[President Zachary Taylor wrote in August, 1849 to the King of Anam (Vietnam) in response to the May, 1845 attack of the USS Constitution and Captain John Percival in and threatened war if the King didn't accept the apology!]

Zachary Taylor

President of the Unites States of America,

To His Majesty the Magnificent King of Anam.

Great and Good Friend!

To you, my Brother, the Great and Mighty King of Anam, I send love and goodwill, in this letter, by the hands of Mr. Joseph Balestier, my faithful and trusty Envoy and Minister to South Eastern Asia, to whom I give express orders to deliver it into your own Royal hands, in order that you may understand how greatly I have been grieved to hear it said that the Captain, of one of my warships, had misbehaved himself, four years ago, (which I have only heard of lately, for the first time, because your Country is so far from mine,) by landing men from his ship in Toorong Bay, and firing on your people, and killing and wounding some of them. I have ordered a trial of inquiry to be had upon him to be followed by every measure which justice shall require. And how could he have done so, when he knew, that my warships and trading ships, have always been received with friendship in Anam, and that my own heart has always been with you, and your people, Brother!

That Captain could not have been in his senses if he did so. I am sorrowful, and I grieve for this breach in our friendship, and I make haste now, to send you this letter that you may know my heart.

America, my Country, is very large:-very Great:-I have a great many warships and trading ships. I am now at peace with all the world, and my people are good and peaceable, and in China and Siam, where every Year, many of them got to trade, they are very much liked, and my heart would be glad that, now, you know how I disapprove of the bad conduct of any person commanding one of my warships, you would forget what is past, and receive my ships, and people, as before, to trade, and you may be assured that you will never have cause to complain again.

Having unbosomed myself to you, my Brother, because I am just and good, I hope you will listen to my words of peace, and not think of avenging, on innocent people, of my nation, the evil brought on by others contrary to my orders. I can now do no more.

But, I must let you know that, if you, or your officers, seek to avenge yourselves upon any Americans, for what ought to be forgotten and forgiven after my letter has come to your hands, that, then, you will force me to send my warships, fireships and soldiers to Anam, to ask you why you are so revengeful for what cannot now be helped; and upon you will devolve all the bad consequences. [Emphasis added, ed]

It is greatly to be regretted that our former Mission to the East, under Mr. Edmund Roberts, who was sent out by this government in 1835, to cultivate friendly commercial relations with you, should not have proved as successful as could have been wished; but it is not too late now, I trust, to place those relations upon the best possible footing, and thereby to promote the harmonious intercourse of the two Countries, and to extend most advantageously to both, the benefit of trade and commerce. This is our ardent and sincere desire, and this Mr. Balestier is instructed to do all in his power to accomplish.

May your God, and my God, prevent the shedding of any more blood between my people and your people, My Brother.

Your Good Friend,

Z. Taylor

By the President

John M Clayton
Secretary of State

Washington City, August 16th, 1849.

[From the National Archives, Diplomatic Branch]

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Documents referenced in Vietnam: Neglected Antecedents.

# Item From/To/By Date(s) Contents Source Included
1. Vietnam: Neglected Antecedents By Ira Body Written up to about 1970. Includes: Background and brief biography of Ira Bodry, Introduction, Chapters 1 through 5 and 3 letters listed below. Typed manuscript. PDF and HTML versions.
2. Letter of the Consulate of the Unites States From J. Balestier, US Consul to Secretary of State, Washington. Singapore 6th April 1847

Received 7 Aug. 1847

Consul reports Mandarins' description of the 1845 attacks by the USS Constitution. Warns it leaves an unfavorable impression.

H070 Records of D.O.S. Consular Letters Records Dip Branch. Photocopy and full text.
3. Letter of Credentials From Zachary Taylor President to the King of Anam Undated, but about 1949.. For Mr. John Balestier, US Counsel, Singapore Photocopy. Photocopy and full text.
4. Letter from Zachary Taylor From President Zachary Taylor to King of Anam Aug. 16, 1849 President Taylor denies US responsibility for Percival's alleged acts and then threatens to militarily attack Vietnam. Communications to Foreign Sovereigns and States, Vol. 2, pages 114-117. Dept. of State, Records Group 59, National Archives, Diplomatic Branch (photocopy) Photocopy and full text.
Items referenced, but copies and full text not included yet.
5. Letters and Annexed Documents From Captain John Percival to the Secretary of the Navy May 1845 on . M125 413 rolls  
6. Tales For The Marines Harry Gringo (nom de plume of Henry Wise) Philips Samson & Co: Boston 1855 Lt. Wise    

USS Constitution Journal(s)

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Midshipman Meriwether Patterson Jones 10 May: Off Touron, Cochin China.
12 May: Entered harbor.
14 May: Visited
19 May: Shore
20 May: Attack
26 May: Islands
27 May: Cannon
"Gallsa Han" Island. Fired 6 Paxihan shots, 2.7 lb., 4 lbs, shells raked the shore. Journals: M1030-16
Vol. 14, 1845
Vol. 13
Roll #16
8. Midshipman Colevile Tennett (sp) Oct. 21, 1844 to Sept. 20, 1845 Maybe May 15-24 also. Reports firing on shore at local people who tried protecting their ships.
9. USS Constitution Log . 10-27 May, 1845 . Index: M1030-1
Log: M1030-4

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   Updated: 10/16/2013