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This name has been given to public officers, who have been commissioned, according to law, to superintend and transact the affairs of the government which has employed them, in a foreign country.
These agents are of diverse orders, and are known by different denominations. Those of the first order are almost the perfect representatives of the government by which they are commissioned; they are legates, nuncios, internuncios, ambassadors, ministers, plenipotentiaries. Those of the second order do not so fully represent their government; they are envoys, residents, ministers, charges d'affaires, and consuls.