Yankee India - Susan S. Bean
Built around mariners’ journals of their pioneering voyages, Yankee India charts the early development of commercial and cultural relations between the United States and India in the Age of Sail. The end of colonial rule in 1783 had given American merchants and ship owners the freedom to trade in Asia. Voyages from ports along the eastern seaboard were the first American links to the distant and exotic culture of India. Mariners’ journals and letters speak of encounters with vastly different ways of life that sometimes challenged and sometimes reinforced ideas about decorum, religion, and morality and that influenced attitudes toward imperialism, legitimate rule, and free trade. Material embodiments of India at the time prints, paintings, and figurines depicting Indian scenes and people augment and illustrate the story. Previously untapped archives and collections of the Peabody Essex Museum, whose founders were captains and supercargoes in the Asia trade, provide the principal resources. These first encounters between the US and India laid the foundation for American views of India had an impact on intercultural encounters.