Week 2 explores Americans’ first contacts with the East. Voyages of “commerce and discovery” opened new worlds (in the national consciousness), ushered in an era of economic recovery, and fostered a body of writing through which Yankee travelers and expatriates began to fashion a national identity. Their experiences and texts introduced their countrymen to India, Canton, and the Pacific and inspired their countrymen to think of themselves as citizens of the world as well as enlightened republicans. In preparation for Week 2, consider the essay below by Paul E. Fontenoy, “An "Experimental" Voyage To China. 1785-1787” (The American Neptune http://www.pem.org/sites/neptune/voyage1.htm).
1. What was the motivation for sending the Experiment to China rather than pursue the conventional West Indies and European trade routes?
2. Who were the merchants who sent the Experiment to China? What was the “India Company of Experiment”?
3. What was the outward bound cargo loaded aboard the Experiment? How did this cargo compare to those shipped by the European companies or by the Empress of China in 1784?
4. What was the “homebound cargo purchased in Canton”; why does Fontenoy write that it “contained no surprises”?
5. Why does Fontenoy believe this was a successful voyage despite the modest profit reported?
6. What does Fontenoy identify as the distinguishing features of the voyage?