Raising the Flag


Raising the Flag

America's First Envoys in Faraway Lands

Peter D. Eicher

416 pages
40 illustrations


June 2018


$36.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

June 2018


$36.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

June 2018


$36.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Since its inception the United States has sent envoys to advance American interests abroad, both across oceans and to areas that later became part of the country. Little has been known about these first envoys until now. From China to Chile, Tripoli to Tahiti, Mexico to Muscat, Peter D. Eicher chronicles the experience of the first American envoys in foreign lands. Their stories, often stranger than fiction, are replete with intrigues, revolutions, riots, war, shipwrecks, swashbucklers, desperadoes, and bootleggers. The circumstances the diplomats faced were precursors to today’s headlines: Americans at war in the Middle East, intervention in Latin America, pirates off Africa, trade deficits with China.

Early envoys abroad faced hostile governments, physical privations, disease, isolation, and the daunting challenge of explaining American democracy to foreign rulers. Many suffered threats from tyrannical despots, some were held as slaves or hostages, and others led foreign armies into battle. Some were heroes, some were scoundrels, and many perished far from home. From the American Revolution to the Civil War, Eicher profiles the characters who influenced the formative period of American diplomacy and the first steps the United States took as a world power. Their experiences combine to chart key trends in the development of early U.S. foreign policy that continue to affect us today. Raising the Flag illuminates how American ideas, values, and power helped shape the modern world.


Author Bio

Peter D. Eicher is a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer who served in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Pacific. He specialized in political affairs, particularly human rights, conflict resolution, and international organizations. Eicher is the editor of “Emperor Dead” and Other Historic American Diplomatic Dispatches and Elections in Bangladesh, 2006–2009: Transforming Failure into Success.


"Retired diplomat Eicher unearths tales of some of the fledgling United States' first envoys to foreign lands—"foreign" at the time including Louisiana and California, as well as the Ottoman Empire, China, and Africa’s Barbary Coast. . . . This book brings to light little-known stories that will fascinate early-America enthusiasts."—Publishers Weekly

"The Foreign Service, along with anyone interested in U.S. history, owes a substantial debt to retired FSO Peter D. Eicher for conducting the prodigious research, much of it drawn from primary-source materials, required to shine a light on these men and their work representing the United States in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East so long ago."—Steven Alan Honley, Foreign Service Journal

“Raising the Flag is a journey of discovery, a veritable treasure trove of early ventures in American diplomacy. The book offers refreshing insights and inspiration, both for general readers and for those more closely associated with American diplomacy.”—Susan R. Johnson, president of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

“Eicher’s wonderfully detailed accounts of America’s early diplomats—their foibles and challenges—vividly recall the era when America’s foreign fortunes were first forged in the far-flung reaches of the globe. It is mandatory reading for diplomatic history buffs.”—Robert E. Gribbin, former ambassador to Rwanda and the Central African Republic and author of In the Aftermath of Genocide: The U.S. Role in Rwanda

Raising the Flag is a superb highlights reel of American diplomacy during its exciting first few generations after independence. Peter Eicher’s anecdotes bring some of America’s earliest, lesser-known envoys and their colorful adventures to life, as they struggled through the new nation’s first appearances on the world stage.  Enthusiastically recommended!”—Andrew C. A. Jampoler, author of Embassy to the Eastern Courts: America’s Secret First Pivot Toward Asia, 1832–37 

“This is a fascinating look at men who accomplished so much diplomatically in the early years of the American republic yet are mostly forgotten. Modern diplomats often suffer the same fate—but Eicher’s well-researched book will ensure that these men will be remembered and receive the plaudits they deserve.”—Gene Schmiel, author of Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era


“Peter Eicher vividly portrays a time when U.S. representatives overseas had little more than their wits and courage to aid their efforts to protect their fellow citizens and the interests of our young republic.  His book should be required reading for all new foreign service officers and for anyone interested in American diplomacy.”—Jack Zetkulic, senior U.S. foreign service officer (Ret.) and adjunct professor of diplomacy at American University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. For Tea and Country: Samuel Shaw and the First American Contacts with China
2. To the Shores of Tripoli: James Cathcart, William Eaton, and the First Barbary War
3. Diplomacy in New Orleans: The Intriguing Career of Daniel Clark
4. Inventing Interventionism: Joel Poinsett in Argentina, Chile, and Mexico
5. Cochin China, Siam, and Muscat: The Remarkable Travels of Edmund Roberts
6. The Commodore as Diplomat: David Porter at the Sublime Porte
7. Adventures in Paradise: Jacques-Antoine Moerenhout, Samuel Blackler, and the Occupation of Tahiti 
8. The Land of Gold: Thomas Larkin, William Leidesdorff, and the Americanization of California
9. Shimoda and the Shogun: Townshend Harris and the Opening of Japan

Also of Interest