Joshua Cockburn: The Final Voyage as Captain of the Yarmouth and the Fall of Marcus Garvey

Joshua Cockburn was a certified British ship master when Marcus Garvey hired him in 1919

Joshua Cockburn was a certified British ship master when Marcus Garvey hired him in 1919

Captain Hugh Mulzac wrote of his experiences as first officer of The S.S.Yarmouth for Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Shipping Line in his as told to autobiography A Star to Steer By. A combination of race pride and a desire to return to the sea motivated him to travel from his home in Baltimore, Maryland to Liberty Hall in Harlem during the third week of January 1920. Mulzac was getting used to the idea that an Afro-American like himself would never be able to get an officer’s job on a merchant ship when a friend had shown him one of Marcus Garvey’s flyers for The Black Star Shipping Line. Mulzac traveled to Harlem wearing his officer‘s uniform, then waited on a line of 100 or more men, all of whom were there to apply for jobs, buy stock or just offer appreciation#. He had an appointment so he walked ahead of the line and up to the third floor. In the top floor office Marcus Garvey sat at a desk behind stacks of small bills, the savings of low wage working Negroes who had contributed what they could to Garvey’s Black Star Line endeavor. Mulzac recalled the conversation forty three years later:

“I am going to make you chief officer of the Yarmouth,” he said, “but this is only the beginning. You are going to help man a vast fleet of speedy ships engaged in The African Trade. Afro-Americans shall come into their own.”
“Yes, Yes,” I assented, entranced by the enthusiasm of this man who was obsessed with what he considered to be the great idea. Before I left I had purchased five shares of stock in the Black Star Line and cherished a clear vision of being commander of a great fleet.
Firsthand contact with Mr.Garvey’s enterprises a few days later began to undermine any more grandiose illusions. Although a great deal of publicity had attended the “launching” of the first ship in the proposed Black Star fleet, the Yarmouth was not a vessel to set a sailor’s heart aflame…Her boiler crowns were in need of repair, and her hull was practically worn out. She could not have been worth more than $25,000 when the Black Star Line acquired her for $165,000.#

Mulzac felt badly about the passengers who had the misfortune to sail on the Yarmouth during its disastrous Whiskey Cruise. He remembered it this way in his autobiography:

The condition of the passengers numbering 35 was pitiful. They had to sleep in cold, wet, filthy rooms and were partly frozen. I thought at the time that I was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea because I had just given up a decent position for the sake of race pride.# The Yarmouth was in deplorable condition after it had almost sunk 35 miles off the coast of Cape May during the evening of January 18. Its’ large cargo of whiskey and gin had been loaded in such haste that the ship listed heavily to starboard.My immediate task was clear-to make the Yarmouth as shipshape as possible so we could resume our voyage. Not only was she carrying a heavy list, but the ashes from her furnaces had been dumped under the lifeboats, the cargo was topsy-turvy, dunnage was all over the vessel, much of the gear was not in operating condition and her plates were covered with rust.I called for a gang of stevedores and made the crew snap to. Mr.Garvey came aboard and was so pleased with the appearance of the vessel that he hinted broadly that he intended to discharge Captain Cockburn and make me master of the vessel. I was anxious not to be put in such an ambiguous position, first because while Mr.Garvey was boss ashore, Cockburn was the master at sea, but more to the point, since the Yarmouth was under British registry, my American license would not qualify me to take command.#

Like the other Garveyites among the Yarmouth’s crew, First Officer Mulzac could not imagine that any of the responsibility for the Yarmouth’s troubles could be laid at the feet of Marcus Garvey. The leader of the U.N.I.A. promised the empowerment of the Negro Race, something any Negro mariner or veteran of the Great War might be attracted to. Although President Woodrow Wilson had pledged that Negro participation in The Great War would bring them greater social equality at home after the war the reverse had proven to be the case. Violence aimed at reminding returning Negro war veterans that they did not have equal rights was common in the southern United States.# In Liverpool, England, the colored neighborhood of Sailor Town had experienced a racial pogrom led by white war veterans in 1919.# Sailor Town was where Joshua Cockburn and his wife Pauline lived when they were married in 1911. They had called Liverpool home for many years before relocating to Lagos, Nigeria.#
Captain Cockburn told his side of the Whiskey Cruise story to his new first officer. Mulzac found his new Captain to be an imposing figure. Throughout his time serving as his first officer, Hugh Mulzac appears to have served Captain Cockburn honorably. In 1923 Mulzac related what Cockburn said in his account of his experiences for the Black Star Line in the Cleveland Gazette:

He told me that he did not intend to make the trip for Mr. Garvey and that Mr. Smith Green had drawn up the most ridiculous contract he had ever seen. Therefore he had refused to take the ship out of New York. The cargo was worth one million dollars and the ship was chartered the day before prohibition went into effect and she had to be loaded away from the port before midnight or the cargo would be confiscated. Therefore the freight was valued at $100,000 which the owners of the whiskey would have been glad to pay in order to get it out of New York. The Black Star Line’s president and general manager drew up a contract for $11,000 without consulting the captain. That amount would not even be enough to pay the expenses of the ship to its destination. Then again, the cargo was not even assigned to anyone and had to be put in bond in Cuba. For these reasons Captain Cockburn refused to sail. Thereupon the owners of the cargo approached him and offered him $2000 to take the ship out. He accepted and sailed but unfortunately the whiskey was thrown into the ship’s hold in such a hurry that the cargo shifted off Cape May as a result of bad weather, causing the ship to have a heavy list. She got water-logged and part of the cargo had to be thrown overboard so the ship could return to New York.#

Mulzac’s account of Cockburn’s account of the Whiskey Cruise sheds light on Captain Cockburn’s relationship with Marcus Garvey by January 23, 1920. Although Garvey and members of the Yarmouth’s crew would allege that Cockburn had arranged a secret deal for the commission he received to take the Yarmouth out the day prohibition began, it was not much of a secret since the captain was willing to tell his new first officer, a man he had just met. Mulzac’s explanation of the reason the Yarmouth had a heavy list does not convey the whole story of why it listed#. In fact the ship left New York with a heavy list to starboard that could be observed from shore. Cockburn did not relate to Mulzac that the Yarmouth sank because (according to crew member James Hercules) its sea cock had been pulled out by assistant engineer Dillon Govin#. This may demonstrate that the captain was not aware that one of his crew had sabotaged the ship. Dillon Govin remained a crew member on the Yarmouth until its demise as a Black Star Line vessel in 1921#.
Hugh Mulzac would not have to deal with the problems of the Yarmouth’s engine room crew, those who actually made the old steamship run, because Marcus Garvey had hired an American Negro named John O.Garrett to be the Yarmouth’s new First Engineer. According to Mulzac:

Our chief engineer John O. Garrett was one of our most intelligent young engineers and no one could have handled that ship with better skill#.

Garret’s impression of Captain Cockburn was less favorable. During his testimony at Marcus Garvey’s 1923 trial on charges of mail fraud, Garret testified that he and the other new officers of the Yarmouth were thrilled to receive their pay only to have their captain demand $100 cash from each of them for shares of Black Star Line stock. According to crewman Aubrey DeSouza, all ship’s officers on the Yarmouth were required to purchase stock in the company.# Garret’s description of the way his captain took the money was matter-of-fact but it also gives an impression of Captain Cockburn as a Captain Bligh, a man who did not convey concern for the members of his crew as human beings. Although Marcus Garvey took issue with many of Joshua Cockburn’s actions while Cockburn worked for the Black Star Line, he did not take issue with Garret’s description of Captain Cockburn taking money for BSL stock. This is because stock sales were the primary purpose of the Black Star Line. Just as Cockburn took money from his new engineer, so Marcus Garvey and his many stock agents took money from hard working field hands, janitors and other low wage workers for the coffers of The U.N.I.A.
One thing that Marcus Garvey had done well was to equip Captain Cockburn with two highly qualified officers, First Officer Hugh Mulzac and First Engineer John O. Garrett. The Yarmouth now had an entirely Negro crew and Captain Joshua Cockburn now had capable officers who could help him operate the ship effectively. Despite the fact that it was an old ship with problematic boilers, the Yarmouth made it to Havana, Cuba with its cargo of Liquor in four days#, traveling along the east coast of the United States at a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour.# The S.S. Yarmouth would spend thirty-two days in Havana. During this time The Yarmouth, known as The Frederic Douglass to the U.N.I.A. and its followers, would demonstrate the Black Star Line’s potential for social impact, specifically why it might make white governments tremble. It would also demonstrate the great drawbacks of the Black Star Line, specifically how the lack of shipping industry acumen among its members inevitably led to the line’s eventual bankruptcy.
Cuban agents of the U.N.I.A. had advertised the arrival of the Yarmouth. U.N.I.A. sympathizers came from all over Cuba to see the ship owned and operated entirely by black men. Years later Hugh Mulzac recalled:

They came out in boats when we arrived, showering us with flowers and fruit, but we couldn’t let them aboard. We lay at anchor for five days waiting for a berth, and I worked the crew overtime cleaning and painting the ship so we could make a good impression. Finally, however we moved to dock and were overrun with visitors from dawn until sunset.#

In 1920 the idea of a shipping line owned and operated by black men was a powerful symbol of empowerment for people of color in the Americas and the Caribbean. Colonial governments ruled by Great Britain and the United States Government found this sort of symbolism threatening. Anxious official colonial government communications contained in the eleven volume Marcus Garvey and The United Negro Improvement Association Papers and the United States government’s surveillance of the U.N.I.A. under the auspices of J.Edgar Hoover’s Bureau of Intelligence (which was closely linked with The United States Bureau of Investigation- forerunner of the F.B.I.) clearly demonstrate this fact.
Unfortunately ignorance of how the shipping industry worked among the Black Star Line’s Board of Directors and U.N.I.A. agents who were supposed to help with the line’s operations in foreign ports doomed Marcus Garvey and Joshua Cockburn’s bold endeavor. Hugh Mulzac explained why the Yarmouth lost money while it waited for a place to dock in Havana’s harbor:

Since the charter party’s overriding interest had been in getting the cargo of whiskey out of the United States waters no arrangements had been made for a Cuban consignee. Normally the owners of a vessel are protected against delays by a demurrage clause in the contract. But because there was no formal consignee and the operators had failed to insist upon the protection of a demurrage clause in their contract with the owners of the liquor, every delay meant that the vessel lost more money.
To the five-day wait at anchorage was added a two-week delay when we tied up because of a longshore strike. Thus, instead of collecting the value of its cargo space for each day‘s delay, including Sundays, which would have amounted to several thousand dollars daily, we not only lost our expenses and possible profits but had to pay the maintenance of the 35 passengers bound for Jamaica and other Caribbean ports.#

Insult would be added to injury when the Pan Union Corporation, the company that contracted with Black Star for the shipment of Green River liquor and wine sued Marcus Garvey for the cost of the shipment in the fall of 1922. Garvey was found to be liable for the entire payment that the Pan Union Company had made to the Black Star Line, $8,508.38.#Garvey blamed Captain Joshua Cockburn for this calamity because Pan Union’s lawyer Anton Gronich had played up the idea that the Yarmouth’s captain and his crew had been drunk when the Yarmouth was rescued by the Coast Guard cutter Seneca during the infamous Whiskey Cruise of January 16-20, 1920. The reason Marcus Garvey was sued by Pan Union was because he and the rest of the operators of his shipping line had no idea how to secure important insurance on shipments such as a demurrage clause.

Black Star Line Secretary Edward D.Smith-Green did not travel to Cuba aboard the Yarmouth. Marcus Garvey sent him by rail to Key West Florida and then by steamer to Havana where he was to oversee the unloading of the whiskey cargo. Green would later tell a story of his encounter with southern racism to a U.N.I.A. audience at Liberty Hall in Harlem. As he traveled from Miami to Key West Green enjoyed himself in a smoking car with some other passengers until he was accosted by a white man who, upon realizing that Green was not a porter, told him he did not like “riding with Niggers.”# According to Green the man was intent on doing him bodily harm until Green implied that he had a gun by putting his hand on his pocket and asking the man if he wanted to start something. The man left the smoker car while the people Green was with jeered him. After a seven hour wait for a steamer in Key West, Green departed for Cuba.
This story sounds plausible but one wonders how Green was able to get away with threatening a white man with bodily harm, receive support from the people he was sitting with and not face violent retribution from other whites on the train or the white authorities. Either the U.N.I.A.’s Secretary was lucky that he left the country several hours later or the story did not occur quite how Green said it did. He used the story to begin his speech about his experiences with the S.S.Yarmouth in Cuba and it conveyed a sense of empowerment that made the U.N.I.A. popular with Negroes during the racially charged second decade of the twentieth century.
Once he was in Cuba Green was impressed with how strongly the U.N.I.A.’s Havana chapter had advocated for the Yarmouth to receive a berth despite the fact that one had not been secured for it before it left port. Green insisted that “there was no hitch with the whiskey cargo and there were representatives of consignees in Havana.”# This account of the consignment is contested by the accounts of three men who were working on the Yarmouth, Captain Joshua Cockburn, First Officer Hugh Mulzac and crewman Aubrey DeSouza. All three men have stated that there was no consignee for the whiskey cargo in Cuba. Mulzac in his autobiography, Cockburn in his testimony during the Garvey trial of 1923 and DeSouza in his taped interview at the Schomburg Center in 1982. Mulzac and DeSouza have both related that the whiskey cargo was placed in bond. Mulzac noted that this was done 32 days after the Yarmouth had reached Havana.
Despite the issues with the cargo of liquor the arrival of the Yarmouth had caused a sensation in Havana. According to Green, the fact that the Yarmouth’s arrival had been covered by the white owned newspaper El Mundo resulted in an invitation to a government reception from Cuba’s President Mario Garcia Menocal . Green told the audience at Liberty Hall:

“That was the greatest shock of my life. I did not realize that the propaganda was taken even to the palace of the President of the republic. In spite of the shock I made up my mind since the opportunity presented itself that I would appear and present in the strongest language I could the aims and objects of 4,000,000 black men.”#

Green’s reflection was met with cheers from the audience. He went on to relate the story of his and the Yarmouth’s officers meeting with President Mario Garcia Menocal:

“On the morning mentioned the captain in his uniform and the officers and men of the Yarmouth got into some automobiles sent for us by the captain of the port. When we reached there we found the harbor police drawn up. As we approached they came to salute. We were there for about five minutes when the captain himself with some other gentlemen and important citizens-representatives of the Cuban Republic-escorted us to the palace of the President. When we arrived there we found a guard of honor drawn up at the gate and we alighted from the automobiles they came to salute and we saluted. We entered the elevator and were taken up a few flights. After waiting in the ante-chamber for a few minutes, a man appeared dressed in uniform and announced in Spanish that the President required our presence immediately. We marched in, I heading the procession. I found the President, the Colonel of the Camp and other Cabinet officers in the Cabinet chamber, seated around the table. As we approached they rose and the President came forward and asked me who I was. I told him and then I introduced him to the captain and other officers. The President then addressed us. I am not able to tell you what he said, but he welcomed us to Cuba. A photograph was taken at this meeting.” #

Hugh Mulzac recalled:

Though Captain Cockburn and I were almost constantly occupied…we found time to enjoy the welcome of the Cuban people., from President Menocal on down. There was a party nearly every night. President Menocal honored us with a banquet at the Presidential Palace and expressed his great pride in seeing colored men make their own opportunities in the field of commerce. Before the evening was over he promised the support of the Cuban government for the ventures of the Black Star Line.#
One week after the visit with President Menocal, Edward D. Smith Green and the officers of the Yarmouth were invited to visit Camp Colombo, the soldiers camp. The soldiers paraded and then the national anthem was played. Green told the U.N.I.A. audience:

“My friends, I can assure you that these men were in earnest-because the major part of the Cuban army consists of Negroes. And when they saw Negroes with the uniform of the steamship line, they thought they would go wild with enthusiasm.”#

The men of the Yarmouth returned to their ship with some of the Cuban officers. The freshly painted ship demonstrated “that an all Negro ship was one of efficiency.” Edward D. Smith Green showed the Cuban officers pictures Marcus Garvey and Frederic Douglass (the Yarmouth’s real name so far as the U.N.I.A. was concerned) as he tried to convey how important each man was to the achievement of “our race”.
Green and the Yarmouth’s officers meeting with President Menocal and meetings with Cuban businessmen and landowners demonstrate that their was a viable need for a shipping line that could compete with the established lines of powerful western nations like the United States and Great Britain. Although both nations liked to proclaim their commitment to free trade the fact was that neither nation wanted to extend that freedom to colonial subjects who lived in regions important to industrialized business interests back home. Green told his U.N.I.A audience that after meeting with the Cuban military officers aboard the Yarmouth:

“They were extremely proud because they realized that we were in dead earnest-that we did not intend any longer to be dominated by alien races…The Cuban Negro has at last got the vision. The Black Star Line will lead the way for them. They intend to follow until such time as it is necessary -to die for the cause”# The U.N.I.A. crowd responded with cheers.

Green had traveled to San Juan Hill after the Yarmouth had left for Jamaica after its 32 day stay in Havana. He wanted to see “that place made famous in American History because of the valor and bravery of Negroes.” Green was shown “the Peace Tree” under which had been signed the peace treaty between the Spanish and the Americans. On the tree beside the Peace Tree Green carved the letters UNIA. He told his audience at Liberty Hall:

“I wanted it known that the cause for which we stand had at once time sent a representative down there who had pluck enough to leave imprinted on that tree right beside the “Peace Tree” the letters of the greatest movement in the world today.”#

For Edward D.Smith Green, Secretary of the Black Star Line, the inscription he carved was not about peace, which had meant for Afro-Caribbeans and many Latin Americans conquest by the United States and an unfair economic relationship akin to the colonialism practiced by Europe and Japan in other parts of the world. Green told his U.N.I.A. audience that he was thinking more about war when he carved UNIA onto the tree on San Juan Hill:

“With this sign I have conquered. With this sign of the red, black and green, I was admitted to the presidential palace; with this sign I was admitted to a camp and given military honors; with this sign I was recognized all over the world; and because of that fact I am prepared to follow this sign as long as life lasts…I believe that one day upon the shores of Africa we will drive the enemy from the soil of our forefathers. On that day perhaps we shall see the great African eagle soaring to the mountain top of Ethiopia and there planting for eternity the flag which the Negro has been able to produce and maintain even at the cost of his blood.”The U.N.I.A. audience responded with cheers.#

Before the Yarmouth had left Havana the officers and Edward D.Smith Green were feted at a banquet by the Havana branch of the U.N.I.A. on February 25.# A day earlier 12,500 colored laborers had gone on strike in the Panama Canal Zone#. U.N.I.A. organizer Cyril Henry was in the canal zone encouraging the strike. The strikers hoped that the U.N.I.A. would send financial support. They represented 50-60% of the Panama Canal Zone’s workforce.

The Yarmouth made a brief stop in Jamaica. Hugh Mulzac observed that the ship was greeted by hundreds of people upon its arrival in Kingston. But there was no cargo to load or discharge. Captain Cockburn kept the ship in Jamaica just long enough to repair the ship’s boilers and take in bunkers and stores. Mulzac recalled that repairing the boilers took place at every port. Crew member Aubrey DeSouza recalled that “the ship was seaworthy but the boilers were inadequate. They had to be welded at every port- very time consuming.” Once the boilers had been repaired the Yarmouth headed for the Panama Canal Zone.
By telegram, Marcus Garvey pledged to offer whatever support was needed for the Negro strikers in the Panama Canal Zone. Upon reaching Colon on March 1st Henrietta Vinton Davis, the highest ranking Black Star officer aboard the Yarmouth wired back to Garvey:

Cable made profound impression offer gratefully received burden on us immediate help needed advise#.
The Panama Canal Zone the strike was over by the time the Yarmouth arrived in Colon. However, the situation for West Indian workers in the zone remained tense. Hugh Mulzac explained it this way:

When Americans succeeded the French as builders however, they brought with them not only great resources of capital and technological skill, but also that characteristic hallmark of the United States civilization,-flagrant social discrimination.
The “colored” and “white” signs which designate public facilities throughout the South had been replaced in Panama by “gold” and “silver” signs. The West Indians resented having to buy provisions from the “silver” commissary while their white colleagues purchased from the “gold” store, an indignity that applied even in the post office! An even more grievous affront was that “gold” pay envelopes invariably contained more money than “silver” ones, even when the workers performed the same duties side by side.#

In Colon, Captain Cockburn did something that Marcus Garvey never seemed able to accomplish, he provided direct assistance to Negroes who needed it. Garvey had been dumbfounded when victims of the Omaha, Nebraska riots showed up at Liberty Hall in need of direct relief.# Confronted with a similar situation in Panama Cockburn chose to act. According to Hugh Mulzac:

We agreed to take 500 (West Indians) to Cuba which was then importing workers for sugar and banana plantations. The accommodations I hastily constructed in the holds were terribly inadequate, and before we were to discharge our passengers at Santiago de Cuba we encountered many difficulties, including shortages of fuel, food and equipment, but the migrants preferred risking these hazards to remaining a moment longer in a country where they were not free.#

With 500 unexpected passengers to go along with the passengers who had booked passage on the Yarmouth in the Caribbean, The Yarmouth was in the Panama Canal Zone to pick up two people who worked for the U.N.I.A. According to Captain Cockburn, his orders were to take the two people he picked up to ports in Costa Rica to let people see the ship.# The two people he picked up were Cyril Henry who had been informing U.N.I.A. headquarters about the labor strike in Panama and Henrietta Vinton Davis the only woman to serve on the Black Star Line’s Board of Directors. According to crew member Aubrey DeSouza, Miss. Vinton-Davis was given the best cabin on the Yarmouth because she was the chief U.N.I.A. fund raiser on the voyage.
Henrietta Vinton-Davis was a trained Shakespearean performer and elocutionist. Her speeches were very popular with audiences because she was able to employ her ample rhetorical talents in front of large crowds. By the time she started working for the U.N.I.A she was over sixty years old.#
Chief Steward Cyril Byron purchased a large supply of meat, presumably to feed the new passengers. According to Aubrey DeSouza this was before refrigeration made it possible to store such a large quantity of it. The meat rotted in the hold and had to be thrown overboard. Sixty years later, DeSouza was still upset by the “terrible waste” that he had frequently witnessed aboard the Yarmouth.
The Yarmouth made stops at Bocas del Toro, Almirante and Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. At each stop they were greeted by enthusiastic crowds. Hugh Mulzac recalled:

In Bocas del Toro thousands of peasants came down from the hills on horses, donkeys and makeshift carts, and by a special train provided by the United Fruit Company, which since it was going to lose money anyway, declared a legal holiday. The crowd on the dock was so thick that when we threw our heaving lines ashore the peasants seized the hawsers as they came out of the water and literally breasted us alongside the dock. In the tumult that followed dancing broke out on deck, great piles of fruit and flowers mounted on the hatch covers , and UNIA agents signed up hundreds of new members.#

Marcus Garvey’s Negro World Newspaper ran an enthusiastic story about The Yarmouth’s appearance in Bocas del Toro. Henrietta Vinton Davis and Captain Cockburn made speeches. Miss. Davis’s speech was described as delivered with “her usual eloquence.”# Captain Cockburn tended to give short speeches that focused on the Black Star Line’s need for more money in order to purchase more ships for the line.
H.S. Blair, Division Manager for United Fruit Company in Almirante, Costa Rica wrote to his General Manager George P.Chittenden about the Yarmouth’s visit. He reported:

Trains were furnished for little more than cost for the people of Almirante to come see the Yarmouth. The people were disappointed because they had to wait in the rain for the Yarmouth’s arrival. But then they went aboard and visited and then heard speeches at the rail station until 11 o’clock.
In coming up the dock in Almirante the Yarmouth ran into a lighter at the end of the dock. The company insisted on payment from the Yarmouth but he ship’s carpenter was assigned to fix it instead…Various persons aboard the Yarmouth reported that she was in very dirty condition. Several Latin Americans who have taken passage on her to Limon and other ports got off at Bocas saying that it was impossible for them to go farther with the steamer in such condition….The American Consul at Bocas stated that the Yarmouth was short two bills of health from ports at which she had called and is liable for a fine of $5000 for each of these on arrival in New York.#

Marcus Garvey’s Negro World article about the Yarmouth’s visit to Almirante reported a different piece of financial news, stating that the local U.N.I.A. branch there was offering $5,000 in gold to the honorable Marcus Garvey as “a small remnant of shares sold for the Black Star Line Corporation.”
H.S. Blair was pleased to inform his general manager George P.Chittenden that: The Yarmouth had no particular effect on the labor situation. All speeches made by the visitors had in view the collection of money. They repeatedly urged people to give money to buy shares in the Black Star Line. They held up before them the idea of a Black Republic in Africa. By far the cleverest speaker of the lot was Henrietta Vinton Davis.

Blair also provided an interesting observation about the Yarmouth’s crew and its renowned cargo of Green River Whiskey, which was said to have been thrown overboard during a gale off Cape May, New Jersey:

It seems that the members of the crew of this steamer are doing a considerable business in selling Green River Whiskey. We presume that this is liquor reserved from the cargo taken by the Yarmouth from New York to Havana. We understand that they were supposed to throw 500 cases overboard. At any rate Green River Whiskey was offered here in Almirante by members of the crew for from a dollar to two dollars a bottle and a good deal of it was bought at these rates. I was also told that there was a good deal of drinking and disorder on the ship. This I cannot prove.

Apparently the Captain and the crew of the Yarmouth had participated in keeping a share of the whiskey they were supposed to transport to Cuba. During his testimony at Marcus Garvey’s mail fraud trial in 1923 Captain Cockburn blamed his crew for hiding bottles of liquor throughout the ship, pointing out that he and the ship were cited at every port on the voyage. This was a common problem for skippers and their ships during the first months of prohibition in the United States. Crew member Aubrey DeSouza blamed Cockburn, stating during his 1982 interview that the Captain had “broached the cargo” when the whiskey was loaded on January 16,1920. Although there was tension between crewmen who were loyal Garveyites and Captain Cockburn, it is possible that everyone aboard the Yarmouth felt entitled to some of the Green River Whiskey due to the unfair contract that was arranged for the whiskey cargo.
H.S. Blair was not inclined to view the Yarmouth in a positive light but his assessment of the ship and what the U.N.I.A. was up to in Costa Rica is more realistic than J.Edgar Hoover’s appraisal which led to The Bureau of Investigation’s justification for investigating Garvey’s organization (Hoover was certain that Communists had inspired the U.N.I.A.).

If one were a Latin American passenger on board the Yarmouth one would have traveled expecting a certain cruise like atmosphere during the voyage. This became impossible once Captain Cockburn decided to take on 500 passengers who would travel more like refugees than passengers on a cruise ship. So far as selling whiskey is concerned, the crew may have felt empowered by the ability to earn extra money while in Central American ports. A big problem on the Yarmouth’s maiden voyage had been the firemen’s belief that they had to be paid more. The Yarmouth had been away from home for two months by the time it left Costa Rica to sail back to Cuba. Bootlegging Whiskey may have provided some of the crew with necessary income.
According to Hugh Mulzac, the Yarmouth sailed to Santiago de Cuba to discharge the 500 West Indian passengers Cockburn had taken on in Colon, Panama Canal Zone. The Yarmouth’s boilers had to be repaired again. Then the Yarmouth sailed to Jamaica where Captain Cockburn arranged to take on a cargo of 700 tons of cocoanuts bound for New York.# The Yarmouth received a message from Marcus Garvey ordering the ship to a U.N.I.A. meeting in Boston, Massachusetts. According to Hugh Mulzac, Captain Cockburn would have to go to Nassau the Bahamas for food supplies and then Norfolk, Virginia for coal due to British wartime restrictions that prevented him from obtaining food and fuel he could afford anywhere else.
According to crew member Aubrey DeSouza, Captain Cockburn’s decision to travel to Nassau was an act of hubris; he simply wanted to show off the ship he commanded in Nassau, the place of his birth.. When the Yarmouth arrived in the Bahamas Cockburn demonstrated why certain members of his crew could not stand him. First Officer Hugh Mulzac warned the captain not to drop anchor in the channel the Yarmouth was in but Cockburn insisted he knew it was shallow enough to lay anchor there. Aubrey DeSouza stated that First Officer Mulzac knew Cockburn was wrong because he was a better navigator, capable of using the stars to chart his ship’s position. According to DeSouza, Captain Cockburn could only navigate by the sun.
What happened next forever established Captain Cockburn as a fool in the eyes of Aubrey DeSouza and some other crew members aboard the Yarmouth. Cockburn ordered the Yarmouth to drop anchor. Mulzac had been right, it was too deep in the channel to lay anchor. During the night, the Yarmouth drifted out to sea. Even worse, the ship’s $1,000 anchor had been lost. Cockburn hastily ordered the ship to port but the Yarmouth could only dock in Nassau for a few hours before leaving for Norfolk. Cockburn and his officers did go ashore but they could not stay very long.
The Yarmouth’s visit to Nassau appears to have made a great impression on the local colored population of Nassau. On May 27th The Union Mercantile Association Ltd., led by several prominent colored professionals held a meeting to discuss the purchase of a motor boat. The boat was to be used for purchasing food and dry goods in Florida that could be sold to the colored people of Nassau at rates lower than those charged by white merchants. The meeting was attended by 100 people and 400 shares of stock for the purpose of financing the boat were sold. It is noteworthy that Union Mercantile’s spokesman was Rueben A.Bethel of Eleuthra. This is the same place that members of Joshua and his wife Pauline Cockburn’s family most likely came from. Bethel stated that even bigger movements to make the colored people independent would take place if the motor boat plan was a success. He was such a big fan of Marcus Garvey that he named his new born son Marcus.#
What happened in Norfolk, Virginia is also a matter of contention. The Yarmouth supposedly went there for coal but Marcus Garvey accused Captain Cockburn of picking up three women while in port. The women were affiliated with the U.N.I.A. One of them was the wife of Black Star Line Treasurer Ellie Garcia. Marcus Garvey later insisted that Captain Cockburn tried to have intercourse with Mrs.Garcia during the voyage from Norfolk to Boston.# Cockburn insisted that the women were taken to Boston for the purpose of starting a Black Cross Nurses affiliate.
Captain Cockburn offered this explanation for his controversial decisions after leaving Santiago de Cuba:

“After leaving Jamaica, the last port of latitude, I had to call at the Bahamas or Cuba to take in stores sufficient to bring me up to these waters. On the first trip I called at Havana and it was a very expensive call for my stores. Therefore on this occasion I decided to call at Nassau to take in stores to enable me to reach New York. From Nassau I had not sufficient coal on board to bring me up to New York, and therefore I called at Norfolk, Virginia and coaled. I was ordered (by Garvey) to go to Philadelphia and to speak at a hall. The Cocoanuts rotted by the time the ship was in Boston.”#

Cockburn was frustrated by Marcus Garvey’s conflicting orders regarding where to take his ship:
“I got a cable every day changing my port: come to Boston, Come to Philadelphia, Come to New York, Come to Boston, Come to Philadelphia.” #

Upon reaching Philadelphia Captain Cockburn was told to display the ship and let people tour it. He sat down with Marcus Garvey and explained that he had a shipment of cocoanuts that had to be delivered to New York because they were perishable cargo. Garvey overruled his captain and ordered the Yarmouth to Boston.#
Captain Cockburn brought the Yarmouth to Boston so that U.N.I.A. members and prospective members could inspect the ship. During Garvey’s mail fraud trial in 1923 he testified:

“Both Garvey and I spoke at the meeting in Philadelphia. We said that both voyages of the Yarmouth had been successful. To my mind it was because we sold a lot of stocks. No money was made from transporting passengers and cargo. A considerable amount of stock was sold. People were told that the Black Star Line needed more money because it was going to buy a new ship that would be called the Phillis Wheatley.”#

This aspect of Joshua Cockburn’s testimony in 1923 during Marcus Garvey’s mail fraud trial helped to get Garvey convicted of mail fraud. Cockburn’s testimony helped to prove the U.S. Government’s case that Marcus Garvey had defrauded the public by selling stock in a company, The Black Star Line, that was not viable. Proof of this was the fact that it was advertising the Phillis Wheatley, a ship it never actually owned. Aubrey DeSouza advised Marcus Garvey during the time that he was acting as his own lawyer and cross examining Captain Cockburn. DeSouza agreed with the decision against Garvey. “Mr.Garvey was very sincere… but he was guilty of selling stock in an insolvent company.”
On the way back to New York Captain Cockburn requisitioned 100 tons of coal that his chief engineer John Garret had already requisitioned#. He brought the Black Cross Nurses with him without telling the port authority that they were on board. He knew that he was going to be fired. He had told Garvey that he would wreck the Yarmouth. While at the helm of the Yarmouth as it headed to New York Aubrey DeSouza listened as Captain Joshua Cockburn bragged to his officers that he had made a large commission on the original charter of the Yarmouth from The North Atlantic Steamship Company to the Black Star Line.
These acts of hubris damned Captain Joshua Cockburn. Although he would go on to be a successful Harlem Real Estate Operator with the help of his wife Pauline, Cockburn has been doomed to be remembered as a corrupt, incompetent sea captain who misused his position and took advantage of Marcus Garvey and the Black Star Line.
When the Yarmouth returned to New York City Marcus Garvey staged a parade in uptown Manhattan that Hugh Mulzac called “the greatest demonstration of colored solidarity in American History before or since.”# The Yarmouth would go on two more voyages with a white captain. Marcus Garvey had decided to fire Joshua Cockburn. Initially The Black Star Line sent Cockburn a letter stating that they were looking into his accounts as Captain of the Yarmouth and would pay him later. Eventually Cockburn was sacked. By the end of June 1920 he no longer worked for the Black Star Line.
Before he left the Yarmouth for good Captain Cockburn managed to remove the Yarmouth’s other anchor, the one that he had not lost in the channel in Nassau. Marcus Garvey replaced Cockburn with a white Canadian Captain named Dixon. The Yarmouth’s next two voyages were less successful than the ones Cockburn had undertaken and the Black Star Line no longer featured a Negro Captain. BSL stock sales plummeted.
By July 1921 Leo Healy, attorney for the North American Steamship Company, was in control of the Yarmouth because the Black Star Line could not make the required payments on the ship. An article in the Brooklyn Standard Union featured Healy’s plan to turn the ship into a party boat that would be permanently anchored just outside of the three mile limit of the United States off the coast of New Jersey#.
Healy told the Standard Union that the investors in the line wished to remain anonymous. The Yarmouth party boat would be able to serve alcoholic beverages legally to patrons who rode out to it in small boats. The ship was to feature a cabaret where music and dancing would be featured. The one hitch in the plan was the fact that the small boats would have to cross shipping lanes to get to the Yarmouth. This fact alone was enough to sink Healy’s Yarmouth party boat idea, which never came to fruition. This is the same Leo Healy who would claim that Captain Joshua Cockburn purposely pulled the Yarmouth’s sea cock out and caused it to start sinking in order to throw cases of whiskey to small ships waiting alongside the vessel during The Whiskey Cruise of January 1920.#
During the years 1921-1923 Joshua Cockburn would be involved with The Bureau of Investigation whose undercover agent James Amos cultivated him as a witness against Marcus Garvey. Cockburn also joined Cyril Briggs African Blood Brotherhood (ABB). According to Garvey biographer Colin Grant, the ABB had developed one overriding goal, to destroy Marcus Garvey.# The only evidence of Cockburn’s participation in the ABB was his appearance at a meeting on December 18, 1921 at Rush Church in Harlem. Former U.N.I.A. and Black Star officials came to speak against Marcus Garvey. This meeting was broken up by angry Garveyites.# Another meeting was to be held two days later at the Palace Casino with “Protection Guaranteed.”# Garvey maintained that top officials who had left the Black Star Line had done so because they were corrupt. However, most of these men had joined with Garvey because they were talented, educated Negroes who wanted to improve conditions for their race.
Joshua Cockburn was interviewed by the Bureau of Investigation several times during the years 1921 and 1922, not for the purpose of uncovering any of his own wrongdoing, but to provide information on the wrongdoing of Marcus Garvey. Garvey himself provided damaging information to an undercover agent in November 1921, when he lamented that Captain Cockburn had inflated the Yarmouth’s many repair bills as much as 200% when he was captain of the S.S.Yarmouth.# Garvey’s contention is contradicted by agent James Amos interview with former U.N.I.A. and Yarmouth crew member Louis LaMothe. According to LaMothe, all work on the Yarmouth was required to be approved by Marcus Garvey except in foreign ports, where it was approved by local U.N.I.A. agents.#
Lamothe was with Captain Cockburn and Edward D.Smith Green when they were called to Chief Revenue Officer James S.Shevlin’s office in February, 1920 to explain problems with the Yarmouth’s whiskey cargo#. LaMothe told agent Amos that everything went smoothly with the shipment of liquor, a comment that strains credulity because the Yarmouth encountered a myriad of problems with its whiskey cargo between January 16 when it was loaded in Manhattan the day before prohibition and the end of February when it was unloaded to be left in a warehouse in bond in Havana, Cuba. LaMothe may have had his reasons for not bringing up issues that occurred during The Whiskey Cruise of 1920, but there is little evidence that Agent Amos or other bureau agents investigated the Whiskey Cruise. This is interesting since the possibility that federal prohibition laws were broken was strong, given all the speculation and story telling that key figures involved with the Black Star Line engaged in regarding the incident.
Bureau agent James E. Amos interviewed Joshua Cockburn several times during the year 1922. Cockburn invariably directed Bureau Agents to other Negroes who could inform them about negative things about Marcus Garvey. Sometimes the people Cockburn identified were no longer living at the addresses he provided. At other times the agents met with men who had negative things to say about Marcus Garvey.
On April 14, 1922 James Amos interviewed Reverend Norman Wilson who told of being beaten by Garveyite thugs after telling members of his congregation not to associate with Garvey. Wilson expressed fear about testifying in court against Garvey because his congregation was still sympathetic to the U.N.I.A. leader.# There was a hint of fascism in Marcus Garvey’s popularity with the Negro masses. Reverend James Eason, the American leader of the U.N.I.A. was killed by Garvey loyalists on January 1, 1923 after an unsuccessful attempt to unseat Marcus Garvey as leader of the U.N.I.A. During his later years in England, Garvey professed admiration for Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini, but this was probably because Haile Selassie, the deposed leader of Abyssinia, had snubbed him and other Negro leaders in London.#
One thing Joshua Cockburn did not do to Marcus Garvey was to go along with the Bureau of Investigation’s initial attempts to gather information on Garvey’s affair with Amy Jacques in order to charge him under the Mann Act. The Mann Act had been used to against Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion. Although designed to prevent forced prostitution, it had been used against Johnson for traveling with his white girlfriend. Amy Jacques had some European ancestry and she was much younger than Marcus Garvey. Joshua Cockburn’s wife Pauline was a white woman with African ancestry. Joshua had married her in Liverpool, England when he was thirty-two and she was fourteen and a half. However much he despised Marcus Garvey, Joshua Cockburn did not participate in the Bureau of Investigation’s attempt to make a federal case out of Garvey’s marital problems.
Joshua Cockburn provided key testimony in Garvey’s 1923 trial on federal charges of mail fraud. In 1925 Marcus Garvey lost his appeal, which hinged on convincing the appeals court that government witness Joshua Cockburn had been as guilty of fraud as Garvey had. Garvey was sent to the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, where he would spend part of his time serving as head bathroom cleaner.# For the rest of his life and in perpetuity through his writings, Marcus Garvey would hold Joshua Cockburn personally responsible for the failure of the Black Star Shipping Line.

That man Cockburn! May God damn him to eternal oblivion. That man had in his hands the commercial destiny on the seas of the black man. He sold it, every bit of it, for a mess of pottage.#

Cockburn was doing well financially by the time Marcus Garvey was sent to prison. He had left the sea to work as a Real Estate Operator in Manhattan and he found that he was very good at it. The fact that Joshua had a wife who was white in appearance must have helped. The author Claude Mckay states in his book Harlem: Negro Metropolis, that during the early 20th century Negroes relied on friendly whites and Latinos to help them purchase properties in upper Manhattan. McKay noted:

The blacks willingly paid from a hundred to two hundred percent more than did the whites…Faced with opposition, the Aframerican realtors resorted to stratagem to develop Negro Harlem. They got “fronts” to make certain contracts and deals. The fair-skinned members of the group were used as decoys. Posing as whites they achieved better bargains.#

Joshua and Pauline Cockburn also benefited as realtors from the fact that Marcus Garvey had drawn so many enthusiastic followers to Harlem.As the headquarters of the Garvey movement, Harlem became nationally and internationally famous. McKay observed:

When the Garvey movement first attracted world attention, 1918-1919, the solid Black Belt extended from 127th to 145th Street between Fifth and Eighth Avenues. From 125th Street to 110th Street Jews dominated. The breaking of the boundaries coincided with the rise of the Pan-African movement. #

The Sun and New York Herald Newspaper reported the growth of the Negro population in Harlem with this headline on May, 23 1920:
City’s Negro Colony
Rapidly Expanding
Harlem Settlement Becomes World’s Largest
In Period of fifteen years-Property
Holdings Exceed $100,000,000

There is at least one piece of evidence that suggests Joshua Cockburn the Real Estate Operator was as irresponsible as he had been when he was commanding the Yarmouth. The Afro American Newspaper reported on October 31, 1924 that a tenement owned by the former Captain Joshua Cockburn had burned down and that “incendiarism” was charged. One of Cockburn’s tenants had seen two Negroes and a white man hanging around the building’s basement just before the fire started. One woman perished. One female tenant who experienced the fire was the mother of eleven children. She lived in the basement. The buildings “alarm box” was faulty and it took ten minutes to let the fire department know that there was a fire.#
There was money to be made in Harlem Real Estate and Joshua and Pauline Cockburn made their share. On February 25, 1925 The New York Times reported that Joshua Cockburn had donated $5,000 to the construction of the Episcopal Cathedral of St.John the Divine. This was done in memory of his son Joshua Percival Cockburn, who had died at sea on the Cockburn’s journey from Sierra Leone, Africa to New York in 1918#. Joshua said his donation was “in memory of my only son who died and was buried at sea.”
Marcus Garvey had been sent to the Atlanta Penitentiary a few weeks earlier after losing the appeal of his conviction for mail fraud. Garvey’s lawyers had based their appeal on the fact that witnesses had stated that Captain Joshua Cockburn had received a commission from the sellers on the sale of the Yarmouth.# Garvey’s lawyers argued that this was the reason the Black Star Line had failed. They pointed to the fact that Cockburn had been Marcus Garvey’s marine adviser and profited from the charter of the Yarmouth from the North American Steamship Company to the U.N.I.A. as one example of Marcus Garvey’s victimization at the hands of his employees. The appeal was rejected.
Throughout the sixteen years he lived and worked in Harlem, Joshua Cockburn maintained a realty office and shipping agency at 2164 7th Avenue.# He and Pauline were occasionally mentioned in the society pages of Negro newspapers. They attended a dinner at The Alcidean Club and vacationed at Edgewater. Captain Cockburn’s most enduring contribution to Harlem society was his donation of a silver cup that served as a trophy for an invitational tennis tournament between teams from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania#. The Cockburn Cup Tennis Tournament was still being played as late as 1954.
The Cockburns appear to have weathered the Great Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression.
In 1934 they traveled to Haiti with prominent American Negro businessmen who had formed the Haitian Afro-American Chamber of Commerce. The organization had been formed at the request of Haitian President Stenio Vincient, who had been in the United States to meet with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The fact that the United States had recently withdrawn U.S. Marines from Haiti after a long occupation had become an important social cause in the United States and the Caribbean.
The United States had occupied Haiti since 1915. The Wilson Administration had installed a pro-American President Philippe S.Dartiguenave, who ran the island nation as a dictator using a combined U.S Marine Haitian gendarmerie to maintain order. The U.S. led occupation of Haiti included racial segregation, press censorship and forced labor#. The plight of Haiti had become a popular cause among liberal Americans such as Clarence Darrow’s colleague Arthur Garfield Hayes, who viewed the occupation as part of The U.S.A.’s alarming tendency to oppress dark skinned people. While he had been a crew member of the Yarmouth in 1920, Aubrey DeSouza had met Haitian girls who had been raped by U.S. Marines during the occupation.# DeSouza’s experience was corroborated by N.A.A.C.P. Secretary James Weldon Johnson, who traveled to Haiti to observe conditions for himself in 1920.
The members of the Haitian Afro-American Chamber of Commerce had sailed from New York on August 17, 1934. They held a ceremony at the tomb of Toussaint L’Overture during which they laid a wreath on his tomb. Each member of the chamber of commerce then studied his particular area of expertise in the agricultural, commercial or industrial field. Captain Cockburn wrote a report in which he analyzed Haiti’s problems with shipping and suggested that the Haitians start their own shipping line. His closing recommendations do not sound like those of a huckster out to take advantage of gullible Negroes:

That the Haitians receive every worthwhile effort of the Afro-Americans to help them, always realizing that we are slow to act and are ourselves working against financial, economic, social and political handicaps. #

A year earlier Pauline Cockburn had purchased property in Edgemont Hills, a suburban development located on the Scarsdale/Greenburgh town lines in Westchester County, New York. In 1936 Joshua hired contractors to build a home on the property. He and Pauline moved in on New Year’s Eve of that year. Early in 1937 their nearest neighbor Marion Ridgeway complained about the presence of Negroes in Edgemont Hills because she was aware that the properties there had a common deed covenant that restricted them to people without “Negro Blood” unless the Negroes were employed as servants.
In his deposition for the trial Joshua Cockburn stated that the deed covenant had been acted upon because a white contractor named Norman Zaubler was angry with him#. Zaubler had spoken to Cockburn at another property site in the nearby city of Yonkers. Cockburn had offered Zaubler some property in exchange for building him a house on Pauline’s property in Edgemont Hills. According to Cockburn Zaubler declined the offer but later became angry that Cockburn hired someone else to build his house. Zaubler threatened Cockburn with a lawsuit and then followed through by filing suit against him for violating a common deed covenant attached to all Edgemont Hills properties that forbid Negroes from owning or renting there. Zaubler denied Cockburn’s accusation. He stated in his testimony that Joshua Cockburn had threatened to protect his property with guns if necessary. Cockburn denied Zaubler’s accusation.
The Cockburn’s deed covenant trial was eventually heard in the Supreme Court of New York in White Plains. Thurgood Marshall assisted American Civil Liberties Union Attorney Arthur Garfield Hays in the Cockburn’s defense. N.A.A.C.P. Secretary Walter White helped plan the defense, which revolved around the idea that there was no legal definition for the term Negro in the United States. Pauline Cockburn was very light skinned but had always taken it for granted that she was a Negress and associated with colored people.# The property in Edgemont Hills had been purchased in Pauline’s name. Technically she was the only one on trial although Joshua Cockburn’s testimony provided the basis of the judgment.
Judge Parsons Davis ruled that Pauline Cockburn had violated the deed covenant because she was an “Octoroon” who had at least 1/8 Negro blood and her husband Joshua Cockburn was obviously a Negro based on his appearance.#
Marcus Garvey had been freed from prison in Atlanta Georgia in 1927 and deported to Jamaica. By 1937 he was penniless and living in London where published a periodical called The Black Man. Garvey heard of the Cockburn’s trial and saw fit to comment on it in his publication under the bold headline HOW FOOLISH:

In one of the exclusive residential suburbs of New York an injunction was filed against a Negro the other day to prevent him from living in the district among white people, after he had purchased property there to the extent of L 4,000 ($20,000). The Negro, in contesting, pleaded instead of his civil rights as an American Citizen to live where he likes, that black as he was, and colored as his wife was, they were not Negroes. That being the point on which the Judge had to give his decision, he came to a quick judgment just by looking at the man and the woman, and declared undoubtedly one was of full Negro blood and the other had Negro blood in her veins.
The man has appealed against the judgment and an Association known as the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People of New York has promised to put all its financial resources behind the man to enable him to succeed in his appeal-the appeal naturally based upon the judgment of the Judge that the Negro is a Negro…and who is the Negro? He is no other than Joshua Cockburn. Captain of the first ship of the Black Star Line- a man who professed then to be a true and proud Negro. He was then poor when he came to the Black Star Line. After he left the Black Star Line he became rich and a Real Estate Operator in the City of New York. While he became rich the President of the Black Star Line had to spend two years and ten months in a Federal Prison for what others did to the Black Star Line. But for Cockburn and others the Black Star Line would be one of the most successful Steamship Companies to-day and the black race would be proud of themselves and their ownership of a mighty Merchant Marine.
Captain Cockburn is now rich and having his troubles trying to lose himself among the white people of New York. It is surprising that he is no longer a Negro. We never knew a person could change his race and skin so easily, but the peculiar anomaly is that the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People is to collect money from Negroes to prove that a Negro is not a Negro.#

Pauline and Joshua Cockburn were allowed to stay at their home in Edgemont Hills because their lawyer Arthur Garfield Hays convinced the plaintiffs that he would win the case on appeal which would result in more Negroes moving to Edgemont Hills.#

Marcus Garvey's anchor from his Black Star Line Ship The S.S.Yarmouth or as the U.N.I.A. called it The Frederic Douglass. Cockburn took it when Garvey fired him in June, 1920.

Marcus Garvey’s anchor from his Black Star Line Ship The S.S.Yarmouth or as the U.N.I.A. called it The Frederic Douglass. Cockburn took it when Garvey fired him in June, 1920.

Joshua Cockburn put the anchor he had taken from The Yarmouth on a rock in front of his house. Perhaps it is a symbol of a life lived at sea and a desire to claim what he had earned. Reflecting on his memories of Captain Cockburn in 1982 former Yarmouth crewmen Aubrey DeSouza could only shake his head in disgust at the thought of the Yarmouth’s anchor sitting out in front of Captain Cockburn’s house in Scarsdale. “He was so” DeSouza appeared to search for an adjective he could not find. Then he said “bold.” Joshua Cockburn died at his home in September, 1942. The anchor remains in front of the house he and Pauline Cockburn built in Edgemont Hills.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under About the Author

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s