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Otsego Herald

March 21, 2013

Ship Sunk in China


“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.”

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