Sea Captain John Kendrick fought in the French and Indian Wars in 1762, threw tea overboard in the Boston Tea Party in 1773, and was in charge of the Fanny, one of the United States’ first ships, during the Revolutionary War.
He survived all that, and was later killed on December 12, 1794 in a 13-canon saluting round in Fair Haven (now known as Honolulu Harbor.) (Lytle)
Let’s look back …
Kendrick was born in 1740 on a small hilly farm in East Harwich, Cape Cod, the third of seven children of Solomon Kendrick and Elizabeth Atkins.
Kendrick’s grandfather, Edward Kendrick, had arrived in Harwich around 1700 and married Elizabeth Snow, the granddaughter of Nicholas Snow, a holder of extensive lands and one of the ‘old-comers’ from Plymouth who first settled the Cape.
Kendrick’s father, Solomon, born sometime during the winter of 1705, was master of a whaling vessel who was famous in local lore. He followed his father and went to sea by the time he was fourteen. By his late-teens, he was crewing on local sailing vessels.
“John Kendrick came of age in the defiant atmosphere of the coffeehouses and taverns of Boston. Here, he was in the midst of the firestorm of opposition to the Parliament’s Stamp Act of 1765 and the hated Townshend Acts, which usurped local authority and levied an array of onerous taxes.”
“As strife increased on the waterfront, he may have been involved in the widespread boycott of British goods and the burning of Boston’s customs house, or riots over seizure and impressment of American sailors for British ships.”
“(O)n the rainy night of December 16, 1773, John Kendrick was part of the legendary band that boarded two East India Company ships at Griffin’s Wharf in Boston and dumped 342 chests of tea into the harbor. Thumbing his nose at the British shortly after, he is said to have been master of the brig Undutied Tea.”
He fought in the American Revolutionary War and at its outbreak, he smuggled powder and arms from the Caribbean with the sloop Fanny, whose owners were under contract with a secret committee of the Continental Congress and later captured a couple ships, which helped to precipitate the entry of France into the war.
“Shortly before the British surrendered at Yorktown in 1781, Kendrick came ashore. In his sporadic visits home he had managed to father six children, and now he buckled down to making his way in the new nation.”
“After the victorious Revolution and the euphoria of the Peace Treaty of 1783, an economic depression had settled over villages and farms. Port cities and their harbors were left reeling from the war. Inflation was rampant.”
“There was no common currency, state governments were weak, and representatives to the Congress of the Confederation bickered over fundamental issues, threatening to secede.”
“Heavy debts owed to Britain for damages in the war were due, and the prospects for international trade and revenue were bleak. In a punching move, the king had closed all British ports from Canada and the British Isles to the Caribbean to the remaining American ships.”
Without trade, without customs revenue, without taxes, it would be impossible to support a new central government and succeed in securing independence.
Shipping was the soul of early commerce; the Pacific voyages of James Cook revealed the high prices sea otter furs from the Northwest Coast would bring in China.
That took Kendrick and his crew to the Pacific, where they traded with the local population and explored the northwest of the American continent. They eventually (January 1790) went to China to trade the Northwest furs and eventually made it to Japan, arriving on May 6, 1791, probably becoming the first official Americans to meet the Japanese.
On December 3, 1794, Kendrick arrived in Fair Haven (Honolulu) Hawaiʻi aboard the Lady Washington; a war was waging between Kalanikupule and his half-brother Kaʻeokulani (Kaʻeo.)
Also in Honolulu were Captain William Brown (the first credited with entering Honolulu Harbor) in general command of the Jackall and the Prince Lee Boo, Captain Gordon.
At the death of Kahekili in 1793, Kaʻeo became ruling chief of Maui, Molokai and Lānaʻi. Kalanikupule was ruler of Oʻahu. Homesick for his friends, Kaʻeo set out to return to Kauai by way of Waialua and then to Waimea. He learned of a conspiracy to kill him. (Kamakau)
Captain Brown of the Jackall helped Kalanikupule. While Kaʻeo was successful after some initial skirmishes. A great battle was fought in the area between Kalauao and ‘Aiea in ‘Ewa. Kalanikupule’s forces surrounded Kaʻeo. (Cultural Surveys) The ship’s men successfully aided in the defense and Kaʻeo was defeated.
To celebrate the victory, on December 12, 1794, Kendrick’s brig fired a thirteen-gun salute in celebration the British ship of Captain Brown.
The tradition of rendering a salute by cannon originated in the 14th century as firearms and cannons came into use. Since these early devices contained only one projectile, discharging them rendered them harmless.
Initially, the tradition began as a custom among ships, whose captains had volleys fired upon entering a friendly port to release its arsenal, which demonstrated their peaceful intentions (by placing their weapons in a position that rendered them ineffective.)
Following Kendrick’s salute, Brown answered with a round of fire.
Unfortunately, through an oversight, one of the saluting guns on the Jackall was loaded with round and grape shot, and this shot passed through the side of the Lady Washington, killing Captain Kendrick and several of his crew. (Kuykendall) (Lots of information here is from Ridley; Daughters of the American Revolution)