Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Nimitz Library
Nimitz Library

John C. Lawrence Journal, 1844-1975 (bulk 1844-1845): Finding Aid

Published in September 2013

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
    https://www.usna.edu/Library/sca/index.php
  • Call number: MS 368
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: John C. Lawrence Journal
  • Dates: 1844-1975
  • Bulk Dates: 1844-1845
  • Size: 2.5 linear inches (1 manuscript box)
  • Creator: Lawrence, John C., -1846
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: John Clarkson Lawrence was a mate in the United States Navy. The John C. Lawrence Journal, entitled "Journal of a Cruise amongst the Madeira, Canary and Cape Verde Islands and on the West Coast of Africa. 1845 & '45. in the United States Ship of War Yorktown. Capt. Chas H Bell," covers the time period of 13 November 1844 through 7 December 1845 while Yorktown was engaged in suppressing the slave trade.

Biography of John C. Lawrence

John Clarkson Lawrence, of Long Island, New York, originally joined the United States Navy in 1842. Following the death of his brother-in-law, Navy captain John Gallagher, Lawrence resigned. However, in January 1844, Lawrence rejoined the Navy with the rank of acting master's mate. After an assignment aboard the receiving ship North Carolina (Ship-of-the-line), Lawrence was transferred to U.S.S. Yorktown (Sloop-of-war) in October 1844 and promoted to master's mate. In early December 1845, the Yorktown captured the slave-ship Pons. Lawrence was assigned as Acting Mate of the Pons with LT R.C. Cogdell as Commander. While sailing the Pons, with its slave cargo, to Monrovia, Lawrence died at sea of ship fever.

Back to Top

Description of Contents

The John C. Lawrence Journal, entitled "Journal of a Cruise amongst the Madeira, Canary and Cape Verde Islands and on the West Coast of Africa. 1845 & '45. in the United States Ship of War Yorktown. Capt. Chas H Bell," covers the time period of 13 November 1844 through 7 December 1845. During this period, the Yorktown (Sloop-of-war) was at Funchal, Madeira, and then sailed to Porto Praya, joining the African Squadron in late November 1844. The Yorktown traversed the waters off the West Coast of Africa, examining suspect ships, taking prizes and visiting various coastal sites, on its mission to suppress the slave trade. Lawrence describes ship events and actions, places visited, native and foreign people met (including the slaver Theodore Canot (aka Theophilus Conneau) and the governor of Liberia Joseph J. Roberts) and weather conditions. He also comments on the slave trade.

On 1 December 1845, the Yorktown took possession of the brig Pons with its cargo of about 900 slaves. Lawrence was assigned as Acting Mate to bring the Pons to Monrovia. In his last entry of 7 December 1845, Lawrence describes the Pons with its cargo of dying slaves as a "floating hell" and prays "God deliver us."

The collection also includes the tract "Extracts from a Letter of Capt. Bell," an excerpt from Black Cargoes by Daniel P. Mannix, an article on A Slaver's Log Book, a photocopy of a portrait of Lawrence, and correspondence from the National Archives regarding research into Lawrence and the Yorktown.

Back to Top

Arrangement

The John C. Lawrence Journal is organized into the following six files:

  • File 1: John C. Lawrence Journal, 1844-1845
  • File 2: John C. Lawrence Journal (Typescript), 1844-1845
  • File 3: "Extracts from a Letter of Capt. Bell", 1845
  • File 4: Portrait (Photocopy), undated
  • File 5: Articles and Book Excerpts, undated
  • File 6: Correspondence - National Archives, 1975
Back to Top

Access and Use

Access

Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The John C. Lawrence Journal is the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.

Back to Top

Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Robert Royall in March 1996. Accession No. 96-21.

Back to Top

Related Materials

Related Archival Material

The John C. Lawrence Journal was adapted for print as Voyage to a Thousand Cares : Master's Mate Lawrence with the African Squadron, 1844-1846, compiled by C. Herbert Gilliland. Otherwise, there are no other known collections of papers of John C. Lawrence.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection.

Publications Citing These Papers

An edited edition of Lawrence's journal was published as Voyage to a Thousand Cares : Master's Mate Lawrence with the African Squadron, 1844-1846 compiled by C. Herbert Gilliland.

Back to Top

Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

John C. Lawrence Journal, MS 368

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:

Lawrence, John C., -1846. Voyage to a Thousand Cares : Master's Mate Lawrence with the African Squadron, 1844-1846. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, c2004.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Mary R. Catalfamo in 2004. Finding aid written by Mary R. Catalfamo in 2004 and edited by David D'Onofrio in September 2013.

Back to Top

Subject Headings

These materials have been indexed in the Naval Academy Library online catalog using the following terms. Those seeking related materials should search under these terms.

Name and Subject Terms

  • Antislavery movements -- United States -- History -- 19th century
  • Atlantic Coast (Africa) -- Description and travel
  • Lawrence, John C., -1846
  • Slavery -- Africa, West -- History -- 19th century
  • United States. Navy. African Squadron -- Officers -- Diaries
  • Yorktown (Sloop-of-war)

Genre Terms

  • Diaries
  • Manuscripts
Back to Top

Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

John C. Lawrence Journal, 1844-1845

Box 1 Folder 2

John C. Lawrence Journal (Typescript), 1844-1845

Box 1 Folder 3

"Extracts from a Letter of Capt. Bell", 1845

Letter pertaining to the capture of the slave ship Pons.

Box 1 Folder 4

Portrait (Photocopy), undated

Box 1 Folder 5

Articles and Book Excerpts, 1962, undated

Excerpt from Black Cargoes by Daniel P. Mannix and an article on A Slaver's Log Book.

Box 1 Folder 6

Correspondence - National Archives, 1975

Back to Top