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The title of the highest diplomatic officer. In the days immediately preceding the establishment of the American Republic the officers who were sent to Europe on diplomatic missions were officially termed commissioners. On June 1, 1785, when Marquis Carmarthen introduced John Adams to the King of Great Britain, he designated the American representative as “Ambassador Extraordinary from the United States of America to the Court of London.” When the American diplomatic service was permanently organized, the title of the highest representative was made “Envoy Extraordinary and minister Plenipotentiary,” subordinate representatives being given the title of “Ministers” or “Ministers resident.” In 1893 Congress passed an act providing that whenever a foreign government elevated its representative at [109] Washington to the rank of an ambassador, the United States government would raise its representative to that foreign government to the same rank. Under this law the American representatives to France, Great Britain, Italy, Mexico, and Russia have been raised to the higher rank, and are known officially as Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. Ambassadors, in addition to the usual privileges accorded representatives of foreign governments under diplomatic usage, have the special one of personal audience with the head of the State to which they are accredited.

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