Embassy to the Eastern Courts
So began an unusual and ultimately fatal adventure that twice took Roberts to exotic and dangerous places on the other side of the globe. Because the British and the Dutch were deeply interested in these same new markets, Roberts’ mission was kept secret. Sailing in the ill-fated USS Peacock, first in company with USS Boxer, then with USS Enterprise, Roberts traveled almost 70,000 miles across the great expanses of two oceans to successfully negotiate treaties with Oman and Siam.
Although he failed twice to win over the emperor of Cochin China and died miserably in Macao before departing for Japan, Roberts’ embassy was nonetheless instrumental in opening doors to new diplomatic realms and extending the commerce of the fledgling American nation.
Kept secret at the time and largely forgotten today, Edmund Roberts’ fascinating and important story is recounted in this latest book by Andrew Jampoler—retired naval officer turned maritime historian—whose previous works include Sailors in the Holy Land and The Last Lincoln Conspirator.