Amasa Delano (1763-1823) was an American sea captain from Duxbury, Massachusetts. after serving in the American revolution as a teenager he embarked on several sea voyages. He is known most commonly for his book, Narrative of Voyages and Travels in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, Comprising Three Voyages Round the World (1817).
It is this book (Chapter 18 particularly) which Melville used for inspiration when he created “Benito Cereno” in 1855.
There are several references of the real Amasa Delano hidden in old newspapers during his lifetime. This first image is from the Portland Gazette published August 24, 1807. Here we can see that Amasa Delano was recognized by the King of Spain for saving the rebel slave ship Tryl. This article also mentions that Amasa Delano had been mentioned several times in the papers regarding his heroic actions.
To the right you can see a praise to Capt. Amasa Delano for his efforts in securing the slave revolted ship, Tryal. This article talks about Delano’s Courage of boarding the Tryal. For his brave efforts Captain Delano was awarded a medal from the King of Spain as well he was honored by the Chilean government.
After several year of being captain of the Perseverance Delano Proposed a narrative of his travels. This article (Left), found in the Boston Independent Chronicle depicts Delano’s intent for writing about his voyages and states that the purpose of his narrative would be to educate the public about the open seas. This proposal states that the narrative will be about the choices Delano made at sea and the mistakes that could have been avoided. He believes that his book will be of great value to the public in educating them about the dangers of the open ocean.
Because the is no online version of Delano’s Narrative, I have included a link to Walker Tellers Book Five Sea Captains. Along with Delano’s original text, Teller depicts Delano’s childhood along with notes about his voyages. The true events of the Delano’s encounter with the Spanish ship Tryal and the real Don Benito can be found between pages 73-121.
Aside from Delano’s appearance in newspapers regarding his encounter with the Spanish Tryal and the announcements about his narrative, there is one more time where Delano’s name appeared in the papers. Delano died at suddenly at age 60 in 1823. A notice of his death was added to the Boston Repratory (Below).