Hawaiian Shipping Articles

For the Bark Tenedos

Original content by: Heather Christie

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About This Document

These shipping articles are a contract signed by prospective crew members on the Tenedos, a respected whaling ship bound for the arctic in search of whales. Similar to apprenticeship contracts of the day, these shipping articles hold the crew to the duty of whaling as 'good and obedient seamen.' It also binds the master of the ship, Mr. Samuel King, to return to Hawaii within 12 months. At the end of the voyage, the master must also pay the crew their monthly wage as noted beside each of their names in the document. These particular shipping articles are written both in English and in Hawaiian, since they were drafted in Hawai'i.

Read by John Boudreau.

Historical Context

The Tenedos was originally a merchant vessel out of Boston and sailed to India and other parts of Asia. In 1840, the ship was retired from the merchant trade and turned into a whaling ship. It served as a whaler until 1861 at the latest, when it was sunk to block the port of Charleston, South Carolina during the Civil War. At the time, the Tenedos was legendary among ships, and it was said that she was one of the oldest around. According to an account in the New York Tribune, "'her keel was laid when Adam was an oakum-boy; and if this be correct, one or two must date still further back to the period of mastodon and saurian.'"1 More...

1New York Tribune, "Operations of the Stone Fleet," The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events 3: 504.

Questions for Further Thought

  1. What would it be like to go from Hawai'i to the arctic if you had never been before?
  2. What sort of difficulties or dangers would you encounter while whaling in the arctic?
  3. Why do you think this voyage only lasted a year instead of the more typical 3-5 year average for whaling voyages?