United States Diplomacy in China, 1844-60

United States Diplomacy in China, 1844-60

United States Diplomacy in China, 1844-60

United States Diplomacy in China, 1844-60

Excerpt

SINO-AMERICAN diplomatic relations during the sixteen-year period beginning with the signing of the Treaty of Wanghia and ending with Commissioner John E. Ward's resignation in 1860 laid the foundation for future relationships between the two countries, yet this period has never received the exhaustive treatment that it merits. The mission of Caleb Cushing and the signing of the Treaty of Wanghia at the beginning of this era have been studied in detail by a number of scholars, but the subsequent relations between the United States and China have not hitherto been fully explored by historians. Many writers, both Western and Chinese, have briefly covered the events between 1844 and 1860 in their general studies of American diplomacy in the East or of China's diplomatic relations with the West. Though some of their books are excellent, they need to be revised in the light of recently discovered source materials. Moreover, the events that occurred during the Sino-American diplomatic relations of this period usually have been studied as a series of sporadic and independent incidents. Few historians have showed an interest in establishing a general trend in the formulation of foreign policy on either the Chinese or the American side. In other words, the sequence of history, to borrow a term from Henry Adams, has been generally neglected.

I have based the present study of this neglected period primarily upon official materials released by the Chinese and American governments, but I have also explored the published English and French diplomatic documents and the personal papers of numerous American statesmen, diplomats, merchants, missionaries, naval officers, and other contemporary observers. I have tried to view the history of this period not as a chronology of successive, isolated historical events but . . .

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