Relations between the United States and what is now the Federation of Malaya go back to the 19th century, when U.S. merchants traded at several Malaysian ports. However, it was not until the 20th century, particularly after Malaysian independence in 1957, that U.S.-Malaysian relations grew beyond this small-scale commerce.
Modern Flag of Malaysia
The United States recognized the Federation of Malaya on August 31, 1957, in a letter from Secretary of State John Foster Dulles to Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman. Malaya had previously been a part of the British Empire.
The United States commenced consular relations with what is now Malaysia when it appointed a Consul to Penang in 1918.
The United States also established consular posts in Kuala Lumpur (1948) and Kuching (1964).
Diplomatic relations were established on August 31, 1957, when the United States elevated its Consulate General in Kuala Lumpur to the status of Embassy. Then Consul General Thomas K. Wright was placed in charge of the Embassy as Charge d’Affaires.
In 1963, the Federation of Malaya joined with Singapore, Sarawak, and Borneo to form the Federation of Malaysia. Henceforth all U.S. Ambassadors were accredited to the federation of Malaysia, and resident at Kuala Lumpur.