A Conversation for The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex


Post 1

Researcher 250118

Chase didn't just come up with cannabilism. It was a common practice on the sea. Also the other men thought of it but never mentioned it allowed. Read more about the Essex, and you'll realize that.


Post 2

Blues Shark - For people who like this sort of thing, then this is just the sort of thing they'll like

Charming. Always nice to see constructive criticism about a piece, especially from someone who has taken the trouble to create an account especially, even if they'not taken the trouble to spell 'aloud' properly.

Regardless of what anybody thought it was Chase, by his own admission, who first voiced the idea that Cole be eaten after his death. That much is plain from his 'Narrative...' and seems to be agreed by Lawrence and Nickerson (as detailed in Philbrick's 'At the Heart of the Sea.')

As to cannabalism being reasonably common under such circumstances, well, we know that extreme conditions drive men to extreme actions, though the only contemporary account of the same sort of actions I can immediately call to mind is the notorious Donner Party incident.

It is certainly reasonably clear from the fact that Chase and the other survivors, including the members of Pollards boat (who had commited murder in order to survive) that the Nantucket whaling community at least understood the imperative that had driven the men to the actions they had taken. On the other hand, it is also reasonably well documented that the crew of the ships that rescued the two boats were revulsed by what they found.

smiley - shark


Post 3

Secretly Not Here Any More

Well, I thought it was a very well written and entertaining piece.


Post 4

Blues Shark - For people who like this sort of thing, then this is just the sort of thing they'll like

Why, thank you. smiley - biggrin

smiley - shark


Post 5

AndyDog - The Frood Dude, with a towel

From someone who knows absolutely nothing about the incident or the repurcussions it is a very well thought out and written piece.


Andy Dog


Post 6

Blues Shark - For people who like this sort of thing, then this is just the sort of thing they'll like

Well, it has always been well received by most readers, and it's nice to know that people are still finding it interesting and informative. smiley - ok

I'm kinda curious as to why it seems to be back int he public eye again, but really I'm just basking in the glow...smiley - winkeye

smiley - shark


Post 7


It is great to see how well we can belittle the tragic events to a coversation on details. In todays world humanity is incapable of grasping the concept. Leave it to Chase. There is no foundation for debate. Just listen. 1821 an account.


Post 8


Essex~Bullcrap??? My My My.
What happened to the Essex is a horrible American tragedy. Real American men lost their lives in an unusual way. What never seems to be discussed is who they were.

Essex Captain George Pollard Jr. (Born July 18.1791) ..............son of George Pollard (born April 26, 1762, in Nantucket) & Tamar Bunker (born November 12, 1764, in Nantucket) GeorgeJr., Mary Riddell. George was much too young to make the decision's necessary to run a whaling ship. Perhaps if he had another chance when he was older, he would have been more successful, The hammering by first mate Owen Chase to repair his damaged boat is a very likely reason the sperm whale charged the Essex.

Owen Coffin (born August 14, 1802) son of Hezekiah Coffin, Jr. (born September 12, 1775, in Nantucket) & Nancy Bunker (born January 11, 1778, in Nantucket) Nancy Bunker became a widow in June of 1816... Nancy entrusted her 15/16 year old son Owen, to her Nephew George Pollard Jr. (Nancy is the sister of Tamar Bunker who is Captain Pollard dir's Mother, making Captain Pollard dir and Owen Coffin first cousins)

I disagree with hurting animals, but in defense of my ancesters pillaging the whale population. Whale oil was as important to colonial America as natural gas is to us today How many Human lives are ended daily in order to protect our oil supply? Yes, the gentle Quakers made a small fortune in the whaling industry, but they also were very good people and very devoted to God. Our ancestors in the stone age dressed in animal hyde's to stay warm. while we don't usually do that today, as we learned to weave cloth, wearing animal skin was a necessity of the time, as was killing whales, as was eating human flesh.

Owen Coffin is my 4th cousin 6 times removed Thru his Father
Owen's Mother is related to me a few different ways.

Some of my Nantucket great grandparents names are Sears, Starbuck, Paddock, Howland, Folger, Barnard, Beard, Bunker, Macy, Chipman, Coleman, Cox, Gardner, Shattuck, Skiffe, Stanton, Swain, Worth.

three of my great grandfathers founded Nantuckett
Many were whaling ship captains
many more were Quakers

Donna Lucille Williams Rogers


Post 9

Blues Shark - For people who like this sort of thing, then this is just the sort of thing they'll like

Thanks for stopping by and I hope that the piece itself didn't do a diservice to those involved - I was moved and humbled by the story as told by Nickerson and then went on to find Owen Chase's narrative, and it was that that made me want to share the story with others, hence why i wrote the piece.

Thanks also for sharing that additional information which is the beauty of the guide - people such as yourself, with a very real connection to the incident can have their say.

(I think in fainess the 'Essex-bullcrap' of the thread title refers to the writers disagreement with some of my conclusions, not about the incident itself.)

Thanks again for stopping by.

smiley - shark


Post 10


"survival cannibalism" was an accepted social practice, you can find this all through out history. Of course! the sailors who found them were horrified by what they saw, but as you pointed out, the people of Nantucket UNDERSTOOD. Not because they had all done it at one time or another but because there was an unwritten code amongst sailors that this is acceptable under given circumstances.The problem with what "Bullcrap" said was that nobody claimed that Chase invented canibalism on the high seas, it's just that he was the first to speak the words which i'm sure had already weighed heavy on everyones mind. So he is just wrong for missing the point.


Post 11

clzoomer- a bit woobly

I believe you mean an excepted *survival* practice, rather than an accepted *social* practice, unless you are referring to just those societies that accept it as a norm. I know that the Andes crash of footballers who survived through cannibalism was not prosecuted, but the social norm was still stretched to the maximum.


Post 12


survival cannibalism was socially accepted.......

You are right the Andes crash didn't go over to well but eventually were not convicted, more interestingly though was that there were people that survived the crash that refused to eat human flesh so not only was it condemed by society to a point but also by people living through the ordeal.
The interesting point here is that survival cannibalism was something seen most commonly on the ocean so whaling towns like Nantucket would be especially accepting. The Donner Party for example actually spent time in jail for their acts, so I think it's the type of people involved(seamen and their communities) that determine degree of acceptance.

The Mignonette is a better example in that the survivors are prosecuted but the defense is based on a long history of Survival Cannibalism which they refer to as "The Custom of the Sea", more over it is the Crown not the British people. It seems as though the case against them was primarily that the captain didn't draw lots, the kid that was killed was the weakest and so his fait was decided for him, which I would agree was wrong and the captain should have faced charges.

So again, I think Chase just acted on the "custom of the sea", well known and accepted by all the sailors that participated and the community of Nantucket.


Post 13


Hey cousin... I was just reading up on the Essex and came across this site.. I'm also the 'offspring' of the founders of Nantucket... We have cousins in common somewhere!

excellent original article, by the way, but suffice it to say, Owen Coffin's mother never spoke to her nephew again.

Marilyn Coffin Schenck


Post 14


There is a more contemporary and just as unsettling an example of cannibalism than the Donner party...
October 13 1972 -- Uruguayan Air Force flight 571, which crashed in the Andes mountains. The aircraft involved was a Fokker Fairchild FH227 which did not have the altitude ceiling to clear the Andes mountains for their trip from Mendoza to Santiago, Chile. The pilots had to fly a corridor along the mountains, then turn west through a small valley, then fly northwards again to Santiago. Unfortunately, bad weather and low clouds obscured the visibility of the pilots and they turned to fly west in an area where the mountains were still too high, which resulted in a 'controlled flight into terrain'. Of the 45 or so passengers on the plane, 16 were rescued on the 23 of December 1972 after spending 72 days on the mountains. After their meager supplies ran out, the survivors tried eating strips of leather taken from luggage, they ripped open the seats hoping to find straw, but instead found only poly-urethane foam, but in the end they were forced to feed off the dead passengers --made worse by the fact that the dead were close friends, schoolmates and family members.

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