The more I study the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, a region where I’ve worked one-two weeks every month for the past year and a half, the more I see the connection of the region’s trade and politics to the history of New Orleans. Cotton especially poured into Mexico from this busy port and other goods were sent back to New Orleans.
I edited the memoirs of W.C. Flanders, one of the early 19th century settlers in New Orleans, was a man who loved the sea. At the age of fifteen, he ran away from home to follow his calling, which he never abandoned until into his old age. He experienced the sailor’s life, progressing from cabin boy to captain, working ships from sail to steam, running blockades, sailing in peace and war and through storm and calm. He embraced all these hazards as well as the joys of his vocation. The sea was his muse as well as his instructor and the details of his memoirs provide many valuable insights into a seaman’s life. He was an eyewitness to an important period of American history, and his memoir will be of interest to anyone who has heard the siren call of the sea.
Here’s a short excerpt from the book:
|After some trouble, I shipped as a cabin boy upon the brig Hampton, bound for New Orleans at a salary of five dollars per month. This was about the year 1826, and I was then fifteen years old, with a limited education, yet determined to try my fortune entirely among strangers, many of them rough cast. We left Boston with a fair wind and proceeded down the bay, and to sea, having aboard a dozen passengers. Soon the long sea swell was experienced, and the usual effect produced upon the stomachs of our heretofore merry passengers. They were soon berthed and only groans of bitter distress heard, as they paid tribute to Neptune.
The weather continued favorable and in a few days, the passengers growing accustomed to the motion of the vessel, began to occupy their seats at the table, and found themselves possessors of voracious appetites, as I found to my sorrow before many days. During the sad experience of the passengers, I was no better off, and like them would have succumbed, but upon the least hanging back the terrible voice of the Captain would bring me to my line of duty.
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