Awful Conflagration of the Steam Boat Lexington in Long Island Sound on the evening of January 13th, 1840 by which lamentable event about 140 persons lost their lives!
1840 (undated) 8.5 x 11.5 in (21.59 x 29.21 cm)
This is an 1840 view of the tragic burning of the steamboat Lexington on the Long Island Sound, New York. It was issued shortly after the disaster to satisfy public interest in the devastating event. The burning of the Lexington was one of the greatest steamboat disasters in American history and captured the popular interest in a number of important views, with this particular view being the rarest we have encountered. The view illustrates the accident, which took place on January 13, 1840, and claimed the lives of all but four of the 143 people on board. Unlike many of the views published soon after the tragedy, here the creators chose to emphasize that four people were saved: one passenger and three members of the crew.
Chaos and FireThe view depicts the chaos that ensued following the outbreak of the fire, with numerous passengers illustrated in the water and the full-to-bursting lifeboats that would eventually sink due to the number of people that had crammed into them. The Lexington, along with its passengers, was carrying a cargo of bales of cotton, which were in the end her demise. The cotton had been stored inexplicably close to the smokestack, which caught fire halfway through the voyage to Stonington, and ignited the bales of cotton. The fire burned through the drive-rope, making the Lexington unnavigable, leaving her to drift out to sea. By midnight, those left on board were forced to jump into the frigid water and died of hypothermia. The Lexington sank by 3:00 a.m.
Publication History and CensusAs this view is unsigned, we have been unable to trace the artist. A record exists in the OCLC, but no institutional holdings are identified.
Very good. Even overall toning. Closed margin tears professionally repaired on verso. Blank on verso. Possibly trimmed.