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In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
The Ship Tropic was built during the years 1850 and 1851 by Trufant, Drummond and Company of Bath, Maine, for five investors: John Thornton (1808-1893), William James Rotch (1819-1893), William Rodman Rotch (1788-1860), Edmund Taber (1819-1911), and Captain Eben Ryder Smith (n.d.). The Rotches, Thornton, and Taber were business associates with investments in several vessels, including whalers. Smith served as master of the vessel for all but two voyages. The Tropic primarily engaged in foreign trade sailing from either New York or Boston, but was always considered of New Bedford. Destinations included ports such as London, Dunkirk, Havre, St. Petersburg, Sydney, Manila, Hong Kong, Calcutta, and Havana. The cargo varied with the destination, but the ship often carried hemp, sugar, salt, flour, cigars, and coal. In 1862, she was sold due to the impact the Civil War had on American vessels in foreign waters.
Papers in this collection document the business activities of the Ship Tropic of New Bedford during the years 1850 to 1862. They consist solely ship's papers for eight voyages with John Russell Thornton acting as the managing agent. These papers include correspondence between the master and the agent as well as with other commercial agents; crew accounts, including crew lists for five voyages; charter parties; consular and customs records; bills of landing and exchange; freight lists; and bills and receipts.
Papers for the first voyage include financial accounts and specifications with Trufant, Drummond and Company of Bath, Maine, concerning the construction of the vessel (1850-1851) and memoranda of outfits for the vessel. Papers for the third voyage (1852-1853) contain accounts; records of a marine protest for damage to the vessel due to the collision with a British vessel, the Glammis Castle, which later sunk off the coast of Bahia, Brazil, as a result of the crash; and papers relating to a breach-of-contract suit brought by passengers in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. For the sixth voyage, Captain Eben Smith's correspondence indicates that he had his son aboard with him until they reached Havana, and that Smith wanted to remain at home for a while after the voyage. The master of the next voyage was John Loring, who had previously served under Smith. Eben Smith did not serve as master for that voyage or for the June-November 1854 voyage, for which Benjamin Smith served as master.
Papers for the final voyage (1860-1862) include accounts and a marine protest for damage to the vessel due to a storm on a passage from Sydney to Manila. Also the correspondence reveals Eben Smith's concerns regarding the impact of the Civil War on the availability of cargo for American ships in foreign ports. The vessel was sold after this voyage.
Arrangement of Collection
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New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 106, [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
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The papers in this collection were donated to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society by Mr. And Mrs. Peter Bullard on 30 December 1987.
Processed by: Judith M. Downey, with assistance from Martha Richards, 25 March 1994
Encoded by: Kermit Dewey, 14 May 2012
Please Consult Research Library for Detailed Description of Collection
Australia--Voyages and travels
Cargo ships--Tropic (Ship)
China--Voyages and travels
Cuba--Voyages and travels
Europe, Northern--Voyages and travels
History--United States--Civil War, 1862-1865
India--Voyages and travels
Merchant marine--Massachusetts--New Bedford
Merchant marine--Officers--Loring, John
Merchant marine--Officers--Smith, Benjamin
Merchant marine--Officers--Smith, Eben Ryder [n.d.]
Merchant ships--England--Glammis Castle
Philippines--Voyages and travels
Rotch, William James (1819-1893)
Rotch, William Rodman (1788-1860)
Ship owners--Rotch, William James (1819-1893)
Ship owners--Rotch, William Rodman(1788-1860)
Ship owners--Smith, Eben Ryder [n.d.]
Ship owners--Taber, Edmund (1819-1911)
Ship owners--Thornton, John Russell (1808-1893)
Smith, Eben Ryder [n.d.]
Taber, Edmund (1819-1911)
Thornton, John Russell (1808-1893)
Glammis Castle (Ship)