The Mobility of Trader and Common Folks in the Lower North during a Transitional Period: A Birth of Siam’s Modern State in the Nineteenth Century

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Nattaphong Sakul-leaw


          This article aimed to construct a new explanation of the formation of Siam’s modern state by looking at the mobility of traders and commoners in the lower north of Thailand that related to the economic and political changes during colonial period in the late nineteenth century. These were therefore important factors in transforming Northern principalities to be “trade center” with plenty of people from various groups and social statuses, including Chinese tax-farmers, Siamese and Chinese commoners or small-scale traders, and foreign aliens and colonists. These people could conduct various forms of economic activities in order to accumulate properties and money, but these trading and accumulation of wealth from various economic activities had escalated forms of violence and conflicts, including robbery, fraud, and disputation over properties. Commoners and traders were calling for a measure to control local powers and authorities and a strengthening of the structure of modern state with a legal standard that satisfied them rather than previous administrative system. As a result, modern bureaucracy could thereby be formulated and institutionalized by the request of numerous commoners and traders, rather than merely led by far-sighted nobles and elites.


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บทความวิจัย (Research Article)


CS = Chula Sakkarat; M = Ministry of Interior (Krasuang mahatthai); R = Rama; RMS = Royal Secretariat Office with Minor Seal of the Royal Emblem (Krom ratchalekhathikan – Tra noi); RS = Ratanakosin Anno (started from 1782 CE)

National Library (NL), Manuscript Collection, Bangkok
NL R3 CS1198 no.55 Dispatch from Muang Phatchaboon, informing the tribute.

NL R3 CS1199 no.28 Dispatch from Muang Kamphengpet, informing the procured Amomum vilosum delivery, CS 1199.

NL R4 CS1213 no.146 Luang Suntornpitak reported the arraignment of the case of teak-log tax for palace’s building.

NL R4 CS1214 no.45/3 Letter to Maung Phetchaboon, Maung Loomsak, Maung Vichein, requested for recruiting Pai people log and sending them to Bangkok for renovating Baromnivet and Baromnivas temples.

NL R4 CS1215 no.7 Draft letter to Phraya Sawankalok, appointing Saming Nara Jumpon as Nai Kong Saming Phaisan, deputy chief of teak tribute station.

NL R4 CS1216 no.15/1 Dispatch copy from Uttaradit, reporting about the renovation of Mahatat Temple, the sanctuary, the pagoda and the parillion of Maung Tung Young.

NL R4 CS 1217 no.144 Passports and the 2 translated copies of the passports of Muang Moranaeng which Angoyebeng, the Regent of Maotamlerm, issued to 24 Tongsu traders.

NL R4 CS1218 no.234 The number of people in 8 Northern cities that was obliged to build Mahatat Temple, Maung Tung Young and the pagoda in Maung Sawang Khabury.

NL R4 CS1221 no.121/2 Letter to Phraya Tak, Phra Vichit Raksa, on facilitating and protecting of Sir Robert.

NL R4 CS1221 no.211 Draft letter of Chao Phraya Chakri to Phraya Uthai of Muang Uthai Thani, acknowledging the sappan wood tax of Laung Rittikamheang.

NL R4 CS1222 no.306/3 Draft letter of Tan Ton Chuek to Phraya Uthaithani, reguesting of unpaid Caesalpinia sappan tax money.

NL R4 CS1223 no.328 Draft latter of Chao Phaya Chakri to Phaya Sawankhalok, Pha Satern Burintorn and Phaya Phichai, informed the receiving of teak logs from Sawankhalok, Tern and Phichai.

NL R4 CS1225 no.113/1 Draft letter to the cities along the way, requesting for facilitating Mong Toon and his opanions partisan in a journey to Chiangmai.

NL R4 CS1225 no.136/2 Letter to Phraya Phichai, Maung Phichai, on the arrival of the money in substitute of teak logs and copper.

NL R4 CS1225 no.136/3 Letter to Phisanulok, on the arrival of received teak logs.

NL R4 CS1227 no.161 Draft Letter to Phaya Phisanulok, Phraya Sukothai, Phraya Sawankalok Phraya Phichai and Phraya Pichit, about Mr.Gertib.

NL R4 CS 1227 no.24 Draft of the royal instruction for Phra Sayamsimanurak.

NL R4 CS 1228 no.334 Draft letter to Phraya Uthai Thani and the deputy chief of Uthai Thani, requiring to provide the vacant land or the paddy field for renting to Mr Piti and other Burmese subjects of Great Britain, in accordance with their convenience.

National Archives of Thailand, Bangkok (NA)
NA R5 M 2.12 Korkai/2 Kamphangphet’s dispatches, March RS103 – 2 May RS110.

NA R5 M 2.12 Korkai/4 Nakornsawan’s dispatches (January 102-November 106).

NA R5 M 2.12 Korkai/42 Nakornsawan’s dispatches box no.3-4 (RE 106-110).

NA R5 M 2.12/4 Nakornsawan’s dispatches (January 102-November 106).

NA R5 M 2.12/8 [18] Jameun Chaiphusa considered the robbery cases in Pichit city (12 September 108-18 November 109).

NA R5 M 2.12 Korkai/4 Nakornsawan’s dispatches (March 102-November 106).

NA R5 M 48/5 Official proclamation of Ministry of Interior, Mueng Tak (5 April 109-14 April 111).

NA R5 RMS/1 CS1237-1238 no. 2 Letter of the city government of Maung Nakhonthai, Nakhonchum, Dansai, Phukrang, Loei, to Maung Kantao, aung Phetchaboon, the governor of Maung Phichai, the protectorate of Maung Pakhaungnongkhai, about the reqnest of Phraya Phitsanulok to resettle the people of Dansai, Phukhrang to Maung Pakhaung, Maung Kantao.

NA R5 RMS/1 CS1237-1238 no. 3 Dispatch to Phraya Sukhothai, requesting to acquisition of rice from people in Sukhothai and transfer to Phichai.

NA R5 RMS/1 CS1237-1238 no. 55 Letter to Nampad, Pakhueng, and Keantaw, requesting to stock rice for official services,

NA R5 RMS Vol.2 CS 1239-1242 no.4 Maung Nakornsawan, reporting of Nai Imm’’s lawsuit, who claim himself a Dutch subject and alleged Phra Yodmuengkhang.

NA R5 RMS Vol.2 CS1239-1242 no.7 Maung Nakornsawan, A case of Nai Imm, an employee of an subject of Dutch, was robbed and injured.

NA R5 RMS Vol.2 CS 1239-1242 no.99 The Flag case, Mr.David Michigel American Consul requested to arrest trading ship, except the ships in the consulate services, displayed fake Americanflag.

NA R5 RMS Vol.17 CS1249 no.110 Maung Phisanulok, requesting to release Umdang Soon, Luang Chiyot’s wife back to her home, in preventing her to pick a quarrel with the labors.

NA R5 RMS Vol.27 CS 1250 no.790 Muang Sawankalok, requesting send Luang Phakdiphubeth and the debtors to Phraya Sukhothai and Ja Reangnganrudrad for the arraignment in the case of Amdaeng Somboon and Amdaeng Puk.
NA R5 RMS vol. 27 CS 1250 no.791 Muang Phichai, order to capture Laung Phakdibhubet, the assistance and the debtors of Amdaeng Somboon and Amdaeng Puk.

NA R5 RMS Vol.51 CS 1253 no.44 Muang Sawankalok, suggest to inspect the case of Amdaeng Somboon and her debtors or send the case to Bangkok court.

NA R5 RMS/11 CS 1248 no.114 Muang Sawankalok, ordering to proceed the lawsuit between Nai Royphupheew, Jeen Tankim, Jeen Yong Seng, about teak logs and asset robbery.

NA R5 RMS/2 CS 1239-1242 no.220 Mong Keang, the British subject trader, in his acquiring of the cattle, horses and elephants, in northern principles was robbed by his employees during his short visit to Ban Huayrong for elephant trade as was informed by Kamnan Muang Pichit

NA R5 RMS/9 CS 1247 no.98 Muang Sukhothai, requiring of delivering 95 teak logs to Jeen Tansungim, the French Subject, in the case of seized logs in Muang Sukhothai.

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