The Acting Secretary of State to Minister O’Brien.

No. 23.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch No. 77, of the 20th ultimo, in regard to the dress of diplomatic representatives of the United States on official occasions.

I inclose for your information and in answer to your dispatch a copy of an instruction to the ambassador at St. Petersburg on this subject.

I am, sir, etc.,

Robert Bacon.
[Inclosure.]

The Acting Secretary of State to Ambassador Tower.

No. 87.]

Sir: I have received your dispatch No. 83 of the 28th ultimo, in further relation to the subject of your No. 29 of the 22d of April last, wherein you reported upon an arrangement proposed to be established in connection with official ceremonies at the imperial court, whereby a special court costume is to be prescribed and worn by distinguished foreigners and by diplomatic representatives who have no uniform.

The department has always distinguished between a “uniform” and a court dress conforming to local custom. A uniform serves to show the branch of public [Page 528]service to which the wearer belongs and also the rank or grade held by him therein. A court dress, denoting no public office or function, when worn by ununiformed functionaries and private citizens alike without any indication of individual rank or precedence, is in no sense a “uniform,” and is not obnoxious to the statutory prohibition. Having in view the usage of several European courts where, in the absence of a characteristic uniform an appropriate general court costume may be prescribed to be worn at official functions, the department, by paragraph 67 of the Personal Instructions which you quote, has authorized the wearing of locally appropriate court costume upon suitable occasion.

The suggestion reported in your No. 29, as having been put forth by the Russian minister for foreign affairs, appears to be designed to supply the omission hitherto of a prescribed court dress for the imperial court. In principle it is entirely unobjectionable. In practice, the nature of the costume appears, to judge from your statements, to call for special consideration, having in view the exceptional character of the Russian climate. Your suggestions in this regard appear to have been practical and have commended themselves to the good judgment of Count Mouravieff. If I were to be invited to make any comment, it would be that a distinction might be made between daylight and evening functions, assigning to each a costume fitted to the occasion. In ordinary social use, the frock coat is worn by day, the dress coat by night. In the public usage of this capital, as for instance at the audience of a uniformed minister, which takes place in the daytime, a frock coat is admitted as appropriate to the hour and place. The usage of this capital runs against wearing evening dress by daylight, but it is understood that in other countries, as in France, evening dress is worn on ceremonial occasions in the daytime by high officers whose rank and station have no distinguishing uniform.

With these remarks, the matter is left to your own good judgment, in the belief that it may not be difficult for you and the minister for foreign affairs, aided by the advice of the grand master of ceremonies, to agree upon an evening “court dress” to be worn on occasion of court ceremonial by all foreign participants not using a uniform denoting an organized public service and their rank in such service; and to prescribe in addition some modification thereof suitable for daylight or open-air functions.

I am, sir, etc.,

Alvey A. Adee.