Academic journal article The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

Virginia's Diplomats

Academic journal article The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

Virginia's Diplomats

Article excerpt

FEBRUARY 4-JULY 30, 2006

Many United States Foreign Service officers have called Virginia home. An exhibition opening on February 4, 2006, will feature more than thirty of these individuals. The exhibition's goal is to educate visitors about the changing role of diplomats, from the end of the eighteenth century to the present day.

Americans were being sent abroad to represent political and commercial interests even before the founding of the republic. Individuals sent abroad for political reasons were generally called "ministers," while those involved with commercial interests were "consuls." In the early days of the nation, consuls often ran their own businesses abroad at the same time they were tending to government affairs. Starting in 1789, a secretary of state oversaw the nation's foreign relations, and many Virginians have filled that post-Thomas Jefferson, Edmund Randolph, John Marshall, James Madison, James Monroe, Abel Parker Upshur, Edward Stettinius, George C. Marshall, Lawrence Eagleburger, and Colin Powell.

Some diplomats made their marks in quite different careers before joining the Foreign Service. One of the most distinctive was John Singleton Mosby, "The Gray Ghost," who led a band of Confederate guerrillas. After the Civil War, Mosby became a Republican and was appointed U.S. consul to Hong Kong by President Ulysses S. Grant. Mosby discovered vast corruption among his colleagues in the Far East and distinguished himself as an uncompromising reformer. …

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