Smithsonian Journeys Cruise on Regent Explorer
December 20, 2017 - January 3, 2018
Andy will be giving a series of talks as Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer sails from Miami through the Caribbean back to Miami on its “Southern Caribbean Charms” Christmas and New Years cruise. The talks are listed below. Click here for books mentioned in the lectures.
The Caribbean, Columbus, and the Early Age of Exploration
Global wind and ocean current circulation patterns determined where off the continents of the New World early European explorers, searching for the riches of the Orient, would make their first landfalls. Those patterns, the limitations of late 15th century seafaring, and the lush islands of the Caribbean and their congenial climate, ensured that the Caribbean and later the shores of the Gulf of Mexico became early focal points in the colonization of the Americas, the enslavement of their native peoples, and in the hunt for wealth.
The story of the beautiful and nearly new Royal Mail Ship Rhone, sunk in the Caribbean during the terrible hurricane of October 1867. Breaking for the safety of the open sea, Rhone ran hard aground on Black Rock at full speed and snapped in half. The great storm struck soon after a summer yellow fever epidemic and was followed by a tsunami two weeks later. These three great trials devastated the islands. Recovery took years. The wreck of the Rhone is a popular scuba dive site today.
The Spanish American War
The war at the end of the 19th century signaled the end of history’s first truly global empire, Spain, and the rise of the brash new imperial power, the United States, which would soon dominate the 20th century. The short, decisive naval battles in Philippine and Cuban waters whetted appetites for expansion and sharpened American interest in building “a path between the seas” (the Panama Canal) which when it opened in 1914 reshaped the map of the world.
The American Civil War Afloat
A description of the roots of the conflict, and of cabinet secretaries, strategies, ships, sailors, and key battles that shaped the Civil War at sea on the oceans of the world, in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Caribbean, and in the ports and on the rivers of the Confederacy. 1861-65.
America’s fascination with the Caribbean has its roots in the earliest years of the young republic, when the entrances to and exits from the Gulf of Mexico were even then seen as strategic waters opening to an inland sea the control of which was believed essential to the independence and vitality of the United States. The armored cruiser USS Memphis’ sudden and mysterious destruction off Santo Domingo in 1916, much less well-known than Maine’s sinking in Havana’s harbor a war before, offers a fascinating sidelight on this American political history, the U.S. Navy, and the Great War of 1914-17.