Sailing the British Empire : The Voyages of The Clarence, 1858-73

Mutinies Varied by Port of Departure

The Portuguese port of Macau was the oldest port on China's coast, dating back to the 1550s, and as a result, experienced the most trade.  Later, the British restricted other nations' access to their ports in 1855.  One possible explanation is that they recognized the injustice of the coolie trade, and did not want that trade occurring on their land.  However, it is more likely that the British wanted to limit their competition so they could receive higher profits.  As a result, other nations such as Peru, one of the largest contributors to the coolie trade, based their operations in Macau, creating significantly more traffic.

It is important to keep in mind that Cumsingmoon represented only a little over 2.5% of the total number of vessels departing from China with indentured laborers.  In both graphs, Latin America encompasses Cuba, Peru, Chile, the British Caribbean colonies, French Guiana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and various other colonies.

Mutiny varied by port of departure.  Stricter regulation of emigration from British (Hong Kong) and Portuguese (Macau) colonies’ ports resulted in lower incidence rates of mutinies aboard those ships.  However, the other ports experienced more mutinies as kidnapping and bribes went undeterred.  Specifically, at the time, Cumsingmoon was an opium depot, further promoting its extremely high mutiny rate, as corruption was pervasive.

Sources Cited:
1. Meagher, Arnold Joseph. The Introduction of Chinese Laborers to Latin America: The" Coolie Trade", 1847-1874. University of California, Davis., 1975. 185-202.
2. Northrup, David. Indentured Labor In the Age of Imperialism, 1834-1922. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. 55.
3. Christopher, Emma, Cassandra Pybus, and Marcus Rediker. “La Trata Amarilla.” Many Middle Passages: Forced Migration and the Making of the Modern World. Berkeley: U of California, 2007. 168.


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