction requiring all persons entering or leaving the United States to have a valid passport. This restriction was removed after the Civil War.

December 3, 1861

First publication of Diplomatic Correspondence, the forerunner of the Foreign Relations of the United States series that comprises the longest continually-operational foreign policy transparency/accountability publication of the U.S. government. See Toward “Thorough, Accurate, and Reliable”: A History of the Foreign Relations of the United States Series.

July 1, 1862

The Internal Revenue Act (12 Stat. 472) charged a fee for the issuance of a passport for the first time: $3.00. The fee was raised to $5.00 on June 30, 1864, was abolished on July 14, 1870, restored to $5.00 on June 20, 1874, and reduced to $1.00 on March 23, 1888.

June 20, 1864

A consular and diplomatic appropriations act (13 Stat. 137) authorized the appointment of up to 13 consular clerks, who would have to pass an examination and who would receive a salary of $1,000 and have permanent tenure during good behavior. By 1896, 64 consular clerks were appointed, but only 8 eventually became consuls. Most preferred a steady income at low rank to promotion with the risk of being removed later in favor of a political appointee.

July 4, 1864

An “act to encourage immigration” (13 Stat. 385) authorized the President to appoint a Commissioner of Immigration who would be under the direction of the Secretary of State. The new Bureau of Immigration was abolished on March 30, 1868 (15 Stat. 58).

April 14, 1865

The only attempt to assassinate a Secretary of State took place. On the night that John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, fellow conspirator Lewis Payne (also referred to as Lewis Powell) attacked Secretary of State William H. Seward and Seward’s son Frederick, who served as Assistant Secretary of State. Both survived their injuries and resumed their duties.

January 1–28, 1866

Seward became the first Secretary of State to travel outside the United States while in office. He visited the Danish Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba.

July 25, 1866

A consular and diplomatic appropriations act (14 Stat. 226) authorized the appointment of a Second Assistant Secretary of State. Chief Clerk William Hunter assumed the post on July 27, and served until his death on July 22, 1886.

The Act also established the office of Examiner of Claims, which lasted until July 20, 1868 (15 Stat. 96).

November 1, 1866

The Department of State moved to the Washington City Orphan Asylum.

November 23, 1866

The Department of State sent its first diplomatic dispatch by telegraph. In it, Secretary of State Seward urged French Emperor Napoleon III not to delay the withdrawal of his forces from Mexico. It cost $2.50 per word to send, but since numbers had to be spelled out, its 780 words counted as 3,772 words. Since the Anglo-American Telegraph Company charged double for coded messages, the entire message cost $19,540.50 to send. When Seward refused to pay, Anglo-American sued the Department and won its case five years later.

March 7, 1867

The Department hired Thomas Morrison as its first telegraph operator. He was first listed as such in the 1870 Register of the Department of State.

July 1, 1867

The Department of State introduced its first code for use in sending telegraphic messages.

July 20, 1868

A Diplomatic and Consular Services appropriations act abolished the post of Examiner of Claims, effective July 30, 1869 (15 Stat. 96).

March 5, 1869

President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Elihu B. Washburne as Secretary of State. Washburne’s service was the shortest of any Secretary; he resigned on March 16, and was appointed Minister to France the next day. Hamilton Fish then became Secretary of State. Washburne served in France until September 5, 1877.

October 20, 1869

Secretary of State Fish issued new “Regulations of the Department of State.” Office hours were from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., unless longer hours were required. Clerks were not allowed to receive visitors or visit each other during office hours, Department business was to be considered confidential, and smoking was forbidden in the halls and public areas.

Secretary of State Fish began publication of the Register of the Department of State, an annual list of U.S. Diplomatic and Consular officers, Department personnel, and foreign Diplomatic and Consular officers in the United States. The Diplomatic List became a separate publication in November 1893. From 1905 to 1924, the Foreign Service List was called Diplomatic and Consular Service of the United States. From 1924 to 1929, it was Foreign Service of the United States: Diplomatic and Consular Service. Foreign Consular Offices in the United States became a separate publication in 1932.

May 27, 1870

A Congressional resolution (16 Stat. 378) authorized the appointment of an Examiner of Claims. On June 22, 1870, the Examiner of Claims was placed under the Justice Department, although he remained Chief of the Department of State’s Law Bureau.

June 1870

Secretary of State Fish announced a reorganization plan. The Department was divided into nine bureaus: The Chief Clerk’s Bureau, First and Second Diplomatic Bureaus, First and Second Consular Bureaus, the Law Bureau, the Bureau of Accounts, the Statistical Bureau, and the Passport Bureau. Two agencies dealt with domestic records and pardons and commissions.

The First Diplomatic and Consular Bureaus dealt with countries in northern and western Europe, plus China and Japan. The Second Diplomatic and Consular Bureaus dealt with Latin America, Russia, the Mediterranean countries, Liberia, and Hawaii.

The Assistant Secretary of State supervised the First Diplomatic and Consular Bureaus and the Bureau of Domestic Records. The Second Assistant Secretary supervised the Second Diplomatic and Consular Bureaus. The Librarian was in charge of the Statistical Bureau.

August 1870–September 1871

DeBenneville Randolph Keim conducted an inspection of U.S. consulates in Asia, Egypt, and Latin America for the Treasury Department. When Keim submitted his report in 1872, he concluded: “the most important feature of my investigations was the ingenuity displayed by consular officers . . . in defrauding the Government and grasping gains from various outside sources beside.” He proposed the establishment of a consular bureau in the Treasury Department, an entrance examination and testimonials of good character for appointees, advancement by merit, and the appointment of two permanent inspectors.

March 3, 1871

An appropriations act (16 Stat. 494) authorized the construction of a new office building to house the State, Navy, and War Departments.


The Domestic Records Bureau was renamed the Territorial and Domestic Records Bureau.


The office of the Keeper of Rolls was established, with responsibility for the Department’s archives and for the promulgation of laws and treaties.

February 22, 1873

A diplomatic and consular appropriations act (17 Stat. 471) authorized a rent allowance for non-trading consuls equal to 20% of their salary.

March 1, 1873

An Act of Congress (17 Stat. 484) transferred all responsibilities for U.S. Territories from the Department of State to the Interior Department, which eliminated the Territorial and Domestic Records Bureau.

March 3, 1873

An appropriations act (17 Stat. 509) reduced the number of bureaus in the Department to 6: Accounts, Indexes and Archives, and the two Diplomatic and the two Consular Bureaus. The Bureau of Indexes and Archives relieved the Chief Clerk’s office of its record-keeping duties.

The Act also raised the Secretary’s salary from $8,000 to $10,000 and the Assistant Secretaries’ salaries were raised from $3,500 to $6,000. Bureau chiefs’ salaries were raised from $1,800 to $2,400. Salaries reverted to their earlier levels under an Act of January 20, 1874 (18 Stat. 4).

May 7, 1874

An Act of Congress (18 Stat. 48) required that lists of persons entering the United States be submitted to the Secretary of the Treasury rather than to the Secretary of State.

June 11, 1874

A Diplomatic and Consular Services appropriations act (18 Stat. 66) established seven grades of consulates, with salaries ranging from $1,000 to $4,000. It also authorized the hiring of clerks for 30 major consulates at rates ranging from $1,500 to $3,000.

June 20, 1874

A Federal appropriations act (18 Stat. 90) authorized the appointment of a Third Assistant Secretary of State. John A. Campbell was appointed on February 24, 1875 and served until November 30, 1877. The Act also authorized the appointment of a Class 4 clerk to serve as the Secretary’s private secretary.

Additionally, the Act combined the two Diplomatic and Consular Bureaus into one of each, created a Bureau of Rolls and Library and a Bureau of Statistics. The Diplomatic and Consular Bureaus were each later subdivided into three geographic divisions.

March 3, 1875

An Act of Congress (18 Stat. 483) set the salaries for U.S. representatives to Great Britain, France, Russia, and Germany at $17,500; and those to Austria, Brazil, China, Italy, Japan, Morocco, and Spain at $12,000. Chiefs of mission to other countries received $10,000. Salaries of Ministers Resident and Commissioners, Chargés d’Affaires, and secretaries received 75%, 50%, or 15% of the salaries paid to Ministers. The Act also provided for an Office of the Translator.

July 20, 1875

The Department of State completed its move into the south wing of the State, War, and Navy Building. The Navy Department moved to new quarters in July 1918, and the War Department moved out in 1930.

February 1876

John H. Haswell, Chief of the Bureau of Indexes and Archives, devised the State Department’s next code system, known from the color of its binding as the “Red Cipher.”


Assistant Secretary John L. Cadwalader compiled the Department of State’ s first compilation of U.S. practice in international law: Digest of the Published Opinions of the Attorneys-General and of the Leading Decisions of the Federal Courts, With Reference to International Law, Treaties, and Kindred Subjects.

October 1880

Secretary of State William M. Evarts authorized the publication of Consular Reports on foreign trade on a monthly basis.

July 1, 1882

A diplomatic and consular appropriations act (21 Stat. 339) established a general fund for the hiring of consular clerks.

January 16, 1883

The Civil Service Act (Pendleton Act, 22 Stat. 403) provided for competitive examinations for admission to the Civil Service. The Act did not apply to Presidential appointments made with the advice and consent of the Senate, including those to the Diplomatic and Consular Services.

October 1–November 1, 1884

The United States hosted its first international conference. The International Prime Meridian Conference recommended adopting the meridian of Greenwich, England, as the basis for determining longitude and mean time.

August 3, 1886

Alvey A. Adee succeeded William Hunter, who had died on July 22, as Second Assistant Secretary of State. Adee served in this position until June 30, 1924, when the Foreign Service Act eliminated numerical titles for the Assistant Secretaries.

November 20, 1886

Examiner of Claims (later Solicitor of the Department) Francis Wharton published a three-volume Digest of the International Law of the United States.

October 2, 1889–April 19, 1890

Secretary of State James G. Blaine hosted the First International American Conference. It established an International Bureau of American Republics, a forerunner of the Organization of American States.

March 3, 1891

A federal appropriations act (26 Stat. 945) authorized the Law Bureau of the Department of State, headed by a Solicitor who was formerly the Examiner of Claims.

March 1, 1893

The Diplomatic and Consular Appropriation Act of 1894 (27 Stat. 497) authorized the President to confer the rank of Ambassador on a chief of mission when a country was about to appoint an ambassador to the United States.

March 30, 1893

The United States appointed its first ambassador, Thomas F. Bayard, to Great Britain. The next such appointment was on April 8, when James B. Eustis, the U.S. Minister to France, was promoted to Ambassador.

June 16, 1893

An Executive Order transferred responsibility for preparing warrants of pardons or commutations of sentences from the Department of State to the Justice Department.

July 26, 1894

A diplomatic and consular appropriations act (28 Stat. 142) established positions of interpreter at the Legations in Persia, Korea, and Siam.

May 27, 1895

A Departmental Order authorized three officers of the Department to devise questions for an examination for Consular Clerks that was scheduled for June 22.

September 20, 1895

President Grover Cleveland issued an executive order requiring that vacancies in consular positions with a salary of $1,000 to $2,500 be filled by passage of an examination. This constituted an important step in the development of professional standards for consular officials. The Secretary of State was authorized to designate a three-member Board of Examiners for the Consular Service.


Robert S. Chilton, Jr., Chief of the Consular Bureau, made an inspection tour of U.S. consulates in Mexico, Canada, Europe, and Asia. He found that there were still many illegal or questionable activities taking place, usually as a result of consuls’ concerns with private business activities.

January 1, 1896

The office of Appointment Clerk was established to consider applications for offices and to prepare commissions, exequaturs, and warrants of extradition. He also had custody of the Great Seal. A Departmental Board of Promotion, headed by the Chief Clerk, was also established.

December 7, 1896

Secretary of State Richard Olney published an annual Report of the Secretary of State. This 33-page publication was not repeated by other Secretaries of State until 1971.

February 20, 1897

A Diplomatic and Consular Services appropriations act changed the name of the Bureau of Statistics to the Bureau of Foreign Commerce, effective July 1, 1897 (29 State. 590).

July 7, 1898

A deficiency appropriations act (30 Stat. 652) raised the salaries of the Second and Third Assistant Secretaries of State from $3,500 to $4,000. A federal appropriations act of April 17, 1900, (31 Stat. 97) raised their salaries to $4,500, the same as that of the Assistant Secretary.

May 1899

John H. Haswell, Chief of the Bureau of Indexes and Archives, devised the “Blue Code” to replace the Department’s “Red Code.”