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Caleb Cushing, n.d.

Representative Caleb Cushing of Massachusetts served four terms in Congress (1835–1843) and was an influential member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs before his commission to China.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Caleb Cushing, n.d.

The First Treaty with China

After Britain’s Opium War with China opened Chinese ports to British commerce in 1842, U.S. merchants petitioned Congress to obtain equal trade rights. In 1844 Representative Caleb Cushing of Massachusetts resigned to become America’s first commissioner to China and negotiated a trade treaty with the Ta Tsing (Qing) Empire. The Treaty of Wangxia, named for the village where it was signed, was the first treaty between the U.S. and China.