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the defective details of the former edifice. When completed, the building will be 465 feet long by 266 wide, with four fronts on as many streets; and the interior space will be subdivided, by a centre building, into two courts, each 130 feet square.
The history of the State Department of the United States commences in July, 1789, at which time the first Congress enacted a law entitled “ An act for establishing an executive department of the government, to be denominated the Department of Foreign Affairs.” By this law, an officer was to be appointed as Secretary for the Department of Foreign Affairs, whose duties were to be performed conformably to the instructions of the President. Before this, while the republic was struggling for the recognition of the great nations, its foreign affairs were conducted through commissioners appointed by Congress. Shortly before the adoption of the Constitution, the necessity for some organization of our diplomatic correspondence led to the passage of a resolution of Congress authorizing the appointment of a Secretary of Foreign Affairs. His powers were derived from Congress, and he was required to hold himself amenable to that body, to attend its sessions, and to report and explain ‘all matters pertaining to his province. In September, 1789, another act of Congress changed the designation of the department to that of “Department of State,” and defined additional duties to be performed by the “Secretary of State.” The rise and progress of American diplomacy, as exhibited in its organization, furnishes a theme from which we turn with reluctance. But the following episode in its history, preserved in the comprehensive pages of Ingersoll's “ Historical Sketch of the Second War of the United States,” is
too creditable to the department and too honorable to its faithful servants to be omitted :
The day before the fall of Washington—a day of extreme alarm—on the 23d of August, 1814, the Secretary of State wrote to the President: “The enemy are advanced six miles on the road to the wood-yard, and our troops retreating; our troops on the march to meet them, but in too small a body to engage; General Winder proposes to retire till he can collect them in a body. The enemy are in full march for Washington, and have the materials prepared to destroy the bridge.-Tuesday, nine o'clock. You had better remove the records." Before that note was received, Mr. John Graham, chief clerk in the Department of State, and another clerk, Mr. Stephen Pleasanton, bestirred themselves to save the precious public records of that department. The clerk then in charge of most of those archives was Josiah King, who accompanied the government from Philadelphia to Washington. By the exertions of these clerks, principally Mr. Pleasanton, coarse linen bags were purchased, enough to contain the papers. The original Declaration of Independence, the articles of confederation, the federal Constitution, many treaties and laws as enrolled, General Washington's commission as commander-in-chief of the army of the Revolution, which he relinquished when he resigned it at Annapolis (found among the rubbish of a garret), together with many other papers, the loss of which would have deeply blackened our disgrace, and, deposited in the Tower at London, as much illustrated the British triumph-all were carefully secured in linen bags, hung round the room, ready, at a moment's warning, for removal to some place of safety. Wagons, carts, and vehicles of all sorts were in such demand for the army, whose officers took the right of seizing them, whenever necessary, to carry their baggage, provisions, and other conveniences, that it was difficult to procure one in which to load the documents. That done, however, Mr. Pleasanton took them to a mill,
over the Potomac, about three miles beyond Georgetown, where they were concealed. But, as General Mason's cannon-foundry was not far from the mill, though on the Maryland side of the river, apprehension arose that the cannon-foundry, which the enemy would of course seek to destroy, might bring them too near the mill, and endanger its deposits. They were, therefore, removed as far as Leesburg, a small town in Virginia, thirty-five miles from Washington, whither Mr. Pleasanton, on horseback, accompanied the wagon during the battle of Bladensburg. From Leesburg, where he slept that night, the burning city was discernible, in whose blaze the fate of his charge, if left there, was told on the horizon.
Mr. Pleasanton took them (the papers] in several carts to the mill, where the carts were discharged; he slept at the Rev. Mr. Maffit's, two miles from the mill, and next morning got country wagons in which he, on horseback, attended the papers to Leesburg, where they were put in a vacant stone house prepared for him by the Rev. Mr. Littlejohn. That fearful night was followed by next day's tornado, which at Leesburg, as at Washington, uprooted trees, unroofed tenements, and everywhere around superadded tempestuous to belligerent destruction and alarm.
Many of the records of the War, Treasury and Navy Departments were destroyed; some were saved, less by any care than by the tempest which arrested hostile destruction before its completion, and drove the enemy from the capital. After their departure several of the written books of the departments were found in the mud, soaked with water from the rain which so opportunely fell,—which, by drying them in the sun and rebinding them, were recovered. Great numbers of books and papers, however, were irrecoverably lost.
The organization of the Department of State embraces the Secretary of State, Assistant Secretary of State, Chief Clerk, Superintendent of Statistics, Translator, Librarian, and twenty-two clerks, who, for the systematic discharge of their official duties, are divided into the following bureaus :
The Diplomatic Branch, which has charge of all correspondence between the department and other diplomatic agents of the United States abroad, and those of foreign powers accredited to this government. In it all diplomatic instructions sent from the department, and communications to commissioners under treaties of boundaries, &c., are prepared, copied, and recorded; and all of like character received are registered and filed, their contents being first entered in an analytic table or index.
The Consular Branch, which has charge of the correspondence between the department and the consuls and commercial agents of the United States. In it instructions to those officers, and answers to their dispatches, and to letters from other persons asking for consular agencies, or relating to consular affairs are prepared and recorded.
The Disbursing Agent, who has charge of all correspondence and other matters connected with accounts relating to any fund with the disbursement of which the department is charged.
The Translator, whose duties are to furnish such translations as the department may require. He also records the commissions of consuls and vice-consuls, when not in English, upon which exequaturs are issued.
The Clerk of Appointments and Commissions makes out and records commissions, letters of appointment, and nominations to the Senate; makes out and records exequaturs, and records, when in English, the commissions on which they are issued. He also has charge of the library.
The Clerk of the Rolls and Archives takes charge of the rolls, or enrolled acts and resolutions of Congress, as they are received at the department from the President; prepares the authenticated copies thereof which are called for; prepares for, and superintends their publication, and that of treaties, in the newspapers and in book form ; attends to their distribution throughout the United States, and that of all documents and publications in regard to which this duty is assigned to the department, writing and answering all letters connected therewith. Has charge of all Indian treaties, and business relating thereto.
The Clerk of Territorial Business has charge of the seals of the United States and of the department, and prepares and attaches certificates to papers presented for authentication; has charge of the territorial business; immigration and registered seamen; records all letters from the department, other than the diplomatic and consular.
The Clerk of Pardons and Passports prepares and records pardons and remissions, and registers and files the petitions and papers on which they are founded; makes out and records passports; keeps a daily register of all letters, other than diplomatic and consular, received, and of the disposition made of them; prepares letters relating to this business.
The Superintendent of Statistics prepares the “Annual Report of the Secretary of State and Foreign Commerce,” as required by the acts of 1842 and 1856.
The State Department is the official channel through which the government is addressed by the accredited agents of the following foreign powers: By Envoys Extraordinary and Ministers Plenipotentiary, from Belgium,