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PORTER, David.

Journal of a Cruise made to the Pacific Ocean, by Captain David Porter,

in the United States Frigate Essex, in the Years 1812, 1813, and 1814. Second Edition. To which is now added, the Transactions at Valparaíso ... the Fate of the Party left at Madison's Island ... and an Introduction, in which the charges contained in the Quarterly Review, of the First Edition of this Journal are examined ...

Published: New York: Wiley & Halsted, 1822

Stock code: 62051

Price: £1,250

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Second edition, first published, and suppressed, in 1815. This is “the only complete edition, generally regarded as the best one” (Hill). Porter played a key role in American attacks on British commerce during the War of 1812, the only American commander to sail against the British in the Pacific during the conflict. Having failed to rendezvous with Bainbridge and the Constitution at the Cape Verde Islands, Porter rounded the Horn without authority, and began to prey on the British whaling fleet in Pacific waters. Between March and September 1813 the Essex captured or destroyed fourteen vessels and totally disrupted British whaling on the West coast of South America, “doing damage … to the extent of half a million pounds.” One of the captured vessels he fitted out as a naval ship, calling her the Essex Junior. However, these successes led to the dispatch of Phoebe and Cherub to suppress his predations. On 28 March 1814, after a lengthy blockade, the four ships engaged in a heavy storm off Valparaíso. Porter was completely outgunned, but fought on against the odds for two and a half hours, only surrendering when he lost his main topmast to the wind, and 155 out of his 225 crew were dead. On his return to America he received a hero’s welcome as the man who had made the longest voyage on an American warship in the War of 1812. From 1815-22 he served on the Board of Navy Commissioners, giving this up to command an expedition to suppress slavery in the West Indies. On his return in 1826 he resigned his commission and became commander-in-chief of the Mexican navy, 1826-9, he died in 1843 whilst US minister in Turkey.

2 volumes octavo (218 132 mm). contemporary sheep, neatly rebacked to style and relined, red and green morocco labels, flat spine, compartments formed by double rules, gilt foliate devices within. Portrait frontispiece and 7 other plates, folding map – bound in inverted – folding table. A little rubbed, browned as usual, but a very good copy.

Bibliography: Hill 1373; Howes P484; Sabin 64219

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