Mr. Seward to Mr. Burlingame
Sir: The harmonious condition of the relations between the United States and China, and the importance of the commerce between them, would make it agreeable to this government to receive from the Emperor a diplomatic representative of a grade corresponding with your own. It is true that this would be a novel, if not an unprecedented step, on the part of that government. As treaties, however, have for many years been in force between China and Christian nations; and as the empire may now be disposed to respect the obligations of public law, it strikes us that the Emperor’s government would be consulting their own interest, and would also be reciprocating that which, to a degree, at least, is a courtesy on our part, by having a diplomatic agent here, whose province it would be to see that our obligations toward China, under the treaties and law of nations, are fulfilled, and who might report to his government upon that and other interesting topics. China also may be said to have special reasons for the measure in respect to the United States, as her subjects are so numerous in this country, particularly in California. You will consequently bring this matter to the attention of that government, and may say that, if the suggestion should be adopted, it would be peculiarly gratifying to the President.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
Anson Burlingame, Esq, &c., &c., &c.