JCB Fellow's Talk: Sarah Crabtree

March 1, 2017 - 4:00pm

Sarah Crabtree (San Francisco State University), National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow

"Whaler, Traitor, Coward, Spy!: William Rotch, the Quaker Ethic, and the Spirit of Capitalism”

This show-and-tell explores the (mis)adventures of William Rotch, a wealthy Quaker whaler from Nantucket whose attempts to remain neutral during the political and military campaigns of the so-called “Age of Revolution” made him a prime target of the governments under which he lived.  Rotch fled from one side of the Atlantic World to the other (and back again), encountering near constant opposition from those in power.  As a result, he was accused of disloyalty four times by three governments in two decades – a feat that Rotch found even more difficult to believe than we might today.  This presentation showcases several documents that attempted to address the problem of Rotch’s citizenship, using this incredible story to explore the tension between religion and nation as well as the relationship of each to his whaling empire.


The Reading Room will close to researchers at 3:30 p.m.