Monday, February 22, 2016

434. From the East River to the Pearl River and the Potomac River

232 years ago, today,  February 22, 1784, the Empress of China, the first United States commercial ship started her journey from the East River, New York.  Carrying the hope of the new nation to break the economic blockade by the British Empire, the most powerful country in the time, through a journey of 18,000 miles, the Empress of China entered the Pearl River and into Guangzhou (Canton) on August 28, 1784, and the United States formally entered the China trade. The trade achieved a great success. The ginsengs were sold out more quickly than the crew member thought. On December 28, 1784, the ship set sail for the United States. After about half year, the ship arrived back in New York on May 11, 1785, filled with tea, silks, porcelain wares and gunpowder. George Washington was pleased by the success of the voyage and Samuel Shaw, the commercial manager of the ship, was appointed as the first American diplomatic representative to China.
New York became the center of the country because of the economic booming stimulated by the trade with China. In order to balance the influence on political power from the economic power generated by the trade, George Washington wanted to build a harbor along the Potomac River for China trade.

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