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June 2023
1min read

When people spoke about oil refineries in the 1850s, they meant whale oil, and here is Samuel Leonard, sitting on a keg in the yard of his New Bedford, Massachusetts, works, doubtless conducting business with the sagacity that made him the nation’s leading oilman. Supplying him and his colleagues are some seven hundred world-girdling vessels chasing an ever more elusive quarry: the sperm whale represented on the factory’s weather vane. William Allen Wall, a neighbor and good friend of Leonard, painted him and his prosperous domain in 1855.

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