Northshore Magazine

November 2014

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

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212 tra, village leaders (known as rajahs) saw an opportunity to pursue even greater profits. They became known for unscrupulous trading practices such as taking advance payment for a pepper crop from one ship then selling the goods to another trader. In other cases, the native people turned to violence against the sailors. In 1830 or 1831, the ship Friendship was anchored offshore as Captain Charles Endicott waited for a new pepper harvest. Locals lured the captain to shore with the promise of a supply of pepper available for purchase. Once the captain departed, however, pirates attacked the Friendship, killing five crew members and injuring six. So egregious was the attack that the United States government dispatched a military ship to give the Sumatrans "a good thrashing" in retribution. Despite this incident, the pepper trade—and the native people's occasional hostility—continued. In 1839, Salem introduced an official city seal, which is still in use today; it includes the image of a man in Sumatran dress and a Latin phrase that translates as "To the farthest port of the rich east." "It was an acknowledgment that all the wonderful things that were happening in Salem were really based on the pepper trade," McAllister says. By that time, however, the pepper trade in Salem was already in substantial decline. The many wharves that had been built led to the accumulation of silt in the harbor, making the waters less accessible to ships. Furthermore, the rise of steam- boats that could travel inland made ports with access to rivers more appealing, Bow- ie says. At the same time, Salem was turn- ing to industry; much of the money earned in the pepper trade was being channeled into developing tanneries, shoe factories, and textile plants, McAllister says. The pepper trade was fading away, but leaving behind a legacy of prosperity. "By the time the pepper trade got going, Salem was well on its way to being one of the richest cities in the world," McAllister notes. "But once the pepper trade came, oh my God, it was stunning."; ● n photographs by by michael basu Original Objects Peabody Essex Museum's East India Marine Hall showcases Salem's trading days.

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