Charles W. Morgan (ship)
|Career (United States)|
|Owner:||Charles W. Morgan, 1841–
J. & W. R. Wing Company, c.1863 – c.1912
Col. E H R Green, c.1925–1941
Whaling Enshrined, Inc., 1941
Mystic Seaport, 1941–
|Builder:||Jethro and Zachariah Hillman, New Bedford, Massachusetts|
|Identification:||MMSI number: 367608930
Call sign: WDH3594
|Length:||113 ft (34 m) LOA|
|Beam:||27 ft 6 in (8.38 m)|
|Draft:||17 ft 6 in (5.33 m)|
|Sail plan:||Double-topsail bark rig; 13,000 sq ft (1,200 m2) of sail|
Charles W. Morgan
|NRHP Reference #||66000804|
|Added to NRHP||13 November 1966|
|Designated NHL||13 November 1966|
Charles W. Morgan was a US whaling ship during the 19th and early 20th century. Ships of this type usually harvested the blubber of whales for whale oil, which was commonly used in lamps. The ship is an exhibit at the Mystic Seaport museum in Mystic, Connecticut, and is the world's oldest surviving merchant vessel. The ship is the only surviving wooden whaling ship from the 19th century American fleet.
Charles Waln Morgan chose Jethro and Zachariah Hillman's shipyard to construct a new ship at their shipyard in New Bedford, Massachusetts.:23 The Morgan's live oak keel was laid down in February 1841 and fastened together with copper bolts. The bow and stern pieces of live oak were secured to the keel by an apron piece. The sturdy stern post was strengthened with hemlock root and white oak. Yellow pine shipped from North Carolina was used for the ship's beams and hemlock or hackmatack was used for the hanging knees.:29
Construction of the Morgan proceeded until April 19, 1841, when the workers went on strike; demanding a ten hour work day.:30 The strike gathered support until it encompassed the shipyard, the oil refineries and the cooper shops; Charles Morgan was appointed chairman of the employers and tasked to resolve the strike.:30 Morgan opposed their demands for a ten hour workday and a meeting with four master mechanics ended in failure. On May 6, an agreement was reached when the workers accepted a ten and one half hour workday.:32 Work resumed on the ship without incident and it was launched on July 21, 1841.:32 The ship was registered as a carvel of 106½ feet in length, 27 feet 2½ inches in breadth, 13 feet 7¼ inches in depth and weighing 351 tons.:33 The ship's construction and rigging cost a total of $32,562.08 and was assessed a shipyard fee of $2.25 per day for its 258 construction; labor charges was billed at $1.75 a day for 129½ days.:25
The ship was outfitted at Rotch's Wharf for the next two months while preparations were made for its first voyage.:34–35 The name Charles W. Morgan was initially rejected by its namesake builder before being used. Captain Thomas Norton sailed the Morgan into the Atlantic alongside the Adeline Gibbs and the Nassau towards the Azores.:35 A stop was made at Porto Pim (Horta) on Faial Island to gather supplies before crossing the Atlantic and passing Cape Horn before charting a course to the north.:38 On December 13, the men launched in their whaling boats and took their first whale, harpooning it and killing it with the thrust of a lance under the side fin.:43 The Morgan entered the port of Callau in early February and departed again on the 10th for the Galapagos Islands. In 1844, the ship sailed to the Kodiak Grounds before sailing for home on August 18.:60 The Morgan returned to her home port in New Bedford on January 2 in 1845.:60 The voyage of three years and three months resulted in 59 whales being processed for 1600 barrels of sperm oil, 800 barrels of right whale oil and five tons of whale bone that netted a total of $53,052.56.:61
In her 80 years of service, she made 37 voyages ranging in length from nine months to five years. Charles W. Morgan, in total, brought home 54,483 barrels of sperm and whale oil and 152,934 pounds of whalebone. She sailed in the Indian and South Atlantic Oceans, surviving ice and snow storms. Her crew survived a cannibal attack in the South Pacific. Between 1888 and 1904 she was based in San Francisco.
Charles W. Morgan had more than 1,000 whalemen of all races and nationalities in her lifetime. Her crew included not only Americans, but sailors from Cape Verde, New Zealand, the Seychelles, Guadeloupe, and Norfolk Island. The ship's crew averaged around 33 men per voyage. As with other whaleships in the 19th century, Charles W. Morgan was often home to the captain's family. Charles W. Morgan was owned and managed by the J. & W. R. Wing Company of New Bedford.
The Morgan was nearly destroyed in 1924 when the Sankaty, a steamer, caught fire and broke free of its mooring lines.:5 The burning Sankaty drifted across the river and into the Morgan's port quarter, but the Fairhaven firemen managed to save the Morgan.:5 This event spurred Harry Neyland and some New Bedford citizens to restore and preserve the Morgan. Unsuccessful in their efforts, Neyland persuaded Colonel Edward Howland Robinson Green to save the ship.:5 Neyland appealed to Green that the Morgan was of historicial importance and was a family heirloom because the Morgan was once co-owned by Green's grandfather and his wife's company.:5 Green had the ship towed to his estate in Round Hill (Dartmouth, Massachusetts) and founded Whaling Enshrined consisting of himself, Neyland and John Bullard, the great-grandson of Charles Waln Morgan.:6
The Morgan underwent restoration by Captain George Fred Tilton and was turned into an exhibition for Green's estate in a berth constructed by Frank Tayor.:6 On the 86th anniversary of the Morgan's launch, Green held a dedicatory ceremony and gave the ship to Whaling Enshrined on July 21, 1926.:6 The Morgan's fate came into question when Tilton died in 1932 and Green died in 1935; resulting in lengthy court proceedings over the Green's estate.:7–9 The 1938 New England hurricane damaged the Morgan's hull and tore the sails; Whaling Enshrined attempted, but could not secure funds for the ship.:9 In 1941, the Morgan was saved by the Marine Historical Association (later renamed Mystic Seaport) based on Taylor's word that the ship could be freed and towed to Mystic, Connecticut.:10 Taylor's crew dug the Morgan from its berth and dredged a channel for it to pass through, but the first attempt to pull the ship free was unsuccessful. More digging and caulking of the ship preceded the Morgan's successful tugging into the channel and the century old hull withstood the move and floated into bay provided by the Coast Guard cutter General Greene.:11 The Morgan was towed to the old berth in Fairhaven for several days of preparations and repairs prior to the trip to Mystic.:11
On November 5, 1941, the General Greene pulled the Morgan from the wharf only to have it be caught by the tide and swept downstream, coming to rest on a mud flat and requiring two hours to be freed.:4 The journey came to an end on November 8 when the Morgan passed through the Mystic bridge and was moored in the Mystic Seaport.:17–18 The Mystic Seaport took shape around the Morgan with the restoration of its buildings and historic ships that came to reside at the museum.:18 Stackpole writes, "Over it all, the Morgan presided like Old Neptune-the centerpiece, the king seated on a throne of gravel, towering high above the scene.":19
Charles W. Morgan arrived at Mystic Seaport in December 1941. The ship was declared a National Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. In 1971, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp honoring Charles W. Morgan.
An initial restoration and preservation project was undertaken in 1968. In 2010 Mystic Seaport was engaged in a multi-million dollar restoration, intended to restore the ship to seaworthy status.
On July 21, 2013 marking the 172nd anniversary of the vessel’s initial launch, the Charles W. Morgan was re-launched into the Mystic River.   During the summer of 2014 the Morgan sailed its 38th voyage around Southern New England and visited its port of origin in New Bedford, MA. 
In The Last Sail Down East the Morgan's length was misreported as being "just over 105 feet long and 314 gross tons".:198 It also conflicts with Stackpole by listing the ship's return from its first voyage on January 1, 1845 instead of the following day.:199 The goods detailed within match, but the figure of $69,591 is listed instead of $53,052.56.:199
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Charles W. Morgan.|
- National Register of Historic Places listings in New London County, Connecticut
- List of museum ships
- Schroer, Blanche Higgins; Bradford, S. Sydney (11 December 1974). "The Charles W. Morgan" (pdf). National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination. National Park Service.and
"Accompanying 4 photos, from 1974 and undated" (pdf). National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination. National Park Service. 11 December 1974.
- "Charles W. Morgan – Whaling Ship". Mystic Seaport. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 23 January 2007.
- "Charles W. Morgan (Bark)". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-10-03.
- Stackpole, Edouard (1967). The Charles W. Morgan. Meredith Press.
- "Successful whaler returns" (pdf). The New York Times. 30 October 1900.
- The Dukes County Intelligencer 24 (4). May 1983.
- "Title unknown". The American Neptune (Peabody Museum of Salem). 1949.
- "Pacific Steam Navigation Company". Sea Breezes 56 (443). November 1982.
- Broad, William J. (16 August 2010). "A Quest to Make the Morgan Seaworthy". Science. The New York Times.
- "Charles W Morgan - Mystic Seaport". Mystic Seaport Museum. Retrieved 2013-06-22.
- Bond, Michaelle (21 July 2013). "Museum Relaunches Wooden Whaler Built in 1841". N.Y. / Region. The New York Times.
- Tod, Giles (1965). The Last Sail Down East. Barre.