Thursday, March 31, 2016

Etiquette and Diplomacy in Berlin

Aaron Sargent, was the the U.S. minister to Germany from May 1882 to June 1884. A political appointee as the Head of the U.S. Legation at Berlin, Sargent had a reputation as being loud-mouthed and disrespectful toward Otto von Bismarck, (the conservative Prussian statesman dominating German and European affairs from the late 1860's to 1890.) He also conferred openly with Bismarck’s liberal opponents who favored free trade, threatening retaliation for Germany’s prohibition of meat imports from America. When Eduard Lasker died in early 1884, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a provocative resolution mourning the death of the leader of the German Liberals. Sargent then delivered the resolution to the German government. But Bismarck declared that Sargent’s continued presence was an insult to Germany, adamantly refusing to accept the resolution. Sargent subsequently resigned and was replaced by a much more tactful diplomat, John Kasson.
A silly story is telegraphed that the German Court is now discussing the question whether Minister Sargent ought to be invited to the Emperor's birthday reception, coupled with the prediction that if he attends, "he will certainly be personally affronted." It is safe to assert that the etiquette of the Court of Berlin does not permit it to invite anybody — least of all a foreign minister— to a reception for the express purpose of insulting him. — Daily Alta California, 1884

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia