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From Apalachicola to Wilkes-Barre: Austria(-Hungary) and Its Consulates in the United States of America, 1820–1917

  • Rudolf Agstner


Little is known today of the relations between the Habsburg monarchy and the United States, or even about the millions of Habsburg subjects who emigrated to America and participated in virtually every stage of its westward expansion. We are particularly ignorant of the extensive consular system that the imperial government maintained for nearly a century before the dissolution of Austria-Hungary at the end of the Great War.1 Given the largely administrative nature of consular relations, it is not surprising that scholars have not delved deeply into the archival records. Nonetheless, in addition to a substantial cache of colorful anecdotes and less riveting administrative minutiae, the records of the Habsburg consular system in the United States offer a fresh vantage point for examining the interests and concerns of the monarchy's ruling elite and the structural challenges that limited its effectiveness during the four-decade career of Austria-Hungary.



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1 This study is part of a larger research project into the history of the 725 consulates that the Habsburg rulers maintained worldwide between 1718 and 1918. On the Austrian (Austro-Hungarian) consulates in Canada,see Rudolf, Agstner, From Halifax to Vancouver: Austria(-Hungary) and Her Consular and Diplomatic Presence in Canada,1855–2005, Schriftenreihe der Landesverteidigungsakademie, 12/2005 (Vienna, 2005);Agstner, , “The Establishment of Imperial Austrian Consulates in Canada, 1850–1914,” OeCulture no. 2 (2000): 3, 10;Agstner, , “Austro-Hungarian Emigration to British Columbia and the I. & R. Austro-Hungarian Consulate Vancouver,” OeCulture no. 1 (2003): 56, 13; and Agstner, , “Das k.u.k. Konsulat Winnipeg (Manitoba, Kanada) 1909–1914,” Rot-Weiss-Rot. Das Magazin für Auslandsösterreicher (hereafter cited as RWR) no. 4 (2000): 1213.

2 France established her first consulates in 1085, Venice in 1179, England in 1215, Genoa in 1250, the Hanseatic States in 1300, and Florence in 1534.Tuson, E. W. A., The British Consul's Manual (London, 1856).

3 Rudolf, Agstner, “Du Levant au Ponant: le développement du service consulaire autrichien au XVIII siècle,” in La Fonction Consulaire à ľÉpoque Moderne (Rennes, forthcoming).

4 Anna Hedwig, Benna, “Österreichs erste diplomatische Vertretung bei den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika,” Mitteilungen des Österreichischen Staatsarchivs 29 (1976): 224;Erwin, Matsch, “Der Wiener Hof und die USA,” in Österreich unddieNeue Welt, ed. Elisabeth, Zeilinger (Vienna, 1993), 121–27.

5 In 1817 in Rio de Janeiro, the emperor's daughter Leopoldina had married Brazil's Prince (and from 1822, King) Pedro de Braganza. State Chancery to General Court Chamber of 29 October 1818, Hofkammerarchiv (hereafter cited as HKA), Vienna, Austria, Commerzkammer, 1818. It is interesting to note that this is the only file from 1818 and 1819 mentioning Stürmer's appointment as consul general in the United States. The claim that an Imperial Austrian Consulate General in Philadelphia headed by Stürmer actually existed can be found in Benna, “Österreichs erste diplomatische Vertretung,” 224.

6 Metternich to Stahl, 5 March 1820, HKA, Commerz, fasc. 1199 red.

7 Folios 8–25, HKA, Commerz, fasc. 1199 red.

8 For the history of Austro-American diplomatic relations as reflected in the reports of the diplomatic representative in Washington,see Erwin, Matsch, Wien-Washington. Ein Journal diplomatischerBeziehungen 1838–1917 (Vienna, 1990).

9 Folio 18, HKA, Commerz, Fasc. 1307/2 red, 1837–38; Staatskanzlei-Konsulate, Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv (hereafter cited as HHStA), Vienna, Austria, New York 1828–60, box 31.

10 I.R. Trade Ministry 5456/1850.

11 Lederer, New York, 9 April 1821, HKA, Commerz, fasc. 17, 1823.

12 Protocols of the Council of Ministers of 18 October 1850, Nr. 407; I.R. Trade Ministry 8141/H. In December 2004, 1 florin equaled the purchasing power of Є13.87; information obtained via telephone interview with Austria Statistics, 2005. Many thanks to Dr. Thomas Kletecka for this information.

13 As early as 1770, the Intendante of Trieste concluded that “one does not notice too much zeal from the Imperial consuls, but one could only ask more of them if they were paid a salary.” Report of 6 August 1770, HKA, Litorale Commerz, folio 195–97, fasc. 117/1, box 646 red.

14 Court Chamber 35.574 of 30 June 1845, HKA, Commerz, fasc. 11, 1345/3 red. The petition never mentioned Belmont's Jewish pedigree. Had Seeman been appointed, he would have likely obliged the requirement that he renounce concurrent consular posts, although he could have later petitioned to accept an additional honorary consular position.

15 The dual character of the monarchy is also reflected in the collection of Austrian and Hungarian laws relevant for consular work by Josef Freiherr von, Malfatti di Monte Tretto, Handbuch des österreichisch-ungarischen Consularwesens nebsteinem Anhange, vol. 1, Konsularwesen, 798 pages with 30 illustrations, and vol. 2, Konsular-Normalien, 1,235 pages with 30 illustrations (Vienna, 1904). Malfatti published a first edition of one volume only in 1879.

16 The City of Vienna displayed a life-size reconstruction of the seventeenth-century Hohe Markt, which, under the name “Old Vienna,” became a favorite spot of the Chicago World's Fair.

17 Six months later, the emperor upgraded seven of the twelve honorary vice consulates to honorary consulates. HHStA, AR, dept. 8, box 52, New York, submission Andrassy 29 May 1872, imperial resolvit 1 June 1872, FM 7909/VIII of 2 June 1872.

18 HHStA, AR, dept. 8, box 267, North America 1/3, Leg. Washington XXX A-Ee to FM of 17 August 1899, FM 50.649/10 of 4 September 1899.

19 An Austro-German trade agreement of 1891 stipulated that both parties would “commit their consuls abroad to grant protection and assistance to the nationals of the other party, in case the latter are not represented in loco by a consul, in the same way and at the same fees as to their own nationals.”

20 HHStA, AR, dept. 8, box 44, Chicago, Leg. Washington 689 to Pick, 17 October 1877. Nevertheless, Claussenius was appointed honorary consul and served until 1894, when the consular office was transformed into a regular consulate.Agstner, , “Eine Geschichte der Übersiedlungen—100 Jahre Österreichisches Generalkonsulat in Chicago,” Wiener Zeitung, 7 11 1997, 3;Agstner, , “Vom k.u.k. Konsulat zum österreichischen Generalkonsulat in Chicago,” RWR no. 4 (1998): 9.

21 HHStA, AR, dept. 8, box 88, C. Boston, CG New York to Emb. Washington 6-Res of 12 April 1908.

22 Rudolf, Agstner, “Das k.u.k. Konsulat in Milwaukee 1867–1907,” RWR no. 1 (1998): 18;HHStA, AR, dept. 8, box 109, FM 49.896/10, submission Goluchowski 5 November 1897, imperial resolvit Vienna 11 November 1897.

23 Oliver, Rathkolb, ed., 250 Jahre Von der Orientalischen zur Diplomatischen Akademie in Wien—250 Years from the Oriental to the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna (Innsbruck, 2004).

24 Appointment of alumni from the Oriental Academy is particularly apparent in the case of the consulate in Pittsburgh.

25 HHStA, AR, dept. 4, personnel, box 258 Pidoll, study written by consular attaché Franz Pidoll, “Oesterreichische und Ungarische Einwanderung nach Nord-Amerika,” dated New York, 3 May 1911.

26 Ibid.This report provides excellent insight into the daily problems of Austro-Hungarian consulates in the United States.

28 HHStA, AR, dept. 8, box 137, Hazleton, C Pittsburgh 23res to FM of 22 October 1896, FM 54.742/10 1896.

29 HHStA, AR, dept. 8, box 120, C. Cleveland 15957 of 20 May 1912.

30 Ibid., Cleveland, C. 22374A of 26 May 1914.

31 Rudolf, Agstner, “Konsulat für Österreichs Bergleute—K.u.K. Expositur in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, um die Jahrhundertwende,” Wiener Zeitung, 7 08 1998, 3.

32 HHStA, AR, dept. 8, box 180, CG New York Adm. CXLIV of 7 March 1898.

33 HHStA, AR, dept. 8, box 180, CG New York 3res to FM of 20 February 1902, FM 18.320/10 1902.

34 HHStA, AR, dept. 8, box 180, CG New York 28/Res to FM of 22 April 1902, FM 33.243/10 1902.

35 Pidoll, “Oesterreichische und Ungarische Einwanderung.”

36 HHStA, AR, dept. 8, box 239, Toledo, C. Cleveland No. CV of 17 February 1913 and attached report Petenyi of 15 February 1913.

37 HHStA, AR, dept. 8, box 160, Lorain, vice-consul Pélenyi to consul Ludwig, Cleveland 12 March 1914.

38 Count Albert, Apponyi, Erlebnisse und Ergebnisse (Berlin, 1933), 170–71.

39 HHStA, AR, dept. 8, box 200, Pueblo, C Denver 1273res/1914 of 17 February 1914; Court and State Archive, AR, dept. 15, box 49, C. Denver 2/pol of 20 February 1914.

40 HHStA, AR, dept. 8. Box 242, Trinidad, Cons. Denver No. 1273 of 17 February 1914 to Embassy Washington.

41 HHStA, AR, dept. 8. Box 242, Trinidad, C. Pittsburgh 15-Res/P of 11 February 1914.

42 Peter de, Rosa, Rebels: The Irish Rising of 1916 (Dublin, 2000), 37.

43 HHStA, AR, dept. 8, box 16, CG New York 25278 to FM of 4 August 1914.

44 HHStA, PA I, Liasse Krieg 7, Amerika b, box 897, Emb. Washington 25 c/pol New York 11 June 1915. For a possible Irish link,see Emmet, Larkin, James Larkin: Irish Labour Leader, 1876–1947 (Cambridge, MA, 1965), 192–93; the author is indebted to Dr. Jeróme Aan de Wiel, Reims, for this information.

45 HHStA, PA I, Liasse Krieg 7, Amerika b, box 897, Emb. Washington 32 D (recte: 33 d) Lenox 18 June 1915 resp. tel. no. ref, Burian to Dumba.

46 HHStA, AR, dept. 4, box 76, personnel, file Dumba, letter Dumba to Burian of 20 August 1915.

47 HHStA, PA 1, Liasse Krieg 7, Amerika b, box 897, Emb. Washington 36/C pol, Lenox, of 24 August 1915.

48 HHStA, AR, dept. 4, box 78, personnel, file Dumba, chiffre telegram Dumba to Burian of 2 September 1915.

49 HHStA, AR, dept. 4, box 78, personnel, file Dumba, Embassy of the United States of America No. 3065, Vienna, 11 September 1915, letter from Frederic C. Penfield to Baron Burian.

50 For Dumba's version, see Constantin, Dumba, Dreibund- und Entente-Politik in derAlten und Neuen Welt (Vienna, 1931), 402.

51 Jim Larkin had met Grivičič “at the Manchester Martyrs meeting in Philadelphia on 15 January 1915, when Irish and German-Americans spoke from the same platform.”Larkin, , James Larkin, 192–93.

52 HHStA, AR, dept. 4, box 110, file Dr. Josef Goricar. On 20 December 1914, Goricar had requested permission to leave the Austro-Hungarian consular service; Emperor Francis Joseph granted the request on 27 January 1915.

53 Breaking off relations at this stage was unnecessary, as the United States declared war on Austria-Hungary only on 7 December 1917. It has to be recalled, however, that Germany broke off relations with Italy when the latter declared war on Austria-Hungary on 23 May 1915. It was only on 23 August 1916 that Italy declared war on Germany. By 1917, the US presence in Austria-Hungary had grown to include an embassy in Vienna, consulates general in Vienna and Budapest, consulates in Prague, Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary), Reichenberg (Liberec), Trieste, and Fiume—where a then unknown Fiorello H. La Guardia had started his career as US consular agent—as well as a consular agency in Haida (Novy Bor), a village of 300 inhabitants in the district of Boehmisch-Leipa.

54 The figures for Canada were, in 1900: two honorary consulates (Halifax, Montreal), one honorary vice consulate (St. John), and one honorary consular agency (Port of Picton).

From Apalachicola to Wilkes-Barre: Austria(-Hungary) and Its Consulates in the United States of America, 1820–1917

  • Rudolf Agstner


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