History of Relations

Thailand and the United States have been friends since 1833 when the two countries signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce during the Presidency of Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, and the reign of His Majesty King Phra Nang Klao, or King Rama III of the Chakri Dynasty.

With the signing of the Treaty, the two countries pledged to establish “a perpetual peace,” a commitment that has withstood the test of time. We, in Thailand, recall with great pride that this was the first Treaty the United States had entered into with any Asian country.

The Siamese Twins

The Siamese Twins, who made the name of Siam familiar to millions around the world, were born in 1811 to a Chinese fisherman and his Thai wife. The two boys, In (Eng) and Jan (Chang) were joined to each other by a tissue of flesh extending from the chest-bone to the waist. As children, the boys learned to walk, run and swim with extraordinary ability. Occasional quarrels did arise between them, but they had a remarkably harmonious relationship that continued throughout their life together. Robert Hunter, an English merchant in Bangkok, persuaded their mother to allow them to accompany Captain Abel Coffin on his ship to the United States. In 1828, at the age of 17, they set sail for America.

Captain Coffin soon began to display the twins in major cities in Europe and America at considerable profit to himself. However, the boys developed a business sense of their own, and after leaving the Captain’s custody in 1831, they began performing independently. Their act consisted of various athletic and intellectual feats such as horseback riding and playing chess. The twins became so fond of America that they were naturalized as citizens in 1839, adopting the last name of Bunker.

After settling down in North Carolina by purchasing about 110 acres of property, they married two American sisters, Sarah and Adelaide Yates. In and Sarah eventually had twelve children, while Adelaide and Jan had ten.

By 1874, both twins contracted pneumonia and died.  The fame of the pair was so great that all conjoined twins after them were referred to as “Siamese.”

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