Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Howland & Aspinwall

Location:   South Street, New York
Year:   1845  

The House burghee of Howland & Aspinwall

Howland & Aspinwall was a New York City-based merchant firm that specialized in the Pacific Ocean trade, especially the importing of goods from China. It is best known for taking a pioneering role in the financing of the first clipper ships, especially the Sea Witch, which made the New York-to-Hong Kong run in a record 74 days, 14 hours, and the Rainbow, the first extreme clipper. Both were built in New York in 1845.

Clipper "Rainbow"

Howland & Aspinwall imported high-status goods such as porcelain, silk, and tea from China. The import tariffs paid by Howland & Aspinwall made up a significant portion of federal revenues during the 1840s.

Clipper "Sea Witch"

The Howlands and the Aspinwalls donated lavishly to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and helped found the A.S.P.C.A.

Following the discovery of gold in California, Howland & Aspinwall focused primarily on the '49ers who were trying to reach California as fast as possible. Howland & Aspinwall turned their primary attention from wind-driven clippers to steam-driven paddleboats.  As part of a consortium of New York merchant shippers, Howland & Aspinwall formed the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. P.M.S. eventually became American President Lines, and then today's Neptune-Orient Lines.

South Street in Manhattan, circa 1845

Part of the Aspinwall family fortune was eventually bequeathed, through grandmother Mary Aspinwall Roosevelt, to Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States.

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