Little Bits of History

Good Will

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 19, 2015
Current US Embassy in the Netherlands*

Current US Embassy in the Netherlands*

April 19, 1782: John Adams is received by the States-General of the Dutch Republic and becomes the first ambassador for the US. Morocco was the first nation to seek diplomatic relations with the US and did so in December 1777. Benjamin Franklin established the first overseas mission for the US in Paris in 1779. On this date, Adams established the first ambassadorship and the house he purchased at Fluwelen Burgwal 18 became the first American embassy anywhere in the world. Today, the embassy in The Hague is located at Lange Voorhout 102, 2514 EJ The Hague and was opened on July 4, 1959.

Diplomatic relations are essential to the smooth operation of many facets of our daily existence. Before the world was connected by instantaneous communication, the global community still needed to operate more effectively and efficiently. To do so meant less misunderstanding. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 formally defined and recognized ambassadors. Prior to this new definition, ambassadors were considered to be the personal envoy of the chief executive of a foreign country and to speak on his behalf. Their position made it possible for them to meet personally with the head of state of the host country. Prior to our technologically advanced era, ambassadors were given far greater power to execute national prerogatives.

The embassy is a permanent diplomatic mission as well as the building or section of a building in which the world of the diplomatic mission is carried out. The office space of the building is technically called the chancery. Members of the mission may live off site or within the embassy. These are located in the capital of the host country. Since 1945, all nations have been recognized as equals and ambassadors or their equivalents are sent to all countries with which one maintains diplomatic relations. There are also satellites where Consuls also represent their country. There can only be one ambassador from a country to the foreign power, but there can be several Consuls residing in other large cities of the hosting country.

The American embassy for Canada is in Ottawa, but there are six consulates general and one consulate also in Canada spanning coast to coast. To the south, America has an embassy in Mexico City and eighteen other presences ranging from a consulate or consular agency to a consulate general. Their largest diplomatic presence in Asia is in China where there is an embassy and six satellites. In Europe, Italy, Germany and France have six satellites in addition to their embassy. The Netherlands hosts the ambassador as well as two satellite consulates general. The Middle East has been a challenge to diplomatic relations and the embassy in Yemen suspended operations on February 11, 2015 due to deteriorating security. The embassy in Libya suspended operations on July 26, 2014. It is also interesting to note that the embassy to the Holy See is located outside Vatican territory and is located in Rome.

Ambassadors are the eye and ear of states. – Francesco Guicciardini

An ambassador is an honest man sent abroad to lie for his country. – Sir Henry Wotton

An ambassador is not simply an agent; he is also a spectacle. – Walter Bagehot

The function of a briefing paper is to prevent the ambassador from saying something dreadfully indiscreet. I sometimes think its true object is to prevent the ambassador from saying anything at all. – Kingman Brewster, Jr.

Also on this day: Look It Up – In 1928, the last fascicle of the Oxford English Dictionary is published.
Trippin’ – In 1943, Albert Hofmann tried LSD.
Sex Is Obscene  – In 1927, Mae West was sentenced to jail for her play, Sex.
Jump – In 1919, Leslie Leroy Irvin jumped from a plane.
Boston Marathon – In 1897, the first Boston Marathon was run.

* “Amerikaanse ambassade in Den Haag” by Pvt pauline – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

First Veep

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 21, 2014
John Adams

John Adams

April 21, 1789: John Adams becomes first Vice President of the US. The new government began without the President and Vice President taking office on the same day. For both men, the official start of the first presidential term was March 4. However, it was not until April 6 when the first Congress counted the Electoral College votes and certified Washington as President and Adams as Vice President. On this date, Adams finally presided over the Senate and officially took the position of his elected seat. Washington did not begin as acting President of the US until April 30, 1789 and the executive arm of the government was officially begun.

Adams was the eldest of three sons born on October 30, 1735 (October 19 using the Old Style or Julian calendar). The place of his birth is now called Quincy, Massachusetts but in 1735 was still the north precinct of Braintree. His place of birth is now part of Adams National Historical Park. The family had been in the colonies since about 1638 and were descendants of Puritans. Adams’s mother was from one of the colony’s leading medical families. The family was not wealthy, however John felt the need to live up to the extended family’s history. He went to Harvard College at the age of sixteen with his father expecting him to study religion and become a minister.

After receiving his degree, John taught for a few years and decided to become a lawyer. He not only did not become the minister his father wanted, but John eventually changed religions and became a Unitarian. He studied law in the office of John Putnam, a leading lawyer in Worcester. He received a second degree from Harvard in 1758 and was admitted to the bar. He began to write about his life, clients, events, and his impressions of them all. In 1764, just days before his 29th birthday, he married Abigail Smith, his third cousin. They had six children, one of them also destined to become a President of the US. John, while interested in the local politics, was not as popular as his cousin, Samuel Adams – yet.

Adams forte was constitutional law and he was instrumental in drafting many of the original documents for the emerging nation. The first presidential election was held in 1789 with Washington receiving 69 of the electoral votes and Adams getting 34 – second place. He thus became Vice President. There are those who claim what he would have preferred to have been the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. But it was his duty to preside of the Senate and he had little input into the early running of the new nation. He was reelected to the Vice Presidency in 1792. In neither term did Washington consult much with his second in command. The election of 1796 saw Washington out of the race and Adams was elected President with Thomas Jefferson taking over his old position.

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.

Power always thinks… that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws. – all from John Adams

Also on this day: Snoopy v. The Red Baron – In 1918, The Red Baron loses a dogfight.
Rome – In 753 BC, Romulus and Remus founded Rome.
Henry VIII – In 1509, Henry became King of England.
Seattle’s Best – In 1962, the Century 21 Exposition opened in Seattle.