Excerpt from The Frozen Water Trade by Gavin Weightman, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Frozen Water Trade

A True Story

by Gavin Weightman

The Frozen Water Trade by Gavin Weightman
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2003, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2004, 288 pages

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As there was unlikely to be any ice to cut until January 1806, there was time for William and James to sail to Martinique and seek to establish exclusive rights. Once this was done, they would make some short hops to other islands that might be interested in putting in advance orders for a spring delivery of the Tudors' luxury cargo. Frederic would stay behind and make preparations for the first shipment. The whole enterprise would be funded by him, as Harrison Gray Otis had politely declined any involvement, though he thought the scheme "plausible."

As more people learned of the venture in Boston, Frederic discovered that it was not competition he had to contend with so much as ridicule. The Judge, in particular, who still believed he was going to make a killing with his South Boston land speculation, urged Frederic to abandon his crazy ice scheme. Robert Gardiner, who was Frederic's most enthusiastic supporter, would write in his Early Recollections:

The idea was considered so utterly absurd by the sober minded merchants as to be the vagary of a disordered brain, and few men would have been willing to stand the scoffs and sneers from those whose assistance it was necessary to obtain, to aid [Frederic] in his enterprise . . . Merchants were not willing to charter their vessels to carry ice. The offices declined to insure and sailors were afraid to trust themselves with such a cargo. But Frederic was a stubborn and determined young man who seemed to thrive on the challenge of accomplishing something that others regarded as impossible and foolhardy. He fancied he cut a dashing figure around town, a dapper little man in a blue coat who was going to make a fortune from a very big and brilliant idea.

From The Frozen Water Trade by Gavin Weightman. Copyright 2003 by Gavin Weightman. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher, Hyperion Publishing.

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