Summary of Content: A typed form letter written on the letterhead of the Department of State. Written by Acting Secretary of State Adee to various diplomats and consular officers. Introduces retired Rear Admiral John G. Walker as President of the Isthmian Canal Commission, who is traveling abroad to make investigations to enable him to prepare a report on the feasibility of a canal to the President and Congress. The Department of State wants Walker to be given every proper official courtesy so his mission can succeed. Also includes a small printed map of the proposed canal routes through Nicaragua and Panama (7.5 x 11.8 cm).
Background: Adee got his start in diplomacy by becoming the private secretary of Daniel Sickles, whom Adee accompanied to Madrid when Sickles was named the U.S. Minister to Spain in 1869. While in Madrid, Adee met and was befriended by John Hay, who was then the Secretary of the U.S. Legation there. Adee stayed at the Legation in Madrid for eight years, then returned to the United States in 1877 to take a temporary secretary position in Washington, DC with the State Department. A year later, he was named the Chief of the department’s Diplomatic Bureau. In 1882, he was promoted to Third Assistant Secretary, and in 1886, he was promoted again to Second Assistant Secretary, a position he would hold until his death 38 years later. The apex of Adee’s career came during the Spanish-American War in 1898. The Secretary of State, John Sherman, was old and in poor health, and the Assistant Secretary of State, William R. Day, was inexperienced in diplomacy, which meant that Adee, as the third-ranking officer in the department, effectively supervised U.S. diplomacy during a war. In September of that year, with both Sherman and Day having left the department, Adee became acting Secretary of State in name as well as fact for two weeks, until John Hay returned from England to take over as the new Secretary. Adee was again in effective charge of the State Department during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, because Hay was ill and the Assistant Secretary was away from Washington.