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Department of History, National University of Singapore

Some Problems of the Rhode Island Traders in Java, 1799-1836 Author(s): Sharom Ahmat Source: Journal of Southeast Asian History, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Mar., 1965), pp. 94-106 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of Department of History, National University of Singapore Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20067539 . Accessed: 06/10/2011 04:21
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SOME PROBLEMS OF THE RHODE ISLAND TRADERS IN JAVA, 1799-1836.


Sharom I the economic life of Rhode Revolution, on the Caribbean and African trade. largely dependent But the acquisition meant of political also the closing independence of these highly to channels of trade. profitable Just as the need find means to purchase which British manufactures had led by Rhode Island to join England, trade necessitated This alternative the West trade triangular (between New so now the closing of this Africa); avenue. the search for an alternative commercial was found in the establishment of trade with the the Baltic and most of all, with the Far important Indies and Indies. sailed before for she in the famous Before Island was the American Ahmat

Mediterranean, East and the East

ship Hydra in Rhode at Newport anchored and (which was registered Island) became the first vessel of American to enter an American registry In the American trade with the East, Canton port from Calcutta.1 was coveted market. the most the East Indies was not However, overlooked and though trade with this area was not as extensive, an it nevertheless, formed and valuable branch of the important American economy. a very this period, article of world trade important Its demand in Europe under the prevailing conditions to the of disruption, due was that very such Wars, Napoleonic were in for supplies the two neutral high prices brought paid by the United States and Denmark. This demand became nations, acute when the island of Haiti which had been producing especially about two thirds of the world's as a result coffee ceased production of a slave uprising in 1792.2 were All the French from expelled During coffee.
1. 2. the East Island and Lecture Rhode CA., Indies, Historical 16, 1951. Society, Jan. van J.J., The Dutch in the East Colonial Klaveren, System Collins, Island 1953) pp.74-5. given Indies to the Rhode

On February of China 22, 1784, the ship Empress Canton from New York and thus inaugurated American the Far East. Rhode Island did not wait much longer too participated in this trade. On June 9, 1786, the

trade with

was

(The

Hague

94

RHODE
the island and

ISLAND TRADERS

were the coffee plantations either off or portioned coffee production While in the West Indies was just neglected. the island of Java in the Dutch thus restricted, East Indies emerged source of this highly as an excellent alternative demanded product. The had Dutch introduced culture coffee into their successfully some after 1740 began 12 million colony, which yielding pounds
annually.3

that the Rhode Island mer therefore, In the study of Rhode Island Java trade it is fortunate able to distinguish several fairly distinct The first phase and the most active one lasted from 1799 phases. to 1807. This was the the Rhode Islanders benefited period when because of the privileged of the United States as a greatly position chants turned surprising to Batavia. that we are neutral ended the Napoleonic Wars. state of affairs This States in 1807 passed the Embargo Act and caused American to come to a virtual maritime activity stop. Then came the War of 1812 which also disrupted this trade. Not until after this war did the Java trade revive and this revival lasted till In the early 1820's signs of decline 1827. could already be noticed but it was not till 1827 that this became evident. And hence the when during the United in of the final lingering stage until out of this trade in 1836. dropped setting The most Rhode Island completely nation

It was

not

Rhode Island merchant house which dealt important in the Java trade was the famous Brown and Ives4 of Providence. involved in this business and between They were very substantially 1800 and 1807 alone, 14 voyages to the coffee despatched port of a much the East Indies. To lesser extent, the firm of Gibbs and of Newport also This col firm, however, Channing5 participated. of 1812 but after this another lapsed after the War period important Providence and Sons6 entered firm, Edward the Java Carrington
trade. 3. 4. A History Nusantara, of Indonesia (The Hague 1960) p.234. one of the four brothers of the famous Brown, Brown of Pro family in association with vidence, Benson the firm of Brown and George organized It became Benson. Benson and in 1792 with Ives Brown, the of inclusion Thomas Ives. With the retirement of George Benson in 1796, the firm Poynton became Brown and Ives and this continued into the 20th century. the son of a Newport baker was brought Gibbs, trade George up in his father's on and carried the baking business till the of the Revolution. up beginning After into mercantile 1781, he entered business and proved to be successful. In 1793 he took his brother-in-law, Walter into and started Channing, partnership the firm of Gibbs and Channing. VIekke, Nicholas B.H.N., one of the great merchants was Edward of post Pro Carrington revolutionary vidence. in New Haven Born in 1775, he came to Providence in the 1790's and was Seth Wheaton and Richard Butler, by the firm of Samuel employed Jackson and later by the firm of Snow, Munro and Snow. Samuel Snow introduced to the East. Later he became the U.S. Consul at Canton, a post Carrington he held until 1811. In 1815, he established the firm of Edward and Carrington Company.

5.

6.

95

RHODE

ISLAND TRADERS II

in a study of the Rhode aspects interesting the problems Island Java trade, is that concerning faced by these in Java waters. the first phase merchants while of their During was the uncertainty the foremost caused trade, 1799-1807, problem commercial The of a Batavia Dutch by policies. prime object as of coffee as possible. But voyage was to procure large a quantity Dutch commercial it possible did not make for foreign policy to be loaded with as were such quantities vessels desired by the in Java had an overwhelming The Dutch interest in purchasers. were cultivation and hence that buyers determined sugar they amount take a certain should of sugar with the other cargoes. This was as their old to the Dutch India sugar consumers, important and Persia, could no longer be reached.7 too, was added Pepper to the products of obligatory Rhode Island joint purchase although not traders did desire this article. In the first other place, American those from were traders, Salem, particularly already in the pepper trade and secondly, the price of pepper specializing at Batavia was far too high. One of the most in Dutch commercial vagary policy was the fact that at times could not decide in Batavia, to sell whether or not. it up to the Sometimes, Java they put highest at other times a sale at all. bidder while to make This they refused was accentuated the fact that at Batavia, the purchaser had to by on the of the Dutch as Council entirely depend disposition private were restricted from selling whatsoever. The persons any product Council also controlled and fixed prices, at times them changing without of March Hence, 1, 1804, any forewarning. by a decree the price a of coffee by $2 and that they raised (Spanish) pikul Another the Council coffee at

of sugar by $f

(Spanish) a pikul.8

In practice, these conditions however did not pose a serious because was in this trade. problem, specie extremely important in demand at Batavia, And since specie was always business could be facilitated of dollars. was a This by an ample greatly supply situation the Rhode on as can be seen which Islanders capitalised from the fact that | or more of the outward cargo was in the form at Batavia of specie. And since the Dutch were frequently of Spanish dollars, were even forced to deviate they inevitably sent out from Amsterdam. orders Thus in 1802, orders had sent out of dispose
7. 8.

short from been to not not

from Holland to Batavia to neutrals. coffee But

instructing at Batavia

the Council this order was

Klaveren, op.cit., p.75. to Brown John Bowers Brown Carter MS, John

and

Library

Ives, March Brown

17,

1804, V-A65,

vol.5.10

University,

Providence,

Brown Papers Rhode Island.

96

RHODE

ISLAND TRADERS

and Ives correctly heeded "we are inclined for as Brown analysed, a determination to think, of the Company should have actually can obtain been made, then an American vessel with dollars coffee, is the Agent's such if in the colony, continual for demand . ."9 a similar need in 1806, for instance, for specie Again specie. enabled the supercargo of the Isis, Samuel W. to evade Greene the rule of loading Instead he took only 300 f coffee and sugar. of sugar and the remainder in coffee, after $2 pikuls paying more in the pikul.10 (Spanish) this phase, one of the biggest problem which the Rhode During Island vessels had to encounter was in Java waters the danger of and confiscation. Thus in the letters of instructions to capture the supercargoes, besides instructions with connected the actual business the Napoleonic Wars made it necessary for transactions, to warn the owners their falling prey to either the British against or the French. sent out by Gibbs first The and Channing, ship was a French the Russell in 1799 while captured by privateer lying in anchor under the battery on of Angre the island of Java.11 On July 23, 1800, Samuel the American at Canton consul Snow, sent a circular to Brown and Ives, Gibbs and Channing and other (belonging to go through other Strait, avoiding Sunda by all means, lest she be captured." no Although privateers had cruised in the East for some months, not Snow would predict the course of the French for "one month privateers they were in the Bay of the next west of Sunda." The cruising Bengal French had already made valuable from the English and captures one American vessel from Salem had been taken. Furthermore, to news from Bombay, 8 privateers of 24 guns and 200 according men each had sailed from France. If this was true, the Sunda and the Straits further east would be badly in August infested and September. and Ives) British bound vessel happened policy was such that if a Batavia to stop on its way at a Dutch, or French it was not Spanish port, to trade at all in Batavia since the British Courts ob Admiralty to vessels of neutral nations from one of the jected navigating In 1802, the British seized the Philadel ports to another. enemy's in Sumatra, on that it violated phia the ship Harmony grounds
9. 10. 11. Brown and Ives to Daniel Crommelin and Sons, Nov.21, 1804 P-C7, vol.4. Samuel W. to Brown Greene and Ives, Oct..7, 1806, V-18, vol.213. Gibbs and to of State, Channing Timothy Pickering, Secretary Department 1800. Gibbs and Letter Book, MS Historical Channing Newport Society, Island. port, Rhode W.B., 1907-8. Early Oriental pp.253-4. Commerce in Providence, Mass.Hist.Soc. 3rd

correspondents the East.12 He

concerning also advised

the

outlook

for

neutral

commerce to Brown

in

the Ann "the Bally

and Hope or some

Jan,5, New Series,

12. Weeden, Vol.1,

97

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Jay and treaty which her colonies.

ISLAND

TRADERS

trade between Great American Britain prohibited In September the John sailed from 1804, Jay a cargo of coffee, Batavia for Providence with and pepper sugar man she was captured when worth about $173,000 by a British to Bermuda. The of-war and taken before ship had been furnished it sailed from its home port with so that the necessary certificates be satisfied with would the power belligerent on board. the property Neither the fact this, nor neutrality that the John Jay had no knowledge of the British order against at the time of its from a European made port sailing departure to prove difference. effort other that the and its any Every ship to an American firm and that no foreigner cargo belonged wholly or other person in them, had any interest failed. It was not till 1806 that the ship and cargo were condemned the Vice April by on account Court at Bermuda of it having been des Admiralty a from Europe and carrying of flat iron bar which patched quantity was considered of war. contraband In June, however, the John Jay was released on bail.13 cruisers of was the danger problem, presented by From earliest the Java waters the Malay had been pirates. days, had normally on the occasional infested thrived They by them. of some China soon wreck but merchantmen, going they grew on to conduct attacks enough powerful trading ships. Appearing cannons in boats armed with or more, of 200 men and consisting to the Rhode formed a real source of worry Islanders they especially the wind when all the vessels failed. sent out Hence, by Rhode to meet Island were armed this emergency. The of piracy problem to make became serious President Adams send the enough John to Batavia.14 Essex In 1800, it had been understood US Frigate, at Sunda would that one American frigate cruising pro effectually tect the Chinese and Batavian trade but "President did Jefferson save that expense."15 not agree as he would Concurrent with this the problems of Dutch commercial While the effects policies, wars and the fear of pirates were the Napoleonic which problems were or which could either somehow be surmounted temporary by was a permanent that of health Island the Rhode one. traders, as the Batavian venture Profitable to be, from the always promised it was an unfortunate of health, to go to. The standpoint place rate of mortality the Europeans there was upwards among living of 12%, as a result of which from the coast to the they had moved of
of the Trial See "The of the Ship in the Court of Proceedings John Jay of Bermuda" book vol.443. Vice-Admiralty Log and Pirates, 14. Phillips, in the Sumatra Adventures Trade J.D., Pepper Pepper Salem (Cambridge 1949) p.42. 15. Weeden, op.cit., p.254. 13. the of

of

either

98

RHODE

ISLAND

TRADERS

interior.10 observed that "the very unhealthy climate John Bowers causes to be extremely to of this country the Americans anxious so as are more leave it with all possible the more they despatch, of prevailing than other diseases that visit nations susceptible it. . ."17 In the letters sent home from Batavia, there was always or members the perpetual that some member mention of the crew were either sick or died of dysentery, or "Batavia cholera fever". in Batavia waters was such a Death affair that John Bowers, frequent after staying there for some weeks as if he did in 1802 sounded not believe that "as yet we have lost none of our crew though several have been sick".18 The number of deaths occurred highest in 1807 when the number from 2 ships only, the John Jay and the to eight amounted Dr. Wescott, on Asia, the surgeon including the former vessel. board and Ives no doubt understood Brown this menace. In their to the supercargoes instructions and captains, never to failed the necessity for looking after the they emphasize of the crew. At Batavia, health the crew was ordered to stay on board and the work of was to be done local loading by employing so that the labourers con ship's crew could stay away from direct tact with disease on land. If the ships had to wait for the coming of the cargoes, it was to sail and anchor instructed in healthier waters. In 1804 when Brown and Ives heard that a cargo of coffee be at the obtained might advantageously Cape of Good Hope, they favoured this for "the climate at Batavia is so un highly doing to that we wish to avoid it this voyage if a cargo foreigners friendly can be elsewhere..."19 satisfactorily procured

Ill
In 1807, Denmark, who with the United States had been the two neutral nations the Napoleonic now entered the Wars, during conflict on the side of France. And this left the Americans the only of Java products. In view of the buyers which stronger position the Americans now held, the Dutch in Batavia sent government van Polanen R.G. to the United to negotiate States contracts for the delivery of coffee, But sugar, spices and other products.20 the the years of commercial years 1807-15 were The inactivity. passage of the Act, December was the American 22, 1807 which Embargo effort to coerce the belligerent to their restrictive powers repeal decrees and orders, a halt to the Rhode Island Java put literally
16. 17. 18. 19. 20. de E.S., History East of the Netherlands vol.11 Indies, (Rotterdam p.2. to Brown and Ives, John Bowers vol.231. 1802, V-J6, Sept.20, Ibid. Brown and Ives to Daniel Crommelin and Sons, 1804, PC7, vol.3. Sept.19, Klaveren, op.cit., p.82. Klerck, 1938)

99

RHODE
trade.

ISLAND TRADERS

of reviving this trade was then terminated thought Any It was only after the signing the War of 1812. of the Treaty by States and Great Britain of Ghent between United with together wars the termination of the long and exhaustive that European there was restored with colony nations strife, other European to compete for the ocean carrying trade. Hence, again an era when the War of 1812 ended Rhode following on wartime success had been mercial based largely the cessation of The Java trade now faced peacetime of blem After a revival in commerce. Also to the Dutch and trade with in August that 1816, Java was resumed. But were able once Island the decade com

disruptions. it could withstand the test of whether was perhaps This the major pro post-war competition. the Rhode Island traders. 1815,

with adventurers every port in Java was "crowded of every name and nature."21 .This state of affairs speculators was keenly felt by the Rhode Island traders. As coffee was also the was of the other it inevitable that prices visitors, object primary to unprecedented was sometimes ac This rose, heights. greatly centuated the presence of some who to determined by appeared at any hazard. The fact that Nathaniel Pearce purchase bought of coffee at $19J per pikul at Semarang and was able 1,600 pikuls to sell the amount at $25 per at Batavia pikul gives us an idea of and wrote "coffee mania"22 William Wetmore of the ship Mary Ann, to Edward to "abandon that he was forced all Carrington idea of going on the coast as there is not any coffee to be contracted must for. . ,"23 Eleazer Elderkin have been to write furious that are some Americans "there that appear to be coffee mad; here ... no is too great for them I shall pick up what comes price in our way and wait as patiently as till the next sale when possible if no more wild Americans I am in the article will arrive, hopes
be lower . . ."24

this

the period of American the British during neutrality, inroads into American had made And now, navy deep shipping. the revival of the Java trade, the British merchants at Batavia with a difficult time. As early as 1817, Henry Onard gave the Americans that he could not get any coffee or sugar for the ac complained count of Edward Carrington "the island had been drained because of Even both coffee and the observed
21. 22. 23. 24. 25. Nathaniel Ibid. William Eleazer Henry Wetmore Elderkin Onard to Edward to Edward to Byrant and Carrington, Carrington Sturgis, 1817. Oct.5, and Cyrus Butler, 18, 1817. June

that

Nathaniel later Pearce sugar by the British".25 "trade of this island is almost engrossed entirely
to Brown and Ives, Sept.25, 1818, V-P3, vol.326.

Pearce

Nov.23.

1818.

100

RHODE

ISLAND TRADERS

their agents merchants all over who have the island." by British In addition in the returning "low rate freight them a ships gives over us."26 What was perhaps more was great advantage important the fact that the British merchants had agents in Java who became citizens of Netherlands India after six months and this residence entitled them to all trading privileges. were The British thus agents to save one rupee a on all the coffee able pikul they exported; cases these In many \ rupee on all sugar and 6% on all imports.. were to pay the expenses substantial for the savings alone enough these agents being in possession of money, Besides, voyage. always were to invest at the proper able moment. could hold They the products and sell them at a great profit when market conditions turned for the better.27. It was for this reason that the owners of vessels the importance of strongly emphasised when coffee was coming in abundantly in order arriving to take advantage reasonable of more As late as 1832, prices. and Forestier in Batavia, informed and Ives that Brown Company was bare of coffee and rice as the crop of both the market these articles had already been contracted, and a large share of which was contracted the firm concluded that "the Hence, by the English. Americans who will load here at this present will make bad year
voyage."28

the Rhode

Island at Batavia

Rhode

the Dutch handled the Crommelins, agency house which Island merchants' affairs in Europe, understood this problem faced by the Rhode Island merchants. As early as 1817, they ad vised Brown and Ives that in view of a probable in their increase on that island, trade with and of greater "it may Java competition often happen that your vessels on arriving there may be disappointed a suitable these circumstances would under in getting cargo. We some of your neighbours town in your with suggest your joining a view to contract to send out a proper with in Boston and person The

to have in order coffee of produce the necessary chiefly quantity a number a sufficiency of vessels as may be agreed for such always . .and the necessary upon. by which specie could be sent continually as may to do well. out or sometimes We such articles promise from such a place benefit could be reaped think much especially a few if it be carried into effect between establishments principal and if a proper person could be found fit to do business experienced . . . "29 A few on a scale with and secrecy caution years later, large the Crommelins to Edward as the same advice gave Carrington they
26. 27. 28. 29.

were

convinced

that

good

agent

at Batavia

could

be

in the

to Brown Nathaniel Pearce and Ives, Nov.30, vol.331. 1820, V-P3, to Edward Shillaber and Co. 1822. Carrington, Jan.10, Forestier to Brown and Company and Ives, March 27, 1832, V-A65, Daniel Crommelin and Sons to Brown and Ives, Dec.3, 1817, P-C7,

vol.11. vol.18.

101

RHODE
position be therefore was the more best to decide on

ISLAND TRADERS
the time to secure produce need The were not

and would for an agent to because foreigners permitted imperative the of Java. into interior the American travel Consequently, on other to depend of having traders had to suffer the disadvantage that the information received here was The merchants. problem so contradictory were that it the various merchants from usually beneficial to all concerned.30 and hence the Americans in a very perplexed they position placed an intelligent not make As Solomon Townshend calculation. could . . . to get a commission out of you "a merchant wrote, expecting to another write will who prospects, give you the most flattering no commission and he will give you the most expects discouraging accounts plexes The in everything. a stranger in such This contradiction a manner, he knows and bewilders not how to make per any

calculation."31

vessels Island of the Rhode and captains supercargoes a resident American realized the importance of having with and William C. Reynolds Wetmore wrote, agent. perhaps or safe com some exaggeration, that there was not a single honest themselves in Java; that "they had not capital and were merely no American that by having hunters." Thus they argued were to be deceived To enhance in every way. liable agent, they their argument left these two men contended that if the Americans a commission it would it with with house; money speculate only a chance. to eliminating whenever there was In addition such an American could for freights "to be arrange agent problems, the Dutch obtained vessel under your by putting (whereby) flag over any other have the preference you would foreign flag and could get a coasting to pick license whereby would be enabled you a cargo at any port in Java and could get freights if to up always mission fortune house
be had."32

com this phase of the trade the problems of Dutch During mercial restrictions real. became more the war years, Java During had been but with the revival of trade by products accumulating were soon cleared rose all nations, off the market and prices they rose in output So did production. for instance, Coffee, rapidly. from some 50,000 pikuls in 1816 to nearly in 1823.33 300,000 pikuls The to Batavia number of ships that came also increased and by 171. Out of these 62 were English, 50 American 1819, they totalled and 43 Dutch.34
30. 31. 32. 33. 34.

Since

the majority

of these vessels

were

non Dutch,

Daniel and Sons to C. Butler Crommelin and E. Carrington, 14, 1820. April Solomon to E. Carrington, Townshend 11, 1820. June C. Reynolds to C. Butler and William Wetmore and E. Carrington, 2, 1820. April A Study Furnival, India, of Plural J.S., Netherlands Economy (New York 1944) p.94. Ibid., p.94.

102

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ISLAND TRADERS

the Dutch to reverse authorities the situation and attempts hoped were therefore made to secure greater openings in Batavia for Dutch The 1815 Dutch for trade in the East Indies shipping. regulations clauses whereby included Dutch vessels and merchandise belonging to citizens as those of Holland of Dutch as well would possessions and export duties than foreigners and that at a pay less import later stipulated date the reduction of duties would be granted only to vessels built in Holland or in the Dutch East Indies.35 These to be ineffective. When Stamford however, proved in charge of Java, he devised a method of encouraging British trade without custom duties differential by raising by 30% the invoice value of goods on British in ships and by 60% on goods other In 1817, the Dutch this system and in the ships. adopted was enhancement but the duty year a uniform following accepted was fixed at and 12% for others. A further 6% for Dutch ships revision in 1819 allowed the import of Dutch in Dutch produce all these for their own trade, ships free of duty. Despite privileges it is to note that the Dutch one third of secured interesting only the total for the British to reign continued shipping supreme. regulations, Raffles was of this phase genuine problem during written trade, home contained the same fear of sickness and death. The death toll as a result of Batavia fever to be continued The as usual were high. supercargoes impatient to leave the Batavia roads for a more climate whenever congenial In 1818, Nathaniel Pearce they had to stay for a few weeks. sound Health continued and letters to be a

ed grateful when he reported that "we cannot forebear noticing the interposition of Providence in the preservation of the lives and health of the crew. We have sustained but one loss by death during this long voyage."36 Solomon a Townshend, however, erpressed different mood he vowed when that "not all the wealth completely of Java would be the least inducement for me to visit that Golgotha ... I can assure that the of this voyage will again you be profits but a small for the to my constitution."87 done compensation injury measures did not seem to be Precautionary and very very effective extra men often to be recruited had at Batavia for a voyage to Canton since too many members of the original crew had fallen sick.

IV The
36. 36. 37. Quoted

final
in

phase

of

the Rhode

Island

Java

trade

were
and 1818,

years
Ives, V-P3,

the letter from Daniel Crommelin to Brown and Sons vol.14. 1815, P-C7, Aug.25, N. Pearce to Brown and Ives and Thomas March 6, Thompson, vol.326. Solomon to Edward Townshend Car] ington, July 24, 1820.

103

RHODE
of fast decline.. and The fact

ISLAND TRADERS
that conditions in Batavia were not too

Indies goods unpro was the traders that of deciding mising, by these to withdraw a few when from this field of activity. Nonetheless, were made. But Batavia and coffee voyages sporadic although were still synonymous, that port now became of secondary impor
tance only.

conducive

the European faced problem

market

for East

The where restrictive the Dutch measures (1825-29) the Dutch

decision and Dutch forced

Brown

to withdraw from Ives were concerned,

policies them

at least the Batavia trade, was accentuated partly by in Java. The financial difficulties faced by to take new measures and in Batavia these the Rhode Islanders. The miserable in Then financial the same Java War situation of

already to be worsened. govt. year that the War the revolt of the Belgians the rule of King ended, against Java I led to an armed to last for 9 years. William conflict that was was therefore The Dutch in Holland both and in treasury emptied It was this background, that the new Governor Java. against General of Java, Van den Bosch, assured the King that he would to increase find means the production of export crops in Java to a value of 20 million to achieve But in order this, guilders yearly38. had to be given to Dutch and special merchants special privileges measures to ensure that Dutch would handle passed shipping Java products. the formation of the Netherlands following Trading in 1824, the bulk of the Java coffee and sugar were carried Company to the Netherlands. These exports together with by the Company a stimulus to Dutch cotton of Belgian the growing gave import at Batavia the number of Dutch while in Thus, shipping. ships creased from 57 in 1825 to 110 in 1828, the number of English from 35 to 44 and American from 38 ships dropped ships decreased to 13 in the same period.39 was continued This after 1830 policy was made an agreement when between the Netherlands government Earlier, and the Netherlands all the Trading whereby Company obtained the Government the Culture under System by was consigned to this As a result, the Dutch Company. in capturing the principal share of the Java trade and the revenue that went into the Netherlands from treasury to this success. testimony was The an disruption important away from in market products in Java succeeded increasing Java was

affected greatly had caused the

factor

stayed
38. 39.

caused by the Java War conditions in explaining the Rhode Island vessels why Batavia. As early as 1825, Forestier and Com

VIekke, Furnival,

op.cit., p.288. op.cit., p.105.

104

RHODE
pany

ISLAND TRADERS

of Batavia, state of the central that "the troubled reported our internal the island necessarily trade to a small confines parts . . Until the peace of the colony shall be re-established, compass. . ."40 In the same vein the sale of this product be limited. will of Shillaber

and Company of Batavia, that the state of affairs seeing to in the colony was so unsettled, confessed that "it is Carrington to give a well state of of the future impossible grounded opinion its (coffee) to this In addition trade..."41 the British problem in Java, merchants were though partly undermined by the Dutch, still strongly entrenched in Batavia and their presence continued to be detrimental to the Americans. Thus in 1832, Forrestier and informed Company coffee and rice as Brown and Ives that the market was bare of the crop of these two articles been had already contracted the English. Hence the firm concluded that largely by "the Americans load here at this present who will will make year voyage".42 To accentuate the already merchants unattractrive

bad

of this trade prospects re the prices of coffee at Batavia seem to too high in Europe mained the market for where prices of a corresponding decline absence in faster. The price movement lessened the Batavia market the possibilities of a reason obviously so grim On the whole, for looked voyage. ably profitable things that in 1830, W.F. the Rhode Island merchants Paine from Batavia wrote to Carrington in the present that "... state of the market it is not to be expected that American to will make voyages ships to loading with I see no reason to expect the view Java produce. here or in Europe which offer in any favourable change might for the Rhode Island
ducement to Java voyages. . ,"43

all these problems must have plagued the Rhode Island a very lucrative the Java trade was on the whole avenue of traders, commerce. It is not possible to be specific about the however, amount of sales transacted as the trade and profits reaped figures are the first early years of this trade Nonetheless, incomplete. must have produced of dis (1799-1807) satisfactory profits inspite wars. caused by Revolutionary The fact that Brown and ruptions Ives together with Gibbs sent 17 vessels and Channing to Batavia While during products
40. 41. 42. 43.

this period and to Amsterdam

to re-export Batavia they contrived uncertain conditions in despite political


to Edward to Edward to Brown Carrington, Sept. 19, 1825. 1826. Carrington, Jan.18, and Ives, March 27, 1832, V-A65, 15, 1830. May

that

Forrestier and Company Shillaber and Company Shillaber and Company to Edward W.F. Paine

vol.11.

Carrington,

105

RHODE

ISLAND TRADERS

seem to nature to the The of the trade. Europe profitable testify the period from 1808 to 1815 were of course and of inactivity years was Brown Ives* Isis the only vessel which left for Batavia and which sailed on July 19, 1808 after obtaining permission special from the "proper officer of government". Rhode trade with Island as it had from 1816 to 1827 was very clearly not as intensive Java in the initial phase. been Peacetime from competition, especially Of the British affected the Rhode Islanders apparently adversely. quite sent out to Batavia the 14 voyages from Providence, the with of procuring coffee or sugar or both, 4 of them failed and purpose or rattans or Manila. to for Canton had tin, rice, spices buy of the decline of the Java trade were evident from Signs already a short revival about in 1827. 1823 but this was followed After by the whole merchants trend would of affairs made it imperative that the to withdraw have from this sector

this, however, Island Rhode of their

Brown and Ives had despatched their activity. in 1827 but it was not until 1831 that another In the remaining four 1831-36, period, only were sent to this East India port. other Edward ships Carrington one in the following despatched year. ship in 1829 and another This was followed by a long gap and not till 1835 did he participate In that year 2 Carrington in the trade again. to Batavia. ships went were These also the last. The fact that only three out of the seven to Batavia ship Asia was made. voyage achieved of success in this final is a good voyages any degree phase of the slump in the Java trade. indication to unconducive Added in Batavia conditions and the unpromising state of the European market for Java products, Rhode Island in 1836. finally withdrew

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