A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

History: Matawan Journal Applauds US Stand Against Austrian Antisemitism (1885)

The Matawan Journal makes significant editorial comment on what later became known as the Keiley Incident. President Grover Cleveland had attempted to appoint Anthony M Keiley as US ambassador, first to Italy and then to Austria. The US launched a harsh exchange with Austria, captured in the Journal's 22 August 1885 article. The editors applauded the US Government's bristly response to the Austrian Court, which rejected the enjoy, supposedly because he was a weak Catholic, but in actuality because he was married to a Jewish woman.

Keiley served in the Petersburg Rifles during the US Civil War and later became the Mayor of Richmond (1871-1875) and its city attorney. Cleveland eventually was able to place him at the International Court of Appeals in Cairo, Egypt, where he eventually became Chief Justice. After his wife died in Cairo, Keiley traveled Europe, meeting his end on the streets of Paris, where he was struck by a horse and died. (See Civil War Memoirs, Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, VA; and An Old Man at the Battle of Petersburg: Anthony M Keiley, The Siege of Petersburg Online)

The Matawan Journal, 22 Aug 1885 edition, pg 3 col 1:

We mentioned last week that Minister Keiley was not accepted by the Austrian Government to represent the United States because of his wife being a Jewess, and that sect is not recognized in the Austrian Court. Secretary Bayard has permitted the correspondence between this country and Austria relative to the matter to be made public. Secretary Bayard wrote to the Emperor of Austria that the Republic not only does not recognize, but has a profound contempt for, race or religious distinctions, and cannot be expected to consider them for the purpose of humoring other people's prejudices. He further intimates that while the Austrian ambassador will be treated with social and official courtesy so long as he remains here, the Government would not be offended if that gentleman were called back to Austria. In other words, if Austria cannot accept the Minister that America honors, America has no use for Austria nor her ambassador. We like that dignified grit and manhood that thus defends America and her principles. If Austria doesn't like it, America can only say: "Not to know me argues yourself unknown."

The previous week's article (15 Aug 1885 edition, pg 3 col 1) made no mention of the reason why the ambassador's assignment was declined.

The State Department is in receipt of a dispatch from the secretary of the American legation at Vienna to the effect that the Austrian government has declined to receive Minister Kelley. No reason is assigned.


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