Skip to main content

On board the ship Governor Morton

Identifier: MSS 0097-Item 0013

Scope and Content Note

The journal documents the journey on the clipper ship Governor Morton from March 12, 1852 to July 15, 1852 from New York to San Francisco around Cape Horn. The journal is a personal narrative, including some navigational data such as the weather and knots as well as a few entries concerning marine life (whales, sharks, flying fish), but most of the entries are dedicated to life on the ship. The quality of the food, homesickness, and the cruelty of the captain are frequent topics. The journal contains a list of the second cabin passengers including such details as name, age, occupation, and city and state from which they hailed. After the author disembarked in San Francisco, he used the journal as an account book for his wages and to list the tools he bought for his trade as a carpenter.

The journal is a small leather bound volume, circa 200 pages, 136 of which are filled in pencil and ink entries.


  • Creation: 1852 March 10-1852 December 20


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Historical Note

John Clarke was a passenger on the ship Governor Morton traveling from New York to San Francisco around Cape Horn from March 10, 1852 to December 20, 1852. The journal contains a list of the second cabin passengers including such details as name, age, occupation, and city and state from which they hailed. John Clarke (b. 1817), a carpenter, was a second cabin passenger from Providence, Rhode Island, traveling with a relative, Joseph Clarke, a laborer.

The Governor Morton was a clipper ship that made many voyages around Cape Horn to California between the years 1851 and 1855 and after 1866. The Mystic Seaport G. W. Blunt White Library has records of registry for this ship from 1858 to 1878. The captain, John A. Burgess, was well known for his cruelty to sailors and passengers alike.

The journey was taken during the California Gold Rush. Gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in 1848 and many people flocked to California to make their fortune, leaving their families behind. The author of the journal wrote, "I have left the dearest I have on earth for paltry gold."

"Governor Morton (ship)." Mystic Seaport. (accessed February 7, 2007).Additional information derived from the collection.


1 volume (approximately 200 pages) ; 15 cm


Journal kept by the passenger John Clarke aboard the ship Governor Morton documenting the trip from New York to San Francisco between March 12, 1852 and December 20, 1852.


Purchase, 1951.

Materials Available in Alternative Format

A digitized copy of the journal is available at the University of Delaware Digital Institutional Repository .

Related Materials in this Repository

This item forms part of MSS 0097 Diaries, Journals, and Ships' Logs collection.

Shelving Summary

  1. Item 0013: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0097

OCLC Number


Processed and encoded by Norieta Hagerty, January 2007.

On board the ship Governor Morton
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2007 January 31
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA