On the morning of Wednesday, July 1, 1891 a large flag with a white background, blue border, and the words “Harbor View” in crimson letters was run up the flagpole of a new enterprise at the very edge of Edgartown.
Phillip R. Allston, of Boston and Martha’s Vineyard, snapped this picture of his friends at Inkwell Beach in Oak Bluffs.
No one involved could have imagined it.
On the davits of the venerable Charles W. Morgan is a brand-new killing machine that was handmade at Gannon and Benjamin in Vineyard Haven.
Captain William A. Martin of Edgartown was that rarest of things, an African American Whaling Captain.
As difficult, dangerous, and sometimes financially unrewarding as whaling was, it still beat slavery by miles. By some estimates thirty percent of the thousands of whalers before the Civil War were minorities. A few even overcame all the odds and rose through the ranks to command ships. More than thirty African American whaling captains have been identified, one of whom, William A. Martin, was born on Martha’s Vineyard.
On June 18, 1722, a small group of men from Martha’s Vineyard were out on what should have been a short whaling voyage when they saw a terrible sight approaching their sloop.