Jonathan Lambert was of the breed of Salem seafarers who had first carried the American flag to India, Java, Sumatra, and Japan, who opened the trade with the Fiji Islands and Madagascar, who had been the trail-breakers in diverting the commerce of South America and China to Yankee ships. They had sailed where no other merchantmen dared go, they had anchored where no one else dreamed of seeking trade.
It was therefore nothing extraordinary for Jonathan Lambert to tire of roving the wide seas and to set himself up in business as the king of Tristan da Cunha which had neither ruler nor subjects. What his ambitions were and how a melancholy end overtook them is to be found in the sea-journal of Captain John White, who sailed the American brig Franklin out to China in 1819. He wrote: