Annapolisby William Martin
From the days of pirate raids on the Chesapeake to swift-boat actions in Vietnam, the Staffords and their traditional rivals, the Parrishes, struggle with foreign enemies and each other to build a navy and a nation. They march across the deserts of Tripoli, sail into the South Seas to battle the British and dally with the native girls, fight aboard the Merrimac
From the days of pirate raids on the Chesapeake to swift-boat actions in Vietnam, the Staffords and their traditional rivals, the Parrishes, struggle with foreign enemies and each other to build a navy and a nation. They march across the deserts of Tripoli, sail into the South Seas to battle the British and dally with the native girls, fight aboard the Merrimac and the Monitor, fly into the battle of Midway, and look into the living faces of all four men on Mount Rushmore.
When Stafford descendant Susan Browne sets out to film a documentary about her famous ancestry, her work sweeps her into the past, to celebrate Stafford victories, mourn their losses, and confront their secrets. Annapolis is William Martin's most ambitious novel, a tale of romance and courage, honor and patriotism, an ode to the men and women who have made the proud traditions of the United States Navy.
From the start, the Staffords (who arrived in the New World in 1634) went down to the sea in ships and did business in great waters. Settling in both the Patuxent River Valley (to raise tobacco) and Annapolis, the tidewater family prospered. After the US gained independence, scions of the clan were blooded in the nascent Navy's campaign against Barbary Coast pirates and in action against British ships of the line during the War of 1812. Midshipman Jason Stafford survived these close encounters (as well as an idyllic stopover in the South Pacific's Marquesas Islands) to achieve high rank. During the Civil War, his sons served on Union gunboats and on Confederate raiders. Their largely male descendants went on to play supporting roles in the Spanish-American War, the founding of the Naval Academy, the Battle of Midway, and other turning-point events that marked America's emergence as a dominant naval power. Staffords also fought valiantly in the riverine jungles of Vietnam and, flying carrier-based attack planes, in the unfriendly skies over the Persian Gulf. Martin's long story is artfully kept within comprehensible limits by the latter-day activities of a maverick Stafford, liberal journalist Jack, who's writing a painfully detailed account of his family's odyssey, and by a distant cousin assigned to produce a PBS-TV special on the family. Their colloquies and inquiries provide continuity and perspective in a narrative whose serial protagonists are steeped in the tradition of doing violence with honor.
A lively, engrossing saga that brings epic chapters of US history out of the archival hold into the bracing air of the quarterdeck.
- Tom Doherty Associates
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By William Martin
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 1996 William Martin
All rights reserved.
The Stafford Story
Book One Jedediah's Credo July 1745
"One son for the soil and one son for the sea."
That was what Jedediah Stafford said to his wife on the bright summer morning that the Lord blessed them with their second boy.
And his wife understood, because she had labored with him to bring tobacco from the soil, and she knew what happened when pirates came from the sea.
Both sons would follow their father's credo, and so would the generations that came after. Sometimes more than two sons arrived in a generation, and sometimes there were daughters, who could be as independent as the Chesapeake tide. But each generation understood. Each fought its own pirates and fit Jedediah's credo to its own times.
One son for the soil and one son for the sea. One for family and one for nation. For plantation and privateer. For free soil and slave state. For the Big Stick and the democratic dream. For a polyglot nation forged finally to a single purpose. For unquestioned loyalty faced finally with a questioning conscience.
From that summer day in 1745, the Staffords lived by a credo of opposites, opposites linked by the imperfect logic of history.
But it all began with soil and sea ... and pirates.
ii Little Jed and the Pirates
Jedediah Stafford was six years old when he first went to Annapolis.
The year was 1712, and the English queen had given her name to both the capital of Maryland and the current war with France.
Queen Anne's War had brought French pirates and privateers into the Chesapeake. But in Queen Anne's capital, life continued apace. And when word went out that a ship had arrived from the Indies, carrying molasses, spices, and two dozen black Africans consigned to tidewater plantations, Jedediah's father decided it was high time for his son to see Annapolis.
Thomas Stafford was known as one of the best judges of black flesh in the Maryland colony. It was a skill he had learned from his father, who had learned from his before him. And Thomas meant to teach it to his son. That, he said, was the natural order of things.
And the Staffords had followed the natural order of things since they arrived in 1634, with thirteen other Catholic families and a charter from a Protestant king. They had settled between the rivers that the Indians called Patawomek and Patuxent. There they had built a capital called Saint Mary's City and the first Catholic church in English America. Then they had set about the business of cultivating the weed that the Indians had taught the first Europeans to smoke, a weed with the power to invigorate or relax, depending only upon the way a man smoked it.
Life, to be sure, had not been easy. Planters had faced the vagaries of weather and London markets and their own vexing inexperience, but by the grace of God, English ships had soon begun following rivers and creeks to every plantation on the tidewater, where docks sagged under the wondrous weight of tobacco hogsheads.
English ships had also brought Puritans, who wished to settle on the Severn River, some sixty miles up the Chesapeake. So the Catholics of Saint Mary's had proclaimed the Toleration Act, protecting Puritans, Anglicans, and anyone else who sought the grace of God on the great bay.
But by the time that little Jedediah was born, it was the Catholics who begged for toleration in a colony grown more Protestant with each generation; it was the Catholics who had attacked the Severn settlement when the Puritans took power and tried to stop them from practicing their faith; it was the Catholics who had seen Saint Mary's City wither while the Severn settlement became the new capital.
Through it all, the Staffords had worked their Patuxent plantation, practiced their faith quietly, and called themselves good Englishmen. And while they grew tobacco, the house they called Stafford Hall grew from four rooms to six and then to eight, their holdings grew, and the province grew as well, not only with free Englishmen, but with indentured servants contracted to labor seven years in return for passage, and black Africans chained to labor forever for nothing.
Thomas Stafford's sloop, the Patuxent, was crewed by four indentured servants and could make seven knots with a good breeze. In light summer airs, however, the trip to Annapolis took twelve hours, and it was dusk when they dropped anchor under the shore battery at the mouth of the Severn.
That evening father and son made a fine picture strolling the streets of Annapolis. Thomas Stafford was blessed with good height, a rugged lean body, and a forthright gaze that made men believe him, whether he was sealing an agreement or making a threat. And people said he would never need a will to guarantee his son's inheritance; all it would take was one look at the boy's face.
"This, lad, is a city. Granted, 'tisn't much of a one. But it'll grow. Be sure of that. And England'll see that a colony born of toleration can be a prosperous place — even when the toleration fades — prosperous enough to support a fine city."
Jedediah thought that if "city" meant crowded dwellings, piles of steaming horse dung in the streets, and the stink of the local leather tanneries choking everything, then a city was not worthy of his father's enthusiasm.
But when other memories of his father had faded, the boy needed only to think of Annapolis and he would feel his father's strong hand holding his once more, hear again the enthusiasm in his father's voice. "See how fine it's laid out, lad — straight streets, public circles for the public buildings, slanted streets joining the circles. Just like London after the Great Fire, except it sits on this fine prospect above the Severn."
They were climbing the hill at the back of the town, but Jedediah was not interested in the fine prospect, because the mosquitoes were biting his neck.
The father led his son around the circle atop the hill and admired the government house from every angle. "What finer place could there be for the royal proprietor to dispense the law of this new land?" he exulted.
Then he led the boy a short distance to a second, smaller circle on a second, smaller hill, to admire the golden finial on the spire of Saint Anne's Church. "And what better place for a bishop to dispense the law of God, even an Anglican bishop?"
"Ma's an Anglican."
And Thomas Stafford's enthusiasm waned. In a land where women were scarce, he had married one who was not a Catholic. She had reluctantly agreed to raise their son in her husband's faith, and her husband had suffered greatly for the pain this caused her. But in front of their son, they had showed only their love.
And next morning Thomas Stafford showed only a brave face when a rumor ran around the waterfront that a French schooner was loose in the lower Chesapeake.
"Pirate or privateer?" asked someone in the crowd gathering for the landing of the slaves.
"What does it matter?" demanded Thomas Stafford. "A privateer's no better than a pirate with a license. I'm Admiralty agent for the Patuxent, and I guarantee the Royal Navy don't let pirates or privateers into the Chesapeake. So us Staffords, we'll sail where we will."
Such confidence calmed both the crowd and the boy.
When the slaves came off the ship, the pirates were forgotten altogether.
But Jedediah would never forget the sight of those black bodies. His father had ordered five males on consignment, five fine young breeders, and he paid a top price of twenty-five pounds apiece. The slaves had been fed and exercised on their ship, then washed down and well-oiled, so that their skin would shine and their muscles ripple, and their buyer would not reject them. But no amount of cleaning could cover up the fear in their wide, white eyes or quiet the furious clanging of their manacles after they had been chained to the mast of the Patuxent.
They seemed much wilder than the slaves at Stafford Hall, and all the way down the bay, Jedediah watched them with a combination of fascination and fear.
"They smell funny, Pa."
"They're afraid. Once they see how we treat 'em, they'll be as docile as old mares."
Then one of them growled and pulled at his chains.
The little boy jumped back. "He's like an animal, Pa."
"Well, son, there's some would say that in some ways he is a poor dumb creature that the Lord gives us to care for. We'll do our best, just as we always have."
IN THE FRESHENING breeze, they made the run back to the Patuxent in half the time it took to sail up the bay. They were just passing Hog Point, at the river's mouth, when a sixteen-year-old indentured servant named Nervous Duncan Parrish spied a sail.
"Big schooner, makin' fast." Thomas Stafford peered through his glass. "A good three miles away yet."
"Can you see a flag?" asked Nervous Duncan.
"No, but that means nothin'."
"It damn do." Nervous Duncan seldom held his tongue, and never when his nerves got the better of him. "It mean she got a reason for not showin'. I say she's a pirate."
"We'll keep an eye on her and keep the four-pounders ready."
"Four-pounders?" Nervous Duncan spun one of the little cannon mounted at the stern. "Fight a pirate ship with a pair of four-pound swivels? Pirates kill people who fight 'em. Except for slaves and little ones. Them they steal and sell."
Jedediah's father told Duncan to go below if he could not hold his tongue. He spoke calmly, but Jedediah saw the worry in his father's face, especially when that two-master rounded Hog Point and headed upstream after them.
"Is they really pirates, Pa?"
"No. 'Sides, the Patuxent is the fastest sloop on the river."
But over the next hour, the big schooner came on, riding a full spread of canvas like a black-hulled spirit.
Then the winds grew erratic. One moment, Patuxent had the air and widened the distance; then the wind faded upstream while it gusted below, and the schooner shot ahead, sometimes all the way into cannon range. But she didn't fire, and Jedediah's father said that was a good sign. The fluky airs, however, were not.
Soon the sky turned a strange yellowing black, and little Jedediah felt the hairs stand up on the back of his neck. Such a thing had never happened before, but he sensed that it meant something worse would happen soon. And the squall hit with a hammer blow that almost rolled the Patuxent on her beam end. Then the first thunderclap exploded in their face. Then ragged forks of lightning slashed down all around. Then the Patuxent was swallowed into a black belly of wind and rain.
But Thomas Stafford kept all sails set, letting the winds push the Patuxent far and fast upstream. And even little Jedediah realized the danger. His father had never run through a squall before, saying it was a good way to blow a sloop to pieces, not to be done unless there was greater danger in taking in sail and letting the storm pass.
But it worked. When the rain blew off, the schooner was gone and the afternoon sun came cutting through the clouds in brilliant blades of gold.
"Was they really pirates, Pa?"
"Royal Navy don't let pirates in the Chesapeake. My bet is they were merchants, puttin' in downstream. Just means more work for me, of course. Admiralty agent has to make certain everyone pays their duties."
At Stafford Hall, Thomas told his wife that Nervous Duncan had gotten more nervous than usual and started everyone worrying with talk of pirates. Then he showed her his customs book to convince her that one of the downstream planters had been expecting a big schooner.
As his mother tucked Jedediah into bed that night, the boy searched her eyes for signs of fear and saw none. If his father could convince his mother that there was no reason to worry, Jedediah knew it was safe to surrender to the exhaustion rolling over him.
LOUD VOICES AWAKENED him some time later. Loud voices and the pounding of the plantation bell and the strange flickering light on the ceiling of his room.
So he crawled out of bed and went stumbling to the front dormer. At first he could see nothing but the scrawny shadows of the sycamores that his father had planted between the road and the house. Then his eyes found light in the darkness, and he saw Nervous Duncan pounding the bell by the hitching post, and he heard above the bell the cry "Pirates!"
He scuttled to the window that looked toward the river and saw torches casting their strange, flickering light, bobbing up the rolling road from the wharf, as though carried by evening guests. But no evening guest had ever before thrown a torch into one of the slave huts or herded screaming slaves toward his ship.
And then strong arms pulled Jedediah away from the window.
"Pa! What's —"
"Be still, boy."
Jedediah was swept up in his father's arms and rushed through the darkness to the top of the stairs, where his father stopped and gasped the Lord's name.
Through the stairwell window, Jedediah saw the torches crossing the back lawn, poking into the smokehouse, moving toward the servants' quarters, surrounding the main house, as calmly as wolves flanking a deer.
Then a gunshot silenced the alarm bell.
Then came another gunshot, closer by, and the sound of breaking glass. His father said the Lord's name again, and suddenly Jedediah was plunging through the darkness, riding his father down the stairs, across the hall, into the study.
He was set down before the fireplace and told again to be quiet. Someone was fumbling to unlock the closet beside the fireplace, and for a moment, in the light of the torches flickering past the windows, he did not know that it was his mother.
Then she said, "Don't worry, little Jed. You'll be safe in a second." Her voice was shaking, and she smelled of the same fear he had smelled on the slaves.
"Be quick, Elizabeth." Jedediah's father grabbed the brace of pistols he kept loaded on the mantelpiece.
And the voice of old Cicero, the house slave who slept off the kitchen, came screaming ahead of him. "Marse Tom! Marse Tom! They's in the house!"
"Jesus God!" cried his mother. "In the house."
In the house. Jedediah realized now what this was — a bad dream. In the house. But it was a long house, expanded over the years like an ever-lengthening row of boxes, one room deep, eight rooms long, with the study in the middle.
"Stay calm, Elizabeth." Jedediah's father put himself between his family and the dining room door. "Just press the third board down from the ceiling. And —"
Old Cicero's white hair appeared. "They's in the dinin' room." And a gun went off behind him, thundering like a cannon, splattering him into the room.
Jedediah was too shocked to scream, and shock became terror when a huge shadow appeared in the doorway, holding a blunderbuss. "Ah, la petite famille."
And Jedediah's father shot the Frenchman right in the forehead.
Jedediah screamed at the flash and the thunderous roar of the pistol.
"Quiet, boy." His father calmly shot the next pirate through the door, then sprang to the bodies, pulled their pistols, and peered across the dining room. "The rest are in the kitchen, breaking things. Hide the boy, Elizabeth, and hide yourself."
"You come, too."
"I defend my family or I'm no man."
"Then I'll defend it with you."
And there was no time to argue, because they were coming. Jedediah's father raised a pistol and fired at another pirate.
Jedediah's mother dragged him through the gunsmoke-choked darkness to the closet and shoved him into the tiny passageway that ran up along the chimney to the bedroom above. "Stay there, darlin'. Don't come out for anything. No matter what you hear."
"And be quiet," said his father.
"We love you," said his mother, and she closed the panel, sealing the boy into the wall, into complete blackness, where sound was the only sense.
He heard his father tell his mother to hide the tea service in the closet, where it would be easy to find. "That'll satisfy 'em when they open the door." And silver jangled in the space below him. Then the closet door was shut and sounds were muffled. And that was by the grace of God.
Because there were more gunshots, deep-throated growls and high-pitched cries, the sounds of scuffling feet and grappling bodies. Then a gunshot brought a scream that seemed to cut through the wall itself and right into Jedediah's belly.
It was his mother's voice, and the scream went on and on until Jedediah brought his hands to his ears in the blackness. They had killed his father. He knew.
Then the closet door opened below him. The pirate murderers were just feet away. He could see the torchlight through the cracks in the rough closet walls. Someone grabbed the silver, and he prayed they would not hear him whimpering.
Then his mother screamed, "Get off! No. Get off!"
Then she screamed as though pierced by a knife, and the pirates roared with laughter, until a gunshot caused screaming and laughter to stop suddenly, and the boy knew that his mother was dead too. He heard a body thump to the floor. He shivered, but he was too frightened to cry.
Then a man said something, though it was hard to understand because he spoke so strangely. "He no rape you with a bullet in him."
"He's raped enough," growled a woman's voice. "And killed."
Excerpted from Annapolis by William Martin. Copyright © 1996 William Martin. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
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Meet the Author
WILLIAM MARTIN, The New York Times bestselling author of ten novels, is best known for his historical fiction, which has chronicled the lives of the great and the anonymous in American history while bringing to life legendary American locations, from Cape Cod to Annapolis to The City of Dreams. His first novel, Back Bay, introduced Boston treasure hunter Peter Fallon, who is still tracking artifacts across the landscape of our national imagination. Martin's subsequent novels, including Harvard Yard, Citizen Washington, and The Lost Constitution have established him, as a "storyteller whose smoothness matches his ambition." (Publishers Weekly) He has also written an award-winning PBS documentary and one of the cheesiest horror movies ever made. Nevertheless, he was the recipient of the 2005 New England Book Award, given to "an author whose body of work stands as a significant contribution to the culture of the region." There are now over three million copies of his books in print. He has three grown children and lives near Boston with his wife
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If you've read any of Mr. Martin's other books, you'll see he's firing on all cylinders with ANNAPOLIS. ANNAPOLIS puts you front and center in the story of the United States Navy as seen by generations of a family dedicated to the sea. It takes you all the way from the Revolutionary War to the present age of nuclear-driven marvels like air craft carriers and modern submarines, hitting almost everything in between. The mixture of history brought to life and a gripping modern story will remind you of his Peter Fallon series (BACK BAY, CITY OF DREAMS) and CAPE COD, but this one has a scope greater than any of its predecessors - and that really says something! If you have any interest in American or Naval history, or if you are just looking to be transported through time on a thrilling adventure, this is the book for you. *Martin gets bonus points for the BEST use of sports equipment in anything I've ever seen or read. Give a read and find out for yourself ;-)
I had to force myself to read the first hundred pages. The character's motivations seem silly and unbelievable. I can not recommend this book unless you are desparate and have no other printed matter to read. I would rather read a telephone book.
I loved this book. He has the writing style of James Michener, dealing with history and making it into a good novel. Nothing more can I say about this one. Read and enjoy.
I am here lol:) u allready know i live in Maryland.:)
I live in maryland too want to be nook friends