Elephants for Mr. Lincoln: American Civil War-Era Diplomacy in Southeast Asia
- Publish Date: 2006-06-15
- Binding: Paperback
- Author: William Strobridge;Anita Hibler
This is the story of American merchants, diplomats, and missionaries in Southeast Asia prior to and during the US Civil War. American relations in Southeast Asia had begun in the prewar years with the work of these individuals andwith subtle variations in dutywould continue throughout the war years. During those years, trade on US vessels had plummeted due to high Union tariffs and fear of Confederate raiders in Asian waters. On the diplomatic front, the turnover rate for consular agents was high, and they lacked naval support from the East Asian Squadron. In contrast, American missionaries in Burma and Thailandwho still served despite reduced budgets, food shortages and ill healthprovided a crucial bridge to America. In fact, by making steady achievements in education, medicine, and publishing, the American missionaries, who transcended regional and global differences in Siam and Burma, were the key to closing the knowledge gap, promoting good will, and representing the US abroad.
Within these pages, readers can find myriad accounts of American relations with Southeast Asia. Everything is contained in this book: from the King of Siam's letter to President Lincoln offering white elephants to aid the Union (unfortunately, the letter didn't arrive until after the war had ended) to the recounting of Paul Revere's daughter, the wife of a merchant consul in Singapore, of how she rang the bell made by her father to remind sailors of the nightly curfew to former President Ulysses S. Grant's world tour in 1870 during which he promised to improve diplomatic ties with Siam. These accounts of commerce, treaties, and mission work are a testament to the enduring human spirit, enterprise, and pragmatic attitude of these early pioneers of American Diplomacy.