Letter from William MacKinnon to Henry Shelton Sanford (December 1, 1879)

Dublin Core

Title

Letter from William MacKinnon to Henry Shelton Sanford (December 1, 1879)

Alternative Title

MacKinnon to Sanford (December 1, 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 December 1, 1879. In the letter, MacKinnon noted that he looked forward to meeting with Sanford for dinner in London, England, upon Sanford's arrival. MacKinnon noted that the main reason for writing was to encourage Sanford to have "little syndicate scheme ready," presumably referencing Sanford's plan to for a Florida land investment company. MacKinnon, lending his business acumen to Sanford, encouraged him to have prepared the price necessary to launch the scheme. He believed that £20,000 would be an adequate starting amount to distribute in shares. He also encouraged Sanford to indicate to prospective investors the prospect of modest returns and also how the company would intend to invest in new land purchases. MacKinnon was presumably encouraging Sanford to consider these aspects of the business in order to persuasively court investors during Sanford's visit to London. The scheme MacKinnon discussed in the letter would ultimately become the Florida Land and Colonization Company (FLCC).

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, 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, December 1, 1879: box 127, folder 2, subfolder 127.2.21, Henry Shelton Sanford Papers, General Henry S. Sanford Memorial Library, Sanford Museum, Sanford, Florida.

Date Created

1879-12-01

Is Format Of

Digital reproduction of original letter from William MacKinnon to Henry Shelton Sanford, December 1, 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

351 KB

Medium

4-page handwritten letter

Language

eng

Type

Text

Coverage

London, England, 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.

Transcript

30 Old Burlington St.
London
Dec. 1, 1879

Dear Mr. Sanford

Just a line to acknowledge and thank you for your telegram and letter. I wired you today that I expect to have the pleasure of seeing you at dinner here on Wednesday evening at 7.45. [?] [?] and I may [?] [?].

If you arrive tomorrow night you won’t get their note but in chance I write to ask you to have your little syndicate scheme ready. Mention the price at which you propose to [?]. The property you sell and indicate that £20 thousand in cash will be an [?] balance in shares and if your figures can show a land scheme at the price you name, you might [?] [?] you will guarantee a moderate return for a [?] [?] of yours in the purchase price of your property. Note too how much you at proposal suggest to be [?] into new purchases of [?] land and we can have a memo for signatures by those who take an interest.

About [?] [?] where we meet

In haste

Very sincerely yours,

W. MacKinnon

Document Item Type Metadata

Original Format

4-page handwritten letter

Locations

Categories