Rare 1840 China Trade Letter - Cryder To Wetmore In Canton - Opium War
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Rare 1840 China Trade Letter - Cryder To Wetmore In Canton - Opium War:
This rare, important China trade letter dated "London Feb. 17, 1840" was written by John Cryder toSamuel Weymore Jr, who was head of the Canton firm of Wetmore & Co. In the letter Cryder is worried about the uncertain state of business at this time, complaining that things were "static". Apparently the financial crisis in the USA, touched off by the panic of 1837, caused a major recession that lasted well into the 1840's. However, Wetmore & Co. was about to make a large fortune in the China Trade due to the fact that the Opium Wars had just started and China would soon halt all trade with Great Britain. Thus, the American companies like Wetmore & Co. would get the bulk of the China trade business. In this letterCryderdiscusses the bad economy, and he is worried about the opium trade, apparently there had been five months of continuous rain which ruined the chances of a good opium crop. On this subjectCryder writes:
"We have had nearly five months of almost continous rain which having injured the sowing in the fall, they are about to sow ..... which is an uncertain product, no .... opium can be found however as yet about the cities should they be short again this year we shall have an ugly time here."
Cryder goes on to talk about the opium war and the problems it is causing the Chinese people. He writes of an "almost starving population." Much of the letteris about the sorry state of the economy. In one paragraph, for example,Cryder writes:
The state of the Exchange in England is very bad, they will have a large deficiency this year besides the expected cost of the tea duties and it is difficult to say where they can place another tax to meet it. I am inclined to think that this country has seen its best days."
Cryderwrites Wetmore that he is trying to sell is house, of his wish toreturn to China in the fall andof his hopes that his wife Mary will join him. This is a very interesting letter giving insightinto the hard economic timesextant during the late 1830's andthe early 1840's and how this affectedthe China Tradeand Wetmore & Co.in particular. As with all my items I am starting this letter at $9.99 with !
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.