This is the first biography of Capt. Peter Strickland, a little-known Connecticut Yankee who crossed the Atlantic 100 times in command of a sailing vessel, traded with French and Portuguese colonies during the period 1864-1905, and served as the first American consul to French West Africa for over 20 years. We know about Peter Strickland’s long life (1837-1921) because he wrote a daily journal from the age of 19 until the year he died. He broke away from a long line of Connecticut farmers to adopt a seafaring life at the age of 15. Capt. Strickland’s merchant marine career led him from the east coast of the United States to the west coast of Africa. He introduced American tobacco and wood products into French and Portuguese colonies and on the return trips carried animal hides and peanuts in his 100-ton schooners. He wrote and published a book on behalf of sailors.
The most knowledgeable American in the African trade for 40 years, Strickland struggled to maintain an American competitive edge among the dominant commercial presence of French trading houses from Bordeaux and Marseilles. The U.S. State Department asked him to become the first consul in French West Africa, with residence in Senegal. The captain accepted the terms: he would receive no salary, but he could keep the port fees he collected and continue to practice his import-export business. Living on the former slave island of Gorée, Strickland battled epidemics of cholera and yellow fever. He suffered from malaria and catarrh. His 23-year-old son George accidentally drowned off the coast of Dakar, Senegal. Demoralized and ill, Strickland retired to Boston in 1905 and became a gentleman farmer. At age 77, he recopied his entire journal into bound volumes.
Capt. Peter Strickland owes much to author Stephen H. Grant.
–Library of Congress, Center for the Book
This book offers a vivid picture of the unique career of a New Englander who was a pioneer in the diplomatic field in French West Africa.
–Carol Kimball, The Day, New London, Conn.
This is a great new historical source for Senegal, and for 19th century American shipping, trade, and foreign relations.
–L. Rebecca Johnson Melvin, University of Delaware Library
Grant’s careful blending of historical hindsight with Strickland’s own words brings enormous value to our understanding of U.S. diplomacy. –Aaron Chassy, Foreign Service Journal
Stephen Grant has done a masterful job of weaving the strands and evidence of a multitalented individual’s life into a coherent collage with his biography. –Mary-Charlotte Shealy
From the Publisher
This is an ADST-DACOR Diplomats and Diplomacy Book.
From the Author
“Peter Strickland” was my first biography. I read all I could find by and on Peter Strickland, consisting of four linear feet of documents. The major archives I consulted were two: Morris Library at the University of Delaware at Newark, and the G. W. Blunt Library at the Mystic Seaport, Conn.
Other archives that provided primary source material were the U. S. National Archives and the Senegal National Archives.
During the period from 1880 to 1905, no foreigner knew Senegal better than Peter Strickland. He worked as sea captain, merchant, and consul on the island of Gorée. He lived in one house overlooking the port, where he could easily monitor ship movements. The house is still standing, and is owned by a French medical doctor. I was invited to sleep two nights in the house to seek inspiration. It worked! I grew to have great admiration for this sailor, trader, advocate, teacher, father, author, idealist, captain, consul, and diarist.
From the Inside Flap
An ADST-DACOR Diplomats and Diplomacy Booik
Cover and graphics by Sylviane Grant and Jesse Swingle.
From the Back Cover
Peter Stricikland might have slipped through history’s net were it not for the author’s purchase of an item on eBay: an envelope sent in 1889 from Boston via Bordeaux to Gorée Island in Senegal. In 1883, the Department of State appointed the New London sea captain U.S. consul in Senegal, the first in French West Africa. After twenty-three years in the post, Strickland retired to Boston. Among the documents he left behind, a personal journal spanning sixty-four years affords a window into a unique life at the turn of the last century.
About the Author
Stephen H. Grant, EdD, is Senior Fellow at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training in Arlington, Virginia. He also lectures on African Culture at the Foreign Service Institute. His own Foreign Service career took him to Ivory Coast, Guinea, Egypt, Indonesia, and El Salvador. Working for the U.S. Agency for International Development, he headed the education office in each of these countries and managed grants to improve local schooling. Grant is the author of three commercially published books on the history of Guinea, Indonesia, and El Salvador, designed and printed in those countries, and of numerous articles.
- Publisher : New Academia Publishing/ The Spring (December 15, 2006)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 236 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0978771338
- ISBN-13 : 978-0978771331
- Item Weight : 12.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.54 x 9 inches