and Peter Foulger Museum
Historical Association (NHA)
Broad Street at South Beach Street.
the galleries of the Whaling Museum to find the portrait of Captain
Absalom Boston (1785-1855), Nantucket’s only known black whaling
captain. Captain Boston was a third-generation, life-long Nantucketer,
whose grandparents and parents had been born into slavery.
Captain Boston took an all-black crew aboard the schooner Industry
on a six-month whaling voyage, returning with all hands and seventy
barrels of oil.
his 1822 voyage, Captain Boston bought land, ran a store, and inn,
and helped establish a school and church. He received votes for public
office and initiated legal action when his daughter, Phebe Ann Boston
(1828-1849), was denied admission to the public high school. When
he died, Captain Boston was likely the wealthiest African American
on the island. . The formality of portrait here in the Whaling Museum
attests to his prominence in the community.
Whaling Museum also features a wide range implements, such as the temple
toggle harpoon. This innovation sports a swiveling barb to fix the
harpoon’s hook in the whale’s body and prevent its escape.
This was invented in 1848 by Lewis Temple, an African American blacksmith
in New Bedford. Though he never obtained a patent for it, the Temple
Toggle is considered an important technological innovation which
still today bares his name.
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