On Sunday, February 12, from 1 – 4pm, New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park will mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with a day of talks on the Stone Fleet, discussion of Melville’s poem on the Stone Fleet, and a special appearance by the park’s 1850s ladies. All of the day’s activities are free and take place at the Corson Maritime Learning Center located at 33 William Street in downtown New Bedford, Massachusetts. The program is as follows:
1:00 PM – In December of 1861, the federal government purchased twenty-one New Bedford whaling ships with the purpose of sinking them and blockading Charleston and Savannah Harbors. The project, now known as the ―”Stone Fleet”, has been called a debacle and a failure. But was it truly a failure? Find out the full story when graduate student, librarian and former park ranger George Ripley V provides the details about this story that bring it to life.
2:00-3:00 PM – Dr. Mary K. Bercaw-Edwards will give a talk entitled, ―Herman Melville, the Stone Fleet, and the Judgment of History.‖ Dr. Mary K. Bercaw Edwards is an Associate Professor of English and Maritime Studies Faculty at the University of Connecticut. A Herman Melville scholar, she spends a great deal of time in New Bedford, where the Melville Society Archive is located. She also works at Mystic Seaport, where she spends her days climbing aloft on the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan. In addition, she holds a Coast Guard captain’s license and has accumulated 58,000 miles at sea, all under sail.
3:00 -4:00 PM – Ruth and Abby, the 1850s ladies, will discuss the Lincoln-Douglass debates. Hear out what made these debates so important to our country over 150 years ago, and discover how these issues resonate with us to this today. Their presentation is a part of an entire schedule of events leading up to the stage performance of The Rivalry at the Zeiterion Theater, New Bedford, on Sunday, February 12 at 8:00 PM. The Rivalry is a riveting depiction of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, using dialogue from the original debate transcripts to bring to life the fierce competition between the future President and the incumbent Senator as they tackled the day’s most controversial issues. The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center, The New Bedford Civil War Round Table, The Fort Tabor Military Museum, New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, and the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick together commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War.