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Russell & Company

Russell & Company

Was the largest American trading house of the mid-19th century in China. The firm specialised in trading tea, silk and opium and was eventually involved in the shipping trade.

Foundation

In 1818, Samuel Russell was approached by Providence merchants Edward C. Carrington, Cyrus Butler and Benjamin and Thomas Hoppin to be an employee of their new resident commission firm in Canton (now referred to as Guangzhou) under the name of Samuel Russell & Company. The contract would expire after five years and the profit accumulated would be split between all parties. Russell arrived in Canton in 1819 and established Samuel Russell & Co. By 1820 the company was experiencing financial difficulties as a result of an economic depression, the Panic of 1819, which lasted until the mid-1820s. Due to these circumstances, Butler and Carrington left Samuel Russell & Co. in 1823 whilst the Hoppin brothers and Russell continued to do business in Canton. After the five-year contract expired in January 1824, Russell entered into a partnership with factory owner and former agent of Brown & Ives, Phillip Ammidon, to establish Russell & Company.Russell and Company's ventures into the opium trade began shortly after with Ammidon who set sail for India with the intention to deal in Indian opium.

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