The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 41, July 1937 - April, 1938 Page: 270
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
such as the earliest known account of navy uniforms, new light on
the practice of shore-leave, whiskey smuggling, dueling among mid-
shipmen, and the long history of the fastest sailer in the navy, are
here first published.
Two particular circumstances lend special interest to this cruise.
In the first place, the United States led in the unauthorized capture
of Monterey under the false impression that Mexico had declared
"conditional" war on the United States and had negotiated a
treaty for the sale of California to England. This seemingly trivial
fiasco intensified the suspicion in which Mexico held the United
States and was one of a long series of events which contributed to
the outbreak of the Mexican War four years later. This journal
with appendices and notes contains the fullest account, known of
this opera bouffe by two eye-witnesses and makes easily accessible
ten official letters and part of an eleventh pertinent to the episode.
In the second place, Herman Melville, the future novelist, after
a year and a half of whaling in the Pacific and roving about its
islands, joined the crew of this frigate at Honolulu in August,
1843, and remained with it as an ordinary seaman during the
last half of its three-year cruise. This first published account of
his environment during the period of his naval service throws
light upon the experiences which enabled him to write the con-
troversial White Jacket; or, The World in a Man-of-War, "a
propagandist novel directed against naval abuses" and particu-
larly against corporal punishment. An introductory note and an-
notations identify some of Melville's important characters and re-
appraise the accuracy of Melville's story which he emphatically
declared to be "an impartial account . . . inventing nothing."
Mr. Anderson exposes wholesale invention as well as several dra-
matic elaborations, and refutes the substantiation of Melville's
facts by Samuel R. Franklin, a midshipman on this cruise, in
his Memories of a Rear-Admiral, hitherto accepted by Melville's
biographers. The editor's forthcoming volume, Melville in the
South Seas, may be expected further to clarify Melville's career.
Eleven illustrations of striking water-colors from more than
one hundred executed by William H. Meyers, a gunner on the
sloop of war Cyane which formed a part of the Pacific squadron
in 1842-1844, selected with careful reference to the text, are re-
produced, unfortunately in black and white.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 41, July 1937 - April, 1938, periodical, 1938; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101103/m1/292/: accessed May 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.