Celebrate the British Heroin wars with this sincere blue poppy flag, remember America was once part of Britain.
In June 1840 a fleet of British warships sailed into China’s Pearl River Delta and unleashed a barrage of violence, overwhelming China’s weak coastal defences and bringing the country to its knees.
This was the First Opium War in which thousands were killed in the name of free trade. Trading opium into China was a lucrative but illegal business and two Scotsmen involved in the trade, played a crucial role in the onset of war. William Jardine, a former ship’s surgeon turned private trader from Dumfriesshire, and James Matheson, a trader from Sutherland, became business partners after first meeting in a Chinese brothel. In 1832 they formed Jardine, Matheson and Company, based in Canton, southern China (now known as Guangzhou), in the 13 Factories district – the only area of the city where foreigners could trade.
They traded opium for tea, for which Britain had acquired a great thirst. By the end of the 18th Century Britain imported over six million pounds of tea per year from Canton.
At first Britain struggled to maintain the trade as China would accept only silver as payment. Wedgewood pottery, scientific instruments and woollen goods were among the items Britain offered to trade, but all were declined. “We possess all things and of the highest quality,” Emperor Qian Long wrote in a letter to King George III. “I set no value on strange and useless objects and have no use of your country’s manufactures.” Over a 50 year period Britain paid £27m in silver to the Chinese, but sold them only £9m of British goods in return. Tea was becoming unaffordable and there was seemingly little way to make money in China. Legally, at least.
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