China diary  1859-1860
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This diary (289 pages) chronicles the author's sea voyage from New York to China in the spring of 1859, as well as his life in Shanghai between July 1859 and July 1860. The first entry, dated February 28, 1859, opens with the author embarking for China on the N. B. Palmer , an American clipper under a Captain Frisbie. Over the next several months, he recorded daily observations of the weather and of life onboard the ship, including the captain's occasional harsh treatment of the crew. In addition to recording daily measurements of latitude and longitude, he occasionally described the scenery as the ship rounded the Cape of Good Hope and made its way to China by way of Indonesia. After a brief stop on Java in mid-May, the ship proceeded to Hong Kong, where it arrived on June 11 to discharge its cargo. During his brief time in Hong Kong, the author noted several aspects of local life, including the influence of foreign missionaries. On June 27, the N. B. Palmer departed Hong Kong bound for Shanghai, which it reached on July 4 amid Independence Day celebrations. Once in Shanghai, the diarist recorded his impressions of the city and incidents from his medical career, which included administering vaccinations as well as caring for the sick. The diary contains many references to political affairs and to the local efforts of foreign missionaries; much of the political focus is on the influence of Great Britain, particularly after the escalation of the Second Opium War. In addition to political commentary and descriptions of his daily life as a doctor, the diarist occasionally expressed his hope that Christianity would eventually win over the locals. The author remained in Shanghai until at least July 21, 1860, the date of his final entry. Two items laid into the volume include an undated note of thanks for the doctor's services (pp. 58-59) and a sheet of paper containing two Chinese characters (pp. 90-91).

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