Joseph Balestier (1788–1858), was a planter and merchant who was the first United States consul in Rhiau and in Singapore. In 1849, he was appointed Envoy and Diplomatic Agent of the United States to South Eastern Asia.
Born in France, Balestier was appointed Consul in Rhiau in the 1830s, and later as the first US consul in Singapore when American ships were given equal trading rights with the East India Company. In Singapore, he had a large house on a 1,000 acre sugar-cane and cotton plantation, with a plant to manufacture sugar and rum. He served until 1852, although he actually left the country due to ill-health in 1848. He was a friend of James Brooke, Rajah of Sarawak, from his visit to Singapore in 1839, and wrote an article supporting him when opposition arose in America.
He died in York, Pennsylvania.
The area of Balestier in Singapore is named after him and is the site of his sugar plantation.
Art Stage Singapore and U.S. Embassy Singapore jointly organize the Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art to honor an artist or curator from the Southeast Asian region who is actively committed to the ideals of liberty and freedom of expression, and through his or her work, continually seeks to express these ideals.
- Joseph Balestier in Singapore Infopedia Archived 2012-02-14 at the Wayback Machine
- Miller, Robert Hopkins. The United States and Vietnam, 1787-1941. Washington, DC: National Defense University Press. OCLC 90013317. Retrieved June 20, 2012.[permanent dead link]
- Mr.Brooke of Sarawack, pp.56-60 in The Merchants' Magazine and Commercial Review, Volume 18 (New York, Jan, 1848)
- "Aye Ko wins 2017 Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art". U.S. Embassy in Singapore. 2017-01-12. Retrieved 2019-09-01.