Lost Footsteps
Lost Footsteps
The first Burmese in America, Maung Shaw Loo of Moulmein

The first Burmese in America, Maung Shaw Loo of Moulmein

The photo was taken in the little town of Goshen, Indiana c. 1865. Maung Shaw Loo left Burma in 1857 aged 17 for studies in Calcutta. During the Indian Mutiny in 1858 he stowed away on a ship for America; when discovered he managed to stay on as a cabin boy. Arriving penniless in the US, he did odd jobs to survive, before enrolling at the University of Lewisburg (now Bucknell), in Pennsylvania, where he studied Greek, Latin, Philosophy, History and Science. Afterwards, he attended and graduated from Cleveland Medical College, becoming the first Burmese physician trained in the West. He was a man who knew how to win friends and take every opportunity life presented. In 1867, he even managed to meet then US President Andrew Johnson and persuade the 17th president to write him a letter of recommendation to King Mindon. Maung Shaw Loo, now Dr. Shaw Loo eventually returned to his native Moulmein, where he worked for many years as a physician and educator. He died in 1921. Maung Shaw Loo traveled widely across America in the 1860s, giving talks about Burma, which is what probably brought him to Goshen, Indiana. The photograph was a "Carte de visite", to be traded like business cards today.

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