Sacramento Daily Union (Sacramento, California) - October 5, 1872
HORRIBLE BRUTALITIES ON NEW BEDFORD WHALING VESSELS
Statement of Some of the Sufferers
Our Consul at Port Louis, Mauritius, has forwarded to the State Department several affidavits of seamen on New Bedford whaling ships, recounting acts of almost incredible brutality by the captains of those vessels. John Brown of the bark Osceola 2nd, Jonathan Chase, master, testified as follows:
We sailed the 1st of August, 1870, and when about seventeen days out Captain Chase tied Daniel Ferry, a sailor, in the rigging and whipped him with a good-sized rope, with a whipping splice made on the end of it. One of the sailors counted 123 lashed which he gave him on the back. The captain gave him the whipping in three jobs, going below to refresh himself each time. The shipping continued for nearly an hour. It commenced at twenty minutes past 5 o'clock P. M., and it was between 9 and 10 o'clock when Ferry was cut down. At this time he was immediately put in irons and remained in that state until the next morning. He was then placed on the quarter and sand and water given him to scour the deck with. This lasted three days, but every night he was put in irons and placed in the main hold with hatches closed. We were all told we should be treated the same way if we gave him any water. Ferry's back was raw and bleeding, and we all thought he would die. He was sick for two months, and could not stand his watch, as he could hardly walk, his back was so sore. There was no reason assigned for this treatment from Captain Chase only he did not like the man. Ferry deserted at St. Helena for fear of his life. The captain then began a quarrel with a seaman named Charles Adams. One day we were near a merchant ship at sea. Adams said to the captain: "I will give you an order on my father in Syracuse for $500 if you will put me on board of that ship." Captain Chase hauled off and struck him in the face with his fist and knocked him down. Adams bled very much. This kind of treatment has been going on the whole voyage, the captain abusing the men shamefully. The food was bad and scanty. At Tristan d'Acunba we took in a hundred bushels of potatoes, and one day he saw a few cold ones thrown into the pigs' trough, and he refused to give us any after this, but let them rot and they were thrown overboard. He frequently kept me on deck for twenty-four hours, only allowing me four hours out of every twenty-four. This would continue for two months at a time. He was often told me he would kill me, and I was really afraid of my life, and determine to desert the ship on the first opportunity. I had scarcely clothes enough to cover my nakedness. While we lay at anchor at the island of Praschii Seychelles, I ran away to the mountains, and after the ship had gone I worked my passage to Mauritius in the ship Phoebe.
Frederick C. Loring of the bark Pacific, Captain Tabor, who sailed from New Bedford in October, 1870, for a whaling cruise of five years, testifies as follows, and his statements are confirmed by other seaman: "We had been at sea only a short time when I found Captain George Tabor to be a hard man to get along with. Our food was very bad during the whole voyage and we had hardly enough to keep life and soul together. What we did have was salt provisions, except a few potatoes. Eight of our crew had the scurvy, and one man was very sick indeed. When we asked for medicine the captain said nothing was the matter with us and told us to clear out. I saw the cook, who was called Peter, with his face cut badly and bleeding profusely. I saw the captain strike him with a frying pan. The blow was owing to Peters telling the crew that he saw Captain Tabor naked in the steward's pantry, trying to commit sodomy on the steward. The steward, John Gordon, afterward told me and all the rest of the crew that the story was a true one, and that the Captain had tried this before, but he resented it and intended to prosecute Tabor when he returned to the United States. I was very much afraid of Captain Tabor, as, when in a passion, he did not care whom he struck, or what he struck with. He carried a revolver in his pocket, and I was afraid he would use it. I have had the scurvy and am now suffering from its effects. I was determined to leave the ship the first chance I had, and when at Bourbon I ran away, and a passage was given to me in a schooner bound to Mauritius.