Schooner’s crew massacred off Cape Fear

“On the morning of October 10, 1905, thirty miles off Cape Fear, gunfire erupted in the engine room of the schooner Harry A. Berwin, bound to Philadelphia from Mobile, Alabama. The gunman, a black sailor, methodically shot all of the ship’s white crew members and calmly threw the dead and dying men overboard. Then he ordered the surviving members of the crew to sail the ship toward Cape Fear.

“The violence aboard the Berwin was the most notable act of shipboard violence committed by blacks upon whites in American maritime history….”

— From “Washed Down in Blood: Murder on the Schooner Harry A. Berwin” by Vann Newkirk in  the North Carolina Historical Review (January 2014)

And that’s just the beginning! The story [digitally available at Pardon Power] also comes to include Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft; H.B. Warner, the actor who played the drunken druggist in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and — in a very loosely adapted 1958 movie version — James Mason, Dorothy Dandridge and Broderick Crawford.

 

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