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SINO-AMERICAN TRADE in 18th CENTURY
This section describes the beginning and historical context of trade between America and China.
• Chinese tea was English national drink. Average London worker spent large % of household budget to purchase it. East India Company merchandize product from Far East.
• Tea drinking mark of gentility in America.
• Until Revolution, American traders relied on England for tea.
• East India Company enjoyed monopoly on Tea in Canton.
• 1767 Townshend Act import duties on tea.
• Boston Tea Party of December 1773 (tea from Fujian dumped in harbor).
• [Exhibit 1: Map of tea trade]
SINO-AMERICAN TRADE IN 19th CENTURY (1/2 PAGE)
• 1784: Empress of China, first American ship to enter Chinese waters. Loaded with ginseng to trade for tea.
• Chinese-American tea trade increased steadily after 1785. Average of 36 ships a year arriving in Canton in 1800s.
• [Exhibit 2: Tea Imports from China, American vs Europe, by amount, % of total trade]
• During Napoleonic War, United States reaped large commercial profits from its policy of political neutrality. In 1811, Americans gained second place in Canton’s foreign trade.
• Americans possessed few items that Chinese wanted to buy. In payment for tea, Americans initially exported ginseng and sandalwood (from Hawaii), then turned to fur (trading with Indians). There was little demand for American cotton.
• During 1820s to 1830s, Americans traded opium. It was a relatively small part of trade ($275,000 out of $9 million of trade in 1836). Americans had to get opium from Turkey, inferior to Indian supply. America had no more than 10% of China market. Demand for tea continued to rise.
TRIANGULAR TRADE (1/2 PAGE)
• America exported specie (metal money) to make up for the trade deficit. Between 1805 to 1814, exported $22 million, about 70% of total exports. Between 1816 to 1844, 65% of total export.
• Baltimore clippers were first built as small, fast sailing vessels for trade around the coastlines of the United States and the Caribbean Islands. They were especially suited to moving low-density, high value perishable cargoes.
• Triangular trade: America shipped produce to Europe or South America. Proceeds in Spanish dollars transmitted to China to finance tea. Tea was shipped from Canto to America, specie transported to China because an absence of any banking facility.
• China’s currency: copper for small payments, silver for land tax. Internal exchange rate is 1000 copper for 1 tael of silver.