He Was Brought Up In The Simplicity Of Rural
Life, But, While Yet A Mere Stripling, Left His Home, And
Launched Himself Amid The Busy Scenes Of London, Having Had, From
His Very Boyhood, A Singular Presentiment That He Would
Ultimately Arrive At Great Fortune.
At the close of the American Revolution he was still in London,
and scarce on the threshold of active life.
An elder brother had
been for some few years resident in the United States, and Mr.
Astor determined to follow him, and to seek his fortunes in the
rising country. Investing a small sum which he had amassed since
leaving his native village, in merchandise suited to the American
market, he embarked, in the month of November, 1783, in a ship
bound to Baltimore, and arrived in Hampton Roads in the month of
January. The winter was extremely severe, and the ship, with many
others, was detained by the ice in and about Chesapeake Bay for
nearly three months.
During this period, the passengers of the various ships used
occasionally to go on shore, and mingle sociably together. In
this way Mr. Astor became acquainted with a countryman of his, a
furrier by trade. Having had a previous impression that this
might be a lucrative trade in the New World, he made many
inquiries of his new acquaintance on the subject, who cheerfully
gave him all the information in his power as to the quality and
value of different furs, and the mode of carrying on the traffic.
He subsequently accompanied him to New York, and, by his advice,
Mr. Astor was induced to invest the proceeds of his merchandise
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