817.452/1: Telegram

The Minister in Nicaragua (Eberhardt) to the Secretary of State

13. The President has signed an act passed by Congress58 giving Admiral Sellers and General Feland59 the precedence accorded to ministers plenipotentiary on special mission at all official functions. The law is the result of several recent painful incidents caused by General Feland’s insistence that he be placed ahead of the British, the Italian and other charge des affaires at official functions. It has naturally aroused resentment among the members of the Diplomatic Corps.

Before the law was passed the Legation pointed out to General Feland and to Admiral Sellers the unfortunate complications which would result and the wrong impression which might be created among the representatives of other Latin American Republics by giving such unusual treatment to American military officials and suggested that it would be appropriate for General Feland himself to suggest that the project be dropped. They did not however concur in my views.

A representative of the Foreign Office informed the Legation today that the Government interpreted the law as requiring that General Feland be seated ahead of the dean of the Diplomatic Corps and myself at an official banquet to be given tonight in honor of the special delegations here for the inauguration. He was informed that would be entirely improper and it was decided that the General should be seated after the ministers but before the charge des affaires. I understand however that the General will not be able to attend.

I am reporting this matter because I fear that one of the other governments represented here will make a formal protest and that the resulting publicity will be unfortunate. We have endeavored on such occasions as Mr. Hoover’s visit and the inauguration to avoid any display which might give an impression of American military domination here and I feel that it would be very unfortunate to have attention focused on the position of the chief of [Page 643] the American military forces by a controversy over questions of precedence.

  1. The law went into effect January 4, 1929. (817.452/7)
  2. Rear Admiral David Foote Sellers, U. S. N., Commander of the Special Service Squadron; Brigadier General Logan Feland, U. S. M. C., Commander of the Second Brigade in Nicaragua.