This book is a history of the United States Consular Service, an unheralded, but significant element in the promotion of American commerce and influence abroad from the Revolution onward. A group of relatively minor officials, appointed by the vagaries of political patronage and virtually ignored by successive Secretaries of State, American consuls were established in most major foreign ports and trading centers early in the history of the Republic. Consular officers were major players in America's overseas presence because of their special responsibility for seamen and shipping. They were the officials most concerned with the Barbary pirates and worked with the United States Navy to remove them from the Mediterranean. Until 1822 they were the only official representative of the U.S. government in the emerging republics of Latin America. American consuls in Britain helped prevent the Confederates from assembling and supplying a fleet out of European ports. The Spanish-American War was essentially a "consular war"-fought in colonial territories where consuls supplied intelligence and support for American miliary actions. The American Consul is a long overdue history of the Consular Service. It introduces, through brief histories, anecdotes, and vignettes, some of the men sent abroad by an imperfect system to represent our country. It is an evolving chronicle of their contributions to the expansion of American influence from the start of the Revolutionary War to the eve of the First World War, when American diplomats assumed the predominant role in America's foreign relations. This book is must reading for anyone interested in American diplomatic history.