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The Old China Trade
Foster Rhea Dulles

[image ALT: A stylized port scene with three tall-masted Western-style sailing ships, a Chinese junk, and sampans and dozens of small boats, in front of a very neat quay with a row of low buildings, above which, on six flagpoles some 15 meters high, fly the flags of various European nations. It is a depiction of the foreign 'factories' at Canton, China, in the early 19c; on this site the image serves as the icon for the book 'The Old China Trade' by Foster Rhea Dulles.]

The Author and the Book

Foster Rhea Dulles (b. Englewood, NJ Jan. 24, 1900, † Jamaica, VT Sep. 11, 1970) — first cousin to John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State under President Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Eisenhower and his brother Allen Dulles, head of the CIA in the same period — was a Princeton University professor and historian influential for his many published works, mostly on geopolitics. He writes well, without needless flourishes, yet with an eye to extracting the essential and the interesting.

The following list of his works, no doubt incomplete, may be useful, since collated from a dozen much less nearly complete lists and library catalogues. The years of publication are in each case the earliest I could find, but may still not be those of first publication:

The Old China Trade (1930): the book I transcribe here appears to have been his first.

Eastward Ho! The First English Adventurers to the Orient (1931)

America in the Pacific: A Century of Expansion (1932)

Lowered Boats: A Chronicle of American Whaling (1933)

Harpoon: The Story of a Whaling Voyage (1935)

Forty Years of American-Japanese Relations (1937)

America Learns to Play: A History of Popular Recreation, 1607‑1940 (1940)

Behind the Open Door: The Story of American Far Eastern Relations (1944)

The Road to Teheran: The Story of Russia and America, 1781‑1943 (1944, translated into several languages)

Twentieth Century America (1945)

China and America: The Story of Their Relations Since 1784 (1946)

Russia and America: Pacific Neighbors (1946)

Labor in America: A History (1949; has seen many editions, the later ones co‑authored with Melvyn Dubofsky)

The American Red Cross: A History (1950)

The Imperial Years: The History of America's Brief Moment of Imperial Fervor (1956)

The United States Since 1865 (co‑authored with Michael Kraus, 1959)

America's Rise to World Power, 1898‑1954 (1963)

Americans Abroad: Two Centuries of European Travel (1964)

Prelude to World Power: American Diplomatic History, 1860‑1900 (1965)

Yankees and Samurai: America's Role in the Emergence of Modern Japan: 1791‑1900 (1965)

The Civil Rights Commission, 1957‑1965 (1968)

American Policy toward Communist China, 1949‑1969 (posthumous, 1972)

(p. i) Preface

In this story of the old China trade I have attempted to recapture something of the spirit of adventure and daring which at the close of the Revolution sent the young merchant seamen of the Atlantic seaboard throughout the length and breadth of the Pacific. Many of these voyages had as their objective other ports than Canton, but it was the China trade which gave greatest proof of the resourcefulness and ingenuity of the Yankee traders. Furthermore, it had a significant result in the opening‑up of political relations with the Chinese Empire. I have brought the story to a close with the Treaty of Wanghia, which was signed in 1844. It ushered in a new era in our trade with China; it also brought to an end its most romantic period.

The text has not been burdened with footnotes, but the reader interested in knowing the sources on which I have based my work is referred to the list of official documents, manuscripts, contemporary articles, and books which I have consulted and found useful. This list, needless to say, makes no pretense of being a complete bibliography.

To the officials and librarians of the New York Public Library, the New York Historical Society, the New York Society Library, the Essex Institute, and the Peabody Museum I should like to extend my most sincere thanks. I am also indebted to Mrs. Helen Godey Wilson for letting me see manuscripts in her possession, to Dr. Howard C. Taylor, Jr., for many suggestions, and to Marion R. Dulles for so much help and encouragement that her name might better be inscribed as that of a collaborator.

F. R. D.

New York, January, 1930

(p. iii) Contents



The Empress of China


Old Canton


Ships and Cargoes


The Northwest Coast


Hawaii and Spanish America


The Seal Fisheries


Islands of the South Seas


Changing Trade


American Relations with the Chinese


Opium and Equality


Anglo-Chinese Hostilities


The Cushing Commission


The Treaty of Wanghia






(p. v) Illustrations

The Canton Factories before 1821

From a Chinese painting on glass in the Peabody Museum, Salem


Four Merchant Seamen: Samuel Shaw, Richard Cleveland, Benjamin Morrell, and Amasa Delano

From Josiah Quincy's Journals of Samuel Shaw (1847), H. W. S. Cleveland's Voyages of a Merchant Navigator (1886), Benjamin Morrell's Narrative of Four Voyages (1832), and Amasa Delano's Narrative of Voyages and Travels in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres (1817)

Although grouped together in the print edition, the four engravings are separate; I've redistributed them to accompany the most appropriate text: Shaw Cleveland Morrell Delano


The Aspasia and the Betsy

From two lithographs in Edmund Fanning's Voyages Round the World (1833)

38 [AB]

The Boston Taken by Savages at Nootka Sound

From John R. Jewitt's A Narrative of the adventures and Suffering of John R. Jewitt (1815)


Attack and Massacre of Crew of Ship Tonquin by the Savages of the Northwest Coast

From Edmund Fanning's Voyages to the South Seas, etc. (1838)


Page of Manuscript Sea Journal of Samuel Hill

From the original in the New York Public Library


A Seal Rookery in the Falkland Islands

From Fanning's Voyages Round the World


A View of Whampoa

From an engraving by T. Allom in Wright's China in a Series of Views


Houqua, Chinese Merchant

From a photograph in W. C. Hunter's The 'Fan Kwae' at Canton before Treaty Days (1882)


A Chinese Opium Den

From an engraving by T. Allom in Wright's China in a Series of Views


The Capture of Ting‑Hai, Chusan

From an engraving by T. Allom in Wright's China in a Series of Views


Caleb Cushing in 1843

From an engraving of a daguerreotype owned by Mr. Lawrence R. Cushing, of Newburyport, Mass. By courtesy of Mr. Claude M. Fuess, author of The Life of Caleb Cushing


Technical Details

Edition Used

The edition I transcribed here appears to be the first and only one. It is in the public domain because the 1930 copyright was not renewed in 1957 or 1958 as then required by law; details here on the copyright law involved.


In the printed edition the illustrations are tipped in at various places; I've moved a few of them to what I feel are more appropriate places. The table above is as printed, giving their places in the printed book: the links are of course to their places in my Web transcription.

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is shown in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line); p57  these are also local anchors. Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

My transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree; a red background would mean that the page had not been proofread. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

The printed book was well proofread. The inevitable typographical errors were few, and all trivial: I marked them with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the underscored words to read what was actually printed. Similarly, glide your cursor over bullets before measurements: they provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

A number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked. They are also few.

Any over­looked mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have a copy of the printed book in front of you.

[image ALT: A port scene with eight or nine tall-masted sailing ships in front of a very neat quay with a row of low buildings, above which, on six flagpoles some 15 meters high, fly the flags of various European nations. It is a depiction of the foreign 'factories' at Canton, China, in the early 19c; on this site the image serves as the icon for the book 'The Old China Trade' by Foster Rhea Dulles.]

The icon I use to indicate this subsite is a slightly cropped version of an image very similar to the book's frontispiece, above. Searching the Web for the exact painting reproduced in the book turns up several very similar ones, but none identical: it's clear that these glass 'postcards' were mass-produced as souvenirs, and one passage in the book itself suggests as much.

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Site updated: 25 Feb 17