Executive Summary: Screenplay “Ambassador”
By Don M. Tow
Copyrighted by Don M. Tow – 2017
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This is a story about Anson Burlingame, a unique diplomat in world history as the U.S.’s Ambassador to China from 1861 to 1867, and as China’s Ambassador to All the Treaty Powers (including the U.S.) from 1867 to 1870.
Mark Twain wrote the following obituary: “In real greatness, ability, grandeur, and achievement, he stood head and shoulders above all the Americans of to-day, save one or two. … He was a good man, and a very, very great man. America lost a son, and all the world a servant, when he died.”
The screenplay reflects his life, full of drama, actions, great oratories, and seismic shifts in diplomacy. The story takes the audience from one highlight to another, from his accepting a duel challenge as a Congressman, to allowing Chinese witnesses in American courts on Chinese soil, to changing a foreign policy based on unequal treaties to one based on equality of nations, to a mission from China to the U.S. that almost ended before it started by a large gang of armed Chinese bandits.
Although the story occurred about 150 years ago when America and China’s paths closely intertwined, it has significance and relevance today when our two countries intertwined closely again.