It was no accident that the Black Ball Line was conceived and sail ed from New York.
New York had risen ro preeminence among Ameri ca’s seaporrs in a startlingly short time after the British pulled out of the burnt-out city.
British soldi ers had occupied the city fo r over seven yea rs, from mid-1 776 until 25 November 1783,
when the occupying army marched ro its boats ro board the ships that rook them back to England, in acco rdance with the Treaty of Pa ris which ended the long war.
They left behind them a shattered city, whose only function had been as an increasingly isolated fortress shielded by its waterways from a hostile countryside.
Trade relations had been disrupted in an age when commerce depended on personal relations and rrusr.
In the face of these formidable obstacles, eleven weeks after the British left,
New York’s Empress of China sailed from the rundown Manhattan.
“The Venturesome Pursuit” waterfront to make the first voyage under the American flagro China.
The voyage was financed by leading citizens from other cities-an early example of New York’s magnetic ability to draw in talent and funding from outside sources.
The fin ancial backing and government letter of authorizati on was mustered by that remarkab le Philadelphian Robert Morris,
financier of the War of American Independence just ended.
He had thought ar first ro send a ship ro rhe Pacific Northwest,
bur ultimately serried on the exciting prospect of direct trade with China, in what he called his “venturesome pursuit of commerce.”
Boston Mayor Samuel Shaw worked with Morris on the trading strategy,
“The Venturesome Pursuit” and another Bostonian , John G reen, commanded the ship.
Ginseng, an herb making a to nic popular as a stimul ant in China,
was rhe leading item in the outbound ca rgo, supplemented by pig lead, pepper from Arab ia,
woo len clothing and furs, with considerabl e cash to make up the difference in value of their cargo.
and the value of the costly teas they plann ed to bring home.
All worked according to plan , and rhe ship realized a profit of over $30,000 on an investment of $120,000 in her 15-monrh voyage.
This remarkable 25% profit did nor pass unnoticed.
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