Sea Captains at the Port of San Francisco: 1800s
Captain George M. Totten
Totten Inlet lies in the southern end of Puget Sound in the U.S. state of Washington and is one of Washington's most productive areas for growing oysters.
In the mid-1800's when commercial fishing and the lumber businesses were in their infancy, the native oyster industry began. Washington Territorial politicians were so impressed with this mollusk they dubbed it the "Olympia Oyster" in the legislature of 1889. Not wanting to leave the source of this tasty morsel, they elected to maintain Olympia as the capitol city of Washington. These tiny oysters were such a delicacy during the Gold Rush days, it took only a short time to overharvest and deplete the beds within San Francisco Bay.
Note: According to one source, Lieutenant Charles Wilkes during the Wilkes Expedition of 1838-1842, named this inlet to honor George M. Totten, one of the expedition's midshipmen. Note: That in "Sea of Glory," Nathaniel Philbrick's National Book Award Winner, Joseph Totten was on board, not George M. Totten.
At a meeting of the passengers, held on board P.M.S.S. Co’s steamer Tennessee, on the 19th January, 1853, at 10 o’clock, A.M., William T. Coleman, Esq., was called to the chair, and Messrs. C. A. McNulty, Benj. A. Brown, Albert Berry, and P.W. Sherman, were appointed vice presidents; Messrs. T. R. Anthony, and J. A. Thompson, were appointed secretaries.
On a motion, the President appointed Messrs. Wm. R. McCally, H. Hazeltine, W. H. Hoy, James C. Stebbins, and John Dows, a committee, to draft resolutions expressive of the sense of this meeting.
The following resolutions were reported by said committee and unanimously adopted:
Resolved, That we feel with more than ordinary force the sense of duty and justice in expressing our high approval of meed of praise to the officers and crew of the ship, for their kindness and courtesy, and for the untiring diligence, in the performance of their whole duty during our late trying scenes on the passage from Panama to San Francisco.
Resolved, That of Capt. Geo. M. Totten, whose police is unsurpassed, and whose ship is a very pattern of cleanliness and order, and whose urbanity and regard, was equal to all. The travelling public cannot have to high an appreciation, and his passengers most heartily approve and commend.
Resolved, That of the Purser Theo. L. Schell, whose gentlemanly deportment won favor from all, and whose correctness in every move and obliging attractions, went so far to make us comfortable.
Resolved, That of the unstopping, untiring and efficient 1st officer, Mr. Peter H. Dowlie, who sacrificed his quarters and his comforts for the relief of the sick, we feel we cannot speak too highly. But it is of Dr. ?.H. McNaughton, the Surgeon of whom we would most particularly make mention. We have never witnessed deeper devotion to duty, greater alacrity in attending to the calls of the sick, or more unceasing exertions to relieve their distresses. For several days he saw no sleep, and was ever found at the side and administering to the wants of the afflicted; personal pr?ration was the consequence, and he was alike temporarily a fellow sufferer; but his nerves again brought him to his feet, and he has throughout unflinchingly stood at his post.
For such men we feel we cannot say enough; they may meet with embarrassments and the virulence of disease may sometimes baffle them, but their energy and assiduity will eventually bear them out in triumph.
Resolved, That these proceedings be published in the San Francisco, Sacramento, Stockton and Marysville papers, and that the officers of the meeting present a copy of the same to the officers of the ship.
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Gold Rush PortThe Maritime Archaeology of San Francisco's Waterfront
James P. Delgado
Described as a "forest of masts," San Francisco's Gold Rush waterfront was a floating economy of ships and wharves, where a dazzling array of global goods was traded and transported. Drawing on excavations in buried ships and collapsed buildings from this period, James P. Delgado re-creates San Francisco's unique maritime landscape, shedding new light on the city's remarkable rise from a small village to a boomtown of thousands in the three short years from 1848 to 1851. Gleaning history from artifacts, such as preserves and liquors in bottles, leather boots and jackets, hulls of ships, even crocks of butter lying alongside discarded guns. Gold Rush Port paints a fascinating picture of how ships and global connections created the port and the city of San Francisco.
The Great Ocean: Pacific Worlds from Captain Cook to the Gold Rush
The Pacific of the early eighteenth century was a place of baffling complexity, with 25,000 islands and seemingly endless continental shorelines. But with the voyages of Captain James Cook, global attention turned to the Pacific, and European and American dreams of scientific exploration, trade, and empire grew dramatically. By the time of the California gold rush, the Pacific's many shores were fully integrated into world markets-and world consciousness. The Great Ocean draws on hundreds of documented voyages as a window into the commercial, cultural, and ecological upheavals following Cook's exploits, focusing in particular on the eastern Pacific in the decades between the 1770s and the 1840s. Beginning with the expansion of trade as seen via the travels of William Shaler, captain of the American Brig Lelia Byrd, historian David Igler uncovers a world where voyagers, traders, hunters, and native peoples met one another in episodes often marked by violence and tragedy.
Rounding the Horn
Being the Story of Williwaws and Windjammers, Drake, Darwin, Murdered Missionaries and Naked Natives. A Deck's-eye View of Cape Horn
Fifty-five degrees 59 minutes South by 67 degrees 16 minutes West: Cape Horn, situated at the bottom of South America, is a place of forlorn and foreboding beauty that has captured the dark imaginations of explorers and writers from Francis Drake to Joseph Conrad. For centuries, the small stretch of water between Cape Horn and the Antarctic Peninsula was the only gateway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Storms are bigger, winds stronger, and the seas rougher than anywhere else on earth. In Rounding the Horn, author Dallas Murphy undertakes the ultimate maritime rite of passage weaving together stories of his own nautical adventures with tales of those who braved the Cape before him—from Spanish missionaries to Captain Cook—and interspersing them with breathtaking descriptions of the surrounding wilderness.
"Master Under God"
Captains exercised absolute authority at sea and so were dubbed "Master Under God" by early insurance writs, agreements with ship owners and passengers and the Board of Trade.
The captain is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws, as well as company and flag state policies.
All persons on board, including officers and crew, other shipboard staff members, passengers, guests and pilots, are under the captain's authority and are his ultimate responsibility.
Customs requirements can include the master providing a cargo declaration, a ship's stores declaration, a declaration of crewmembers' personal effects, crew lists and passenger lists.