A Christmas present for generations

  • From the left: United States Consul Charles Maxwell Allen in later years; the Seal of the USA Consulate at Bermuda from a letter of 1857, and on the right, the then new US Consul General Robert W. Settje paid a visit to His Excellency the Governor of Bermuda, George Fergusson, at Government House in the late summer of 2012.

    From the left: United States Consul Charles Maxwell Allen in later years; the Seal of the USA Consulate at Bermuda from a letter of 1857, and on the right, the then new US Consul General Robert W. Settje paid a visit to His Excellency the Governor of Bermuda, George Fergusson, at Government House in the late summer of 2012.

  • . From the left stand the officials at the grave of Consul Charles Maxwell Allen: US Consul General Robert Settje, Minister of Finance the Hon. Bob Richards, Member of Parliament Mr. Walton Brown, His Excellency the Governor Mr. George Fergusson, Deputy Governor Mrs. Ginny Ferson, the Bishop of Bermuda, the Rt Reverend Nicholas Dill and Reverend Musa Daba of St. Mark’s Church.

    . From the left stand the officials at the grave of Consul Charles Maxwell Allen: US Consul General Robert Settje, Minister of Finance the Hon. Bob Richards, Member of Parliament Mr. Walton Brown, His Excellency the Governor Mr. George Fergusson, Deputy Governor Mrs. Ginny Ferson, the Bishop of Bermuda, the Rt Reverend Nicholas Dill and Reverend Musa Daba of St. Mark’s Church.


US Consular Agents, Consuls and Consuls General to Bermuda, 1818–2013

CONSULAR AGENTS

William R. Higinbotham, 1818-32 (died at post)

William Tudor Tucker, 1832-46

CONSULS

Frederick B. Wells, 1846-50

William Tudor Tucker, 1850-53

John W. Howden, 1853-53 (died at post)

Frederick B. Wells, 1853-56

Henry B. Brown, 1856-59

Frederick B. Wells, 1859-61

Charles Maxwell Allen, 1861-88 (died at post)

Norman Stewart Walker,

Confederate States of America Agent 1863-65

William K. Sullivan, 1889-91

John H. Grout, Jr., 1893-94

Marshall Hanger, 1894-98

M. Maxwell Greene, 1898-1915

Earl Loop, 1915-17

Ethelbert Watts, 1918-19

Col. Alfred Swolm, 1919-22

William P. Kent, 1923-24

Robertson Honey, 1924-29

Graham H. Kemper, 1930-34

Charles H. Heisler, 1934-36

Harold L. Williamson, 1937-40

William H. Beck, 1940-49

Clay Merrell, Vice Consul 1945-49

Henry Bowman, 1949-49

John C. Pool, 1949-50

Clay Merrell, 1950-51

CONSULS GENERAL

E. Paul Tenny, 1951-53

Robert Streeper, 1953-55

Thomas J. Maleady, 1955-57

Sidney K. Lafoon, 1957-60

George W. Renchard, 1960-67

Charles N. Manning, 1967-71

Donald B. McCue, 1972-76

S. Richard Rand, 1976-80

John P. Owen, 1980-82

Max Friedersdorf, 1982-83

Melville Blake, 1984-85

Max Friedersdorf, 1985-87

James L. Medas, 1987-89

L. Ebersole Gaines, 1989-94

Robert Farmer, 1994-99

Lawrence Owen, 1999-2000

Denis Coleman, 2002-04

Gregory W. Slayton, 2005-2009

Grace W. Shelton, 2009-2012

Robert W. Settje, 2012-present

It is a testament to Allen that, although he was greeted with scorn upon his arrival in pro-Confederate Bermuda in 1861, he became a beloved figure in the postwar years and was genuinely mourned by Bermudians when he died on Christmas Eve 1888. — Glen N. Wiche, Dispatches from Bermuda

On Christmas Eve, 125 years ago, Charles Maxwell Allen, Consul for the United States to Bermuda for 27 years, passed away at his home at Flatts, at what might now be considered the tender age of 67. Allen was appointed to the Island by President Lincoln in 1861, as the civil war in the United States began its horrendous four-year duration as perhaps the first modern conflict in terms of soldiers killed in action: part of his epitaph reads: In trying times he served his country well. And so he did in a Bermuda that was leaning towards the states of the Confederacy, as the Bermudians locally and the British in distant shipyards and merchant businesses were making a fortune off the misery of that conflict, which in the end would defeat the South and emancipate its slave population.

On one occasion, Consul Allen wrote of the situation here in on the last days of 1861: ‘The Military men of which there are a great many are very busy and I am informed they have been at work all day today making cartridges and mounting guns. They seem to be of the opinion that our people will be after this Island first thing. I told them today at the dinner table: “They need have no fear, as our people would not have such a Godforsaken place as this if they could get it for nothing.”’ Despite the early hostile years, Allen grew to love Bermuda and remained on the job for the next 23 years after the cessation of the Civil War in 1865: his last child, being born here, carried the middle name of ‘Wistowe’, after their beloved home. Charles himself was born at Heath in Massachusetts in 1821, a town that was possibly founded by one of his grandparents after the other great American war, sometimes termed ‘Revolutionary’.

That conflict led to the independence and formation of the United States of America and thus Bermuda, remaining in the British fold, eventually required diplomatic representation from that new nation. The first ‘Consular Agent’ was appointed in 1818 and was followed by another of that title. From 1846, a lineage of 26 ‘Consuls’, including a ‘Confederate States of America Agent’, brought such representatives to the post World War Two year of 1951; thereafter 17 male and one female agents brought Bermuda up to date with the appointment of Robert W. Settje in the year 2012. In all a total of 46 dedicated individuals have represented the United States at the Bermuda Consulate in the last 195 years, perhaps a record run for such a diplomatic connection with a ‘foreign’ land and a gift for which all Bermudians should be grateful, at Christmas and indeed throughout the year.

Becoming aware of the monument to the former Consul in St. Mark’s Churchyard, Robert Settje thought it would be appropriate to mark the 125th year of his passing with the laying of a wreath in a small ceremony that would also celebrate the long and largely friendly relationship between Bermuda and the United States since the coming of the first Consul in 1818. He spoke from the heart as follows:

‘My long-ago predecessor Charles Maxwell Allen was a dedicated servant of the United States who took office during the troubled Civil War years. He did his job well despite myriad challenges from many in South-leaning Bermuda and eventually won the respect and affection of Bermudians. He grew to love the island and its people so much that he made Bermuda his home until his death in 1888. Today we take a moment to mark the 125th anniversary of his passing, because he serves as a symbol of the long and friendly relationship between the United States and Bermuda, as well as an example to all of us — especially during this holiday season — that despite our differences, we are bound by a common humanity that transcends politics.’

His Excellency, the Governor of Bermuda, Mr. George Ferguson attended the ceremony, as did the newly-arrived Deputy Governor, Mrs. Ginny Ferson, and for the Bermuda Government, the Hon. Bob Richards, Minister of Finance, with the historian, Mr. Walton Brown JP MP representing the Loyal Opposition. The Reverend Musa Daba of St. Mark’s Church hosted the occasion and the Anglican Church itself was also represented by the Bishop of Bermuda, the Rt Reverend Nicholas Dill. Other Consular personnel and Bermudians were also in attendance for the notes of appreciation by the Governor, Mr. Richards and Consul General Settje, and prayers by the churchmen.

While the ceremony was small, its import was large, if we as Bermudians are inclined to reflect on our beneficial relationship with the United States over two centuries at this Christmastide. On several recent occurrences, we are indebted to our cousins to the west for the building of Kindley Field, for the almost endless supply of visitors since the end of the Second War World, and for the presence of ‘International Business’, much of which derived from the United States and has been driven and fostered by citizens of that place.

Those and so many other Christmas and year-round presents we have been blessed to receive for the USA, to say little more of its splendid Consuls and the many American families who have come to love this island as their own, some of whom have real homes hereabout: Merry Christmas to all of our friends of the United States and best wishes for 2014 and thanks for all your presents throughout 2013 and previously.

Edward Cecil Harris, MBE, JP, PHD, FSA is Director of the National Museum at Dockyard. Comments may be made to director@nmb.bm or 704-5480.

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Published Dec 21, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 20, 2013 at 4:36 pm)

A Christmas present for generations

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