Archival Follies

Experienced Inconvenience

What with all the bodies piling up on the dock


A strange mix of violence, confusion, and settled community reigned for the American residents (and presumably others) of coastal China in the mid-nineteenth century. The bureaucratic requirements of the State Department forced the unstable chaos of events into some odd, strained forms, at times.

See, for example, the following abstract of the resident American minister’s report for February 1850:

Grants of Land at Shang Hae [Shanghai] – Inconvenience experienced for want of a proper burial place for American citizens dying at Whampoa – Murder of two American citizens at the Fugee [Fiji] Islands by the natives – Sends his accounts – Death either of the mother of the Emperor of China, or the Emperor himself – Assault made upon the French Consul.

That’s a busy month, folks, but pretty typical of the time/place.

Image cite: Marcn, “Lonely Swimming Dock,” Flickr, CC License

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