J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, November 06, 2014

“True Yankees” Talk in Salem, 6 Nov.

Tonight, 6 November, the Salem Maritime National Historic Site is hosting a talk by Prof. Dane A. Morrison on his new book, True Yankees: The South Seas and the Discovery of American Identity.

The publisher’s description of the book says:
With American independence came the freedom to sail anywhere in the world under a new flag. During the years between the Treaty of Paris [1783] and the Treaty of Wangxi [1844], 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, 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 [1763-1823] toured much of the Pacific hunting seals. Explorer Edmund Fanning [1769-1841] circumnavigated the globe, touching at various Pacific and Indian Ocean ports of call. . . .

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.”
Morrison’s talk starts at 7:30 P.M. at the Salem Visitor Center at 2 New Liberty Street. A book signing will follow. It’s free and open to the public, though seating is limited.

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