Ship on left in image aflame; passengers jumping off and hanging off bow. Others in water on debris or in lifeboats. Another ship in right background leaning into water.
Launched in 1847 and described as one of the finest and largest ships ever built in the United States, the Ocean Monarch was a great addition to the White Diamond Line of Boston to Liverpool emigration sailing ships. On August 28, 1848, a fire broke out on board as the vessel left Liverpool. Though many ships assisted the Ocean Monarch, the boat sunk and 178 people, half of those on board, were killed. Numerous accounts of the tragedy elicited great public sympathy in both the United States and England and feats of heroism were celebrated. Frederick Jerome, a sailor working on the vessel New World, dove into the ocean, swam to the burning ship and rescued more than 15 women. For his bravery, he was given an award from the City of New York as well as 50 pounds from Queen Victoria and another 50 pounds from dignitaries onboard the Affonso, a Brazilian ship that assisted the Ocean Monarch. Nathaniel Currier was one of many artists who provided dramatic images of the conflagration to the public. An oil canvas painting by Samuel Walters (1811-1882) of the same scene is in the Peabody Essex Museum.