In September 1869, the Prince (kha luang) of Chiang Mai, Chao Kawilorot, initiated a brutal persecution of the small Christian community that had just begun to take shape in Chiang Mai during that year. Two of the six converts were executed, and the other four went into hiding, thus bringing to a halt the growing interest in the Christian religion shown by many people in Chiang Mai and Lamphun. This collection contains various documents and links to other places in this website relevant to understanding that event. Unless otherwise noted, primary documents have been typed rather than scanned.
Correspondence of F. W. Partridge, American Vice Consul, with the Siamese Foreign Ministry
The following documents are found in "Dispatches from United States Consuls in Bangkok, Siam, 1856-1906. National Archives, Microcopy 448," at the Payap University Archives.
"About the time of my arrival in Bangkok, October 4th 1870 the Community of Americans here were suddenly startled with the intelligence that the Prince of Chiangmai, a Dependency of Siam, after paying particular attention to Rev. Messrs Wilson & McGilvary, American Missionaries who with their families had removed to Chiangmai upon the Invitation of the Prince, and with the Knowledge and approbation of the Siamese Government, had suddenly seized two of their Servants (Native Teachers) who had embraced Christianity, and without the form or pretence of Trial, had Publicly Executed them. By the same messenger, who was said to have hazarded his life to bring the letters of the Missionaries, we learned that the Prince had threatened to behead any who embraced the New Religion, and had commenced a lively persecution of all who visited, dealt with, or in any way sided or assisted them. The Missionaries in Bangkok have been here a long time some of them 30 years or more. They speak the language fluently and are personally acquainted with the high officers of the Government. Believing that they could have more influence to settle the Matter than any consul and perhaps desiring not to Embroil the Govt of the U. S. with the Siamese, although as I believe from pure " Egoism ", they visited the King & Regent and implored Protection for these persecuted Missionaries & their families & Servants at Chiangmai, and succeeded after some delay in getting a letter from the "Regent" to the Prince of Chiangmai, advising him not to hurt the Missionaries, to spare their lives, and to let them return to Bangkok. Two of the Missionaries of Bangkok went with the Commissioner who had been appointed by the "Regent" to take up and present this letter; and the Siamese Govt. Provided handsomely for their comfort on their long and painful; Journey. But their time and trouble seemed wasted, for the "Prince" not feeling constrained at all by the feeble remonstrance of the Siamese authoritiesseemed absolutely frantic and vowed the Missionaries nor their friends should remain in his Kingdom, and the only Grace he vouchsafed them was that they might remain until the rainy Season returned, before they left the country. The Missionaries had suffered much. Their servants had left in a Panic no dare sell to them or supply with any of the necessaries of life, and they were in constant fear of violence. When their friends arrived with the Royal Commissioner from Bangkok, they were allowed to purchase necessaries but not to teach or Preach. After the return of the Royal Commissioner & the Missionaries believing that the Treaty had been flagrantly violated by this treatment of American citizens, I took the matter in hand (see Paper No. 1 enclosed) To this the "Minister" replied in a long rambling document the purport of which was that "Chiangmai was a long way off"that it was a wild savage country, and the "King" was crazy and a brute, and although Chiangmai was a Dependency of Siam they could not agree to protect American Citizens so far from Bangkok. Also that the Missionaries had better return if they were not safe there and that the Siamese Government did not consider that Messrs Wilson and McGilvary were in Chiangmai upon their invitation, and could not plead the Treaty for Indemnity and Protection To this I replied that these people had an undoubted right to travel and pursue their business as American Citizens, under the Treaty in any part of Siam , and the fact that they were American Citizens must be their sufficient protection in any part of Siamand after several long letters had passed between us I had an interview which was unavailing to settle the matter. I then wrote the letter enclosed and Nod 2. To this they replied in No. 3 enclosed, and have given me since assurances that Americans resident in Chiangmai, as well as every where else in Siam, shall be promptly and thoroughly protected under the Treaty. In my letters and in my interviews with the Regent & the Minister I called these people simply "American Citizens", not missionaries, and insisted that the U. S. would protect every where its citizens alike . I am much pleased that the matters are likely to be settled amicably. The correspondence is too long to be forwarded."
"I am your obedient Servt, F. W. Partridge, U. S. Consul"
"I beg to direct your Excellency's attention to my Dispatch No. 25 sent the Foreign Office upon the 18th Inst. on "Chiangmai" affairs.
"I wish to Know, Definitely whether the Government of Siam will protect the 2 American Citizens, Daniel McGilvary and Jonathan Wilson and their families now resident in that city. Your Excellency will confer a favor by replying at an early day, as I desire to inform the U. S. Government of the facts and to ask special Instructions in the Promises [?].
"I feel confident the United States will decide to protect her Citizens while [?] and peacefully following their proper business, and must keep the Home Government informed in due time.
"I have the Honor to remain your Excellncy's most ob'd, t Servant, U. S. Consul"
"[Translation] Chow Phya Bhanuwongse Maha Kosa Debaude [?]the Praklung, Minister of Foreign Affairs begs to inform General Partridge Consul for the U. S. America, that he has Received his letter of the 26th May 1870, the substance of which is a request that I would consider well the contents of his letter to me on the 18th May 1870 concerning the King of Chiangmai, as the Consul desires to learn certainly whether the Siamese Government will Protect the American Messrs. McGilvary and Wilson together with their families, in Chiangmai at the present time.
"I beg now to reply to the Consul's letters. The many particulars contained in those letters I have read and understood. I communicated the same to his Grace the Regent, the Chief Executive of the affairs of the Kingdom.
"In reply he said the King of Chiangmai being very sick the business of Speaking to him and giving him a charge concerning the Protection of Messrs. McGilvary and Wilson was postponed because of his severe illness. But his Grace the Regent called to him the Maha Oparat (2d King of the Laos) who is to rule the Kingdom of Chiangmai in the Place of the Present King and committed to his care and protection Messrs McGilvary and Wilson who have gone to live in Chiangmai and charged him to assist, nourish, and protect them, and suffer no more trouble to befall them as before. The King of Chiangmai is still very sick. If he should recover from his sickness, or not recover, as the case may be, his Grace the Regent will certainly arrange this business, and have it all well done, And in full accord with the Treaty .
"Given on Thursday, May 31, 1870."