By Any Other Name: The Freshening of American Maritime History



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By Any Other Name:

The Freshening of American Maritime History



Robert A. McCaughey

 

Keeping America�s maritime past a vital part of our national consciousness would seem to be an �all hands� effort from our relevant cultural institutions. Yet for the last half-century American historians teaching at the country�s major research universities and leading liberal arts colleges have kept pretty much to their bunks. Nothing so much distinguishes the recent state of maritime history from other specialties within the larger project of American history than the absence of academic engagement. By default, American maritime history today relies for its public visibility primarily upon independent scholars, writers, and government-employed or museum-based educators for its public visibility.



� ���������This situation has its upside. Non-academically affiliated writers such as Mark Kurlansky, Lincoln Paine, Jonathan Raban, and John Rousmaniere have provided the American maritime history- reading public with a varied body of work distinguished by literary merit seldom found in fields dominated by academic historians. So, too, forays of more broadly engaged writers such as Dava Sobel, Evan Thomas, Peter Mattheissen, and John McPhee have helped sustain a substantial reading audience for maritime history. And can anyone doubt that the English novelist Patrick O�Brian, with his Jack Aubrey/Stephen Maturin novels, did more to acquaint this generation of American readers with the delicious intricacies of shipboard life in the age of sail that than did any academic historian did � �or likely could have?[1] 

� ���������American maritime history is also unusually dependent upon the scholarship of museum-based scholars, historic-seaport curators and pubic historians. Here, the work of Nathaniel Philbrick, long affiliated with the Nantucket Historical Association and the Egan Institute, Stuart M. Frank, earlier director of the Kendall Whaling Museum and now of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Glen Gordinier at the Mystic Seaport/Munson Institute, Norman Brouwer, until recently at the South Street Seaport Museum in , New York City, are all cases in point. Meanwhile, at museums and libraries with mandates beyond maritime history, such as the John Carter Brown Library in Providence, or the Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, maritime history has been attended by the recently retired JCBL director Norman Fiering and the PEM head curator Daniel Finamore. So, too, was the Massachusetts Historical Society, especially under the just- concluded directorship of William M. Fowler, himself a naval historian of note. Mention should also be made of the New-York Historical Society, which along with and the Gilder-Lehrman FoundationInstitute, which together are sponsoring this special issue of the New-York Journal of American History on maritime history.[2] 

� Beyond the staff at these major maritime institutions, among which the Mariner�s Museum in Newport News and the San Diego Maritime Museum should be listed, there are hundreds of directors, curators, docents, and tour guides affiliated with the more than 650 maritime, lighthouse, and canal lock museums distributed all along the nation�s three seacoasts, its major lakes, and inland waterways. And then, of course, are the public historians employed by state and federal agencies, among them the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, the Naval Historical Center, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It is through the efforts of these scholars and institutions that most Americans today learn about their common maritime heritage � �and see it dramatically conveyed in words, images, replica constructions, interactive media, and reenactments. [3]


� ���������What, then, of the contributions emanating from the academy? In a phrase, decidedly uneven. To be sure, maritime history is seriously attended to at the nation�s relevant service academies --� Annapolis, the Merchant Marine Academy, and the Naval War College � �and at several of the state-sponsored maritime academies, among them the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo and SUNY Maritime in Throgs Neck. At several of these institutions, senior faculty like Kenneth J. Hagan at the Naval Academy and John B. Hattendorf at the Naval War College are prolific scholars, and where junior faculty like Joshua Smith at the MMA and Tim Lynch at Cal Maritime are following their lead. Maritime history is also studied at the Frank Munson Institute at Mystic Seaport, where, in addition to Gordinier, Eric P. Roorda and Mary K. Bercaw Edwards are active scholars. Maritime history is featured at the Sea Education Association (SEA), at Woods Hole, where the subject is taught by publishing scholars in maritime history such as Mary Malloy and, until recently, Matthew McKenzie, and now John Jensen, preparatory to casting their undergraduates upon the sea.[4]

� ���������Similarly, at universities with strong programs in maritime studies/marine archaeology � �Texas A&M, Eastern Carolina, University of New Hampshire, the University of Rhode Island --� maritime history is a regular part of the curriculum. Some of these programs have federal support through the Sea Grants program and some of these offer masters degrees in maritime history; still others, including the University of South Carolina and Texas A & M, have university presses that support publishing programs in American maritime and naval history.

� ����������Yet the fact remains that none of these universities institutions of higher learning number among the fifty research universities that account for the lion�s share of annual production of PhDs in American history. And none include the traditionally top-ranked history departments. At these large research universities and in these prestigious departments, regular attention to American maritime history is conspicuous by its absence. At Yale, until his recent retirement, Gaddis Smith occasionally taught maritime history, although usually under another label. At Harvard, the Graduate School of Education has in the recent past hired a maritime historian, Mary Malloy, to teach History and Curatorship in its Extension Program. At UCLA, Berkeley, Chicago, Wisconsin, Penn, and NYU, no one currently listed as among regular graduate faculty has any identifiable scholarly or teaching interest in maritime history. At Brown, in the late 1990s, the Director of the John Carter Brown Library, Norman Fiering, tried to interestencouraged the history department toin mounting a masters program in maritime history, offering the unmatched resources of his Library and arguing that such a program would be unique among Brown�s peers, but to no avail. Of the six text authors of America and the Sea: A Maritime History (Mystic Seaport, 1998), the closest the subject has to a textbook, all are or were academics, but none for any time at a major research university [5]


Nor is maritime history regularly taught at the leading liberal arts colleges, which play a disproportionate role as feeders to the major graduate programs in American history. Williams College has had a longtime interest in American maritime studies and a link to the Mystic Seaport, especially during the tenure of Benjamin W. Labaree; Barnard College, where the author teaches, has regularly offered a seminar in Early American maritime history for the last decade. But at most of the other Ivies, Little Ivies, Seven Sisters, and their qualitative equivalents, the subject goes largely untaught. 



Three other pieces of evidence pointing to the marginality of maritime history as an academic sub-discipline.: 

 --First, w With the secession cessation of publication of American Neptune, there is no American-based peer-reviewed journal devoted to maritime history.;

�Second,

-- tThere is no formal association of American academic maritime historians, the nearest approximation being the North American Society for Oceanic History (NASOH), whose membership extends from internationally recognized scholars, among them its present president, John B. Hattendorf, to �avocational enthusiasts, ship modelers, and avid readers.� [6]

 

--Third, �wWhile other academic sub-fields of history have been utilizing the electronic list-serv facilities of H-Net, hosted by Michigan State University, for upwards of a decade, it is only this year, through the heroic labors of Tim Lynch at California Maritime Academy, that some 182 Americans (257 overall) are now subscribers to �H-Maritime,� by no means all of them, or even a majority, academically based.[7]



 

� ���������Why is this so? And was it ever otherwise? One might argue that American maritime/naval history has always been a subject that has had greater appeal outside the academy than within. Witness the novelist James Fenimore Cooper and the politician Theodore Roosevelt, two thoroughly un-academicized and popular early American maritime/naval historians. It is also the case that for the first generation of academically trained professional American historians --� Herbert Baxter Adams, Edward Channing, William A. Dunning, John W. Burgess � �the important questions related distantly to the Anglo-Saxon origins of American colonial institutions, and more proximately to the causes and consequences of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Moreover, it became the explicit mission of the most prominent spokesman of the second generation, Frederick Jackson Turner, himself reared in Wisconsin on the edge of the frontier, to direct the academic profession�s attention away from the Atlantic Ocean and instead to focus on the west and the westward movement. It was there, Turner and his many followers argued, the real basis for American democratic institutions and cultural distinctiveness were to be found. Similarly, the animating concerns of Turner�s more urban-oriented contemporary, Charles A. Beard, seldom directed him seaward. To be sure, Arthur Schlesinger Sr. took an active interest in the doings of the Revolutionary generation�s maritime merchants, but less for their place in a vast transatlantic maritime network than their ambiguous response to the American Revolution. [8] 

Still, there was an earlier time when university-maritime history did had a higher profile in the historical profession and in university and college classrooms, and when leading professors at major universities wrote important books on America�s maritime historypast. Almost inevitably, the examples brought forward by proponents of this �golden age� are two, the Harvard professors Samuel Eliot Morison (1887-1976) and Robert G. Albion (1896-1977), and the books cited are Morison�s The _Maritime History of Massachusetts 1783-1860 (1921) and Albion�s The Rise of New York Port, 1815-1860 (1939). Morison taught at Harvard from 1915 until his official retirement in the mid- 1950s, but then worked oncontinued working in his Widener Library carrel until his death in 1976. Albion, who came from Princeton, where he began teaching in 1922, went to Harvard in 1939 as the inaugural holder of the Gardiner Chair in Maritime History.[9]

� ����������But if Morison and Albion represents a �golden age� of academic maritime history, neither scholar did much to assure continued academic interest in the subject. Rather than challenge the received Turnerian view of American history as fundamentally a land-centered, westward moving, continentalist saga, both Morison and Albion opted early on in their careers to ignore the questions animating their professional colleagues and to write instead for that portion of the educated reading public interested generally in matters maritime. They largely ignored the historiographical debates of the inter-war era, other than to insist that their native New England (Morison was a sixth-generation Bostonian born on Beacon Hill, Albion traced his American origins to seventeenth 17th-century Maine) not be written out of the nation�s history. This Morison did by writing narrative maritime histories of Massachusetts and biographies of naval figures, as well asin addition to in his books on Puritanism and Harvard, while Albion credited much of the �rise� of New York Port after the War of 1812 to an influx of seafaring New Englanders. [10]

� It also bears noting that both Morison�s Maritime History of Massachusetts and Albion�s Rise of New York Port cover much the same relatively brief period, using Morison�s somewhat wider dates, from 1783 to 1860. Both historians indicated plans to extend their respective narratives backward and forward in time, but neither did. In starting and stopping where they did, they unwittingly contributed to the foreshortened view of America�s maritime history as beginning with the Revolution and ending with the demise of the clipper ship and American whaling in the 1860s.


 �������Other factors inhibited their potential as builders of a �maritime/maritimist school� among American historians of the inter-war generation. As much by his personal aloofness as chosen subject matter, Morison attracted few graduate students and sponsored still fewer dissertations, in maritime history or any other subject. And those few who did work with him�, Arthur Pierce Middleton and Wilcomb Washburn are good examples�, generally did not go on to academic careers. Nor did he much bother with interesting motivating undergraduates in to study maritime history. After his service in World War II, where he directed the Navy�s effort to record its wartime history, Morison, whose close friends called him �Sam,� preferred the rest of us address him by his final rank, �Admiral.�

 �Albion was personally more approachable and enjoyed teaching large classes of Princeton and then Harvard undergraduates, who referred to his course as �Boats.� Albion�s role as a graduate adviser and mentor of would-be academic maritime historians was also marginally larger than Morison�s. Yet neither made anything like full use of their university positions to transfer their enthusiasm for American maritime history to a new generation of academic historians. To the contrary, by intention the Beacon- Hill Brahmin Morison by intention, and likely inadvertently the �Down Easter� Albion likely inadvertently personified (if not encouraged) the view that maritime history was the exclusive province of old-line Yankee-born and bred salts, and accordingly off limits to those whose regional, ethnic, religious, and even class origins gave them little direct contact with the sea or awareness of the difference between a hawse hole and a bowsprit. 

  ����������A word on the vocabulary of maritime history. It is not that doing maritime history requires familiarity with a technical vocabulary that sets it apart from other specialties; religious history and the history of science make equal if not greater demands. Instead, it was a vocabulary not to be mastered in the library by study and memorization, but by being out on the water, on long weekends and endless- seeming summers. It is this biographical imperative that served to exclude the �landlubber.� Maritime history devolved into a form of the geneaological history of the once- privileged Protestant Yankeedom. Irish, Jews, women, blacks, or gays needed not apply.




 �������Not surprisingly, maritime history held little interest to the post-WW II generation of graduate students of the 1950s or 1960s (my generation) who gained places in the historical profession � �and have until very recently constituted its leadership. It was their (our) mentors � �and the temper of the times � �who first directed us away from intellectual and political history to social history and local community studies, and still later from the study of elites to that of the non-elites. The early work of one of the last generation�s leading scholars, the Harvard-trained historian Bernard Bailyn, is a case in point. His first book, The New England Merchants in the Seventeenth Century (1955), was an outgrowth of his dissertation written under the guidance of Oscar Handlin, not Morison�s, and followed by Massachusetts Shipping, 1997-1714 (1959), written with his wife, Lotte Bailyn, are cases in point. The subject matter of both fall well within the realm of maritime history, but were not described as such and were meant to serve very different historiographical purposes. And then, rather than pursue further similar subject matter, Bailyn subsequently moved on to take up The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (1968), with many of his best Harvard students in tow. By the early 1970s he had become one of the historical profession�s leading scholars. Meanwhile, Morison�s magnum opus, The European Discovery of America, published in two volumes in 1971 and 1975, while popular best sellers, had no discernible impact on the profession. Similarly, by then, Albion�s once-thought-be-be classic Rise of the Port of New York was already well on its way to becoming what one urban historian recently characterized as �much cited, little read, seldom discussed.�[11]

 Despite this doubly unwelcoming situation, a few academically employed historians of the 1970s and 1980s did write books that an earlier generation would have called maritime history, but which in most cases their authors did not. One is the evocatively titled Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchants, Seaman, Pirates, and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750 (1987), by the then- Georgetown University and latterly University of Pittsburgh historian Marcus Rediker. Yet Rediker, a Penn PhD, in acknowledging the English Marxist historian E.P. Thompson and the American radical historian Jesse Lemisch as important influences, and in his emphasis onemphasizing the grievances and agency of �inarticulate� before-the-mast seamen, Rediker, a Penn PhD, could scarcely be at greater historiographical (or ideological) remove from that earlier generation�s emphasis on the quarterdeck and owners back on the beach. [12]

 Farmers & Fishermen: Two Centuries of Work in Essex County, Massachusetts, 1630-1850 (1994), by Daniel Vickers, is another prime example of an academically produced maritime-history-by-another-name. While taking implicit issue with Rediker here, and more explicitly in his recent Young Men and the Sea: Yankee Seafarers in the Age of Sail (2005), the Princeton-trained Vickers, now at the University of California, San Diego, is at one with Rediker in seeing the sea and shipboard life as an important and under �examined arena where working conditions and labor relations in early America can be fruitfully examined. Burton Busch, in his Whaling Will Never Do For Me: The American Whaleman in the Nineteenth Century (1994) , and Paul A. Gilje, at the very much landlocked University of Oklahoma, with his recent Liberty on the Waterfront: American Maritime Culture in the Age of Revolution (2004) are other excellent examples of the maritime-historian-as social/labor historian. None of these historians scholars make any claim to kinship with the maritime historians of the Morison-Albion generation, and Vickers elsewhere explained why. [Need footnote describing his explanation.] This said, an we must acknowledgement of the work of the Brooklyn-reared Columbia historian Richard B. Morris, whose pioneering work in early American labor history in the 1930s and 1940s did stress the importance of the maritime trades and the richness of the sources for their study, would not be amiss. [13]

  ����������Where academically -based labor historians venture, can historians of the race/ethnicity and women/gender/sexual persuasion be far behind? And so it has been with the recent �re-discovery� by historians specializing in these academically flourishing sub-fields. Among recent historians of the African American experience, tThe Hopkins-trained W. Jeffrey Bolster, currently at the University of New Hampshire, is one of those rare historians who comes by his scholarly interest by a decade-long experience as a seaman and captain of sailing vessels. His American Historical AssociationHA prize-winning book, Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail , (1997), unapologetically sets out to answer some basic � �and heretofore unexplored � �questions about African Americans� maritime history . Again, no need for even a pro forma acknowledgment of Morison, whose Maritime History of Massachusetts left the role of African Americans in that history for others to tell. A still more recent example of the blending of maritime and black history is David S. Ceicelski�s excellent The Watermans Song: Slavery and Freedom in Maritime North Carolina (2001) . Here the properly absent acknowledgment is to Morison�s student Arthur Pierce Middleton�s Tobacco Coast: A Maritime History of Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era (1953), which devoted one paragraph of its 498-page account to the human costs of the African slave trade and nothing to the contributions of blacks in the maritime trades. Yet another instance of maritime �history-as-African-American history is Julie Winch�s biography of the black Philadelphia sail maker and maritime enterpriser, A Gentleman of Color: The Life of James Forten (2002).[14]

  ����������Several other female historians have recently made a place for themselves and for women�s history in what an earlier generation called maritime history --� and where women were especially thought to be out of place, either as subject matter or would-be chroniclers. Three examples will have to suffice here. Captain Ahab Had a Wife: New England Women and the Whale Fishery, 1720-1870 (2000) is the work ofThe Rutgers-trained Lisa Norling, currently at the University of Minnesota, where she she does includes �maritime� among her specialties, after � American Revolution� and �19th-Nineteenth-century social, women and gender.,� �maritime,� has so with Captain Ahab Had a Wife: New England Women and the Whale Fishery, 1720-1870 ( 2000). So has the Boston University-trained historian Margaret Creighton, now at Bates College, with her earlieris the author of Rites and Passages: The Experience of American Whaling, 1830-1870 (Cambridge, 1995), which devoted a chapter to the role of women in whaling, and then as co-editor with Lisa Norling of. Together, Norling and Creighton edited the collection of essays for a series in U.S. History/Gender Studies , Iron Men, Wooden Women; Gender and Seafaring in the Atlantic World, 1700-1920 (1996). The last example is the NYU-trained Elaine Forman Crane, now teaching at Fordham, whose Ebb Tide in New England: Women, Seaports, and Social Change, 1630-1800 (1998) could be said to win the trifecta, successfully combining the academically respectable approach of detailed, statistically based community studies and women�s history to academically suspect maritime history. To be sure, most of the scholars cited here are not at major research universities (Norling and Vickers currently are), but many are well short of mid-career and some may well move to where they will have a chance to train the next generation of American historians, some of whom, surely will be drawn to the subject matter that engages their mentors.[15]


 �������The point should by now be clear: American maritime history is not nearly so dead as one might think, if only those writing under other more fashionable academic colors are included. As I have tried to show, �maritime history� has its own history, which may well make it unacceptable to today�s academic historians � �and to tomorrow�s historians now in graduate school or college � �so its disappearance ought not occasion extended lament. Meanwhile, for academic-history-by-any other-name, the generation-long ebb tide may well have turned. Let me support this admittedly optimistic conclusion by pointing to three areas of current publishing activity.

The first is drawn from the history of science, a sub-field that has had its own ups and downs and its own years on the margins of the American historical profession. But from within its ranks come three recent books on the study of the oceans by Americans (though by no means exclusively) by young (everything is relative) historians. The Penn-trained Helen M. Radwodowski,Rozwadowski, who now heads up the history section of the maritime studies program at the University of Connecticut, Avery Point, recently authored Fathoming the Ocean: Discovery and Exploration of the Deep Sea (Harvard, 2005), a collective biography and social history of oceanic research in the late 19th nineteenth century. The Hopkins-trained Joyce Chaplin, now a professor at Harvard, is the author of The First Scientific American (Norton, 2006), a scientific biography of Benjamin Franklin that devotes as much attention to his maritime pursuits as to electricity and convection. A still more recently published history of science is Trying Leviathan: The Nineteenth-Century New York Court Case That Put the Whale on Trial and Changed the Order of Nature (2007), by the Princeton-based historian D. Graham Burnett, which frames the technical question of the classification of whales � �mammals or fishes? � �in a rich urban and litigious context. Collectively, these books make a powerful claim for the idea that the scientific study of the oceans has long been an American preoccupation and is a subject to which Americans have made important contributions. This is an argument that Nathaniel Philbrick has also made recently for the period between Chaplin�s and Rozwadowski�s books in his Sea of Glory: Americas Voyage of Discovery: The United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 (Viking, 2003). And this story, unlike the rise of New York Port or whaling or clipper ships, has legs to carry it beyond the Civil War and down to the present, as evidenced by Rozwadowski�s current project on the American oceanography in the Cold War.[16]

A second publishing hotspot is the very recent and belated turn seaward of those engaged in the writing of the nation�s environmental history, a rapidly growing and heretofore largely terrestrial specialization. A May 2005 conference of scholars and policy makers involved in maritime matters at the Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, was organized by Helen Rozwadowski and Matthew McKenzie, and attended by the above-cited historians Jeffrey Bolster, Lisa Norling, Julie Winch, and Alfred W. Crosby, one of the founders of American environmental history. Some time was spent worrying about what to call this specialty-in-the-making, with �marine environmental history� seeming to enjoy the greatest favor, which reflected not only the slightly toxic character �maritime� still has in some quarters, but also its inability to encompass the non-human aspects of the subject.[17]



 

� ����������And finally, I point as evidence of a freshening of the prospects for maritime-history-by-any- other-name to two recent issues of tThe American Historical Review, the ur-journal of the American academic historical establishment. The June 2006 issue contains a 64-page AHR Forum entitled �Oceans of History,� consisting of five historians, none a specialist in American history, although three are Americans and teach at American universities and many of the books cited are American in subject matter. The Stanford-based Japanese historian and geographer Karen Wigen provided the i�Introduction�; two English-university based historians, Pergrime Horden and Nicholas Purcell, wrote on �The Mediterranean Sea and �the New Thalassology��; the Georgetown-based English historian Alison Games, wrote on �Atlantic History: Definitions, Challenges, and Opportunities�; and the Rutgers-based French historian Matt K. Matsuda wrotes on �the Pacific.� [18]

 Yet even to describe these historians by their national specialities is to miss the point; all present themselves as �oceanic historians,� scholars who focus not a given nation state or piece of dry real estate but on a specific ocean or sea and the immediate coastal regions it washes. �No longer outside time, the sea is being given a history,� � Wigen declared, in her �Introduction,� �even as the history of the world is being retold from the perspective of the sea.� This is not the place to describe the arguments of these scholars, only to suggest that the forum provided speaks well for the future prospects of �oceanic history� in the academy. It bids fair to be every bit as welcome as, a decade ago, �Atlantic history,� and still more recently, �world� or �global history.� Given the oceans� spread over more than two-third of said globe, its chroniclers may fairly lay claim to a lion�s share of the attention to be allotted it. 

As if to reinforce the point of the present fashionableness of �oceanic history,� the editors of the AHR followed up three issues later (February 2008) with the lead article by the American historian W. Jeffrey Bolster, provocatively entitled, �Putting the Ocean in Atlantic History: Maritime Communities and Marine Ecology in the Northwest Atlantic, 1500-1800.� Bolster offers a reorienting reading of the New England/Maritime Provinces region � �or Northeast Shelf large marine ecosystem ({LME) --� from the sea inward, as seen from the perspective of the region�s fishermen and coastal sailors, but also from its once plentiful coastal whales, sturgeon, bass and now extinct flightless birds, Great Auks, a John James Audubon painting of a pair serving as the volume�s cover illustration.. In doing so, Bolster, a professor at the University of New Hampshire, author of the acclaimed Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail (Harvard UP. 1997) and a leader in the marine environmental history movement, allows a note of surprise to slip into his remark that �for histororians, the past has never looked so watery.�[19]


 �������Surely, then, there will be room in the �next new history� for erstwhile American academic historians who make the sea and the coastal regions their scholarly specialty. So, too, the study of those who throughout American history have plied it as sailors, warriors, immigrants (willing and forced), scientists and recreational travelers, Ahabs and Ishmaels, Winslow Homers and Rachel Carsons. If Paris was worth a mass, why is not reclaiming a place in the groves of academe worth a name change? 

� Such a development need not result in the decline of non-academic scholarly and popular interest in the sea and America�s ongoing engagement with it, but would constitute a healthier and more sustainable mix of contributors than has recently characterized the state of American maritime history. Growing public attention to the fragility of the oceans and their role in climate change should alone assure an attentive audience of book buyers and policy makers. It will, however, require on the part of academic historians to get beyond not only traditional labels and national identities, but also our disciplinary specialties and even our anthropocentric perspective. In the AHR forum, Wigen closes her �Introduction� with concludes with a cautionary glimpse of the brave new world of oceanic history: �A fuller engagement with marine biology may one day allow the whales and otters and cod that lured ships out to sea in the first place to take their rightful place in maritime historical studies.� How�s that for inclusiveness, Sam?[20]

 

Robert A. McCaughey
is Professor of History,
Barnard College, Columbia University.



 

 

[1] While the views expressed here are my own, the process by which I came by them benefited from a series of conversations I had in December 2005 with several scholars, both within and without the academy. Especially helpful were the following individuals: Norman Fiering, John B. Hattendorf, Stuart Frank, Glenn Gordinier, Daniel Finamore, Mary Malloy, Mathew McKenzie, Mary K. Bercaw-Edwards, Helen Rozwadowski. Subsequent conversations with Joyce Chaplin, Daniel Vickers, Paul Gilje and John Jensen were also instructive, A cruise on the RV Cornwith Cramer in June 2005, on which were several historians of oceanography affiliated with the Maury Project, allowed further discussions about the intersecting of maritime and environmental history. So, too, the annual NASOH meeting in 2006 on the shores of Lake Michigan provided an opportunity to air these views in even rougher form than they are here. For feedback on this outing, I wish to thank Lincoln Paine and Gene Smith. I also acknowledge the useful discussion generated by a talk in April 2008 at the Herbert Lehman Center for American History, under the auspices of my Columbia colleague, Kenneth T. Jackson,



 

[2] Mark Kurlansky, Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World (New York, 1998) and The Big Oyster : History on the Half-Shell (New York, 2005) ; Lincoln Paine, ed., Ships of the World (Boston, 1997); Jonathan Raban, Passage to Juneau ( New York, 1999); John Rousmaniere, Fastnet, Force 10 (New York, 1980); Dava Sobel, Longitude: The True Story of the a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time (New York, 1996); Evan Thomas, John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy (New York, 2003); Peter Mattheissen, Mens Lives: The Surfmen and Baymen of the South Fork (New York, 1986); John McPhee, Looking for a Ship (New York, 1990); The Founding Fish (New York, 2002)

 

[3] Nathaniel Philbrick, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex (New York, 2000); Sea of Glory: Americas Voyage of Discovery The United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 (New York, 2003); Mayflower: A Study of Courage, Community and War (New York, 2005); Stuart M. Frank, Herman Melvilles picture gallery : sources and types of the pictorial chapters of Moby-Dick (Fairhaven, 1987); Glenn S. Gordinier, Versatility in Crisis: The Merchants of New London Customs District Respond to the Embargo, 1807-09 (UConn Phd, 2001); Norman J. Brouwer, The International Register of Historic Ships (Peekskill, 1999); Daniel Finamore, ed., Maritime History as World History (Gainesville, 2004)



[4] Kenneth J. Hagan, This Peoples Navy: The Making of American Sea Power, (New York, 1991); John B. Hattendorf, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History (New York, 2007); Joshua Smith, Rogues of �Quoddy: Smuggling in the Maine New Brunswick Borderlands, 1783-1820 (UMaine PhD, 2003); Mary Malloy, Boston Men on the Northwest Coast: The American Maritime Fur Trade, 1788-1844 ( San Francisco, 1998)

 

[5] For the Brown story, the author�s conversation with Norman Fiering, December 12, 2005, at the John Carter Brown Library. Benjamin Labaree, William M. Fowler, Jr., John B. Hattendorf, Jeffrey J. Safford, Edward W. Sloan, and Andrew W. German, America and the Sea: A Maritime History (Mystic Seaport, 1998). A more recent contender for the textbook market is Alex Roland, W. Jeffrey Bolster, Alex Keyssar, The Way of the Ship: Reenvisioning American Maritime History (Wiley, 2007)



 

[6] www.nasoh.org.

 

[7] H-Maritime communication, Time Lynch to subscribers, December 8, 9, 2006



 

[8] James Fenimore Cooper, History of the Navy of the United States (New York, 1839); Theodore Roosevelt, The Naval War of 1812 (New York, 1882 ). I follow the view here of John B. Hattendorf, that naval history is properly seen as a part of maritime history, not a separate free-standing subject. Frederick Jackson Turner, � The Significance of the Frontier in American History,� in Ray Allen Billington, ed., Frontier and Section (prentice Hall, 1961) ; Arthur Schlesinger [ Sr]., Colonial Merchants in the American Revolution (New York, 1939)

 

[9] Samuel Eloit Morison, The Maritime History of Massachusetts, 1783-1860 (Boston, 1921); Robert G. Albion, The Rise of New York Port, 1815-1860 (New York, 1939).



[10] On Morison, see Walter Muir Whitehill�s foreword to Sailor Historian: The Best of Samuel Eliot Morison, Emily Morison Beck, ed. (Boston, 1977); Wilcomb Washburn, �Samuel Eliot Morison, Historian,� William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 36 (1979), 325-352;.also, Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, On Albion, Benjamin W. Labaree, ed., The Atlantic World of Robert G. Albion (Middletown, 1975) and Clifton Hood, �Robert G. Albion�s Rise of New York Port, 1815-1860, Reviews in American History, Vol. 27 (June 1999), 171-174. 

 

[11] Bernard Bailyn, The New England Merchants in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge, 1956); with Lotte Bailyn, Massachusetts Shipping, 1697-1714 (Cambridge, 1959); On the current standing of Albion�s, Rise of New York Port, see Hood, op. cit, p. 171.



 

[12] Marcus Rediker, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchants, Seamen, Prates and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750 (Cambridge, 1989); see also , with Peter Linebaugh, Many-Headed Hydra, The: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (Boston, 2000); Jesse Lemisch, �Jack Tar in the Streets: Merchant Seamen in the Politics of Revolutionary America,� William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 25 (1968), 371-407, and �White Oaks, Jack Tar, and the Concept of the �Inarticulate,� WMQ, Vol. 29 (1972), 111-142; E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (London, 1963)

 

[13] Daniel Vickers, Farmers & Fishermen: Two Centuries of Work in Essex County, Massachusetts, 1630-1850 (Chapel Hill, 1994); Young Men and the Sea: Yankee Seafarers in the Age of Sail (New Haven, 2005); Burton Busch, Whaling Will Never Do Me: The American Whaleman in the Nineteenth Century (Lexington, 1994); Paul A. Gilje, Liberty on the Waterfront: American Maritime Culture in the Age of Revolution (Philadelphia, 2004); Daniel Vickers, �Beyond Jack Tar,� William and Mary Quarterly, Vol 50 (1993), 418-424; on Morris, see Philip Ranlet, Richard B. Morris and American History in the Twentieth Century (University Press, 2004).



 

[14] W. Jeffrey Bolster, Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail (Cambridge, 1997); David S. Cicelski, The Watermans Song: Slavery and Freedom in Maritime North Carolina (Chapel Hill, 2001); Arthur Pierce Middleton, Tobacco Coast: A Maritime History of Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era (Newport News, 1953), p. 156-57; Julie Winch, A Gentleman of Color: The Life of James Forten (New York, 2002)

 

[15] Lisa Norling, Captain Ahab Had a Wife: New England Women and the Whale Fishery, 1720-1870 (2000); Margaret Creighton, Rites and Passages: The Experience of American Whaling, 1830-1870 (Cambridge, 1995); Lisa Norling and Margaret Creighton, eds., Iron Men, Wooden Women: Gender and Seafaring in the Atlantic World (Baltimore, 1996) ; Elaine Forman Crane, Ebb Tide in New England: Women, Seaports and Social Change (Boston, 1998)



 

[16] Helen Rozwadoski, Fathoming the Ocean: Discovery and Exploration of the Deep Sea (Cambridge, 2005) ; Joyce Chaplin, The First Scientific American (New York, 2006); D. Graham Burnett, Trying Leviathan: The Nineteenth-Century New York Court Case That Put the Whale on Trial and Challenged the Odrer of Nature (Princeton UP, 2007); Nathaniel Philbrick, Sea of Glory, cited above. Rozwadowski�s writing plans discussed with the author, December 11, 2005, University of Connecticut, Avery Point.

 

[17] New England Mariine Environmental History Workshop, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, May 2005. See W. Jeffrey Bolster, �Opportunities in Marine Environmental History,� Environmental History , Vol. 11, No. 3 (July 2006), 567-596.



 

[18] Karen Wigen, Peregrine Horden, Nicholas Purcell, Alison Games, Matt K. Matsuda, �AHR Forum: Oceans of History,� The American Historical Review, Vol. 111 (June 2006), pp. 717-780.



[19] W. Jeffrey Bolster, �Putting the Ocean in Atlantic History: Maritime Communities and Marine Ecology 
� in the Northwest Atlantic,� The American Historical Review, Vol. 112, No.1 (February 2008), 19-47.

 

[20] Wigen, op. cit.,, p. 721


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