Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Anson Burlingame Collection, 1849-1870

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, November 2011

Summary Information
Title: Anson Burlingame collection
Creator: Cowdin, Elliot C. (Elliot Christopher), 1819-1880
Inclusive dates: 1849-1870
Bulk dates: 1865-1870
Extent: 34 items
The Anson Burlingame collection, compiled by Elliot C. Cowdin, holds correspondence, graphic material, ephemera, and a pamphlet related to the life and death of Burlingame, a United States diplomat. Much of the material relates to a dinner Cowdin gave in Burlingame's honor in June 1868.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1996. M-3206.3.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Anson Burlingame Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged in the following series:

  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Photograph and engraving
  • Series III: Printed material
  • Series IV: Ephemera

The correspondence series is arranged chronologically.


Anson Burlingame was born in New Berlin, New York, on November 14, 1820, and graduated from the University of Michigan's Detroit campus in 1841. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1846, he joined a Boston law firm. An ardent Free Soiler, he served in the Massachusetts Senate and in the United States House of Representatives (1855-1860), and received an appointment from Abraham Lincoln to be a diplomat to Austria, though the Austrian government refused to accept him because of his associations with Hungarian nationalists. In 1862, he was reassigned as the United States minister to China, where he oversaw alterations in trade policies between China and the major European economic powers. Following his 1867 resignation, he negotiated the Burlingame Treaty (1868) between the United States and China, with positive consequences for China's trade and emigration policies. He died in St. Petersburg, Russia, on February 23, 1870, while attempting to forge a similar treaty between Russia and China. He and his wife, Jane Cornelia Livermore, had three children.

Elliot C. Cowdin was born in Jamaica, Vermont, in August 1819, and received his education in Boston, where he lived until moving to New York City in 1852. In New York, he founded the importing firm of Elliot C. Cowdin & Co., and became involved in the Union League Club shortly after the beginning of the Civil War. He also served as a member of the New York City Chamber of Commerce, and spent time in France and Germany during the Franco-Prussian War. A close friend of Anson Burlingame, he organized a celebratory banquet for the diplomat in 1868, and spoke at a memorial service held in Burlingame's honor in 1870.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Anson Burlingame collection, compiled by Elliot C. Cowdin, holds correspondence, a photograph, an engraving, a pamphlet, and ephemera related to the life and death of Burlingame.

Several letters in the Correspondence series are personal letters Burlingame wrote to Cowdin, a friend, during his diplomatic career; on October 13, 1866, for example, Burlingame described his recent trip from New York to Shanghai, via California, the Sandwich Islands, and Japan. A number of items relates to a dinner Cowdin gave in June 1868, honoring Burlingame and his success in trade negotiations with China. These include a May 23, 1868, letter from a number of prominent residents of New York City, urging the diplomat to attend the banquet; several letters signed by those invited, either accepting or declining the invitation; and Burlingame's own acceptance (May 30, 1868). Other correspondents mentioned their own appointments with Burlingame, often set up by Cowdin, and their esteem for his accomplishments. On January 31, 1870, Burlingame told his friend of his imminent departure for Russia; a month later, he died there, and many of the later letters concern personal grief over his death, as well as to Cowdin's tribute to Burlingame's memory. Among other remembrances, Cowdin wrote a letter to his own wife on April 21, 1870, describing Burlingame's funeral.

The Photograph and Engraving series contains a cartes-de-visite photograph of Anson Burlingame, and an autographed engraving of Elliot C. Cowdin.

The Pamphlet is entitled Banquet to His Excellency Anson Burlingame And His Associates of the Chinese Embassy by the Citizens of New York On Tuesday, June 23, 1868.

The Ephemera series contains calling cards for Mr. and Mrs. Anson Burlingame, and a menu for Burlingame's honorary banquet, given on June 23, 1868.

Subject Terms

    • Burlingame, Anson, 1820-1870.
    • Diplomatic and consular service, American.
    • United States--Foreign relations--China.
    • United States--Social life and customs--1865-1918.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Burlingame, Anson, 1820-1870.
    • Cowdin, Elliot C. (Elliot Christopher), 1819-1880.
    • Burlingame, Anson, 1820-1870.
    Genre Terms:
    • Card photographs.
    • Engravings (prints)
    • Ephemera.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Menus.
    • Visiting cards.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   4, Small Collections  
    Anson Burlingame collection [series]
    Correspondence [subseries]
    Folders   1-4  
     December 28, 1849-April 12, 1870, and  undated
    Photograph and engraving [subseries]
    Folder   5  
    Pamphlet [subseries]
     June 23, 1868
    Ephemera [subseries]
     June 23, 1868, and  undated
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Clements Libray holds an additional copy of the collection's pamphlet: Burlingame, Anson. Banquet to His Excellency Anson Burlingame And His Associates of the Chinese Embassy by the Citizens of New York On Tuesday, June 23, 1868. New York: Sun Book and Job Print. House, 1868.

    The Clements Library also holds the following volume: Burlingame, Anson. Address Upon the Life And Character of Washington: Delivered by Anson Burlingame, Before the Brady And Scott Guards, On the 22d February, 1843. Detroit: Sheldon M'Knight, printer, 1843.

    The Library of Congress and Syracuse University hold additional collections of Anson Burlingame family papers.


    Anderson, David L. "Burlingame, Anson." American National Biography Online. Oxford University Press, 2000.

    "Elliot C. Cowdin Dead." New York Times. April 13, 1880.