The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Bullard, Charles B.
Charles B. Bullard Papers
0.25 linear feet (1 box)
The Charles B. Bullard Papers
consist of two items: a letterbook covering the years 1821 to 1823, and a photocopy
of the pages of the letter book.
Scope and Content Note
The Charles B. Bullard Papers consist of two items: a
letterbook covering the years 1821 to 1823, and a photocopy of the pages of the
letter book. Bullard wrote the letters while acting as supercargo for Bryant and
Sturgis in the Hawaiian Islands, aboard the ship Tartar, and in Canton.
The letterbook contains copies of letters from Bullard to: Bryant and Sturgis,
William Sturgis, James P. Sturgis and Company, Harry Price and Company, Gideon Snow,
William French, and Captain Henry Oxnard. The letters originated from Woahoo (Oahu),
Hawaii; at sea aboard the ship Tartar; Canton; and
Boston, covering the period of March 20, 1821 to July 11, 1823. In addition, a few
accounts are contained in the letters.
The major topic in several of the letters focuses on the sale of Cleopatra's Barge, then owned by Bryant and Sturgis, to
Lihliho (also known as Rihoriho, or King Kamehameha II), king of the Hawaiian
Islands on November 16, 1820. The vessel was sold on credit by Captain John Suter
for a specific value of sandalwood to be delivered by the King. Much of Bullard's
correspondence dealt with the difficulties in collecting this debt from the King. He
also discussed the sale of the brig Becket, which was
in the group of vessels sent to Hawaii with Cleopatra's
In a lengthy private letter to William Sturgis (November 1, 1821), written while
aboard the Tartar, bound for Canton, Bullard expressed
concern regarding Captain Suter's trustworthiness in handling the firm's business,
particularly regarding the sale of the two vessels and the conditions of payment
agreed upon with the King. In this same letter, he also questioned the motives of
another shipmaster, Captain Harris. Bullard felt that Suter was far too quick in
selling and delivering Cleopatra's Barge, particularly
since the King was very eager to acquire the vessel. He states further that the
terms of credit were far too liberal. Other merchants were receiving sandalwood by
the King's authority, but he was not paying his wood installments for Cleopatra's Barge. Additionally, Bullard maintained the
price received for the Becket was insufficient. Bullard
finished this letter with a postscript: "If you want to know how Religion stands at
the Islands, I can tell youall sects are tolerated but the King worships the
Prior to the completion of payment for Cleopatra's
Barge, extensive dry rot was discovered in the vessel, which prompted the
King to accuse Captain Suter of deceiving him. The King maintained that Suter
guaranteed the vessel would last as least ten years without major repair. This
situation created additional problems regarding the collection of debt owned by the
The letterbook also contains accounts of transactions for Bryant and Sturgis
handled by Bullard during his tenure in Hawaii, including the quantities of
sandalwood shipped in their behalf to Canton. In addition, Bullard recommended items
that might be shipped to the islands, which would be in demand and sell well. He
also discussed other vessels and their cargoes that were owned or chartered by the
firm (see Appendix I of the letterbook for a list). In letters to other individuals
and firms he discusses the sale of cargoes consigned to him and material he shipped
under his own name for his personal benefit.
Charles B. Bullard worked as a supercargo, employed by the
ship's owners to manage cargo owners' trade, for the Boston-based firm Bryant and
Sturgis. Bryant and Sturgis was a partnership formed in 1810 between Captains
William Sturgis (1782-1863) and John Bryant (1780-1865). The firm's primary focus
after 1815 was trading in hides and furs on the west and northwest coast of North
America. The firm's trade expanded to include sandalwood from the Hawaiian Islands,
which was shipped to Canton. It was in this context that Charles B. Bullard wrote
the letters that make up this collection.
Additionally, Bryant and Sturgis owned the brig Pilgrim, aboard which Richard Henry Dana, Jr. sailed in 1834; the last
voyage was the basis for his classic Two Years Before the
Mast. William Sturgis also served as a member of the Massachusetts
Captain John Suter was born in Virginia in 1781, and went to sea at an early
age, rising from foremast hand to master. He was an experienced shipmaster in the
Northwest fur and Hawaiian sandalwood trade to Canton. Suter commanded the flotilla
of vessels sent to Hawaii in 1820 by Bryant and Sturgis and was responsible for the
sale of both Cleopatra's Barge and the brig Becket. In addition to these two vessels, the flotilla
also included the ships Tartar and Mentor and the brig Lascar.
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.
Kamehameha II, King of the Hawaiian Islands, 1797-1824
Sturgis, William, 1782-1863
Suter, John, b. 1781
Bryant & Sturgis (Boston, Mass.)
Cleopatra's Barge (Brig)
Harry Price and Co.
James P. Sturgis and Co.
Hawaii--Kings and rulers
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
Charles B. Bullard Papers, MH 44, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem,
This material was donated by Mrs. Ward Thoron on February 25, 1990 (acc #19,218).
Collection processed by Robert F. Craig, March 1999. Updated by Hilary Streifer,
Jackman, S. W. ed. The Journal of William Sturgis.
Victoria, BC: Sono Nis Press, 1978.
Morison, Samuel Eliot. The Maritime History of New
Massachusetts: 1783-1860. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961.
Whitehall, Walter Muir. "George Crowninshield's Yacht Cleopatra's Barge". The American Neptune 13
Account book of John Bryant, 1810-1812. MSS
The Charles B. Bullard Papers consist of two items: a letterbook covering the years 1821 to 1823, and a photocopy of the pages of the letter book.
Bryant & Sturgis (Boston, Mass.); Harry Price and Co.; James P. Sturgis and Co.; Becket (Brig); Cleopatra's Barge (Brig); Lascar (Brig); Mentor (Ship); Tartar (Ship); China--Commerce--United States; United States--Commerce--China; Hawaii--Kings and rulers; Hawaii--Commerce; Bryant, John; French, William; Kamehameha II, King of the Hawaiian Islands, 1797-1824; Oxnard, Henry; Snow, Gideon; Sturgis, William, 1782-1863; Suter, John, b. 1781; Merchants--Massachusetts--Boston; Merchants--China--Guangzhou; Supercargos
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.