Embassy to the Eastern Courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat


In 1832 U.S. president Andrew Jackson, acting on the advice of Secretary of the Navy Levi Woodbury, dispatched Edmund Roberts as a “special agent of the government,” empowered to negotiate treaties of amity and commerce with countries in Asia. The objective was to expand trade between these countries and the United States. Between early 1832 and May 1834, Roberts circumnavigated the globe in the U.S. Navy sloop Peacock. In the course of his journey, he negotiated agreements with the sultan of Muscat (Oman) and the king of Siam (Thailand). He failed to conclude an agreement with Cochin-China (present-day Vietnam). Embassy to the Eastern Courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat is Roberts’s account of his voyage. In addition to detailed accounts of his discussions with the three courts that were the object of his mission, the book contains descriptions of other countries visited by the Peacock, which included Brazil, Uruguay, the Philippines, China, Singapore, and Indonesia. The appendix contains a number of interesting documents, including tables of trade statistics, a treatise on tea and tea consumption, an essay on the Semang people of the Malay Peninsula, and the translated text of a letter from the sultan of Muscat to the president of the United States.

Last updated: January 10, 2014