Notes on a Manuscript...

Excerpt from the Author's Introduction

The following is from the closing remarks in the introduction.

Beyond merely satisfying historical curiosity, why does it matter exactly where in Nova Albion Drake stayed? The question is not common, perhaps because the answers are sometimes less than flattering. Provincial pride and personal fame have been, and continue to be, major motives in the search for the lost harbor. A tinge of commercialism is found now and then, both in regard to the selling of publications and in the promotion of proposed locations as parks or protected open space. Bizarre claims of buried treasure have occasionally been heard. Then there are things like the Golden Hind Motel, near Drakes Bay. More legitimate reasons can be found: At one time Drake's movements along the North American coast became an issue in a boundary dispute between the United States and England. Drake's harbor was the site of the first Protestant services held in North America, which may be of interest to religious historians, as might be the site of the first English presence in the region to Anglophiles. All told, this does not add up to much, but there are further reasons why the continued pursuit of the Golden Kind is justified.

Viewed from the present, when the world seems more divided than ever, and looking back at a time when European exploration and expansion was characterized by the utterly ruthless exploitation of native populations, Drake's visit with the people of Nova Albion is striking for its harmonious nature. It may be a hopeless quest, and it is one not addressed in this work, but it is possible in light of ever more intense archeological and anthropological investigations of the original Californians that some valuable insights into the more subtle mechanisms of this remarkable meeting can be gained. However, the implications of this encounter cannot be fully discussed without knowing exactly which of the diverse native Californians met with Drake; this in turn depends on knowing exactly where he was. This is in a sense an inversion of the usual purpose of an investigation into who the described people were; attempts to identify the group have traditionally been used to support a location, rather than the other way around. Perhaps who rather than where is the more important historical question.

This book contains original research regarding the weather conditions encountered by the circumnavigators along the Northwest American coast during the early summer of 1579. The positions and movements of the Golden Hind are of importance in analyzing the severe climatic anomaly described and now verified; thus a new group, climatologists, are suddenly interested in where Drake anchored. There is room for further investigation of this matter, which might have importance not only for the past, but for the present. This is the sort of unpredictable turn any historical investigation can take, and is the sort of thing that itself can justify the continuing search, regardless of seeming futility and controversies, for the lost harbor.

Finally, whatever the direct significance might be of establishing where Drake spent June and July of 1579, the great majority of attempts to track him have been - to again put it bluntly - badly botched. Seldom has a rather isolated historical episode generated so much ephemeral smoke and flame, and many are the consequential burned fingers anc singed eyebrows. As will be seen nearly every search for the lost harbor can be viewed as a case study in how not to conduct an historical investigation. To finally resolve the primary questions would further open the more general questions raised herein, of how and why historical study can go so badly awry. But first the mystery must be restored.

Author's Note: Some of this material is adapted from or relates to my yet-unpublished book Francis Drake in Nova Albion - The Mystery Restored, in which these and neighboring thickets are explored much more deeply than on these few web pages. Thus there may be references here not fully explained, or answers missing their questions. Also lacking here is documentation, provided in the book by 782 endnotes. - Oliver Seeler

Nova Albion Research
Copyright 1996-97 by Oliver Seeler
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