In this riveting biography, Anthony J. Connors explores this question by detailing not only the troubled, adventurous life of this man but also the turbulent times in which he lived. Set in an era of social and political fragmentation and impending civil war, when changes in maritime law and the economics of whaling emboldened slaving agents to target captains and their vessels for the illicit trade, Davoll’s story reveals the deadly combination of greed and racial antipathy that encouraged otherwise principled Americans to participate in the African slave trade.
"If you think you know all about whaling in America, you don’t. Davoll’s fascinating life exposes the disturbing and tragic truth that a small, but significant, number of American whalemen were accessories to the slave trade and, as such, were guilty of crimes against humanity."—Eric Jay Dolin, author of Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates
"Connors tells the story of Edward Davoll, a New Bedford-based whaling captain who veers towards the slave trade when the drudge and gruel of whaling begin to weigh and his fortune begins to fade."—Boston Globe
"Meticulously researched and effectively written, Went to the Devil will appeal to anyone—scholars and casual readers alike—interested in American maritime history, whaling, and slavery."—Timothy Walker, professor of history at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and program director for "Sailing to Freedom: New Bedford and the Underground Railroad"
"The ideal audience for Went to the Devil is the general public. Readers new to whaling history will find it a readable, well-informed account. To fill in gaps in the documentary record, Connors gives succinct explanations of how the American whaling industry worked. The book also has much information on the illegal slave trade."—Journal of the Early Republic