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Stephen S. Remak Papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS268

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

Written between the years of 1859-1861, the Stephen S. Remak Papers consist of one bound letter book containing the official outgoing correspondence of Remak during his term as United States Consul at Trieste, an Italian port city on the Adriatic.

Perhaps of the most value for researchers in this collection is the extensive research Remak carried out on the contemporary state and history of Austrian currency, which he included in his correspondence to officials at the United States Treasury Department. In addition, he submitted detailed Annual Commercial Reports to the State Department, which outlines trade and commerce not only in Trieste, but in other important European port cities as well.

The letters are still physically bound together, however, each letter has been assigned to a separate folder for cataloguing purposes. In addition to letters, notes written to transmit Remak's account information are found throughout the book. Because of their brevity they have been assigned to the folder of an adjacent letter or grouped together into one separate folder. Finally the cataloger has numbered the pages themselves so that each letter can be referenced more easily. The page number on which each letter can be found is included in the folder descriptions.

At the time of Stephen S. Remak's appointment by James Buchanan, Trieste had been under Austrian control since 1382 when it established a political alliance with Austria in order to escape it's political and commercial rivalry with the Republic of Venice. As the sole Austrian port and natural outlet for central Europe, Trieste achieved an unprecedented degree of social and cultural development. Remak was stationed at Trieste during a time of political instability in Europe, of which a brief history is given below. There are numerous references in his letters to the on-going threat of war with France and Sardinia. Of great concern to Remak was the threat posed by war in Europe to the United States' commercial interests in Trieste, a topic on which he focuses on frequently.

Abraham Lincoln's election to President of the United Staes in 1861 marked the end of Remak's term and the beginning of the Civil War. Because Remak's official business did not pertain to United States' internal affairs, he never discusses the Civil War in great length. However, he does occasionally mention the division of the Union in his correspondence, especially since many officers of the Austrian army inquired instructions from him on how to join American naval and land forces in order to participate in the struggle.

Most of the Remak's correspondence was sent to United States Diplomats and Government Officials, although a few were sent directly to the Austrian Imperial Government. Remak's jurisdiction over American seamen also placed him in frequent contact with ship captains and sailors. Although the handwriting in which the letters are written in has yet to be determined, they were most likely copied into the letter book by the clerk in Remak's office. The handwriting is consistent until the last three letters in the book. It is probable that Remak wrote these drafts himself right before his consular duties ceased on November 18, 1861.


  • 1859 - 1861

Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical note

A prominent member of Philadelphia Bar Association for the length of his career, Stephen Samuel Remak was born in Posen, Grand Duchy of Posen, Polish Province of Prussia on April 4, 1821. He immigrated to the United States at the age of 28 to take up residence with his brother, Gustavius Remak, who was at the time one of the leading German-American citizens of Philadelphia, PA. It was upon his arrival that Remak began to study law under the guidance of his brother and Moses A. Dropsie. He was admitted into the Philadelphia Bar on May 3, 1854 and only three months later was commissioned to arrest and extradite Richard Sachs, alias Adolph Hoffman, who had allegedly falsified the books of the Bank of the City of Breslau, Silesia, Prussia. This occurred in August 1854 and was the first case of extradition between the United States and any German Sate. After the unification of the German empire in 1871, Remak served as the legal adviser of the Imperial German Consulate. He was created a Knight of the Golden Crown of Prussia of the third class in recognition of his legal services to the German Government in May 1879. As a result, he became known as one of the best-versed lawyers at the bar in matters of international law. At home in the United States, Remak was active in local and national politics. He attended the Democratic National Convention in Cincinnati in 1856 and supported the nomination of James Buchanan as the Democratic presidential candidate. It was at this time that Remak formed a close relationship with Buchanan, which subsequently led to his appointment on October 16, 1858 to United States Consul at Trieste, an Italian port city on the Adriatic, which at the time, was under Austrian control. He did not take office until January 1, 1859 and occupied this post until November 18, 1861. After his term expired Remak took a tour of Europe before returning to the United States. He studied in Italy at the University of Turin and resided in Paris from December 1863 to 1865. While in Paris, he wrote a book entitled, La Paix en Amerique. He returned to Philadelphia on July 23, 1867, and resumed legal practice less than two months later. In 1869, Remak wrote a series of communications on the "Qualifications of Voters", which were published by John W. Forney, editor and proprietor of the Press. He remained an avid supporter of the Democratic Party for the remainder of his life, as well as a member of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, which he represented in the civil courts as counsel. At the time of his death in 1890, he stood at the head of the German counselors of the Philadelphia Bar.

So that researchers may possess an understanding of the context under which the Stephen S. Remak Papers were written, a brief outline of events relating to the political instability plagued Europe during the 19th century follows. In 1948, the Hapsburg Empire was caught up in the revolutionary events that were sparked by the rise of liberal and nationalist ideologies across Europe. That same year, Emperor Ferdinand abdicated the throne and his eighteen-year old nephew was crowned Emperor Francis Joseph I. The young emperor was left with the responsibility of crushing the rebellion that was taking place in Hungary, and reasserting Austrian leadership in Germany. In order to accomplish this, Francis Joseph sought for Russian military assistance, which enabled him to crush the rebellions by September 1849. Four years later, a dispute between Russia and France over the Palestinian holy places led to the outbreak of the Crimean War. Austrian initially sought to mediate the conflict but eventually joined the western allies against Russia. By failing to repay Russia for its help in 1848, Emperor Francis Joseph lost critical Russian support for his control over Germany and Italy. France took advantage of the estrangement between Austria and Russia to set up a military confrontation between Austria and Italian nationalist forces. The fight for Italian unification, which had begun in 1848, had coalesced around Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia-Piedmont and his minister Camillo Benso di Cavour. Cavour realized that Sardinia could not defeat Austria without foreign aid and sought French and British support by introducing social reforms within Sardinia and joining the allies in the Crimean War. By inserting the small State of Savoy within the schemes and alliances of the great European powers Cavour succeeded in ensuring the friendship of neighboring France. In 1859, following the speech by Victor Emmanuel II on support of Piedmont for Italians with nationalistic aspirations, Austria declared war on the Kingdom of Sardinia. With the help of Napoleon III=s French forces, the Sardinian army defeated the Austrians at Magenta and caused them to retreat at the Solferino on June 24, 1859. Because Francis Joseph was unwilling to make the concessions that were Prussia's price for assistance from the German Confederation, he surrendered Lombardy in July 1859, which was sealed by the Treaty of Zurich. Assuming the title of dictator, Giuseppe Garibaldi entered Naples with in September 1860, the Bourbon King having fled. Cavour's troops then invaded the Papal States, and met Garibaldi's forces in the Volturno, where Garibaldi ceded his command to Victor Emmanuel as King of Italy. The assembly of the first Italian parliament in Turin ratified this title on March 17, 1861, the same year that Cavour died. Italian nationalist forces would not gain Venetia until the conclusion of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and Trieste remained under Austrian control until it was annexed in 1919.

Sources: A Biographical Album of Prominent Pennsylvanians. Vol. 2. Philadelphia: The American Biographical Publishing Company, 1888. Who's who in Polish-America. New York, Harbinger House, 1943. Jelavich, Barbara. The Hapsburg Empire in European Affairs, 1814-1914. Chicago: Rand McNally & Company, 1969. United States Officials Name Post Location Term Appleton, John Assistant Secretary of State Washington, DC April 4, 1857 - June 10, 1860 Buffum, William A. Consul Trieste 1854-1859 Burlingame, Anson Envoy Extraordinary & Minister Plenipotentiary Vienna, Austria 1861 Chase, Salmon P. Secretary of Treasury Washington, DC 1861-1864 Cobb, Howell Secretary of Treasury Washington, DC March 7, 1857 -December 8, 1860 Dallas, George M. Envoy Extraordinary & Minister Plenipotentiary London, Great Britain 1856-1861 Derbes, Alexander Consul General Marseilles, France 1858-1861 Fay, Theodore S. Minister Resident Borne, Switzerland 1853-1861 Francovich, Louis Consular Agent Fiume, Austria 1862-1866 Fuller, Bartholomew 5th Auditor of the Treasury Department Washington, DC Hildreth, Richard Consul Trieste 1861-1864 Jones, Jehu Glancy Envoy Extraordinary & Minister Plenipotentiary Vienna, Austria 1858-1861 Leese, Robert H. Consul Spezzia 1856-1861 Lippitt, George W. Secretary of Legation Vienna, Austria 1856-1867 Mason, John Envoy Extraordinary & Minister Plenipotentiary Paris, France1853-1859 Medill, William 1st Comptroller of the Treasury Department Washington, DC Motley, John L. Envoy Extraordinary & Minister Plenipotentiary Vienna, Austria August 10, 1861 - June 14, 1867 Patterson, William L. Consul Genoa 1859-1861 Sarmiento, Ferdinand L. Consul Venice 1858-1860 Seward, Frederick H. Assistant Secretary of State Washington, DC March 6, 1861 - March 4, 1869 Seward, William H. Secretary of State Washington, DC March 6, 1861 - March 4, 1869 Sprenger, J.J. Consul Venice 1860-1861 Stiles, Edward C. Consul Vienna, Austria 1856-1861 Trescot, William H. Assistant Secretary of State Washington, DC June 11, 1860 - December 20, 1860 Williams, James Minister Resident Constantinople 1858-1861


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)

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