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Two Captains from Carolina: Moses Grandy, John Newland Maffitt, and the Coming of the Civil War

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In Two Captains from Carolina, Bland Simpson twines together the lives of two accomplished nineteenth-century mariners from North Carolina—one African American, one Irish American. Though Moses Grandy (ca. 1791- ca. 1850) and John Newland Maffitt Jr. (1819-1886) never met, their stories bring to vivid life the saga of race and maritime culture in the antebellum and Civil War-era South. With his lyrical prose and inimitable voice, Bland Simpson offers readers a grand tale of the striving human spirit and the great divide that nearly sundered the nation.

Grandy, born a slave, captained freight boats on the Dismal Swamp Canal and bought his freedom three times before he finally gained it. He became involved in Boston abolitionism and ultimately appeared before the General Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1843. As a child, Maffitt was sent from his North Carolina home to a northern boarding school, and at thirteen he was appointed midshipman in the U.S. Navy, where he had a distinguished career. After North Carolina seceded from the Union, he enlisted in the Confederate navy and became a legendary blockade runner and raider. Both Grandy and Maffitt made names for themselves as they navigated very different routes through the turbulent waters of antebellum America.

ISBN-13: 9781469642291

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press

Publication Date: 02-01-2018

Pages: 208

Product Dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

Bland Simpson is Kenan Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and longtime member of the Tony Award-winning Red Clay Ramblers. He is author of numerous books, including Into the Sound Country: A Carolinian's Coastal Plain, Ghost Ship of Diamond Shoals: The Mystery of the Carroll A. Deering, and The Coasts of Carolina: Seaside to Sound Country.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Simpson's compelling portraits enrich our understanding of what life was like two centuries ago even as they address themes that are very much still with us today—race, poverty, hardship, and political and class conflict, to name a few.—Jack Betts, retired associate editor of the Charlotte Observer

According to Anna Quindlen, creative nonfiction requires 'the eye of a reporter and the heart of a novelist.' Bland Simpson has both. He has looked intelligently at dry historical documents and recreated the heart and soul of two disparate watermen of the 1800s, one man a slave, the other a slave owner and a US naval officer. In his own abiding love and intimate knowledge of our coastal waters, Simpson has given us what is surely a true portrait of the heartbreak and triumph to be had when one man thirsts for freedom and the other tries to be true to his conscience in the troubled days that led up to the Civil War. Highly recommended.—Margaret Maron, author of Three-Day Town and winner of the 2012 Agatha Award for Best Mystery Novel of the Year

Table of Contents

Two Captains xiii

Grandy, Early 1800s-Circa 1820 1

The Wind That Blows, 1830 29

Maffitt, 1819-1834 31

Grandy, Early 1820S-1832 40

The Wind That Blows, 1830 63

Grandy and Maffitt, Late 1834 65

Maffitt, 1834-1842 68

Grandy, Mid-1830s-1842 80

The Wind That Blows, 1840 87

Maffitt, Early 1840s-Early 1850s 89

The Wind That Blows, 1850 101

Maffitt, 1851-1861 103

Grandy, August 1842-January 1844 122

Maffitt, May 1861-January 1869 131

Epilogue 167

Two Captains from Carolina: A Chronology 169

Selected Sources 179

Acknowledgments 183

Illustration Credits 185