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James White was a 21 year old farmer from Quincy, MA.  In 1849 he sailed from Boston around Cape Horn to San Francisco and the gold diggings of California.  In all he spent 6 months at sea and a year in California.  I've transcribed his journal and am publishing it here as well as on Amazon/Kindle and Apple/iBooks.

< Week 1

In Latitude 37ᴼ 51’ Longitude 51ᴼ 15’.
Last night we had a good sing on the quarter deck.  Bates of Weymouth takes the lead in our choir having a bugle.   Our instrument on board are the bugle, violins, and accordion.  A good lot of singers.  Had the headache all day on account of not having any coffee in the morning.  The vessel tipping so to spill it out of the boiler.  A change of meals twice a day.  Tonight we had rice.  We breakfast at 9. Supper at 4.  This day we passed the ship Oregon bound to Liverpool probably.  Past one yesterday bound to N. York, probably with emigrants.  Gave her three cheers and she returned it.

Thursday 18th
Wind SSE.  Nearer headwind than we have had before. Little inclined to  be strong, the old ship still keep on her course.  Last night three or four hours was the slowest time she has made being only two or three knots an hour, but today dashing along at the rate of 9 knots.  Squalls very frequent.  
Today we had duff dinner with raisins in it.  It was first rate with molasses.  It is now a week since we  sailed off from the wharf.  There is but eight or ten seasick and four under the Doctor's care, they sick with diseases they brought with them probably.  Two accidents have occurred since we left.  The cook had his head smashed and came very near being killed by the pig pen lurching away.  The Capt boy fell down and broke or jammed his arm pretty bad.  Today a large fish passed on our weather bow.  Saw one ship demasted.

Friday the 19th
Wind WSW.  Rather stormy.  Going at the rate of 9 knots with all sail set.  Went 8 or 9 all last night.
In Latitude today noon by observation 35ᴼ 37’ Longitude 49ᴼ 52’.  It now is one week since we set sail and have been knocked about pretty well.  Had fair winds and kept on our course every hour.  Since we started have averaged over 7 knots an hour and are probably over 13 hundred miles from home, and if we have as good luck as we have had, we shall strike into the trade winds in five or six days  Then it's all fair winds.
Today, thought of home on eating some home cake and looking at some miniatures.  Thought what a long time it would be before I should see my parents and friends again, but to my present home let us look between decks.  In the eve, some playing cards, checkers, some writing, others reading, and one or two large crowds talking of home and telling stories.  What a picture this would be for an artist.  All our baggage is arranged opposite each man's berth.  Each mess has a lantern.  Every thing goes on well.  No quarreling.  No hard talk.  All are friends to appearances.  All fare alike.  About a quarter of the Company are good smart drive ahead fellows.  About a quarter are still workers.  One quarter are comical loafers and the other are drones.

Saturday, Jan 20th
Last we had a meeting on the quarter deck to adopt some rules as to neatness between decks and onboard ship throughout and also on smoking and obscene language.
Yesterday morning had a court marshall of one the sailors as to him taking some clothes not belonging to him.  Found him guilty of taking a hammock and rubbing off the owner's name and printing on his own.  The Mate warned him of the future as he said he had his stolen.
Last eve had a game of whist and listened to the music of two violins and two flutes.  
Last night went at the rate of eight or nine knots all night.  Today noon wind WSW.  Going at the rate of eight knots. Steering SE by S.  Not varying from this course two points from Cape Cod.
In Latitude 34ᴼ 09’ Longitude 46ᴼ 50’.  Passed a brig this morning on the same course.  Supposed to be the brig Forrest who sailed the day before we did from Boston.  Thought it was her by the number of passengers aboard.  Saw some porpoises this morning playing around the ship.  First of the fish kind we saw  
Today my time expires as Capt of mess, and I shall be relieved of this office till we get round Cape Horn probably.  
Tonight we have hot cakes for supper and I must stop wishing for them.  Butter was served out today 4 oz for each man a week.

Sunday the 21st
This day we had a religious service on deck.  This is second Sunday out.  The minister was sick the first Sabbath, and it also blew a gale.  We have two ministers aboard, the Rev. Mr. Bradbury officiated today.  The services were the same as we have at home.  Bibles were delivered out this morning.  The gift of Dr. Abbe of Boston, one for each man.  Good singing, flute for the accompaniment. #2
Last eve, about a dozen of us met on the quarter deck and had a grand sing.  The Capt and Mate and all the sailors are good clever jolly fellows on hand for a dance or sing or anything else.  
The wind blows so hard that I can hardly write.  Wished I had brought a portable writing desk and chair with me.
Today the wind is E by S.  Blowing pretty smart.  Going at the rate of 7 and 8 knots  hour in Latitude 32ᴼ11’.  The wind hauled more to the E at noon.  In Longitude.  Today we have rice in the morning,  apple duff, and ham for supper.  Some grumbling about what we have to eat.  I find it good enough.  The living is good.

Monday Jan. 22
This day at home is washing day, but with us it is like any other day.  Our soap is good for not anything except in fresh water, and we have to trust to the clouds for that making it washing day the first fair day after a shower with us.  Today the wind is wrong for us being dead ahead SSE turning ENE.  In Latitude 31ᴼ 54’ in Longitude 48ᴼ 29’.  Going about five knots.  This day had conversation with a young man and found him cousin to Nathan’s wife.   His name was Sargent.  Made but little acquaintance with any one as yet + one of crew.

Tuesday the 23
Wind the same as yesterday.  Going four knots.  In Latitude 32ᴼ 36’ Longitude 41ᴼ 28’.  This is bad business.  Going back gives us the blues, but we keep close to the wind and shall be in the Trades soon.  
The principle topics for conversation are Cape Horn, Valparaiso, and the gold diggings, and how soon shall we get there.
The Capt informed us today that there would not be a possible chance to send home a letter till we got on the coast of Brazil, and then he would give us notice and leave a letter bag all ready.


< Week 1

Coming Jan. 5, 2014 Week 3

Originally posted to oldmancoyote1 on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 05:06 PM PST.

Also republished by History for Kossacks.

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