Fireworks & Diplomacy

On 15 April 1785 James Hanna sailed the 60 ton brig the Sea Otter from Macao heading for Nootka. This was the first non-Russian ship known to head for the North Pacific to collect sea otter pelts. They arrived at Nootka Sound on 18 August, and the crew of 20 traded with locals to acquire 560 pelts. They were on good terms with locals until a firework was lit under the local chief, who, trying to save face, attacked the ship, but were heavily outgunned by the British, with the loss of 20 men. Hanna restored relations with them before departing at the end of September, reaching Macao in late December, where the pelts were sold for $20,000, a huge profit for John Henry Cox, the businessman who funded the venture. Cox was the son of the London clock and automata maker, James Cox who made and lost a fortune trading with India and China.

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