No. 16.

Mr. Bayard to Mr. Francis.


Sir: I received yesterday your personal letter of the 17th ultimo. As the matter of Mr. Keiley’s recognition, to which it partly relates, has been the occasion of prolonged correspondence here with the Austro-Hungarian minister, I treat the two opening paragraphs of your letter as officially on file, and give it answer in this form for your guidance in dealing with the subject with the representatives of the Austro-Hungarian Government.

The action of that Government in respect of the estimable gentleman appointed to be your successor has been marked by unusual features, some of them of an unpleasing character.

Early in March last Mr. Keiley had been nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate as minister to Italy; and some weeks thereafter expressions of objection by the Italian Government were conveyed to me by Baron Fava, its minister to the United States. The objection alleged was based upon a speech made by Mr. Keiley in 1871 on the occasion of a public meeting held at Richmond, Va., to give expression to the sentiments of certain Roman Catholic citizens of that place in relation to the then pending conflict between Victor Emmanuel and the Vatican. Because of those utterances the present Italian Government discovered and averred that Mr. Keiley was to them persona non grata.

Upon learning their objection Mr. Keiley returned his commission to the President, who forthwith appointed him to the mission to Austria-Hungary.

Mr. Keiley had then already made all his preparations to go to Rome, and his family and personal effects were in New York ready for embarkation, so that he left at once for his new post at Vienna.

The correspondence, of which I now send you copies,* will place you in possession of the case up to the present time, as it appears on the files of this Department and is known to me. You will observe the situation relatively occupied by the Government of Austria-Hungary and that of the United States.

Count Kalnoky commented in his first communication upon the failure of this Government to obtain in advance the agrément of Austria-Hungary to Mr. Keiley’s nomination. That aspect of the matter is fully [Page 33] answered by my note to Baron von Schaeffer of May 20. No such rule has ever obtained in a single instance in the history of this Department.

The only objection stated by Count Kalnoky is the marriage of Mr. Keiley to a Jewess, which may or may not be true. To this an answer was promptly given, and by that answer this administration stands, and so, I trust and believe, will the people of the United States. It seems to me quite impossible that Count Kalnoky could have understood the utter inability of this Government to entertain such a ground of objection in the face of the express prohibition of religious tests by our fundamental law, nor how offensive to American minds is the impeachment of the husband on the ground of the wife’s supposed disability for her religious creed.

While I cannot, under the distinct inhibition of the Constitution, apply or take official cognizance of any religious tests in Mr. Keiley’s case to prove or disprove the allegations made, I may observe that voluntary statements to me by those well qualified to judge are to the effect that Mrs. Keiley, although of Hebrew ancestry, has never herself professed the Jewish faith, and that the marriage had the sanction of the highest ecclesiastical Roman Catholic authorities in the United States, many of whom, moreover, joined most warmly in commending Mr. Keiley’s appointment. I merely mention this, for it hi may turn out that the Austro-Hungarian Government is in serious error in accepting and acting upon unproven and perhaps false premise.

In his very brief answer to my notes, under date of June 11, Baron von Schaeffer reports Count Kalnoky as declining to discuss the two points mentioned; from which I infer he does not propose to take issue with the positions assumed thereon by this Government in its correspondence. But, in the same note, you will observe that Count Kalnoky’s objections to the appointment are reported to “remain in full force,” and those objections, as has been shown, rested in great part on the assumed religious faith of the appointed envoy’s wife. But Count Kalnoky also leaves the question of Mr. Keiley’s ultimate reception in doubt, by requesting that Mr. Keiley “may not arrive in Vienna just now.” I have asked, as you will have observed, in my last note to Baron von Schaeffer for a final and distinct answer.

The diplomatic intercourse of this Government is intended to be conducted towards foreign powers in directness and simple good faith. Having no corps of professionally educated diplomatists, we select, as has been done in the instance of Mr. Keiley, an intelligent and upright citizen of high personal character to represent the honor and interests of our country near a foreign Government. This envoy is believed to be thoroughly worthy and entirely friendly to the Government and people to whom he is accredited. We have had no traditional causes of misunderstanding or wounded susceptibilities with the Government of Austria-Hungary, and Mr. Keiley having never before been accredited to any foreign power, the suggestion of Count Kalnoky that he shows “want of political tact” is therefore wholly without color of reason or basis of fact.

Some sinister and secret influence would seem to have been at work to embarrass the efforts of this Government to be represented at the imperial and royal court of Austria-Hungary by a gentleman in all respects so fit and worthy to appear there in the capacity of the representative of a friendly power.

Whilst Mr. Keiley was on the ocean on the voyage to Europe, an unusual incident was communicated by cable from London. A member of Parliament was reported as making inquiry of the British Government [Page 34] whether it had urged any objection to Mr. Keiley’s reception at Vienna, and the inquiry was answered in the negative by the ministry.

In the public press sundry articles and telegrams have lately appeared suggesting that the objection of the Austro-Hungarian Government to Mr. Keiley was made in deference to the feelings of the Government of Italy and its representative at the court of Vienna; and this statement is confirmed by the tenor of your letter to me. That the Austro-Hungarian Government should seek or lend itself to any pretense of this nature is quite unaccountable.* * *

I mention these facts to apprise you of the situation so far as it is disclosed, and I do so because the subject has, after much delay, been brought to your notice by the Austro-Hungarian Government.

The Government of Italy has exercised its own discretion in respect of receiving an envoy from the Government of the United States, and there the matter should be concluded so far as that Government is concerned. When Austria-Hungary, a Government with whom we have held long association of a most friendly nature, assumes to reject our envoy because of the objection of Italy based upon an alleged occurrence confined to that Government alone, the case becomes very different.

It would appear intolerable were the good relations and diplomatic intercourse of the United States with Austria-Hungary to be thus embarrassed and obstructed by the special prejudices of any third Government or of those who may represent such Government in foreign courts.

The President is exceedingly desirous for the continuation and promotion of the closest and most friendly relations with Austria-Hungary, and to comply in all things with the wishes and interests of that Government as indicated by its agents, but not to an extent involving the slightest forfeiture of our national self respect, or the respect and sense of a friendly duty which, to exist at all between two equals, must be mutually guarded and maintained.

This Government has performed its full and friendly duty towards Austria-Hungary in the appointment of Mr. Keiley as its envoy; and the reasons or suggestions which have been raised against his reception cannot be considered tenable when tried by any rule of friendly diplomatic intercourse or of consitutional or international law.

Desiring earnestly that the amicable relations which have so long existed between these two Governments and their peoples should be strengthened and not strained, I hope you will frankly convey the purport of this instruction to the Government of Austria-Hungary, in order that all objection to the friendly reception of Mr. Keiley may be withdrawn and a condition of feeling which I shall deplore but which I believe is likely to follow persistence in his rejection for the causes, or rather want of causes, stated, may be averted.

Mr. Keiley is now in Paris. Should you have occasion to address him you can do so in care of Minister McLane.

I will ask you to present your letter of recall after you have had your interview with the minister for foreign affairs in relation to Mr. Keiley. You will thereupon turn over the legation to the secretary, Mr. Strong, as chargé d’affaires ad interim, and he can act in that capacity until he is relieved, either by Mr. Keiley, or by the arrival of a new secretary of legation, to whom he will relinquish both his regular office and his temporary charge.

You will advise me, briefly by telegraph, the result.

I am, &c.,

  1. For inclosures see document numbers 29, 30, 31, 34, and 36.