XINISTER, a public functionary who has the chief direction of any department in a state. See 3InsusTuv. Also the delegate or representative of a sovereign at a foreign court to treat of affairs of state. Every independent state has a right to send public ministers to, and receive them from,.any other sovereign state with which it desires to preserve relations of amity. Semi-sovereign states have generally been considered not to possess thejus legationis, unless when delegated to them by the state on which they are dependent. The right of confederated states to send public ministers to each other, or to foreign states, depends on the nature and constitution of the union by which they are bound together. The constitution of the United Provinces of the Low Countries and of the old German empire preserved this right to the individual states or princes, as do the present constitutions of the German empire and Swiss confederation. The constitution of the United States either greatly modifies or entirely takes away thejus legationis of each individual state. Every sovereign state has a right to receive public ministers from other powers, unless where obligations to the contraiy have been entered into by treaty. The diplomatic usage of Europe recognizes three orders of ministers. Ministers of the first order possess the representative character in the highest degree, representing the state or sovereign sending them not only in the particular affairs with which they are charged, but in other matters: they may claim the same honors as would belong to their constituent, if prdsent. This first class of diplomatic agents includes papal legates and nuncios, and ambassadors ordinary and extraordinary. A principle of reciprocity is recognized in the class of diplomatic agents sent. States enjoying the honors of royalty send to each other ministers of the first class; so also in some cases do those states which do not enjoy them; but it is said that no state enjoying such honors can receive ministers of the first class from those who are not possessed of them.
Ministers of the second and third order have not the same strictly representative char acter; their representation is not held to go beyond tbe affairs with which they are charged. They are, however, the natural protectors of the subjects of the state or country sending them in the country to which they are sent. Ministers of the second class include envoys, whether these are simply so styled, or denominated envoys extraordinary, and also ministers plenipotentiary. The third class of ministers does not differ from the second in the degree of their representative character, but only in the diversity of their dignity, and the ceremonial with which they are received. This class comprehends min
isters, ministers resident, ministers charges d'affaires, such consuls as are possessed of a diplomatic character, and those charges d'affaires who are sent to courts to which it is not wished to send agents with the title of minister. Ministers of the third class have, for the most part, no letters-credential from the sovereign, and are accredited only by letters to the foreign minister or secretary of the country to which they are sent.
Besides these orders of ministers, there are other diplomatic agents occasionally recog nized—as deputies sent to a congress or confederacy of states, and commissioners sent to settle territorial limits or disputes concerning jurisdiction. These are generally considered to enjoy the privileges of ministers of the second and third order. Ministers-mediators are ministers sent by two pom. ers, between which a dispute has arisen, to a foreign court, or congress, where a third power, or several powers, have, with the consent of the two powers at variance, offered to mediate between them.
Diplomatic agents, except, as already mentioned, those of the. third class, are accred ited by a letter to the sovereign of the country to which they are sent. The letter of cre dence is usually dispatched under a cachet volant—i.e., a seal which does not close the letter; or else, in addition to the principal letter, an authenticated copy is sent, which the diplomatic agent on his arrival presents to the minister or secretary for foreign affairs, as his right to demand an audience of the sovereign; the original is presented to the sov ereign. Ministers sent to a congress or diet have usually no credentials, but merely a full power, of which an authenticated copy is delivered into the hands of a directing minister, or minister-mediator. A minister of the first class is received to both public and private audiences by the sovereign to vrhorn he is accredited; a mmister of the second class generally to private audiences only. Diplomatic agents are entitled to conduct negotiations either directly with the sovereign, or with the minister or secretary for for eign affairs. The latter course is the more usual, and generally- the more convenient.
The title " excellency" has since the peace of Westphalia been accorded to all diplo matic agents of the first class; and in some courts it is extended to ministers of the second class, or at least those sent by the great powers. See AMBASSADOR, ENVOY, CON SIM. Under AMBASSADOR the immunities and privileges enjoyed by diplomatic agents are explained.