The United States in Asia: A Historical Dictionary

The United States in Asia: A Historical Dictionary

The United States in Asia: A Historical Dictionary

The United States in Asia: A Historical Dictionary


"Shavit's historical dictionary addresses the critical need in academic libraries for reference sources that provide undergraduate and beginning graduate students of American foreign policy with introductory information on the persons, events, and institutions that have influenced US relations with other nations. . . . a useful dictionary." Choice


The United States involvement in Asia has been long and significant. It began in the seventeenth century, when several Americans went to India in the service of the East India Company. Direct U.S. contacts with Asia began in 1784, after the United States became independent. The Empress of China and the United States led the way of many trade vessels. American merchants found new opportunities in Asia and, by 1790, every major port between Salem, Massachusetts, and Norfolk, Virginia, had sent trade vessels to China, India, Sumatra, and the Philippine Islands.

The American presence in China during the first half of the nineteenth century loomed particularly large. American merchants played a major role in the China trade, including opium. The commercial and trade interests led to formal relationships and commercial treaties with Asian countries not under European colonial rule. Treaties were signed with Siam in the 1830s, with China in the 1840s, with Japan in the 1850s, and with Korea in the 1880s. The United States was granted commercial privileges in China and later also in Japan and Korea. The U.S. desire to acquire a sphere of economic influence and to support its trade interests in China led to the adoption of the Open Door policy, which it followed until World War II.

U.S.-Asian religious interactions had been established by the 1820s. Led by Adoniram Judson in Burma, thousands of American missionaries worked in Asia. (There were more than three thousand American missionaries in China in 1930.) They were involved not only in the spread of Christianity but also in the spread of Western education, medicine, technology, and culture. American missionary societies established colleges in the various countries of Asia (fourteen in China alone) and scores of schools and hospitals. American missionaries also led the way in the study of the language, religion, culture, and history of the Asian countries.

American adventurers served as leaders of the Chinese army that restored imperial authority over the Taiping rebels. Americans served in the Chinese Imperial Customs Service and other similar agencies, and as military, diplomatic . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.