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Opium Traders and Their Worlds-Volume One: A Revisionist Exposé of the World's Greatest Opium Traders

Opium Traders and Their Worlds-Volume One: A Revisionist Exposé of the World's Greatest Opium Traders

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Opium Traders and Their Worlds-Volume One: A Revisionist Exposé of the World's Greatest Opium Traders

Longueur:
717 pages
13 heures
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Oct 13, 2008
ISBN:
9780595910786
Format:
Livre

Description

Opium Traders and Their Worlds examines the opium trade with a detective's investigative approach. The author uses evidence to dismiss many of the false claims commonly held with regard to the so-called "legitimacy" of the Old China trade, presents proof of important figures who were deeply involved in all parts of the world and shows how world events were affected by famous men in opium hierarchies.


Lateral contributors to the drug trade include shipbuilders who fashioned their craft to meet needs of the commerce, designing specially built Indiamen, clippers, and "fast crabs."


Ms. Kienholz shows how vicious competition in the trade moved players like chess pieces, with winners and losers shifting positions.


Her research into the production of the new "opioids" such as oxycodone is an area not previously probed.
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Oct 13, 2008
ISBN:
9780595910786
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

M. KIENHOLZ, researcher, poet, and author of eight books, graduated magna cum laude/Business Administration from Eastern Washington University. A professional secretary and career police stenographer, Kienholz worked with The Honorable Albert F. Canwell from the 1960s to 2002, managing his confidential files and associated library, bookstore, and print shop.

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Opium Traders and Their Worlds-Volume One - M. Kienholz

Opium Traders and

Their Worlds—Volume One

A revisionist exposé of

the world’s greatest opium traders

In Two Volumes

M. Kienholz

iUniverse, Inc.

New York Bloomington Shanghai

Also by M. Kienholz:

Little Japan

Galilee: A Century of Conflict

Police Files: The Spokane Experience 1853–1995

Strange Medicine

Opium Traders and Their Worlds—Volume One

A revisionist exposé of the world’s greatest opium traders

Copyright © 2008 by Mary L. Kienholz

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any

means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording,

taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written

permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in

critical articles and reviews.

iUniverse books may be ordered through booksellers or by contacting:

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www.iuniverse.com

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Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any Web addresses

or links contained in this book may have changed

since publication and may no longer be valid.

The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

ISBN: 978-0-595-46786-0 (pbk)

ISBN: 978-0-595-91078-6 (ebk)

Printed in the United States of America

For my children and grandchildren—

may you always search for and never fear the truth.

… There are some

Who, sickened by the norm, and paying serious court

To Madness, seeking refuge, turn to opium.

—Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Opium Colonialists

Europe’s Trading Companies

Other Areas of Interest and Dispute

Banking on Opium

The Dating Game

Naming Names

Smuggling

Opium Mythology

Abbreviated Chronology of the Opium Trade

1.           Clive

2.           Opium: the Commercial Article

Poppies of Iraq

Poppies of Persia (Iran)

Turkey and the Ottomans

3.           Caravan Routes

4.           Jewish Merchants and the Floating Opium Mart

5.           Poppies, Poppies, Everywhere

6.           Opium, Alchemy, and Rosicrucians

The Secret School of Pythagoras

7.           The Black Earth of Ammon

8.           The Transoceanic Challenge

Dr. Dee, the Cabots, and English Traders

Henry Hudson and the Muscovy Company

9.           Opening of the East

10.         Trade Rivalries: Catholics, Jews, and Turks

11.         Kabbalists, the Inquisition, and Iberian Trade

Francis Salvador.

The Costa Family

12.         The Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie

13.         Great Britain and EIC as Factor and Adversary

The Lytteltons and Pitts

Genesis of the Barings

The Peabody Family

The Cox and Beale Families

14.         Indian Opium, its Proponents, and Their Politics

The Dent Families

Mutiny by the Sepoys

Britain’s Pro-opium Propaganda

The Bulwer-Lytton Families and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

The Apostles and Bloomsbury

The Strachey Families

Opium, Irish Rebels, and More About The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

The Irish Independence Movement

15.         Opium Wars and Their Aftermath

The First Opium War (1839–42)

The Second Opium War (Lorcha Arrow War 1856–58)

Poppies and Hongkong

16.         Russian Pelters and English-Speaking Traders

17.         The Solid Men of Massachusetts

Sealed Containers

The Lyman Family

The Lamb Families

The Sturgis Families

The Winship Families

The Coolidges and Randolphs

Philadelphia’s Cabot Family

18.         Tom Perkins and His Circle

19.         Russell & Company: a Fair and Honorable Trade

The Delano and Roosevelt Families

The Green Families

The Forbes Families

20.         The Brotherhoods

21.         Astor, Castor, Castoreum

Astor: Busy With Beavers

Astor: Busy With Opium.

Astor and Washington Irving

Astor: Busy With Sea Otters.

Astor and the Honorable Thomas Benton

War With Britain—1812–15

Astor and the Sandwich Islands

Astor Family Investments

The Astor Beneficiaries

The Consolidation of Influence

22.         Jardine-Matheson and the International Scots

Jardine-Matheson Reorganizes.

Scots in the New World

23.         Ships and Men

British Shipbuilders

Yankees and Their Ships

Enos Briggs, Shipbuilder

Ship Owners

Donald McKay, Ship Builder

Isaac and William H. Webb, Ship Builders

Jacob A. and Daniel D. Westervelt, Ship Builders

The Blue Funnels

Steam Navigation, the Livingstons and Roosevelts

24.         Skippers and Country Trade

Captain John Perkins Cushing

Captain John Murray Forbes

Captain Nat Palmer and the Palmer Families

Captain Stephen Girard

Captain Robert Waterman

Captain Charles Porter Low and the Low Families

25.         California: Trails, Sails, Mails, and Rails

The Cox and Beale Families

Edward Beale and President Ulysses S. Grant

The Grant and Dent Families of America

Chapter Notes

Bibliography

Reference Works

Acknowledgments

My thanks to officers of the Spokane Police Department, with whom I worked for nearly eighteen years, for educating me in an understanding of crime. My gratitude, though posthumously, to The Honorable Albert F. Canwell, legislative investigator. He taught me how to analyze criminal motives and helped fortify what he called my lily liver with red blood. A special thank you to Ann Jurcevich, whose suggestions and skilled assistance with editing, computer transmission, and a digital camera were absolute necessities, without which some of my productions would surely have died on the vine. The writers whose books were used as resources are listed in the Bibliography. To them, to the dozens of newspaper journalists used in this research, and to staff assistants at iUniverse, my lasting appreciation.

Introduction

How strange that poppy seeds and flowers

Produce the orbs of global powers!

Poppies, M.K.

It is mid-February. Women and children from many villages in India move among poppy stalks collecting tender white blossoms before the fragile petals winnow to the ground. The collected petals will be used as coverings for cannon ball opium that will be harvested in a week or two. Similar scenes occur in Afghanistan, Burma, and other countries.

When ready for harvest, newly-formed globular seed capsules are light green, elastic to finger pressure and steamed with a moist bloom. With a nushtur, workers incise the green capsules just deeply enough to allow the plant’s juice to ooze. Deep cuts would reduce poppy seed output. Excess moisture in the juice will be allowed to evaporate on the plant for several hours and the tarry residue then will be scraped off the bulbous capsules and formed into cakes for ripening and marketing. India’s Bengal, Benares, and Patna opium have been prepared in raw opium cakes weighing 3.5 or 3.75 pounds.

Other workers will extract, refine, and process these lumps of congealed juice into chandu (smoking opium), morphine, codeine, papaverine, thebaine, narcotine, and heroin for use as medicines and intoxicants.

This book tells the stories of different peoples whose lives have been impacted socially and economically by aspects of this ancient opium trade.

Different peoples are those involved in criminal aspects of the trade and those in the legal trade in opium. Poppy field workers, refinery owners, pushers, and military enforcers live by the opium trade. Propagandists, pharmacists, merchants, shippers, ship builders, sympathetic legislators, and others in occupations peripheral to the opium trade, profit from it.

In contrast to India’s peasant farmers and Burma’s montagnards who cultivate the opium poppy, or street hucksters who sell directly to users, traders in illegal opium are businessmen, and often are conspiratorial. They are frequently members of tribes, clans, secret societies, or lodges. Though they may be in competition, they are often instructed, protected, and defended by associates in mutual pursuit of money or power. The hidden aspects of the trade, such as smuggling, and the wealthy profiteers who have benefited from it have never been adequately disclosed in spite of opium’s political significance, or perhaps because of it. The lens of this book will focus on much of this undisclosed information.

Opium Colonialists.

Fischer’s book Paul Revere’s Ride includes a list of members of associations who were involved in anti-British agitation that preceded the American Revolution. However, it does not reveal the link between many of Boston’s rebellious tea merchants—the Old China opium traders—and traders’ lodge memberships. Of those who participated in the meeting preparatory for the Boston Tea Party, many were both linked to lodges and participated in the opium trade as well as the slave trade. Many traders were separatists, while others were pro-British. The Boston Tea Party was duplicated in New York, Pennsylvania, Maine, North Carolina and Maryland. And all cities involved had their opium colonialists.

Although most recorded activities of better-known Boston opium shippers (e.g., Perkins and Forbes) took place after the American Revolution, it is recorded that as early as 1700 (eighty years after the arrival of the Mayflower), Boston merchants had 194 seagoing ships trading abroad. Merchants of other cities of the United States (Salem, Philadelphia, New York, etc.) also owned fleets. Unfortunately, records of voyages of United States ships prior to those described in this book are virtually unavailable, so that if earlier East Coast opium trading occurred, it is unverifiable.

Europe’s Trading Companies.

We know that Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands controlled much of the opium trade before the inauguration of the greatest of opium trading companies, Britain’s East India Company (EIC), but archives of their opium activity are but partially available in the United States.1 Nor do we have a record of the sixteenth century distribution of opium to their colonies in the New World. Some mariners perhaps inadvertently laid the foundation for opium commerce through exploration, such as Henry Hudson. Explorer Hudson was a captain for both the Dutch East India Company (1608–09), which traded in opium, and British East India Company’s predecessor, the British Muscovy Company, which traded with Russia.

It is, of course, impossible in one book to make a fully comprehensive biographical history of all major players in any great trading endeavor, even if all facts were known. Therefore, this volume is an overview, narrating certifiable stories of activists and their associates in several parts of the opium trade’s support system. There are merchants (e.g., Thomas Handasyd Perkins), sea captains (e.g., Bennet Forbes, Charles Low), political figures (e.g., William Pitt, the Marquis de Lafayette), ship builders (e.g., Donald Mackay, William Webb), administrators (e.g., Thomas Pattle, Henry Bulwer), businessmen (e.g., the families of Dents, Beales, and Mathesons), financiers (e.g., Baring Brothers, the Rothschilds, and Parsee bankers), intelligencers (e.g., John Dee, Sir Richard Burton), and military personnel (e.g., Frederick Townsend Ward and Lord Clive). The latter two men helped put down native resistance to Britain’s predatory control of China and India and assured her a near-monopoly of wholesale opium in the East.

This study examines galaxies of families who worked together to protect the confidentiality and ambient social exclusiveness that surrounded them and their trade. Many of their members entered politics. Today, the old opium firms, some of them mammoth multinational corporations, have interlocking directorates or are involved together in mergers and joint ventures. Several of major importance are described.

Hundreds of ships and ship captains were involved in the trade. Many ships disappeared, captain and crew, without a trace. Other ships were taken by pirates and renamed. Opium traders owned both small and large fleets of ships, coastwise and ocean-going. Many became very wealthy (and some faked bankruptcy and walked off with profits). They carried their drugs and sometimes family members, sons, or wives, to every port in the world that promised to be a potential opium market. Some of their stories appear here.

Other Areas of Interest and Dispute.

Parliamentarians in the service of opium traffickers were company partners, relatives, or recipients of payoffs or political contributions, sometimes more concerned with promoting legislative perquisites for the trade than with the drug’s distribution. They served the peripheral need for guard dogs against restrictive laws, high tariffs, and anti-opium activities. As such, they assisted the trade in an important way.

For a quarter of a millennium at least, opium administrators and merchants were experienced recruiters from Great Britain’s Levant (Turkey) Company, East India Company, and the Muscovy Company. For about 274 years while under the aegis of the East India Company (EIC) and Great Britain, India was the major producer of opium. EIC was under British government control for a portion of this time, from 1757 to 1947. India continues to produce much opium today.

Britain’s opium trade has never been equaled in size by any other single drug operation, including the Colombian Medellin and Cali cartels, the Sicilian and American Mafias, or the Neapolitan Camorra. Possible exceptions are undocumented twentieth century trading by Chinese Triads and Russian Mafia whose records, long concealed behind the Iron and Bamboo Curtains, have been largely inaccessible to international and national agencies. Conversely, EIC’s archives still exist and are estimated to fill nine miles of shelves in the United Kingdom.2 Its history (excepting that relating to EIC ships’ captains whose privilege trade was protected by privacy laws) is accessible and is the best documented portion of this study.

It should not be supposed that the British initiated the abuse of opium in Asia. Nor are the Portuguese or Dutch solely culpable. Fifteen years before the British East India Company was chartered, an Englishman, Ralph Fitch, traveled in Northern India from Agra to Bengal, in an armada of 180 boats carrying opium and other commodities to serve existing demands. Author Carl Trocki commented that opium was a well-established crop in India in the sixteenth century.3 The Portuguese first arrived in the East in the sixteenth century and discovered opium already in use there. Portuguese traders such as Antonio d’Oliveira de Moraes and Jeronimo de Macedo de Carvalho carried on an active opium trade with Japan and other Oriental states. Their relatives were active in the country trade (localized in Asia), in mainland China (especially Canton), the Philippines (especially Manila), and Japan (especially Nagasaki) and were all trading with Dutch merchants by the time the British East India Company was chartered.

Nor did the British, after winning the trade trophy, work without regional support. One author reports an incident in 1767 in which one thousand chests of opium were imported to China from Bengal by a cooperative Chinese hong (merchant). (The hong dynasty of Houquas was comprised of millionaire merchants friendly to the opium trade.) It is evident that large amounts of opium were being traded in Asia decades before China’s Emperor Keen Lung received England’s Lord Macartney as a trade representative in 1793. This narrative will show that, contrary to popular myth, China passed restrictive laws that reflect periods of time when opiates were recognized as a demanding problem—laws that were ignored by all East India companies.

The popularity of opium in Asia was in part due to the comparative unavailability or unpopularity there of competing drugs from the New World. Today, opiates compete with not only natural drugs, including homegrown marijuana, but with chemical compounds such as chloral hydrate, LSD, Ecstasy, and commercial or homemade methamphetamines. In Arab countries, hashish and khat have a hold similar to opium. (Khat [Catha edulis] has not prospered in the United States. As I mentioned in a previous book [Strange Medicine], David Grandison Fairchild, while employed by the United States Department of Agriculture under President Theodore Roosevelt, attempted to start khat groves in Florida, but reported his experiments a failure.)

The British Library collection of biographies of civil and military employees and dependents of EIC reveals the vast number of British personnel involved in EIC trade. As of April 2001 the library’s data bank of names had 295,000 entries related to EIC. This vast archive of EIC trade would not include British participants after the demise of the EIC, nor freelance British opium traders.

It is likely that many EIC employees did not bother to understand the depth of the opium trade. Some of those EIC personalities who did comprehend the intricacies of that trade are explored here.

Many narratives attempt to provide a glimpse of how governments interact in cooperation or in conflict with drug cartels. Each provides a basis for discussion. How do rulers deal with drug barons whose financial services help to maintain their government’s often-profligate finances in peace and war? How do they respond to opium merchants who invest substantially in necessary infrastructure of a country’s railroads, causeways, and subways? Among such opium merchants are John Murray Forbes and the Chinese mandarin Houqua (I), who were financiers of a dozen United States railroads. How do governments respond to threats from opium traders who share power, control labor and foreign trade? Some opium barons pour money into wars and revolutions to expand markets in general, sometimes with their government’s endorsement or connivance. Do progressive industrial projects and market expansion justify an opium trade?

Opium traders have helped supply many populations’ voracious appetites for food, for necessities, and luxuries with great fleets and extensive distribution systems. But sometimes poppy cultivation has resulted in famines. In some instances, opium families or their heirs, such as India’s Tatas and the Astors (via recently deceased Brooke Astor nèe Russell), have left large sums of money for public use and benefit. (Brooke Russell Astor’s chosen tripartite name is constituted of the surnames of three opium trading families of the nineteenth century: Russell, Brooke, and Astor.) According to a news report, in May of 2006, India’s Tatas announced from New Delhi, India, that they had plans to manufacture a family car that would cost little more than $2,000. How grateful should the public be for innovations and largesse contributed by (former?) drug traders?

Banking on Opium.

Opium shippers and their allied banks have financed sailing vessels, steamship lines, and communications (telegraph lines, cables), as well as railroads. Agency houses (i.e., quarters of foreign firms) of Canton first acted as banks for the opium trade but later many banks were founded, often by opium interests, replaced the agency houses, and assisted traders and financiers. The banking house of Baring Brothers dealt with the Perkinses’ Boston opium cartel, as did also Hottinguer & Company, Perkinses’ French bankers. Boston’s George Cabot, an investor in the opium trade, was a director (1793) of Alexander Hamilton’s Bank of the United States and president of the Boston branch. Opium magnates of Scotland’s Jardine family strongly opposed founding of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in 1865, but founded the Jardine Fleming Bank Ltd. of Hongkong and other financial houses. Opium trader Samuel Russell was a director of a national bank and served in the legislature of the State of Connecticut in the United States.

Members of opium families involved in the banks of India included two celebrated Parsees (Zoroastrians), Sir Cowasjee Jehangir Readymoney and P.D. Tata, as well as the Persian Jew, David Sassoon. (Earlier Spanish banks such as First Bank in Cuba and the Royal Bank of Ferdinand VII were mostly the creation of Cuban entrepreneurs heavily involved in the slave trade and probably in its twin, the opium trade, as well. Slave trader and Freemason Joaquin Gomez founded both of those Hispanic banks. His heir, Rafael de Toca Gomez, founded the Banco Espanol.)4 Histories of the banking activities of American, British, Parsee, and other opium families are scattered throughout this book.

The Dating Game.

Dates of events that fall prior to adoption by various countries of the Gregorian calendar vary, for some sources use Old Style, others New Style. The adoption of the Gregorian calendar by different countries occurred in varying years. Recorded dates often differ by only a year; e.g., the transfer of Bombay to the EIC is given both as 1661 (Encyclopedia Americana, Bombay) and 1662 (Webster’s Biographical Dictionary, Catherine of Braganza). Dates for voyages vary, sometimes because a voyage began in one year and could end three years later. Attempts to purify the innumerable dates given would yield no particular benefit. With the exception of errors, for which I take responsibility, I ask the reader’s indulgence in accepting the working dates presented. Time-consuming efforts and massive indexing to coordinate and find the most logical dates have been made, but errors doubtlessly remain.

Naming Names.

Many individuals covered in this review come from successive generations sharing identical names. For example, at least four Thomas Jefferson Coolidges from successive generations are listed on the Internet. Like establishing dates, separating biographical data relating to multiple generations with duplicate names was also a time-consuming task. Perhaps unnecessarily often, subjects’ birth and death dates are given here to reduce confusion and Roman numerals are sometimes used to designate the position of a subject in the family succession.

A general rule has been to spell a name as it appeared in the source referenced. For this reason, there are differences in the spelling of names, such as Cowasjee and Cowasji.

Smuggling.

Besides opium, there were countless other items carried and/or smuggled by opium traffickers: guns, lead, iron, lumber, slaves, dried fruit, cotton, etc., throughout the centuries covered by this summary. Captain Charles Low describes in the autobiography he wrote for his family how he smuggled lead pigs (ingots) at Whampoa, as well as opium.5 Smuggling silks from receiving ships at Lintin Island became a regular profession.6 At Macao (Macau), opium hulks (offshore ships) were anchored four miles from the city, out of sight of the shore, from which tobacco, sycee (Chinese silver monetary ingots), and tea were routinely smuggled. Britain’s Dent & Company traded opium, indigo, and cotton to New South Wales and other locations and engaged known smugglers as personnel. That company now produces beautiful furs and makes coronation leathers for British royalty. The Sassoons’ opium skippers carried pelts, tea, and nankeen on return trips and, in view of the illegality of opium in China, would have found smuggling opium a necessity and probably smuggled their return cargo.7

Smuggling of commodities by foreign shippers often cut into the income of members of the Chinese cohong (leading merchants’ organization) who were unfairly and sometimes brutally treated by their foreign counterparts.8 Opium traffickers often forced hong merchants to absorb foreigners’ losses on unsold commodities and to deal in opium, over vigorous protests. Although opium merchants wished the public to believe that the Chinese were eager to trade in opium, trader James Matheson admitted that the hong merchants had to be coaxed to secure opium ships.9

Opium Mythology.

My research has been conducted partially in an effort to examine the propaganda of the opium trade for myths, and some of these are addressed in this introduction, as well as in the text. One myth that merits extended discussion is the notion that EIC ships rarely or never carried opium as a part of their cargo. Admittedly, this question is academic, for it is an already damning and unconcealed fact that EIC and Britain openly sponsored the enormous opium trade in India for more than two centuries by financing growers and auctioning their product. British control of the trade led to the Opium Wars with China.

It would be naïve to think that EIC sharps were not trafficking in Malwa opium as well as Bengal opium as soon as they could do so with comparative safety and efficiency. Many EIC factors and captains had experience with the Levant (Turkey) Company (active c. 1581–1825), which traded Smyrna and Constantinople opium. The Levant Company had agencies in both Persia and Turkey, premier producers of opium. Levant’s governor, treasurer, two principal founders, and one-third of the petitioners for the Levant Company charter were EIC members. Levant and EIC both initially (to 1621) met in the home of EIC’s first governor, Thomas Smythe. They shared headquarters for a period of time and recorded activities in the same correspondence book.10 Levant Company’s licensed agents monopolized the import of opium to Britain from Turkey for many years, benefiting from opium’s quick turnover, economy of space, and high return. Is it credible to believe that EIC, some of whose officials had been importing Turkey opium as directors of Levant Company, did not deal in India opium until forced to in order to remedy an imbalance of trade with China, as apologists have stated?

In India, Britain had the example of the Portuguese who dominated the opium trade from 1557 to 1773, to stimulate an appetite for profit. It is obvious that opium was, prior to the 1700s, not only a common trade item to China by merchants of several nationalities ambitious for exceptional profits but was so pervasive as to be a threat to the very stability of the Chinese nation. Unscrupulous activity put China on guard and once resulted in a ban on Russian trade. In the time of the East India companies, a restriction on the location of foreign go-downs (warehouses) required them to be confined to a small coastal area of Canton (the Bund).

One author describes the (unenforced) prohibition against EIC vessels shipping opium as a fine distinction. Whether such a distinction existed in fact is open to question in view of the evidence and of events such as Governor Hastings’ 1782 opium shipment in the EIC vessel Betsey. The machinery for opium transport was already well in place before Hastings employed it. Hastings sent the Betsey to Riau off the coast of Singapore to sell opium in order to obtain funds to pay off a loan required for the Canton remittance. This transaction reveals that in 1782 Britain and EIC were dealing opium to areas other than China; i.e., to the Malay Archipelago. Betsey and her valued opium cargo were captured by the French, with help from the Dutch, precipitating a military confrontation, and providing historical evidence of the opium trade.

The view that EIC ships were clean is expressed by Greenberg.11 Yet he relates that in October 1819 the Essex, an EIC vessel, was discovered with a cargo of opium and that Manhop, a Chinese go-between for the Company with the mandarins, passed a bribe of $6,000 to one of the mandarins for EIC to obtain permission to trade the drug.12 Further, the 1822 records of Yrissari & Co. record that EIC ships were employed to transport opium up the Pearl River to Whampoa. In 1840, Jardine admitted before a commission that EIC ships were used to carry opium.13 Nevertheless, EIC apologists point out that EIC supposedly left all opium-carrying trade to licensed country ships from 1800. There are two howevers. First of all, it was routine for EIC captains and officers, through the medium of so-called privilege trade, to personally deal in opium and many ships’ officers became independently wealthy, in part because of this perk. Second, it appears to be general knowledge that to avoid censure after the 1729 ban by China, EIC transported opium from India, then transferred quantities of the drug from the Indiamen’s cargoes to country ships for unrestricted delivery into China. Indiamen were custom-built with accommodations to facilitate this transfer.

Opium trading was generally illegal in other parts of Asia and the East Indies. At those ports, it would be necessary for ships’ officers to pay off port officials in Britain’s colonies and the East Indies, just as country traders unabashedly offered cumshaw (bribes) to receptive Chinese mandarins. Philip McCutchan describes a British brig, the Mentor, which would have been owned or licensed by EIC, as one used as an offshore opium go-down (warehouse) during a Chinese clamp-down.14 Boston ships were also used as offshore go-downs.

Disagreement exists over which skipper or ship was specifically the first to take opium to China from Turkey (researchers disagree), but the names of opium skippers are seldom challenged and are often found on port records, particularly those regarding any non-smuggling legs of a trek.

Carpenter states that the first United States ship to carry Turkish opium was the Pennsylvania, with James and Benjamin Wilcocks (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) as supercargoes. Their opium was dropped at Batavia (Jakarta), the capital of Java. However, dates and United States ships listed by Carpenter are difficult to synchronize with those of other writers. He states that the first United States ship to carry opium to Canton (1806) was the Baltimore vessel, Eutaw, although Boston’s Thomas Lamb was dealing opium in China in 1791. The Sylph (Philadelphia), he states, followed approximately a month later. He reports that this second Philadelphia opium ship picked up thirty-three chests of Turkish opium and delivered it to Canton.

Between 1806 and 1809, twelve ships were allegedly carrying Turkish opium to Canton, seven from Philadelphia, three from Baltimore, and [only] two from Boston. These figures seem to conflict with those of Howay. Howay lists by name thirty-nine Boston ships in the fur trade in the 10 years of 1795 through 1804 and the majority of owners are known opium traders. Tom Perkins was carrying furs to Canton in 1783, preceding the Wilcocks voyage to Canton of 1806, but perhaps was not yet carrying Turkish opium. Turkey’s opium was wholesaled at Leghorn, Genoa, Gibraltar, and Marseilles.16 Or it could be purchased directly at Smyrna or Constantinople.

Perkins reportedly also went to China in 1789, and even established a Canton branch in 1803, as Carpenter acknowledges, so the data given by that author is surely incorrect with regard to Boston’s two opium ships.

Philadelphia vessels alluded to as trading from 1806 to 1809 are probably those belonging to Wilcocks, Cabot, Hazard, Perit, and Robert Morris, all mentioned frequently in autobiographies concerning the opium trade.

Dulles gives 1805 as the date Americans brought the first shipment of opium to China from Smyrna, Turkey.15

McCutchan, son of sea Captain Donald Robert McCutchan, states that six years after the American brig Sylph brought what he described as the first Smyrna opium to China in 1811, the East Indiaman Vansittart also arrived carrying Turkish opium.17 Sylph, while owned by Jardine-Matheson, carried the Reverend Charles Gutzlaff, an interpreter, who in 1832 distributed Christian biblical literature from the ship, while Jardine sold opium. Sutton lists four Indiamen named Vansittart, active in 1718, 1763–72, 1779–88, and 1814–32. The alleged opium shipment on the Vansittart in 1817 would have occurred six years after England announced a ban on EIC vessels carrying opium (1811). What caused the English directors of EIC to (unsuccessfully) ban opium cargoes from EIC ships in 1811 unless EIC ships were known to be carrying opium prior to that time?

Another author describes the first venture to China in British opium that allegedly occurred in 1805 as involving 124 cases and fifty-one boxes of the narcotic. Yet another author states that the first official shipment of opium chests to Britain on behalf of the Bengal government occurred in 1780.

Red Rover is listed by McCutchan as the first British opium clipper.19 This British clipper was built by the Howdah Dock Company of India and was not an EIC vessel; however, the owner was former EIC Captain Clifton, a freelancer specializing in opium. Clifton’s ship first plowed the current in the Hooghly River (India) in December 1829.20 Captain Clifton’s financial capital, contacts, and expertise for this investment probably were derived from earlier smuggling of opium from his EIC vessel.

The medical staff for the 1920 edition of the official United States Dispensatory, ignoring EIC denials of culpability, comments that much India opium was formerly imported by the East India Company into England and that part of this was transshipped to the United States. The text goes on to mention that for various reasons little India opium now appears in Western commerce, citing that India opium (Bahar and Benares) is not suitable for medical purposes; i.e., it is intended only for addicts and pleasure smokers.21

The fine, if muddled, distinction made by defenders of the trade has been that since opium was legal in China, it was not unethical to ship opium into that country. But of course the trade was outlawed in 1729; i.e., before the first British or American opium shipment is said to have arrived in China from India or Turkey. Apologists also evoke the old and fallacious argument that if the Asians did not buy India opium from the British, then they would buy from someone else; e.g., from Turkey or Persia. This argument ignores the practice of British financing (to expand production) and drug-pushing (e.g., offering free opium to create addicts, etc.) and the fact that opium abuse increased exponentially at home and abroad under Britain’s aggressive promotional policies.

Greenberg believes that not more than nine hundred chests of Smyrna (Turkish) opium yearly were ever sold in China up to the 1830s, when Russell & Company was organized with Warren Delano as a senior partner. McCutchan states that during 1817 Portuguese ships brought a thousand chests of opium into Macao; however, much of this may have been sold outside of China, and the source of this opium is not specified and may have been India rather than Smyrna.22 He further reports that in 1832, $12,185,000 worth of opium was imported into Canton (Guangzhou). When opium was selling for $1,400 per chest, $12,185,000 would represent 8,704 chests of opium. Alternatively, at the $700 per chest depressed price reported by Seaburg for Cushing’s approximately one thousand chests aboard the Bashaw in 1831, this price would represent 17,408 chests.23

Lubbock comments significantly that in 1831 there were, "in addition to East Indiamen," twenty-six British merchants, twenty-one Americans, and twenty-six Parsees in the opium trade. Not only did EIC captains get into personal trafficking, but ship’s surgeon Dr. William Jardine became a major trafficker, helping to found the great multi-national umbrella corporation, Jardine-Matheson Group.

Lubbock describes an incident in which it was discovered that the ships Amelia and Maingay both had furtively transshipped opium to the Indiaman, William the Fourth. Captains of the Amelia and Maingay presented a fraudulent manifest and both received fines for fraud, but there is no mention of a fine for the captain of the EIC ship, William the Fourth.24 That occasional fines were levied and publicized served as window dressing to cover the EIC’s very important trade in opium.25

The seventy-three British, American, and Parsee ships active in Asia in 1831 would, using Lubbock’s figures and the extrapolation above, be transporting a calculated per-ship average of either 119.2 (8,704/73) or 238.4 (17,408/73) chests of opium in the year 1831. This small but valuable and probably understated hypothetical cargo leaves ample room for other cargo (again based on the fact that the Bashaw was capable of carrying one thousand chests). Using the $1,400/chest figure as the price, the take would be $166,880 per listed ship for opium alone that year even at the depressed price—several times the price of a ship. Another consideration is that most of these chests would contain opium supposedly from other sources than Turkey (e.g., India, Persia, Egypt) if only nine hundred chests came from Smyrna.

Keay dates the initial auction of Patna opium in Calcutta at 1784, with Calcutta coming into its own in 1884.26 By 1864, twenty million pounds of opium were being imported to China by Parsees, Jews, Britons (especially Scots), and Americans (especially Bostonians and New Yorkers) through Chinese ports recently opened as a result of treaties negotiated after the Opium Wars. In 1864, 58,681 chests were imported by the Jewish Sassoon family, up from 18,956 chests in 1830–31.

Besides the trade conducted by country ships, there were private seamen who dealt in the foreign mud, buying opium in Bengal for seventy rupees, for example, and selling it in Batavia, Java, for 220 rupees.27 This opium was wholesaled by EIC/Britain. Much of the personal profits were frittered away in bordellos and gambling houses patronized by sailors, and owned by opium traders and their underworld associates.

Financial control of growers through usurious interest charges, pass fees, and licensing of transporters brought added revenue to private opium farms, taxing authorities, and governmental contractors or sponsors. Under-counter payoffs were an important but elusive source of income to inspectors and enforcement officers. Cumshaw paid to officials appointed to oversee enforcement of bans or import restrictions invariably compromised official diligence in the control of violators. Many Chinese mandarins notoriously accepted cumshaw and this was easily rationalized by both payer and payee, since Chinese coolies had used opium for a thousand years before the arrival of Europeans. Mandarins familiar with the recreational abuse of the drug were neither averse to taking payoffs nor to contraband trade.28

Besides the often mythological statistics for opium trade, some noteworthy myths exist with regard to the British East India Company’s commerce in tea versus opium and are worth further exploration. As touched on earlier, one myth is that from its earliest existence (EIC was chartered in 1600), when Britain was running up a deficit trade balance, it was a result of the tea trade. This deficit is supposed to have spurred investors to initiate as well as justify trade in opium. Some date comparisons cast doubt on the truth of this myth and open the question of whether the initial trade imbalance was, rather, due to the purchase of Persian and Turkish opium.

During its first century of operation, 1600–1700, EIC was trading with Japan, Indonesia, the Americas, Africa, and Persia (one of whose most lucrative exports was opium). EIC’s factory at Surat north of the city of Bombay near the Malwa opium fields was established in 1612, a date that precedes dates of the China trade given above and calls for a reassessment of Britain’s Asian trade in opium. EIC had other posts in Burma (another territory known for growing opium): in Syriam near Rangoon, in Prome, and Ava.

The first Chinese tea sold at a limited London auction was in 1658, during the interregnum period when the Puritan Protector Oliver Cromwell was in control. It was Cromwell’s Navigation Act of 1652 that assured EIC its trade monopoly. In 1658, the EIC was fifty-eight years old. But this first tea shipped to London was small and was not an EIC cargo.

In 1660, England had already experienced a boom in coffee houses such as Lloyd’s of London, and it was in these houses, patronized in port cities by mariners and opium merchants, where plots and micro conspiracies were hatched. Charles II (r. 1660–85, House of Stuart) saw fit to temporarily suppress coffee houses in 1675. Tea had not yet overtaken coffee in popularity. Coffee imports to Britain were by both EIC and Levant Company, the latter loading the commodity at Aleppo and at the Turkish opium capital of Smyrna, where opium also was loaded. Keay states that in 1670, 79 pounds—a minor amount—of tea imports entered England.29 The first EIC shipment of tea for public sale in London occurred in 1689 when the EIC was eighty-nine years old.

Larger tea shipments followed the small tea shipment of 1689; for example, in 1839, the ship Calcutta brought tea to London, where it was sold at the EIC’s headquarters on 10 January.30 But this shipment of tea was a paltry 350 pounds.

Though the province of Bombay, already a site of production and distribution of Malwa opium, was placed largely under British control by a Portuguese dowry in 1661, Portugal retained certain rights and privileges and required British assistance with mutual defense in the area. Furthermore, Portuguese ships carried opium to China for the British and Parsees. The Angelica was a Portuguese ship transporting opium to China for Sir Roger de Faria, Remington, Crawford, and Jeejeebhoy. These circumstances cloud any analysis of separate Portuguese and British Malwa opium dealings during the seventeenth century.

When title to Bombay was transferred in 1667–68, it was signed over by Britain’s monarch (not by the Portuguese) to EIC. EIC’s move south from Surat to Bombay gave her virtual control of that Western India poppy-growing area two years before the first tea was imported to Britain for public auction. The Gujarat area near Bombay, which became a prime source of Malwa opium, was an area of economic contention between native princes and the British.

Job Charnock’s city of Calcutta on the Hooghly River, founded in 1690, became the capital of British India (1772–1912). Britain’s disputed claim to the city figured as an issue in one of Clive’s battles in East India in 1757. The Hooghly, like the Pearl, is mentioned in all early accounts of opium smuggling as one of the rivers used to transport the drug. With Bombay and Calcutta essentially under British control, Governor Warren Hastings (1732–1818) consolidated the Empire’s monopoly of opium production in all British-held territories in India.

In summation, the following chronology of the opium and tea trades does not substantiate the idea that EIC at first began shipping opium because of a disturbing trade imbalance that resulted from the tea trade. It appears that EIC’s India-to-China opium trade preceded its tea trade, although opium sales by EIC may originally have been largely limited to Asian states other than China and to the New World. In addition, the British Levant Company was supplying Turkish opium and merchandise for use in Britain, contributing to a trade deficit.

Abbreviated Chronology of the Opium Trade.

Evolution of Europe’s involvement in the Asian opium trade during the fifteenth century can be summarily traced. From about 1453 the Spanish and Portuguese had a monopoly in the distribution of Malwa opium, which was being both drunk and eaten for recreation in, for example, Persia and India. After 1557, when the Portuguese established Macao, Dutch and English competed for the drug trade. Permits and agreements, such as mutual forbearance of duties among the several involved countries, sometimes kept the drug flowing. Opium ships desiring to travel the Pearl (Canton) River were required to obtain a permit from the Portuguese. The Portuguese trade received royal cooperation, and Portugal controlled Macao (at the mouth of the Pearl River) from 1557, trafficking for more than four and one-half centuries and disregarding the League of Nations’ recommendation for a reduction in the trade.

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, while Great Britain was tightening her hold on the opium trade, she eliminated much of the Portuguese, Dutch, and French competition in India. Although, after the First World War, Macao lost some of its importance in the trade, illicit opium continued to move from that location.

Eventually, we find opiate production concentrating in the Golden Crescent and the Golden Triangle, covered in separate chapters, with lesser producers in Mexico, and heroin factories in cities such as Marseilles.

Long before China became a major consumer or producer of opium, tarry raw opium created a boom in many countries such as Persia, Turkey, India, Egypt, and Afghanistan. Traders learned very early that the demand for highly prized opium usually guaranteed a disproportionate percentage of profit, so that including the drug as part of a ship’s cargo became routine.

Officials in countries that did not grow opium poppies on their home soil bought the drug at wholesale from foreign producers and learned to use it to finance weapons and to weaken the will to resist in countries targeted for conquest.

The story of illicit opium is one of greed and luxury on the part of traders, of powerlessness and decadence on the part of victims, and of toil and poverty on the part of poppy farmers. It is a story that is paralleled by traders in other drugs, especially cocaine. Drug traders, as opposed to street dealers, have been men linked with great enterprises and great swindles, men of extraordinary ambition who understand human weaknesses, and sometimes men of unspeakable cruelty and corruption. Illicit traders have variously understood how to exploit secret societies, governments, and religious movements; control trade, politics, and finance; stir jealousies and initiate conflicts. They have been enriched by abandoning all sense of public and private ethics and morality with regard to drug addiction and power building, while often contributing greatly to a nation’s costly infrastructure.

Volume One examines the great trading companies, their rivalries and aggressions, with emphasis on Britain’s East India Company, the greatest winner in these events. Britain bred the opium colonialists of Boston and New York who had their day as leading drug shippers. Peripheral to the trading companies are ship builders, ships, and captains, who are covered in separate chapters.

Besides outlining the stories of opium traders in this book, I have examined some of the many consequences of their honorable trade, and described major events of history in which they and their associates participated.

Volume Two describes the power shift from trading companies to East Asian and Middle Eastern opium traders such as the Jewish Sassoons, Parsee Tatas, Chinese Triads, Japanese imperialists, and the so-called Golden Crescent and Golden Triangle. It culminates in a review of some aspects of the opium trade in the United States, including the Chinese revolutionary outpost at John Day, Oregon, that was involved in labor contracting and opium dispensing, and the more recent poppy experiment of the Mallinckrodt Company at Yakima, Washington.

These volumes are described as revisionist, and they are to the extent that the information collected, although available out there, is so skillfully ignored by historians that it is shocking to some readers. Nevertheless, knowledge of the reality that

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