Two Captains From Carolina: Moses Grandy, John Newland Maffitt

Two Captains From Carolina: Moses Grandy, John Newland Maffitt, and the Coming of the Civil War by Bland Simpson. University of NC Press, 2012

No two men could have come from different circumstances. Moses Grandy was born a slave in Camden County, NC about 1791. He captained freight boats on the Dismal Swamp and bought his freedom three times before he finally gained it.

He became involved in abolitionism in Boston and ultimately appeared before the General Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1843.

John Newland Maffitt was born on February 22, 1819 aboard a three-masted sailing ship in the North Atlantic. His mother, Ann Carnic was on her way to join her husband, Reverend John Newland Maffit in Connecticut. At age five, with his parents separated, Maffit was adoped by his Uncle, Doctor William Maffitt who farmed and practiced medicine in Cumberland County, NC. 

At thirteen he became a midshipman in the US Navy. He served aboard the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) and by early 1850’s he was commander of the US Coast Survey schooner Gallitan mapping the waters of eastern North Carolina including the approaches to Wilmington, NC.

Bland Simpson, UNC professor of creative writing and author of numerous books including The Coasts of Carolina: Seaside to Sound Country, presents the lives of these two water-men in a fascinating narrative that sheds light on the social and economic forces that would build throughout the first half of the nineteenth century until war seemed the only way to reconcile these opposing forces.