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Chapter Six. Alta California, the Pacific, and International Commerce before the Gold Rush

David Igler

Subject History

Place Northern America » United States of America

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics trade

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405161831.2008.00007.x


In 1827 30 commercial vessels arrived on the coast of Alta California. Many of the ships' names leave little doubt as to their national origin: the Baikal, Golovnin , and Okhotsk (Russia), the Massachusetts, Franklin , and Eagle (United States), the Comete and Heros (France), the Kamahalo and Karaimoku (Hawaii), the San Magdale (Mexico), and the Aurora, Cadboro , and Thomas Knowland (England), among numerous others. While more than one-third of these commercial voyages hailed from the United States, the rest originated from nations and polities in the European Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Many of the vessels along the Alta California coast in 1827 exhibited a fusion of Pacific and Atlantic commercial parentage: a Peruvian-based partnership flew the British flag over the Aurora , the Alaska-based Russian American Company owned the Baikal, Golovnin , and Okhotsk , the two Hawaiian-owned ships were constructed in Atlantic shipyards, while the Cadboro carried out business for England's Hudson's Bay Company (and its forts in the Pacific Northwest). If an odd mixture of Atlantic and Pacific commercial interests characterized these vessels, an international cast also described the ships' crews, which were gathered or impressed from all parts and ports of the globe. International commerce – rather than national or imperial motives – had drawn these vessels to Alta ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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