J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Fichter to Speak on So Great a Proffit

Prof. James R. Fichter of Lingnan University in Hong Kong is speaking at three New England historic sites this month on his book So Great a Proffit: How the East Indies Trade Transformed Anglo-American Capitalism. Here’s a review in The New Republic.

Britain started trading with east Asia through the East India Company in the 1600s, and that economic and political link eventually led to major battles on the subcontinent in the Seven Years’ War and War of American Independence, and to the Boston Tea Party.

After independence, American merchants found themselves shut out of the British Empire’s trading system. (Some of them had apparently not thought through what “independence” would mean.) Among the risky new business ventures they tried was the China Trade.

Fichter’s first venue is the Salem Maritime National Historic Site’s visitor center on Sunday, 13 June, at 2:00 P.M., which makes sense since Salem was a center of America’s China Trade. Among the pioneering merchants was Elias Hasket Derby, who had marched with the Essex County militia on 19 Apr 1775, arguing the whole way with his colonel, Timothy Pickering, about whether they should march faster.

On Wednesday, 16 June, at 7:00 P.M., Fichter will speak at the Forbes House Museum in Milton, in an event co-sponsored by the Shirley-Eustis House Association. That Milton mansion was built by Robert Bennet Forbes, who started work for his opium-trading uncle Thomas Handysyd Perkins in 1816 at the age of twelve. The lecture is free, but seating is limited, so the organizers request an R.S.V.P. There will be refreshments supplied by Prof. Fichter’s publisher, Harvard University Press.

Finally, Fichter will cross state lines on Thursday, 17 June, at 5:00 P.M. and talk at the Rhode Island Historical Society’s John Brown House Museum at 52 Power Street in Providence. In 1787 Brown sent the General Washington to Canton with a cargo of “anchors, cannon shot, bar iron, sheet copper, ginseng…, tar, spermaceti candles,” and several types of alcohol, thus launching Rhode Island’s direct trade with east Asia.


Judy said...

According to the website the lecture in Salem is on Sunday June 13.

J. L. Bell said...

Thanks! That was a late-night typo, and I’ve corrected it.