Page 61 - Foreign Service Journal - April 2012

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A P R I L 2 0 1 2 / F OR E I GN S E R V I C E J OU R N A L
61
T
homas Jefferson, born on April 13,
1743,was the thirdU.S. president, the
secondU.S. minister plenipotentiary
toFranceandthe firstU.S. SecretaryofState.
Yetwhile Jeffersonwas the first of six future
presidentswhowouldholdthenation’shigh-
est diplomatic office, he did not regard his
work in foreign affairs as among his semi-
nal achievements. His epitaph, which he
authored, reads: “HerewasburiedThomas
Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of
American Independence, of the Statute of
Virginia for Religious Freedom and father
of the University of Virginia.”
While giving the country its founding
document and today’s Atlantic Coast
Conference a solid performer in a variety
of sports, arecertainlyhistoricachievements,
what was his legacy to the Department of
State?
In 1790, when Jefferson reluctantly
became Secretary of State, the department
had a skeleton staff of just four clerks, one
translator and amessenger. Together with
PresidentGeorgeWashington, they lobbied
Congress to fund the department’s opera-
tionsandincrease thenumberofdiplomatic
posts abroad. As a result, by 1792 the U.S.
had 16 diplomatic and consular outposts,
mostly in Europe.
Jefferson requested that diplomatic
representatives write regular dispatches
about “suchpolitical andcommercial intel-
ligence as youmay think interesting to the
UnitedStates,” andany informationabout
“militarypreparations andother indications
of war.” He divided the department into
a diplomatic service, which was responsi-
ble for political work; and the consular ser-
vice, which handled commercial and
American citizen services. This division
remained in effect until 1924, when the
Rogers Act merged the two services.
Despite his years inParis, andhis affin-
ity for the French, Jeffersondidnot like the
formality that typifiedEuropeandiplomatic
services. He did not adhere to rigid stan-
dards of protocol, andhepromoted the tra-
dition of American representatives wear-
ing unpretentious clothing. While khakis
anda blueOxford shirtmaynot have been
available at the time, the fact thatAmericans
were outdressed by their European coun-
terpartswas appropriate, given the ethic of
the country.
Funding consular operations from
user fees began under Jefferson. Consuls
at 18th-centuryAmericandiplomatic out-
posts did not receive salaries. They sup-
ported themselves through the fees they
charged or through business ventures.
WhenCongress finally beganpaying them
salaries in1856, consulswereno longerper-
mitted to engage inoutside business activ-
ities, but they continued to finance oper-
ations through user fees.
In 1790, the department had a sub-
stantial number of domesticduties, includ-
ingcommunicating federal legislation to the
states. Jefferson’s tenure as Secretaryof State
wasmarkedby internal political battles, par-
ticularlywithTreasury SecretaryAlexander
Hamilton. He was unable to conclude
treaties to resolve conflictswithEnglandor
Spain and finally, in 1793, stepped down
from his position.
At the same time, he increasedthecoun-
try’s diplomatic representation abroad,
implemented a system of reporting that
remains acoreForeignService functionand
established diplomatic traditions that rep-
resented the new country’s proletarian
ethic.
Greg Naarden, an FSO since 2004, is a member
of the FSJ Editorial Board and Friends of theUSDC,
a support group for the U.S. Diplomacy Center
(diplomacy.state.gov).
A
F
S
A
N
E
W
S
ously considering doing this for a living.”
Another member of the Brussels
community, Peter Barbarich, has decid-
ed to major in sculpture. When he first
arrived, he spent a lot of time being a
househusband when he wasn’t exercis-
ing and getting into shape. After a while,
however, hewanted somethingmore. So,
pursuing a lifelong passion, he signed up
for a few art courses at the Rhok
Academy of 3D Arts. He now focuses
on learning as much as he can about the
art and science of sculpture.
“I’ve been working with stone, wood
and metal, and found this amazing
teacher,” Peter says. “In real life I am a
scientist, but sculpture ismy true calling.”
Whether we commit ourselves to a
major, or continue to dabble in electives,
every new post is akin to going to the
University of Belgium, Italy, or Uganda,
or wherever it is we are located, then on
to the next one.
What a wonderful opportunity this is.
Spending one’s life learning about new
and interesting people and places, over
and over again. Though rather nontra-
ditional, I can think of no better way to
spend my brief time on this planet.
So, what’s your major?
Douglas E. Morris is the partner of a Foreign
Service officer assigned to Brussels. He serves
as the editor of the tri-mission newsletter and has
published eight travel guides, including the lat-
est revision to his book,
Open Road’s Best of Italy,
to be released this month.
This Month in Diplomatic History:
Thomas Jefferson
BY GREG NAARDEN
When Jefferson reluctantly
assumed his position as Secretary
of State, the department had a
skeleton staff of just four clerks,
one translator and a messenger.
Pursuing a lifelong passion,
Peter signed up for a few art
courses at the Rhok Academy
of 3D Arts. He now focuses on
learning as much as he
can about the art and science
of sculpture.