CHARLES W. MORGAN: Diversity Aboard the Ship

Mate George Parkin Christian (great-grandson of Fletcher Christian of the HMS BOUNTY) and 4th mate Antone Alameda aboard CHARLES W. MORGAN .

Mate George Parkin Christian (great-grandson of Fletcher Christian of the HMS Bounty) and 4th mate Antone Alameda aboard the Charles W. Morgan.

Nineteenth-century New England whaleships have long been known for the remarkable diversity of their crews, and by looking at the crew lists of the Charles W. Morgan, we clearly see her as an example of that diversity.

During her first voyage (1841 to 1845), the ship left port with a relatively homogeneous crew, at least 14 of whom came from the captain’s home port of Martha’s Vineyard. Several names from the first voyage’s crew list hint at the ethnic diversity which was already common aboard whaling ships of the era. On this voyage we can identify Thomas Kanaka as a Polynesian (Kanana being the Hawaiian word for man or person).Although his name doesn’t give away his origin, George Morgan was a Tahitian teenager. Zenas Gould was a Wampanoag or “Gay Head Indian,” who sailed on the second voyage as well.

The first identifiable African-American aboard the Morgan served with Nelson Cole Haley on the third voyage (1849-53).He was Benjamin Olney, 23, of Newport, Rhode Island. On the fourth voyage (1853-56), Samuel H. Haines of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was described as having a black complexion and “curly” hair. It is possible, though not definite, that he was an African-American.

The largest number of African-Americans (three) served on the Morgan‘s fifth voyage (1856-59). Of particular note is David Carrington, 34, of Newburgh, New York, who signed aboard the vessel as third mate, and is the only African-American officer to have served on the Morgan.

During the sixth voyage (1859-63), there were two African-American sailors aboard, each for a year at a time. The last clearly identifiable African-American to serve on the Morgan was aboard during the seventh voyage (1863-67). Thereafter the African-American presence aboard the vessel was replaced by African West Indians and by African-Portuguese from the Cape Verde Islands.

Cape Verdean names (or New England interpretations of them) appear on nearly all of the Morgan‘s crewlists, and in officers’ positions after the Civil War. Pacific islanders were commonly recruited as replacement labor aboard American whalers. During the Morgan‘s call at Ponape in the Caroline Islands (fifth voyage), Friday, Joe and Tom Ascension joined the crew. On the following voyage, Bill, Bob, Frank, Friday, Jack and Peter “Rotomar” joined the ship at Rotuma, north of Fiji.

After the Morgan began operating out of San Francisco in 1887, her crews reflected the islands of the Pacific even more. Men from Guam served on most of her voyages from San Francisco. Enos Aflague, Joaquin de la Cruz, Lino Patricio, Jose Santos and Pedro Taitano were Spanish subjects when they signed aboard in 1897. They became Americans with the signing of the treaty concluding the Spanish-American War. The first Japanese sailor to serve aboard was N. Matsutara, who shipped in 1890.Thereafter a number of Japanese men sailed aboard the Morgan.

Emanuel F. Morgan was a native of Mauritius and served as first mate on several voyages. Europeans came aboard from Sweden, Norway, England, Ireland, Scotland, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Portugal. Island men shipped on board from the West Indies, St. Helena and Guam. South Americans from Chile and Peru were aboard. Crewmen who had been born in Russia and India worked on the Morgan. Clearly the vessel is a living example of the remarkable diversity so common at sea. The Charles W. Morgan was a home for citizens of the world.