HIST 2300- Christopher Trobridge
Writing Assignment One
October 16, 2010
“In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whale ship Essex”
In order to understand the ramifications of an event such as the sinking of the Essex one needs too understand the community that produces the crew. Nantucket was an island community much more than the literal sense of word. The islanders of Nantucket saw themselves differently than the rest of the word. They learned the skills of whaling from the original Wampanoag tribe. They were Quakers with a stoic sense of standards and community. The whale men from Nantucket saw themselves as superior to most other sailors of that time period. Hardship and perseverance were virtues held by the whale men and the women. The women ran the town while the whale men were at sea for years at a time. This type of work ethic and fortitude, and the worlds desire for oil, combined to make “the village of Nantucket one of the richest towns in America.” “In the Heart of the Sea” It also created a close-knit community with a few very successful and influential families that married with each other maintaining a strong central hierarchy.
The sinking of the Essex directly affected the community of Nantucket but it was also far reaching to the rest of the country. America was growing as a Nation and its consumption of oil was expanding. The events of the Essex were not only interesting to sailors of the world but also to the mainlanders that consumed the oil. America in the eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century were considered “…a consumer revolution.” “Of the People” No one knew this fact better than the owners of the whale ships. They understood that whale oil was a commodity to be sold. In order to harvest it at a profit they had to balance their expenses. Every mate on a whale ship received a fraction of the profit that the whale ship would return with the oil it found. The more responsibility a sailor had on a...