Charles W. Morgan - Coope, Virginia T.Log of Mystic Seaport, Vol. 32, no. 4.(Winter, 1981): 121-128.
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Morgan owned a candleworks to produce spermaceti candles. Between 1833 and 1840, he obtained a ready market for his whale oil through a contract to supply the oil that illuminated American lighthouses.
Otherwise, details of the twenty-two years following 1813 remain a mystery for now, since the next diary begins 1 January 1841. But he made no mention of resuming his diary after the lapse of years, so perhaps there are still volumes yet to be found. By this time Charles and Sarah had one son and four daughters, and lived in a large house which Charles had built on fashionable County Street in 1821. Morgan's business affairs were extensive and varied. True to his youthful views on the value of western land he had purchased property in New York, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, as well as a large amount of land in New Bedford. Like many foresighted shipping merchants, he invested some of his profits in the industries developing around him. . He was part owner of the Pocasset Cotton Mill in Fall River, of which his father-in-law Samuel Rodman had been president and principal stockholder; and also invested in the Acushnet Paper Mill; an iron works in Duncannon, Pennsylvania; a nail factory in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania; coal fields; and railroads. He was president of the Bedford Commercial Bank, an incorporator of the New Bedford Institution for Savings, and an investor in various insurance companies.
In spite of business demands he found time for philanthropic interests such as Friends Academy, which he helped found; the New Bedford Free Public Library; the Lyceum, which he helped found in 1828; the New Bedford Temperance Society; the Port Society to benefit sailors; and the Unitarian First Congregational Society which he joined not long after settling in New Bedford, despite his Quaker up-bringing.
In 1841, at age forty-five, we see a man devoted to his family, interested in public affairs, an active member of the Congregational Society, but one deeply concerned about his many debts and his poor health. He usually spent mornings attending to business affairs and afternoons reading, with time allotted for a long walk or riding his horse.
On 22 February 1841 Morgan walked to the shipyard of Jethro and Zachariah Hillman to view his new ship under construction there. On 2 April he noted, "Carpenters all dismissed from new ship as I will not consent to the 10 hour system they have seen fit to adopt:" New Bedford ship carpenters, like those of other cities, were beginning to organize for shorter hours and better pay and strikes or lockouts were not uncommon. Four days later he was chairman of a meeting of those opposed to the 10-hour day. "Resolved unanimously that we would suspend all labour, till we could do it on the old system so that my new ship is at a stand to my great annoyance:" The next week it was still "all quiet on the wharves, no labour going on with either carpenters, caulkers, or riggers. This is a great inconvenience but we must bear it till the men come to their senses." Agreement on a 10 1/2-hour day was finally reached on 6 May.
Then, on 21 July he recorded a satisfying day. "This morning at 10 o'clock my elegant new ship was launched beautifully from Messrs. Hillman Yard-and in the presence of about half the town and a great show of ladies. She looks beautifully on the water-she was coppered on the stocks...." Two days later he set out for Duncannon and when he returned to New Bedford on 9 August "Found all going on well-the new ship fitting and looking beautifully-Griffitts [his nephew Samuel Griffitts Morgan] has called her the 'Chas. W Morgan'- I don't altogether like it."
The next diary begins in 1848, and from then until his last illness he recorded every day. On 8 October 1848 Charles wrote: "Here I am 52 years of age, living almost
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