A Most Accomplished Captain

Captain Benjamin Worth Unknown Artist, ca 1820–48
Oil on canvas, 24 1/2” x 19 1/3”
Gift of Sarah Folger Ward, 2009.6.1

Captain Benjamin Worth (sailing career, 1783–1824) was almost continually at sea. He began when he was fifteen years old and sailed over 870,000 sea miles (the circumference of the earth at the equator is 24,901 miles).

Of his voyages, he made one to London; four to the west coast of Africa; one to the east coast of Africa; five to the Brazil Banks; one to the West Indies; one to the Davis Straits; five to the Pacific; one of which he was the first American whaler to go to Australia. He passed Cape Horn sixteen times and the Cape of Good Hope twice; on two voyages he circumnavigated the world.

His total catch of oil was nineteen thousand barrels, of which all but four thousand barrels were sperm oil. During this time, he never lost a man at sea from a shipboard accident. The only vessel he lost was captured during the War of 1812 and was sent to Halifax. Previous to this capture, Worth was hailed by an American frigate and the navy captain obtained information as to the whereabouts of the British fleet, ultimately leading to their destruction.

The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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