Drogher Trade

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DROGHER TRADE was a type of shipping carried on from about 1825 to 1834, between American firms, mostly in Boston, and Spaniards in California. This trade consisted largely of New England manufactures exchanged for cattle hides. The term "drogher" is a West Indian word applied to slow and clumsy coast vessels. The route of the drogher trade extended from New England, around Cape Horn at the southernmost point of South America, and up the coast of California. The ships stopped in numerous ports along the way up the coast, to trade American-made goods for hides in the ports of San Pedro, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and along the hide-curing beaches surrounding these ports. This shipping became immortalized in Richard Henry Dana's Two Years before the Mast, a memoir of Dana's employment on a drogher vessel that was published in 1840. Based on a diary he kept during his employment on a drogher, Dana's work describes the commercial life of the California coast, and Americans' involvement in the region a decade before the Gold Rush. Dana's work discussed the details of the drogher trade along the coast of Spanish California, and provided detailed accounts of the lives of those involved in the many aspects of the drogher trade, including Hispanic, Native American, and European participants.


Francis, Jessie Davies. An Economic and Social History of Mexican California, 1822–1846: Volume I, Chiefly Economic. New York: Arno Press, 1976.

Shapiro, Samuel. Richard Henry Dana Jr., 1815–1882. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1961.

Carl L.Cannon/h. s.

See alsoCoasting Trade ; San Diego .