Posted: 2:42 am ET
Last year, we blogged about John B. Williams who was appointed on 10 March 1842 by President Tyler to be United States consul at the Bay of Islands, New Zealand (see Missing From the AFSA Memorial Plaque: John Brown Williams, First American Consul to Fiji (1810-1860). He was born in Salem, Massachusetts on 20 September 1810, the seventh of nine children of Israel Porter and Elizabeth (Wait) Williams. In 1860, J.M. Brower, the United States vice consul in Fiji, informed his family that John B. Williams had died of dysentery on 19 June 1860. Read more here, here and here.
History.state.gov lists him as follows:
Establishment of Consul at Lauthala, 1844.
Commercial Agent John B. Williams was appointed the first Consul to the Fiji Islands on August 19, 1844. He was resident at Auckland, New Zealand.
On May 5, the new Secretary of State offered remarks at the Foreign Affairs Memorial Day and said he took “solace in the fact that we did not have to add any names to this plaque this year.” Yup, they forgot again to add John Brown Williams’ name on that wall. We should note the first U.S. envoy to the Far East, Edmund Roberts, who is listed on the Memorial Plaque also died of dysentery in Macau, China in 1844.
Excerpt from Secretary Tillerson’s remarks.
It’s been my great privilege to take part in the American Foreign Service Association’s Memorial ceremony honoring the service and sacrifice of the men and women who did not make it back. Even amidst the non-stop business of the State Department, and while we work at a pretty torrid pace, I think it is always important to set aside time to pay tribute to our fallen colleagues.
Although he was unable to be here today, President Trump also released a statement sending his greetings and sincere gratitude to all members of the United States Foreign Service and Civil Services at federal agencies here at home as well as at embassies and consulates around the globe. As I have gotten to know the President, I have seen firsthand how much he appreciates – and that appreciation is growing, I assure you – for the work of our hard-working public servants here, and those who serve on behalf of the nation around the world.
Each of the 248 fallen heroes and heroines whose names are engraved on the Memorial Plaque represents a unique individual life, and I think we can never lose sight of that. These men and women had families, they had loved ones they left behind, dreams unlived, plans unrealized. These names span our country’s history. From the beginning of our young republic, Americans have gone abroad representing our country, advancing our interests and values, and raising our flag. Today, I’d like to share with you some of their stories.
The first name on the plaque is William Palfrey. In 1780, this Revolutionary War veteran and former aide to George Washington was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate to be U.S. consul general to France.
I do take solace in the fact that we did not have to add any names to this plaque this year, but I know our men and women always put mission first, and though they are judicious and they take the necessary security precautions, there are inherent risks in all we do to advance America’s interest and values to keep our nation safe. As your Secretary, I promise you I will do all I can to make sure we are not forced to add another name to this wall, by making the safety of our people my highest priority, and by asking all of you to do the same, and taking action to bolster the protection of our people around the globe.
We’re tried to locate President Trump’s statement but have been unable to find it. The White House posted four statements on May 5 on its website; there’s nothing there in reference to Foreign Service Day.
05/05/17 Remarks at the Foreign Affairs Day Memorial Plaque Ceremony; Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson; Washington, DC
April 2016: Missing From the AFSA Memorial Plaque: John Brown Williams, First American Consul to Fiji (1810-1860)