Processing and conservation of this collection was funded in part by grants from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Waters, Richard Palmer, 1807-1887
Richard P. Waters (1807-1887)
0.25 linear feet (1 box)
The collection has been divided
into three series: Shipping Papers, Consular Papers, and Personal and Miscellaneous
SERIES I. Shipping Papers SERIES II. Consular Papers SERIES III. Personal and Miscellaneous Papers
Scope and Content Note
The collection has been divided into three series: Shipping Papers, Consular Papers,
and Personal and Miscellaneous Papers.
Series I. Shipping Papers include correspondence,
bills, and receipts. The shipping correspondence provides documentation of trade
conducted on behalf of Salem merchants. Correspondence between Waters and Said Bin
Sultan of Muscat reveals the degree of intimacy reached between the two men and the
extent of their common business affairs. All untranslated letters in Arabic are
located in this section.
Series II. Consular Papers include diplomatic
correspondence with His Highness Said Bin Sultan. A dispatch signed by U.S.
Secretary of State Daniel Webster regarding trade on the East Coast of Africa is
also located in the Consular Correspondence. Arrivals/Departure lists contain
information concerning other ports of call, number of crew members, and values and
types of cargoes landed for each vessel not written on the consular form.
Series III. Personal and Miscellaneous Papers include
Social Debating Society Minutes which provide interesting insights on the opinions
of Salem residents on a number of contemporaneous social and political issues.
Richard Palmer Waters (1807-1887) was born at Salem,
Massachusetts on September 29, 1807, the youngest child of Robert and Lydia
(Gellison) Waters. Because of the early death of his father, Richard assumed an
adult's responsibilities at an early age. The bulk of his education was received in
the counting houses of Salem, and by his twenty-fifth year, he was master of a small
retail store. Throughout his life he was allied with the abolitionist cause and was
a supporter of the Crombie Street Church. In the early 1830s Salem merchants such as
Michael Shepard and John Bertram took an active interest in trade with Zanzibar.
With their assistance, the endorsement of ex-Senator Nathaniel Silsbee and an
introduction to President Jackson by Stephen C. Phillips, Waters became the first
American Consul at Zanzibar. While in Zanzibar he acted as an agent for a number of
Salem merchants, including David Pingree and Benjamin and George West. The fortune
he made in Zanzibar enabled Waters to purchase the Cherry Hill Estate in North
Beverly upon his return to American in 1845. Waters was elected to the State
Legislature in 1855 and was an active member of the Essex Agricultural Society, the
Essex Historical Society and the Essex County Natural History Society. He died
unmarried at Cherry Hill on May 19, 1887.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons,
or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Sa‘īd bin Sulṭān, Sultan of Zanzibar, 1791-1856
Waters, John G., 1796-1860
Social Debating Society (Salem, Mass.)
United States--Diplomatic and consular service--Zanzibar
Restrictions on Access
This collection is open for research use.
Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in
writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex
Richard P. Waters (1807-1887) Papers, MSS 230, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex
Museum, Salem, Mass.
The origin of the Richard P. Waters Papers is unknown.
Collection processed by Robert P. Spindler, September 1987. Updated by Catherine
Robertson, January 2014.
Bennett, Norman Robert, "Americans in Zanzibar: 1825-1845." Essex Institute Historical Collections. 95 (3): 239-262.
Bennett, Norman Robert, "Americans in Zanzibar, 1845-1865." Essex Institute
Historical Collections. 97 (1): 31-56.
Berman, Edward H. "Salem and Zanzibar, 1825-1850: Twenty-Five Years of
Commercial Relations." Essex Institute Historical
Collections. 105 (4): 338-362.
Eilts, Hermann Frederick. "Ahmed Bin Na'aman's Mission to the United States in
1840: The Voyage of Al-Sultanah to New York City." Essex
Institute Historical Collections. (98) (4) 219-277.
Northway, Philip E. "Salem and the Zanzibar-East African Trade, 1825-1845."
Essex Institute Historical Collections. 90 (2):
"Richard Palmer Waters: A Sketch." Bulletin of the Essex
Institute, 20: 174-191.
The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts
The collection has been divided into three series: Shipping Papers, Consular Papers, and Personal and Miscellaneous Papers.
Social Debating Society (Salem, Mass.); United States--Diplomatic and consular service--Zanzibar; Sa‘īd bin Sulṭān, Sultan of Zanzibar, 1791-1856; Waters, John G., 1796-1860; Consular documents; Consuls--Tanzania--Zanzibar; Letter writing; Meteorology; Societies; Shipping--Zanzibar
Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.