Morning of Fire: John Kendrick's Daring American Odyssey in the Pacificby Scott Ridley
Four years after the Revolutionary War, America's independence was still in doubt. To survive, the new nation needed money and a vital surge in trade. In the back rooms of Boston, a daring plan was launched by a group of merchants and ship owners: to send two ships on a desperate mission around Cape Horn and into the Pacific Ocean. They wanted to establish new… See more details below
Four years after the Revolutionary War, America's independence was still in doubt. To survive, the new nation needed money and a vital surge in trade. In the back rooms of Boston, a daring plan was launched by a group of merchants and ship owners: to send two ships on a desperate mission around Cape Horn and into the Pacific Ocean. They wanted to establish new trade with China, settle an outpost on territory claimed by the Spanish, and find the legendary Northwest Passage—the fabled waterway linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The adventure would bring the world to the brink of war.
The man chosen to lead the expedition was John Kendrick—a master navigator and a charismatic captain of privateers during the Revolution. On the far side of the world, Kendrick would have to rely on his bravery, his charm, and most of all his remarkable resolve to navigate unknown waters, negotiate with cutthroat imperialists from England and Spain, and form alliances with natives hit hard by early encounters with Europeans.
Seventeen years before Lewis and Clark reached the Pacific coast, Kendrick established the first American outpost on what would become Vancouver Island. He then traveled into the cauldron of an intertribal war in the Hawaiian Islands before moving into the far ports of Macao, China, and Kushimoto, Japan, where he narrowly escaped capture by a troop of samurai. Throughout the seven-year journey, Kendrick faced a subordinate officer who wanted to usurp his command, Spanish officials who wanted him captured, and a rival British captain who wanted him dead.
Morning of Fire follows Kendrick through each perilous turn of his adventures aboard the Lady Washington and the Columbia Rediviva. This meticulously researched story uncovers the full scope of a landmark American voyage that came at the volatile close of the eighteenth century, a time when superpowers Spain and Britain clashed over territory and the fledgling United States stood caught in the middle. As Scott Ridley relates Kendrick's fateful struggle to plant the seed of an "empire of liberty" in the Pacific, he shapes a bold and exciting chronicle of a momentous odyssey. Morning of Fire is popular history at its best.
A tale of maritime adventure, intrigue and high-stakes diplomacy.
Ridley (co-author:Power Struggle:The Hundred-Year War Over Electricity, 1986) looks at the first American voyage to sail the entire coast of the Americas. Embarking from Boston in 1787, two ships—under the command of Capt. John Kendrick, a former privateer said to have smuggled powder and arms for Washington's Army—were sent to "carve an American trade route around Cape Horn to the Far East....barter for furs in the north, then cross the Pacific and stop at the Sandwich Islands on the way to Macao, China. The trip homeward would cross the Indian Ocean and round Africa's Cape of Good Hope." Despite the U.S. victory in the Revolutionary War, the British maintained a stranglehold on commerce in the Atlantic. Along with the French and Spanish governments, they were determined to keep the new republic in a state of economic dependency. To counter the British, Americans hoped to open up China and Japan to U.S. traders, while at the same time establishing claim to the Northwest Territory. During his five-year trip aboard Lady Washington, Kendrick and his crew faced hardship and danger, including storms, scurvy, dissension in the command and the incursions of Spanish, British and French ships, who were also intent on making territorial claims. "A dozen years before the Louisiana Purchase," writes Ridley, "Kendrick held more than a thousand square miles of land on the Pacific"—a feat he accomplished by gaining the cooperation of native chieftains and the Spanish naval command against the British. Though Kendrick reached China and Japan, his success there was limited, and when he anchored in Hawaiian waters on his return trip, he was fatally wounded in 1794 when his ship was fired upon by a British ship, in what was claimed to be an accident.
A solid reconstruction of an important piece of American history, on par with Lewis and Clark's historic journey.
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.60(d)
Meet the Author
Descended from a long line of New England sailors and shipbuilders, Scott Ridley has written for the New Republic, The Nation, Newsday, the Denver Post, and other publications. He lives with his family in East Harwich, Massachusetts.
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