We know about Peter Strickland's long life (1837-1921) because he wrote a daily journal from the age of 19 until the year he died. He broke away from a long line of Connecticut farmers to adopt a seafaring life at the age of 15. Capt. Strickland's merchant marine career led him from the east coast of the United States to the west coast of Africa. He introduced American tobacco and wood products into French and Portuguese colonies and on the return trips carried animal hides and peanuts in his 100-ton schooners. He wrote and published a book on behalf of sailors. The most knowledgeable American in the African trade for 40 years, Strickland struggled to maintain an American competitive edge among the dominant commercial presence of French trading houses from Bordeaux and Marseilles. The U.S. State Department asked him to become the first consul in French West Africa, with residence in Senegal. The captain accepted the terms: he would receive no salary, but he could keep the port fees he collected and continue to practice his import-export business. Living on the former slave island of Gorée, Strickland battled epidemics of cholera and yellow fever. He suffered from malaria and catarrh. His 23-year-old son George accidentally drowned off the coast of Dakar, Senegal. Demoralized and ill, Strickland retired to Boston in 1905 and became a gentleman farmer. At age 77, he recopied his entire journal into bound volumes.