It is a well-known fact that Theodore Roosevelt was and still is one of the most popular presidents of the United States. It is also somewhat known that he had a relatively brief, and relatively good relationship with Count Albert Apponyi, one of the most influential politicians of Hungary in the first three decades of the twentieth century. Perhaps a somewhat lesser known fact is that Roosevelt visited Hungary in 1910. As part of a European tour in the spring of that year, Theodore Roosevelt spent three days in Hungary. The courtesy visit was made into a huge and significant- looking event in Hungary behind which there were certain wishes, bitterness, and propaganda aims on the part of the Hungarian political leadership. Hungary hoped by the virtue of the ex-President’s visit to prove the country’s equal standing with Austria within the Dual Monarchy. Furthermore, the well-educated Roosevelt knew exactly what his hosts wanted to hear and, accordingly, although inadvertently, he kindled the flames of Hungarian independence, a concept with which he did not agree. The paper wishes to tell the story of Theodore Roosevelt’s short stay in Hungary as well as the importance, and lack of consequences, of such a visit.
The history of American-Hungarian relations has enjoyed renewed interest in the past thirty years. Despite this fact, there are still many uncovered or poorly documented episodes and persons concerning this academic territory. This article wishes to shed some light on one such character and period. It was in 1922 that the United States and Hungary established official diplomatic relations for the first time. Consequently the two countries exchanged ministers; thus, a long line of American ministers began to come and reside in Hungary. The very first of them was Theodore Brentano, who served five years in Budapest, between 1922 and 1927, but who seems to have disappeared from historical memory in both countries. Since 2022 marks the centenary of establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries, this article will introduce Theodore Brentano, the first American minister for Hungary and his work there. Brentano's years coincided with momentous events in Hungary in the post-Trianon era and were a time of relatively active relations between Washington and Budapest. Using primary and secondary sources alike, this article will hopefully illustrate a sorely missed part of the history of American-Hungarian history and rekindle interest in what took place a century ago.
This article would like to serve as an addition to the perceived historical picture of Hungary in the Anglo-Saxon world, relying on articles published in British but mainly in American daily newspapers and magazines in the 1920s and 1930s. While some of the articles were by Hungarian authors or authors with Hungarian origins, the majority was not and, so they give a good indication about the impressions that Anglo-Saxon peoples were both having and getting about Interwar Hungary. One can find voices from both the Left and Right of the political spectrum, positive and negative interpretations of Hungary alike in such well-known periodicals as The New Republic and Foreign Affairs, or lesser known outlets as The Living Age or Current History. In addition, the study invites the opinion of several American ministers who served in Hungary in the examined period. There unpublished opinions about their host country add further nuances to the picture of Hungary and Hungarians in American minds. These opinions together, ranging from domestic policies to the foreign policy issues that all sprang from the Paris peace treaties, also contributed to the larger understanding of Hungarian political and cultural issues. This picture is a colorful one, spanning from politics to economics, from cultural to psychological aspects.
The one hundredth anniversary of the end of World War I and the subsequent peace negotiations will inevitably become a historical focal point. Accordingly, this article will deal with American involvement in Europe, but especially in Hungarian affairs with regards to the private realm rather than the official spectrum. American participation always bordered official yet unofficial conduct, which is even truer for the successor countries in Central Europe. A few Americans visited Hungary during the Peace Conference in various capacities. Although their official work has been to a large degree uncovered by historians, their private work still remains elusive. Hence, the diary of such an American officer will shed light on various interesting angles of American thinking of the era and the relationship between American representatives and various Hungarians of the day. The article will introduce Charles Moorfield Storey’s journal, a significant part of which was written while he was in Hungary in the first few weeks of 1919. Storey was a member of the famous Coolidge Mission, whose headquarters was in Vienna. From here Americans set out to visit and gather information on the various countries in their purview, Hungary among them. Based upon the diary entries, one can learn about daily work of the Americans at the Paris Peace Conference, the Coolidge Mission, and Storey’s experience in Hungary shortly after the conclusion of the war.
Although a score of new studies have been published about the various aspects of the history of American–Hungarian relations in the past three decades, there are still a considerable number of uncovered chapters. The present article will introduce one of the American ministers who served in Hungary in the interwar years. Nicholas Roosevelt came from a well-known family that gave two presidents to the United States in the first half of the twentieth century, and the name helped him throughout his storied career. Since he had visited Hungary at the time of the establishment of the Hungarian Soviet Republic in March 1919, he had first-hand experience regarding his host country. His service as American minister (1930–1933) fell in the first years of the unfolding Great Depression, which defined the basic conditions for Hungary, as well for the United States and Europe. Nicholas Roosevelt was an avid writer, and he left behind a plethora of both private and official documents containing, among other things, his thoughts and opinions about Hungary and Hungarians. Building this as a primary source, along with a number of secondary sources, the article will bring closer the economically and politically shaky days of Hungary in the early 1930s through the eyes of the American minister posted in Budapest, thereby enriching our knowledge about the relations between the two countries.