The Siamese-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce is on display from September 20 to October 31, 2013, (new extended display time!) in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Today’s post comes from education and exhibit specialist Michael Hussey.
The start of official diplomacy between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Siam (now Thailand) was marked by the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1833–the first treaty between the United States and an Asian nation.
In February 1832, President Andrew Jackson sent Edmund Roberts as his emissary to Southeast Asia to negotiate treaties of friendship and commerce with nations in the region, including Thailand—then referred to as Siam. Leaving Boston in March, 1832, aboard the U.S.S. Peacock, Roberts stopped in the Philippines, Macao, Vietnam, and Thailand.
Nearly a year later, Roberts was presented to the King of Thailand. On March 20, 1833, the two sides agreed to a Treaty of Amity and Commerce. Key sections of the agreement stipulated that “There shall be a perpetual Peace between the Magnificent King of Siam and the United States of America.”
Further, American trading vessels would be free to enter Thai ports “with their cargoes . . . and they shall have liberty to sell the same to any of the subjects of the King.”
The scroll is approximately 90 inches long, but only a portion is unrolled for display.
Below: Treaty of Amity and Commerce between Siam and the United States, signed at Sia-Yut’hia (Bangkok), March 20, 1833 (exchange copy); ratifications exchanged at Bangkok, April 14, 1836. National Archives, General Records of the United States Government.