Coast Guard stripe

A photo of Captain Healy and his pet parrot.




Captain "Hell Roaring" Michael A. Healy, U.S.R.C.S.




Revenue Captain Michael A. Healy, commanding officer of the cutters Chandler, Corwin, Bear, McCulloch and Thetis, became a legend enforcing federal law along Alaska's 20,000 mile coastline.  In addition to being a friend to missionaries and scientists, he was a rescuer of whalers, natives, shipwrecked sailors, and destitute miners.

Born the son of a slave mother in 1839, near Macon, Georgia, he was sent north by his Irish immigrant father to obtain an education.  Healy, however, had other ideas and ran away from whatever school his father sent him too, whether it be in Massachusetts or Belgium.  He finally ran away for good, only this time to sea.  He began his 49-year sea career at the ripe old age of 15 when he signed aboard a clipper ship bound for Asia as a cabin boy.  During the Civil War he requested and was granted a commission in the Revenue Cutter Service from President Abraham Lincoln.

Healy took command of the famous cutter Bear in 1886 and on numerous occasions drove himself and his crew well beyond the call of duty.  In 1888, the Alaska whaling fleet had anchored behind the bar at Point Barrow to ride out a southwest gale.  The wind veered to the north.  Huge waves were breaking over the bar.  Four different ships broke apart and sank, throwing their crews into the icy waters.  During an incredible mass rescue, the Bear's crew saved 160 survivors.

From 1892 to 1895, Healy allied himself with Dr. Sheldon Jackson in an attempt to raise the living standards of Alaska's native population.  Aboard Bear, 500 reindeer and their handlers were ferried from Siberia in an attempt to transform the Eskimos from hunters and fishermen into herders.

Healy was "on the beach" for four years following a controversial court-martial conviction for "gross irresponsibility" and "scandalous conduct."  However, the 1900 Alaska god rush called for more cutters.  Healy was given command of the cutter McCulloch and was sent north once again.  He spent his last two years of service on Alaskan waters aboard the cutter Thetis.  He retired in 1904 at the mandatory retirement age of 64 and died one year later.


The USCGC Healy, the largest cutter in the Coast Guard fleet and the service's newest icebreaker, was named in honor of Revenue Captain Michael A. Healy.

Captain Michael A Healy

Coast Guard stripe

Captain "Hell Roaring" Michael A. Healy, U.S.R.C.S.

Coast Guard Historian's Office Healy Photo Collection

(Click thumb-nail to see full-size image)
Original photo caption; description; date; photo number & photographer (if known). Unless otherwise noted all photos are official U.S. Coast Guard photographs.
A photo of Healy No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.  

A portrait photograph of Captain Healy taken on the quarterdeck of his most famous command, the Revenue Cutter Bear, with his pet parrot, probably around 1895.  (300 dpi)

A photo of Healy No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.  

Portrait photograph of Healy.

A photo of Healy No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.  

Healy posing with two unidentified women on board the Bear.

A photo of Healy No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.  

Cropped photograph showing just Healy

A photo of Healy "Back: Dr. Bodkin, Engineer Coffin, LT Daniels, LT White, LT Emery; Front: CH ENG Schwartz, CPT Healy, ENG Dorry, LT Buhner, Carpenter Cain, Master At Arms Baundy."; Summer, 1895; no photo number; photo from scrapbook of John M. Justice. 
A photo of Healy No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.  

Healy after a successful hunt on the Alaskan tundra.

A photo of Healy No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.  

Healy, in a more private moment, with his dog, on board his Bear.

A photo of Healy No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.  

Healy disembarks from one of the Bear's boats.

A photo of Healy No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.  

Photograph of his commission as a Captain in the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service.

A photo of Healy No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.  

Healy family tombstone.


A photo of the cutter Healy "New Orleans, LA (Oct. 20)--The Coast Guard Cutter Healy (WAGB 20) underway from the shipyard in New Orleans. Our newest WAGB, the Polar Icebreaker/Research Vessel is built by Avondale Industries in New Orleans. USCGC HEALY is named in commemoration of Captain Michael A. Healy, U. S. Revenue Marine. Captain Healy was most notable as the foremost seaman and navigator of his time in the Bering Sea and Alaskan Arctic regions while Commanding Officer of the U. S. Revenue Cutter BEAR from 1886 to 1895." 20 October 1999; CG Photo No. 991020-O-8888A-504 (FR); USCG photo courtesy AVONDALE INDUSTRIES.
Editorial Opinion

When Are Irish-Americans Not Good Enough to Be Irish-American?
"Racial Kidnaping" and the Case of the Healy Family

By A.D. Powell

Consider the following family history:

Michael Morris Healy, an Irish immigrant, arrives in the United States around 1815 and establishes a plantation near Macon, Georgia. Healy and his mulatto common-law wife, Eliza Clark Healy, have 10 children. All of the children are sent North to be educated, baptized as Catholics, and leave any social disabilities of Georgia behind them. The children achieve great success as Irish-Americans:

Now, it must be emphasized that the Healy offspring were accepted as Irish American and "white" (whatever that means). The positions they obtained could not have been theirs if they had been black or even dark-skinned. Many other "white" people who knew about the Healys' mixed-race origins accepted them as Irish-Americans. Are the Healys therefore entitled to be counted among the ranks of Irish-Americans and included in Irish-American history?

F. Patrick HealyNot according to "black" elites and their "white liberal" allies. Years after their deaths, the Healy family is being claimed as "black" because of their achievements. As in the case of Anatole Broyard, the late New York Times book critic and essayist, if they can't claim you when you're alive and fighting, the hyenas try to "kidnap" your memory after you're dead. James and Francis Healy have been betrayed by the Catholic Church they served so faithfully because insecure "black Catholics" want to claim "trophy" clergymen of high rank despite the fact that discrimination and lack of educational opportunities prevented real "blacks" from creating an impressive "resume" in the 19th century. James Healy is now being described as the first "black" American to be ordained a priest and the first "black" bishop. Georgetown University now claims that Francis Patrick Healy (photo right) was the first "African American" president of a predominately "white" university and the first "black" to obtain a PhD.. Some gratitude the Catholic Church has shown! It has insulted the memory of James and Francis Healy by effectively stating that they were not good enough for their Irish-American heritage but only fit to "improve" the "black race" with their "white blood." The Healys must be turning over in their graves!

Mike HealyCaptain Michael Morris Healy's memory was recently tarnished by the United States Coast Guard, which named an Icebreaker, the U.S.C.G.C. HEALY (launched in 1997) after him. Normally, it is a great honor to have a ship named after you. It is an insult, however, when the ship is named after you so the U.S. Coast Guard can honor a "black" hero who was really Irish-American, at least 3/4 white, and identified as both white and Irish. In this case, someone told a group of black schoolkids at Virgil Grissom Junior High School in Queens, New York that they had a "black" hero in Captain Healy. The black kids initiated a letter-writing campaign to get the Coast Guard to name a ship after Michael Healy. Now, these kids may be flattered by the idea that a person of obvious Caucasian phenotype shares their "race," but it is in fact a racial insult they are incapable of recognizing:

A prime example of the "liberal racism" that condemns the Healys as "black" on the basis of the "one drop" myth while pretending to be anti-racist and sympathetic, is "Racial Identity and the Case of Captain Michael Healy, USRCS," by James M. O'Toole, director of the archives program at University of Massachusetts, Boston.. (Quarterly of the National Archives & Records Administration, Fall 1997, vol. 29, No. 3)

O'Toole begins with a confrontation between Captain Healy and two sailors he was disciplining. He notes that they called him a "God damned Irishman." O'Toole is very upset that the sailors didn't call Captain Healy a "nigger." This seems to him the only natural thing to call Captain Healy. O'Toole throughout the article, projects his own racism and devotion to the "one drop" myth on 19th century Americans who obviously didn't share his devotion to white racial "purity."

O'Toole's racist devotion to the "one drop" myth blinds him to racial reality in the 19th century. He assumes that the "one drop" myth was law and universally accepted by "whites." It wasn't. Any research into racial classification laws in the 19th century would have shown him that various degrees of "negro blood" were accepted into the "white race," even in the Deep South. Also, the combination of a person's looks and the reputation he had established were all taken into consideration in determining whether one was "white" or not. It is obvious that Captain Healy and his siblings succeeded in establishing themselves as second-generation Irish Americans. O'Toole cannot bear this and insists that the Healy siblings were really "African Americans." He also calls their mother, Eliza, an "African American" even though her ancestry was at least half European.

O'Toole also claims that all "whites" believed in "mulatto inferiority" or the doctrine that mixed-race people are biologically inferior to BOTH or ALL "pure" parental groups. He is too ignorant to understand that this doctrine was created as a defense of slavery by pro-slavery intellectuals who wanted to counter the Northern anti-slavery argument that, if slavery is justified on the basis of "race," then "white" slaves should be automatically free because the negro racial "taint" had been effectively bred out of the line. Lawrence Tenzer explains the origins of this doctrine very well in his book The Forgotten Cause of the Civil War: A New Look at the Slavery Issue. O'Toole would do well to sit at Tenzer's feet and learn something. O'Toole follows the usual liberal excuse of claiming that "society" defined the Healy family as "black," but expresses wonderment at the fact that "whites" who knew about Captain Healy's mixed ancestry still treated him as "white." O'Toole is amazed that establishing a "white" identity was so easy for the Healys:

The apparent ease with which they made the transition from black to white is striking. Hell, any white-identified multiracial could have told him that! First, they didn't start out as "black." All things would be made clear if he would stop listening to and promoting "black" propaganda. O'Toole is racist because he accepts the myth that the Healys' real identity was "black" and that they were only "passing" for white and Irish American. Even though, like so many liberals, O'Toole acknowledges that "Group boundaries are more fluid than we often suppose," he clearly accepts and endorses the "one drop" myth, passing it off as biological and social reality:

Where the Healys are remembered today, it is as African Americans; several of them are now celebrated as the "first black" achievers in their fields. They themselves, however, recoiled from such an identification. Wherever possible, they sought a white identity...

This may seem surprising or even disappointing to us...

Why should it be "surprising" or "disappointing" to anyone? The Healys embraced the identity that they believed best defined them. The Irish American identity certainly described the Healys well - far better than any false "black" identity. Does O'Toole really believe that the "white race" is "pure" or totally free from the "taint" of the "race" in whose equality he professes to believe? O'Toole also accepts the "liberal" nonsense that a "white" identity is merely an attempt to escape from "racism" and that the Healys would have cheerfully accepted a "black" identity if there had been no anti-black discrimination. Tell me, in a world free of anti-Semitism, would Jews voluntary call themselves "non-Aryans" or "kikes" or any other term invented to degrade them? Of course not; the question would be considered ridiculous. Why, therefore, do liberal and "black" elites insist that, in a prejudice-free world, people would cheerfully accept a racially degraded identity for themselves. Such idiocy constitutes a total rejection of logic.

Captain Healy married Mary Ann Roach, herself the daughter of Irish immigrants. O'Toole's racism keeps him still amazed that a "white" identity was passed on to their son:

He repeatedly referred to white settlers [in Alaska] as "our people," and was even able to pass this racial identity on to a subsequent generation. His teenage son Fred, who accompanied his father on a voyage in 1883, scratched his name into a rock on a remote island above the Arctic Circle, proudly telling his diary that he was the first "white boy" to do so.

Imagine that! O'Toole can't understand how a boy with a white-identified Irish quadroon father and a "pure" Irish mother could presume to call himself "white" instead of some "black" nonsense. O'Toole appears to be really concerned about those polluting "black drops" contaminating his "whiteness." He apparently doesn't want to share his Irish American identity with people contaminated by the blood of the "race" he claims to champion.

O'Toole acknowledges that Captain Healy experienced prejudice for being Irish and Catholic, but he seems to be so disappointed that the "nigger" insult never pops up to put the uppity quadroon in his place. Indeed, O'Toole's liberal racist contention that the Healy family's Irish Catholic identity was mere social climbing to escape discrimination is even more ridiculous when you realize that, in the 19th century, both Irish and Catholics faced massive discrimination. If the Healys wanted to social climb, they could have become white Protestants.

The "racial kidnaping" of the Healy family is an important example of why the "liberal racist" assumption that a publicly-identified European heritage is somehow "too good" for those non-Hispanics "tainted" by "black blood" must be openly and defiantly challenged. We must end this racial "rape." If the Healy family can be violated in death, it can happen to anyone.