"THE MISSIONARY PACKET MORNING STAR, BOSTON, NOVEMBER 12, 1866."
"The Missionary Packet Morning Star, Boston, November 12, 1866."
Lithograph with original hand color
Published: Endicott & Co.: New York, 1867
Paper size: 18 x 23"
Frame size: 30 x 34 3/4"
About the Artist
Endicott & Co.
About the Lithograph
Built in 1866 in East Boston, the Morning Star was the product of a remarkable collaborative endeavor. At a time when missionary activity was reaching a peak of fervor, the ship was financed by the sales of thousands of "shares" in the vessel bought by individual donors hoping to contribute to the efforts. Contributions poured in from church groups throughout the country, as many Americans hoped to take part symbolically in the missionary work. The Morning Star was built for missionaries working in the Hawaiian islands, and a majority of the shares were purchased by Hawaiians, many of them children. The ship departed from Boston for its first journey under Captain Hiram Bingham, Jr., on November 13, 1866 (the event commemorated in this lithograph). When it reached Honolulu on March 15, 1867, "2,000 Hawaiian Sunday School children marched to the wharf to see 'their ship'", showing clearly that the Morning Star had become a source of civic pride.
The plan was that the Morning Star would make yearly trips from the Gilbert Islands to Ponape, one thousand miles northwest, visiting other mission islands on the way, bringing supplies and occasionally transporting missionaries. Captain Bingham recorded the events of the first journey: "We have visited sixteen different islands, seven of them a second time, two a third time, and one five times. We have carried supplies and mails to twelve missionary families, have had as passengers all the families but one, have had occasion to accommodate at different times nearly one hundred different individuals in all, have found our little vessel none too large for the work to which she has been called. She has proved herself well adapted to the work, and gives good proof of thoroughness on the part of the builders. Long may she be spared to be sent on many similar errands of mercy." After only three years, however, the Morning Star was lost in a severe squall near Kusaie, though everyone on board was saved by a vessel that happened to be passing nearby. In this elegant lithograph, the Morning Star is depicted in profile ~ a classic marine "portrait" with its sails fully rigged and pennants flying high. As noted, the setting is the Morning Star's home port of Boston, the piers and docks of the city lining the background, as the ship departs for its mission to the Pacific. This is an exquisite marine portrait commemorating an important American clipper ship, not long before the era of clipper ships was permanency eclipsed by steam-powered vessels.