Commemorating Columbia and Washington Day
“Cold this morning. Brings ‘em inside.”
Looking at the breakfast cook across the counter, a man in a gray hoodie ordered coffee and replied, “Takes time for that boat to warm up, first run of the day.”
It was 8:35 a.m. and it looked like all regulars were piling in. A brilliant beginning to the day looking across Hull Gut to Peddocks Island. What better place to commemorate Columbia and Washington Day than Pemberton Bait & Tackle?
“Regular coffee. Milk and extra sugar?” the woman with the pot asked.
“Extra milk,” said the elderly gentleman who was unwrapping something in a paper towel. It was two slices of what looked to be homemade raisin bread. He passed it across the counter for her to toast with his order. “The bacon – do me a favor? Crispy. Crispy. Crispy.”
Two hundred and twenty-five years ago, something amazing happened here. Within a good stone’s throw from here, the very tip of the town of Hull, where Pemberton Point hooks out into Boston Harbor. This is where America took off.
“Fisherman’s, over easy. With bacon, home fries and an English.” Another regular.
I was having the Fisherman’s Special. Three eggs sunnyside up, three strips of bacon, hash browns, and toast. Coffee. Orange juice. Competing commercials from Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown were punctuating the Fox News broadcast over my head.
“No bagels,” the cook said to someone over my shoulder. This was a commuter, stopping in before the ferry arrived. The strong northwest wind drove him indoors. Just like I had learned.
There would have been a good breakfast this morning, 225 years ago. Oct. 1, 1787. Dawn in Nantasket Roads. Aboard the ship Columbia Rediviva, Robert Haswell would have looked to Hull village, his boyhood home. Until his father, a Loyalist, and the entire family was moved inland and placed under house arrest. Exchanged for American POWs, the Haswells would spend the rest of the war in England and on the brink of utter destitution.
Somehow, 10 years later, he found himself at age 19 as third officer aboard the first American ship to circle the globe. Having come down from Castle Roads at the entrance to the inner harbor the day before, the Columbia Expedition would be leaving Boston Harbor on its groundbreaking voyage that morning.
I’d gotten here just a few minutes before dawn. Leaving from Chatham at 4:30, I’d gotten here in a little under two hours. I had pulled up to the Point, right below the spinning blades of Hull’s windmill, and then headed up to Fort Revere.
From high atop this hill, all of Boston Harbor and its approaches from Massachusetts Bay are possible. The sun was about to rise, and the rain and clouds that had bedeviled us through the weekend were rapidly diminishing. The light wasfantastic. Boston Light, across Nantasket Roads, blinked on and off, and I tried to time my camera phone to the blinking. Kept missing. Still got some gorgeous shots.
As the rays of sun streamed across the harbor, they caught a cruise ship heading in from the sea. Its white hull and upper decks lit up with a golden-ivory luminescence. An American Airlines jet, having taken off from Logan, passed directly overhead of the Fort, the flagpole and me. And for all this modernity, the one difference I seized on was “the tide right now is coming in. Back then, it would have been going out.”
To get the 212-ton Columbia out of the harbor easily, that is.
I hadn’t come to Hull to talk to anyone. I’d been here four years ago, with Kane Stanton of Harwich, as we took the ferry from Long Wharf to here. We’d just started our journey following John Kendrick and the Columbia around the world. I’d told Kane we needed to get out to the places where history happened.
As Peter Drummey, librarian at the Massachusetts Historical Society, had told me, perhaps the reason that this story hadn’t taken hold in public consciousness, especially with young people, was it had been approached with too much reverence for either of its main actors, John Kendrick and Robert Gray. “A guerrilla history lesson” is how Kane described our approach.
As we’ve found out irreverence works. It opens doors and minds.
But that’s not why I came to Hull this morning. I felt the best way to remember all the men of Columbia, John Kendrick especially, was to see what they saw that morning that they set out to open the world to us all.
To see the sun rise reflect off Boston Light as it blinks on and off. To dip my hands into the water of Nantasket Roads at dawn and feel the temperature on the first day of October. To watch the comings and goings of the small boats of the harbor and the massive freighters out at sea. And to try to think about what our unreliable narrator, Robert Haswell, surrounded and commanded by men who had captured British merchant vessels and made out pretty well during the war while he lived in poverty as a refugee, would be thinking as he wrote in his log book while leaving Hull yet again.
Having written about this for 17 years now, and authored an original view of Captain Kendrick as an under-appreciated actor on the world stage in my book back in 1999, I felt I owed it to him and his men. To remember them as anyone who works on the water would appreciate. To go down to the dock for a good breakfast, raise a mug and whisper thanks.
Scraping the last of the yolk with my toast, I headed off into the wind. The harbor shuttle pulled up, loaded its passengers and departed.
“Early on Monday morning we weighed and came to sail, and by sunrise we were out of the Harbour.” -- Robert Haswell, 1st October 1787. A Voyage Round the World in the Ship Columbia Rediviva.
Governor's proclamation remembers the first American voyage 'round the world 225 years ago today
I am grateful that the Governor saw the wisdom of making this change. Many, many people from here on Cape Cod, in Boston, and on the West Coast contacted the State House to voice their support for a change to the Governor's proclamation. Not the least of whom was Ray Gardner, Chairman of the Chinook Nation, who called the Governor last week.
When the Governor speaks, he speaks for all of us in the Commonwealth. His words are a calling card for all of us from the Bay State as we travel around the world. So in remembering our history, it is only right we help the Governor to say it best, to put forth an inclusive message, one that speaks to the whole of the story. Being proud of our history does not have to exclude sensitivity to those, like the Haida, who have their own perspective to add. We were in danger of dismissing them before we ever knew any of the story to begin with. Now we all want to hear what the Haida have to share.
The voyages of the Columbia and Washington, beginning today 225 years ago, were astounding by any measure, the accomplishments of all its men in a time of iron and wood and canvas, simply incredible. It was John Kendrick, my kinsman, who drew me to this story originally back in 1995. But like any Cape Codder, he would certainly agree it was the work of the many, not just him alone, that should be celebrated today.
Thank you, Governor Patrick, for correcting course just in time. Your gesture of good will shall be long-remembered on both coasts, and we all will benefit from it.
Cape Cod's Gumshoe Historians ready to follow Columbia 'round the World
“He wanted to emulate James Cook.” It’s getting to be that time, time to go, time to leave home and push off from familiar shores. 225 years ago and today. Gumshoe Historians Andrew Buckley and Matt Griffin give us a final guerilla history lesson. John Kendrick and the men of the Columbia Expedition are loading their vessels with trade goods and heading off to the unknown Pacific Northwest. As this chapter ends, the adventure of a lifetime is about to begin.
Locations: Boston, Hull, and Chatham, Massachusetts.
Interviews: Anne Bentley, Mary Malloy
Dear Governor Patrick:
I have recently learned of your intent to declare Oct. 1, 2012 as “John Kendrick Day” in the Commonwealth. The draft of the proclamation I have seen, written by Scott Ridley, cites Captain Kendrick’s career as a Revolutionary War privateer, and, more importantly, his role as commander of the Columbia Expedition – the first American voyage ‘round the world.
Having spent the last 17 years on the track of Kendrick and the Columbia, in libraries from Barnstable and Salem to Vancouver, London, Hong Kong and Manila, writing one novel and countless news articles, and producing an ongoing series for WGBH for which we received over a dozen grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, this is a topic in which I hold, clearly, a great deal of interest.
As a native Cape Codder who claims John Kendrick as a kinsman, who grew up on and fished the same waters of Pleasant Bay and the elbow of Cape Cod, and like him has gathered a crew from all over New England to travel to Cape Verde, the Falklands, Cape Horn, Argentina and Chile en route to the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii, China and Japan, it is with great sincerity and in all seriousness that I ask you to reconsider.
Please do not proclaim Oct. 1, 2012 as “John Kendrick Day” in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
This is not a request I make lightly, and I am sure other historians expert in the topic and humanities professionals would concur with my reasoning.I do not argue that this is a date unworthy of commemoration. Two hundred and twenty-five years ago, the ship Columbia Rediviva and its smaller consort, the sloop Lady Washington, were preparing to depart for parts unknown, in a desperate gamble to pull the local economy out of post-Revolutionary War Recession. An ad hoc syndicate composed of former war profiteers, privateers and slavers were brought together in the house of architect Charles Bulfinch (who designed the very building in which you are reading this letter), fresh from the Paris salon of Ambassador Thomas Jefferson.
The goal of this private enterprise was no less than to replace the old trade routes inside the British mercantile system from before independence with global trade with China and Pacific, making the very most of the open markets that lay before the new United States. Yankee ingenuity at its best.
And John Kendrick, born and raised on the Harwich-Orleans line, who had married in Edgartown and raised a family in Wareham, a successful privateer and whaler, was chosen to command.
What he did with that command,the legend that surrounds it, and the fact that he never returned home have been a matter of controversy. But controversies among academics alone are certainly not enough to deny a man acknowledgment.
Rather, there is a chapter to this story that is very dark. Upon two visits to what we know as Queen Charlotte Islands, off the west coast of Canada, Captain Kendrick came into conflict with the people who refer to their archipelago as Haida Gwaii.
His first visit ended in undisputed humiliation of two chiefs, the second in the deaths of scores of Haida. This, in turn, resulted in the deadly capture years later of the schooner Resolution by the Haida, with only one survivor.
Having grown up next to the last village of the Nauset tribe, and maintaining exceedingly cordial relations with the First Peoples at Nootka Sound and Clayoquot Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, John Kendrick’s conduct at Haida Gwaii seems oddly out of step. Why it happened remains in dispute. The result is not.
To the people of Haida Gwaii, this is a very painful episode in their history, with repercussions through the generations. Kendrick’s visits coincide with the breakdown in their traditional society. Christie Harris’ painstaking research with the Haida and their oral histories resulted in Raven’s Cry, first published in 1966. John Kendrick casts a dark shadow in the memory of the Haida. The wound is still fresh.
It is clear Mr. Ridley is very enthusiastic about his book on Captain Kendrick, and wants to spread the word far and wide, seeing this 225th anniversary as a good opportunity to do so. However, in his recent headlong hero-worship, Ridley has greatly glossed over the incidents with the Haida.
But there is another man whose opinion and expertise I ask you to consider. Robert Kennedy has served for years aboard Washington state’s official tall ship, the replica of the Lady Washington, and is a member of the Haida Nation. In response to your intended proclamation, Bob observed: “The inability of ‘history’to incorporate the impact on the Native Peoples of the Americas is, to those Native Peoples, criminal, but not unexpected.”
In approaching the story of the Columbia Expedition, I have felt there was no actor in it wearing a completely white hat. I have always been clear as to my background, my personal connection to Captain Kendrick, and my affinity for his talents as a navigator, diplomat, trader and storyteller. I still see him in the faces of the fishing fleet and the flats of Chatham every day.
But when we raise John Kendrick far above us on a pedestal, we remove him from humanity. He becomes unapproachable, inaccessible. We diminish those who worked with him, supported him. Worse, we ignore those who still bear wounds he inflicted. I am sure you would agree there is never a better time than now for a lot more understanding and a lot less bluster. Let us move with less haste as we carve him into white marble.
For more practical terms, my own concern is that anyone, myself, my daughter and my crew included, from Massachusetts heading out to Haida Gwaii from here forward will be received in the context of your proclamation. Is this how we want Bay Staters to be known to a coastal people with a long and rich cultural tradition on the Pacific Rim? Long after you leave office, the memory of your proclamation will remain in the minds of the Haida.
However, the alternative is not to simply ignore this anniversary on Oct. 1, 2012 and the very real – and leading – role that John Kendrick played. So instead, I call upon you to instead be more inclusive and proclaim it “Columbia Day.”
Include in that the roles of all members of the Columbia Expedition. First Officer Joseph Ingraham, who served in the Massachusetts Navy and ended up as a prisoner of war on the prison ship Jersey. Robert Gray, the captain of the Washington, whose past is still in dispute. Include all the backers of the voyages: chief investor Joseph Barrell, privateer John Derby, blackbirder Crowell Hatch and refugee Samuel Brown, as well as Charles Bulfinch. You would honor Robert Haswell, the loyalist who returned to the United States to service as a junior officer and wrote the log of Columbia. The shipbuilders of Scituate, Marshfield and Essex. And the dozens of other men of Massachusetts, and their families who remained at home, and served as the foundation of our Republic.
Additionally, you would honor the people around the world who had never seen an American before. Who helped the men of Columbia on their way, curious about this new democracy and its people, and who helped her return home three years later.
You would honor young Marcus Lopes, who joined at Cape Verde and certainly had no idea the hardships he would face rounding Cape Horn in the tiny sloop Washington. You would certainly spark greater interest in the whole topic of the Columbia Expedition (and not just one man), as that story still lies in shards about the globe.
In the service of history and of humanity, I humbly ask you to take a broad view of the event that commenced on that morning on the first of October 1787 off Pemberton Point in Hull. There is much good to be done by your words, and I ask you to make the very most of this anniversary.
Andrew Giles Buckley
North Shore, South Shore: The story of the Columbia and the Washington
“You can’t trust anything he would have written.” Gumshoe historians Andrew Buckley and Matt Griffin turn the corner on the trail of the Columbia Expedition and John Kendrick. Columbia Rediviva: A ship built just prior to the Revolution on the South Shore. Her junior partner, Lady Washington: an old sloop built on the North Shore.
Hints at a background in slavery, but the vessel truly carrying the story is in the hands of young man with divided loyalties and a chip on his shoulder.
Locations: Boston, Marshfield, Scituate, Essex, Massachusetts.
Interviews: Peter Drummey, Cynthia Krusell, Justin Demetri, Benjamin Dunham
Life destroyed by Revolution, Robert Haswell chronicled America's 1st voyage 'round the world
"He's the exact opposite of Kendrick." The 19 year-old Third Officer of the ship Columbia. A prisoner of war and refugee before he was ten, Robert Haswell was the son of a British Officer and Loyalist. HRH starts with his birth in Boston Harbor and wartime experiences during the American Revolution. Author of the log of the first Columbia Expedition, he’s maybe not the most reliable narrator.
Locations: Green Dragon Tavern, Boston; For Revere, Hull; Larry's PX, Chatham, Massachusetts.
Interviews: Don Ritz, Hull Historic District Commission
Cape Cod's Gumshoe Historians profile John Kendrick of the Columbia Expedition
O Captain! My Captain! The man picked to command the Columbia Expedition had a lifetime of experience. Militiaman. Whaler. Privateer. Gumshoe Historians Andrew Buckley and Matt Griffin track John Kendrick from the South Orleans/East Harwich shores of Pleasant Bay to Edgartown Harbor, then over to the house on Wareham Narrows bought with booty from the Revolution.
Locations: Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard & South Coast of Massachusetts.
Interviews: Alan McClennen, Nancy Cole, Thornton Gibbs, Benjamin Dunham
After the Winter-That-Never-Was, everything seemed to be running two weeks early this spring. Grass was greener, flowers up, trees leafing out. Even school was let out a few days earlier than had been anticipated due to a lack of snow days (yet was still later than other towns, oddly).
The ocean never cooled down as much as it would normally in January and February, and since that’s our air conditioner on the Cape, I had a feeling this summer would be rather tough. We got off easy the previous 12 months. A very mild summer, with maybe one day above 90. Then the aforementioned easy winter. Call it weather karma or a rebalancing of the scales, we were due for a hot summer.
Now we’re in the thick of it.
Which means the late-July drought has hit us two weeks early.
Growing up here and through my various jobs, I had the privilege of seeing the very best properties, especially vacation homes. Houses with long sweeps down to the water. Tall trees offering shade, sometimes with a swing, the occasional croquet set, and random lawn furniture.
And crunchy grass midsummer. Sprinkled with dandelions and other weeds. A patch of sour grass was a favorite find. We’d loll about on the lawn, chewing on pieces of it and looking for four leaf clovers. Upon close inspection, in fact, any green patch on a lawn would turn out to be the weeds.
With the advent of underground sprinkler systems and broad spectrum weed control, it has become easy to see who has them and who is sticking natural. But what I’ve noticed of late is lawns I know for certain have irrigation systems now looking tannish this July.
The owners have turned the water off. Residences and businesses, for whatever reasons, are skipping the sprinkler. Money saving or something more? Whichever, it gives me hope.
* * * *
A few questions that continue to buzz around like so many dragonflies: Where were the Chatham Lightfoots in the Fourth of July parade? Our town’s pride and joy champion jump rope team had been practicing for months for their regular spot and their performance is as much a staple of the parade as the Chatham Band. I heard rumors of a last-minute paperwork snafu, but surely a parade is for kids more than anyone. Who wouldn’t let them in?
Which local eatery will seize the opportunity to rename a favorite sandwich “The Skomal?” Piled to overflowing with alternating layers of ham and cheese.
Like so many of us, I am really looking forward to the FoodRunner truck coming to Chatham. But it seems everyone’s question is why can’t it be closer to town?
Regarding the beach access and ownership dispute at Lighthouse Beach, why is there not an article on the special town meeting warrant for a taking? Eminent domain is completely legitimate when a vital public interest is at stake. To insure public safety, there has to be a way for the town to patrol the whole beach. Adjust the lines by a few degrees and we’re done. How much could a small strip of sand, likely to be gone in the next decade or two, be worth?
* * * *
We live without air conditioning. Still. With the prevailing southwest breeze coming up the Oyster River from Nantucket Sound, perhaps we have it a little easier. The summer I lived at Nautilus, on the corner of Water Street and Main Street, spoiled me forever for sea breezes. Nothing short of being in a boat compared to being one short block from the open Atlantic.
But now, years later, we still live without AC. Sure, last week was tough. We turned on some fans. Dressed in lighter clothes. Drank lots of cool liquids. Helped, a little. The solution is to find ways to deal with it. But not escape it and shut all the doors and windows. What’s the point of being on the Cape in the summer if you can’t hear or smell it? Perhaps on those occasional drives up to Boston AC in the car makes sense. No need to arrive at a play or a nice restaurant with be-swirled hair and rumpled, sweaty clothes. But that’s different – that’s not Cape Cod. You wouldn’t have gotten me outside in D.C. or New York last week.
We live without AC, still, because it is a waste of energy and money and keeps us out of touch with the world around us. What a high price to pay for a brief moment of dry, cool air. What an awful way to kill the craving for a late afternoon swim.
* * * *
Summer is a time to try new things. Sofie and I were talking in the car, on her way back from sailing classes with Pleasant Bay Community Boating. Winter, we fall into routines. Monday through Friday, school starts and ends the same times.After school it is either piano one day, karate the next, or skating.
Supper, homework, bath and bed. Dump run on Saturday, and doughnuts at Chatham Bakery on Sunday. Not a bad routine, but there’s little room for growth. Especially when we’re a hundred miles from the wide variety of experiences available in a city.
Along with the extended daylight come the extended possibilities of playing outside, swimming – all the things you just can’t do most of the months of the year here, easily. One of the easiest ways to broaden the horizons of an nine-year-old is through food, though.
That’s good, since there is just so much more available this time of year. Kids eating the same thing, week in, week out can get a parent locked into real problems when traveling. So we’ve resolved to, once a week, try some new food.
“Wait, you’re going to do this, too?” she asked. Yep, even if I had tried something before and hadn’t liked it.
A big grin from the back seat. I added, “You don’t have to like it. But once you order it, you have to finish it.” After a little consideration, she decided her first attempt would be an oyster. Not fried or baked. On the half shell. The week after, eggplant. This will be fun.
With the 300th anniversary of the establishment of the town of Chatham, it only seems appropriate that we take a moment to talk about an issue of dire consequence. This is a problem that has bedeviled this town for some time now, and in the past few weeks it came into public consciousness. It puts in peril that most sacred of institutions, namely, the Cocktail Hour.
I speak, of course, of skydiving.
Now, as a native whose roots go back in the area to a leaky boat from Plymouth, England (if not before, should DNA testing show a little extra familiarity with the original locals), I know as well as anyone how important the Cocktail Hour is to Chatham.
Why, I can’t go just about anywhere on Cape Cod or up to Boston without someone inquiring, upon learning I am from Chatham, about this time-honored custom.
This should surprise no one. We might be waiting in line somewhere and when it is our turn, we will be asked, “What’s your hurry?
Need to get back down to Chatham fast? Late for Cocktail Hour?”
It really is amazing how so many people not from Chatham can be so sensitive to what our priorities are.
Some have even added on “at the country club?” Well, how kind! They must have a pretty high opinion of me. That’s almost embarrassing. Pretty over the top, and perhaps worthy of its own column, but not here.
Now that tradition to which I speak must be hearkening back to my ancestor, Stephen Hopkins, who brought his family with him across on the Mayflower. He was one of the “Strangers,” as the non-religious passengers were referred to, compared to the “Saints” or Separatists who were wishing to leave England to worship as they chose. Hopkins did rather well for himself in Plymouth, and tried to move down to the Cape like his son, Giles (from whom I get my middle name).
But the authorities at Plymouth kept ordering him to move back. The place was depopulating, and for good reason: Hopkins kept brewing beer and getting shut down for it. That’s right, court records show fines levied on Hopkins for making and serving liquor. That was not to be tolerated, so of course Hopkins wanted to get down here. I mean, how are you ever going to establish a tradition of a Cocktail Hour if the guy bringing the booze can’t make it?
No wonder it took until almost another century for Chatham to be founded. Is it any coincidence that, rumor has it, just a year before America saw the publication of the very first Mr. Boston’s Official Bartender’s Guide? That’s what we in the historical biz call “a supposition.” Sounds important.
But just like so much of Chatham’s 300th anniversary, let’s not get bogged down by historical facts or ancient records or how people behaved or what they were called, where their businesses were located and whether or not any one of the people who built and lived in the houses we love so much would be allowed to use their property as they saw fit if they were alive today.
For one, they’d be too poor to buy anything to drink. And besides the Methodists wouldn’t drink at all. But can we please ignore that great big church right in the center of town with the clock tower and focus on the real issue? Can we just think about the skydivers? I mean, how can we not? Always with their flying around, having fun, hooting and hollering, ready to fall RIGHT ON YOUR COCKTAIL PARTY. Oh, yes. We all have them. I myself have four or five per day, and living in the flight path of Chatham Airport, I can tell you that I live in fear of some person having the time of their life just landing right in the middle of all of that.
You see, there’s nothing Chatham hates more than someone else having fun. We didn’t “find our way here” for that. Even if we were born here. It is not appropriate for Chatham, as some people who I never heard of have said, for people hundreds and thousands of feet away to express happiness at flying.
When I think of cocktail parties, I know I think of the quietest, best-behaved people. Like a church. Having lived in many places in Chatham, I can’t tell you how many times I have had to go next door and apologize for racket of flipping the pages in my book disrupting the sanctity and quiet of a neighbor’s cocktail party. If Chatham can’t be a place where fuddy-duddies can get sloshed in peace without being disrupted by the distant howls of happiness from on high, then I don’t know what is appropriate for this town anymore.
Clearly one of these two has to go, and I think we all know which one.
It’s not like these are waterskiers, after all.
Cape Cod's Gumshoe Historians in Woods Hole & Boston
While many larger media empires founder in these ever-shifting seas, Cape Cod's fishermen-turned-filmmakers have turned as quickly as a catboat.
In the midst of production of their Falklands and Cape Horn series this winter, Hit and Run History took their original pilot episode and began to re-edit it for online. Unveiled today, their very first installment is available for all to watch on their channel on Blip and to download on iTunes.
Creator and Host Andrew Buckley research on the first American voyage 'round the world began in 1995, when he stumbled across the story of Captain John Kendrick. Born on the shores of Pleasant Bay (in what was then Harwich, now South Orleans) in 1740, Kendrick would command the ship Columbia Redeviva as it left Boston in the fall of 1787, just a few weeks after the Unites States Constitution was drafted. Bound for the Pacific Northwest Coast and China, the Columbia Expedition was a desperate gamble by an ad hoc syndicate of merchants to jump start the New England economy, mired for years in the post-Revolutionary war recession.
Introduced by Boston rocker Shea Rose, this very first webisode shows Buckley and Assistant director Matthew Griffin as they begin the process of documenting Columbia's origin and its voyage. Interviewing Mary Malloy of the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole and MassHumanities Pleun Bouricius, the HRH crew is off to a rough start. But their passion for story is contagious, and despite the long odds of making a travel show based around a forgotten chapter of history, it looks like they could just pull this off.
Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime?