Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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ROBERTS, Edmund Quincy, diplomatist, born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 29 June, 1784; died in Macao, China, 12 June. 1836. Waiving an appointment as midshipman at the age of thirteen in the United States navy, he entered upon a mercantile career, living in Buenos Ayres, and then in London until he was twenty-four years old. He was an extensive shipowner, and lost heavily by the Spanish and French privateers. In 1827 he chartered the ship "Mary Anne " and sailed to Zanzibar, meeting the sultan and establishing a friendship that afterward developed into treaty relations with the United States. Making further voyages to ports on the Indian ocean, he studied the possible openings to American trade. On his return, with the assistance .of Levi Woodbury, his suggestions were brought, before congress, and in consequence the United States vessels "Peacock" and " Boxer" were sent out, with Mr. Roberts as special diplomatic agent, to make treaties with Muscat, Siam, and Cochin-China. His successes during a voyage of twenty-six months, are detailed in his posthumous volume, " Embassy to the Eastern Courts" (New York, 1837). Leaving again in 1835 in the "Peacock," to exchange ratifications of the treaties that had been made with Muscat and Siam, and to visit Japan with like purpose, he died at Macao of fever that he had, contracted in Siam. A monument over his grave, erected by Americans in China, and a memorial window in St. John's church, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, presented by his granddaughter, Mrs. John V. L. Pruyn, of Albany. New York, keep alive the memory of the first American diplomatist in Asia, whose unfinished work was consummated by Matthew Perry and Townsend Harris.--His daughter, Sarah, author, born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 26 July, 1812; died in New York city, 16 March, 1869, married Dr. James Boyle on 20 September, 1858, and after his death married the Reverend Andrew P. Peabody, D.D. She was the author of " M v Childhood " (New York, 1852) and " My Step-Mother" (1857). Her best-known poem is " The Voice of the Grass."
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