U.S. Clipper Ship in the China Trade. Oil painting by an anonymous Chinese painter, in the Western style, nineteenth century. Ships like these were common in the China Seas during peak opium-trading years.
Before the seventeenth century opium was used in China primarily for medicinal purposes. As the practice of smoking opium prevailed in China from the 1820s onward to the 1870s and the turn of the twentieth century—a time fraught