From Joseph Barrell
Pleasant Hill1 Charlestown,
state Massts, Nov. 25th 1793
Much Respected Sir,
By Major Sargeant, I have taken the liberty to send you, the only intire Sea Otter Skin, brought to this Country, which was procured by the Columbia & Washington, on the North West Coast of America; the first American Vessels that ever visited that Coast, or went round the Globe.2
If you will please to Accept it as a seat for your Sadle, you will very much gratify One, who is with the highest Respect, and most sincere esteem Your most Obedient and very humble Servant
1. Pleasant Hill, a house designed by Charles Bulfinch in 1792, was Joseph Barrell’s country seat. The property was sold to Massachusetts General Hospital in 1816 and altered for use as one of the first insane asylums in the United States (see Nina Fletcher Little, “Early Buildings of the Asylum at Charlestown, 1795–1846, Now McLean Hospital for the Mentally Ill, Belmont, Massachusetts,” Old Time New England, 59 [October–December 1968], 29–52).
2. Barrell was one of a group of merchants who decided profit was to be made in trading sea otter furs from the northwest coast of America to the Chinese. In September 1787 they sent the ship Columbia and sloop Lady Washington around Cape Horn to the northwest coast and then on to China. The ships returned to Boston in August 1790 (Connecticut Courant, and Weekly Intelligencer [Hartford], 16 Aug. 1790). Winthrop Sargent left Boston on the morning of 28 Nov. and arrived at Philadelphia in the evening on 12 Dec. (Diary, 1 Oct. 1793 to 31 Dec. 1795, MHi: Winthrop Sargent Papers).