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Responsibility in passing upon petitions for pardons under executive clemency was shared between the Department of State and the Attorney General until 1850, and warrants for pardons continued to be issued by the State Department until 1893.
Matters relating to copyrights were also under the State Department from 1790 to 1859.10 It had, when it was organized, the management of the mint, and one of the early acts of Secretary Jefferson was to send to the President two experimental coins, made "by putting a silver plug worth three-fourths of a cent into a copper worth one-fourth of a cent." In fact, the department at the beginning was considered, as Jefferson said, to embrace "the whole domestic administration (war and finance excepted)." "'11
The laws passed by Congress, approved by the President or passed over his veto, were published in newspapers until 1874. Since then such publication has been wholly by the Secretary of State. In that year the Revised Statutes were provided for.
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, the fundamental laws of the United States, were in the custody of the Secretary of State for 133 years; but by an order of President Harding, dated September 29, 1921, issued at the instance of Secretary Hughes, they were transferred to the custody of the Library of Congress, because the Library of Congress was in a fire-proof building, and the facilities for the exhibition of the documents were better there than they were in the State Department Building.
The first treaty of this country providing for mutual surrender of criminals was that of 1794 with Great Britain. Murder and forgery were the only crimes. included in it, and it expired in 12 years. A new treaty was concluded with Great Britain in 1842, and since then treaties have been entered into with many powers, and the practice of extradition has become general.
The treaty of 1778 with France, which was the first made by the United States, provided for a form of passport to be given by the two governments to their respective vessels, but until 1856 there was no law restricting the granting of passports for individuals to federal authority.
In the absence of any statute, however, the issuing of passports to Americans going abroad fell to the Department of State, as one of its manifestly proper functions. Nevertheless, as they had doubtless been issued before the adoption of the Constitution by state or municipal authorities, they continued to be so issued without statutory prohibition until the enactment of the law of 1856. This law provided that the Secretary of State be authorized to grant and issue passports, and cause them to be granted and verified in foreign coun
9 Act May 31, 1790 (1 Stat. 124).
10 Act Feb. 5, 1859 (11 Stat. 379).
11 State Department pamphlet, “Outline of Organization and Work of Department of State," 1911.
Department of State, its history and functions (by Gaillard Hunt), Washington, Department of State, 1893.
Department of State, how it was formed, what are its duties, and how it is run, exhibit of Department of State, Transmississippi and International Exposition at Omaha, 1898.
History of Department of State, its formation and duties, with biographies of its present officers, and Secretaries from beginning, 1901.
tries by diplomatic and consular officers of the United States under such rules as the President might prescribe. No one else was to issue passports, and they must be issued to none but citizens of the United States. Any person not authorized to do so, who granted a passport, should, upon conviction of the offense, be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and fined and imprisoned. All returns of passports issued abroad were to be made to the Secretary of State.
In a circular dated October 31, 1834, John Forsyth, Secretary of State, prescribed the distribution of the duties in the department. The Diplomatic Bureau was to have charge of all correspondence between the department and our diplomatic agents abroad and foreign diplomatic agents in the United States, was to prepare treaties, etc., and keep indexes of its correspondence, a function now performed by a separate bureau.
The Consular Bureau had charge, similarly, of all consular correspondence. The Home Bureau was divided into four divisions, one clerk being in charge of each. One division had control of the returns of passengers from foreign ports and registered seamen, miscellaneous and domestic correspondence, treaties, and presents which were permitted to be exhibited. To another was given the custody of the seal of the United States and the seal of the department, the applications for office, the commissions and appointments. A third had the presidential pardons, passports, and all correspondence relating to them. The fourth had in charge the filing and preserving of copyrights and the reports to the President and Congress. The keeper of the archives had charge of all archives other than diplomatic and consular, of the laws and their distribution, and of the publications of the department.
In 1842, when Daniel Webster was Secretary of State, was originated the "Statistical Office." In 1874 the title was changed to "Bureau of Statistics." Secretary Sherman, acting under authority of a law, passed in 1897, changed the name, by an order dated July 1 of that year, to the Bureau of Foreign Commerce. The bureau was transferred to the Department of Commerce and Labor February 14, 1903, and the Bureau of Trade Relations was established, to edit the consular reports and formulate commercial instructions to consuls. The bureau became the Office of Foreign Trade Advisers in 1914; then of Foreign Trade Adviser in 1915; of Adviser on Commercial Treaties in 1916; again Foreign Trade Adviser in 1917; and Economic Adviser by order of the Secretary of State dated December 20, 1921.
The Diplomatic and Consular Bureaus continued practically as organized by Secretary Forsyth, but each bureau was for several years divided; there being a First Diplomatic Bureau and a Second Diplomatic Bureau, and a First Consular Bureau and a Second Consular Bureau, each having a separate chief.
The passport business of the department, which had been under Forsyth's arrangement a division of the Home Bureau, was afterwards separated and made a distinct bureau, with one of the clerks in charge of it. In 1894 it was placed under the Bureau of Accounts, but as a division, with the passport clerk at its head. In 1902 it was made a separate bureau, and in 1907 the name was changed to the Bureau of Citizenship. The designation was again changed August 13, 1918, to Division of Passport Control.
The applications for office, custody of the seal of the United States, preparation of commissions and appointments, also formerly a part of the duties of
the Home Bureau, were put under the Bureau of Commissions and Pardons, and after the pardons ceased to be made out in the department this was simply the Bureau of Commissions. The name was subsequently changed to Bureau of Appointment, with the appointment clerk in charge of it, by Secretary Olney.
An important development of the machinery of the department was the formation of divisions having charge of the correspondence with diplomatic and consular officers in particular countries or groups of countries. There had always been some sort of division of the correspondence upon geographic' lines; but it was inadequate to the expanding needs of the service, having been put into effect when we were a small nation, having limited intercourse with other governments. So it was to meet what had become a necessity that certain political geographical divisions were created in the department. They deal with our political and commercial relations with different sections of the world. The Division of Far Eastern Affairs was the first established, in 1908. It has general supervision of our relations with China, Japan, Siam, the Far Eastern possessions of European states, and Siberia. In 1909 the Division of Latin-American Affairs, with similar functions for Central and South America, was created; also in that year the division of Western European Affairs and Near Eastern Affairs; in 1915 the Division of Mexican Affairs; and in 1919 the Division of Russian Affairs, later called Division of Eastern European Affairs.
Under the provisions of a law passed in 1909, the Secretary of State created a Division of Information, whose duty it was to circulate important correspondence among the diplomatic missions abroad, so that the entire diplomatic service might be conversant with such important matters as the department was considering. This division also examined the foreign press and made extracts for the benefit of the officers of the department itself. In 1917 (May 7) the division. became the Division of Foreign Intelligence, and the preparation of information for the press was added to its other duties. By department order in 1920 (February 6) the Division of Political Information was created, and on May 24, 1921, it became the Division of Political and Economic Information. On the latter date was created also the Division of Current Information, which took over the business of preparing items for the press, which had formerly been with the Division of Foreign Intelligence. The Act of May 24, 1924,12 provides for the reorganization of the Foreign Service, by (1) the amalgamation of the diplomatic and consular branches into a single Foreign Service on an interchangeable basis; (2) the adoption of a new and uniform salary scale, applicable equally to officers in the diplomatic and consular branches, thus making unification and interchangeability possible; (3) the authorization of representation allowances, when necessary; (4) the extension of the civil service retirement act, with appropriate modifications, to the Foreign Service.
3. Activities in General
The most important routine duties of the Department of State are those connected with the Diplomatic and Consular Service. The Department of Foreign Affairs was formed with the chief purpose of taking under its charge
12 43 Stat. 140.
these functions of government, and the methods of administration have not changed materially since the early days of the republic.
The rules and practices that govern our diplomatic and consular corps are found in the various works on international law, and these cover even minute matters of form and routine; but there has gradually grown up an American construction of international law. What this construction is may be found in the volumes known as Foreign Relations, which have been regularly issued by the government since 1870, and which were issued before that, from 1861 to 1868, under the title Diplomatic Correspondence. Previous to 1861, the foreign correspondence was printed in separate reports to Congress. In these volumes the instructions of the Secretary of State to our ministers abroad, and their dispatches, and the notes exchanged between the Secretary of State and foreign ministers accredited to this country, are given in part.
Of our diplomatic missions to some fifty countries, a few are under ambassadors, but most are under envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary. At each of these missions there are counselors, or secretaries, or both, at some there are commercial, military, and naval attachés, and in China and Japan there are student interpreters.
The duties of a diplomatic representative are many and varied. He must guard American rights and see that they are not infringed upon, and give information to foreigners concerning American institutions, laws, and customs; he is the medium through whom Americans meet foreigners for official or business reaHis most important function is the presentation to the foreign government near which he is residing of the official views of this government, and the conveyance to this government of official messages from the foreign government. He must keep his government advised of the progress of events in the country where he lives. He is supposed to be always acting under the instructions of the State Department.
A diplomat is the agent of his government to a foreign government, but a consul is his government's agent only in the district in which his consulate is situated. It is the special function of consuls to promote American commerce and watch over commercial interests. But, besides this, they take charge of the estates of American citizens who die abroad without legal representatives, care for stranded American seamen, certify to the correctness of the values of merchandise exported to the United States, aid in the enforcement of the immigration laws, and give advice and protection to American citizens.
The granting of passports to American citizens for their protection in traveling abroad was a function which fell to the government under the general provisions of international law as soon as there was competent authority for the purpose.
During the World War it became necessary for all travelers to be provided with passports, and in order that officials might be assured of the validity of the passports the visé system was resorted to; that is to say, it was required that each passport should be shown to a consul, who, after he had seen it and found it to be valid, indorsed it with a statement to that effect. The system has been used, not only to prevent the entrance into the United States of alien enemies, but of anarchists and others opposed to the government. Every alien,
before proceeding to the United States, must go to the nearest American consul to have his passport viséed. After the Armistice, the United States was looked upon as a fertile field for the activities of revolutionists and fanatics, who wished to create political and social unrest. In 1920 there was a wave of emigration toward this country, and it was the consul's duty to refuse visas to wouldbe immigrants who are inadmissible.
When there is a war, in which the United States is neutral, the American embassies and legations usually take charge of interests of countries whose representation has been withdrawn as enemies. As soon as the World War was declared in Europe, the State Department was asked by the several belligerent governments to take charge of their interests in those countries with which they were at war. Thus, a part of the American Embassy at London was the German section, comprising a number of clerks who attended to the numerous requests for aid which came from Germans and German interests in Great Britain. Similar functions for the British were performed at the Embassy at Berlin, and the practice became general at American offices throughout the world. In some places the American representative was the representative also of five other nations. These duties continued until the United States ceased to be a neutral power. Included in the protection of foreign interests was the inspection of camps occupied by prisoners of war.
As long as the United States was a neutral power, the preservation of neutrality and neutral rights required extraordinary vigilance. As an incident, in managing this feature, a neutrality board was formed, comprising a representative of the Department, an Army officer, Navy officer, and a specialist in international law. This board met regularly and considered cases concerning neutrality, which the Secretary of State placed before it, and reported its findings and recommendations.
After the United States itself became a belligerent, the Department gave its full assistance in the prosecution of the war, and at the same time preparations were made for the peace negotiations; a large office force was established in New York, which worked under the general supervision of the department.
The first duty of the department and its agents, in time of foreign war, is to protect American citizens in countries at war.
The Secretary of State is in general charge of the Department, and as a member of the President's Cabinet is the latter's adviser in foreign affairs. He is the medium of correspondence between the President and the chief executives of the several states of the Union. He countersigns and affixes the seal of the United States upon treaties and executive proclamations, to various commissions, and to warrants for the extradition of fugitives from justice. He publishes the laws and resolutions of Congress, amendments to the Constitution, and proclamations declaring the admission of new states to the Union.