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TRAINING IN UNIVERSITIES FOR CONSULAR AND
The subject of training for public service in the foreign field has recently been attracting renewed interest. Committees of the American Political Science Association and the American Economic Association have been collecting information and recommending measures in the whole field of training for public service, including the diplomatic and consular service. A comprehensive report upon the teaching of international law in American universities has been published by the Division of International Law of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. During the eighth annual meeting of the American Society of International Law a conference of teachers of international law was held, leading to the adoption of a series of sixteen resolutions on various phases of this important matter. A review of prevailing conditions and a statement of present tendencies, in view of these developments, is the purpose of this article.
Successive administrations under the party system in the United States have almost uniformly used places in the diplomatic and consular services as rewards for more or less valuable contributions to party triumphs. The foreign service has been the last branch of the national government to share even a partial application of the principle that appointment to and continuance in public administrative offices should be based primarily upon training and proven fitness. Civil service rules had been extended to cover other offices by tens of thousands before cautious steps were taken to bring diplomatic and consular positions under similar regulations. Less than ten years ago, on November 10, 1905, President Roosevelt issued an executive order providing for the appointment of secretaries of embassies and legations either after examinations testing the qualifications of applicants or by transfer or promotion from some branch of the foreign service-a policy continued by President Taft under an executive order issued on November 26, 1909. Qualifying examinations for certain grades of the consular service and
for the student interpreter corps were inaugurated under President Roosevelt's executive order of June 27, 1906. Congress has not enacted laws for merit systems of examination, appointment and promotion in any branch of the foreign service. Proposals for such laws have always failed of adoption, despite earnest advocacy by individual statesmen and by organizations such as the National Business League of America."
Regulations of the Department of State in fulfillment of executive orders require candidates for the offices of secretary of embassy or legation to pass written examinations upon the following subjects:
(1) International law. (2) Diplomatic usage. (3) Modern language (French, German or Spanish). . (4) Natural, industrial, and commercial resources and commerce of
the United States. (5) American history, government, and institutions. (6) Modern history (since 1850) of Europe, South America, and the
Far East. (7) Composition, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and writing, as
shown in the above papers. Oral examinations also are given to test "the candidate's business ability, alertness, general contemporary information, and natural fitness for the service, including moral, mental, and physical qualifications, character, address, and general education and good command of English.”
Candidates for appointments as student interpreters, consular assistants, and consuls (of the eighth or ninth classes), are required to pass the above oral examinations, but omit written examinations upon diplomatic usage while adding maritime and commercial law, political and commercial geography, arithmetic, and political economy.
During the four years prior to November, 1913, some seventy-five men, about half of whom passed, took examinations for admission to the student interpreter corps or to the designated lower grades of the consular
1 An order of September 20, 1895, issued by President Cleveland, had provided that lesser positions in consulates or commercial agencies should be filled either by promotion within the service or after qualifying examinations. The order was little regarded in practice.
or after commercial resident Cle
service. When the first examinations since the change in the partisan control of the national administration were held, in January, 1914, for consuls, consular assistants, and student interpreters, one hundred and forty-four men were examined, and of these fifty-six were reported as having passed. Similar examinations for secretaries in the diplomatic service had been taken in November, 1913, by thirty-seven men, ten of whom passed.
One of the earlier unsuccessful candidates, a young man characterized by a professor in a New England university as “one of the best students I ever had in the advanced course in diplomatic history,” gives in a letter the following interesting account of his unsatisfactory personal experiences:
The schedule of the examinations, which of course may be changed at any time, was written on the first two days and the oral on the third day. Each candidate is given a number at the start and is known by that number for the rest of the exams. In the written exams, time is a great drawback. Enough time is given for the law, four hours being allowed for it, but on all other exams. there is not enough time allowed.
I had flattered myself that I knew something about international law until I took the exam. * * * Three-fourths of the questions are cases to be decided.
On the histories and on diplomacy I feel sure I did well and they were not difficult after the books I had been through with you.
The “language" is almost impossible. The time allowed is only one hour and a half and even the best of our bunch failed to complete it. The letter to translate was not very difficult but the English letter to put back into the language you offer is next to impossible. * * * I'll wager a teacher of the language couldn't complete the exam. in the time allotted.
The paper on commercial, industrial, and natural resources of the U.S. was also impossible and it is mostly luck as they can ask most anything they choose. *
The oral exam. is not so hard as everyone imagines. We were examined in groups of six by —
- and a board of four other men. They have an interpreter who converses with you in the language you offer, but it only lasts about two minutes for each person. He asked each of our six to describe the city of Washington. The rest of the exam. is in English and they ask you anything under the sun, law, current events, etc. If a man keeps his nerve the ordeal is not as bad as one thinks and I enjoyed it more than any other part of the exams.
Regarding all of these examinations, it must be remembered that they are simply qualifying tests for men who have succeeded, through customary methods of political influence and recommendation, in being designated by the President for possible appointments. Such examinations are not open to all applicants. They are not competitive or determinative. As ex-Secretary of State John W. Foster remarks in his book, Practice of Diplomacy, they do “not remove admission into the service from the baneful influence of political favoritism, and hence offer the young men of the country little encouragement to prepare themselves for the diplomatic career.” The same point is thus stated by a professor in a Mississippi Valley university where training courses for foreign service are offered:
We have not felt warranted in urging students to take these courses with a view to entering governmental service because it is impossible to assure any one of a position afterwards. The support and approval of the Senators is still necessary to secure appointments, even when the examinations are passed. * * * The number of students who have attempted to follow out our program of studies in preparation for the Consular and Diplomatic Service has been quite small. If my memory is correct, there have been only two students who completed all the work and qualified for the government examinations. One took the tests and entered the diplomatic service. The other, Mr. finding that the number of men allotted to – – was full at the time he was ready and that there was little hope of his getting an appointment in the Consular service for three or four years, even if he passed the examinations, did not take the tests, but entered business instead.
An effort to learn particulars about the training of candidates who have taken qualifying examinations has met with unsatisfactory results. “It is not possible to give you information regarding the training of all the candidates without considerable research,” writes Mr. Miles M. Shand, Chief of the Bureau of Appointments. “I will say to you, however, that all the diplomatic service candidates (ten out of thirty-seven) who were successful in the examinations had college training. Forty of the successful candidates (fifty-six out of one hundred and forty-four) in the consular service examination had college training. All of these men, however, were not graduates of colleges and universities, and I may say that many of the unsuccessful candidates also had college training." Out of sixteen well known colleges and universities which have been announcing courses training men for diplomatic and consular services, all but one or two report extremely small numbers of students
pursuing these courses. Almost no students carry through such courses to obtain degrees, diplomas, or certificates. For example, a dean in a certain large State university writes that for some six years his institution “has carried the announcement of the course mentioned, but in that time only a half-dozen men have taken it, and not one of them has taken any government examinations, nor has one of them gone into the consular service." Most candidates who have had sufficient influence to be "specially designated by the President for appointment * subject to examination, and subject to the occurrence of an appropriate vacancy,” naturally resort to tutors or to “cramming" schools where instructors make a special study of the trend of the government's examinations in order to coach students with immediate reference to expected tests.
The scope of college and university courses to give training for foreign service must necessarily include at least the minimum set forth in the regulations of the Department of State for its qualifying examinations. Good command of written and spoken English is made fundamental, not merely technical correctness in composition and speech, but also facility in expression, are expected. One foreign language, French, German, or Spanish must be readily used, orally and in writing. Computations in arithmetic, especially as applied to commercial life, must be mastered. The political and commercial geography of the world are to be understood, together with wide and accurate knowledge of the resources and commerce of the United States. The facts of American history, the structure and principles of our government, the institutional organizations and processes of our own country, are to be clearly apprehended. The broad field of political economy must be covered. The history of Europe, South America and the Far East since 1850 is another inclusive field. Then international law, with diplomatic usage, and maritime and commercial law, close the list of subjects. Finally the candidates must give evidence of general fitness in his personal qualities and attainments.
Training for “public service” approximating these formal requirements has been announced by Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Pennsylvania, George Washington, Northwestern, California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Miami, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Missouri Universities, and by Dartmouth and Pennsylvania State Colleges. Except for the lack of historical