Books and Dissertations


Title: The Rocky Road to Liberty: A Documented History of Chinese Immigration and Exclusion
by: Sen Hu, Jielin Dong
Publisher: Chinese American Society

Title: Anson Burlingame and the First Chinese Mission to Foreign Powers
Author: Fredrick Wells Williams
In folder
Taken from the book:

“What he believed he believed with such intensity, what he spoke he spoke with such fevour, that the unbidden impulse was to believe and assent to be convinced”
On his arrival by the “overland” steamer in October 1861, Mr. Burlingame found the American legation in China located in the rented house of its charge and secretary, S. W. Williams, in the Portuguese settlement of Macao.
Mr. Burlingame’s concern in the incident known as that of the “Lay-Osborn Flotilla,” was only that of a mediator, but his tact and the close personal friendship he had cemented with the British minister enabled him to bring the Chinese to an amicable agreement in an embarrassing matter, where under less amiable guidance a rupture might have ensued.
An Englishman, Horatio Nelson Lay, the first inspector-general of the imperial customs service, was allowed to order a number of gunboats to be constructed in English for a Chinese coast patrol against pirates and smugglers. He greatly exceeded his instructions in executing the order, and in 1863 the Chinese found themselves confronted by a fleet of eight powerful steamers, in charge of English officers and crews, who were engaged to man them for a term of four years, to serve only under their English commanders and receive pay through Mr. Lay’s hands. The Chinese naturally declined to ratify an arrangement which actually involved an abdication of sovereignty in their own country. But in refusing to accept them, the vessels remained a menace to the peace of the Far East, either from pirates who might obtain them for use off the China coast, or for those feudal nobles in Japan who were upon the verge of rebellion…

Mr. Burlingame, conscious of the gravity of the crisis, and quickened by the risk to his own country, advised the Chinese, “1st, to give their reasons fully for not ratifying the offensive articles of the agreement; 2d, to thank the British Government and Captain Osborn for what they had done for them; and 3d, that inasmuch as there was a misunderstanding between them and their agent which could not be reconciled, they should request the British minister to have the flotilla returned to England under the direction of Captain Osborn, the ships sold, the men paid off and discharged, and the proceeds remitted to them. They followed this advice to the letter.”
Perhaps no single event in his life in China illustrates better than this the kind of hazards confronting a foreign minster dealing with Asiatics uninsured to the affairs of a new world, or the risks devolving which may bring a group of nations into jeopardy.
During an absence on leaving in America between the spring of 1865 and the autumn of 1866, Mr. Burlingame was able to advise the department of state upon the condition of affairs and to discuss with the secretary some proposals for future activity in China.

One suggestion embodied in a dispatch of the secretary, dated December 15, 1865, may, however, be noted as a promoting cause of the first essay made by China to examine into and report upon foreign nations through an agent of her own.
(From Seward to Burlingame) Sir: The harmonious condition of the relations between the United States and China, and the importance of the commerce between them, would make it agreeable to this government to receive from the Emperor a diplomatic representative of a grade corresponding with your own. It is true that this would be a novel, if not an unprecedented step on the part of that government…. China also may be said to have special reasons for the measure in respect to the United States, as her subjects are so numerous in this country, particularly in California. You will consequently bring this matter to the attention of that government, and may say that, if the suggestion should be adopted, it would be peculiarly gratifying to the President.
… The delegate sent to this mission is Pin-Chun, who has been acting for two or three years as revisor of custom-house returns, in connection with the foreign inspectorate, and has thus been brought into contact with foreigners and learned as much of their countries as his opportunities allowed. Before leaving the capital he was raised to the third rank, and formally introduced by Prince Kung to the foreign ministers on their New Year’s visit as his agent to their respective countries, sent on the part of the Foreign Office.
In the important matter of amending the scandal of coolie emigration from China, the foreign ministers found a comprehensive national agreement difficult at first, but they pursued, on the whole, a consistent and creditable policy, which after some years stopped the evils of kidnapping and deporting Chinese labourers.
From this reason he reports with characteristic enthusiasm…recommending the establishment of a government college for instruction in the arts and sciences of the West. .
“When I came to China, in 1861, the force policy was the rule. It was said: ‘the Chinese are conceited barbarians, and must be force into our civilization’ or, in the energetic language of time, it was said, ‘you must take them by the throat.’ Fortunately, the representatives of the treaty powers did not listen to this view. .. We were in relations for the first time with the chiefs of the government, and that it was necessary to proffer fair diplomatic action as a substitute for the old views, and to so bear ourselves as to secure the confidence of this people… Under the policy great development has occurred, mission have extended, trade has increased three fold, scientific men have been employed, ‘Wheaton’s International Law’ translated and adopted, military instruction accepted, nearly one hundred able men received into the civil service, steam-boats multiplied, the way slowly opened for future telegraphs and railroads, and now we have this great movement for education….and the intention of those now in authority is to go cautiously and steadily forward”
There has never been a moment since these hopeful lines were written when some of her own earnest and patriotic sons did not desire China to “go cautiously and steadily forward.”
The nineteenth century in centralised Japan was fermenting in decentralized China, where it was necessary to carry conviction to the mind of all her educated classes before the empire could be aroused to action.
Its manifestation on the part of Tsung-li officials was their sudden and rather desperate decision to send an embassy to the Christian powers, and entreat their further patience for a slowly awakening nation.
On November 21, 1867, Mr. Burlingame proceeded by cart with his family and a few friends on the 25th to Tientsin. ..The party should be threatened by a band of mounted brigands, and compelled to find safety in a village en route.
P.90 Prince Kung held a farewell dinner with Mr. Burlingame
“I may be permitted to add that when the oldest nation in the world, containing one-third of the human race, seeks, for the first time, to come into relations with the West, and requests the youngest nation, through its representative, to act as the medium of such change, the mission is not one to be solicited or rejected.”
In the weeks of his long journey across the Pacific, it often oppressed him with gloomy forebodings. Before he reached the Golden Gate they became at times almost unendurable. “Is it not possible,” he reasoned to himself, “that Americans may regard my acceptance of this foreign trust as a selling out of my birthright?”
..When the steamer sailed up to the wharf at San Francisco he was in a state of feverish excitement. The wharf was densely crowded. He looked from the deck of the steamer upon them, and wondered if it were possible that, in flamed by hostile criticism, they had come down there to jeer and insult him. The first man who came upon the deck before the steamer had swung round to its place was a porter, or baggage-man, who, of course, did not know him. Burlingame asked him, as coolly as possible, what all this crowd meant. “Why,” answered the man, “The whole city is here to welcome the new Chinese Minister, and the city authorities to proffer him its hospitalities.”
In Burlingame’s speech, he declared, “The mission means commerce; it means peace; it means a unification of her own interests with the whole human race. I agree with you, sir, here to-night that this is one of the mightiest movements of modern times; and although this ephemeral Mission may soon pass away, that great movement must go on. The great deed is done….I believe it represents more truly that large and generous spirit which is not too proud to learn and which is not afraid to teach; that great spirit which, while it would exchange goods with China, would also exchange thoughts with China; that would inquire carefully into the cause of that sobriety and industry of which you have made mention; that would learn something of the long experience of this people; that would question those institutions which have withstood the storms of time – as to the secret of their stability…that does not believe that the mind may no more be kindled that invented gunpowder, the compass, porcelain, paper and printing..”
Upon reaching Washington the Embassy was installed in Brown’s Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, where the great yellow flag bearing the imperial dragon floating over the roof attracted more attention than had ever before been given to the coming of new envoys to the capital. It was remarked, rather naively, at the time that the Chinese representatives were men of breeding and intellect-a suggestive commentary upon American acquaintance with the history and culture of this ancient empire.
Burlingame’s address in the White House:”We seek for China that equality without which nations and men are degraded. We seek not only the good of China, but we seek your good and the good of all mankind. We do this in no sentimental sense… We invite you to a broader trade. We invite you to a more intimate examination of the structure of Chinese civilization. We invite you to a better appreciation of the manners of that people, their temperance, their patience, their habits of scholarship…It is for the West to say whether it is for a fair and open policy, or for one founded on prejudice and on that assumption of superiority which is justified neither by physical ability nor by moral elevation.”
P.147 Burlingame Treaty draft
“This treaty recognizes China as an equal among the nations, in opposition to the old doctrine that because she was not a Christian nation she could not be placed in the roll of nations. Under the treaty the Chinese may spread their marble altars to the blue vault of heaven and may worship the spirit which dwells beyond. That treaty opens the gleaming gates of our public institutions to the students of China. That treaty strikes down the infamous coolie trade. It invites free immigration into the country of those sober and industrious people.
There is another article which is also important to China. It has been the habit of foreigners in China to lecture the Chinese and to say what they should do and what they should not do; in fact, to prefer almost a demand and say when they should build railroads, when they should build telegraphs;… This treaty denounces all such pretensions. It says particularly that it is for the Chinese themselves to determine when they will institute reforms, that they are the masters of their own affairs, that it is for them to make commercial regulations and do whatever they will, which is not in violation of the law of nations, within their territory.
I know this treaty will be attacked; you will wonder at it…But notwithstanding all this, I believe …the principles of that treaty, will make the tour of the world because it is founded in right, is founded in justice.”
On his way to Peking the new minister, Mr. J. Ross Browne, informs the state department of the amicable sentiments of the Californians in the following personal note to its chief clerk, Mr. Robert S. Chew: “It may interest you to know, that the new treaty as reported by telegraph has met with the cordial endorsement of the press of California. There is no unfriendly feeling here towards the Chinese among the influential and respectable class of the community. The objections urged against them are purely of a local and political character, and are confined chiefly to the lower class of Irish.A much more liberal sentiment now prevails on this subject than formerly…”
Throughout the country the newspaper press in commenting on the treaty re-echoed almost automatically the pleasantness and peace that had been extolled during the journeys of the Mission about the land.

American diplomacy in the Orient smqyl2

Author: John Watson Foster
Publisher: Boston, New York, Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1903.
Edition/Format: Book : EnglishView all editions and formats
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A Sketch of Relations between the United States and China

by FW Williams
Yale University, 1910

Centennial Celebration of New Berlin (birthplace of AB) azmtx9

Dissertations on Anson Burlingame

Title: Anson Burlingame A Study in Personal Diplomacy
Author: Kim, Samuel Soonki / Columbia University Dissertation
Date: 1966
In Folder

Title: Anson Burlingame, S. Wells Williams and China, 1861-1870 A Great Era in Chinese-American Relations
Author: Martin R. Ring
In Folder
Notes: Most sources are from official dispatches.

  • Burlingame’s reaction to the appointment to China P. 66-67
  • Burlingame in Ningpo, reaction to Taiping rebels P 68-69
  • Description of Burlingame’s reaction to Chinese’s adoption of national flag and message from Emperor: P 91 ” Nothing was so suggestive of the Burlingame style …”
  • Dispatch number 42 of June 20, 1863, foundation document of the cooperative policy (Note: Burlingame to Seward, June 20, 1863, Despatches, China, volume 20) P95
  • Introducing international law to china and its application
    • P108 encourage translation of “Elements of International Law”
    • P 109 proclamation regarding Confederate ship
    • P110-111 China used international law in the case of Prussia capturing Danish ships in China waters
  • Burlingame honoring Chinese government jurisdiction over chinese: P114-116
  • First farewell, ceremonies mentioning sending an envoy to the west etc. 1865 P118 -122
    • P118 note: detailed account by the interpreter included in the Despatch
  • Burlingame’s efforts to deepen the co-operative policy
    • P196-197 Pumpelly article to “neutralize the arrogance of foreigners in China’s treaty ports.” from: Pumpelly, My Reminiscences, II, 476, 552
    • the article: Raphael Pumpelly, “Western Policy in China, ” North American Review, CCXIX (April 1868)
  • Importing Chinese coolies to America P. 200
  • Tung Wen-huan and summary of his progress P. 208-209
  • British Minister’s account of the initiation of the Burlingame Mission P. 214-216 he attributed it to Wen-hsiang’s idea
  • Chapter on Burlingame Mission
  • Burlingame Treaty with commentary: religious liberty article is actually intended to protect Chinese in California against discrimination P. 256
  • Reception of the mission in Boston P. 258-259
  • Appraisal of Burlingame’s speech and mission P.261-263
  • Swatow gunboat action and reaction from Burlingame (letter to Clarendon and C’s response) P305-306
  • Clarendon letter characterize agreement as experimental P308
  • long letter to Wells Williams, January 23, 1870 (Williams Family Papers, Yale University), about rumors and negative reports on the mission, eloquent on how similar anti-Chinese missionaries are to pro-slavery Christians in US, very sympathetic to China, P320-322
  • Burlingame felt sick on 2/18/1870, “worried day and night” about the mission, died 2/23/1870 P324-325

Taken out from the Book:

P.68 [At] the port city of Ningbo, Burlingame could scarcely believe the carnage before his eyes. Heads assorted limbs, and truncated bodies lay in the street and the Taiping leaders threatened next to attack Shanghai. “They are the very incarnation of the obstruction” Burlingame wrote to Seward.
P. 88
The concession problem, which spread over the half year from November 1862 to May 1863, first involved the desire of the French consul at Ningpo to secure a concession of land for exclusive French use… Burlingame warned the Chinese of the great dangers of the concession doctrine. China might cede territory here and there, Burlingame argued, until the whole empire were ceded away and thus “its neutrality and nationality be lose.”
…[Burlingame] had secured agreement of his co-ministers at Peking, including the newly arrived French minister, against concessions. This concession is “a guarantee of the territorial integrity of the Chinese empire.”

P. 92 Burlingame’s reaction to the national flag of China
“By this act the Imperial Government, casting down the last shred of its exclusiveness, confronts us with a symbol of its power and demands a place among the nations.”

In the case involving the incoming Prussian minister to China, Baron von Rehfues, in which China used Wheaton to condemn Prussia’s capture of Danish ships in Chinese waters, China sought Burlingame’s backing for her argument that Prussia had illegally made the seizures in a “mare clausum.” …Obviously pleased that China had used international law to make its case, Burlingame played honest broker to both sides and the matter was ultimately resolved by the backdown of Prussia.

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