In 1858, a converted luxury yacht named the Wanderer unloaded a cargo of 400 African slaves on the coast of Georgia. Journalist Calonius uses contemporary accounts, court records, and more to uncover details of the ship's extraordinary voyage and the reasons for it. The importation of slaves into the United States had been illegal for almost 40 years, but a group of Southern extremists known as Fire-Eaters were determined to restart the trade to further their sectional agenda. Failing that, they hoped to provoke a crisis that would result in secession. While always a minority in the South, these Fire-Eaters included leaders of society in cities like Savannah and Charleston. Few of the slaves were ever found by the authorities, and the men who were tried for the crime of slaving were all acquitted. Calonius vividly describes the action and personalities involved in this tale spanning from New York City to the slave coast of Africa, shedding light on a little-known aspect of the contentious climate and the debates that raged around America on the eve of the Civil War. Recommended for academic libraries and public libraries with Civil War collections. Dan Forrest, Western Kentucky Univ. Libs., Bowling Green Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Calonius tells with gripping detail the history of the black-market slave trade that persisted after the United States made the business illegal in 1808. The author focuses on the Wanderer , a speedy pleasure yacht owned by a sugar tycoon. In 1858, a trio of pro-slavery radicals calling themselves "the fire-eaters" transformed it into a smuggling boat and used the vessel to carry 400 captured slaves from Africa to the sales block at Jekyll Island, GA. The federal government captured the fire-eaters, uncovering a plot led by New York businessmen and Southern operatives not only to continue the slave trade, but also to split apart the country. The book follows the outcry from Northern media sources like the New York Times , the dramatic court trial, and the ironic ending when the federal government transformed the Wanderer into a gunboat for the Union during the Civil War. Photos of the key players and plans of the ship are included. Written in a fast-paced style more reminiscent of thrillers than history books, the highly accessible text digs deep into the motivations for the Civil War and illuminates some of the darkest corners of our nation's past.
Matthew L. MoffettCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
“Rich in atmosphere, sprung with surprises, The Wanderer is my favorite kind of history: a voyage into the turbid waters of a past we thought we knew, a past we scarcely could have imagined.” Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers and Blood and Thunder
“A spell-binding page turner, opening with a shipwreck and never letting up...Narrative history rarely rises to these heights.” Eileen Mackevich, Executive Director, Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission
“Seldom is history presented in so exciting and informative a way as in The Wanderer…This is a book that even those weary of Civil War studies will find gripping and profound.” Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Pulitzer finalist and former president of the Southern Historical Society
“A fast paced narrative... Calonius has a terrific eye for atmospheric details.” Publishers Weekly
“A compelling and heartrending record of a journey that helped push the nation to the brink of the Civil War.” The Washington Times
“Historical reporting at its best.” The Tuscon Citizen
“Calonius brings to life this extraordinary story, from the luxurious yacht club salons and Southern courtrooms to the Congo, in an account that reveals the complicated legacy of slave trading, one that has yet to be sorted out in contemporary America.” Booklist
“Written in a style more reminiscent of thrillers than history books, the highly accessible text digs deep into the motivations of the Civil War and illuminates some of the darkest corners of our nation's past.” School Library Journal
“A fascinating and revealing story, told with authority and literary grace.” John Boles, Professor of History, Rice University, and Editor of the Journal of Southern History
“This is a beautifully written book, full of imagery…I have reacted as positively and enthusiastically only one time before--that being to Nathaniel Philbrick's 'In the Heart of the Sea'.” Donald Thompson, author, "The Civil War Research Guide."
“The Wanderer is a must-read for anyone interested in the causes of the Civil War.” Eric Wittenberg, CivilWarCavalry.com
“Facts and imagination add up to a revealing, well-written account of a virtually little known yet important story of international slave trading--sometimes evil key men involved, the ship, The Wanderer, the backgrounds, and the dialogue all add up to an informative read. Erik Calonius has a bright future as an author.” Brooks Davis