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Courthouse Docket

Anson Burlingame: His Legacy in U.S. – China Relations

The Courthouse Docket continues as David Chai presents Anson Burlingame: His Legacy in U.S. – China Relations. Burlingame, for whom the San Mateo County city is named, was chosen by President Abraham Lincoln to be Minister to China. Chai will delve into how Burlingame did much to improve U.S. – China relations during his tenure. Chai is a past mayor of Foster City and now sits on the Board of the San Mateo County Chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans.

Burlingame was born in 1820 and entered political office in 1853 as a Massachusetts State Senator. In 1855, he was elected to Congress where he, established himself as strongly against slavery.

In 1861, Abraham Lincoln appointed the 41 year-old congressman as Minister to China. He served as such until 1867, when Chinese Emperor Tongzhi made him “Plenipotentiary” to the United States and other western countries - - a sort of Secretary of State position. In that capacity, Burlingame advocated fair dealing with China as opposed to the coercion of the past. He also assisted the Chinese by introducing western technologies involving mining and communications. His greatest achievement became the passage of the Burlingame Treaty in 1868 between the United States and China, that allowed for travel and immigration between the two nations, among other agreements. Burlingame died in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1870 while representing the Chinese.

Although never really a resident of the San Francisco Peninsula, in 1866, Burlingame purchased 1,000 acres of property that would eventually become parts of today’s Hillsborough and Burlingame. The City of Burlingame adopted his name in 1908 when it incorporated.

Chai is seeking a way to honor Burlingame. Part of his presentation will be to discuss how this might be accomplished.

Next on the Docket

Saturday, June 14: World War II Shipyards of the Bay Area presented by Nick Veronico.
Friday, July 4: Summertime: Films from the Archives presented by Carmen Blair.

The Courthouse Docket is a monthly series of presentations held in the History Museum's Historic Courthroom A. The Courthouse Docket Series is sponsored by Cypress Lawn Heritage Foundation.
The Cypress Lawn Heritage Foundation Board of Directors: Lewis Coleman, Charles Crocker, James C. Flood, JB McIntosh, Peter T. Pope, Richard T. Thieriot and Michael R. V. Whitman.
Saturday, May 10, 2014
1 p.m.
History Museum, Courtroom A
$5 for adults, $3 for seniors & students
Click here for event flyer.
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