• 296 pages
  • 6 x 9
  • 10 halftones
  • Price: $29.95
  • EAN: 9781439906903
  • Publication: Apr 2014
  • Price: $81.50
  • EAN: 9781439906897
  • Publication: Mar 2013
  • Price: $29.95
  • EAN: 9781439906910

America's First Adventure in China

Trade, Treaties, Opium, and Salvation

John R. Haddad

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.


"John Haddad has written a subtle and spirited book, which takes America's first experiences in China as a means to explore the early years of the United States as an independent nation. This is a book about the magic of money and the ingenious ways that American business grandees reacted to the ever-shifting promises and disappointments of an emerging Asian market. It is also a book about religion, diplomacy, financial systems, arms manufacture, families under stress, ship-building, and opium. It is an absorbing tale, with many contemporary echoes."
Jonathan Spence, author of The Search for Modern China

"Haddad has again struck the right note with this well-researched work on the first hundred years or so of the U.S. relationship with China. He conveys his narrative with humor...(and) reveals the fascinating story of men such as Anson Burlingame. There are many such informative topics that Haddad shares with readers. His notes and bibliography are rich, while illustrations are few but first-rate. VERDICT Excellent for scholars of Chinese history and ideal for those who desire more than a cursory view of the subject."
Library Journal

"Haddad tells a powerful story of the first epoch of Sino-American relations.... (He) bases his important synthesis on a wide range of English-language materials, journals, memoirs, and scholarly accounts that focus on more specific details.... Summing Up: Highly recommended."

"What separates America's First Adventure in China from the existing scholarship is its sharp focus on a large number of individual Americans who interacted actively with the Chinese in many different areas.... With a unique approach, powerful arguments, rich biographical information, and clear writing, America's First Adventure in China can be an engaging and thought-provoking reading for college students, scholars, professionals in various fields, and the general adult audience."
History: Review of New Books

"Haddad characterizes the early years of U.S. involvement in China as an 'adventure,' and this book succeeds in providing a lively narrative of the years from the first American-Chinese trade contact in 1784 to the Burlingame Treaty in 1868. His approach is largely biographical, with vivid portraits of all the important players.... The first few chapters, from the earliest clipper ships and the Canton system through the development of a sophisticated China trade, are perhaps the most interesting, providing fascinating detail about the actual workings of the business, drawn from commercial records, private family papers, and secondary literature in American business history.... The general reader will find here a lively, entertaining adventure story."
American Historical Review

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.

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