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Timeline of U.S.-Thai Relations

A Timeline of Key Events in U.S.-Thai Relations:

The Foundations: 1833 - 1880

1821 First American ship reaches Bangkok.

1833 March 18 His Majesty King Nang Klao (Rama III) grants an audience to American envoy Edmund Roberts.

1835 July 18 Reverend Dr. Dan Beach Bradley arrives in Bangkok with the first Siamese printing press from Singapore.

1837 July 1 The first Protestant church in Bangkok was founded with the help of American missionaries. Reverend William Dean serves as its first pastor.

1844 July 4 Dr. Dan Beach Bradley begins publishing The Bangkok Recorder, the first Thai-language newspaper in Siam.

1850 April Joseph Balestier sent to Bangkok as a special envoy to negotiate a new commercial treaty with the government of Siam.

1856 May The United States appoints first Consul to Siam, the Reverend Stephen Mattoon.

1856 May 29 Siam and the United States sign a new Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation, know as the Harris Treaty, replacing the treaty of 1833.

1861 February 14 His Majesty King Mongkut writes to President James Buchanan offering domesticated elephants to be used as beasts of burden. President Abraham Lincoln respectfully declines the offer in a letter received one year later.

1879 April Former President Ulysses S. Grant visits Siam.

Era of Engagement Begins: 1881 - 1945

1881 July 13 United States appoints John A. Halderman as first American envoy to Siam with title of Consul General. Siam appoints Prince Prisdang Jumsai as the first Minister to the U.S., residing in London.

1884 May 6 Prince Nares Warariddhi, Chief of the Siamese Mission to the United States, presents his credentials to President Chester A. Arthur.

1894 Standard Oil Company of New York (Socony) opens a branch office in Bangkok.

1902 October 11 Crown Prince Vajiravudh, who later was crowned King Rama VI, visits the United States.

1903 Siam appoints American, Edward H. Strobel, as General Advisor.

1920 December 16 The United States and Siam sign a new Treaty and Protocol (PDF 208KB), abolishing extraterritoriality for American subjects and easing trade.

1923 Francis B. Sayre becomes Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Siam.

1926 Francis B. Sayre represents Siam in negotiations with European countries to eliminate extraterritoriality; Siam subsequently concludes several treaties with European countries along lines of the 1920 Siam-U.S. Treaty and Protocol.

1927 December 5 His Royal Highness Prince Bhumipol Adulyadej is born at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

1931 April Their Majesties King Prajadhipok and Queen Rambhai Barni visit the United States.

1937 November 13 The United States and Siam sign the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation(PDF 371KB) in Bangkok.

1939 The Phibun administration officially changes the country’s name from Siam to Muang Thai (PDF 169KB)(Land of the Free) or Thailand.

1941 December 8 Japan invades Thailand following Japan’s declaration of war on the U.S. and Britain.

1942 January 25 Prime Minister Field Marshal Phibun signs a mutual defense pact with Japan and declares war against the United States and Britain. Seni Pramoj, the Thai Ambassador to Washington, refuses his government’s orders to deliver the declaration of war. The United States refrains from declaring war on Thailand.

1945 August 14 Japan surrenders unconditionally to the Allies. 

  • August 21  U.S. Secretary of State James Byrnes accepts Thailand's Peace Proclamation. U.S. advocates to Allies that Thailand not be treated as enemy combatant.

Post World War II Relations: 1946 - 1975

1946 December 16 Thailand becomes a member of the United Nations.

1947 April 10 Mr. Edwin F. Stanton is appointed as the first U.S. envoy with rank of Ambassador to Thailand.

1948 Jim Thompson founds the Thai Silk Company.

1950 July 1 Thai-U.S. Educational and Cultural Exchange Agreement signed.

  • September 19 Thai-U.S. Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement signed.
  • October 17 Thailand and the United States sign an agreement on military assistance.

1954 February 19 Thailand and the United States join other signatories of the Manila Pact to form the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO).

1955 May Prime Minister Field Marshal Phibun visits the United States.

1956 American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand is founded.

1958 July 10 First section of "Friendship Highway," shortening the Bangkok-Korat drive by 150 kilometers, built with aid from the United States.

1960 June Their Majesties King Bhumipol and Queen Sirikit visit the United States, accompanied by their four children.

1961 March President John F Kennedy dispatches a 500-man Marine helicopter detachment to Udorn. || March The American Field Service (AFS) starts exchanges between American and Thai high school students.

1962 January First American Peace Corps Volunteers arrive in Thailand. || March 6 Rusk-Thanat Joint Statement signed in Washington pledging U.S. support for Thailand's defense. May 17 The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Unit landed in Thailand. || July 30 Withdrawal of the 5,000 marines from 3rd Unit is complete.

1964 First U.S. military forces are based in Thailand.

1966 May 29 Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Thanat Khoman and U.S. Ambassador Graham Martin sign a new Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations in Bangkok.|| October 27-30 President and Mrs. Johnson make a State Visit to Thailand. King Bhumipol presents the President with an honorary doctorate in Political Science from Chulalongkorn University.

1967 June Their Majesties King Bhumipol and Queen Sirikit visit the United States a second time.|| June 27 President Lyndon B. Johnson hosts His Majesties for a state dinner at the White House.

1969 July President Richard M. Nixon visits Bangkok and is presented a key to the city by Chalit Kulkanthorn, Mayor of Bangkok.

1971 October 14 California Governor Ronald Reagan visits Bangkok as President Nixon's representative.

1975 March 15 Prime Minister M.R. Kukrit Pramoj asks the United States to withdraw all troops from Thailand.

Expanding Cooperation: 1976 - Present

1976 July 20 The United States completes its military withdrawal from Thailand.

1979 November First Lady Rosalynn Carter visits Thailand to assess refugee situation.

1980 February-July Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn receives military training at United States Army Institute for Military Assistance, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

1981 November 9 Queen Sirikit receives the first Save the Children Distinguished Service Award in New York.

1982 June Thailand and United States stage their first annual Cobra Gold joint military exercise.

1983 March 20 While receiving air force training in the United States, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn represents Thailand in commemorating the 150th anniversary of the first Treaty of Amity and Commerce.

1984 April 13 The United States and Thailand sign the Agreement on Cooperation in Science and Technology aimed at broadening cooperation in the field science and technology.

1985 March 5-27 Queen Sirikit visits the United States to open Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques (SUPPORT) exhibits.|| March 14 Asia Society awards Queen Sirikit its Humanitarian Award in New York.

1986 May 2-5 First Lady Nancy Reagan visits Malaysia and Thailand; While in Bangkok she receives an award for her anti-drug efforts.

1987 January 9 Ambassador William A. Brown and Minister of Defense Air Chief Marshal Panieng Kantarat sign War Reserve Stockpile Agreement.

1989 May Vice President and Mrs. Quayle visit Thailand.

1990 June Prime Minister Chatichai Choonhavan meets President Bush during his official visit to the United States. Thailand and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) join in full-scale AIDS research in Thailand.

1992 October-November Queen Sirikit, the Crown Prince, and Princess Chulabhorn are hosted at the White House by President and Mrs. Bush.

1994 October 8 Vice President Al Gore and Deputy Prime Minister Amnuay Viravan sign an agreement on protecting the environment. || December 6 Mr. Anand Panyarachun, former Prime Minister of Thailand, becomes the first chairman of the Kenan Institute Asia.

1996 May 7 The HIV/AIDS collaboration, a joint intervention research activity between the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Thai Ministry of Public Health, opens its new office and lab in Nonthaburi.|| May 8 Foreign Minister Kasem S. Kasemsri and Ambassador William H. Itoh signed a bilateral Air Services Agreement expanding aviation rights of the airlines of the United States and Thailand.|| May 14 Deputy Prime Minister Amnuay Virawan and U.S. Ambassador Itoh open the new U.S. Embassy at 120-122 Wireless road.

1996 November 26-27 President and Mrs. Clinton visit Thailand in celebration of the 50th anniversary of His Majesty's accession to the throne. President Clinton is awarded a Degree of Doctor of Economics honoris causa from Chulalongkorn University.|| November 26 President Clinton and Prime Minister Banharn witness the signing of the bilateral taxation treaty, ensuring the prevention of double taxation of U.S. companies in Thailand.

1997 July 11 President Clinton deploys a task force of 550 U.S. military personnel to Utapao Air Base in Thailand.|| November 19 Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn makes a visit to the United States Information Service (USIS) at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok.

1998 March 11-15 Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai visits the United States.

  • September 30 Thai Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan and U.S. Ambassador to Thailand William H. Itoh sign agreement to establish International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA), Bangkok.
  • November 3 Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn witnesses the launch of the space shuttle Discovery at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

1999 March 3-4 Secretary of State Madeleine Korbel Albright visits Thailand.

  • September 30 Deputy Prime Minister Trairong Suwankiri and U.S. Ambassador Richard E. Hecklinger sign agreement to support the GLOBE program in Thailand.
  • November 19 Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn visits the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok’s Public Affairs Section.

2000 July 1 The Fulbright Program in Thailand celebrates its 50th Anniversary.

  • July 26-29 Secretary of State Albright participates in the seventh ASEAN Regional Forum and the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference held in Bangkok.

2001 January 26 The U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai celebrates its 50th anniversary.

  • April 19 Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai meets with U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in Washington D.C.
  • July 2 The Kingdom of Thailand awarded the 2001 Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Award at the United Nations in New York.
  • December 13-19 Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra visits the United States. President Bush and Prime Minister Thaksin release a Joint Statement between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand.

2002 January 20 Peace Corps Thailand celebrates its 40th anniversary.

  • July 29 Secretary of State Colin L. Powell visits Thailand.
  • October 4-16 Queen Sirikit visits the United States.
  • October 23 United States and Thailand sign a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

2003 July 1 USTDA awards US$139,887 grant to Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Ltd to fund a feasibility study.

  • October 18 U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai sign the U.S.-Thailand Air Cargo Agreement in Bangkok.
  • October 18-21 President Bush visits Thailand to attend the 11th Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit meeting.
  • December 30 President Bush formally designates Thailand as a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA).

2004 February 12 United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert B. Zoellick formally notifies congress of intent to negotiate a free trade agreement (FTA) with Thailand.

  • December 26 Indian Ocean tsunami devastates the coast of Thailand, leaving more than 1,473 dead and 3,000 injured.
  • December 30 Thailand grants the United States permission to use Utapao Air Base as a regional hub for aid efforts.

2005 January 4 Secretary of State Colin Powell and Governor Jeb Bush visit Thailand in support of tsunami relief efforts.

  • July 10-11 Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice travels to Phuket to survey tsunami recovery and reconstruction.
  • September 19 The United States and Thailand sign an Open Skies Aviation Agreement.

2006 July 18 Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol of Thailand dedicates a gift of books from the Thai Royal Family to the University of Oregon Libraries.

  • September 19 Prime Minster Thaksin Shinawatra is deposed in a coup d’etat.
  • October 23 His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej becomes the first recipient of the World Food Prize Borlaug Medallion for his humanitarian efforts.
  • December 12 Former President George H.W. Bush and Mrs. Bush visits Thailand pledging continued support for tsunami relief efforts.

2007 February 21 Thailand and the United States launch a public awareness campaign to eradicate illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia.

  • July 5 Thai artists participate in Mekong River cultural exhibit at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in the U.S.
  • September 10-14 The U.S. supports a series of disaster preparedness mini-exercises and trainings at the Port of Laem Chabang.
  • November 10-13 The Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans, Louisiana, plays a series of shows in Thailand in honor of His Majesty the King’s 80th Birthday.

2008 January 11 Ambassador Eric G. John assumes duties as the U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand.

  • February 28 to March 2 Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Ambassador Christopher Hill, visits Bangkok.
  • June 1 Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates visits Thailand. During his visit, Gates reaffirmed that the military-to-military relationship between the U.S. and Thailand is based on shared democratic principles.
  • July 6-10 Ms. Alina L. Romanowski , Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Professional and Cultural Exchanges in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, visits Thailand to review professional, youth, and sports exchange programs between Thailand and the United States.
  • August President George W. Bush visits Thailand.

2009 March 9 The U.S. Embassy and the Royal Thai Government launch a new “Wildlife Trafficking Stops Here” campaign, a joint effort between the Airport of Thailand Public Company Limited (AOT) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment with the generous support of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of State.

  • July 21-23 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Bangkok and Phuket, underscoring the importance of our alliance and our bilateral relationship.
  • December Ambassador Eric John presented 20,000 calendars to the Thai Department of Livestock Development in a joint US-Thai effort to raise awareness of animal health

2010 July The Fulbright Program in Thailand celebrates its 60th Anniversary.

  • July U.S. Embassy Bangkok and the Royal Thai Government announced a new joint initiative, the Thai-U.S. Creative Partnership, to bring our relationship to new heights. This initiative will strengthen existing collaboration and identify new partnerships between our public and private sectors.
  • November 6 The Preservation Jazz Hall Band from New Orleans, Louisiana, joins Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn for a special performance for His Majesty in honor of his 83rd birthday.

[Last update on December 8, 2010]

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