Mr. Adee to Mr. Harris.

No. 33.]

Sir: I inclose for your information a copy of a dispatch from the United States consul at Athens, Greece, No. 36, of July 17, 1899, relative to the conduct of the Austrian consul at Braila, Roumania, in relation to a passport issued by Mr. McGinley, in the absence of the United States minister from Athens. The facts are sufficiently narrated in this dispatch, showing the action of the consul, who, it is alleged, declared the passport to be a forgery and the holder thereof, Mr. William Trauber, a swindler. He intimates that the consul threatened to tear up his passport as being false.

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The reported, action of the Austrian consul is of so extraordinary a character as to need no argument in remonstrance, and it is believed that it will only be necessary to submit the facts in order to convince the Imperial and Royal Government that the consul gravely exceeded his powers in declaring a regularly issued passport of this Government to be a forgery.

In this connection you are referred to a dispatch from your predecessor, No. 93, of August 23, 1894, relative to the validity of passports. (See Foreign Relations, 1894, pages 36 and 46.) One of the points ceded by the Austrian Government reads as follows:

First. It is conceded that the passport of the citizen of either Government, native or naturalized, not bearing upon its face the insignia of its own invalidity, can not be called in question by the municipal district and inferior officers of the Government, but that such paper is prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated and must be respected as such. If the subordinate officers of the Government have suspicion of the fraudulent character of the paper presented, they report the fraud or irregularity alleged to some tribunal, if any, having competent authority under the rules of international law to determine the same.

It is desired that you bring these facts to the attention of the Austrian Government in order that it may issue such instructions to its consul at Braila as will prevent a recurrence of such action on his part.

I am, etc.,

Alvey A. Adee,
Acting Secretary.

Mr. McGinley to Mr. Cridler.

No. 36.]

Sir: I have the honor to advise you that on June 10, 1899, I issued a passport to William Trauber, a naturalized citizen of the United States residing temporarily in Roumania, taking in his old passport, No. 59, issued by the legation at Athens two years ago, and which I forwarded to the Department with my last quartery returns. On July 5, 1899, the following telegram was received at this consulate:

Braila, July 4, 1899.

McGinley, American Consul, Athens:

Austrian consul, Braila, refuses recognizing your passport. Considers false document. Please take steps. Thanks.

William Trauber.

On July 6, 1899, I stated the case verbally to the chargé d’affaires of the Austrian legation, Athens, showing him the telegram. He kindly informed me that his legation had no control over the consuls in Roumania, but that he would telegraph the consul at Braila that the passports issued by the United States consul at Athens were good. I then wired Mr. Trauber as follows:

Athens, July 6, 1899.

William Trauber, Braila:

Austrian legation wires consul at Braila that my passports are good. Write particulars immediately.


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I now am in receipt of a letter from Mr. Trauber giving particulars, and I inclose a true and correct copy of that letter.

Awaiting your instructions, I am, etc.,

William McGinley, Consul.

Mr. Trauber to Mr. McGinley.

Dear Sir: I beg to confirm my wire of yesterday, and to inform you herewith what happened to me in last few days.

As you remember, I got my passport from you some time ago, dated 10th June, under No. 5. It is perfectly in order, with the only exception that in place of the word “Legation,” you crossed this off, putting the word “Consulate.”

Saturday, the 1st instant, I went to the Austrian consul here to have my passport viséd, as I intend going to Carlsbad, so I “wanted to avoid having difficulties at the frontier. As I produced the passport to the secretary he put the visé, made me pay the legal fee, and then brought the paper to the consul to sign it. In a few minutes he turned back with the remarks, “Not necessary to visé; Americans are free,” and refunded me the tax. So I asked the secretary whether I shall have no difficulties, to which he replied; “No; consul must probably know that it is so.” So I went off.

On Monday, 3d instant, I was called for by Mr. Chatmer, the chief of the well-known banking house Ieschek & Co. here, who informed me that the Austrian consul had communicated him he had refused to vise my passport because he is suspicious of me, of which he notified the “Procureur,” as he believes my passport to “be false.” As I heard of this I went at once to the Austrian consul in order to inquire of what is going on, so as not to be retained somewhere for suspicion. Coming into his office I spoke, as usual, very politely to him, and, opening my passport, he said to me, “You dare coming (come) with that paper to sign. This is a forgery; you are a swindler,” and uttered some other indecent expressions that I am rather ashamed to reproduce. Instead of letting me explain him that the paper had been issued at your office, of which I can prove him by a letter received from your good self, dated 22d May, or he should inquire telegraphically of you and the consul at Bucharest, who, as you know, has signed the application, he commenced to shout on me, calling me “scoundrel, swindler, bearer of false passports,” and other very common expressions, and menaced me to tear up my passport as being false. He then chased me out from the office in spite of my polite behavior and my repeated demands to give me a chance to speak something on my behalf.

You can hardly imagine, dear Mr. McGinley, how this offense influenced upon me, and would you know the position I am occupying since many years, as manager of a great firm, you would make yourself an idea what an impression this incident has made upon me.

As an American citizen, I beg to appeal to you, as my protector, to kindly investigate this matter, and to take necessary steps against this official who, without reason whatever, has dared to insult an American [Page 55] citizen, blessing my honor, by this treatment, or I may say, by this indecent behavior.

I hope and trust that you will not let this matter into oblivion, and relying upon your sentiment of justice, I am quite certain you will know how to make the consul to render to me satisfaction in some way.

I beg to apologize for the trouble I am causing you and awaiting your favorable reply I express you my sincere thanks, and remain, etc.,

William Trauber.