By Donald Warrin
In the first half of the nineteenth century whaling was one of the young American nation’s most important industries, providing lubricants and illumination as well as baleen, the plastic of its day. So Ends This Day: The Portuguese in American Whaling, 1765–1927 traces the history of the American whaling industry from its seventeenth century beginnings in Massachusetts and Long Island to its demise in the third decade of the twentieth century, while highlighting the role of its Portuguese participants. Men from the Portuguese Atlantic islands of the Azores and Cape Verde came to dominate the industry in its final decades. Their participation would ultimately determine the principal settlement patterns of the Portuguese in the U.S.: New England, California, and Hawaii. It is a story of courage and determination in a far-reaching industry in which many of these individuals advanced to positions of responsibility unparalleled among non-English-speaking immigrants to the United States.