The Youngest Introducing The Oldest

July 18, 1868, page 460

view enlargement

The image to the left has an embedded "hotspot" on the face of each character.

Clicking on a "hotspot" will automatically scroll the screen to the appropriate character in the list below the image.


America.   "Brothers and Sisters, I am happy to present to you the Oldest Member of the Family,
who desires our better acquaintance."

Please see the commentary below this image for more information:
Thomas Nast’s cartoon depicting Burlingame's mission , "The Youngest Introduction the Oldest," shows (left to right):
Sultan Abdulazis Oglu Mahmud II of Turkey
John Bull, representing Great Britain
Tsar Alexander II of Russia
Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck of Prussia
Emperor Napoleon III of France (in front)
King Wilhelm I of Prussia
Prince Amadeo of Italy, future King of Spain (1870)
Queen Isabella of Spain
King Victor Emanuel II of Italy
Pope Pius IX
Columbia, representing the U.S.
Prince Kung of China
Ambassador Anson Burlingame
Harper’s Weekly wrote about The Celestial Embassy on July 18, 1868, to explain the cartoon in the same issue. Some of the discussion may be relevant today with regard to China’s role in world trade, human rights and other issues.
His Celestial Excellency, Mr. Burlingame, is having, as is most proper, a truly flowery reception. With his high born and illustrious co-dignitaries the Celestial Embassador entered the continent by "the granite portals of the Golden State," and they are receiving every where a welcome of good feeling as well as of wonder. It is, as our picture in this issue shows, the youngest nation introducing the oldest to the friendship of Christendom. It is, indeed, strange to hear a Yankee speaking for China, and claiming for her that kind of regard and respect which the world has not been accustomed to feel for the old empire. Despite all that we hear and know of its ancient and elaborate civilization, there is still the feeling that it is the most grotesque of barbarous nations, and that there is wholly wanting that plane of common interest and knowledge and sympathy upon which the nations of Christendom are accustomed to meet. The popular image of China is an enormous country surrounded by a high wall, probably with broken bottles strewn along the top, where the people wear their hair in a long tail, squeeze the feet of the women into deformity, cultivate tea, and eat rats and dogs…
And now the Celestial Embassador alights upon our shores—no outlandish foreigner, but a familiar public friend of our own, and side by side with native Chinese noblemen, yet their official chief, he quietly says to this amazed Brother Jonathan*, who evidently wonders how his Celestial Excellency scaled the wall with no further damage to his attire, "We seek not only the good of China, but we seek your good, and the good of all mankind…"
This means, of course, the same free and familiar intercourse that we have with European nations. It means treaties of commerce and amity. It means an opening of the ports and cities and interior of this great empire, secluded from the beginning of history, to the exploration and study of curiosity and science. It means the unconditional admission into China of all the influences, moral, social, intellectual, and industrial, of the outer civilization which it has always suspected and avoided. If his Celestial Excellency does not too warmly state the truth, his embassy is one of the most remarkable events in history; and we await with the greatest interest the practical propositions which he is authorized to make, by which this extraordinary change in the relations of China and the Western World is to be begun and accomplished.

* A prior name for Uncle Sam


This site is brought to you by…
Website and all Content 1998-1999 HarpWeek, LLC
Please report problems to