True Yankees: The South Seas and the Discovery of American Identity

True Yankees: The South Seas and the Discovery of American Identity

by Dane A. Morrison


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With American independence came the freedom to sail anywhere in the world under a new flag. During the years between the Treaty of Paris and the Treaty of Wangxi, Americans first voyaged past the Cape of Good Hope, reaching the ports of Algiers and the bazaars of Arabia, the markets of India and the beaches of Sumatra, the villages of Cochin, China, and the factories of Canton. Their South Seas voyages of commerce and discovery introduced the infant nation to the world and the world to what the Chinese, Turks, and others dubbed the "new people."

Drawing on private journals, letters, ships’ logs, memoirs, and newspaper accounts, Dane A. Morrison's True Yankees traces America’s earliest encounters on a global stage through the exhilarating experiences of five Yankee seafarers. Merchant Samuel Shaw spent a decade scouring the marts of China and India for goods that would captivate the imaginations of his countrymen. Mariner Amasa Delano toured much of the Pacific hunting seals. Explorer Edmund Fanning circumnavigated the globe, touching at various Pacific and Indian Ocean ports of call. In 1829, twenty-year-old Harriett Low reluctantly accompanied her merchant uncle and ailing aunt to Macao, where she recorded trenchant observations of expatriate life. And sea captain Robert Bennet Forbes’s last sojourn in Canton coincided with the eruption of the First Opium War.

How did these bold voyagers approach and do business with the people in the region, whose physical appearance, practices, and culture seemed so strange? And how did native men and women—not to mention the European traders who were in direct competition with the Americans—regard these upstarts who had fought off British rule? The accounts of these adventurous travelers reveal how they and hundreds of other mariners and expatriates influenced the ways in which Americans defined themselves, thereby creating a genuinely brash national character—the "true Yankee." Readers who love history and stories of exploration on the high seas will devour this gripping tale.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421422572
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 01/02/2017
Series: The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science , #131
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Dane A. Morrison is a professor of early American history at Salem State University. He is the author of A Praying People: Massachusett Acculturation and the Failure of the Puritan Mission, 1600–1690 and the coeditor of Salem: Place, Myth and Memory and the World History Encyclopedia, volumes 11–13: The Age of Global Contact.

Table of Contents

the first generation
1. Samuel Shaw's Polite Reception, 1784–1794
First Interlude
2. Amasa Delano Opens the Great South Sea, 1790–1820
Second Interlude
3. Edmund Fanning's "Voyages Round the World," 1792–1833
Third Interlude
the second generation
Harriett Low in Manila and Macao, 1829–1834
Fourth Interlude
Robert Bennet Forbes and the First Opium War, 1838–1840

What People are Saying About This

Eliga Gould

"What did it mean to be an independent nation? For New Englanders after the revolution, the answer to that question often lay not on their own shores but in the far-flung waters of the South Seas—in the commodity-rich ports of Canton, Calcutta and Cape Town, and in the oceans in between. As Dane Morrison shows in this important new book, the China Trade was where seafaring Yankees learned how precious their hard-won independence was, where they took the first steps toward having that independence accepted by others, and where they discovered what it meant to be Americans."

Eric Jay Dolan

"True Yankees offers a fresh, insightful, and fascinating perspective on how America’s early voyages of commerce and discovery to the exotic South Seas helped the new nation forge its identity and establish itself on the international stage. This is a book well worth reading."

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