Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Burlingame, Anson

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BURLINGAME, Anson, diplomatist, b. in New Berlin, Chenango co., N. Y., 14 Nov., 1820; d. in St. Petersburg, Russia, 23 Feb., 1870. He was the descendant of a family who were among the early settlers of Rhode Island. His father, a farmer, removed, when Anson was three years old, to a farm in Seneca co., Ohio, where they lived for ten years, and in 1833 again removed to Detroit, and after two years more to a farm at Branch, Mich. In 1837 Anson was admitted to the University of Michigan, and six years later went to Cambridge, Mass., and entered the law-school of Harvard university, where he was graduated in 1846. He began the practice of the law in Boston, and a year or two later became an active member and a popular orator of the free-soil party, then recently formed. In the political campaign of 1848 he acquired a wide reputation as a public speaker in behalf of the election of Van Buren and Adams. In 1849-'50 he visited Europe. In 1852 he was elected to the Massachusetts senate, and in 1853 he served as a member of the state constitutional convention, to which he was elected by the town of Northborough, though he resided in Cambridge. He joined the American party on its formation in 1854, and in that year was elected by it to the 34th congress. In the following year he co-operated in the formation of the republican party, to which he ever afterward steadily adhered. In congress he bore himself with courage and address, and was recognized as one of the ablest debaters on the anti-slavery side of the house. For the severe terms in which he denounced the assault committed by Preston S. Brooks upon Senator Sumner, in 1856, he was challenged by Brooks. He promptly accepted the challenge, and named rifles as the weapons, and Navy island, just above Niagara Falls, as the place. To the latter proposition Mr. Brooks demurred, alleging that, in order to meet his opponent in Canada, in the then excited state of public feeling, he would have to expose himself to popular violence in passing through “the enemy's country,” as he called the northern states. The matter fell through, but the manner in which Mr. Burlingame had conducted himself greatly raised him in the estimation of his friends and of his party; and on his return to Boston, at the end of his term, he was received with distinguished honors. He was re-elected to the 35th and 36th congresses; but failing, after an animated and close contest, to be returned to the 37th, his legislative career ended in March, 1861. He was immediately appointed by President Lincoln minister to Austria; but that government declined to receive, in a diplomatic capacity, a man who had spoken often and eloquently in favor of Hungarian independence, and had moved in congress the recognition of Sardinia as a first-class power. He was then sent as minister to China. In 1865 he returned to the United States with the intention of resigning his office; but the secretary of state urged him to resume his functions for the purpose of carrying out important projects and negotiations that he had initiated. To this he finally consented. When, in 1867, he announced his intention of returning home, Prince Kung, regent of the empire, offered to appoint him special envoy to the United States and the great European powers, for the purpose of framing treaties of amity with those nations — an honor never before conferred on a foreigner. This place Mr. Burlingame accepted, and, at the head of a numerous mission, he arrived in the United States in March, 1868. On 28 July supplementary articles to the treaty of 1858 were signed at Washington, and soon afterward ratified by the Chinese government. These articles, afterward known as “The Burlingame Treaty,” marked the first official acceptance by China of the principles of international law, and provided, in general, that the privileges enjoyed by western nations under that law — the right of eminent domain, the right of appointing consuls at the ports of the United States, and the power of the government to grantor withhold commercial privileges and immunities at their own discretion, subject to treaty — should be secured to China; that nation undertaking to observe the corresponding obligations prescribed by international law toward other peoples. Special provisions also stipulated for entire liberty of conscience and worship for Americans in China, and Chinese in America; for joint efforts against the cooly trade; for the enjoyment by Chinese in America and Americans in China of all rights in respect to travel and residence accorded to citizens of the most favored nation; for similar reciprocal rights in the matter of the public educational institutions of the two countries, and for the right of establishing schools by citizens of either country in the other. The concluding article disclaims, on the part of the United States, the right of interference with the domestic administration of China in the matter of railroads, telegraphs, and internal improvements, but agrees that the United States will furnish assistance in these points on proper conditions, when requested by the Chinese government. From America Mr. Burlingame proceeded in the latter part of 1868 to England, and thence to France (1869), Denmark, Sweden, Holland, and Prussia, in all of which countries he was favorably received, and in all of which, but France, to which he intended returning, he negotiated important treaties or articles of agreement. He reached St. Petersburg early in 1870, and had just entered upon the business of his mission when he died of pneumonia, after an illness of only a few days. — His son, Edward Livermore, b. in Boston, Mass., 30 May, 1848, entered Harvard, but left before graduation, accompanying his father to China as his private secretary. He studied at Heidelberg, Germany, in 1867-'9, taking the degree of Ph. D., and afterward at Berlin. He travelled extensively in Japan and China in 1866, and afterward in Europe. He was on the editorial staff of the New York “Tribune” in 1871, and on that for the revision of the “American Cyclopaedia” in 1872-'6, has been a contributor to periodical literature, and associated in the preparation of several histories and other works. In 1879 he became connected editorially with the publishing-house of Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, and in 1886 was appointed editor of its new magazine. He has translated and edited “Art Life and Theories of Richard Wagner” (New York, 1875).