Sunday, June 8, 2014

Recap of Omani Envoy's Trip to New York in 1840

Envoy to USA sent by Oman 1840. Painting in Peabody Essex Museum, Massachusetts

In 1840, Oman sent the ship Sultana with the Sultan's envoy Ahmad ibn Na'aman to New York to establish relations. The arrival of the ship made quite a splash with New Yorkers and American dignitaries in New York as it probably was the first ship originating from the African/Arab world to US.

The ship brought along several gifts to the then US President Van Buren including two horses, pearls, and Persian carpet from the Sultan of Oman and Zanzibar, Sayyed Sa'id bin Sultan. This roused controversy in the states as US Presidents were forbidden to accept gifts according to the Constitution. After hashing the matter out in Congress, it was decided the President can accept the gifts on behalf of the US but not personally setting the precedent followed today. The horses were sold and the funds deposited to the US Treasury.  

The Sultana was in disrepair upon arrival to New York. The captain was fired and a new captain 'Drinker' was hired for the trip back to Oman.

Saudi Aramco has a nice write up about the voyage here:

Omani postal stamp commemorating the 150th anniversary of the voyage

First Lady Angelica Van Buren, daughter-in-law to President Van Buren possibly wearing the pearls gifted by the Sultan of Oman

Sayyed Said bin Sultan-Imam of Muscat and Oman, Sultan of Zanzibar


  1. thank you for posting that bit of wonderfully interesting history. as i always tell people. i learn something new everyday in Oman.

  2. An excellent presentation of U.S and Oman Historical and bilateral relation's. Well done and thank you for sharing with us your dep knowledge.
    Hamoud K Al Said - Oman.