The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Koszta Affair

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Edition of 1920. See also Koszta Affair on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

KOSZTA (kō′stạ) AFFAIR, a diplomatic incident. A Hungarian refugee to the United States, named Martin Koszta, obtained his “declaration of intentions” or first citizenship papers in 1850. He visited Smyrna in 1853 and was seized by members of the crew of the Austrian brig Huzar on 21 June. Captain Ingraham, of the American war sloop Saint Louis, under instructions from the American Minister at Constantinople, demanded his release. Hearing that the prisoner was to be transported secretly to Trieste, Captain Ingraham set a time limit to the surrender and made preparations to attack the Huzar on 2 July. The prisoner was surrendered. The Austrian government issued to the European courts a note of protest against the American procedure. Baron Hülsemann, Austrian Chargé d'Affaires at Washington, asked Secretary of State Marcy “to disavow the conduct of its agents . . . hasten to call them to a severe account and tender to Austria a satisfaction proportionate to the magnitude of the outrage,” claiming the arrested man to be an Austrian citizen and the action of Ingraham violative of international law. Marcy's reply, within a month, declared Koszta was not a citizen of Austria but “that Koszta, when seized and imprisoned, was invested with the nationality of the United States, and they therefore had the right, if they chose to exercise it, to extend their protection to him; that from international law — the only law which can rightfully be appealed to for rules in this case — Austria could receive no authority to obstruct or interfere with the United States in the exercise of this right, in effecting the liberation of Koszta; and that Captain Ingraham's interposition for his release was, under the extraordinary circumstances of the case, right and proper.” The Congress passed a joint resolution of thanks to Captain Ingraham and invested him with a medal in commemoration of his services. Consult ‘Correspondence between the Secretary of State and the Chargé d'Affaires of Austria relative to the Case of Martin Koszta’ (Washington 1853); Rhoades, J. F., ‘History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850’ (New York 1910), this contains a bibliography of the controversy. See Ingraham, Duncan Nathaniel.