Book Review – ‘True Yankees: The South Seas and the discovery of American identity’ by John H. Schroeder
In the years between 1783 (the Peace of Paris) and 1844 (the Treaty of Wangxi), Americans participated actively in the Old China or Indies trade. Hundreds of Americans traversed the Great South Sea, the term commonly used to describe the vast expanse of oceans, lands and peoples between the Cape of Good Hope and the coasts of North and South America. In the process, these voyages of ‘commerce and discovery’ contributed to the national identity of their new nation as well as to its economic growth.
True Yankees: The South Seas and the discovery of American identity by Dane A. Morrison is a scholarly analysis of the ways in which Americans’ first contacts ‘with the East inflected their sense of national identity. It is, then, a cultural history of the Old China Trade, or Indies Trade, as it is more accurately named, that focuses on the American experience of travel to and residence in Asia during the early years of the republic’ (pp. xii–xiii).
To achieve his purpose, Morrison has examined the writings, memoirs, journals and letters of many participants but his study focuses on five representative individuals …