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Lesson Plans - The Role and Influence of Salem’s Merchants in Building Salem’s Wealth and Expanding the East Indies Trade Through an Examination of Elias Hasket Derby

NAME OF LESSON: The Role and Influence of Salem’s Merchants in Building Salem’s Wealth and Expanding the East Indies Trade Through an Examination of Elias Hasket Derby
GRADE(S) DESIGNED FOR: 5
TIME REQUIRED: Four 50-minute class periods

NAME OF AUTHOR:

Norma Miaskiewicz
PRIMARY SALEM in History CORE THEME ADDRESSED: An Industrious People: American Economic History
ADDITIONAL SALEM in History CORE THEME(S) ADDRESSED:  
SALEM in History Topic Addressed:

Building Wealth Through the China and East Indies Trade

Lesson Summary | Frameworks | Essential Question(s) | Lesson Objectives
Historical Background Essay | Materials List and Pre-Arrangements/Preparations Needed
Vocabulary | Lesson Activities | Student Product or Performance
Assessment Criteria | Possible Modifications | Possible Extension Activities
Cross Curricular/Interdisciplinary Links/Activities | Sources and Resources
Additional Resources for Students and Teachers


LESSON SUMMARY:

In this lesson, students will learn that Salem’s visionary and dynamic merchants played a crucial role in opening the economies of Salem, New England and America to international trade and that this trade was instrumental in the growth of our nation at an extremely critical juncture. Students will also explore the role of one of Salem’s most prominent China Trade merchants, Elias Hasket Derby.

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PRIMARY SOURCES & SOURCE TYPES USED in LESSON:

 “Portrait of Elias Hasket Derby, 1800-1825.” Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.
(portrait)

Derby House. Salem Maritime National Historical Site, Salem, MA. (architecture)

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ESSENTIAL QUESTION(S):

What influence did wealthy merchants such as Elias Hasket Derby have in the development of international trade in Salem, Massachusetts? What role did the merchants play in the growth of the China Trade, Salem and the New Republic?

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LESSON OBJECTIVES

LEARNING/CONTENT OBJECTIVES:

  • Students will understand and be able to explain how wealthy merchants in Salem generated international trade during the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Students will be able to identify and discuss the importance of China Trade in the growth and development of Salem.

CONCEPT/SKILLS OBJECTIVES:

  • Students will be able to apply concepts and skills learned in previous grades.
  • Students will be able to identify different ways of dating historical narratives.
  • Students will be able to observe and identify details in cartoons, photographs, charts, and graphs relating to an historical narrative.
  • Students will be able to observe and analyze an image for historical and social       significance.
  • Students will be able to make an informed analysis of a primary source document using the “Portrait of Elias Hasket Derby, 1800–1825.”
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CORRELATION WITH HISTORY STANDARDS FROM the 2003 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORY AND SOCIAL STUDIES CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK

MA FRAMEWORK STRAND:

Grade 5: United States History, Geography, Economics, and Government: Early Exploration to Westward Movement

MA FRAMEWORK UNIT/THEME ADDRESSED:

The Political, Intellectual, and Economic Growth of the Colonies, 1700 – 1775

The First Four Presidencies and the Growth of the Republic United States to 1820

MA FRAMEWORK LEARNING STANDARD(S) ADDRESSED:

    •  Explain the importance of maritime commerce in the development of the
      economy of colonial Massachusetts, using historical societies and museums as needed.

    A. the fishing and shipbuilding industries
    B. trans-Atlantic trade
    C. the port cities of New Bedford, Newburyport, Gloucester, Salem, and Boston

    •  Explain the importance of the China trade and the whaling industry to 19th
      century New England, and give examples of imports from China.

MA FRAMEWORK CONCEPT AND SKILLS STANDARD(S) ADDRESSED:

GRADE(S) AND SUBJECT(S): Grade 5 History

NUMBER(S) AND DESCRIPTION(S):

Students should be able to apply concepts and skills learned in previous grades.

  • Identify different ways of dating historical narratives (17th century, seventeenth century, 1600s, colonial period).
  • Observe and identify details in cartoons, photographs, charts, and graphs relating to an historical narrative.

 

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HISTORICAL BACKGROUND/CONTEXT ESSAY: 

In the years following the Revolutionary War, Salem merchants found it necessary to break out of the old patterns and compete for trade in distant foreign ports. Although Salem was a small port, it became world renowned as a result of its East Indies trade. This significant port city held its own in world markets with the large merchantmen of the East India Company fleets.  Salem vessels had become so familiar to traders that in time many thought of Salem as a sovereign nation. The city’s motto: “To the Farthest Port of the Rich East” proclaimed the pride taken in world trade.1

Elias Hasket Derby helped pull Salem out of its brief postwar depression and launch Salem into its “Golden Age.” After another great merchant, John Cabot, successfully tested European markets by being the first to have an American vessel trade with Russia, Derby, in 1784, sent his ship Light Horse to the Russian port of St. Petersburg with a cargo of sugar. Together with Cabot’s vessel, this marked the beginning of the profitable Russian trade. Within five months, Derby sent another one of his vessels, the Grand Turk, to the Cape of Good Hope under the command of Captain Jonathan Ingersoll. As a result of this voyage, Derby was informed that American ships could reach and be admitted to trade at Canton. On December 3, 1785, the Grand Turk, the first Salem vessel to clear for any port east of the Cape of Good Hope, was ready again for another voyage. Carrying a cargo of tobacco, pitch, tar, rice, flour, butter, wine, iron, sugar, fish, oil, chocolate, prunes, ginseng, beef, brandy, rum, bacon, hams, cheese, candles, earthenware, and beer, she made her way for Canton. Once in Canton, negotiations took place with China. This was the beginning of Salem’s China Trade, one of the most lucrative maritime trading partners.2

Derby was one who took chances, often with only 50 percent insurance, and experimented with new markets, not always successfully. He was an innovator and the first Salem merchant to use a supercargo–a seagoing business agent–on a voyage. He was one of the first American merchants to sail vessels with coppered bottoms. He also developed a centralized world trade network and a system for consigning cargoes to a foreign house. This would relieve his supercargoes of the need to work with a long succession of buyers.3 To be successful, he established two principles: 1) employ the most reliable young men and give them an interest in the voyage; and 2) keep the smaller vessels along the Atlantic coast while sending the larger ships to China.4

Salem’s merchants, being smart businessmen, tried to make the highest profit on the smallest bulk. They speculated on the market and were not suppliers of necessities. Their ships carried native products such as dried salt cod, lumber, cotton, butter, beef, and tobacco, along with molasses and rum from the West Indies, to nations throughout the world. These goods were traded for luxuries, such as tea, coffee, cocoa, ginger, sugar, pepper, ivory, silk, spices, and Indian cotton textiles. These goods brought a good profit in Salem or as re-exported in world markets where they were in great demand.5 As soon as the schooner Rajah sailed into Salem Harbor with pepper from Sumatra, the port of Salem was sent into a pepper-importing craze. Pepper, mainly used as a meat preservative, was the most profitable cargo for the Salem Indies commerce.6

Salem was very important because it opened many foreign markets to United States trade. Some markets included: Calcutta, Capetown, Sumatra, Zanzibar, Bombay, Madras, Guam, Madagascar, Lamu and Mombasa (Kenya), Ceylon, Isle de France, Mocha, Siam, Burma and St. Helena Island.7

December 1807 was the turning point in Salem’s fortunes. President Jefferson shut down foreign trade, which crippled New England commerce and Salem’s economy. Money was now being invested in mill towns for products such as shoes and textiles. Commerce was giving way to industry. With the death of the last prominent Salem merchant, Joseph Peabody, in 1844, Salem’s Indies trade ceased, and Salem was no longer an important port. With Salem’s attitude to embrace the world and trade with distant ports in dangerous areas, it became a world player. Salem’s prosperity, due to the East Indies trade, played an important role in the development of our nation.8

_________________

     1 National Park Service,  SALEM: Maritime Salem in the Age of Sail (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, undated), 109.

     2 David K. Goss et al., Salem: Cornerstones of a Historic City (Beverly, MA: Commonwealth Editions, 1999), 26-27.

     3 Salem: Maritime Salem in the Age of Sail, 47.

     4 Dorothy Schurman Hawes, To the Farthest Gulf: The Story of the American China Trade (Ipswich, MA: Ipswich Press, 1990), 48 – 49.

     5 National Park Service, Salem Maritime (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, 2004).

     6  Doug Stewart, “Salem Sets Sail.” Smithsonian (June 2004), 96-97.

     7 Salem: Maritime Salem in the Age of Sail, 113.

    8 Ibid., 109-135

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MATERIALS LIST AND PRE-ARRANGEMENTS/PREPARATION NEEDED

MATERIALS LIST:

Derby Analysis Worksheet (one class set)

“Portrait of Elias Hasket Derby, 1800 – 1825” (one class set)

Blohm, Craig E., “America’s First Millionaire” Cobblestone Magazine (September 1988): 20-25. (one class set)

Early American Trade Routes To China Map (one class set)

Photograph of Derby’ house (one class set)

small cartons or shoeboxes (one class set)

spices and small baggies

crayons, markers, construction paper and other usual classroom supplies

PREPARATION:

1. Pre-teach maritime trade occurring prior to the American Revolutionary War.

2. Pre-teach vocabulary.

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VOCABULARY:

  • import
  • export
  • triangular trade
  • shipyard
  • privateers
  • merchant
  • wharf
  • cargo
  • salt cod
  • porcelain
  • molasses
  • spices
  • East Indies
  • Sumatra
  • Canton
  • maritime
  • navigate
  • Elias Hasket Derby

 

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LESSON ACTIVITIES:

Lesson 1

In this initial lesson, students will be required to examine a portrait of Elias Hasket Derby, a successful early American merchant that lived in Salem, Massachusetts.  Students, working with a partner, will use the Derby Analysis Worksheet to analyze the portrait. The class, as a whole, will reconvene to share their findings and observations.

This Derby Analysis Worksheet will be revisited at the conclusion of Lesson 2 to enable students to complete any unanswered questions. The following guiding questions will be used to actively engage the students’ interpretation.

Goal: The goal of this lesson is for students to make an informed analysis of primary source material to determine the historical significance and influence of wealthy maritime merchants in the shaping of Salem’s early economy and the development of the New Republic.

 

Guiding Questions:

  • What do you notice in the portrait?
  • When and where in the past do you think the portrait was painted? (Hint: look at the label)
  • Do you think the objects in the portrait are things that a common person would own? Are these objects expensive or inexpensive to own?
  • Why do you think a ship is shown in this portrait?
  • Why do you believe he is looking at or analyzing a map?
  • Considering this man’s clothing and objects, do you think he was an important member of society?
  • After viewing this portrait, can you determine what his occupation or interests may be?
  • Why do you think his portrait was painted?
  • Does this portrait make you think that the man is important? If your answer is yes, make a list of what you see in the portrait that makes you think so.

Note: The primary source document in this lesson should be placed in the middle of the instructional cycle because students will already have background knowledge of trading, fishing, and shipbuilding. The trade routes will be discussed prior to this lesson.

 

Lesson 2

Salem’s prosperity, due to the East Indies trade, played an important role in the development of our nation. Several prominent merchant families played a vital role in the revitalization of shipping and trade with the East Indies, thereby, opening Salem to this greater prosperity. In order to give the students background information and knowledge of Salem’s merchant families, we will focus our analysis and discussion on Elias Hasket Derby.

In the next lesson, students will read aloud the article, “America’s First Millionaire,” by Craig E. Blohm from Cobblestone Magazine. While reading this article, class discussion will center on the rise and influence Derby exhibited on the Salem economy.

Particular attention will be directed at Derby’s involvement in maritime trade, especially with the East Indies. Students will understand the types of products that were exported and imported during this time period and the respective trade routes. Students will be given the opportunity to revisit and complete the Derby Analysis Worksheet.

Lesson 3

Students will take a walking field trip to the Public Stores at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site located behind the Customs House on Derby Street in Salem. Before the class visits this store, the teacher will distribute the primary source document consisting of a photograph of Derby’s house. After viewing the photograph, students will be asked to identify Elias Hasket Derby’s house as they walk down Derby Street. At the Public Stores, the students will have the opportunity to observe representative samples of the types of spices, coffee, teas, porcelain and many other items from China, India, Africa, the Philippines, and other foreign ports that are similar to the items available to Salem’s citizens in Salem’s Golden Age. Students will view a map displaying the trade routes utilized by Salem merchant ships.

Lesson 4

For a homework/classroom project, the students will identify, research, and write a brief biographical piece of one of the following wealthy Salem merchants: George Crowninshield, Joseph Peabody, or Simon Forrester. Students will be instructed to address the following points in their writing piece:

  • Merchant’s biographical information
  • Name and type of ship
  • Types of cargo (imported/exported)
  • What, if any, importance the individual played in Salem’s history       

As part of this assignment, the students will be required to obtain or draw a picture or illustration of their chosen merchant. This will reinforce the objective of the first lesson.

To bring this lesson together, students will construct and create a small carton (or shoebox) depicting a merchant ship. The writing piece and drawing of the merchant will be displayed on their depiction of the ship. Inside the ship, the students will place representative examples (samples or drawings) of the types of cargo the ships would have carried. On these representative examples, the students will identify the country of origin of the product. Additionally, the students will prepare and display, on their ships, a map of the trade routes usually traveled. Finally, the students will construct the ship’s figurehead.

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ASSESSMENT/STUDENT PRODUCT or PERFORMANCE:

Upon completion of the Derby Analysis Worksheet, the students will discuss their analysis of the “Portrait of Elias Hasket Derby, 1800-1825.” Students will be assessed informally on the completion of their Derby Analysis Worksheet and as well as class participation and discussion. The final assessment will be based on the students’ writing piece and depiction and creation of their merchant ship. The teacher will assess this final project based upon a rubric.

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ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:

  • Students will be assessed on the completion of their Derby Analysis Worksheet.
  • Students will be assessed on their final project: research and write a biography on a wealthy merchant, along with a creation of the owner’s ship detailing his trip, the countries visited, and items exchanged. This project will be assessed with a rubric.
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POSSIBLE MODIFICATIONS:

  • Students may partner read.
  • Graphic organizers may be used during the writing process.
  • Computers are available for the writing piece.

 

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POSSIBLE EXTENSION ACTIVITIES:

  • Students may research manifests of today’s ships and compare and contrast the crew
  • Members and their duties, along with analyzing what are the 10 top imports/exports of the United States currently (as compared to Salem’s Golden Age).
  • Field trip to the Customs House in Salem to tour and observe the images and artifacts from the 18th  and 19th  centuries.
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CROSS CURRICULAR/INTERDISCIPLINARY LINKS/ACTIVITIES:

This lesson may be connected across the curriculum within math, technology, and language arts.

Math: Students may analyze various ships’ manifests, such as the Mount Vernon. The students could graph the ages and heights of the crew on board. They could describe and compare data using the concepts of median, mean, mode, maximum, minimum, and range.

6.D.1: Describe and compare date sets using the concepts of median, mean, mode, maximum and minimum, and range.

Science/Technology: After observing images (or artifacts) of navigation tools used during

Salem’s Golden Age, students may compare and contrast these tools with present day navigation devices. Broad Concept: Appropriate materials, tools, and machines extend our ability to solve problems and invent.

      • Identify materials used to accomplish a design task based on a specific property, i.e., weight, strength, hardness, and flexibility.

English Language Arts: After the students analyze a ship’s manifest and finish graphing, they may write an explanation detailing how they arrived at the statistical landmarks (median, mean, mode, maximum, minimum, and range).

Composition Strand: L.S. #22  Students will use knowledge of standard English conventions to edit their writing

Composition Strand: L.S. #23 Students will use self-generated questions, note-taking,  summarizing, précis writing, and outlining to enhance learning when reading or writing. 

The class may read excerpts of “Carry On, Mr. Bowditch” which describes in greater detail the part of the trade that sailors and captains would have seen. It also has vivid images of Sumatra and trading for pepper.

Literature Strand: L.S. #9 Students will identify the basic facts and essential ideas inwhat they have read, heard, or viewed.

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SOURCES AND RESOURCES

PRIMARY SOURCES USED IN LESSON (Annotated):

Portrait. “Portrait of Elias Hasket Derby, 1800-1825.” Accessed 25 July 2005. http://www.pem.org/artscape (Also on view in the American Decorative Arts
gallery at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA)

Successful early American merchant families eager to demonstrate their new wealth patronized the arts, helping to foster the development of the American arts community. This posthumous portrait presents Derby at the height of his career as one of Salem’s prominent mercantile tycoons. The charts and sailing vessel allude to Derby’s success as a ship owner, particularly in the trade with China.

Photograph. “Derby House.” Accessed 25 July 2005. http://www.nps.gov/sama/indepth/tour/dh/dh01.htm (Home is on the site of the
Salem Maritime National Historical Site in Salem, MA)

Built by Captain Richard Derby in 1762 as a wedding gift for his son, Elias Hasket Derby, this fine example of Georgian architecture was the home of Salem’s most prominent and successful merchant for twenty years. Timber was much cheaper than brick in New England in the 1760s, and therefore brick was not as common in New England as in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern colonies. The use of brick for this house, along with its large windows and fashionable Georgian design, show the wealth of the Derby family.

SECONDARY (PRINT) SOURCES USED IN LESSON:

Blohm, Craig E., “America’s First Millionaire” Cobblestone Magazine (September
1988): 20-25.

This is a history magazine designed for young people. This issue is devoted to short articles about the early American trade with China. It is very easy to read and includes a few activities and games. The article focuses on Elias Hasket Derby, a wealthy merchant living in Salem, Massachusetts. Through hard work and determination, Derby became the first millionaire in America.

WEB RESOURCES USED IN LESSON:

Portrait. “Portrait of Elias Hasket Derby, 1800-1825.” Accessed 25 July 2005. http://www.pem.org/artscape (Also on view in the American Decorative Arts
gallery at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA)

Successful early American merchant families eager to demonstrate their new wealth patronized the arts, helping to foster the development of the American arts community. This posthumous portrait presents Derby at the height of his career as one of Salem’s prominent mercantile tycoons. The charts and sailing vessel allude to Derby’s success as a ship owner, particularly in the trade with China.

Photograph. “Derby House.” Accessed 25 July 2005.
http://www.nps.gov/sama/indepth/tour/dh/dh01.htm (Home is on the site of the
Salem Maritime National Historical Site in Salem, MA)
  

Built by Captain Richard Derby in 1762 as a wedding gift for his son, Elias Hasket Derby, this fine example of Georgian architecture was the home of Salem’s most prominent and successful merchant for twenty years. Timber was much cheaper than brick in New England in the 1760s, and therefore brick was not as common in New England as in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern colonies. The use of brick for this house, along with its large windows and fashionable Georgian design, show the wealth of the Derby family.

Map. Early American Trade Routes To China. Accessed 25 July 2005.
http://teachingresources.atlas.uiuc.edu/chinatrade/index.html

This Early American Trade With China curriculum unit provides teachers with overviews, lessons, vocabulary, and resources. A map is included showing the early American trade routes to China. In addition, a blank map is included for students to map their own trade routes.

SECONDARY SOURCES USED TO CREATE LESSON (Annotated):

Bednarz, Sarah, et al. Build Our Nation. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company,  
2000, 176-179.

This is a class textbook used by the fifth grade. This section of the textbook discusses the importance of trading, fishing, and shipbuilding. Maps and diagrams illustrate the triangular trade routes.

Blohm, Craig E., “America’s First Millionaire” Cobblestone Magazine (September 
1988): 20-25.

This is a history magazine designed for young people. This issue is devoted to short articles about the early American trade with China. It is very easy to read and includes a few activities and games. The article focuses on Elias Hasket Derby, a wealthy merchant living in Salem, Massachusetts. Through hard work and determination, Derby became the first millionaire in America.

Goss, K. David, Richard B. Trask, Bryant F. Tolles, Jr., Joseph Flibbert, and Jim
McAllister. Salem: Cornerstones of a Historic City. Beverly, MA:
Commonwealth Editions, 1999, 26-27.

Salem’s history is highlighted by leading authorities and illustrated with color photographs of this historic city. Goss explains Salem’s development into one of the world’s great trading ports during the late 18th century through the early 19th century.

Hawes, Dorothy Schurman. To the Farthest Gulf: The Story of the American China
Trade. Ipswich, MA: The Ipswich Press, 1990.

This small book covers all the main topics related to the American China trade. The system in Chinese ports is described in one chapter, while other chapters discuss the fur trade, the spice trade, the role of missionaries, and the rise and decline of the early China trade.

National Park Service. SALEM: Maritime Salem in the Age of Sail. Washington, 
D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior.

Lushly illustrated brief introduction to the individuals, economic processes,
groups, ideas and activities that helped Salem grow and prosper from the
early 17th century through to the early 19th century.

National Park Service. Salem Maritime. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the
Interior.

This informative brochure describes in great detail the history of Salem’s trade empire, including commercial activities on the wharves, valuable cargoes, ships and their crew, millionaire ship owners, and maps, along with illustrations to be used when touring historic Salem.

Stewart, Doug. “Salem Sets Sail.” Smithsonian (June 2004), 96-97.

Salem’s introduction and involvement in the lucrative East Indies pepper trade is richly detailed.

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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR TEACHERS AND/OR STUDENTS:

National Archives and Records Administration, Northeast Region http://www.archives.gov/northeast/waltham/waltham.html

Information on programs for educators and historians on doing research in the federal records held by NARA. Also includes changing online exhibits highlighting particular historic records in their collection. By late 2005 will include an online exhibit detailing the travels and cargoes of one of Salem-based ship that participated in the China/East Indies trade in the early 19th century.

Hawthorne In Salem http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org

An informative account of the history and dynamics of several of Salem’s wealthy shipping merchants who participated in the East Indies trade. Merchants detailed include Elias Hasket Derby, Simon Forrester, Joseph Peabody, and George Crowninshield.

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