As you already know from the other articles from this blog, Melville got his inspiration from a book of voyages in which Amasa Delano encounter a slave ship during one of his travels. One of the several things Melville changed from Delano’s original depiction of the event was the names of the ships.
Capt. Delano’s ship was originally named Perseverance. The word perseverance means having strength to move forward in-spite of challenging obstacles ahead. a decent name for a ship which made several open sea voyages. So why did Melville feel the need to change the ship names?
Many researchers argue that Melville changes the ship Tryal name to San Dominick as a commentary on the violent revolt on slavery that occurred on the island of Santo Domingo in 1700’s (Franklin 148). Several analysis of Melville’s short story note that Melville set the story in the 1790’s to emphasis the revolt that was going on in Santo Domingo. (Franklin 148)