San Francisco News: 1800s

Bridge to the Castle.

The Montserrat

September 17, 1893, San Francisco Call, San Francisco

The Montserrat's Captain and His Crew. 
He Threatens to Discharge Them All for Smuggling Opium From British Columbia.

Captain Blackburn of the Hawaiian steam collier, the Montserret, was at the Custom-house yesterday threatening to discharge his entire crew, and particularly his first officer.

The trouble with the captain was that three of his men had been arrested for smuggling and they were caught in the act of attempting to land a considerable quantity of opium.

The Montserrat brings coal down from Nanaimo, B. C. as her regular cargo, and frequently some opium.orges along with the coal.

Last Tuesday evening she arrived from British Columbia, and after transferring most of her coal to tho Belgic, she steamed over to the Union Iron works with the remainder.

Opium Dens, San Francisco.

While at the Potrero the smugglers concluded to land their contraband, and that was how it came about that Night Inspector Charles A. Mau, just as he reported for duty on Friday, caught Julius Dreschner and Peter Frances, two of the ship's crew, in the act of transferring the drug from the steamer. (Right: Official map of San Francisco's Chinatown: Opium Dens, Gambling Halls & Houses of Prostitution circa 1885.)

The men had been at work washing the sides of the vessel, using a small boat fur the purpose. The opportunity to dump forty-three tins of opium in a pack into the boat presented itself, and they availed themselves of it. They rowed over to Hunters Point, and there Man arrested Dreschner, who got out of the boat with the drug. As Frances was already rowing back to tne steamer, the inspector, by moving rapidly, reached the vessel in time to arrest him also. Another man, Alexander Cregg, was taken in, but only on suspicion, and he was ultimately allowed to go.

Dreschner lost his presence of mind when the officer took him in charge, and when asked where the rest of the opium was replied that it was on board the ship. Yesterday Collector Wise instituted a rigid examination of the Montserrat, and Surveyor Kilburn set his searchers to work. McGiunes and Ahern found twelve more tins in the ship's bunkers. Two tins had been found on her by inspector McKenna the day before, and the same officer also got two tins in the pilot-house of the Belgic.

This is why Captain Blackburn was threatening to discharge his crew. Commissioner Heacock fixed the bonds of Dreschner and Frances at $3000 each in default of which they are confined in jail.

Another ingenious.orgbination of "lock" and "dummy block," like that described in yesterday's Call, was discovered by the customs officers on the Empire yesterday. It was a better piece of workmanship and its button was mostly of wood. The dummy block concealed a hole in the outside of the ship's hull, near the stern, but when pulled out no opium was found. It was a very convenient place, though, for a smuggler's purpose.

From the September 16, 1893 San Francisco Call

Another seizure of opium has been made by a lynx-eyed Customs inspector, who is highly eulogized for his phenomenal vigilance. A quantity of opium worth $1000 was dragged to light from a very curious hiding place, excavated in a beam, the cavity being titled with a dummy block. The credit of originality in these seizures is sometimes marred by tips received in private, which would enable an officer to lay his band on contraband in the dark. It may not be the case in this instance, but the Inspector has been remarkably lucky in nosing out the smugglers.

The Corporation that Changed the World.
The Corporation That Changed the World: The East India CompanyHow the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational.
Nick Robins
The English East India Company was the mother of the modern multinational. Its trading empire encircled the globe, importing Asian luxuries such as spices, textiles and teas. But it also conquered much of India with its private army and broke open China's markets with opium. The Company’s practices shocked its contemporaries and continue to reverberate in today's markets. The Corporation That Changed the World is the first book to reveal the Company’s enduring legacy as a corporation. Stock market bubbles, famines, drug-running and duels between rival executives are to be found in this new account.

The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of Modern ChinaOpium Wars.
Julia Lovell
The author is a translator, and academic. She is the author of The Great Wall: China Against the World, 1000 BC - AD 2000China Against the World., which was published in eighteen countries. She has translated many key Chinese works into English, including Lust, Caution by Eileen Chang, The Complete Fiction of Lu Xun, and Serve the People by Yan Lianke. She is a lecturer in modern Chinese history and literature at the University of London and writes for the Guardian, The Times, the Economist, and the Times Literary Supplement. She spends a large part of the year in China with her family.

Opium Wars.
The Opium War
Through Chinese Eyes
Opium War through Chinese Eyes.
Arthur Waley
Waley offers a lively account of the Opium War full of human interest in the most concrete, real, and vivid terms. . . . What he has done is to account the thoughts and activities of the Chinese as men, not as Mandarins and generals. He has stressed what others had neglected, that is, the feelings and sufferings of the common men as affected by the war.

Merchant Kings: When Companies Ruled the World, 1600--1900Merchant Kings. Opium.
Stephen R. Brown
Starred Review. Bown describes the six great companies, and their leaders, that dominated the "Heroic Age of Commerce." Bown demonstrates how the corporations served as stalking horses for kings and parliaments while enriching shareholders and the powerful managers themselves. Jan Pieterszoon Coen of the Dutch East India Company was particularly noteworthy for cruel tyranny in what is now Indonesia. The English East India Company's Robert Clive, through genius and perseverance, rose to a position of near-absolute power in India. Aleksander Baranov of the Russian American Company, known as the "Lord of Alaska," was bound by ties of decency and responsibility to the company's men, but also had a deep strain of brutality. Cecil Rhodes of the British South Africa Company and of De Beers, the South African diamond monopoly, was dedicated both to the British Empire and to the success of his various enterprises.

The Business of Empire:
The East India Company and Imperial Britain, 1756-1833
Business of Empire, Professor H. V. Bowen.Opium.Professor H. V. Bowen
A detailed study of what happened in Britain when the East India Company acquired a vast territorial empire in South Asia. It offers a reconstruction of the inner workings of the Company as it made the remarkable transition from business to empire during the late-eighteenth century. Huw Bowen explores the Company's interactions with the domestic economy and society, and sheds light on its contributions to the development of Britain's imperial state. This book will appeal to all those interested in imperial, economic and business history.

Opium: Reality's Dark DreamOpium.
Opium: Reality's Dark Dream by Thomas Dormandy.Thomas Dormandy
Opium: Reality's Dark Dream traverses the globe and the centuries, exploring opium's role in colonialism, the Chinese Opium Wars, laudanum-inspired sublime Romantic poetry, American "Yellow Peril" fears, the rise of the Mafia and the black market, 1960s counterculture, and more. Dr. Dormandy also recounts exotic or sad stories of individual addiction. Throughout the book the author emphasizes opium's complex, valuable relationship with developments in medicine, health, and disease, highlighting the perplexing dual nature of the drug as both the cause and relief of great suffering in widely diverse civilizations.

The Naval Order of the United States has a history dating from 1890. Membership includes a wide range of individuals, many with highly distinguished career paths.

The San Francisco Commandery meets the first Monday of each month at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club in San Francisco, California and holds two formal dinners each year.

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.




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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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