[Sixteen Letters, 1865 to 1886, Incoming to Captain Daniel Tracy (1815-1888), “The Seaman’s Friend”].
Captain Daniel Tracy (1815-1888) was known as “The Seaman’s Friend” as he devoted his time establishing safe houses for mariners (first in New York City in 1853, later at Cherry Street, Philadelphia) and worked in Washington D.C. to promote legislation which would benefit seamen. A proponent of the Temperance movement, president of the Marine Temperance Society of New York, Tracy encouraged temperance at his homes for sailors and was an agent for unfermented wine for church services.
The majority of these letters relate to Tracy’s work to help seamen, and his unfermented “Communion Wine”. Viz.,
One 5-page letter answers a series of questions asked by Tracy to a Deputy of the United States Shipping Commissioner. The Deputy, E.B. Kingsbury, answers each question relating to the prohibition of advance wages and the effects it has on the sailor as well as the ship owners and other questions relating to boarding houses and bounties. As an example:
[re: the prohibition of advance wages:] Question 5. Is there anything in the Captain’s [log?] why it has not been enforced? Answer - The Captains and owners of ships on long voyages have done all they could to evade the law by furnishing bounties to the sailors, giving smaller wages to make it up thus saving them from any loss; the vessels on short voyages with West Indies and Central America, are perfectly satisfied with the law as it now stands, they as well as the seamen receiving great advantages by it, better discipline & etc.
Another letter is one of support from a British counterpart, Richard Williamson of Liverpool, regarding the abolition of the Advance Note in American ports, a payment system of ill benefit to sailors, in part:
May I also suggest that you may carry your work further by pressing on Congress the necessity of a mutual Convention with England, whereby powers may be conferred on the respective Consuls at Ports in order to put a stop to the other evils identified with the Crimp. We find our Consuls powerless to assist the English Captain, and our men are consequently ... led away from under the Masters’ very presence, and with disastrous consequences to the seamen themselves.
Seven letters, most brief in nature, relate to orders for unfermented wine:
I have several calls for wine + not a drop. Now if you will send me immediately one or two dozen pints + one dozen quarts, and be sure + send a good lot of circulars + have full instructions + directions on each bottle.
Others were not as enthusiastic:
I have introduced your “unfermented wine” into our church for Communion purposes + have procured it for some months ... It is much objected to by many of our people who wish to abandon it. As a strong Temperance man I much respect this but must agree with them that the article we have got, is a sour, muddy liquid ... much more like a medicinal preparation than a cordial wine .... PS. A sediment remains in the bottom of the vessel in which it is used composed apparently of small particles of grapes and even stems, this must be from imperfect straining.
A good group documenting Tracy’s involvement in bettering the lives of sailors and the temperance movement. A little known social reformer, we cursorily find no other archival material by or about Tracy.
Description: [Sixteen Letters, 1865 to 1886, Incoming to Captain Daniel Tracy (1815-1888), “The Seaman’s Friend”].
[Various: Philadelphia, New York, Washington D.C., Liverpool], [1865 to 1886]. 16 letters, approx. 23pp. in total. Ink on wove paper. Measuring from 8 x 5 to 10¼ x 8½ inches. All very good to fine.
Ref. The American Seamen’s Friend Society, The Sailors’ Magazine and Seamen’s Friend, (NY, 1889) p171.