Why didn’t Nantucketers openly discuss the Essex disaster?
Maritime cannibalism during a disaster was one thing, but it was a sensitive topic that the first four men who were eaten during the Essex disaster were African American. Nantucket had a reputation as an abolitionist stronghold at the time. The Quakers wanted to keep this reputation intact. They wanted to talk about the island’s growing African American community and the Nantucket whaling ship with an all-black crew that returned victoriously in 1830. They wanted to talk about Frederick Douglass, who addressed a white audience for the first time at a Nantucket Quaker meeting. They did not want to talk about the...
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