Academic journal article The Historian

Two Captains from Carolina: Moses G Randy, John Newland Maffit, and the Coming of the Civil War

Academic journal article The Historian

Two Captains from Carolina: Moses G Randy, John Newland Maffit, and the Coming of the Civil War

Article excerpt

Two Captains from Carolina: Moses G randy, John Newland Maffit, and the Coming of the Civil War. By Bland Simpson. (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2012. Pp. xiii, 187. $28.00.)

The ever-changing sea holds an aesthetic appeal to most people, but it is the sheer freedom of life afloat that captures others--the desire to experience the unknown, to steer oneself along the waters of life. Master storyteller Bland Simpson captures this spirit in his narrative of two men's searches for that freedom. Simpson entwines their lives with the approach of the Civil War in a thought-provoking tale.

Born into bondage around 1791 in Camden County, North Carolina, Moses Grandy was a waterman and sometimes field slave. His experience with several masters reveals the extreme variability of slave owners (and slavery) in the South. Eventually, his journeys led him around the world as a sailor. He spoke at abolitionist meetings in New England and abroad, and saw Narrative of the Life of Moses Grandy, Late a Slave in the United States of America published in 1843. Two years later, all records of Grandy cease.

John Newland Maffit drew his first breath on a merchantman bound from Ireland to New England in 1819. Fostered to an uncle in North Carolina a few years later, Maffit lacked for little in his life: Family, love, and education awaited him. Political patronage, bolstered by his own achievements, earned him a place in the US Navy where he prospered. …

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