David Pingree (1795-1863) was known as “the merchant prince of Salem.” Though he made a great fortune through importing gum copal and investing in pioneering rail, banking and manufacturing projects, his luck and judgment failed him when he purchased the Maine iron works. His life followed a riches-to-rags trajectory that left him heavily indebted by the time of his death.
Stephen Clarendon Phillips (1801-57), the son of a prominent Salemite of the same name, followed in his father’s mercantile footsteps. He was also a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1825-9 and served in the State Senate until 1830.
Michael Shepard (1786-1856) was one of the first Salem merchants to establish trade links with East Africa. He was highly regarded locally for his munificence and for the fact that, despite his great wealth, he always remained a convivial man of the people.
The Uptons were another prominent local family who had long been involved in maritime trading. The most significant representative of that illustrious dynasty during Hawthorne’s time was Captain Benjamin Upton (1786-1853), who had been a naval commandeer during the War of 1812. Familiar with South America from this period, he was the first person to import pure gum rubbers from Brazil.
Edward D. Kimball (1811-67) amassed great wealth through trading in West Africa, exporting cotton and importing gum copal, animal skins and ivory. He was also the president of the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company.
John Bertram (1795-1882) progressed over his extensive lifetime from being an impoverished immigrant to one of Salem’s most prosperous citizens. Naturally business-minded, he built up thriving trades with Zanzibar and Sumatra, as well as constructing and managing a number of railways during the expansionist era. He used the resulting wealth to provide funding for hospitals and fuel for the poor, and is today fondly remembered as a great philanthropist.
William Hunt, the last figure in this pantheon, grew wealthy through trading with China. His revenant apparently now resides at the Inn on Washington Square, a building made for him in 1842 which now runs as “the first paranormal bed 'n' breakfast on New England's North Shore.”