No. 31.

Mr. Bayard to Baron Schaeffer.

Baron: With reference to the note which I had the honor to address to you on the 18th instant concerning the appointment of the Hon. A. M. Keiley as the envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the United States near the Government of Austria-Hungary, I have now the honor to present to you the view of this Government with respect to a point which had been advanced by your Government, and which I had, in preparing that note, set aside for more convenient examination.

In the telegram sent to you by Count Kalnoky, on the 8th instant, in relation to Mr. Keiley, a translation of which you kindly handed to me, I note that he desires the attention of this Government to be directed to what he designates as the generally existing diplomatic practice to ask, previously to any nomination of a minister abroad, the consent of the Government to which he is to be accredited.

In the conversation we held at the time you delivered that translation to me I stated to you that such practice did not prevail with this Government, nor was such consent sought in advance of its nominations of envoys to foreign states.

Upon reflection the importance of the question becomes apparent. Consequently, I have made careful search for the precedents and practice in this Department for the last ninety years. The result enables me to inform you that no case can be found in the annals of this Government [Page 52] in which the acceptability of an envoy from the United States was inquired about or ascertained in advance of his appointment to the mission for which he was chosen.

Whilst the practice to which Count Kalnoky refers may, in a limited degree, prevail among European states, yet in this respect the exceptions are very numerous, and there are important reasons why, in this country, the practice should never have been adopted, and why its adoption would not be practical or wise.

Our system of frequently recurring elections at regular and stated periods provides, and was intended to provide, an opportunity for the influence of public opinion upon those to whom the administration of public affairs has been intrusted by the people temporarily, and for a fixed time only, on the expiration of which an opportunity for a change in its agents and policies is thus afforded.

The affiliation in sentiment between a political administration thus defeated at the polls and a foreign nation closely interested in maintaining certain international policies and lines of political conduct, might render it difficult for an administration, elected for the very purpose of producing a change of policy, to procure the consent of the foreign Government to the appointment of agents whose views were in harmony with the latest and prevailing expression of public opinion as the result of popular election.

As this Government has never adopted the policy of employing professional diplomatists specially dedicated to the duties of the service, and as it has no titled or privileged class to select from for the performance of such duties, it is constrained to choose its representatives abroad from those who have been bred to other pursuits. In following this course, care is taken to secure persons of intelligence and standing, believed to be worthy of the confidence of their own Government and who would not be likely to offend the susceptibilities of society or of the authorities of the foreign country. The choice of such representatives may not invariably have been wise, but I will venture to say that it has been in the main as nearly so as human fallibility will allow.

If, however, upon the announcement of a mission, the Government to which the chosen envoy is to be sent objects to him, and declines to receive him on the ground of some vague report to his discredit—probably originating in the disappointment of personal rivalry or in envy—it may result in creating an issue founded upon retaliation, and thus permit petty personal objections to seriously embarrass important public affairs, and, perhaps, in the end, prevent the accrediting of a representative of either Government. This to us would be especially undesirable in respect to Austria-Hungary, one of the most ancient and respected Governments in Europe, to which the United States are bound by many lasting ties of amity.

Permit me to observe, here, that, whilst the wise and time-honored custom of this Republic precluded the prior submission of the President’s choice of his agent to the approval of the Government you represent, yet I availed myself of the earliest opportunity to courteously acquaint you, by my note of the 4th instant, and your Government directly by means of an instruction sent the same day to the United States legation at Vienna, of the choice and appointment of Mr. Keiley to that mission, and to bespeak for him, through your kind offices, that favorable reception at Vienna due to his merits as an American citizen of great ability and character. In so doing, I followed with pleasure the common usage of this Government on such occasions, and one which [Page 53] in many instances—although I find numerous exceptions—has been observed by other Governments toward this.

It is hoped, in view of the foregoing considerations, that His Majesty the Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary will find in the appointment of Mr. Keiley as envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the United States no sufficient ground to reject him in that character because of His Majesty’s sanction not having previously been asked.

Accept, &c.,