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Items from the Secretary's office donated to National museum of american diplomacy
Madam Secretary Artifacts in the United States Diplomacy Center Collection
Madam Secretary Artifacts in the United States Diplomacy Center Collection 1000 668

Madam Secretary Artifacts in the United States Diplomacy Center Collection

In 2019, the United States Diplomacy Center was pleased to receive a donation of set and prop items from the beloved CBS television show Madam Secretary. CBS Television Studios, Revelations Entertainment, and the show’s creators Barbara Hall, Lori McCreary, and Morgan Freeman made this generous gift possible.

The donation includes iconic pieces from the title character Elizabeth McCord’s State Department office, including her desk, globe, costumes, and other props. These items will become a part of the museum’s permanent collection and will be showcased in an upcoming exhibit. The items from the show will become a valuable entry point to our museum for visitors who have only understood the work of American diplomacy through the television show.

Diplomacy Center Director Mary Kane notes, “Madam Secretary has brought to life the important and tireless work of dedicated American diplomats who represent our nation around the world and in Washington, DC. We are honored to recognize this successful show by including artifacts from the production as part of our permanent collection. We are grateful to CBS Television Studios and Revelations Entertainment for this generous donation. These items will become a focal point of our popular culture exhibit, giving us a compelling and dynamic way to engage our audience who may have been introduced to the work and language of diplomacy through this television show.”

Chronicle of Freedom
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Original image of old newspaperThis original August 3, 1789 issue of The Independent Gazetteer or the Chronicle of Freedom provides notice of and complete text of the July 27, 1789 act establishing the Department of Foreign Affairs. This legislation enacted what is the core law for the Department of State today. The original Department of Foreign Affairs (with the name changed to Department of State the same year) originally had a staff of 5 people under the first Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, who had just finished serving as United States minister to France. The original State Department was located in a building on Broadway in New York, before being moved to Philadelphia in 1790 and later to Washington DC. When President Washington appointed the first 17 US consular officers, the officials were Americans who happened to be engaged in trade in particular cities with no salaries provided by the government. The Gazetteer was published in Philadelphia from 1782-1790.

A diplomatic crisis
A diplomatic crisis 150 150
old spectacles on minimalistic background

Fake eyeglasses
Issued to Kathleen Stafford as part of her disguise to escape Tehran 1980

The Iran Hostage crisis ranks as one of the most traumatic diplomatic crises in U.S. history. In the wake of a successful revolution by Islamic fundamentalists against the pro-American Shah of Iran, the United States became an object of virulent criticism and the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was a visible target. On November 4, 1979, Iranian students seized the embassy and detained more than 50 Americans staff as hostages. The Iranians held the American diplomats hostage for 444 days.

A few Americans inside the embassy compound managed to escape. Kathleen Stafford was a Foreign Service spouse working as a visa clerk in the consulate within the U.S embassy in Tehran at the time of the takeover. She, along with her husband Joseph Stafford, Robert Anders, Cora Amburn-Lijek, Mark Lijek and Lee Schatz, managed to escape the initial breach of the embassy through a consulate back door that led to an unoccupied alleyway. The escapees divided into two groups to avoid attention. Stafford and her group evaded capture by moving from vacant house to vacant house for a few days before finding more lasting refuge at the homes of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor and Consul General John Sheardown, who welcomed them despite great personal risk.

The group of six would remain guests of the Canadian diplomats for almost three months until a CIA extraction operation lead by Tony Mendez, and made famous by the movie “Argo,” allowed them to escape Iran on January 28, 1980 by posing as a film production team. The CIA agents gave Kathleen this pair of fake eyeglasses as part of her costume for the day of escape. Kathleen and the other “houseguests” had to memorize their cover stories, take on fake personas, and carry fake documentation that would allow them to surreptitiously pass through Revolutionary Guard security at the Tehran airport.

Crowd of soldiers walk by citizens in a black and white photo with Austrian Alps in background
Medal of Freedom
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The Consulate General had its windows and doors blown in or out several times, and all of us had narrow escapes, but no one was actually hit, a miracle in view of the thousands of flying and rocket bombs directed our way. We owe our lives to Divine intervention and to the efficiency of the 50th American Anti-Aircraft Brigade under the able command of Brigadier General Clare H. Armstrong.

James H. Keeley, quoted in Foreign Service Journal, September 1945

a bronze medal on a gray background

James H. Keeley, American Civilian, for exceptionally meritorious achievement which aided the United States in the prosecution of the war against the enemy in Continental Europe, as United States Consul-General, Antwerp, Belgium, from 7 November 1944 to 30 March 1945. He contributed greatly to the maintaining of security and the averting of panic among the civilian population of Antwerp. His successful efforts greatly aided the war effort and reflect high credit upon him. 29 Nov 1945

May 8th is celebrated in Europe and in the United States as Victory in Europe Day, or V-E Day. On this day in 1945, the Allied forces accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, paving the way for the end of World War II.

During the war, the port of Antwerp, Belgium was crucial for logistical support for Allied forces. On October 12, 1944, Nazi forces commenced V-bomb attacks on both Antwerp and London. Known as Vergeltungswaffe (vengeance weapon), V-bombs were imprecise and killed almost exclusively civilians. By March 1945, more V-bombs had fallen on greater Antwerp than London.

The V-bomb attacks in Antwerp killed more than 3,400 civilians and 700 allied service personnel. In almost six months of terror, there were just 12 days when no bombs fell.

During this entire time, Foreign Service Officer James H. Keeley bravely served as Consul General at U.S. Consulate Antwerp. For his successful efforts during wartime, President Truman awarded him this Medal of Freedom in 1945. Keeley is credited as contributing “…greatly to the maintaining of security and the averting of panic among the civilian population of Antwerp.” Keeley also gave credit to the bravery and endurance of the local Belgian consulate staff who did not leave the post.

Photograph of Wolfgang J. Lehmann (far left) in Austria in the early 1950s, sitting with former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt (far right) and fellow embassy staff member B.J. McGuigan (center) for a press conference.
Evacuation under pressure
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Wolfgang J. Lehmann served as a Foreign Service Officer from 1951 to 1983, experiencing significant events in diplomatic history during the cold war era. The Diplomacy Center recently collected several artifacts representing his distinguished career that spanned eight presidential administrations.

Lehmann’s Foreign Service assignments included: Political Officer U.S. Embassy Vienna; supervisor of the U.S. Refugee Relief Program; Public Affairs Advisor for European Affairs at the Department of State; Political Advisor to the U.S. European Command in Germany; Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Saigon; Consul General, Frankfurt, Germany; and Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence.

Examples from his collection include this engaging photograph of Lehmann (far left) in Austria in the early 1950s, sitting with former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt (far right) and fellow embassy staff member B.J. McGuigan (center) for a press conference. In Saigon, he managed the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy under fire during the last days of the conflict in Vietnam. His day planner from 1975 records the 2 days of the evacuation, April 29th and 30th. A few days later, he received a copy of this telegram from President Gerald Ford, thanking the ambassador and his staff for the safe evacuation under tremendous pressure.

Telegram from President Gerald Ford, thanking the ambassador and his staff for the safe evacuation under tremendous pressure.

Telegram from President Gerald Ford, thanking the ambassador and his staff for the safe evacuation under tremendous pressure.

day planner with notes included, Tuesday and Wednesday

Wolfgang J. Lehmann’s day planner from 1975 records the two days of the evacuation from Vietnam, April 29th and 30th.

Document of Martin Van Buren's Secretary of State Commission
Signed by President Jackson, and Hamilton’s son
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Martin Van Buren served as the 10th U.S. Secretary of State and the 8th President of the United States. He entered politics in 1813 and served as a New York state senator, a U.S. Senator, and later as New York governor. He resigned to join President Andrew Jackson’s cabinet as U.S. Secretary of State, serving from 1829 until 1831. Following his tenure as Secretary, Van Buren was elected Vice President under Jackson (1833-1837) and then was elected President, serving until 1841.

His accomplishments as Secretary of State include a settlement with Great Britain to allow trade with the British West Indies, a settlement with France gaining reparations for property seized during the Napoleonic Wars, as well as a commercial treaty with the Ottoman Empire that granted U.S. traders access to the Black Sea.

Van Buren’s Secretary of State commission is one of the oldest items in the Diplomacy Center collections. James Alexander Hamilton, the third son of founding father Alexander Hamilton, was acting Secretary of State at the time and signed this commission. Even today, the acting Secretary of State signs the incoming Secretary’s commission.

Historically, several people have sought the presidency either before or after serving as Secretary of State. Martin Van Buren was one of six Secretaries of State to later successfully win the presidency. This includes: Thomas Jefferson; James Madison; James Monroe; John Quincy Adams; Martin Van Buren; and James Buchanan.

United States flag and pole
A Symbol and an Inspiration
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This flag graced the office of Colonel Ron Roughead, Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in Kenya, at U.S. Embassy Nairobi. On August 7, 1998, in coordinated attacks by al Qaeda terrorists, U.S. Embassies Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were devastated by car bombs. Embassy Nairobi and the surrounding neighborhood suffered extensive damage and loss of life.

After the attack, the Embassy Nairobi Marine Security Guards made an initial sweep of the embassy building searching for survivors and recovering victims. The Marines found this flag in Colonel Roughead’s office along with a roll of masking tape. Knowing that the flag on the pole outside the entrance to the Embassy had been blown off by the blast, they taped this flag to the exterior window frame. During the initial days after the attack, it was a symbol that the U.S. embassy and the personnel were still standing proudly even though they had been hit very hard.

Colonel Roughead kept the flag exactly as it was when it was taken down, including the masking tape. He displayed the flag outside his home on every anniversary of the bombing, as well as every Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day and 4th of July. In donating this flag to the Diplomacy Center, he expressed his hope that it gives inspiration to our nation’s diplomats and military serving on the front lines.

Ambassador Dubs in Afghanistan holding flag
“I would rather sacrifice my life…”
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Letter from Ambassador Adolph Dubs to his daughter Lindsay March 3, 1973. This letter was donated to the Diplomacy Center from Letter from Lindsay in 2018.

Letter from Ambassador Adolph Dubs to his daughter Lindsay March 3, 1973. This letter was donated to the Diplomacy Center collection from Lindsay in 2018.

Adolph “Spike” Dubs was a career Foreign Service Officer and noted Soviet expert. In 1973-74 he served as charge d’affaires at Embassy Moscow, and in 1978, he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan.

On February 14, 1979, Ambassador Dubs and his driver were stopped in their car by armed militants posing as police. They overpowered both of them and forced the driver to take them to the downtown Kabul Hotel. There they held Ambassador Dubs at gunpoint and demanded the release of a political prisoner. Despite pleas from U.S. officials to keep the situation as calm as possible while they tried to negotiate the ambassador’s release, Afghan and accompanying Soviet officials hastily mounted a heavily armed rescue attempt. Ambassador Dubs was assassinated during the attempted rescue. The exact identity and motive of these kidnappers still remains a mystery.

Ambassador Dubs was a prolific letter writer during his diplomatic career. He kept in close contact with his daughter Lindsay who was in her 20s during this time. He opened his correspondence with “My Dearest Lindsay,” and relayed details of his official duties, conversations, and trips to local sites. He also dispensed fatherly advice, concern, and encouragement – all communicating how much he loved and missed her.

Six years prior to Dubs’ assassination, U.S. Ambassador to Sudan Cleo Noel was kidnapped and assassinated by a terrorist group. Ambassador Dubs wrote to Lindsay on March 3, 1973, and included his thoughts about this tragedy. His words sadly predicted the same situation in which he would find himself in Kabul. He wrote:

…we cannot afford to give in to the ransom demands made by thugs who direct such organizations as the Black September Group. I personally don’t like to think of being any kind of a martyr; but if I were ever taken in a situation such as that which occurred in Khartoum, I would want Washington to understand that I would rather sacrifice my life than to have someone capitulate to the demands of terrorists.

The next time a U.S. ambassador was killed at post was in 2012, with the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi, Libya. Read the full letter in high resolution or learn about contributing to the collection.

Sports Diplomacy
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What do sports have to do with diplomacy?

People are at the heart of diplomacy. The U.S. Department of State engages youth, students, educators, artists, athletes, and rising leaders around the world and the United States through many types of exchange programs, striving to reflect the diversity of the U.S. and the global society. Sports exchanges have long proven to be a popular venue to bring people of all backgrounds together, oftentimes paving the way for further discussion and collaboration.

Ping pong diplomacy:

Zhuang Zedong, the Chinese ping pong player whose chance interaction with an American player helped lead to the “ping pong diplomacy” of the 1970s, presented this inscribed paddle to former Secretary Kissinger in 2007.

Baseball base:

This base was in play during innings 4 through 6 of the March 22, 2016, exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team at Estadio Latinoame, Havana, Cuba. U.S. President Barack Obama and his family and Cuban President Raoul Castro attended the game. The game occurred during Obama’s historic visit to Cuba after the two countries re-established official diplomatic relations in 2015.

Gift Exchange
Gift Exchange 150 150

What type of gifts do Secretaries of State receive?

Secretaries of State receive wide variety gifts from many foreign officials and private citizens around the world. Gift giving is an age-old diplomatic tradition and is a common ceremonial aspect of diplomatic visits. Oftentimes, the gift reflects the tastes and personality of the giver. The gift may also reflect the culture and natural resources of the giver’s country of origin. There are laws setting limits on the gifts that government officials are allowed to personally keep. The Diplomacy Center has a selection of gifts to Secretaries of State in its collection. A few examples include:

 

Personalized tea set:

In the late 1990s, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright played a key role in managing the U.S. response, through NATO, to the hostilities that broke out in the Kosovo/Serbia region.  One of the tools she utilized was what she called “conference call diplomacy” where she participated in a daily conference call with her foreign minister counterparts to share information and plan strategy during this war.  The core participants were Foreign Ministers Robin Cook (UK), Hubert Vedrine (France), Joschka Fischer (Germany), and Lamberto Dini (Italy).  Additionally, regular communications included Foreign Ministers Igor Ivanov (Russia) and Lloyd Axworthy (Canada).  Their constant communication not only resulted in a strong NATO response to the tragedy unfolding in the region, but also a strong friendship based on trust and a common understanding of the partnership.

 

These foreign ministers gathered at a dinner in Paris in January 2001 to honor Secretary Albright as she finished her tenure as Secretary of State.  Igor Ivanov presented Secretary Albright with a spectacular blue and white Russian porcelain tea set.  The 7 cups in the set feature the images of the faces of Secretary Albright and these six foreign minister counterparts [Igor Ivanov (Russia), Robin Cook (UK), Hubert Vedrine (France), Joschka Fischer (Germany), Lloyd Axworthy (Canada), and Lamberto Dini (Italy)].  The set’s round tray is inscribed “Madeleine and Her Dream Team” in gold lettering.

 

Vodka bottle:

This bottle of vodka in the shape of an AK-47 assault rifle was a lighthearted gift from Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to Secretary Colin Powell on the occasion of his 65th birthday in 2002. Also known as a Kalashnikov rifle, it was originally designed in the 1940’s for the Soviet military. Colin Powell has recounted on a few occasions, with some humor, that he was dismayed when Protocol officials deemed this gift to be “over value” and he was not allowed to consume its contents.

 

Qadhafi gifts:

This locket and diamond ring were gifts to Secretary Condoleezza Rice from Muammar Qadhafi in 2008. She was the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit Libya in over 50 years and was the most senior U.S. official to ever meet with Colonel Qadhafi. The locket has Qadhafi’s image engraved on the inside. It was well known that he had a “crush” on Secretary Rice. He lavished her with praise during her visit. About the historic visit, Secretary Rice said: “This demonstrates that the United States does not have permanent enemies. It demonstrates that if countries are prepared to make strategic changes in direction, the United States is prepared to respond.”

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