THE FORT SCHUYLER PRESS IS PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THE
RELEASE OF ITS LATEST TITLE …
Four Years Before the Mast: A History of
New York’s Maritime College
Book Signing and Talk to be held at the Stephen B. Luce Library,
Wednesday, December 4th at 5p.m.
Hardcover will be on sale at a discount
for the college community.
Under New York City's Throgs Neck Bridge lies a spit of land
dominated by a pentagonal, 19th-century fortress that today houses a school
that has trained mariners since the age of sail. Within Fort Schuyler's walls
are stories of heroism and mutinies, shipwrecks and desertions. In Four Years Before the Mast,
author Joseph A. Williams uses his access to archival materials to tell the
tale of that institution known today as SUNY Maritime College. The story begins
during the age of sail when disaster and mutiny created a new demand for
trained mariners. In response, in 1873, New York State established a nautical
school under the auspices of the New York City Board of Education. Originally
based aboard the square-rigged sloop-of-war St. Mary's, the school taught boys
to run the rigging, tie knots, holystone the decks, and navigate on yearly
cruises across the Atlantic. In its beginning in the 19th century, the school
was constantly confused for a reformatory where "bad boys were made
good." Because of its cost, it was seen as a symbol of government waste,
and its opponents repeatedly tried to shut it down. But despite the criticisms,
the school survived and its tough training practices created generations of
gallant sea officers who led the American merchant fleet into the modern world.
In 1938, after a bruising political battle with Robert Moses, the school came
ashore at Fort Schuyler in the Bronx. In the following decades, it continued
its tradition of training sea officers as a college within the State University
of New York. Four Years
Before the Mast is a narrative history of a unique institution that
offers anecdotes from the 19th to 21st centuries revealing the harrowing
existence of life at sea, death in the high Arctic, daring rescues of foundered
ships, U-Boat attacks, and heroism on 9/11.
“After 140 years of producing
outstanding officers for the American merchant marine, the State University of
New York Maritime College has a history worthy of its long and distinguished
tradition. Four Years Before the Mast is lively, well-illustrated,
entertaining, and a delight to read.” – Kenneth T. Jackson, Editor-in-Chief,
The Encyclopedia of New York City, Barzun Professor of History, Columbia
University, and past president of the New-York Historical Society.
“Joseph Williams races from
one vivid anecdote to the next in his lively account of New York’s Maritime
College. He deftly combines scholarship and storytelling, and the book
often plays out like a string of surprise naval encounters. We meet rigid
captains, mutineers, cadet pranksters, drunken hooligans; we head to the North
Pole with one graduate and watch another fulfill his lifelong dream to become…
a ballet dancer. Williams – to his great credit – keeps his sense of
humor throughout as he chronicles the college’s recurring battles for funds and
respect.” – Richard Zacks, bestselling author of The Pirate Coast: Thomas
Jefferson, the First Marines and the Secret Mission of 1805.
“Meticulously detailed, yet
charmingly personal, Four Years Before the Mast is a must-read for
anyone interested in the evolution of professional marine education in the
United States.” – W. Jeffrey Bolster, Professor of History, University of New
Hampshire. Winner of the 2013 Bancroft Prize for The Mortal Sea:
Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail.
About the Author: Joseph A. Williams is a librarian and
archivist at the Stephen B. Luce Library. He holds an MA in History and
an MLS in Library and Information Science from Queens College. His work
has been featured in several professional and academic journals. After
four years of work combing through archives and interviewing alumni, he is
pleased to offer Four Years Before the Mast, the first published history
of Maritime College.
American Legion Visits the Stephen B.
chapter of the American Legion took their annual tour of SUNY Maritime on
November 8, 2013 which was led by Distinguished Service Professor, Barbara
Warkentine.One of their many stops was the
Stephen B. Luce Library.
The 9 member
group included the State Commander of the American Legion, the State President
of the American Legion Auxiliary and the State Commander of the Sons of the
tour was led by Library Director, Shafeek Fazal and Assistant Library Director, Joseph Williams.Some of the points of interests were the
Marine Society’s By Laws and Charter exhibit, the Felix Riesenberg exhibit,the history and architecture of the library, among others.