Burlingame, Anson

Burlingame, Anson bûrˈlĭng-gām [key], 1820–70, American diplomat, b. New Berlin, N.Y. He became a lawyer in Boston and later (1855–61) a Congressman. Defeated for reelection, he was made (1861) minister to China. By his tact and understanding of Chinese opposition to the autocratic methods of foreigners in the treaty ports, he won a place as adviser to the Chinese government. In 1867, China sent him as head of a mission to visit foreign lands in order to secure information and sign treaties of amity. He visited Washington, London, and capitals on the Continent. One result was a treaty between China and the United States, supplementary to the 1858 treaty. This, usually called the Burlingame Treaty, was signed in 1868. It was a treaty of friendship based on Western principles of international law. One clause encouraged Chinese immigration—laborers were then much in demand in the West; later the heavy influx of Chinese under its provisions caused friction on the West Coast and led to the exclusion of Chinese immigrants (see Chinese exclusion).

See biography by F. W. Williams (1912, repr. 1972).

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