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Overview

Trade with China was one of the largest growth segments of the Boston mercantile establishment during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This collection of account books, letterbooks, and travel diaries provides insight into the two Boston families that were the most powerful China merchants: Samuel Cabot, Jr. and his wife's father, Thomas Handasyd Perkins (whose papers are included in the Massachusetts Historical Society series in this catalog).

There is a wealth of correspondence from Cabot and Perkins family members to other prominent traders and members of Boston's economic elite as well as vivid descriptions of England, France, Italy, China, and the West Indies through travel accounts concerning the lucrative opium trade in which these families were heavily involved.

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