Historical Note on the Life of Anson Burlingame and the Burlingame Treaty

The year 2018 marked the 150th anniversary of the historic signing of the Burlingame Treaty of 1868 between the United States and China, a treaty duly ratified by the U.S. Senate and Emperor Tongzhi of China. It was the result of skillful diplomacy and painstaking work of Anson Burlingame, who was appointed June 14, 1861 by President Abraham Lincoln to be the first U.S. envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to China, 1860-1867, and later, upon retirement from that post, was appointed by Emperor Tongzhi of Qing Empire to be China’s special roving ambassador, 1868-1870. to the U.S. and other major Western powers in Europe, on a ice-breaking mission to help Western nations understand, then, unknown, reclusive, and frequently misunderstood China and promote better relations between China and the West based on unprecedented principles of equality fairness, reciprocity, and mutual respect. The mission would also include the renegotiation of unequal treaties signed between Western powers and militarily defeated China, such as, the Treaty of Nanjing of 1842, the Wangxia Treaty of 1844, and the Treaty of Tianjin in 1858.

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