1868: Frederick Moss came to Fiji to grow cotton after American civil war made sea-island cotton price rise

Moss was a New Zealand businessman who went to Fiji in 1868 during the cotton rush, when the American civil war made sea-island cotton precious in the markets of the world). In 1869 he returned to New Zealand and became an administrator and politician. He maintained a strong interest in the Pacific and visited the islands on many occasions and in 1890 was appointed first British Resident at Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. Moss believed strongly in involving the native peoples in their own government, but this led to trouble with the European colony there and Moss was eventually recalled
Moss, Frederick J. (Frederick Joseph), 1829-1904. Through atolls and islands in the great South Sea / by Frederick J. Moss. (London : Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1889)

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2 Responses

  1. It is interesting to know how events in the distant past have parallels to what we have going on. For example, did you know of the link between the American Civil War and Mumbai’s rise to industrial age. There was a cotton bubble going on at that time in Mumbai. Right now it is real estate and credit bubble.

    • Thank you for your interest and very useful comments. This site gets many hits from India – people looking for relatives who travelled to Fiji, as indentured laborers in the 1870s. My ancestor – about that time owned the island which was used a quarantine station for the early arrivals from India. I also have current family in India; in Auroville, Tamil Nadu.
      Invitation: As we have mutual interests; shall we swap links – I will link to your site and you link, your ‘blogroll’ to this site? To do this, first you need to add the blogroll feature to your site.
      Impertinent question: Speaking as a fellow-blogger – I see you have Google ads. Do they make any decent return for you?
      Cotton trade: As you say ‘Before the 1850s, India used to export cotton to Britain, and import textiles’.
      The slave-trade connection: As I read, more on this topic. I was surprised to learn textiles milled and printed in India, and Manchester, were then traded for African slaves, who were them shipped to Jamaica and South USA – to grow more cotton!
      1860: cotton mill industry in Mumbai: You write “However, the the cost of importing textiles ballooned to Rs. 20 millions by 1860. This led Mumbai entrepreneurs to create a cotton mill industry in Mumbai. By 1870, there were 13 cotton mills in Mumbai. Cotton supplies from the US were interrupted during the American Civil War. Before the Civil War, cotton mills in England used to import only about 20% of their needs for cotton from India. However, with the blockade of the Confederate ports, Indian cotton prices rose. By the time, General Lee’s army was defeated (1865), traders in Bombay had earned 70 million Pound Sterling in cotton trade. So much was the haste to make money in cotton that farmers in Gujarat were cutting down grain crop ready to mature to free up land for cotton.”
      Cotton in Fiji: There was a mini-cotton boom in Fiji, too; which collapsed after 1865. I think its possible my ancestor made a few pounds shipping hopeful cotton planters to Levuka, around that time, in his barques and schooners. These did not last long; and soon rotted; with timber holed by tropical wood-worms; more than one was sunk in Levuka harbour.

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