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Two Yankee Diplomats in 1830s Siam (Itineraria Asiatica

The first American diplomatic mission to Siam was led by Edmund Roberts in 1822. He attempted to secure better terms than the British Burney mission of 1826 had obtained, but the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between His Majesty the Magnificent King of Siam, and the United States of America, which he concluded, was much the same, reducing the numerous arbitrary charges on trade to a single tax. However, key demands, such as establishing an American consul in Bangkok and trading in rice were rejected, and trade only increased slightly between the two countries after the signing of the treaty. Both Burney and Roberts were seeking concessions which the conservative and introspective Third Reign saw no point in conceding. Still, the treaty Roberts obtained was considered worth ratifying by the American president, and Roberts returned in 1836 to do this. Soon after leaving Siam he fell ill and died in Macao. It was William Ruschenberger, the surgeon on his ship the "Peacock", who wrote and published the account of the second journey to Siam. These two accounts have been brought together here for the first time and provide insights into life in Bangkok in the 1830s. Some scenes can still be seen today, but many have been swept away by the tide of modernization which treaties with Western powers were to bring to the country.
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