Lecture and Book Signing: Delano and Grinnell – A Tale of Two Clippers

July 19, 2018

By Steven Ujifusa, author
Tickets: Members $10  |  Non-Members $15

The New Bedford area was the birthplace of two main characters of Barons of the Sea, Ujifusa’s recent book. Warren Delano II (1809-1898) was a China trade merchant and owner of Memnon, the first clipper ship to sail to California during the Gold Rush. He was also the grandfather of President Franklin Roosevelt. Moses Grinnell (1803-1877) was a transatlantic packet operator and owner of Flying Cloud, the clipper which still holds the record for a commercial voyage under sail from New York to California via Cape Horn: 89 days 8 hours. Steven Ujifusa discussed the family life and business careers of these two men, the revolutionary ships they owned, and New Bedford’s crucial role in the development of the American clipper.

Steven Ujifusa signed copies of Barons of the Sea.


About the Book

Barons of the Sea book coverIn the grand tradition of David McCullough and Ron Chernow, the sweeping story of the nineteenth-century American dynasties who battled for dominance of the tea and opium trades.

There was a time, back when the United States was young and the robber barons were just starting to come into their own, when fortunes were made and lost importing luxury goods from China. It was a secretive, glamorous, often brutal business—one where teas and silks and porcelain were purchased with profits from the opium trade. But the journey by sea to New York from Canton could take six agonizing months, and so the most pressing technological challenge of the day became ensuring one’s goods arrived first to market, so they might fetch the highest price.



“Full of remarkable characters and incredible stories, Steven Ujifusa’s Barons of the Sea is a fascinating, fast-paced history of America’s clipper ship era. Highly recommended.” 
— Nathaniel Philbrick, National Book Award-winning author of In the Heart of the Sea


About the Author

photo of Steven UjifusaSteven Ujifusa received his AB in history from Harvard University and a master’s degree in historic preservation from the University of Pennsylvania. His first book, A Man and His Ship, tells the story of William Francis Gibbs, the naval architect who created the ocean liner SS United StatesThe Wall Street Journal named it one of the best nonfiction titles of 2012. Steven has given presentations across the country and on the high seas, and has appeared as guest on CBS Sunday Morning and NPR. A recipient of a MacDowell Colony fellowship and the Athenaeum of Philadelphia’s Literary Award, he lives with his wife, a pediatric emergency room physician, in Philadelphia.