JCB Fellow's Talk: Brett Goodin

September 20, 2017 - 4:00pm

Brett Goodin (Smithsonian Institution), John R. Bockstoce Fellow

“American Maritime Commerce, Culture and Conflict with the Asia-Pacific, 1784-1914”

Rhode Island merchant sailors were among the first post-revolutionary Americans to trade in the Asia-Pacific, including at ports in China, Fiji and New Holland (Australia). Histories of this trade are typically told through the commodities transported or the fortunes made. Instead, this talk explores the experiences and approaches of pioneering American mariners in forming new commercial relationships and establishing trust with their employers and trading partners. Whereas successful round-trip voyages transporting furs, silver, rum, bêche-de-mer, and tea could net profits up to 400%, the most valuable commodity for sailors and merchants exploring new markets was trust. Through the extensive logbooks, journals and correspondence left behind in the various Brown family business collections at the JCB, we can see how captains and supercargoes (onboard clerks) sought to earn the trust and win the support of their employers and foreign merchants for future ventures on land and sea.

The Reading Room will close to researchers at 3:30 p.m.