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View Full Version : Source of FDR's family's wealth = Opium trade in China



kobukson
12-10-2009, 07:35 PM
Stuff they don't teach you in history class at school.


Editorial Notebook - The Opium War's Secret History - NYTimes.com (http://www.nytimes.com/1997/06/28/opinion/the-opium-war-s-secret-history.html)


The Opium War's Secret History
By KARL E. MEYER

Published: June 28, 1997

Losers rarely name wars, an exception being the conflict between Britain and China from 1839 to 1842, known bluntly ever since as the Opium War. To most Chinese, a century of humiliation began with this war, in which Westerners sought to force a deadly drug on an Asian people, and then imposed an unequal treaty that pried open their country and annexed the island that became Hong Kong.

In embarrassing truth, that is essentially what happened. As Hong Kong reverts to China at month's end, many of us for the first time may see a bit of history from a different end of the telescope. Yet a further point needs making. Even the authors of the Opium War were ashamed of it, and Western protests against it marked the beginning of a concern with international human rights that in a fresh turn embarrasses today's leaders in Beijing.

Along with the slave trade, the traffic in opium was the dirty underside of an evolving global trading economy. In America as in Europe, pretty much everything was deemed fair in the pursuit of profits. Such was the outlook at Russell & Company, a Boston concern whose clipper ships made it the leader in the lucrative American trade in Chinese tea and silk.

In 1823 a 24-year-old Yankee, Warren Delano, sailed to Canton, where he did so well that within seven years he was a senior partner in Russell & Company. Delano's problem, as with all traders, European and American, was that China had much to sell but declined to buy. The Manchu emperors believed that the Middle Kingdom already possessed everything worth having, and hence needed no barbarian manufactures.
The British struck upon an ingenious way to reduce a huge trade deficit. Their merchants bribed Chinese officials to allow entry of chests of opium from British-ruled India, though its importation had long been banned by imperial decree. Imports soared, and nearly every American company followed suit, acquiring ''black dirt'' in Turkey or as agents for Indian producers.

Writing home, Delano said he could not pretend to justify the opium trade on moral grounds, ''but as a merchant I insist it has been . . . fair, honorable and legitimate,'' and no more objectionable than the importation of wines and spirits to the U.S. Yet as addiction became epidemic, and as the Chinese began paying with precious silver for the drug, their Emperor finally in 1839 named an Imperial Commissioner to end the trade.

Commissioner Lin Tse-hsu proceeded to Canton, seized vast stocks of opium and dumped the chests in the sea. This, plus a melee in which drunken sailors killed a Chinese villager, furnished the spark for the Opium War, initiated by Lord Palmerston, the British Prime Minister, and waged with determination to obtain full compensation for the opium. The Celestial Empire was humbled, forced to open five ports to foreign traders and to permit a British colony at Hong Kong.

But as noteworthy, the war was denounced in Parliament as ''unjust and iniquitous'' by 30-year-old William Ewart Gladstone, who accused Palmerston of hoisting the British flag ''to protect an infamous contraband traffic.'' The same outrage was expressed in the pulpit and the press, in America and England, thereby encouraging Russell & Company and most other American businesses to pull out of the opium trade.
Warren Delano returned to America rich, and in 1851 settled in Newburgh, N.Y. There he eventually gave his daughter Sara in marriage to a well-born neighbor, James Roosevelt, the father of Franklin Roosevelt. The old China trader was close-mouthed about opium, as were his partners in Russell & Company. It is not clear how much F.D.R. knew about this source of his grandfather's wealth. But the President's recent biographer Geoffrey Ward rejects efforts by the Delano family to minimize Warren's involvement.

The family's discomfort is understandable. We no longer believe that anything goes in the global marketplace, regardless of social consequences. It is precisely this conviction that underlies efforts to attach human rights conditions to trading relations -- to temper the amorality of the market -- a point that, alas, seems to elude the Socialist soon-to-be masters of Hong Kong. KARL E. MEYER

loraleena
12-11-2009, 05:05 AM
Well isn't that lovely.

sensualguy
12-11-2009, 07:29 AM
Profit at the expense of Chinese people.

Daytrader
12-11-2009, 07:51 AM
The CIA later took a page right out of the colonial British playbook and used cocaine as reasons to intervene in South American agribusiness. Not to mention all the heroin related exploits in the golden triangle during the Vietnam war.

The biggest drug dealers in history? The British and American government. This was true in the past and it's still true now.

riqq
12-11-2009, 03:36 PM
Nice article. But the author seems to be equating the current trade of cheap goods from China (which involve low-paid workers in less than ideal working conditions) with the opium trade. If that is the case, could it be argued that both are immoral (or amoral) because they both involve human rights violations? I certainly don’t think they are on the same level of immorality, and one must also consider that in the case with Chinese goods the workers actually choose to be placed in the less than ideal working conditions as a way out of poverty. Check this (http://www.lewrockwell.com/ocregister/poverty-walmart.html) out.

helical
12-11-2009, 07:09 PM
The CIA later took a page right out of the colonial British playbook and used cocaine as reasons to intervene in South American agribusiness. Not to mention all the heroin related exploits in the golden triangle during the Vietnam war.

The biggest drug dealers in history? The British and American government. This was true in the past and it's still true now.

Well...modern drug trade is very different from the Opium war. For one thing, the penetration into the drug market is much smaller nowadays. Whereas back in the old days, even the Qing army were using opium. Now thats a sad time in Chinese history.

Nowadays, controlling the drug trade isnt as effective in seducing a nation. Since mostly, only the lower class use drugs. Not to mention there is a much harsher regulation and enforcement against drug trade.

Still, America definitely did their part during the colonization of China.

So many enemies for China.

riqq
12-11-2009, 07:50 PM
I notice that you have a very black and white view of the relationship between China and the US with your position seemingly firm in the belief that the two countries are necessarily competitive or adversarial against each other. Do you believe that conflict between the US and China is likely in the foreseeable future? On other message boards, I’d read about a conflict erupting between the two “superpowers” from time to time and not many Americans seem willing to entertain the idea that China and the US can actually emerge as allies or partners that cooperate in some meaningful capacity.

helical
12-11-2009, 10:16 PM
I notice that you have a very black and white view of the relationship between China and the US with your position seemingly firm in the belief that the two countries are necessarily competitive or adversarial against each other. Do you believe that conflict between the US and China is likely in the foreseeable future? On other message boards, I’d read about a conflict erupting between the two “superpowers” from time to time and not many Americans seem willing to entertain the idea that China and the US can actually emerge as allies or partners that cooperate in some meaningful capacity.

There is a difference between competitor, adversaries, and out right historic enemies.

"Conflict" between 2 nations can exist in many different form. It can be a war of words, a trade war, a currency war, an arm race, a space race, a tec race, a race on ideological spread, a political influence war, a cultural war, even a proxy war...etc etc.. It is not necessary to think of a future conflict between the US and China in a doomsday scenario of WW3 nuclear war.

US and China, are not historic enemy. It is not like China and Japan, or China and Mongolia. There is no redemption, or revenge attitude toward each other. It is more of a competitive/ semi-adversarial relationship that will lead to a race for the top in terms of economy, military, and political influence. Under such competition, I do not believe that it will erupted into an all out war. But it will lead to "war" in other field such as the currency, trade, arm race, space race, tec race....etc

Lastly, China and the US does not, and will not need to be allies to co operate on international issue such as global warming or terrorists. Just like how Russia and the US can co operate on nuclear arms reduction program.

As a Chinese, I do not believe american and China will ever be ally. Our interests collide too much with each other in the long term. What will likely happen, is probably a race to the top. Worst case scenario is probably multiple proxy wars in places like Iran, Korea, latin america, africa, or eastern EU.

Of course, nothing is guarantee. If someone like Hitler manage to seize power from either countries, WW3 is possible. But unlikely in my opinion.

PS: I think american need to think outside the cold war box. This is the 21st century, not 1980s Red Dawn. In this century, there is no G2, but rather a muti-polar world of superpowers entities like US, EU, Russia, China, and India that will shape the global policies. Even if there is a war between the US and China, you can bet that the other "poles" will get involve.

creamofcow
12-11-2009, 10:41 PM
Samuel Russell of Russell & Company had a cousin, William Russell that also benefited greatly from the opium trade. With his riches, he co-founded the Yale secret society "Skull and Bones," whose roster has included George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and John Kerry.

riqq
12-11-2009, 11:52 PM
As a Chinese, I do not believe american and China will ever be ally. Our interests collide too much with each other in the long term. What will likely happen, is probably a race to the top. Worst case scenario is probably multiple proxy wars in places like Iran, Korea, latin america, africa, or eastern EU.

This attitude is pretty much consistent with that of Americans regarding US-China relations, except that many Americans actually imagine a military conflict, a bona fide war in the traditional sense of the word, likely. I think it is rather unfortunate to know that ordinary people from both China and the US see little chance that the two countries can develop a more friendly relationship. Sure, as you say, it is entirely possible for China and the US to cooperate on important global issues without the need to be allies. However, the problem as I see it is that as long as traditional negative sentiments for each other underlie US-China relations, there will never be a guarantee of peace and security as Chinese and Americans remain suspicious of one another.

helical
12-12-2009, 12:50 AM
This attitude is pretty much consistent with that of Americans regarding US-China relations, except that many Americans actually imagine a military conflict, a bona fide war in the traditional sense of the word, likely. I think it is rather unfortunate to know that ordinary people from both China and the US see little chance that the two countries can develop a more friendly relationship. Sure, as you say, it is entirely possible for China and the US to cooperate on important global issues without the need to be allies. However, the problem as I see it is that as long as traditional negative sentiments for each other underlie US-China relations, there will never be a guarantee of peace and security as Chinese and Americans remain suspicious of one another.

American these days are still too arrogant, and stuck in a cold war mentality. They feel the need to have an evil empire out there to justify themselves as the good guys. I am not surprise that American still believe in a grand scenario of a military confrontation between China and the US. But like I said, this is the 21st century, and there are many ways to face off a confrontation. Trade war, arm race, increase political influences...etc

Regarding the potential of US and China being on a more friendly relationship...well, let’s be more realistic. China and the US (along with Russia, EU, and India) are all contender for global number 1 hegemon. The interest of being the number 1 super power is in direct conflict of seeking friendly relations. Beside, does the US have friendly relation with other super power? Russia will always be an adversary for the American. EU is not united, which is why the American does not feel a threat from them. India was more of an enemy during the cold war, and only recently starting to become an ally for the sole purpose to counter China. Hell...even Japan was an enemy during the 1980s golden age of Japan economy before the bust. So you see, being a super power...is a lonely adventure.

Lastly, despite the conflict in national interests, I do not see China and US relationship being compared to “a traditional negative sentiment for eachother”. Like I said, there is very little historic hate between the 2 nations. The anti-sentiment, is largely due to conflict in national interests and the competition to be the world leading super power. It is VERY different from the anti-sentiment between China and Japan, or Britain, or France or Mongolia...

PS: We are not exactly living in a peaceful world today... 2 active war by the american... And the neo cons are already talking about Iran... not that peaceful...

riqq
12-13-2009, 03:59 PM
I don’t think it’s appropriate to place the relationship that the US has with the EU in the same category as the relationship that the US has with China or Russia. The EU may be competitive with the US, but it never regards the US as an adversary that needs to be overpowered or even destroyed, and this attitude is reciprocated by the US. To illustrate with an analogy, the competitive nature of the relationship between the US and the EU is like that between two friends or brothers and the competition is conducted without a feeling of spite. Although, that might change in 50 or 100 years’ time when the apparent process of “islamisation” has decisively changed the political and cultural landscape of Europe.

helical
12-13-2009, 10:52 PM
I don’t think it’s appropriate to place the relationship that the US has with the EU in the same category as the relationship that the US has with China or Russia. The EU may be competitive with the US, but it never regards the US as an adversary that needs to be overpowered or even destroyed, and this attitude is reciprocated by the US. To illustrate with an analogy, the competitive nature of the relationship between the US and the EU is like that between two friends or brothers and the competition is conducted without a feeling of spite. Although, that might change in 50 or 100 years’ time when the apparent process of “islamisation” has decisively changed the political and cultural landscape of Europe.

The EU is not the same as Russia and China. The EU is more diverse and less solvent. Decision making in the EU is not as unified and therefore not as powerful as a super state. Hence, the US doesn’t see them as a threat when compare with Russia or China.
I can agree with you that in the short term, the EU has a friendly relationship with the US. But such relationship can not be guarantee even with the EU remain a Christian or Catholic community. The interests of states within the EU do not always reinforce US general interest. One good example is Germany and France relation with Russia as modern trade partner, whereas the US is more provocative toward the Russian and regards them as a potential threat. I guess what I am trying to say is this: the EU and the US treat each other as allies for mutual benefits, but regard each other as expandable during crisis. As in another example, we can observe within the Afghanistan and the Iraq war, EU support is extremely limited and does not hold up the legacy of NATO. (France did not even send any troops to Iraq) Another example is that the US want EU to expand to include states like turkey to counter the Russian influences in that region, whereas EU members are not as glad with that idea as million of Turks would have the right to migrate to the EU, increasing competition for jobs.
The current friendly relations between the EU and the US are largely due to left over of the cold war legacy. It is that common interest to counter potential hostile intention from the USSR that drives the friendly relation in the first place. Given the current geo political reality of a emerging muti-polar world, I do not believe that the European will remain as an unconditional ally of the US the same way it had portray itself during the cold war. I believe that if given a harsh condition, the European is capable of regarding the US as expendable, as it has already demonstrated in the current 2 wars.

Yes, currently we cannot compare US-EU relations with US-China relations. BUT, we can compare US-EU relations with China-Russian relations. That is, both are temporary allies of convenient to gain more leverage for personal national interest in international policies, such as the Iran nuclear issues, or climate change, even the economic crisis that we are facing today. In 50-100 years. These relations will definitely change to adjust to rising and declining powers.
I do not regard the European and the American as “brother” competing with each other.

kobukson
12-15-2009, 02:49 PM
There is a difference between competitor, adversaries, and out right historic enemies.

"Conflict" between 2 nations can exist in many different form. It can be a war of words, a trade war, a currency war, an arm race, a space race, a tec race, a race on ideological spread, a political influence war, a cultural war, even a proxy war...etc etc.. It is not necessary to think of a future conflict between the US and China in a doomsday scenario of WW3 nuclear war.

US and China, are not historic enemy. It is not like China and Japan, or China and Mongolia. There is no redemption, or revenge attitude toward each other. It is more of a competitive/ semi-adversarial relationship that will lead to a race for the top in terms of economy, military, and political influence.

I believe the precise term you are groping towards is "frenemies".