James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George Crowninshield, Jr., 21 April 1812 (Abstract)

§ From George Crowninshield, Jr.1

21 April 1812, Salem. Introduces Capt. Holton J. Breed of the Salem brigantine Neptune, who expects to visit Washington. Has requested Breed to present to JM “a Small Bag of white Sumatra pepper, not for its value, but as a curiousity.”

RC (DLC). 1 p. Docketed by JM.

1George Crowninshield, Jr., was one of the sons of George Crowninshield, Sr., founder of the Salem firm George Crowninshield and Sons, whose vessels had made sustained efforts after 1795 to break into the East Indian trades. The family was particularly successful in undercutting the British and Dutch domination of the Sumatra pepper trade by exploiting their contacts with indigenous leaders in the region. In the years after 1805, however, the trade was depressed, largely because of low prices resulting from overproduction (see James W. Gould, “Sumatra—America’s Pepperpot, 1784–1873, Part I,” Essex Institute Historical Collections, 92 [1956]: 113–44; William T. Whitney, Jr., “The Crowninshields of Salem, 1800–1808: A Study in the Politics of Commercial Growth, Part II,” ibid., 94 [1958]: 108–18).

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