Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Shaw, Samuel (1754-1794) to Henry Knox and Samuel Ogden

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also request a pdf of the image from us here.

Log in
or
subscribe to see this thumbnail image

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.03311 Author/Creator: Shaw, Samuel (1754-1794) Place Written: Guangzhou, China Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 21 November 1786-3 December 1786 Pagination: 4 p. ; 31.5 x 19.2 cm.

Summary of Content: Written from Canton, present-day Guangzhou, China. Writes a lengthy letter updating his friends Knox and Ogden on the status of his business in China. Says he is pleased to finally be able to write, but is sad to report on the illness and death of their mutual friend Mr. [Isaac] Sears, who had been in China with him. Describes the cool reception he received from the Europeans when he arrived in China, because of the threat of competition the Americans posed. Discusses their business prospects, including the high prices and poor sales for tea and other goods. Includes a detailed explanation of his dealings with Captain [John] Green and his partner, [Thomas] Truxton. Though Shaw and his partner [Thomas] Randall do not have anything against Truxton, "[a]s to Green- I do not know a term in any language sufficient to express my detestation of him." Recounts several offenses of Green's. Explains that according to Chinese law, any fighting that resulted in the death of one party would incur execution on the surviving party; this has resulted in Green badmouthing everyone without fear of reprisal. Shaw has included a narrative detailing his interactions with Green; he is distributing it to European businessmen in China in hopes of clearing his name. See GLC02437.03310 for the narrative and an explanation of the dispute between Shaw and Green.

People: Shaw, Samuel, 1754-1794
Knox, Henry, 1750-1806
Ogden, Samuel, 1746-1810
Sears, Isaac, 1730-1786
Green, John, 1730-1793
Truxtun, Thomas, 1755-1822

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: CommerceMerchants and TradeAsiaCorruption and ScandalMaritimeFinanceEconomicsDrugsLawDebtGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyFriendshipHealth and MedicalDeathDiet and nutritionLawDeath PenaltyAsia

Sub Era: Creating a New Government

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources