There is no greater honor than to have your life immortatlized in a novel by one of the greatest writers of all time. Isreal Potter was given this honor when Herman Melville wrote the novel Isreal Potter, documenting his life and efforts in the American Revolution as well as the life of Israel Potter. However, there are some inaccuracies in Mellville's work, which were most likely used to add drama to the story. Besides relating history in a readable and interesting fashion, Mellville was trying to send a message to the American people and to the world about the American spirit and all of it's triumphs and tragedies.
Mellville chose to write a story that could be used as a somewhat accurate conveyance of the times. The setting of Israel Potter tends to be accurate for the time period. Most of the story took place upon a ship, where Israel worked. During the American Revoltion many people did work on ships, whether as merchants or as part of the navy. In fact, it is believed by most historians and analysts that Potter truly did work on a ship and spend time on the sea, however, he was not on John Paul Jones' ship as Mellville wrote. The people in Israel Potter tended to be somewhat superstitious. Because there were few scientific facts to base the unknown upon, many Americans and others were very superstitious. These superstitiouns were used to explain the unexplainable. For example, people believed in witches and witchcraft, they had rituals to ward off evil spirits, and rituals to accomplish a number of different goals. One of the most true to life portrayals in Mellville's novel is the description of the Battle of Bunker Hill. Bunker Hill was a true battle and it is beileved that Israel Potter did truly participate in it. Also included in Israel Potter are Benjamin Franklin, Ethan Allen, and John Paul Jones, all real historical figures prominent in the days of the American Revolution.