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Historical Materials from Southern Patagonia
Narrative of Four Voyages (extract), 1823
a North American adventurer meets the canoe people of the Strait of Magellan
Journal -- May 1823:    10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18 
Captain Benjamin Morrell Jr.
Captain Benjamin Morrell Jr.
Benjamin Morrell (1795-1839) described himself as a "sealer, trader, and discoverer", to which one should add "adventurer". The son of a Connecticut, USA, shipbuilder, Morrell ran away to sea at age 16. He was twice captured by the British in the war of 1812-15. Soon after obtaining his first command in 1822, Morrell undertook the voyage in The Wasp, described in this extract.

Ten years later, Morrell published a book of his travels, in which he presented an admiring image of the western section of the Strait of Magellan. This positive view drew the attention of the shipowner and benefactor, Silas Burrows who, in turn, offered his support to two missionaries wishing to go among the natives and spread the faith (see terms of reference for Messrs. Coan and Arms.)

The local natives encountered by Morrell were most likely Kaweshkar (Alacaluf), who had little prior contact with passing ships and their crews. (Note: the population figures provided by Morrell seem too high.)

Original documents: Chapter 6, "Narrative of Four Voyages to the South Sea, North and South Pacific Ocean, Chinese Sea, Ethiopic and Southern Atlantic Ocean, Indian and Antarctic Ocean", Capt. Benjamin Morrell Jr, New York, 1832
Original text and portrait: Harvard College Library
E-book (Google): facsimile