The Captain and "the Cannibal": An Epic Story of Exploration, Kidnapping, and the Broadway Stage (New Directions in Narrative History)

The Captain and "the Cannibal": An Epic Story of Exploration, Kidnapping, and the Broadway Stage (New Directions in Narrative History)

James Fairhead

Language: English

Pages: 392


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Sailing in uncharted waters of the Pacific in 1830, Captain Benjamin Morrell of Connecticut became the first outsider to encounter the inhabitants of a small island off New Guinea. The contact quickly turned violent, fatal cannons were fired, and Morrell abducted young Dako, a hostage so shocked by the white complexions of his kidnappers that he believed he had been captured by the dead. This gripping book unveils for the first time the strange odyssey the two men shared in ensuing years. The account is uniquely told, as much from the captive’s perspective as from the American’s.
Upon returning to New York, Morrell exhibited Dako as a “cannibal” in wildly popular shows performed on Broadway and along the east coast. The proceeds helped fund a return voyage to the South Pacific—the captain hoping to establish trade with Dako’s assistance, and Dako seizing his chance to return home with the only person who knew where his island was. Supported by rich, newly found archives, this wide-ranging volume traces the voyage to its extraordinary ends and en route decrypts Morrell’s ambiguous character, the mythic qualities of Dako’s life, and the two men’s infusion into American literature—as Melville’s Queequeg, for example, and in Poe’s Pym. The encounters confound indigenous peoples and Americans alike as both puzzle over what it is to be truly human and alive.

Messi: The Inside Story of the Boy Who Became a Legend

The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy

Bertolt Brecht (Critical Lives)

Oscar Wilde

Eye Mind: The Saga of Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators, The Pioneers of Psychedelic Sound

Lady Constance Lytton: Aristocrat, Suffragette, Martyr












by contrast, the sheer profusion of languages rendered the translators’ skills nearly useless—just where traders needed them most to smooth their way through increasingly aggressive welcomes. Most traders soon decided they could make a better living elsewhere. Following Benjamin Morrell’s expedition, significant European-American encounters with the region’s people would not occur for another forty years. Back in New York, the owners of the Antarctic had no idea that their ship would be sailing

they had left the Pacific—Jacobs again captained a vessel round Cape Horn to visit Woodworth in San Francisco. The main purpose of his voyage was to bring a group of “Forty-niners” through the Golden Gate to join the gold rush, but it was also in part to resurrect the pair’s colonization plans, for which he had finally got some backers. Jacobs’s bark seems to have been partially financed by investors who called themselves the California and Pacific Ocean Exploring, Trading and Colonisation

some forty-five hundred miles away, but met countercurrents and winds that hindered his progress. After some unproductive prospecting for sea cucumbers, pearl, and shell in Micronesia, he was forced by winds and currents to give up on Fiji and turned southwest instead, toward the Solomon Islands. On his way he came upon the tiny, low-lying Carteret Islands, a circular atoll enclosing a lagoon ten miles across, though with only perhaps a third of a square mile of inhabitable land. The British

convincing New York investors that he not only knew where a fortune in sea cucumbers and shells was to be had, but that he also possessed the interpreters to make such an expedition a commercial success. As Morrell’s only tickets back to the region, he would have to take Dako and Monday with him to New York to show to his investors. He would also have to keep them in good health while guarding the exact locations of their islands, pretending that they were his own discovery and shrouding them in

this exhibition of our kindness and generosity, their feelings overcame them, and with tears they invited us to come on shore, and, promising not to attack us again, they paddled away. The Americans now left New Britain for Australia, but wherever possible as they voyaged south past Bougainville and the Solomon Islands, they solicited shells, food, and local tools such as spears, paddles, and war clubs from the canoes that approached them, acquiring these over the side of the boat in exchange

Download sample