All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Hanging Captain Gordon

The only American ever executed for the crime of slave trading was Capt. Nathaniel Gordon—born in Portland, and hanged in New York City on Feb. 21, 1892. Ron Soodalter's Hanging Captain Gordon: The Life and Trial of An American Slave Trader explores this ugly chapter in Maine's history. William David Barry offers a review in today's Maine Sunday Telegram.
Soodalter presents us with a portrait of a greedy but by no means atypical master mariner known to his peers as "Lucky Nat." He then shows an inhuman form of international commerce, the slave trade, which stretched deep into tribal Africa, to the coast and across the Atlantic to Cuba.

Though the trade was supposed to be in its end stages and outlawed by the United States since 1807, Soodalter shows that Portland masters and vessels played a depressingly large role in the last days of the trade. [Link]
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