Empress of China (1783)

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The Empress of China was a three-masted, square-rigged sailing ship,[1] initially built in 1783 for service as a privateer.[2] After the Treaty of Paris brought a formal end to the American Revolutionary War, the vessel was refitted for commercial purposes . It became the first American ship to sail from the newly independent United States to China, opening what is known today as the Old China Trade and transporting the first official representative of the American government to Canton.[3]

First voyage

The first American merchant vessel to enter Chinese waters left New York harbor on Washington's birthday, February 22, 1784. The Empress returned to New York on May 11, 1785 after a round voyage of fourteen months and twenty-four days. The success of the voyage encouraged others to invest in further trading with China.

The ship's captain John Green (1736-1796) was a former U.S. Naval officer, its two business agents (supercargos), Samuel Shaw (1754-1794) and Thomas Randall (17__-1811), were former officers in the U.S. Continental Army, and its syndicate of owners, including Robert Morris (1734-1806) were some of the richest men in the new nation.[4]

See also


  1. Tantillo, Len. (2000). "Voyage of the Sloop Experiment," The Hudson River in the Age of Sail (exhibition). Hudson River Maritime Museum.
  2. Smith, Philip Chadwick Foster. (1984). The Empress of China, p. 25.
  3. US Dept. of State, Office of the Historian: Recognition, Diplomatic, and Consular Relations, 1774-2008: China.
  4. Giunta, Mary A. and J. Dane Hartgrove. (1998). Documents of the Emerging Nation, p. 237; Smith, p. xvii.


External links