Stephen Girard's Trade with China 1787–1824

The Norms versus the Profits of Trade

Jonathan Goldstein


2011, 143 pages • illustrations • bibliography • index

ISBN 978-0-98346599-6-9 Paper $35.00
ISBN 978-0-98346599-6-9 Cloth $65.00

 “Jonathan Goldstein is our premier historian of the trade conducted between Philadelphia and China. His carefully researched new book casts needed light on the China trade of Stephen Girard, a key Philadelphia China trader, and an important figure in early United States business history. One of our first millionaires, Girard bridged several worlds. He was a curious and adaptive American, and the product of the France of his birth, naming his trading ships for enlightenment French philosophes. Goldstein’s book looks at Girard’s encounter with China, tracking the full arc of his China trading from entry through withdrawal, noting Girard’s careful study and trade risk assessment from start to end. This book will be welcomed by scholars in various topics in American, Asian and European history. Its treatment of current popular topics such as cultural differences and perceptions, drugs and smuggling, and issues of national sovereignty and solvency will have popular appeal as well.”
Frederic Delano Grant, Jr., Attorney and Economic Historian

“. . . ably traces the motivation and preparations for Girard’s China ventures, detailing his legitimate commerce as well as the infamous trade in opium, which was itself both a prominent feature and the catalyst for the destruction of the pre-1842 Canton system.”
Robert Gardella, Emeritus Professor of History, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

“Goldstein is one of the major historians studying the Old China Trade and other aspects of the western relationship with China. An important contribution to the literature of the economic relationship between the West and China.”
Murray A. Rubinstein, Baruch College, CUNY

Jonathan Goldstein is Professor of East Asian History at the University of West Georgia and a Research Associate of Harvard University’s John K. Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. His books include Philadelphia and the China Trade (1978), and The Jews of China (1999).



“. . . Another noteworthy accomplishment of Goldstein’s analysis lies in his focused study on Girard. Although the Girard Papers are accessible to researchers, the enormous volume of his correspondence is difficult to penetrate . . . While Goldstein includes few personal details of Girard’s life, he successfully navigates the archive and demonstrates how central Girard was to Philadelphia’s trade with China. Overall, Goldstein’s contribution is a positive one. His concise description and analysis of Stephen Girard’s role in the China trade provides a helpful starting point for any scholar interested in learning more about Girard and early nineteenth-century trade.”

The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

“. . . Overall, Stephen Girard’s Trade with China makes a useful contribution to the literature devoted to the early commerce of the United States with China. It leaves the field open for a study of the importance of his own involvement in the China trade to Stephen Girard, and his place within that trade.”

International Journal of Maritime History