“A Fair, Honorable, And Legitimate Trade”

The opium trade is remembered as a British outrage: English merchants, protected by English bayonets, turning China into a nation of addicts. But Americans got rich from this traffic—among them, a young man named Warren Delano. He didn’t talk about it afterward, of course. And neither did his grandson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Edward Delano arrived at Macao off the South China coast aboard the American vessel Oneida on December 7, 1840. His initial impression of the tiny Portuguese colony was reassuring. A crescent of handsome whitewashed houses with a half-dozen church spires scattered among them, clinging to a green hillside, it reminded Massachusetts boys like Ned of the fishing village of Nahant. Read more »

Of Raleigh And The First Plantation

The Elizabethans and America: Part II -- The fate of the Virginia Colony rested on the endurance of adventurers, the financing of London merchants, and the favor of a courtier with his demanding spinster Queen.

In the marvelous 1580s everything was beginning to ripen together in the heat of the tension between England and Spain. Poetry and the drama that had been so sparse and backward were coming to a head with Sidney and Spenser and Marlowe; the first Elizabethan madrigals appear in the very year the war against Spain begins. And this is the moment when the idea of American colonization takes shape and wing—or, perhaps I should say, takes sail.