James Gerard Presents His Credentials as Ambassador

After arranging accommodations for himself and the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, James Watson Gerard presented his letters of accreditation as U.S. Ambassador to the German Emperor, William II. Gerard noted that “This presentation is quite a ceremony. Three coaches were sent for me and my staff, coaches like that in which Cinderella goes to her ball, mostly glass, with white wigged coachmen, outriders in white wigs and standing footmen holding on to the back part of the coach.”1

Ambassador Gerard on his way to present his letters of credence to the Emperor
James Gerard, My Four Years in Germany (George H. Doran Company, New York, 1917).

The tension between U.S. republican ideals in European aristocratic accoutrements was present in Gerard’s thinking during his invocation into Berlin’s diplomatic rituals. (See our post, “Ambassadors vs. Ministers,”) Of his meeting with the Kaiser, Gerard reflected that,

“The Emperor is a most impressive figure, and, in his black uniform surrounded by his officers, certainly looked every inch a king. Although my predecessors, on occasions of this kind, had worn a sort of fancy diplomatic uniform designed by themselves, I decided to abandon this and return to the democratic, if unattractive and uncomfortable, dress-suit, simply because the newspapers of America and certain congressmen, while they have had no objection to the wearing of uniforms by the army and navy, police and postmen, and do not expect officers to lead their troops into battle in dress-suits, have, nevertheless, had a most extraordinary prejudice against American diplomats following the usual custom of adopting a diplomatic uniform.”2

  1. James Gerard, My Four Years in Germany, (George H. Doran Company, New York: 1917), 21. 

  2. Ibid., 22-23. 

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