Sunday, May 26, 2019

Memorial Day for the War Dead, All of Them With Murfin Verse


Memorial Day is tomorrow.  For a lot of folks it’s just the beginning of a long weekend and the start of summer.  And that’s ok.  You can go elsewhere to be scolded for forgetting the sacrifices of the war dead.  Just about every newspaper in the country will serve up an editorial on the subject plus letters from the VFW.  But a lot of us do hold it in our hearts for very compelling and complex reasons.  
Those of us who will go church services today will hear various reflections on the meaning.
My Unitarian Universalists, who tend to be, on the whole, anti-war folks, often find themselves conflicted.  How do we honor the final sacrifices of warriors without necessarily honoring or glorifying war itself? How can we express sincere love of country while acknowledging its frequent errors and injustice? Can we place our hands over our hearts and bow our heads as a distant Taps is blown and a flag is lowered to half-staff without feeling hypocritical? Can we twist a Poppy around a button without embracing the jingoism of some veterans’ organizations? It was F. Scott Fitzgerald who reminded us that “The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas at the same time and continue to function.” As for me, I choose to lay my symbolic wreath on the memorials to departed souls.
The question for some might be which souls.  Do some get left out?
The bombing of civilians at Guernica during the Spanish Revolution shocked the world but became the model of modern war.
Remembrance of the war dead is all well and good.  But, especially in modern wars, soldiers, sailors, and airmen are only a fraction of the victims.  Civilians, both those who just got in the way—collateral damage in the cold, efficient jargon of the military—and those murdered as a matter of strategy and policy dwarf the dead in uniforms.
Despite international treaties and high minded  and high flown declarations of noble intent by governments, insurgents, and other involved factions, the accepted dogma of modern warfare is that civilian deaths, the more brutal and indiscriminate the better, will “demoralize” the enemy and “sap them of the will to resist.”
This is utter hogwash.  It has never been the case.  Civilian deaths simply inflame the passions of the targeted peoples, raise their determination to both resist—and if possible wreck vengeance.  It also sets up generational resentments and enmities that threaten to rekindle conflicts again and again.
Ask the “indomitable” people of London.  Or for that matter the Germans under Allied carpet bombing or the Japanese whose wood and paper cities flashed over in fire storms even before we dropped atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Although the Axis Powers were eventually overwhelmed by superior military and industrial capacity, the war was not shortened by even one day by demoralization due to civilian deaths.  Even in the case of the Atomic bomb drops—which were widely viewed as forcing the Empire of Japan to surrender before a hugely costly invasion of the Home Islands—it was not the vaporization of the population of two cities that caused the ultimate surrender, but the calculation of the General Staff that the military would be rendered useless by atomic attacks on their forces and equipment.
Modern terrorism is the war of the weak against the strong.  And it assumes that enough mayhem will break the will of whatever presumed oppressor.  But there is no real difference between leaving a bomb in a mailbox and flattening a neighborhood with drones.  It is simply a matter of scale and technological sophistication.
All modern war is, in essence, terrorism.
Israeli bombing of densely populated Gaza is terrorism on a grand scale in retaliation for the primitive terrorism of home made and largely ineffective rockets.
In the mid 1990’s I was asked to write a poem for a Memorial Day Sunday service at the Congregational Unitarian Church in Woodstock.  I was asked to write something that memorialized ALL of the war dead.  Using the headlines of the day—a time when our nation was supposedly at peace—I came up with In the Century of Death. 

I will be reprising it as the Chalice Lighting text at services today at the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation, in McHenry reckless saber rattling threatens new wars against Iran and possibly Venezuela.  
A "grainy photo on page six of a million tires burning..."

In the Century of Death
They are like that grainy photo on page six
           of a million tires burning somewhere in New Jersey.
 We shake our heads
           and click our tongues
           with disapproval and dismay,
           reflect a split second
           before we turn the page
           and hurry on to check out
                Ann Landers,
                the crossword puzzle,
                National League standings
                or the price of gold in London.   
 They are the dead,
            an uncounted century
            of waste and carnage,
            stacked as carelessly and deep
            as those tires,
            alike the cast off refuse
            of industrial efficiency. 
And like those tires they earn
 a moment of our passing pity
            in the rush of our busy lives
                between work and soccer practice,
                     haircut and committee meeting.
 Unless by accident we are near
           and a pungent change of wind
                 stings our noses and eyes with acrid smoke
                     and oily ash drifts
                     onto our own innocent cheeks.
—Patrick Murfin
Note:  This poem appeared in my Skinner House Meditation Manual, We Build Temples in the Heart, published in 2004 in Boston.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Jesse Owens Smashed Records, Defied Expectations

Jesse Owens running for Ohio State University breaks a record at the 1935 Big Ten Track Meet.
On May 25, 1935, James Cleveland Owens, an athlete on the Ohio State University (OSU) track team, demolished three World Records and tied a fourth in 45 minutes at a Big Ten meet in Ann Arbor.  The jaw dropping accomplishment did not go unnoticed.
Jesse Owens was born in Alabama in 1913, one of eleven children.  He was 9 years old when his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he was recruited to run track by a junior high school coach while working part time jobs to support his family. 
Owens set his first records in the high jump and long jump at Fairmount Junior High School under coach and life-long mentor, Charles Riley.
Owens first came to national attention when he tied a world record in the 100 yard dash and long jumped for 24 feet 9 ½ inches at the National High School Championships in Chicago’s Soldier Field in 1933.  The sought-after young athlete was recruited by OSU, but not offered a scholarship.  A job was arranged for his father so the Owens could go to school, work only part time, and compete.  He was not allowed to live on campus and had to abide by local segregation laws when traveling with the team—eating take outs from restaurants that would not serve him and sleeping in separate hotels or while seated on the team bus.  
In his college career he won eight NCAA individual event championships over two years in 1935-36.  
Owens was naturally included on the 1936 Olympic Team.  During the  Berlin Olympics, meant to show off Adolph Hitler’s “New Germany” and establish the superiority of Aryan athletes, Owens famously won Gold Medals in the 100 meter sprint, long jump, 200 meter sprint, and the 4 x 100 relay—a feat unmatched until Carl Lewis in 1984.  
The day he won his first medal, Hitler left the stands after shaking the hands of only German athletes.  When the International Olympic Committee told Der Fuehrer that he had to greet all medal winners or none, he skipped all remaining medal ceremonies.  
Owens on the Medal stand at the 1936 Berlin Olympic games where he topped a German and a Japanese runners.
Owens disputed claims that he was snubbed by Hitler.  He said they had exchanged waves as he marched past and that he did not expect a personal greeting.  “Hitler didn't snub me—it was FDR who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send me a telegram,” Owens later said.  
Indeed neither Franklin Roosevelt nor Harry Truman ever invited him to the White House or acknowledged his accomplishments. Dwight Eisenhower finally recognized him with an appointment as an international Ambassador of Sports.  
Owens also pointed out that ordinary Germans were enthusiastic and supportive and that while in German he could stay at hotels and dine with white athletes.  In America after a ticker-tape parade in his honor in New York he was forced to ride the freight elevator to a reception in his honor at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.  
After the Olympics he was stripped of his amateur standing for refusing to make a tour of Sweden with fellow athletes and instead trying to find paying opportunities in the U.S. to support his family.  But aside from a deal with the founder of Adidas shoes, he found no endorsement deals and there was then no professional track circuit in which to compete.  
Owens found less than a warm welcome after the initial hoopla and few of the other opportunities other high profile Olympians were offered.  He was eventually forced to take a job pumping gas to support his family.  Despite living on the edge of poverty, he was even prosecuted for income tax evasion.
He turned to self-promoting exhibitions which included taking on all comers in sprints giving the challengers big leads and running against race horses.  An attempt at running a dry cleaning business failed.  At one point he was reduced to working as a gas station attendant.  
Despite all of these financial travails, he was successfully prosecuted by the Treasury Department for tax evasion in 1966.  
Ironically his public chastisement of Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos for giving Black Power salutes in their medal ceremony at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics led to a kind of public rehabilitation and opportunities as a motivational speaker for Ford Motor Company and as a spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee.  
At the request of Avery Brundage of the United States Olympic Committee Jesse Owens tried to dissuade Black athletes from protests at the 1968 Mexico City Games and denounced Juan Carlos and Tommy Smith after they famously raised their fists during the National Anthem.  Owens was widely condemned as an Uncle Tom in the Black community.
A smoker for 35 years, Owens died of lung cancer in Tuscan, Arizona in 1983 at the age of 66.  His friend and fellow Olympian Congressman Ralph Metcalfe helped arrange his burial at Chicago’s Oak Woods Cemetery. 
Americans know, or think they know, Owens best through film.  First there was Leni Riefenstahl’s epic documentary of the Berlin Games meant to celebrate the triumph of Aryan superiority and Nazi glory.  But Owens’s four medals were so dominating and the footage of his events, his medal ceremonies, and of Hitler skulking out of his box were so compelling that Owens, not Der Furer, seemed the star of the movie. 
Two American documentaries made years later also were widely viewed.  Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin by Bud Greenspan was shown on TV in connection with the 1964 Tokyo Games.  More recently Jesse Owens on the PBS American Masters series in 2012 not only celebrated his athletic feats, but looked unflinchingly as his post games life, racism, and how after his criticism of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, he was widely denounced as an Uncle Tom. 
In the wake of the success of Roots, the made for TV movie The Jesse Owens Story starring Dorian Harewood in 1984 told Owen’s story in flashbacks from his tax evasion trial.  Although Owens’s post-glory tribulations were detailed, curiously little attention was paid to his wife and family who he worked so hard to support.  The movie was syndicated mostly to independent outlets in mid-summer by Operation Prime Time.  It did get three Prime Time Emmy Awards and won one—for Best Men’s Hairstyling.
Stephan James starred as Jesse Owens in the 2016 film Race.
In 2016 in time for the 80th anniversary of the Berlin Games a new feature bio-pic, Race, directed by Stephen Hopkins and starring Stephan James concentrated on the games and Owen’s single minded preparation.  It drew strong reviews, compliments from surviving family members for respect and accuracy but did disappointing box office and was shut out of the awards nominations that prestige pictures about race often garner.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Thanks to Cyrill Demian Mama’s Got A Squeeze Box

A French peasant in his smock and wooden sabots dances with his wife at village café in this early post card..
I’ve heard it called the second most dreaded instrument in the world, after the banjo.  But I am partial to the banjo.  I admit to having a harder time warming up to the accordion which I associate mostly with amateur musicians in local talent contests, and Polka, a popular form of dance music to which I never took a shrine even though my wife’s father Art Brady and her uncle Al Wilczynski played on Chicago radio in successful Polka bands after World War II.
But I may have been harsh in my judgment.  It turns out that the instrument can be versatile and applied to a wide range of musical styles.  It also made making music affordable, portable, and easy to learn for the working poor of Europe, many of who participated in one of the great mass migrations in human history.
Although others may have preceded him, Cyrill Demian got the first patent on an accordion and is generally credited as the inventor.
We can credit—or blame—Cyrill Demian, an Armenian piano and organ maker who was living in Vienna, Austria.  On May 23, 1829 he was granted a patent on a new musical instrument that he called the accordion.  In his application papers he described it thusly:
Its appearance essentially consists of a little box with feathers of metal plates and bellows fixed to it, in such a way that it can easily be carried, and therefore traveling visitors to the country will appreciate the instrument….It is possible to perform marches, arias, melodies, even by an amateur of music with little practice, and to play the loveliest and most pleasant chords of 3, 4, 5 etc. voices after instruction.
Demian was not the first one to tinker with a portable instrument using free reeds which produce sound as air flows past them vibrating the reed in a frame.  Nor was he the first to use a bellows device to produce the airflow rather than direct wind from blowing in a tube or from air pushed from mouth-inflated bags.  Some Russian instrument makers had employed bellows boxes as early as 1820.  Christian Friedrich Buschmann is often credited with building the first such instrument in Berlin in 1822.
But it was Demian who obtained a patent and who went into commercial production on at least a modest scale.  The left hand on the bellows box could press buttons regulating air flow over the reeds.  An entire chord could be produced by depressing a single key. There were only eight buttons in the model described in the patent, but he noted that more could be easily added. There were no buttons or keys on the right side, the player used the strength of the usually dominant arm to push and pull the bellows. Demian’s instrument was bisonoric—it could produce two different chords with the same key, one for each bellows direction.
Whoever has the best origin claims, the accordion was clearly an instrument whose time had come.  Its popularity spread like wildfire, especially in Russia and Eastern Europe, but soon in Italy, Germany, and France as well.  It seems like every maker made his “improvements.” Dozens of different button arrangements were designed.  Some were unisonic, producing the same notes or chords on the draw or the push.  In Eastern and Southern Europe they were tuned to be able to play in minor keys.
M. Honner company of Germany mass produced early accordions like this which quickly swept Europe.
By the mid 1830’s tens of thousands were being produced in centers across Europe.  They were sold mostly to amateur musicians or to the lowest grade of professional—those who played in cafés and taverns or on the street for tips.  The instruments were easy to learn and to become proficient on and perfect for playing by ear.  They were also loud and easily heard.  Most importantly they could be used to play traditional folk music of all sorts of people.  The accordion could assume the voice of a church organ, a violin, various stringed instruments, and horns.  And the player was free to sing along.  Some played single notes instead of chords so they could be used to play melody, often in combination with other accordions playing chords and harmonies.
Accordions reached London by 1832 where newspapers reviewed public performances poorly.  But they rapidly caught on with the public.  They were demonstrated in New York City by 1841.
In 1844 English inventor Charles Wheatstone came up with a compact instrument which could play both chords and keyboard and melody in one squeezebox. He called it a concertina.  In different forms they became very popular in Italy as well as in the British islands and were favored by sailors who took them around the world.
Less than two decades after its introduction in England, this young Black boy was playing a concertina as a Union Army musician.
But it was the political turmoil of the 1848 Revolutions that swept Europe, the Irish Famine, and decade of pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe that gave squeeze boxes of all types legs.  Refugees and immigrants brought them where ever they went along with the familiar folk songs of home.  Many, of course came to the United States.
In the late 1800’s the piano accordion was perfected in Germany.  Larger and heavier than most other instruments, the right hand played melody on a piano keyboard of white and black keys while arrays of buttons on the left side played an array of chords in multiple keys.  The instrument became popular with professional pianists and organists who felt comfortable on it and who appreciated the musical possibilities it offered.  Honner, one of the principle German manufacturers, encouraged this and promoted its piano accordions as concert instruments and began publishing transcriptions of classical music for it.
Piano accordion playing twins entertain at a mid-'60' USO show.
One result of that was its use in formal ballroom dance styles which were being written by the finest composers in Europe.  These included waltzes but especially polkas.  This was, at the time, considered a major break from being rooted in folk music styles.  The dances, however, especially polkas, became very popular with Poles and Germans, many of whom immigrated to the United States.  Semi-trained emigrant and American musicians began writing their own lively Polkas that were far less refined than those played where dashing officers in comic opera uniforms swept the floor with belles in enormous dresses.  German immigrants brought these kinds of polkas and accordions to the Rio Grande Valley, where they became the basis of Tex-Mex Music and can be heard in Mariachi.
The Johnny Vednal Orchestra was a popular Cleveland polka band of the 1950's. Note the bandstand admonition.
Eastern European Jews brought their special accordions along with traditional melodies and Klezmer music evolved, eventually incorporating jazz elements.  And speaking of jazz, in multicultural New Orleans Black musicians incorporated accordions into their street marching bands and with riffs from Spanish military music and the distinctive Acadian sound of the bayous.  Many early jazz bands included accordions.
They began to encroach even on traditional fiddle, guitar, and banjo Appalachian and Southern folk music.  Mother Maybelle Carter sometimes played one, as did her daughter June.  Accordions were incorporated into many bands, even on the supper traditionalist early years of the Grand Ol’ Opry.  Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys sometimes included an accordionist.
Many country musicians like West Virginias Don Williams incorporated accordions in their bands.
The so-called golden age of American accordion really took off with the huge popularity of Pietro Frosini and the two brothers Count Guido Deiro and Pietro Deiro who performed largely classical repertoire on the American concert and vaudeville stage in the early decades of the 20 Century along with Honer's relentless promotion.  Music schools began offering classes and music stores offered the instruments on time.  Although not cheap, the instruments were less expensive than pianos or home organs, so parents enrolled their children in classes by the hundreds of thousands well into the 1950.  Despite the heavy weight of piano accordions they were especially popular among young women.  Accordion ensembles were common.  There were even accordion marching bands.
Dance bands like Paul Whitman’s, Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians, and, of course, Lawrence Welk featured accordions, but so did more cutting edge Swing bands.  In the early years of rock and roll the accordion was alongside the chattering saxophones at the heart of several bands.
Buckwheat Zydeco introduced jazzy Cajun style music to a new generation in his folk festival appearances and roots music concerts.
But eventually the guitar triumphed as THE instrument of rock and roll, and the extended folk revival drew many young people to abandon the accordion, which was now seen a hopelessly square, in favor six strings.  By the early 21st Century it had virtually disappeared from popular music except for novelty acts like Weird Al Yankovic and Judy Tanuta.  
Today, partly because they have been out of favor for so long that they have become ironic accordions are reappearing in cutting edge music.  They may even become hipster like little fedoras, skinny ties, and bushy beards.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Glorious but Futile First Atlantic Crossing of a Ship with Steam Power

The S,S, Savannah coming into port under steam power in 1819.
To get a handle on the audacity of the designers and owners of the SS Savannah, the first ship equipped with steam power to cross the Atlantic Ocean in 1819, just thirteen years earlier in 1806 Robert Fulton had inaugurated passenger packet service on the Hudson River between New York City and Albany.  Despite the enduring American myth, Fulton had not invented the steamboat—a French inventor had demonstrated one briefly on the Seine as early as 1783 and by 1785 American John Fitch of Philadelphia and William Symington of Dumfries, Scotland had built successful prototypes.  But Fulton—a student of Fitch—was the first to build a successful commercial ship.
In the intervening years steam boats had become relatively common on American rivers and some were plying the coastal trade.  But the possibility of crossing the ocean in the still crude vessels seemed remote into the foreseeable future.  Then in 1818 Captain Moses Rogers, a respected seaman, spied a trim ship under construction at Fricket & Crockett Shipyards in New York.  The 98 foot long, 25 foot a-beam merchant packet under construction seemed perfect for his vision.  Roberts contacted the Scarborough & Isaacs of Savannah, Georgia to purchase the ship and have her outfitted with a steam engine for the express purpose of becoming the first such ship to complete an Atlantic Crossing.
Captain Moses Rogers was the visionary seaman who conceived of a steam-assisted Atlantic crossing, shepherded the construction and fitting of the Savannah,  and commanded the ship.
The ship was to be equipped by a steam engine in addition to carrying a standard sail rigging.  Moses Rogers personally oversaw the construction and instillation of the steam engine, boiler, and twin side wheels while his brother-in-law Captain Steven Roberts oversaw completion of the hull and the rigging.
The engine was a single cylinder 90 horsepower inclined direct acting low pressure type.  The 40 inch diameter piston with a 5 foot stroke was cast by Allair Iron Works of New York and the rest of components and running gears were cast by Speedwell Iron Works in New Jersey.  It was one of the largest steam engines yet built in America and Rogers had a hard time obtaining a boiler large enough to support it.  Finally he settled on a copper boiler by Daniel Dod.
The ship’s pair of ten bucket cast iron side wheels were unique and innovative.  To save weight and to make it possible to make way under sail without the drag of the wheels, they were built with buckets connected by chains rather than the customary iron rods.  That allowed the wheels to be folded.  Their canvas splash guards were easily removable and each wheel was hinged so that it could be folded up onto the deck.  They could be deployed in the water in about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile Steven Roberts had to make minor adjustments to the customary rigging.  He kept the usual three masts set to carry square sails, but had to set the mainmast further aft than usual to accommodate the engine, boiler, and funnel.  He also eliminated the royal masts and sails which customarily extended above the top gallant sails in ships of this size.  So the new ship would carry less canvas than usual.   It was hoped that in calm weather the steam engine working in concert with the sails, would make up the difference.
The Savannah at sea under sail and steam.
The ship had to carry 75 tons of coal and 25 cords of wood which took up most of the usual cargo capacity.  That was far less than would be needed to cross the ocean under steam.  But the ship was expected to run only with sails in rough or gale conditions, which on any Atlantic crossing even in the best summer months was most of the time.  
New Yorkers took great interest in the construction of the unusual ship which was completed and launched in August of 1818, too late in the season to make a transatlantic run.  Dubbed the SS Savannah in honor or her owner’s home town, she made her maiden shakedown cruises in the waters of Long Island Sound in March of the next year.
Unable to carry much in the way of cargo, the ship was fitted out as a luxury passenger packet with 32 births in 16 state rooms including entirely separate quarters for women.  Whether those were intended for unaccompanied women or all female passengers including spouses is unclear.  There were also three lushly appointed salons for dining and passing leisure time in card playing, reading, and other amusements.
However when the time came for sea trials and the run to Savannah to deliver the ship Rogers could not find enough crew members in New York willing to sign on to the supposed floating coffin—so called because of well-founded fears of boiler explosions and fears that the exceptional weight of the engine might swamp her.  Moses Rogers had to go back to his home port of New London, Connecticut where his reputation as a top ship’s master was secure to get enough crew to make the maiden voyage.
On March 28 after completing brief sea trials, S.S. Savannah set sail for her namesake city.  And it was set sail.  She left running ahead of the wind.  She did not deploy her steam engines until the next day, but the paddlewheels were only in the water for half an hour before high seas caused Captain Rogers to ordered them retracted.  On the week long voyage south her engines ran for just over 41 hours.  She pulled into port at 4 am April 6 and was greeted with a large demonstrative crowd despite the early hour.
After a demonstration voyage President James Monroe dangled the possibility of purchasing the ship for the Navy after the trans-Atlantic run.  He disappointed Capt. Rogers and the ship's owners when he did not ask Congress for an appropriation.
The ship remained in port while the owners desperately tried to secure passengers and freight for the planned run to England.  When President James Monroe arrived on a Southern tour of coastal fortifications, he was invited on a day voyage.  He sailed in company of a small retinue and the owners of Tybee Light House where the ship moored and the party was served an elegant dinner.  Monroe was interested in the ship and the prestige of the proposed Atlantic run.  He was especially interested in the engine, considered a marvel of the age.  He encouraged the owners to bring her to Washington after returning from Europe with an eye toward convincing an always tight fisted Congress to buy her for operations as a cruiser against pirates sailing from Cuban ports.
Preparations for the voyage were now under way.  She loaded up on fuel, water, and supplies.  Captain Moses Rogers and Sailing Master Steven Rogers drilled the crew.  There was a slight delay when a squall blew up on May 15 and dashed the ship against the dock doing minor, but quickly repaired, damage to one of the two paddle wheels.
Despite the delay, and the endorsement of the President, not one was found who was willing to risk his life or property on the voyage.  Savannah sailed on the morning of May 22, 1819 on a profitless demonstration run under both sail and steam.  Her paddles were folded later that day.  On May 29 smoke from her funnel was spotted by the schooner Contract who gave chase for most of a day fearing she was a ship on fire.  Only when the captain realized he could not overtake her did he realize that he must be chasing a steam ship.  On June 2 she was seen making a good 9 or 10 knots by the Pluto whose crew gave her three cheers.  
The next contact came as she had crossed most of the ocean.  The revenue cutter HMS Kite spotted her smoke off the coast of Ireland and also gave chase fearing the worse on June19.  Unable to overtake her, the captain fired three warning rounds causing Captain Rogers to bring the Savannah around.  He allowed the English to board and inspect the ship, which duly impressed them, before he could proceed.
Shortly after that encounter the ship was embarrassingly becalmed off of Cork—she had expended all of her fuel.  More was obtained from shore and the ship proceeded after a brief delay.  On June 20 she finally entered Liverpool harbor where hundreds of small boats swarmed to greet her.  Not amused was the captain of a Royal Navy Sloop of War which intercepted Savannah and demanded that she haul down her colors which he said were “threatening.”  Evidently he had not gotten over certain Royal Navy humiliations during the recent War of 1812.  When Captain Rogers could be heard to issue the order to “haul out the [non-existent] water engine and prepare to resist boarding,” the sloop stood down.
The ship made anchor at 6 pm after a 29 day 11 hour voyage, during which she had employed her engine for a total of 80 hours.  It was a decent, but far from record, run in those days before clipper ships began peeling days from crossings.
Savannah was docked at Liverpool for twenty five days while the crew scraped and repainted the hull, and performed maintenance on the engine and boiler.  The curious public swarmed the ship.  But officials were wary.  Some suspected that she and her crew were on some sort of covert mission either from the American government or in the pay of Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother Jerome who had emigrated to the U.S. and was offering a large reward for rescuing the former Emperor from exile.  
Captain Rogers graciously invited senior officers of the Navy, Army, and Government as well as top British industrialists and engineers to inspect the ship.  They were impressed that the Americans, who they assumed were decades behind them in industrial capacity, were able to float a ship with such an engine at all.  But they were also relieved that it was not any more advanced than what they believed Britain was capable of.  Certainly the visit spurred construction of stem ships for both Naval and commercial use.
After laying in plenty of coal, the ship disembarked Liverpool for a new adventure on June 21—a run to Scandinavia and Russia.  She reached Elsinore, Denmark on August 9 and after five days of quarantine, was off to Stockholm, Sweden where she was the first steam ship to enter the Baltic Sea.  During her stay in the Swedish capital she received by royalty and sponsored an excursion trip for officials and the diplomatic corps.  Impressed, the government offered to buy the ship, but Ross declined.  Before sailing, however, King Charles XVI John presented the captain with a gift of a stone and muller, a hand-operated tool used for mixing and grinding paint.  This was evidently a more impressive gift back then than it seems today.
The Savannah's only passenger Lord Lyedoch  Sir Thomas Graham, a hero of the Napoleonic Wars. 
In Stockholm Savannah picked up her first and only passenger— Lord Lynedoch Thomas Graham, a hero of the Napoleonic Wars.  She departed Sweden September 5 and arrived at Kronstadt on the 9th.  Tsar Alexander II himself visited the ship at Kronstadt.  After an inspection, he presented Captain Rogers with a fine gold watch and two iron chairs
The ship continued on to the capital of St. Petersburg.  The ships steam engines had their most consistent use on the voyage from Liverpool to St. Petersburg—in use for 241 hours in total.
While in port the American Ambassador arranged visits by the Royal family, government official and high ranking officers.  Once again excursions were run under steam power.  The Russian government also offered to buy the ship, but was again turned down.  The refusal by Rogers to part with his beloved ship would later be deeply regretted by her actual owners.  Before she departed, Lord Lynedoch presented Moses Rogers with a silver coffee urn and Steven Rogers a gold snuff box.  It is unclear, however, if he actually paid a fare to the owners of the ship.
With a full load of coal and wood, Savannah departed St. Petersburg to begin the long voyage home on September 29.  She experienced several days of rough weather at Kronstadt during which she lost an anchor and a hauser.  After repairs and the return of calm weather she left that port under steam on October 10 once again bound for Stockholm.   There she picked up a pilot to guide her to Arendal on the Norwegian coast where she anchored and took on a full load of fuel and water.
She departed Arendal for the long run home.  It was late in the season and Savannah experienced such high seas and storms that she was not able to employ her engines on the crossing.  When she arrived in home waters, however, she was able to enter Savannah harbor under steam after a 40 day crossing on November 30, just over six months since she had departed.
She received a warm welcome at home, but she quickly began painting and repairs so that she could make the promised visit to Washington.  Her visit once again was a public sensation and official swarmed her decks.  But President Monroe never mentioned a possible purchase again and made no appropriation request to Congress.  Rogers was disappointed but there was worse news to come.
On January 16, 1820 a great fire swept the business district of Savannah, all but wiping out the ship’s owners Scarborough & Isaacs.  With no profit earned from the great voyage, they were forced to sell the ship.  First the engine was removed and salvaged.  It was sold back to Allair Iron Works for $1,500.  The firm preserved it and later displayed at the New York Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1856.  Other metal parts were melted down.
The new owners of the ship put her in service as a coastal packet operating between New York and Savannah.  But she was not in service long.  On November 5, 1851 she ran aground off Long Island and broke up in heavy seas.  An ignominious end for a great ship.
The Centennial plaque honoring the Savannah and its historic voyage.
Historians refuse to give Savannah credit as the first ship to cross the Atlantic under steam.  At best she gets an asterisk—first ship equipped with a steam engine to cross.  It was not until 1827 that the Dutch owned and English built Curaçao powered by twin 50 hp engines made a crossing from Hellevoetsluis, near Rotterdam on April, 26, 1827 to Paramaribo, Surinam on  May 24 having spent 11 days under steam.  In 1832 the Canadian ship SS Royal William, then the largest passenger ship in the world, made a crossing from Pictou, Nova Scotia to Gravesend on the River Thames in a 25-day passage under steam the whole way except when the boilers were in maintenance.
The British side-wheel paddle steamer SS Great Western became the first steam ship to engage in regular trans-Atlantic service in 1838.  It was not until 1847 that the American built and owned ship SS Washington completed a crossing.
The noble Savannah was just a little too early.