Maine and Asia

Ship Forest Eagle

The ship Forest Eagle, 1156 tons, was built in Rockland, Maine, in 1856 by Starrett & Kimball. In 1861, under the command of Capt. Thomas Pillsbury, she carried 500 Indentured Chinese laborers from Macao to Havana, Cuba, to work in the sugar fields there. Shortly after this voyage, President Lincoln forbade American ships from participating in the "coolie trade." The Forest Eagle was reported lost at sea in March of 1881. This image is from a painting owned by the Rockland Public Library.

Japanese Rickshaw Model

Japanese rickshaw and two dolls, one being a rickshaw puller and the other a woman passenger. These were brought back to Maine by Capt. Everett G. Staples, master of the ship Robert L. Belknap from 1884-1896. The Belknap was a Rockport, Maine built and owned vessel, launched in 1884 for the deep water bulk carrying trades.

Passenger List

Passenger List noting the names, ages, and occupations of 500 indentured Chinese laborers shipped from Macao to Havana, Cuba aboard the ship Forest Eagle of Rockland.

Bill of Lading for Chinese Passengers

This document states that the shipping agent is providing "Five hundred Chinese emigrants all being in very good health and condition" and that he is not being responsible for the mortality."

"Coolie Master's" Logbook

A daily log of the voyage of 500 indentured Chinese laborers aboard the ship Forest Eagle, was kept by John O. Shaw. As “Coolie Master,” his sole charge was to prevent revolution and disease at sea among the Chinese emigrants.

Note: “Coolie” is a derogatory and dated term that now is considered a racial slur.

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