Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, With the Annual Message of the President Transmitted to Congress December 2, 1902
Mr. Hill to Mr. White.
Washington, July 29, 1902.
Sir: Referring to the Department’s No. 1368, of the 15th instant, I inclose for your information a copy of a dispatch from the United States commercial agent at Bamberg, relating further to the defilement of the coat of arms of the United States and to the night assault on the consulate.
I am, etc.,
Mr. Bardel to the Department of State.
Bamberg, July 7, 1902.
Sir: I have the honor to report to you that on the night of June 17 a very unpleasant occurrence happened at this consulate.
If I deferred until to-day to acquaint the Department directly with this, it was only for the reason that I was in hopes to be able to report at the same time that the perpetrators of an outrage on this post had been brought to justice. I did keep my superior officer, Hon. Richard Guenther, consul-general at Frankfort, posted on everything as it came along, and his advice and encouragement in this, to me, very disagreeable affair helped me very materially in maintaining the dignity of my office. Mr. Guenther, in turn, reported to the embassy at Berlin and to the Department on the principal points of this case. Although I have not quite succeeded yet in seeing a great wrong righted, I consider it my duty to report to the Department and the embassy in full to-day of what happened.
On the morning of” June 18, a rock was found lying on one of the chairs in our dining room, after having crashed through one of the windows during the night. Neither myself nor any of my family had heard the noise the breaking of the pane of glass must have made. Later in the day I was told, to my great mortification, that the coat of arms of the United States which was adjusted about 10 feet above the sidewalk, on the large front door of our house, was completely covered by human [Page 434]excrement. Since there was no other sign of similar vile excesses visible in any other part of our vicinity, the conviction reluctlantly settled on my mind that this was a contemplated assault on either the consulate or on my person as the incumbent of the office. I was entirely at a loss to know then why this should be done, and I am nearly as much in the dark about it to-day.
The first step I took was to call on the first mayor of the city and to express to him my just indignation at the dastardly deed and to request him to use all his energy to have this dirty mystery solved and to bring the miscreants to justice. The mayor showed himself no less indignant about it than I was myself, and he at once asked me to make a written complaint of the matter so that he could lay it before the district attorney, and he also promised to submit it to the board of aldermen, which was to have a session on the following Tuesday. I sent, or rather took, a letter to that effect to the mayor, a copy of which I send herewith.
The mayor also turned the matter over to the chief of police with strict instructions for a rigid investigation. On the following Tuesday, June 24, the second mayor of the city drove up to this consulate in the state coach and in full official dress, and verbally expressed the deep regret, in the name of the city, for the occurrence; he also volunteered the information that the city would issue a suitable reward for the capture of the culprits and that a written communication of the magistrate seconding all he said would soon be in my hands. He hoped that on the strength of all these sincere regrets extended by the city, and the promised rigid action which would be taken, this disagreeable incident would be considered closed by the United States of America, and that our coat of arms would be placed in position again, under the firm conviction that a similar vile treatment of the same would forever hereafter be impossible.
I replied that I was pleased to see how very sorry the authorities were for the occurrence, and that I hoped the reward promised to be issued would have the desired effect of catching the miscreants; that I would submit their apologies to my superiors, and that I would also let the Department decide on the replacing of the coat of arms.
Soon after the second mayor had left my office I received by special carrier a lettera sent by the magistrate, a copy of which I inclose.
On June 27 the magistrate had a session in which they voted to assign 100 marks for the capture of the miscreants. Since I could presume that a reward would only do good if properly published, I watched anxiously for the publication of the offer, and after waiting nearly a week in vain, I called up the second mayor on the telephone and asked him why this matter was not pushed to a finish.
He answered that as far as the authorities here were concerned they deemed it advisable not to publish the reward allowed, but to utilize the money so assigned in a more private way. I replied that while I had no rules to lay down to the city authorities in regard to the form of using the reward, I could not help but express my fears that a reward without publication would do no good, and that where I came from such a mode of utilizing a reward was unknown. He protested that advertising would make the matter too public, to which protest I replied that, inasmuch as the emblem of office of the United States had been defiled publicly, so that everybody could and did see it, it would make little difference how publicly the reward was issued, as long as it promised thereby to bring about the desired results. The second mayor seemed to be unwilling to agree with me, and I told him very politely that the city could do as it saw fit in the matter, but that I would report my version of the case to my Government, thinking that I would be fully backed by the same in this respect. After this conversation over the telephone I directed a lengthy letter to my superior officer, Consul-General Guenther, reporting the status of the case, and when I was nearly done with it, the chief of police called, sent expressly by the mayor, to consult my wishes in regard to the wording of the publication. The mayor had, after our discussion, concluded to consult the district attorney, and I have been privately informed since that a publication of the reward would be made in the name of the district attorney. This may appear in the papers in the course of a few days now, and I hope we will still be able to punish the depraved originator of the dastardly plot.
I can not but praise the sincerity with which the authorities act in the case, if they are quite slow, and much as I feel discouraged about the insult offered my office or my person, or both, my humble opinion is that the mayor and magistrate, as the representatives of the city, are entitled to full exoneration.
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Beyond the supposition that the outrage may have originated with one or the other of the poor people who were robbed by Stern in his unofficial business, I have no [Page 435]suspicion whatever. Owing to the nature of the queer position I have been in ever since I arrived here, I did not have intercourse enough with the people here to make friends or enemies, and were I in a position to be on closer terms with the citizens of this town I hope the Department would know enough about my character to realize that under no circumstances could any action of mine cause such a villainous assault on my person.
I shall report again as soon as I discover new developments. Meanwhile I await the Department’s instructions as to my further actions.
Upon consultation and advice of Hon. Richard Guenther, consul-general at Frankfort, the coat of arms was taken down, and I have been flying one of my flags day and night ever since as emblem of office. If the Department decides that the coat of arms should be replaced, I would respectfully suggest that a new one should be sent to me immediately. A requisition to that effect I make in a separate dispatch.
I have, etc.,
Mr. Bardel to the mayor of Bamberg.
Bamberg, June 18, 1902.
In the course of last night the coat of arms of the United States of America was defiled in a dastardly manner by being completely covered with human excrement. Besides that infamy, one of the windows in my consulate was smashed by a stone being thrown through it.
I herewith take the liberty of submitting the report of these contemptible acts to your serious attention, being fully convinced that you will leave nothing undone to see this outrage committed against a friendly nation avenged by severe punishment of the perpetrators. At any rate, I must insist on a vigorous investigation of this, to me, very painful occurrence.
Yours, very respectfully,
United States Commercial Agent.