Kolkata has a preeminent place in the history of American diplomacy as one of the oldest American Consulates anywhere in the world, and the oldest in India.
President George Washington, on November 19, 1792, nominated Benjamin Joy of Newbury Port as the first American Consul to Kolkata. With the advice of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson later the third President of the United States and consent of the Senate, President Washington commissioned Joy to that office on November 21, 1792.
Joy, however, reached Kolkata only in April 1794. He was never recognized as Consul by the British East India Company but was permitted to “reside here as a Commercial Agent subject to the Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction of this Country…”.
Despite this rather inauspicious beginning, Benjamin Joy’s arrival was the beginning of a long official American relationship with Kolkata – and, indeed, with all of India.