Friday, March 6, 2009

Reconstruction, the Mississippi, and the Orient

I: Missouri and China

Came across a fun article - "From the Midwest to the Far East" - tracing early connections between my homestead, Missouri, and the happy Orient. Connections range from exceptionally sad (The "New Shanghai Theater" in Branson) to ambiguously "good" (MO Born Edgar Snow, Red Star Over China.)

Excerpt of interest: 

"The originator of the lineage can even be said to be none other than Mark Twain,
the first Show Me State citizen to gain global renown as an author. Though he
never made it to China on his travels, Twain was fascinated by the country, and
he wrote everything from an epistolary tale about a Chinese immigrant
(“Goldsmith's Friend Abroad Again”), to a newspaper editorial denouncing the
“unequal treaties” that the West had forced upon the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) in
the mid-1800s, to essays sympathetic to the anti-Christian Boxer insurgents
(since, in his mind, any foes of missionaries couldn't be all bad).

I hadn't been familiar with any of these pieces, and will be digging through soon. 

I add one, the newest development - the midwestern hub for Chinese airlines will be, yes, drumroll, St. Louis! Who knows what the long term economic consequences of this corn-field diplomacy will be - for now, I expect the plans to create a veritable Chinatown on Olive will get fast tracked. Also, please imagine Chinese Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong, Kit Bond, and Claire McCaskill on the BEIJING-ST.LOUIS Hub Commission. 


Just got this in the mail, will try to go.

"For the Equality of Men---For the Equality of Nations": Anson Burlingame and China's First Embassy to the United States John Schrecker, Professor of History Emeritus, Brandeis University, and Associate in Research, Fairbank CenterIn 1861,

President Lincoln appointed Anson Burlingame, an anti-slavery leader, minister to China. After Burlingame had served in the post forsix years, Beijing selected him as its first ambassador to the Westernpowers. The Burlingame Mission came to America in 1868. The talk willfocus on (1) how the politics of reconstruction determined attitudestoward the mission; (2) Burlingame's presentation of China as a nationthat wished to be treated equally, was modernizing, and could both learn from and teach the West; and (3) the famous Burlingame Treaty with America---the first equal treaty between China and a Western power since the Opium War."


Twain to Burlingame in 1868 [Citation and more on the friendship here]

"Don't neglect or refuse to keep a gorgeous secretaryship or a high interpretership for me in your great embassy... I would like to go with your embassy as a dignitary of some kind or other... I want to be a mild sort of dignitary... Pray save me a place."

"....with God's help we will lift Shanghai up and up, ever up, until it is just like Kansas City.” -Attributed to Senator Kenneth Wherry (R-Nebraska) 1940, though reliable citations seem yet to be found.

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