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[Publisher Frank Crigler]

Frank Crigler is publisher of “American Diplomacy” and president of newly-formed non-profit corporation
American Diplomacy Publishers. He lives in Durham, North Carolina. His biographic sketch was published in Vol. I, No. 3 of this journal.

We Begin to Get Serious

When editor Henry Mattox and I set out on this journey not quite two years ago, we had no clear idea where our Internet pathway would lead us. But we were convinced there was a place in cyberspace for a journal that paid serious attention to America’s diplomatic history and the contemporary practice of diplomacy. And although neither of us knew much about the World Wide Web or the technology behind it, we were certain it was the wave of the future for anyone interested in the exchange of ideas.

Both of us were “graduates” of the Foreign Service; in fact, as young officers we had both learned to express ourselves in diplomat-speak under the severe tutelage of two great Department of State editors, Elizabeth Hyman and Mary Manzolli. Decades later, we had both moved on to other pursuits that built upon our experiences as journeyman diplomats — Henry as a scholar and historian, and I as a consultant, teacher, and writer. But we both yearned for ways we might share what we had seen and learned with others and thus foster a better understanding of what the business of diplomacy was all about.

American Diplomacy was born when we discovered we were not alone in our yearning. For whatever reason, the Research Triangle area of North Carolina had become a sort of Mecca both for ex-Foreign Service people and for scholars with a special bent for diplomatic history. A group of us veterans (some still more comfortable writing with ink pens and yellow tablets, never mind word processors) gathered for lunch and decided Henry and I should give it a shot; after all, publishing words of wisdom on the Internet (whatever that was) must certainly be cheaper and easier than publishing them in print.

Mainly by trial-and-error — and most certainly on a shoestring — Henry and I cobbled together four quarterly issues and mounted them on a website borrowed from the University of North Carolina. Henry had collected some top-quality content from our colleagues and professional friends, and I managed to jiggle it into HTML shape (more or less) for Netscape browsers. Our little group was pleased as punch at how it looked, but we really had no idea whether anyone else was aware or cared what we were doing.

[Lycos Top 5% award] … until Lycos came along and revealed, to our astonishment, that we had an appreciative audience in cyberspace (see Signs of Intelligent Life Out There! in our last issue). Encouraged, we boldly put a “hit counter” and a “free subscription” offer on our next issue, and the response confirmed that our project had redeeming social value. So we decided it was time to get serious.

Our little group met again, elected to form a non-profit corporation, and set new, more ambitious goals for its editor and publisher. We were instructed to:

  • Reaffirm our noble professional and educational purposes,
  • Develop a modest operating budget,
  • Hire limited support staff and acquire essential equipment, and
  • Generate a sustained revenue flow (from somewhere).

So it is that, as of January 5, our little project has grown to become “American Diplomacy Publishers,” a legally-chartered North Carolina non-profit corporation now seeking tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service. Once over that hurdle, we’ll launch an appeal for financial support to foundations, corporations, and individual donors that share our belief in the importance of our nation’s diplomatic mission and our desire to see it better understood.

Henry and I and our loyal band of supporters think we’ve got something worthwhile going here, an enterprise that could make a significant contribution to America’s foreign relations — maybe even greater than what we made while still in Foreign Service harness.

We hope you share our goals, and we solicit your critical comments and advice on how American Diplomacy can best achieve them. (Later on, we may be back to solicit your money too, but not yet — first we must convince IRS of our noble purposes!)

Click on the yellow button below to email me your ideas!

–Frank Crigler, Publisher

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