Letter from William MacKinnon to Henry Shelton Sanford (July 29, 1879)

Dublin Core

Title

Letter from William MacKinnon to Henry Shelton Sanford (July 29, 1879)

Alternative Title

MacKinnon to Sanford (July 29, 1879)

Subject

MacKinnon, William, 1823-1893
Sanford, Henry Shelton, 1823-1891

Description

A letter from Sir William MacKinnon (1823-1893) to Henry Shelton Sanford (1823-1891) dated July 29, 1879. The letter began with a long apology from MacKinnon regarding the length of time it took for him to respond to an earlier letter from Sanford. He proceeded to discuss several personal matters, including his intent to attend a friend's funeral. More importantly, the letter marked MacKinnon's initial response to Sanford's proposal regarding a land investment company in Florida, what would become the Florida Land and Colonization Company. MacKinnon noted that he agreed with all of Sanford's thoughts on the matter, but added cautiously, "I don't know that I can assist you very much in getting the thing into a practical shape or in carrying it out in the way you indicate, but I need hardly say that it will give me much pleasure if I can even help you a little."

MacKinnon proceeded to give advice to Sanford on how to proceed, adding that once Sanford had a solid proposal, he would be willing to show it to some friends with the hopes of "getting a small private association to take it up of to take up a portion of it." Perhaps most importantly was MacKinnon's commitment to invest money of his own to the scheme. "I shall be willing to invest some money into it myself," he wrote, "not because I have any desire to go into any new thing or get a better return for my money, but because I should like to assist if I can in promoting a scheme which I believe has in it the elements of commercial success and one in which my help may be useful to you." The willingness of MacKinnon to help, despite no interest in profiting from the venture, demonstrates his interest in using Sanford's Florida scheme to ensure reciprocal advantages in other domains.

Sir William MacKinnon was a Scottish ship-owner and businessman who established significant trade networks and commercial interests in British India and later in East Africa. Among other business ventures, he founded the British India Steam Navigation Company and the short-lived Imperial British East Africa Company. During his lifetime, he was one of the leading ship-owners in the British Empire. By the 1880s, he controlled more shipping tonnage than any other individual in Britain.

MacKinnon met Henry Shelton Sanford sometime in the late 1870s and the two began corresponding regularly in 1879. MacKinnon's interest in Sanford stemmed from the former American ambassador's close proximity to King Leopold II (1835-1909) of Belgium and the Brussels inner-circle of businessmen, politicians, and diplomats. Sanford, living in a château in Brussels, provided a valuable lifeline for MacKinnon, who sought Belgian business connections to support his expanding commercial ventures, particularly in East Africa. He was a vital factor in the formation of the Florida Land and Colonization Company (FLCC), going so far as to lend Sanford £8,000 in early January 1880. He also played an essential role in helping Sanford court early participants in the investment plan. Many of the board members of the FLCC, like Edwyn Sandys Dawes (1838-1903), were close associates of MacKinnon. With his business ventures strongly tied to British and Belgian development schemes in Africa, MacKinnon had no ostensible interest in Florida land investment. His participation in Sanford's Florida ambitions was thus directly linked to his interest in maintaining strong relations with Sanford and his valuable connections in Belgium.

Creator

MacKinnon, William

Source

Original letter from William MacKinnon to Henry Shelton Sanford, July 29, 1879: box 127, folder 2, subfolder 127.2.12, Henry Shelton Sanford Papers, General Henry S. Sanford Memorial Library, Sanford Museum, Sanford, Florida.

Date Created

1879-07-29

Is Format Of

Digital reproduction of original letter from William MacKinnon to Henry Shelton Sanford, July 29, 1879.

Is Part Of

Box 127, folder 2, Henry Shelton Sanford Papers, General Henry S. Sanford Memorial Library, Sanford Museum, Sanford, Florida.

Format

application/pdf

Extent

929 KB

Medium

8-page handwritten letter

Language

eng

Type

Text

Coverage

Balinakill Country House, Clachan, Scotland, United Kingdom

Accrual Method

Donation

Mediator

History Teacher
Economics Teacher

Provenance

Originally created by William MacKinnon.
Donated to the Connecticut Historical Society after 1901.
Loaned to the Tennessee State Library and Archives for processing until June 1, 1960.
Acquired by the General Henry S. Sanford Memorial Library, Sanford Museum in 1960.

Rights Holder

The displayed collection item is housed at the General Henry S. Sanford Memorial Library, Sanford Museum in Sanford, Florida. Rights to this item belong to the said institution, and therefore inquiries about the item should be directed there. RICHES of Central Florida has obtained permission from the Sanford Museum to display this item for educational purposes only.

Curator

Fedorka, Drew M.

Digital Collection

Source Repository

External Reference

Fry, Joseph A. Henry S. Sanford: Diplomacy and Business in Nineteenth-Century America. Reno, NV: University of Nevada Press, 1982.
Munro, J. Forbes. “"Shipping Subsidies and Railway Guarantees" The Journal of African History 28, no. 2 (1987): 209-230.
Boulger, Demetrius Charles. The Congo State or, the Growth of Civilization in Central Africa. London: Thacker, 1898.

Document Item Type Metadata

Original Format

8-page handwritten letter

Locations

Categories