The U.S.S. Ranger was a United States Navy gunboat converted into a survey vessel in 1881. From 1881 to 1890, she was engaged in hydrographic survey work off Mexico and Central America and in the northern Pacific. The voyage corresponding with this collection of nine photographs, was described in the book The Methods and Results of the Survey by the Officers of the U.S.S. “Ranger” During the Season of 1889 and 1890 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1892).
The photographs range in size from 6” x 4” to 7 ½” x 4 ½”. Four of the cabinet cards are identified with holographic captions on the verso, while two others are identified with typed notes taken from the identifications of duplicate cards. The photographs with no captions are the Hotel del Coronado under construction, a coastal view with a ship in the background, and a cabinet card portrait of Lieutenant Lowry taken by Taber, San Francisco. Two of the cabinet cards, both with hand written captions, are a bit faded.
One of the photographs is captioned: “On deck at sea plotting the position after the angles have been taken. Capt. Reiter, Lts. Barrett and Harris, and yours truly.” Shortly after this image was captured, George Cook Reiter (1845-1930) became nationally known as a result of the Barrundia Affair (1890). Reiter was the senior U.S. naval officer present at the port of San Jose de Guatemala during the attempted arrest of General J. Martin Barrundia, a rebel Guatemalan general who had unsuccessfully attempted to take over the government during a military insurrection, and was forced into exile by the Guatemalan government. Barrundia had boarded the SS Acaapulco, an American-flag ship, and requested political asylum in the United States, when the ship stopped at a Guatemalan port. Rather than place a guard on the SS Acapulco for General Barrundia or offer him political asylum, Reiter delayed the asylum request several hours in order to gain the permission of the Guatemalan government, which never came. The SS Acapulco was later boarded by Guatemalan officers, and Barrundia was killed in a gunfight while resisting arrest. During the occupation of the ship, the U.S. flag was taken down, arms and supplies siezed, and the Guatemalan flag was raised in its place. The Secretary of the Navy, at the personal direction of President Benjamin Harrison, ordered an investigation into Reiter’s conduct; the Secretary later censured Reiter and relieved him of command. Item #73703