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Painting of the Brig “Perseverance”

Amasa Delano [Master]” (ca. 1815)
Gouache on paper
Dimensions: 18” (h) x 22” (w)
DRHS Purchase, 2012 (2012.2)

Image of a ship with two masts and one bowsprit at front. Flying a banner that reads “Perseverance” and a 15 star flag at rear. Surrounded by several smaller ships nearby. Vessel and Master’s name painted in bar at bottom.

Captain Amasa Delano (1763-1823) was a master mariner, shipbuilder and author. He was born in Duxbury, Massachusetts to shipbuilder Samuel Delano, Sr. and Abigail Drew. During the American Revolution, Amasa, despite his young age, served in the militia under General Heath. In 1790, he embarked on the first of his three circumnavigations of the globe aboard the ship, Massachusetts. He returned to Duxbury in 1794, after three-year odyssey that included surveying many of the islands in the South Pacific.

In 1799, Amasa began his second voyage to the South Seas by way of Cape Horn in the Perseverance, a ship built in Duxbury by the Delano brothers. His objective was to hunt seals off the coast of Australia and trade their valuable furs in China. The Perseverance also spent time in the Hawaiian Islands (1801-1802) before heading to China. Once trading was complete, Amasa departed Canton in April, 1802 and arrived in Boston on November 1. Shortly after this voyage, in 1803, Amasa married the widow Hannah Appleton (d. 1823) in Providence, RI.

Amasa Delano’s final voyage to the South Seas began in 1803, again in the Perseverance, followed by his brother, Samuel Delano, Jr., in the Pilgrim. Another brother, William Delano, went along as first mate on the Perseverance. It was on this voyage that Amasa encountered and captured the Spanish slave ship Tryal. This episode later became well known through Herman Melville’s novella Benito Cereno. Melville’s fictionalized account changed some names, the Perseverance, for example, is called the Bachelor’s Delight, but character Amasa Delano of Duxbury is still the key figure.

Delano penned his own account of his many adventures at sea in his 1817 book, A Narrative of Voyages and Travels in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres: Comprising Three Voyages Round the World; Together with a Voyage of Survey and Discovery in the Pacific Ocean and Oriental Islands.