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Cape Cod Branded Hand of Harwich

Harwich was one of the first big fishing ports of the Cape, but as other ports lured away the fishing business, as early as 1845, she began to cultivate the lowly cranberry.

Harwich attracted summer visitors in the 1880’s and 1890’s and today it is still a popular summer resort. Horseback riding, golf, swimming and boating can be had here. Harwich is still home to one of the remaining active commercial fishing fleets on Cape Cod.

One of the most famous of sons of Harwich was Captain Jonathan Walker, who carried seven runaway slaves from Florida to the West Indies in 1844. He was captured for this and branded on the right hand. Later his strong abolitionist lectures helped create anti-slavery feeling. It was about this Harwich native that Whittier wrote his poem, The Branded Hand, from which are quoted two verses:

Welcome home again, brave seaman with thy thoughtful brow and gray,
And the old heroic spirit of our earlier, better day,—
With that front of calm endurance, on whose steady nerve in vain
Pressed the iron of the prison, smote the fiery shafts of pain!
Why, that brand is highest honor!—than its traces never yet
Upon the armorial hatchments was a prouder blazon set;
And thy unborn generations, as they tread our rocky strand, Shall tell with pride the story of their father’s Branded Hand!

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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 05/05/06
Categories: HarwichHistory
Keywords: harwich, history


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