Facts About American Ambassadors

Who were the first U.S. Ambassadors?

The rank of Ambassador was first used by the United States in 1893.Thomas F. Bayard was appointed Ambassador to Great Britain on March 30, 1893. James B. Eustis was appointed Ambassador to France on April 18, 1893. Prior to this date, the highest-ranking U.S. diplomats were Ministers.

Have there been multi-generational foreign affairs families in U.S. history?

John Adams was the first U.S. Minister to the United Kingdom. He was appointed February 24, 1785, presented his credentials to King George III on June 1, 1785, and served until February 20, 1788. His son John Quincy Adams was the first U.S. Minister to the United Kingdom after the War of 1812. He was appointed February 28, 1815, and served until May 14, 1817. Grandson Charles Francis Adams served from 1861 to 1868. Much of his work involved keeping Britain neutral during the Civil War and negotiating postwar agreements with Britain to settle U.S. claims for damages against that country.

A family of English Quaker merchants named Fox were U.S. Consuls at Falmouth, England. Robert Were Fox served from 1794 to 1812, and again from 1815 to his death in 1818. Robert Were Fox , Jr. served from 1819 to 1854 (their middle name is sometimes spelled “Weare” or “Ware”). Somehow the Consulate passed out of the family between 1854 and 1863. Two more generations of Foxes then served. Alfred Fox was appointed in 1863, and Howard Fox served from 1874 until the post was closed in December 1905.

Have any distinguished writers who have held diplomatic, consular, or senior State Department posts in the U.K.?

Yes, the following individuals also held other appointments in the United Kingdom:

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne: Served as Consul at Liverpool, 1853-57.
  • Bret Harte: Served as Consul at Crefeld, 1878-1880, and at Glasgow, 1880-1885.
  • James Russell Lowell: Served as Minister to Spain, 1877-80; to Great Britain, 1880-85.

Did you know?
The U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s is also the ambassador to Bermuda and responsible for the U.S. Consulate General Hamilton, Bermuda!


Last updated: August 2017