Monday, February 17, 2014

337. George Washington Supported US Trade With China

George Washington regarded Europe as only a sideshow that must not divert attention from the permanent strategic interests of the US . He had not wanted to do business with England after the revolution. In October 1783, six months before the Empress of China started her virgin voyage to China, Washington made it clear in his letter to Marquis de Lafayette, a general in the American Revolutionary War and later a leader of the Garde Nationale during the French Revolution, that "I do not incline to send to England (from whence formerly I had all my goods) for anything I can get upon tolerable terms elsewhere."

Where could the Americans trade for what they needed? His solution was for the newly founded US to develop its commercial relationship with China. Even before the departure of the Empress of China, Washington had discussed the possibilities of this engagement with people like Ezra Stiles, the president of Yale College.

Washington had realized that the American merchants "will carry the American flag around the globe itself, and display the thirteen stripes and new constellation, at Bengal and Canton, on the Indus and Ganges, on the Whang-ho [the Yellow River] and the Yang-ti-king [Yangtze River], and with commerce will import the wisdom and literature of the East." While the Empress of China was still on her way to China, Washington told Thomas Jefferson that "from trade our citizen will not be restrained".

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