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American Ships, Chinese Mutinies: The Coolie Trade via Southeast Asia

  • Yale University - Room 203, Luce Hall 34 Hillhouse Avenue New Haven, CT, 06511 United States (map)
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This presentation analyzes the role Southeast Asian ports, especially Angier (Anjer, West Java) and Manila, played in supporting the coolie trafficking network for the 125,000 abducted Chinese taken to Cuba. Records of several mutinies aboard American coolie transport ships reveal that these ports provided not only essential supply lines for overloaded coolie ships, but also administrative and legal infrastructure that supported the trafficking – and that they occasionally regulated extreme abuses of Chinese by the traffickers. Special attention is paid to mutinies aboard the Waverly off Manila in 1855, which resulted in arrest and imprisonment of surviving crew members, the Kate Hooper off Angier in 1857, and a crew mutiny on the Boston-based Staghound off Angier in 1860. The early role of British merchant James Tait, whose commercial activities in Manila and with the firm Jardine Mathieson in southern China, is also examined.

John Shufelt Associate Professor, Dept. of Foreign Languages & Literature, Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan; Visiting Associate Professor, Department of American Studies, Brown University

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