Mailing List:2007-01-17 01, Re: Samuel Austin Whitney - a Bold New England Rover, by Jon Whitney

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Mailing List Archives > 2007-01-17 01, Re: Samuel Austin Whitney - a Bold New England Rover, by Jon Whitney

From: Jonathan Whitney <ccreview -at-> Subject: Re: [WHITNEY] Samuel Austin Whitney - a Bold New England Rover Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2007 09:41:14 -0600 References: <> In-Reply-To: <> Reads as though enterprising soul should make a movie. On Jan 16, 2007, at 12:41 PM, Farns10th -at- wrote: > Samuel Austin Whitney > A Bold New England Rover > by S. R. Dennen, D. D. > > p.1 Part 1. > Source: Cornell Library > Cornell Education > Making of America. > > > > > Few family names have been more conspicuous in our New England > annals than > that of Whitney. > Few families have contributed more to the things that are > beneficent and > valuable in our > midst. The characteristic push and courage of the Whtineys of > earlier days > have been trans- > mitted to their descendants. Whenever you find anything > significant among us > in invention, > in art, in music, in manufacture and enterprise, in politics or > religion, > you are very apt > to find the name of Whitney on the father's side or on the mother's > side. > Few of this good > New England name of Whitney have been more remarkable thant the > adventurous > man who is the > subject of this brief sketch. > > Samuel Austin Whitney was born September 27, 1770 at Concord, > Massachusetts, > a town that has > reared more great men and women than almost any place in all our > borders. > When five or six > years of age his parents removed to Boston. Here he received as > thorough an > education as the > Boston schools then afforded. At the age of twenty or twenty-one, > the > family emigrated to > Castine in the province of Maine; and it was here that he entered > upon his > noted career of > business. > > When a lade he was frail and developed a tendency to consumption, that > scourge of New England. > Several brothers had died of the same disease. Young Samuel > Whitney was > sent on a sea voyage > in the hope of strengthening his constitution. While in a foreign > port he > was seized with the > small-pox and lay for weeks at the point of death. He finally > recovered and > all physical weak- > ness was gone and with it all tendency to pulmonary disease. No > more robust > and healthy man, > to the end of his days, could be found. This voyage in quest of > health > roused in him a love > of the sea and a sailor's life. > > The people of the province of Maine, moreover, were a ship-building > and > sea-faring people. > What wonder, then, that the enterprising young man should turn to > the sea as > a means of getting > on in the world? At this time, when young men looked forward to a > home and > family of their own, > none of them to a life of single selfishness, he became interested > in a > beautiful young woman of > his own village. A mutual attachment sprang up between them. Her > taste, > however, was not for the > sea. She was a lands-woman. She refused to be married unless > young Whitney > would quit the sea. > He was in a strait betwixt two - desiring to follow his sailor's > life, but > desiring still more, > the companionship of the girl whom he loved. > > Like the toper who resolves to leave off his cups by taking a final > glass, > young Whitney deter- > mined to make one more voyage. This should be the last. He would > then quit > the quarterdeck > and leave the sea-breezes and excitement of the sailor's life > behind him, > marry and settle down > as a sober business man and pater-familias. We find him, > therefore, in the > summer of 1796, at > Plantation Number 2, in the district of Penobscot, some sixteen > miles from > Castine, busily at > work building the ship, Hiram, a staunch vessel in which to sail > his last > voyage and make his > farewell bow to Neptune. > > To be continued - Part 2 - p. 2. > Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth > > A Bold New England Rover > Samuel Austin Whitney > by S. R. Dennen, D. D. > Part 2. > p.2 > > November of 1796 finds his vessel completed and loaded with a > valuable cargo > of ship-timber and > oil of spruce. On the 7th of December she spread her sails and > cleared for > Liverpool. We may add > here that at the age of twenty-six, Samuel A. Whitney was sole > owner of the > ship Hiram and her > entire cargo. He both built and loaded the ship, and that at an > age when > most young men, > Micawber like, are waiting for something to turn up. He was also an > accomplished ship-master > and sailed his own vessel. > > All went well and promised a profitable venture, when lo ! On the > afternoon > of January 4th, 1797, > he was sighted and chased by the French privateer, La Vengeance. > Night shut > down before the ship > Hiram was overtaken. But all through the darkness the privateer > watched, > ready to spring upon her > prey as soon as daylight reddened the eastern horizon. > > Two shots were fired across her bows and she was ordered to lay to. > Promptly the command was obeyed. > A boat was sent to take off the young Captain and his papers. > Once on board > the privateer Whitney > gave a frank answer to all questions and delivered up his papers. > Under the > pretense that his papers > were not regular, his ship was seized together with his crew with the > exception of the first and second > mates were taken out, and a crew of fifteen Frenchmen, under a > prize-master, > put onboard and ordered > to some port in France or Spain. Scarcely had the excitement of > the capture > quieted down, when four > hours later, the ship Hiram was recaptured by an English man-of- > war - the > ship, Clyde, and brought > into Portsmouth, England. > > After going through the High Court of Admiralty, and being ordered > to pay > the value of one-eigth of his > ship and cargo, and give the court a grand dinner, to which he was > not even > invited, and innumerable > annoyances and delays, Whitney sailed for Liverpool, where he > disposed of > his outward cargo and reloaded > with a valuable assorted return freight - sailing for Savannah, > Georgia, on > August 2nd. > > For a time all went well, and visions of home cheered the hearts of > all on > board. On the 13th of Sept- > ember, he was again sighted by a French sloop-of-war, pursued and > captured. > His crew, with the except- > ion of Henry Whitney, his seventeen year old brother, one man, and > a twelve > year old boy, were taken > off the Hiram and ten Frenchmen, under a prize captain, put on > board and > ordered to Cayenne. > > Capt. Samuel Whitney determined, after measuring the calibre of > his captors, > to retake his ship. Four > days afterwards he put his resolve into execution. His own story, as > related in a letter written from > Martinique, November 18, 1800, to a gentleman in Boston, and > published in > the Mercury and New England > Palladium on January 16, 1801: > > "I arrived here the 13th instant, after being twice taken and > retaken, and > one hundred and two days at > sea..... > To be continued Part 3 - p.3 > Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth. > > Samuel Austin Whitney > A Bold New England Rover > by S. R. Dennen, D. D. > > p.3 Part 3. > Source: Cornell Library > Cornell Education > Making of America. > > His own story, as related in a letter written from Martinique, > November 18, > 1800, to a gentleman in Boston, and published in the Mercury and > New England > Palladium on January 16, 1801: > > "I arrived here the 13th instant, after being twice taken and > retaken, and > one hundred and two days at > sea. I left Liverpool the 2nd of August and on the 13th of > September, being > in longitude 55 and latitude > 29, I was taken by a French sloop-of-war, and all my people taken > out, > except Harry, (aged seventeen years), > one man, and a boy twelve years of age, an apprentice of mine; and > manned > with ten Frenchmen, and ordered > to Cayenne. I, being determined on an attempt to retake my ship, > on first > discovering her to be French, > loaded my pistols and hid them in a crate of ware, which had I not > done I > should have lost them, for no > less than three different times were my trunks searched for them, > as were > the cabin and all parts of the > ship which they could come at. They found my ammunition, but my > pistols were > secure; and such was their > extreme caution that they would not allow any man to be off deck, > but ate, > drank and slept on deck. > > "Finding that I could not obtain any advantage of them by getting them > below, I determined to attack them > openly by daylight. Therefore, at about four o'clock, on the > fourth day > after being taken, I secured my > pistols in my waistband, having previously told Harry and my man > of my > determination, and directed them > to have a couple of handspikes where they could clasp their hands > upon them > in an instant, and when they > saw me - begin to come to my assistance. The prize-master was now > asleep on > the weather hen-coop, his > mate at the wheel. The master started up so quick that I could get > but a > very slight strike at him, upon > which he drew his dirk upon me, but I closed in with him, sallied > him out of > the quarter-rail and threw > him overboard. > > "But he caught by the main chains, and so escaped going into the > water. By > this time I had the remaining > eight upon me, two of whom I knocked backwards over the quarter- > deck, and > Harry and my man coming aft > at this time with handspikes, played their part so well among them > that I > soon got relieved. I then drew > a pistol and shot in the head one fellow, who was coming at me with a > broad-axe. The ball only cut him to > the bone, and then glanced, but it had an excellent effect, by > letting the > rest know that I had pistols, of > which they had no idea. By this time, the mate, whom I had first > knocked > down, had recovered, and ran down > to his trunk and got a pistol, which he fired directly at my man's > face, but > the ball missed him. The prize- > master, whom I hove over the quarter, got in again, and stabbed > Harry in the > side, but not so bad as to > oblige him to give out till we had conquered. > > "In this situation we had it pell-mell for about a quarter of an > hour, when > we got them a-running, and > followed them on, knocking down the hindmost, two or three times > around the > deck, when a part of them > escaped below, and the rest begged for mercy, which we granted on > their > delivering up their weapons, which > consisted of a discharged pistol, a midshipman's dirk, a broad-axe, > and > hand-saw, etc. We then marched them > aft into the cabin and brought them up one at a time, after strictly > searching them, and confined them > down forward." > > To be continued - Part 4 - p.4 > Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth > > Samuel Austin Whitney > A Bold New England Rover > by S. R. Dennen, D. D. > > p.4 Part 4 of 4 Parts. > Source: Cornell Library > Cornell Education > Making of America. > > > Ten days after this daring action the Hiram was again captured by > a French > privateer from Guadaloupe. > The vessel was now plundered of all her cargo to the value of > eight or ten > thousand pounds sterling, a > crew of fifteen Frenchmen put on board to take care of one Yankee > captain > and a little boy and ordered > into Gaudaloupe. But the Frenchmen were ignoramuses, knowing > nothing about > sailing the vessel. After > floundering about for many days and nearly wrecking the Hiram, > they were > forced to call on Captain > Whitney to take the wheel. This he did, meaning to bring her into > Savannah. > In this he failed, and > steered for Port Royal, Martinique, then in possession of the > English. When > off the harbor, on the > 11th of November, he was captured, as he meant to be, by an English > man-of-war, under Rear-Admiral > Duckworth, and brought into port. A second time he went through > the prize > court, paid his condemnation, > costs of the court, and salvage. A few weeks later he sailed for > Savannah, > with a large fleet of merchant > vessels, under convoy of an English man-of-war. He abandoned or > sold the > Hiram for a mere trifle and > returned overland to Castine. This ended his sea-life. This > eventful voyage > consumed more than a year of > time and entailed a loss of many thousands of dollars. This is the > subject > of one of the French spoliation > suits now before the Court of Claims. > > Shall we glance a moment at this plucky seaman's subsequent fortunes? > Nothing daunted, he entered at once > into active business. He married and began a most energetic new > career. The > same indomitable will and push > that marked him as a sailor, remained with him on the land. He > crossed > Penobscot Bay and located at the > mouth of Duck Trap River and began the town of Lincolnville, > Maine. The > river was bridged, a dam built, > a saw-mill, grist-mill, carding-mill and shipyard all put in > successful > operation. Here he built a large > number of vessels. His fortune, however, was a chequered one. The > river on > whose banks he cast his lot, > was a fickle and treacherous one. It drained a large and steep > watershed > and was subject to sudden and > fierce overflows. He went to bed at night with all snug and safe, > only to > wake in the morning and find > bridge, mills, dam, shipyard - all swept away, and thousands of logs > floating in the bay. He was not > even bent by the storm. Noontime found him courageously at work > repairing > his shattered fortunes; bridge, > dam, mills, and shipyard sprang back to life as if by magic. > > This same disaster befell him again and again; with each recurrence he > quickly rallied and rebuilt what the > flood had destroyed. He built the village of Lincolnville and > owned nearly > every house in that place. He > was not only a remarkable business man, his character was remarkable. > Richly endowed with every noble > and generous trait, his influence was felt far and wide. His > touch put life > into individuals and into > enterprises. His enthusiasm and hopefulness were inspiring at a > time when > these were needed on the rough > frontier of the Province of Maine. > > As a generous landlord and employer, he was beloved by the whole > community, > most of whom were his employees. > As a benevolent man his hand was open to all calls for aid. As a > citizen he > was active and wise in all public affairs. He was especially so > in the > transition period when the Province of Maine took on inde- > pendent Statehood, and cut loose from Massachusetts. He gave time > and money > without stint to the new State, > and entered enthusiastically into all that concerned the public weal. > > His intense activity and nervous strain told on him at length, and > mind and > body wasted slowly away. His > life, little known indeed in the broader fields of history, was a > strong, > typical New England life. His > sons, also, were among the most honored and enterprising in the land. > Samuel Whitney and John P. Whitney > were to New Orleans what Amos and Abbott Lawrence were to Boston. > When John > P. Whitney died, the flags > on the public buildings and shipping in Liverpool and London were > placed at > half-mast, an honor accorded > to few Americans. > > Such men as Samuel Austin Whitney are to be remembered and their > names are > to be cherished. From such services it is that New England and, > indeed, the > whole nation, derive their courage, their ingenuity, their > enterprise, their > public spirit and their honor. > End. > Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth > > ------------------------------- > To unsubscribe from the list, please send an email to WHITNEY- > request -at- with the word 'unsubscribe' without the quotes > in the subject and the body of the message >

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