America's First Adventure in China

Trade, Treaties, Opium, and Salvation

John R. Haddad
Book Cover

PB: $29.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0690-3
Publication: Apr 14

HC: $81.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-0689-7
Publication: Mar 13

Ebook: $29.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0691-0

296 pages
6 x 9
10 halftones

A lively account of the brash men who chased their American Dreams all the way to China

Read the Introduction (pdf).


In 1784, when Americans first voyaged to China, they confronted Chinese authorities who were unaware that the United States even existed. Nevertheless, a long, complicated, and fruitful trade relationship was born after American traders, missionaries, diplomats, and others sailed to China with lofty ambitions: to acquire fabulous wealth, convert China to Christianity, and even command a Chinese army. In America's First Adventure in China, John Haddad provides a colorful history of the evolving cultural exchange and interactions between these countries. He recounts how American expatriates adopted a pragmatic attitude—as well as an entrepreneurial spirit and improvisational approach—to their dealings with the Chinese. Haddad shows how opium played a potent role in the dreams of Americans who either smuggled it or opposed its importation, and he considers the missionary movement that compelled individuals to accept a hard life in an alien culture. As a result of their efforts, Americans achieved a favorable outcome—they established a unique presence in China—and cultivated a relationship whose complexities continue to grow.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments A Note on the Spelling of Chinese Words Introduction 1 First Contact: The Voyage of the Empress of China 2 System Men: The Rise of Perkins and Company 3 All for a Cup of Tea: Finding Goods for the Canton Market 4 Beachhead of God: The First Wave of Missionaries 5 Rising on Smoke: Opium and Identity in Canton 6 Formal Ties: The Caleb Cushing Mission 7 Centrifugal Force: The Spread of People, Goods, Capital, and Ideas 8 Heavenly War: Americans and the Taiping Rebellion 9 Cooperation: Burlingame and the Reinvention of Sino-Western Relations Conclusion Notes Bibliography Index

About the Author(s)

John R. Haddad is an Associate Professor of American Studies and Popular Culture at Penn State Harrisburg. He was awarded the Gutenberg-e Prize in 2002 for his dissertation, which was published as The Romance of China: Excursions to China in U.S. Culture, 1776-1876. In 2010, he was awarded the Fulbright Scholar grant to teach and research at the University of Hong Kong.