The Voyage of the 'Frolic': New England Merchants and the Opium Trade

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Stanford University Press, 1997 - Business & Economics - 227 pages
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In the late summer of 1984, the author and a group of his archaeology students excavated fragments of Chinese porcelain at the site of a Pomo Indian village a hundred miles north of San Francisco. How did these ceramics, which were more than a hundred years old, find their way to this remote area? And what could one make of local legend that told of Pomo women wearing Chinese silk shawls in the 1850's? The author soon learned that in 1850 the clipper Frolic, a sailing ship built specifically for the Asian opium trade, had wrecked on the Mendocino coast, a few miles from the Pomo village. He unearthed the business records of its owners, A. Heard & Co., which showed that respectable Bostonians had made their fortunes running opium from India to China. In describing the design, construction, and outfitting of the Frolic, the author was aided by a stroke of luck - a slave named Fred Bailey, later known to the world as the abolitionist Frederick Douglass, worked in the Frolic's shipyard in 1836 and wrote detailed descriptions of the building of such ships. The Frolic, under Captain Edward Faucon, plied the opium trade from Bombay to China from 1845 to 1850. The author describes the political, financial, and logistical aspects of the profitable enterprise before 1849, when the introduction of steam vessels into the opium trade made the Frolic obsolete as an opium clipper. However, the California gold rush created a lucrative market for Chinese goods, and the Heard firm dispatched the Frolic to San Francisco with a diverse cargo that included silks, porcelain, jewelry, and furniture. When the Frolic wrecked on the Mendocino coast, the Pomo Indians salvaged its cargo, and the vessel's historypassed into folk tradition. The subsequent lives of those intimately associated with the Frolic are profiled. The owners' families preferred to forget the source of their fortunes, and prior to her death in 1942, the daughter of the Frolic's captain burned her father's papers to p
  

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The voyage of the 'Frolic': New England merchants and the opium trade

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

In the summer of 1984, Layton (archaeology, San Jose State Univ.) and a handful of his students unearthed evidence of Chinese artifacts at a dig north of San Francisco. Layton later discovered that ... Read full review

Review: The Voyage of the Frolic: New England Merchants and the Opium Trade

User Review  - Brian Storms - Goodreads

The clipper the Frolic crashed on the shore of what was to become the town of Mendocino. The town and area I live in grew up because of this shipwreck. This book is written as a historical description ... Read full review

Contents

Prologue Point Cabrillo 1850
1
Introduction Three Chop Village
7
The China Trade
24
Baltimore
41
The Frolic
52
Bombay
71
Canton
91
The Final Cargo
117
Epilogue Who Owns the Past?
158
appendix a Inventory of George Gardners Shipyard
179
appendix b Laying Out and Building the Frolic
181
Outfitting the Frolic
187
Notes
193
Bibliography
213
Index
217
Copyright

Conclusion The Passing of a Generation
147

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About the author (1997)

Thomas N. Layton is Professor of Anthropology at San Jose State University,

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