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The New Zealand journal, 1842-1844 of John B. Williams of Salem, Massachussetts

Notes to the Life

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Notes to the Life

1. L. W. Jenkins, Lt. Col., 'The Essex Guards,' Historical Collections of the Essex Institute, LVII (1921), 1-40.

2. R. H. Wiswall, 'Notes on the Building of Chestnut Street,' Historical Collections of the Essex Institute, LXXV (1939), 212.

3. The early school records of Salem have not been collected. The evidence of John B. Williams's attendance at the Salem. Grammar School is based on a hand written catalogue of the school, author unknown, found in the archives of the Essex Institute.

4. R. M. Ross, New Zealand's First Capital (Wellington: Dept. of Internal Affairs, 1946), pp. 15-16.

5. C. Wilkes, Narrative of the U. S. Exploring Expedition, 1836-1842 (Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1845), I, 164.

6. Consular reports, Bay of Islands (U. S. Archives). All consular despatches quoted are from consular reports, Bay of Islands for New Zealand, or consular reports, Lauthala for Fiji. John B. Williams's letters are in the Manuscript Collection of the Papers of John B. Williams, Peabody Museum, Salem, Massachusetts.

7. Mayhew's tenure of office was brief. His despatch of 1 April 1844 indicated that business was so poor that he might leave the Bay of Islands, and on 15 May 1844 he notified the Secretary of State that he was turning the consular office over to Henry Green Smith of Warren, Rhode Island, a resident of the Bay of Islands.

8. The removal of the consulate from the Bay of Islands to Auckland was approved by John C. Calhoun on 27 August 1844.

9. G. G. Putnam, 'Salem Vessels and their Voyages,' Historical Collections of the Essex Institute, LXVI (1930), 206 et seq.

10. In an undated note found among the 1844 letters Williams had written: 'Please send my sword and a belt with eagle clasp on it and anchor. I left the sword in the Eastern chamber where I slept at home. And send me a navy blue dress coat such as a captain in the navy wears, navy buttons and straps on the shoulders. 1 pair blue trousers to match it with gold lace 1 inch wide on the outer seam of the legs.' A bit pathetically the note closes with a request for a bottle of hair dye to be obtained at the store opposite the Tremont House in Boston. It was doubtless so accoutered that Williams appeared at Governor FitzRoy's for dinner.

11. This list of trade goods suitable for the Feejees was enclosed in a letter to Henry Williams in Salem from John B. Williams at Lauthala, 1 October 1847.
  • Beads, various sizes, and assorted colors
  • Boot boxes, And fancy nest boxespage 26
  • Small looking Glasses
  • Fancy Jewellery (cheap article)
  • Very Small brass chain
  • Scissors large and small,
  • Plane Irons large and small assorted,
  • Large and Small Hatchets,
  • Pockets knives and Sheath knives
  • Goat Skins various Colors
  • Bundle Hoop Iron for Mountainers,
  • Pig Lead
  • German Harps
  • Cheap Razors
  • Sand Papers
  • Chisels and Gouges large and Small
  • Files assorted large Small
  • Fish Hooks large and Small
  • Gun Flints
  • Screws—chest locks and hinges
  • Axes
  • Muskets
  • Slop Clothing
  • Pipes, manufactured and leaf Tobacco
  • Hingham boxes
  • American Vermilion
  • Glass bottles white and black
  • Bleached and unbleached, red, blue and printed Cottons (wide)
  • Bleached and unbleached, red, blue and printed Cottons (wide)
  • Blue Drills
  • Blankets, various Colors, but cheap
  • Tin Tubes, and small chests
  • Cartridge paper
  • Whales Teeth, Any Quantity
  • Gunpowder, and Common Rockets

Iron Hoop is cut in one foot and two feet lengths, and used as knives to clear the bush in the interior. Whales Teeth are the most valuable articles in the Feejee's. One large tooth will purchase about one picul of Bech de Mar, and for twenty teeth about 200 gallons of cocoa nut oil can be obtained. Of the above trade about $3500 would purchase a cargo of 1200 piculs of Bech de Mar and about 1000 lbs of Tortoise Shell.

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Required for a Cargo of 2000 barrels of Cocoa nut oil about $2500 worth of the above trade.

The valuation of Beche-de-Mar and Tortoise Shell, in the China, or Manila Markets—Say 1200 piculs and 1000 lbs of Shell—about $40,000.

The Cargo of 2000 barrels of Cocoa nut oil 60,000 gallons is worth in the United States about 58c per galln.—and the 60,000 gallons would amount to $34,000.

12. This letter confirms hints running through John B. Williams's correspondence that he had once been in financial difficulty. Henry gave an account of the amounts he had spent from John's account paying off old debts, and indicated that the next remittance should clear off the last $200.

13. This sketch of John B. Williams's life has, obviously, been written largely from his letters to his family in Salem. No original letters to John B. Williams have been found. However Henry L. Williams preserved copies of six letters written to his brother on a manifold writer. These letters all written in 1848 concern the bankruptcy of Breed and Huse. Three of the six are identical.

14. Williams's friendship for Father Mathieu may have been somewhat calculated. He hoped that the priest's difficulties in Fiji might result in a showing of French naval strength there. Any such display of power, American, British or French, would enhance the prestige of the few white men living among the 'Androphagus Feejees!' On 28 June 1853 Williams had written to the Emperor of the French urging that two corvettes and a frigate be sent to Fiji to punish the natives for 'desperate outrages, insults, and abuses.' This Yankee solicitude for French prestige is touching indeed until one recollects Williams's views about keeping the natives in subjection.

15. 'The following is a summary of what the "John Adams," under my command has accomplished in the Feejee Islands:

I have made the people of Rewa build Mr. Williams a new house, and pay twelve hundred dollars for the property destroyed in the house.

I made them reinstate him in his land. I made Tui Levuka sign a treaty to pay for the property taken from the American brig "Time Pickering", twelve hundred dollars, and three hundred dollars to an American girl for ill treatment from a native.

I made a treaty with Tui Viti, king of Feejee, to have paid in twelve, eighteen, and twenty-four months, with interest, for property from American citizens, $45,000. (Williams's share was $18,331.)

And if England or France take possession of the islands within the time he (Tui Viti) is alive he is to insist upon the payment of the claims by the nation taking possession.

I demanded satisfaction of the Chief and people of Vutia (Levuka?) for threatening the life of the American Consul, and attempting to murder a man in his employ. After burning the town I obtained it.

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I demanded satisfaction of the chiefs Te Sulear and Koroduadua for beating nearly to death two Americans, and taking their property. They refusing to come on board the ship, and at one time firing on my boats, compelled me to burn four of their towns.

I made the natives pay John Dyer, $400; John Sparr, $300; Charles Rounds, $200; John Sullivan, $300; Mr. Williams (for stock) $100.' E. B. Boutwell, 'The Report of Captain Boutwell, relative to the operations of the sloop of war "John Adams" at the Feejee Islands,' House Executive Documents, 1st Session, 34th Congress, Vol. 12, 1855-1856. Serial Set 859, Document 115, p. 7 et seq.

16. Williams's belief in severe and summary punishment of the natives certainly contributed to the ill-feeling between him and the missionaries in Fiji. The Reverend Joseph Waterhouse quoted a letter Williams had written to a Sydney paper to the effect that 'Bau ought to be destroyed, and the people swept from the face of the earth. Then and not until then will commerce move uninterrupted in this archepelago. —A ship of war could lay off Bau, knock down and destroy that town, while one is smoking a cigar.' Cf. Rev. Joseph Waterhouse, The King and People of Fiji (London: Wesleyan Conference Office, 1857), pp. 244 et seq. and T. Williams and J. Calvert, Fiji and the Fijians (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1860), pp. 459-474.

17. The Old South Church was organized in 1735 as the Third Congregational Church. Dr. Brown Emerson held a long pastorate there from 1805 to 1872.

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