Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White - Vol. 1

By Andrew Dickson White | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXX
AS MINISTER TO GERMANY--1879-1881

I N the spring of 1879 I was a third time brought into the diplomatic service, and in a way which surprised me. The President of the United States at that period was Mr. Hayes of Ohio. I had met him once at Cornell University, and had an interesting conversation with him, but never any other communication, directly or indirectly. Great, then, was my astonishment when, upon the death of Bayard Taylor just at the beginning of his career as minister to Germany, there came to me an offer of the post thus made vacant.

My first duty after accepting it was to visit Washington and receive instructions. Calling upon the Secretary of State, Mr. Evarts, and finding his rooms filled with people, I said: "Mr. Secretary, you are evidently very busy; I can come at any other time you may name." Thereupon he answered: "Come in, come in; there are just two rules at the State Department: one is that no business is ever done out of office hours; and the other is, that no business is ever done in office hours." It was soon evident that this was a phrase to put me at ease, rather than an exact statement of fact; and, after my conference with him, several days were given to familiarizing myself with the correspondence of my immediate predecessors, and with the views of the department on questions then pending between the two countries.

Dining at the White House next day, I heard Mr. Evarts withstand the President on a question which has always

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