First Advisor

Jon E. Mandaville

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






United States -- Relations -- Oman, Oman -- Relations -- United States



Physical Description

1 online resource (91 p.)


Informal relations between American merchant traders and the Sultanate of Oman in the port of Zanzibar began with the landing of the first American merchants about 1828. At the same approximate time, Sultan Said bin Sultan moved his official residence from Muscat, Oman, to Zanzibar, underlining the importance of Zanzibar to the administration of his territories on the East African coast. Relations were formalized by the Treaty of 1833 between the United States and Oman, and the U.S. established a consular mission in Zanzibar in 1837 and in Muscat in 1838.

The growth of the Omani Empire under Sultan Said expanded and prospered during the period examined in the present research (1828-1856). Oman's growth and prosperity, resulting primarily from its possession of Zanzibar and ports on the East African coast, roughly parallels the expansion and prosperity of the Zanzibar trade to American merchant traders. After Said's death, the Omani Empire was divided in a bitter succession battle (abetted by the British, who enjoyed military dominance in the region), and this point marked the beginning of the decline of the Oman as a regional economic and political power.

The present study surveys these two parallel developments over the critical 28-year reign of Sultan Said. The survey finds that, as with much economic development in the "third world" in the nineteenth century, Oman's enormous growth and prosperity during this period was directly linked to the growth and prosperity of commercial interests of a "developed" Western nation (in Oman's case, the United States). The study found that political developments between the two countries followed, and were informed and directed by, commercial developments. America's first three consuls to the Sultanate of Oman in Zanzibar were New England merchant traders more focused on their own commercial interests than on political concerns. That both parties (American traders and the Omani government) ultimately prospered is testimony to the complementary nature of their respective economic goals and foreign policy objectives.


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