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Papal States, Diplomatic Service To


PAPAL STATES, DIPLOMATIC SERVICE TO. The United States maintained diplomatic ties to the papal states from 1797 to 1867. Congress established a consulate in Rome in 1797 to facilitate commercial and legal transactions between Americans and the papal states. In 1848, Congress approved President James K. Polk's proposal to raise the consulate to a ministry. This action was designed to affirm the reformist Pope Pius IX, improve commercial prospects in Rome, gain influence in other Catholic states, and please the burgeoning Catholic vote at home.

Formal diplomatic relations lasted less than two decades. Tension mounted when the U.S. chargé d'affaires Nicholas Browne celebrated the republic created in the 1848 revolution as a triumph of liberty over papacy. Congress terminated the mission to Rome in 1867. As the Italian unification movement challenged papal authority, liberals regretted U.S. recognition of the nondemocratic papal government, and the minuscule level of commerce provided no rationale for continuing to fund a mission.


Schreiner, Mary Naomi. "A Study of the Relations of the American Government with the Papal States from 1797 to 1867." Master's thesis, St. John College, 1950.

Stock, Leo Francis, ed. United States Ministers to the Papal States: Instructions and Despatches, 1848–1868. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University Press, 1933.

Peter L.Hahn

See alsoCatholicism .

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