(WTNH)– On July 11, 1799, the merchant ship, Neptune, finished a bountiful three year voyage around the world, according to the Office of the State Historian.
It sailed into the New Haven harbor at around 2:00 p.m. that day, carrying the most lucrative haul of cargo they state has ever seen at the time.
In late 1797, a crew of 45 ‘young, sturty, and active’ Connecticut men set sail on Neptune in hopes to make a profit on their trade for Chinese goods. New Haven native Daniel Green was the captain of Neptune’s 2 year, 8 month maiden voyage to China.
They first sailed southbound and rounded the southernmost tip of South America. That alone made Neptune the first New Haven-built ship to sail into the Pacific Ocean.
They then went to Cape Horn and hunted down over 80,000 seals for their skins. They then hauled the skins to China and received thousands of chests filled with Chinese tea, porcelain, silk and more, in return.
The cargo’s value was estimated to be in the millions of dollars in 1799. The $75,000 lump sum of taxes paid on it was $20,000 greater than the entire civil tax list for all of Connecticut, the State Historian reports.
Neptune’s voyage was just the beginning for shipbuilding in New Haven; investors started following Neptune’s route, seal skins and all.
The market price for seal skins dropped in price, so the investors did not reap as much wealth as the Neptune’s maiden Chinese voyage.
Former News 8 reporter Diane Smith covered this story for News 8’s Positively Connecticut. Watch the archived video above for more.