[1858 ALS from C.W. Bradley, U.S. Consul in Ningpo, China writing about Consular and Naval Affairs to U.S. Navy Captain A.H. Foote, U.S.N.].

Newsy letter from C.W. Bradley of Connecticut, U.S. Consul at the treaty port of Ningpo, China touching on the fall of Canton, the wreck of gold ship S.S. Central America, a visit from the first Protestant missionary to China, and other naval and consular affairs. The letter was written by Bradley to his friend stationed in Hong Kong, U.S. Navy Captain Andrew Hull Foote (1806–1863) of the U.S.S. Portsmouth, later Civil War-era Union Rear Admiral, who earlier had seen action at Canton—“gunboat diplomacy”—during the Second Opium War.

In 1856, Consul Bradley had been re-appointed to Ningpo, having previously served there in 1854. He describes the poor state of consular affairs upon his return:

This consulate has been opened some four years;—and during this time not a solitary letter has been addressed to the State or Treas’y Departments concerning its affairs,—and this deficiency I have been obliged to make up: not a letter was filed, nor anything else: this work too I have accomplished. And then, to crown it all, after making out my quarterly, half-yearly, and yearly returns, (A Christmas boon that falls upon all officers,) without the aid of printed blanks,—I have been required to furnish complete commercial statistics for the year 1856, and was obliged to run about and pick up information here and there. This is now all finished.

Bradley regrets that the Portsmouth will be sailing home in May and declines Capt. Foote’s offer to take him home. He mentions a visit from various clergyman, including the first Protestant missionary to China, Elijah Coleman Bridgman (1801–1861), who recently visited and, in passing, Bradley notes: “We have just heard of the fall of Canton,—with no particulars.” Two years earlier, Capt. Foote had been in command of the East India Squadron when U.S. Marines had assaulted and captured the barrier forts at Canton after the Chinese had attacked an American vessel during the Second Opium War.

He continues with more news, including of the sending of gifts for President James Buchanan:

You speak of Rev. Dr. Bridgman & lady and Miss Connover: We had a most agreeable visit from them, together with Rev. Mr. Aitchison, & Rev. Mr. Burdon, the latter of whom came down here to get a wife,—whilst the others came in the character of wedding guests. I have, since, twice received letters from Dr. B., to which I have replied. ... I shall ask Mrs. Lowrie to show me your Japan letters and promise myself an intellectual treat in the reading of them. ... You will have seen, probably, the name of your late purser, J.N. Dobbin, in the list of passengers who perished by the foundering of the [S.S.] “Central America.” Mr. Bokee, a young gentleman whom we met at Bangkok, was also one of the lost, in that unhappy company. What awful accounts of the financial crisis in America have come to us! ... I thank you with all my heart, for your purpose to call on my dear sister on your return to New Haven. ... By the way: I see by the papers, that the Navy Dep’t has got your letters,—but I am quite in the dark whether the State Dep’t has received mine. Kindly let me know if you can take home with you in the “Portsmouth,” a box containing gifts for the President, State Dep’t, Secy. of the Navy, &c. &c. and another similar enclosures for various friends in Connecticut? At the same time I shall send some carved soapstone ornaments to Mrs. Foote.

An interesting and chatty letter from a U.S. consular official to a serving naval officer about affairs in China.

Description: [1858 ALS from C.W. Bradley, U.S. Consul in Ningpo, China writing about Consular and Naval Affairs to U.S. Navy Captain A.H. Foote, U.S.N.].

Ningpo [Ningbo, Zhejiang, China], January 12, 1858. [4]pp. Autograph Letter Signed. Docketing. 4to. Bifolium. Transmittal folds; old cloth mounting stub on spine edge, affecting docketing, but not its legibility; very good.


Note. 1. Hasse, Index to United States Documents Relating to Foreign Affairs 1828-1861…Part III-R to Z (Washington, 1921), p1716.