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March 21, 2013

Ship Sunk in China

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Cooperstown Crier

---- — From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, March 20, 1813

Compiled, with comments

by HUGH C. MacDOUGALL

Obituaries

Died, in Cherry-Valley on the 13th inst. [March] Mr. CHRISTOPHER ALLEN, aged 27, of the prevailing epidemic.

Died in this village, on Monday last, of the prevailing fever, Mr. ISAIAH THURBER, aged 51 years.

Died in Middlefield, yesterday, very suddenly, JAMES INGALLS, Esq.

COMMENT: Christopher Allen 1786-1813) may have been the son of Benjamin Allen (1763-1843), a Revolutionary War veteran, also of Cherry Valley. Isaiah Thurber (1762-1813). Came from Rehoboth, Mass. Both of these two were victims of the “spotted fever” (meningococcal meningitis) then epidemic in the Northeast ... James Ingalls (1760-1813) was married in 1786 to Sarah Williams (1760-1831). He left three children.

Library Meeting

The annual meeting of the “Washington Library company” for the election of trustees for the ensuing year, will be held at Munn’s Hotel, on Tuesday the 6th April next, at 2 o’clock P.M.

ROBERT CAMPBELL, Librarian. Cooperstown, March 20, 1813.

COMMENT: Robert Campbell (1781-1847) was a graduate of Union College who came from Cherry Valley to Cooperstown in 1802. An attorney, he was the first president of the Otsego County Bank.

Ship Sunk in China

Letter from Canton, China, dated Nov. 2, 1812: “I am extremely sorry to inform you of the loss of the President Adams and all her cargo on this coast the 29th September at 10 P.M. 2 leagues westward of Mocoa [Macao], in as violent a gale of wind as I ever experienced.

“We were at anchor in a fine harbor with a pilot on board and had rode there 48 hours before she drifted; could she have held on four hours longer we should now had her safe in Canton; but it was not so to be.

“The second time she struck, she bilged and filled instantly, her stern on the rocks, so that her quarter-deck was out of water, & main-deck at the mercy of the sea, which constantly broke over us. At this time I should liked very well to have been in Boston.

“At daylight a man who was a good swimmer, took a line and with it reached the shore, but with the utmost difficulty. With this line we hauled the hawser on shore and made it fast to the rocks, by means of which we all reached the shore with safety, saving a few cloths & provisions.

“At day-light, saw a number of boats making for the wreck. At 7 a.m., they came along side and began their plunder. At 10 a.m. there were not less than 200 boats and from 12 to 1,500 men about the ship; the tide had left her so that they got at the specie [coins] and began killing each other for it.

“We on shore surrounded by 200 men all armed with knives and cleavers, plundering us of every single article saved from the wreck. I thinking that they would kill us if we remained there, came to a resolution to trust ourselves in one of their boats and by giving them an order on Mocoa for 800 dollars, they agreed to carry us there, which they did in three days, and received their 800 dollars.” – Boston paper.

COMMENT: Ten years later, on May 1, 1822, American Secretary of State John Quincy Adams wrote to Benjamin C, Wilcocks, the American Consul in Canton, as follows:

“Sir, Mr. Philip Ammidon, who was the Supercargo of the ship President Adams…which is stated to have been wrecked about ten years ago upon a small Island, called Fumo Chow under the jurisdiction of the Vice Roy of Canton, and to have been then robbed of much money and property by Chinese subjects, goes to Canton for the purpose of seeking the indemnity to which the owners of this vessel and property think themselves entitled; and he carries with him a letter from the President of the United States to the Emperor, and one from this Department to the Vice Roy of Canton, soliciting, in behalf of the claimants, the measure of justice to which, as citizens of a friendly state, they are entitled from the subjects of the Celestial Empire. I accordingly recommend Mr. Philip Ammidon to such good offices as are proper and it may be in your power to render him, in the execution of his Commission, and am with much respect, Sir, your obedient servant, John Quincy Adams.”

Whether the Chinese paid any indemnity for the property stolen from the President Adams I do not know. But both Consul Wilcocks and Philip Ammidon were very much involved in the opium trade — carrying opium from India to China, over the strong objections of the Imperial Chinese Government.

HMS Macedonian

From a London Paper of January 4.

“Macedonian Frigate. This noble frigate, supposed to be the largest in the British navy…was lately refitted and repaired at Plymouth, and excited the admiration of professional men. Referring to the capture of the Guerriere, it has been often observed, that if any British frigate could cope with the American frigate that frigate was the Macedonian. She had 16 guns on her quarter-deck alone, her metal was of an extraordinary weight. Capt. Carden is one of the bravest officers in his majesty’s service,” &c.&c.

COMMENT: As I suspect most of the Otsego Herald’s readers knew, HMS Macedonian was defeated and captured on Oct. 25, 1812, by the American Frigate United States, and was taken into the American Navy — in which she served until 1826.