Bowditch’s “The New American Practical Navigator”

In 1802, an American sea captain published a book which changed the maritime world. More than just a sea captain, the author had taught himself math, sciences, and languages…and he wanted to make the world of sailing and voyaging safer for captains and crews.

The New American Practical Navigator became the guidebook for maritime voyagers in the 19th Century, and it’s still referenced today. Some might argue that this blog post is out of order since the book published prior to the War of 1812 and last week’s post talked about relations with Japan in the 1850’s. However, the far-reaching influence of Nathaniel Bowditch’s book makes it a relevant topic at just about any point in our study. So…without further ado, we’ll glance backward for a few moments to learn more about the author and then return to the mid-19th Century timeline marker to comment on the book’s effects. Continue reading