Burlingame Treaty

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The Burlingame Treaty, also known as the Burlingame-Seward Treaty of 1868, between the United States and China, amended the Treaty of Tientsin of 1858 and established formal friendly relations between the two countries, with the United States granting China most favored nation status. It was signed at Washington in 1868 and ratified at Beijing in 1869.


On June 14, 1861 Lincoln appointed Anson Burlingame as minister to the Qing Empire. Burlingame worked for a cooperative policy rather than the imperialistic policies of force which had been used during the First and Second Opium Wars and developed relations with the reform elements of the court. On November 16, 1867 he was appointed envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to head a Chinese diplomatic mission to the United States and the principal European nations. The mission, which included two Chinese ministers, an English and a French secretary, six students from Peking, and a considerable retinue, arrived in the United States in March 1868. Burlingame used his personal relations with the Republican administration to negotiate a relatively quick and favorable treaty. In a series of speeches across the country, he displayed eloquent oratory to advocate equal treatment of China and a welcoming stance toward Chinese immigrants. On July 28, 1868 it concluded at Washington, D.C. a series of articles, supplementary to the Reed Treaty of 1858, and later known as the Burlingame Treaty.[1]


The treaty:

  • Recognized China's right of eminent domain over all of its territory;
  • Gave China the right to appoint consuls at ports in the United States, "who shall enjoy the same privileges and immunities as those enjoyed by the consuls of Great Britain and Russia";
  • Provided that "citizens of the United States in China of every religious persuasion and Chinese subjects in the United States shall enjoy entire liberty of conscience and shall be exempt from all disability or persecution on account of their religious faith or worship in either country"; and
  • Granted certain privileges to citizens of either country residing in the other, the privilege of naturalization, however, being specifically withheld.


Chinese immigration to the United States was encouraged. Opposition in Congress to Chinese immigration led President Rutherford B. Hayes to authorize James Burrill Angell to renegotiate the treaty in 1880. On November 17, 1880, the renegotiated treaty, called the Treaty Regulating Immigration from China (and more informally as the Angell Treaty of 1880), was passed. This would suspend, but not prohibit, Chinese immigration, while confirming the obligation of the United States to protect the rights of those immigrants already arrived.[2]

The treaty was reversed in 1882 by the Chinese Exclusion Act.

See also


  1. John Schrecker, ""For the Equality of Men -- for the Equality of Nations": Anson Burlingame and China's First Embassy to the United States, 1868," Journal of American-East Asian Relations 17.1 (2010): 9-34.
  2. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.

External links