Cotton Ships Don’t Sink – Wm. King, 9 of 28

King sailed across the Atlantic on a ship filled with cotton.
King sailed across the Atlantic on a ship filled with cotton.

And so William King found himself locked into a system of which he deeply disapproved. He was popular with the students and trustees of the college. He had status. He had a good income. His wife was amongst her family and childhood friends. He writes in his autobiography, “The way was dark before me, my oldest boy was nearly three years old and I wished to remove him from the south before he was capable of knowing betwixt right and wrong. But I could not leave without some good excuse.” (44)

The opportunity came when the College proposed a change in governance. King announced that he was returning to Scotland to complete his theological studies. First he needed to establish sponsorship for a poor white student whose tuition he had covered. He also needed to provide for the slaves he owned and those he would inherit, so he purchased a plantation next to his father-in-law’s where the slaves might be self-sufficient.

“In November I had made all my arrangements for leaving, but I concluded to go alone to leave my wife and child with her father and I would return in the spring to take them over to Edinburgh in the summer, when the sea was calm. “ (46) It was a rough passage. The captain of the ship said that he had never seen one rougher. The one consolation was that “a cotton ship will not sink, she is as light as a cork and where she had sea room in mid-Atlantic, there was no danger of her going down. I was sea-sick the whole voyage, and when I arrived in Liverpool I was scarcely able to walk.” (46)

Tell of a time when opportunities opened up for you.

1 thought on “Cotton Ships Don’t Sink – Wm. King, 9 of 28

  1. When our children were young I was home with them (and the sheep) full-time. As a way of “clinging to significance”, I was a member of a number of committees and would routinely drag the kids along to meetings. In 1998 on a three month working holiday I read Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom”. In it he talks about how his commitment to causes made him a poor parent to his children. That comment stopped me in my tracks. I know you don’t have to pick one over the other, but I suddenly realized that being a mother mattered a lot more to me than being on any number of committees. When we returned to Canada I dropped my involvement in everything I didn’t enjoy. It was a good move. It bought us some breathing room!

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