Page images
PDF
EPUB

service to posts. I am also chairman of the Board of Examiners for admission to the consular service, and a member of the Board of Examiners for those entering the diplomatic service. I have charge of the participation of the United States in all international congresses, conferences, and like events; and when an international congress is held in the United States, much of the burden of making the necessary arrangements falls upon my office. The other Assistant Secretaries have supervision over other subdivisions of the State Department. Mr.

As his title implies, the Director of the Consular Service Wilbur J. Carr — is in charge of the activities and details of the consular service, which I shall attempt to describe a little later. He first entered the State Department in 1892 as a clerk at one thousand dollars per annum, and through sheer capacity has risen to this important office. Consular officers in Persia, Turkey, and China and in all parts of the world are striving for a word of commendation from Mr. Carr, who is generous in bestowing praise and words of encouragement where they are deserved. The Chief Clerk has a general supervision of the clerks and employees of the Department; and also of the property of the Department. The Solicitor and the Assistant Solicitors are the Department's legal officers.

Seven Bureaus

There are also seven bureaus: Diplomatic Bureau, Consular Bureau, Bureau of Appointments, Bureau of Citizenship, Bureau of Indexes and Archives, Bureau of Accounts, and the Bureau of Rolls and Library; and five divisions: Division of Latin American Affairs, Division of Mexican Affairs, Division of Far Eastern Affairs, Division of Near Affairs, and Division of Western European Affairs; also four other offices: the Office of the Translator, the Division of Information, the Office of Foreign Trade Advisers, and the Office of the Law Clerk.

The Bureau of Indexes and Archives deserves a passing word because it is the largest in the Department, and must necessarily keep in touch with every one of the Department's divisions and subdivisions. Through it passes all the incoming and outgoing mail and telegrams; roughly speaking, nearly eight hundred documents a day. Remember that every incoming paper must be indexed, catalogued, and forwarded to the particular officers who are responsible for the handling of the subject-matter in question. The upper right-hand corner of each paper bears the marks that signify the journey it must take through the Department before it goes into the permanent files. In this way the various parts of the Department are kept informed in matters relating to the work within their jurisdiction. When a paper has completed its journey, it returns to the Index Bureau, accompanied by the outgoing reply, already signed and ready for mailing; and it can then take a well-earned rest among the Department's historical files.

Next to the Index Bureau, the Consular Bureau has the largest personnel necessarily so because it receives the dispatches and commercial reports from the two hundred and ninety-five consuls and sends them to the Department of Commerce where they are given publicity in the daily Commerce Reports. For the small sum of $2.50 per annum,

any American citizen can have mailed to him these daily bulletins containing the most interesting and enlightening information regarding trade opportunities in all parts of the world. The Chief of the Bureau keeps a careful record of the efficiency of every one of the 1,672 persons who comprise the consular service.

The Bureau of Rolls and Library is particularly interesting from an historical point of view, for that Bureau has the keeping of the original signed copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, copies of all the treaties negotiated by the Government of the United States, the original parchment copies of all the laws enacted by the Congress of the United States since the establishment of our Government, and the original copies of all the proclamations and executive orders issued by the several Presidents of the United States. It makes me shudder to think that, with the exception of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, which are kept in a safe, all these precious documents have not the protection of fireproof vaults, but are merely stored in shabby wooden cupboards.

The files of the Bureau of Appointments are groaning with applications from persons seeking office applications which are usually accompanied by voluminous letters of recommendation; each applicant for office according to these letters is the only suitable man in the United States so remarkably well qualified to fill the office which he seeks. It is the duty of this Bureau to keep the efficiency records of the officers in the diplomatic service, in order that when promotions are under consideration the Secretary may base them on merit and efficiency and not, as is sometimes supposed, upon requests of a political character. The chief of this bureau is also the actual custodian of the Great Seal of the United States.

The Bureau of Citizenship examines applications for and issues passports, and deals with the expatriation of citizens and their protection abroad. Regulations governing the issuance of passports are framed here; and there are numberless difficult questions of nationality that come up for decision each day, — serious questions when you consider that an adverse decision means that the applicant is not entitled to the protection of this Government, perhaps because he or she has not fulfilled the duties of citizenship.

All of the bureau chiefs are civil-service men who have risen from the clerical ranks of the Department to their present responsible positions.

A word as to the politico-geographical divisions. Until a few years ago the bulk of the correspondence coming into the Department found its way into the Diplomatic or Consular Bureau, and was there handled by the chiefs of those bureaus and referred to the Secretary or the Assistant Secretary as the case might demand. These bureaus eventually became swamped with papers, as there was no one who had time to read the important and voluminous reports which were sent in by the Department's officers from all parts of the world.

I remember hearing of a young enthusiast who called at the Department, some years ago, to write up its organization. He was directed to one of these bureaus - I would not dare to mention which one- - for

information as to how these important documents were handled. Four somewhat elderly gentlemen were pointed out to him, each presiding over a desk in one room, and he was told that these gentlemen, to quote exactly: "Divided up the world among themselves."

Since then many changes have occurred, among them the creation of the various politico-geographical divisions, which have relieved the four kindly gentlemen and have brought into the Department men of actual diplomatic and consular experience. Dispatches from abroad relating to political affairs now flow from the Index Bureau into these divisions, where they are carefully studied by men who are acquainted with the conditions in the countries where the reports originated.

Necessarily there are frequent conferences between the Assistant Secretaries and the bureau and division chiefs, and those matters which touch upon the policy of the United States must in turn be taken up by the Assistant Secretary with the Secretary himself.

The Solicitor's Office determines questions of municipal and international law, claims of citizens of the United States against foreign governments, claims of foreigners against the United States, and matters relating to international arbitrations. Just now the Solicitor is devoting himself largely to claims against the German and Austro-Hungarian governments, growing out of their submarine activities; to the blacklisting of ships, firms, corporations, etc., by the British Government, and to detentions and seizures of ships, cargoes, shipments, and parcel post packages; prize court proceedings and claims against the governments of the Allies. A fair estimate of the work done by the Solicitor's Office is reckoned at about one hundred matters a day.

Another important officer in the Department is the Trade Adviser, who is at present a man of consular rank and has had much valuable experience abroad. He has the assistance of trade experts, also of consular experience. At this time his responsibilities are very great; for it is the Trade Adviser who must suggest relief for importers and exporters harassed by restrictions imposed upon American trade by the warring nations.

Any American who wishes to inquire in regard to commercial conditions in any part of the world has merely to write to the Secretary of State for information. The Trade Adviser, upon receipt of the inquiry, forwards it to the consular officer at the place indicated, and in due time a full report is received from the consular officer and communicated at once to the interested inquirer. The Trade Adviser receives, edits, and forwards to inquirers in the United States an average of three hundred letters a week from American consular officers in Great Britain and her dominions, alone.

The foregoing is merely a glimpse of a few of the many activities of the State Department, yet it is desirable to have even this brief glimpse before examining the work of the diplomatic and consular services, which constitute the machine through which the Department conducts its work abroad.

The Diplomatic Service

Let us consider first the diplomatic service. In each of the capitals of thirteen great countries there is an American ambassador, sent there

by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate. Historically, an ambassador is regarded as the personal representative of the head of a state accredited to the head of another state a usage which gives him the highest rank and prestige known in diplomatic intercourse. Then in each of the capitals of thirty-two other foreign nations there is an American minister plenipotentiary, who bears a lower rank than that of ambassador because he does not carry the prestige of being the personal representative of the head of a nation. He is the representative of the United States Government and is accredited to the government near which he resides. Each ambassador and minister is provided with a staff of secretaries, varying in number from eight at present in London to one in the smaller legations; in addition, there is also the necessary clerical force.

The secretaries are young men, for the most part, of college education, who have been appointed after passing the prescribed diplomatic examinations in international law, history, diplomatic usage, and natural, industrial, and commercial resources and commerce of the United States; and a difficult examination in either French, German, or Spanish. They, also, are nominated by the President, and their appointment confirmed by the Senate. When they first enter the service they are appointed to the lowest rank, which is secretary of embassy or legation of Class IV, from which they are promoted eventually to the rank of counselor of embassy in Class I, the highest diplomatic rank below that of minister. When first appointed to the service they are ordered to the Department for a month's period of instruction, to learn the intricacies of the cipher, of the government's method of accounts, and, generally, to gain an insight into the work of the Department. They are given much good advice and a general idea of the responsibilities which are to be entrusted to them.

The present Secretary of State has prepared a circular instruction which he hands to them before they leave the Department for their first foreign posts. In it he warns them to

Be American first, last, and all the time.

Do nothing to cast discredit on your country.

Be courteous to all.

Be discreet in speech and conduct.

Keep your temper always.

Be industrious, studious, thorough, and punctual.

Never listen to any one who speaks disparagingly of your country or your Gov

ernment.

Avoid discussing American domestic politics with foreigners.

Suppress any partisan political feelings which you may have.

Remember that you are serving the present Administration.

Remember that all Americans are your fellow-citizens, and treat them accordingly.

Live modestly and always within your means.

Remember that the Government is watching your conduct and career, and that merit always counts.

Remember that your future is in your own hands and not in the hands of your friends at home.

I invite your special attention to the secretaries of our diplomatic service who are doing such important work and bringing credit upon the American people. Until the year 1905 the secretaries were appointed through political influence, and consequently with a change of administration they were swept from the department's rolls and were replaced, for the most part, by new and inexperienced men. In those days the diplomatic service offered no career, and men obtained appointment in it far more to amuse themselves abroad at the expense of the Government than with any idea of furthering the interests of the United States. They realized that their connection with the Government might cease abruptly, and quite naturally did not feel that they owed so very much to the Government.

Stable Tenure of Office

In 1906, when Mr. Root was Secretary of State, executive orders were issued with a view to establishing a more stable tenure of office for secretaries. Examinations were required before appointment; promotions were regulated by efficiency; and other reforms were instituted in order to create a service spirit among the secretaries. A new spirit of self-sacrifice and loyalty to the Government spread rapidly throughout the service. Secretaries began to regard themselves as responsible officials of the Government, in whom the American people had an interest - whose business it was to further the prestige of their country and to advance American interests abroad.

The service was built up on civil-service ideas which had taken the form of executive orders, issued from time to time by the President; but Congress still refrained from placing it on a legal basis, so that, with a change of party, there was not only the danger of an overthrow of the service, but a solid precedent to justify such action. Great uncertainty, therefore, naturally existed at the beginning of the present Democratic Administration, because the whole corps of secretaries had been appointed by Republican administrations. The disaster feared, however, did not occur; and President Wilson retained in office every one of the secretaries.

The country has not yet fully appreciated the importance of the President's action; for, by signifying his confidence in these Republican appointees, he has established a great precedent, namely, that, with a change of political party, secretaries will not be affected; the country has been assured for the first time in its history of a degree of permanency in its diplomatic service. But young men of education and executive ability will not be content to remain secretaries all their lives, and it has become of the highest importance to recognize length of service and special efficiency by promotions to the rank of minister. Public servants whose abilities have been recognized by such promotions must hereafter not be disturbed by a change of political party, but must be permitted to continue to serve the nation faithfully and loyally as they have served it in the past. Unless the system of recognizing effi

« PreviousContinue »