“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 »

A Rational Geographic Quiz

ANY CHILD KNOWS that the amount of fun in a game is likely to be inversely proportional to its educational value. Parker Brothers didn’t press its luck in the 1899 “Ports and Commerce”: it was nothing more than a conventional card game. Still, it was good for a nascent capitalist to learn where yams are sold and so forth, and the game did give a child the opportunity, by matching the pictures of cities with their chief exports. Can you identify the towns shown here? Answers at far right.

Masters Of The Merchant Marine

We built a merchant marine despite the opposition of the Royal Navy, went on to develop the most beautiful of all sailing ships, and held our supremacy for years. But how do we measure up today?

AMERICA is in the midst of a revival of interest in things nautical—nineteenth-century nautical. It began with the efforts of a handful of romantics to preserve the few remnants of the age of sail and was intensified by the magnificent Bicentennial Operation Sail. Now seaports across the country—in New York and San Diego, Philadelphia and Galveston, San Francisco, Boston, and Houston- are turning their waterfronts into public parks, often with a tall windship as the centerpiece.Read more »

Happy Ending

Though he invariably has his way with the small-town girls in a thousand indestructible smutty stories, the actual life the traveling salesman led was not nearly so gleeful. Commercial travelers—there were almost a hundred thousand of them by the turn of the century—rode day coaches from tank town to tank town, lived in railroad hotels, and ate bad food. But perhaps the drummer has gained so ubiquitous a role in jokes because he told so many of them. He had to.Read more »

Opening China

Once again, Americans are learning the delicate art of trading with the biggest market on earth. Here’s how they did it the first time.

As American merchant ships call again at the China coast, they are following in the ghostly wake of a sailing ship of 360 tons burden which arrived at Whampoa Reach, the anchorage for Canton, on August 28, 1784—188 days out of New York. She proudly fired a “federal salute” of thirteen guns and was saluted in return by the other foreign vessels already anchored there.Read more »

The Mystery Of The Mary Celeste

A Classic Riddle of the Sea From an Absorbing New Book

Early in the afternoon of December 4, 1872, at a point about midway between the Azores and Portugal, the Nova Scotian brigantine Dei Gratia was proceeding on a southeasterly course when her master, David Reed Morehouse, sighted a sailing ship on his port bow, to windward. Through a glass he perceived that she was another brigantine, beating northwest under very short canvas. As the gap between the ships narrowed, he was unable to make out any people on the stranger.Read more »

Marks For The Marketplace

The Curious World of the Trademark

Millions of readers have been pleasured by the writings of John Steinbeck, but there was no joy in the Atlanta headquarters of the Coca-Cola Company when the Pulitzer-prize-winning novelist’s The Wayward Bus reached the executive suite.

”‘You rather have a coke?’ ” asked the traveling salesman who was trying to move in on the blonde at the bus stop lunchroom.

”‘No. Coffee’ ” she replied. ” ‘Cokes make me fat.’ ” Read more »

Michigan Timber

An excerpt from a new bicentennial history of his native state

The book from which the following excerpt is drawn is to be published later this month by W. W. Norton O” Company; it is one of a series of bicentennial state histories being prepared under the aegis of the American Association for State and Local History.

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The Tyranny Of Oil


In October, 1973, Arab states clapped an embargo on oil shipments to the United States. All at once the nation had to go on daylight-saving time, throttle back on the highways, and turn down thermostats. Millions of baffled Americans found themselves lining up, sometimes for hours, at filling-station pumps. Up to that moment Americans had paid little heed to the quarrels of the Middle East. Until the Second World War that part of the globe had been strictly a British problem.Read more »

The Good Provider


Pittsburgh, God knows, was no fourth-century Athens, but around 1900 it did have a remarkable group of industrial leaders. The Pittsburgh barons exercised their power and made their fortunes in coal and coke, iron and steel, aluminum and oil, glass, rails, and heavy machinery. Five of them were commanding figures in their time and are legends in ours: Carnegie, Frick, Westinghouse, Mellon, and Heinz. Allan Nevins has called such men the architects of our material progress. They have been called other things as well, all except H. J.Read more »