Whaling Captains of Color by Skip Finley is a fascinating exploration of the lives of multicultural whalemen, mostly unknown to us until now, during the eighteenth and nineteenth century in America.
New England was very influential in shaping the industry of whaling, specifically, Nantucket, New Bedford, and Martha's Vineyard. "Nantucket, the first place to end slavery in America," and surrounding New England states, were sought out by men of color as a haven. "Liberating them from a state of slavery," whaling proved to be “a better choice for a black man than slavery, but it was often a faster track to the grave as well.”
The author realistically depicts what life was like for men aboard whaling ships and the business of hunting whales, "the second most dangerous American occupation after mining," and what motivated men to endure such dangerous working conditions. “Besides selling their land, whaling was essentially the only way Native American men of color could receive such financial windfalls.” Thus, establishing the financial cornerstone upon which many of these men built their legacies.
Skip Finley thoughtfully honors and illustrates how the men of color in this book shaped commercial whaling, one of America’s earliest global industries.
I highly recommend this book.