Senate roll call vote on Treaty of Wangxia, January 16, 1845
The Senate unanimously approved the Treaty of Wangxia for ratification in January 1845. It was the first Western trade treaty with China not preceded by a war—a diplomatic achievement that became a model for other treaties. In addition to stimulating U.S. commerce, it guaranteed that Americans in China would be subject to U.S., not local, laws.
Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration
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.