Lot 330 of 627:
1853 letter, Opium Captain,Taiping Rebellion – and Illinois town  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$390
$200 - $300

Opium Captain, Taiping Rebellion – and Illinois town

H. Roundy

Woosung, China


Aug. 29 and Sept. 16, 1853


1 Autograph Letter Signed and 1 Unsigned, as Captain of the Bark ”Science”, 4pp. and 4pp. To John Porter.

A veteran captain of the American Opium trade, in the third year of the Taiping Rebellion against the Manchu dynasty, Roundy had sailed his ship to the Shanghai port of Woosung, commissioned by the Chinese governor to support the Imperial fleet against the rebels at Nanking, but incompetent local pilots had made it impossible for him to sail more than 75 miles up the Yangtze. So, he writes an old shipmate, “notwithstanding the wars and rumors of wars with rebels, everything seems to go on in the even tenor of its way…” in spite of a financial panic among Shanghai merchants.

He himself had had his fill of what he sarcastically calls ‘these gay and festive scenes’, and would soon return to “dear old ‘Yankee Land’…if the Lord spares my life and health and I meet with no reverses of fortune.” He did not care “a pinch of snuff about living in luxury, for a beefsteak in the society of those we esteem is better than the most sumptuous living with strangers…” and would be happy with a modest retirement in the company of other old sailors, “where we can enjoy each other’s society.” Which was exactly what he did in 1855, when he went into partnership with two other Old China Hand Captains to buy 2,000 acres along the route of the Illinois Central Railroad – and together to found a city they nostalgically called – Woosung.

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