Whaling Intelligence: Paper Technologies of U.S.-American Exploration in the Pacific

This abstract has open access
Abstract Summary
The United States Exploring Expedition (1838-1842) owed much of its realisation to the advocacy of Jeremiah Reynolds, a former newspaper man and public lecturer. His strongest case for the necessity of Pacific exploration were New England whalers who were said to cruise unexplored parts of the oceans and whose discoveries of uncharted islands were reported in the local press. The document that stood at the core of Reynolds’s lobbying for an expedition, however, was a table he had compiled after interviewing whaling captains in the country’s principal whaling ports. By presenting the whalers’ experience in tabular and synoptic form, Reynolds’s table helped forge the frontier figure of the ‘intelligent whaler’, a mariner who had better geographical knowledge than other seafarers. In my talk, I will discuss the paper technologies that produced the ‘intelligent whaler’ and investigate how Reynolds’s translation of ‘whaling intelligence’ from news into facts marks the beginning of the intelligent whaler’s long career in U.S.-American debates about expansionism, exploration, and science.
Abstract ID :
HSS609
Submission Type
Chronological Classification :
19th century
Self-Designated Keywords :
exploration, paper technologies, tables, whaling

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