[NAVAL LOG-FLORIDA] PERRY, MATTHEW CALBRAITH, Lieutenant Commandant, later Commodore of the U.S. Navy. Manuscript logbook from the Schooner Shark, 15 July 1821-2 October 1822.
Full reverse calf of the period, housed in a modern brown cloth chemise and slipcase. 13 x 8 inches (33 x 20 cm); 85 ff. of "Transactions on Board" from the first cruise of the Shark returning to New York January 7; 2 ff. hiatus; 100 ff. "Transactions on Board" from the second cruise of the Shark from February 27 to October 1, 1822. Written in the first person in at least two neat, legible formal hands in dark brown ink (without erasures, which were forbidden from formal logs), probably dictated by Perry to two (or more) amanuenses. Binding wear, occasional stains, two leaves deliberately adhered (no missing text) in the first cruise log, in all in excellent condition.
Perry combats the slave trade and pirates, and claims Florida for the United States. The Shark was Perry's first independent command, and it was eventful. Much of the routine on board ship is documented here: sailing directions and winds, the sick list, expenditure of water and provisions, punishments etc., but additionally affairs of significant moment are recorded.
On the first voyage of the Shark, Perry was to convey the Reverend Eli Ayers, the United States Commissioner, to the Liberian colony in Africa. On the way, at Santa Cruz, Tenerife, there was a thirteen-gun-for-gun salute exchanged (September 16), which honor had been refused when Perry was there in the Cyane the year previous (remarked by him in the entry for that page). After landing Ayers at the end of October, Perry patrolled the coast in search of slavers, and made chase of the French schooner Ys on November 8; this vessel was ultimately released as Perry could not definitively prove that it was engaged in the slave trade. On the tenth the schooner Caroline was boarded, but as she also bore French papers, and as the French had not ratified the treaty to suppress the slave trade, she was also released, but not before compelling the captain, Ruinet, to sign a paper abjuring the trade. A copy of this document is in the present log.
The vessel returned to the U.S. for provisioning on January 7, 1822, and then began its second cruise, against pirates in the West Indies. First, though, the Shark cruised to Key West, where Perry formally took possession from Spain and raised the Stars and Stripes on Thompsons Island. The region had previously been ceded to the United States by the Adams-Onís Treaty in 1819, which had been ratified in 1821 (and already an enterprising American businessman had purchased Key West from a Spanish official in St. Augustine)! There is an extensive account of the landing and raising of the flag in a 4 pp. section of the log dated March 28th 1822. The balance of the voyage was successfully spent in pursuit of pirates in Mexican and Cuban waters.
Known today most for his part in the opening of Japan, Perry, later known affectionately as "Old Bruin," is the most celebrated American naval figure of the period, and this record of his first command is of the utmost interest as a piece of nautical Americana, and (for the section on Key West), is a foundational piece of Floridiana in addition. See Samuel Eliot Morison "Old Bruin" Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry for a detailed account of this voyage.
C The Library of Duncan Cranford
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