Return to: Index of US State Department Press Statements || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

U.S. Department of State
96/12/20 Statement: Establishment of Diplomatic Relations/w Two Sicilies
Office of the Spokesman

Press Statement by Nicholas Burns/Spokesman
December 20, 1996

This Day in Diplomacy:  Establishment of Diplomatic Relations With the 
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies on December 16, 1796

Today the city of Naples will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the 
establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and the 
Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies of which Naples was capital.  The 
rapid expansion of American trade in the Mediterranean basin and a 
growing regional instability created by the French revolution and North 
African piracy required an expanded diplomatic and military presence in 
the region by the fledgling American government.  Naples, as the largest 
city on the Italian peninsula, was a major port of call for American 
merchant vessels.  Moreover, the Bourbon regime still enjoyed in the 
last years of the 18th century its reputation as one of the pioneering 
reform states of the European Enlightenment.

Until most of Italy was united in 1861 as the Kingdom of Italy, the 
United States maintained separate diplomatic and consular 
representatives at Naples.  Continuous U.S. diplomatic representation at 
the court of the Two Sicilies only began in 1831, and then, in keeping 
with the cautious regard of American republicanism toward European 
monarchies, such representation was almost always a Chargˇ d'Affaires 
rather than a full Minister.  American commerce, however, made necessary 
continuous consular representation at Naples from 1796.  For 52 years, 
from 1809 until 1861, Alexander Hammett of Maryland served continuously 
as American consul at Naples.  During his long tenure, Hammett reported 
on wars, revolutions, and the expansion of U.S. trade.  

After the unification of Italy in 1861, American consuls at Naples 
concentrated on the promotion of trade and tourism.  Beginning in the 
1880s they had a major role in facilitating the migration of thousands 
of Italians to the United States.  In the 20th century the workload 
expanded and the Naples post was raised to the level of a consulate 
general.  By 1936 the consulate general employed 58 people who provided 
assistance to American businessmen, travelers, sailors, and servicemen 
as well as to Italians citizens and government officials.  Three 
generations of the Byington family provided unique continuity at post:  
Consul A. Homer Byington (1897-1907), his son and aide Homer 
(subsequently Consul General, 1920-29), and his son Homer Byington, Jr., 
who served as a vice consul in the 1930s and returned as Consul General, 

While postwar air travel ultimately ended Naples central role in Italy's 
tourist trade, it remains a major port of call for the U.S. Navy and a 
center of trade.  The consulate general facilitates U.S.-Italian 
cooperation in anti-drug and organized crime operations, and assists in 
promoting the two-way traffic in persons, ideas, and goods that stands 
at the center of the U.S. relationship with Italy.
To the top of this page