Burlingame Treaty

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The Burlingame Treaty, between the United States and China, amended the Treaty of Tientsin and established formal friendly relations between the two countries, with the United States granting China Most Favored Nation status. It was ratified in 1868.

The treaty:

  • Recognized China's right of eminent domain over all her territory;
  • Gave China the right to appoint consuls at ports in the United States, "who shall enjoy the same privileges and immunities as those enjoyed by the consuls of Great Britain and Russia";
  • Provided that "citizens of the United States in China of every religious persuasion and Chinese subjects in the United States shall enjoy entire liberty of conscience and shall be exempt from all disability or persecution on account of their religious faith or worship in. either country"; and
  • Granted certain privileges to citizens of either country residing in the other, the privilege of naturalization, however, being specifically withheld.

Importantly, Chinese immigration to the United States was encouraged. Opposition in Congress to Chinese immigration led President Rutherford B. Hayes to authorize James Burrill Angell to renegotiate the treaty in 1880. The treaty was amended to suspend, but not prohibit, Chinese immigration, while comfirming the obligation of the United States to protect the rights of those immigrants already arrived.

The treaty was reversed in 1882 by the Chinese Exclusion Act.

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