1838 Canton China Trade Letter - Wetmore To Cryder - Opium Trade
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1838 Canton China Trade Letter - Wetmore To Cryder - Opium Trade:
This rare, important nine page China trade business letter dated "Canton October 14th 1838" was written byWilliam Wetmore of the Canton firm Wetmore & Co. to John Cryder in Philadelphia. The letter ismarked "original per overland mail duplicate." Duplicate letters were always sent becausethe mail was unreliable and sometimes took months to reach their destination. The letter starts with Wetmore telling Cryder of the arrival of the Barque "Mary Chilton" from Boston and discusses the state of business in America.Wetmore is complaing that the finanacial crisis in America is causing the cost of credit to go up worldwide. He informs Cryder about how happy he is to be working with Barrings and how impressed he his with their management skills he writes "Barings house is better managed at home and abroad, than any other house doing American business." Wetmore talks about some of the other American company's doing business in China he also complains about how the Banking crisis of 1837 has costhis company to suffer some heavy losses due to the high reat of exchange. He writes "The business from America last year has been mostly from Boston and confines to Russell & Co. - this house is doing the best busines in Canton." In this letter Wetmore is also complaing about the opium business he writes "Turkey Opium cannot be sold above360 if ..... new. Old would not bring above 250 if as much. Consumption of this article has of late greatly fallen off, and am fearful will soon be out of use." The prices of tea and silk are also mentioned in this letter. Several different China Trade firms are mentioned in this letter as well as thenames of several agents incliding Samuel Archer. This long nine page letter gives important insight into the American China Trade business in the late 1830's. This 175 year old letter is written on quality paper with a "J. Whatman 1836" watermark (seelast photo). Extremely good condition! !
William Shepard Wetmore was born in St. Albans, Vermont, on January 26, 1801. At a young age he moved to Middletown, Connecticut to live with his aunt and uncle, attend school, and work in his uncle's shop. At the age of fourteen, he entered the mercantile business in the employ of Edward Carrington & Co. of Providence, Rhode Island. In 1823, Wetmore sailed as the firm's supercargo on the ship Lion, bound for the port of Valparaiso, Chile. He was shipwrecked on the way, but this misfortune soon became an opportunity. Wetmore joined in a partnership with a Valparaiso import merchant named Richard Alsop, who was originally from Middletown. The firm Alsop & Wetmore conducted trade with the United States and England with great success. In 1825, the partners joined Philadelphia native John Cryder, creating the firm Alsop, Wetmore & Cryder. This endeavor continued until 1829, when Wetmore retired and returned to the United States with a large fortune.After several years at home while recovering from poor health, William Wetmore departed for Canton, China in 1833. William Wetmore and Samuel Archer, a family friend, completed an agreement to establish Wetmore & Co., a partnership between Wetmore and Archer's son, Joseph. Wetmore's cousin, Samuel Wetmore, Jr., would serve as clerk. The elder Archer had close connections to the British textile trade, especially James Brown & Co. of Leeds. John Cryder, who was then working for the London bankers Morrison & Cryder, secured these accounts for Wetmore & Co. With these textile accounts and Joseph Archer's established connections in the tea trade, Wetmore & Co. acquired much of the business previously held by Dunn & Co., a recently disbanded China trade firm. Wetmore & Co. conducted brisk business throughout the 1830's, trading in Chinese tea, silk, opium, and other goods to merchants in the United States, Britain, France, Chile, Peru and Sumatra. In 1839, Wetmore left China and established himself in New York City. His partner from Chile, Richard Alsop, had been the United States agent for Wetmore & Co. of Canton; however, due to a quarrel, Alsop was removed from the firm. Wetmore then became the principal United States agent for his own Canton firm. In 1844, William Wetmore and John Cryder established the New York City commission merchant firm of Wetmore, Cryder & Co. Cryder had married Wetmore's sister and had recently returned from London. Wetmore, now established in New York, left his cousin, and former clerk, Samuel Wetmore, Jr., as head of the Canton firm, Wetmore & Co. William Wetmore removed himself from all business in 1847 and retired to his mansion, Chateau-sur-Mer, in Newport, Rhode Island. Wetmore traveled from China to London, England, in 1837 to marry his cousin, Esther Phillips Wetmore of Middletown. She was the daughter of his uncle, Samuel Wetmore. Esther died in October 1838, a few weeks after the birth of their firstborn daughter. Williamreceivednews of his wife's death while in Canton. In 1843 William later married Anstiss Derby Rogers daughter of Salem, Massachusetts, merchant John Rogers.John had three children with Anstiss: William Shepard Wetmore, Jr. (1844-1858), George Peabody Wetmore (1846-1921), and Annie Derby Rogers Wetmore (1848-1884). Willliam Wetmore died on June 16, 1862.