Since her inception, America has promoted democracy both at home and abroad, seeking diplomatic relations further inland as well as across oceans. Little is known about these first envoys-until now. From China to Chile, Tripoli to Tahiti, Mexico to Muscat, Peter Eicher chronicles these first American envoys' experiences in foreign lands. Their stories, often stranger than fiction, are replete with intrigues, revolutions, riots, war, shipwrecks, swashbucklers, desperadoes, and bootleggers. The circumstances they faced are surprising precursors of today's headlines: Americans at war in the Middle East, intervention in Latin America, pirates off Africa, trade deficits with China. Their experiences combine to chart key trends in the development of early American foreign policy that continue to affect us today. Meticulously researched and based principally on unpublished sources, the book illuminates how American ideas, values, and power helped shape the modern world. The first Americans to raise the Stars and Stripes in distant ports faced hostile governments, physical privations, disease, isolation, and the daunting challenge of explaining American democracy to foreign rulers. Many suffered threats from tyrannical despots, some were held as slaves or hostages, others led foreign armies into battle. Some were heroes, some were scoundrels, and many perished far from home. From the American Revolution to the Civil War, Eicher profiles the characters influential to the formative period of American diplomacy and who would guide her first steps as a world power.