LeRoy Pennysaver & News - page 9

Over the weekend, I
started reading the“Jour-
nal of a Trading Voyage
Around theWorld. 1805
–1808”writtenby Isaac
Iselin. At first glance it
doesn’t sound too com-
pelling, but I hope it
will give me a better
understanding of how
the LeRoy family made
all it’smoney.
The man who wrote
the journal was the “su-
percargo” (I had to re-
search that term. It’s a
derivative of a Spanish
word “sobrecargo.” The
supercargo was the man
in charge of the cargo
and represented themer-
chants who owned it.
On a merchant vessel,
he was considered the
second most important
man on board, after the captain.)
Isaac Iselin was from Sweden.
He came to NewYork City and
joined the brokerage house of
and JamesMcEvers.
In 1800, he signed aboard the
, which was the first
merchant shipout ofNewYork in
theChina tradeandoneof thefirst
ships in the illegal tradeagainst the
Spaniardson theCaliforniaCoast.
Prior to the voyage of Enterprise,
themerchanthouseswerebased in
Boston, Salem andNewport.
Iselin returned from China
in 1802 with a very valuable
cargo, and an enormous amount
of experience. For two years he
worked in the offices at LeRoy,
Bayard and McEvers. Then he
became the supercargo for the
, which set sail
October 1805 out of NewYork.
sailed to South
America, around Cape Horn,
and sailed up the West Coast
of South America, stopping in
Peru and then to California, and
then toHawaii,Guam, andother
Pacific Islands before heading to
China and then back east around
toNewYorkCity. The accounts
are full of adventure - of strange
people - -strange food - - - polit-
ical intrigue.
The Journal wasn’t published
until 1897 andonly a few copies
were made. In fact, only three
copies can be located. The copy
that I havewas reprinted in1999
withanexplanation. It seems that
theJournalcontained thedescrip-
tions of trade routes and hunting
washighlyprotected information.
It is believed that the journal
was kept by LeRoy, Bayard and
McEvers so that the company
secrets would not be revealed.
When Isaac Iselin returned to
New York after the successful
voyageof the
his own independent mercantile
firm and in 1815 he joined a
prominent textile firm. He was
quite successful and eventually
returned to Sweden, leaving his
son in charge of the company.
At the time of the voyage,
Americanswereventuring to the
far reaches of the world to open
trade routes.With the end of the
American Revolution, merchant
ships fromBostonwere compet-
ing with English traders of the
East Indian Trade. The Chinese
wanted sea otter skins, ginsing,
and silver. The English supplied
them with opium from India.
acquiringopium fromTurkey for
theChina trade, although there is
nomention in Iselin’s journal to
indicate that the Maryland was
involvedwith the drug trade.
Iselin, kept interesting notes.
The ship had to carry provisions
and water for nearly 60men, as
well as animals. Foodwas often
scarce, and they ate sea turtle,
seal, shark, and unknown fish.
Isaac notes that he refused to eat
salt meat of any kind. He wrote
that the cook, oneday served the
ship’s cat in a fricassee. Several
of the sailors showed signs of
scurvy and they made efforts to
findorangesand lemons. Finding
potable water always seemed to
be a concern andwas often dan-
gerous and difficult.
As far as I can determine, the
was a two masted
“brig.” The captain was Jona-
than Perry, Jr. Unfortunately,
he died in December 1807 after
leaving China and was buried
at sea. The thirdmate took over
as captain. His inexperience
might explain the necessity of
joining another
ship, the
, after round-
ing the southern tip of Africa.
Nearing Bermuda they were
challenged by a British man-
of-war, the Horatio, and after a
canon shot as a signal to heave
to, the Maryland was boarded.
Isaac wrote: “We should have
been anxious to avoid the visit
of the cruiser, under all circum-
stances, butwereparticularly so,
from the uncertaintywewere in,
after the reportswehad received
several times duringour voyage,
of the state of the political rela-
tions between the United States
and England.” This of course
was one of the reasons why the
War of 1812 erupted. The Brit-
ish continued toboardAmerican
ships and any seaman suspected
of being British was taken and
pressed into the service of the
Apparently there were no is-
sues with the Maryland’s crew
and theHoratio continued on its
way, looking formoreAmerican
ships. Just an additional note - -
after the treaty was signed with
Britain at the end of the war, it
was an American ship, owned
by LeRoy, Bayard and McEv-
ers, that set sail for India, to be
the first to establish trade con-
nections. On board was young
JacobLeRoy, who I believewas
serving as the supercargo.
I’m still reading through the
journal andwish I hadpaidmore
attention to my World History
teacher to understand what was
going on between 1805 and
1808, but thankfully the Internet
connection is good. It just takes
a lot of time to Google all the
names and dates to knowwhat’s
going on.
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