Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Thanksgiving Story For True Environmentalists: In Your Thanksgiving Prayers Tomorrow, Remember To Thank God For John D. -- November 25, 2015

There's a nice article in this month's issue of The Smithsonian: "Quakers With A Vengeance: How Nantucket Came To Be The Whaling Capital of America" by a most famous authority on the subject and best-selling author, Nathaniel Philbrick. It's a great article. If there was a shortcoming in the article, it was Philbrick's failure to give credit to the man who "saved the whale." John D. Rockefeller was singularly responsible for saving multiple whale species, maybe all whale species, from extinction.

From the linked article:
By 1760, the Nantucketers had virtually exterminated the local whale population. By that time, however, they had enlarged their whaling sloops and outfitted them with brick tryworks capable of processing the oil on the open ocean. Now, since it was no longer necessary to return to port as often to deliver bulky blubber, their fleet had a far greater range. By the advent of the American Revolution, Nantucketers had reached the verge of the Arctic Circle, the west coast of Africa, the east coast of South America and the Falkland Islands to the south.
In a speech before Parliament in 1775, the British statesman Edmund Burke cited the island’s inhabitants as the leaders of a new American breed—a “recent people” whose success in whaling had exceeded the collective might of all of Europe. Living on an island nearly the same distance from the mainland as England was from France, Nantucketers developed a British sense of themselves as a distinct and exceptional people, privileged citizens of what Ralph Waldo Emerson called the “Nation of Nantucket.”
A Note For The Granddaughters

One of the best experiences during our four-year "tour" of Boston, were our multiple trips to New Bedford, Massachusetts, "The Whaling City." It was because of those trips that I finally understood the whaling industry of the 18th century, and the joy of reading Moby-Dick. I've read it at least twice and parts of it multiple times, and have recently "outlined" it. We visited the church Herman Melville attended, and got a feeling for the whaling culture at that time. The New Bedford Whaling Museum is a must-stop-to-see if driving anywhere in the area. The one thing we did not do was participate in the annual Moby-Dick marathon in which the novel is read from start to finish in one sitting,
... a 25-hour nonstop public reading of the book during a weekend of activities and events. Our annual event started in 1997 and is now considered one of the world’s best known readathons.
And yes, I did tear up a bit when I read this, again:
From the moment those words are uttered to approximately 25 hours later when Ishmael is rescued from the Pacific by the Rachel, more than 150 readers each read a short passage from this novel. Some read in Portuguese, Japanese, Italian, Danish, Spanish, Hebrew, Russian and/or French, followed by that same passage in English. One passage is read from Braille.

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