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Tke Story af tlte Port o Best 




The Story of the Port: 1630-1940 

Compiled by 

Workers of the Writers' Program 

of the Work Projects Administration 

in the State of Massachusetts 

Sponsored by 
Boston Port Authority 

Boston has developed into a many- 
faceted city since the early days when 
its interests were preponderantly mari- 
time, but every salt east wind laden with 
the raw smell of coffee brings a re- 
minder that the ships and warehouses 
of its waterfront are still inextricably 
bound up with the fortunes of the com- 
munity. The Port was probably the 
determining factor in the role which 
Massachusetts played in the American 
Revolution; and throughout three cen- 
turies of war and peace, sail and steam, 
the vicissitudes of the Port have condi- 
tioned the history of Boston. 

This study is a fully rounded chron- 
icle of the Port of Boston in terms of 
what it has been, what it is, and what 

From the collection of the 


o Prelinger 
u v Jjibrary 

San Francisco, California 


The Story of the Port 




The Story of the Port 

Compiled by 




Sponsored by 



Copyright, 1941, by 



WALTER F. DOWNEY, Commissioner 
State- Wide Sponsor of the Massachusetts WPA Writers' Project 

JOHN M. CARMODY, Administrator 


HOWARD O. HUNTER, Commissioner 
FLORENCE KERR, Assistant Commissioner 
DENIS W. DELANEY, State Administrator 


THIS BOOK is, in effect, a chronicle of the Port of Boston from 
its beginnings in 1630 to the present day. In it, the Massachu- 
setts WPA Writers' Project has included a wealth of material, 
which should be of great interest to all those who find New 
England maritime activity a subject of fascination from both 
the historical and the immediate points of view. 

The Boston Port Authority, sponsor of this publication, 
believes its appearance in these stirring days to be timely and 
pertinent. In an era of stress such as this, with the water front 
and its news in the foreground, the reader will find in this 
volume such accounts of the Boston Harbor of other days as 
will cause him to realize that here is a veteran port, no novice 
to days of emergency, ready to face the future with the proud 
tradition of an enterprising and glorious history. Nor has dis- 
cussion of the present Port, its needs, its problems and its 
accomplishments been neglected. No attempt has been made 
to draw a veil compounded of past grandeur and "the good 
old days" over the inherent difficulties facing the Port, in its 
attempt to improve itself from the rate, traffic and physical 
angles to the end that it may better serve not only its own 
immediate constituency but our Commonwealth and our 
Nation as well. The reader, therefore, will find a full and 
informed presentation of the modern Port, with attention 
directed to its advantages and its handicaps in terms of their 
respective existence. On a basis of broad and painstaking 
research, the book portrays the Port as it was and as it is. 

"Show me your port and I will tell you the future of your 
city," said an eminent speaker at the 1940 meeting of the 
American Association of Port Authorities in Los Angeles. If 
ever a port has experienced the vagaries of fortune, good and 
bad, it is Boston. Its prosperity or the lack of it has profoundly 
influenced the economic and cultural life of its surrounding 
community. Also, the three hundred years' history of the Port 
has shown that in those periods when its development was 
really a matter of community concern, it has prospered, while 
in those periods when apathy took the place of interest, it has 

6 Boston Looks Seaward 

suffered accordingly. There can be nothing other than inter- 
dependence between a port and its community. 

Inspiring as the Port's record has been and gratifying as its 
present progress is, they are not the measure of the commerce, 
either foreign or domestic, which the Port ought to anticipate. 
Its natural advantages are outstanding. Its opportunities are 
challenging. Men are laboring in its behalf as hard as at any 
time in its history. How will the community react to the spirit 
by which their unselfish endeavors are inspired? Progress 
depends upon the reception given to this spirit, or to quote 
from Morison's The Maritime History of Massachusetts, in a 
reference to Boston: "All her modern docks and terminals and 
dredged channels will avail nothing, if the spirit perish that 
led her founders to 'trye all ports'." 

The Boston Port Authority commends this book to the 
public as the worthwhile story of a great seaport. 

Boston Port Authority 


ALONG THE COAST of Massachusetts the maritime tradition is 
more than a phrase or a romantic legend. A regional habit of 
looking to the sea, born in the necessities of past generations, 
persists despite urban influences, the encroachment of the 
machine, the trend of the nineteenth century to the West, and 
all the various factors that have helped to lessen the relative 
importance of the merchant fleet in our national economy. 

For those who live in Boston, once the carrying center of 
the Nation and still among its greatest ports, the study of 
maritime history has both academic and immediate interest: 
it is a challenge to present efforts toward obtaining for this 
port the recognition, the just concessions under governmental 
regulation, the expansion of services, which would enable it 
to develop to the full its magnificent potentialities. 

The Massachusetts WPA Writers' Project conceived the 
notion that it could make a contribution, not only to the Port 
of Boston, but to the city and the Commonwealth, perhaps 
even to the country in a time of national emergency, by telling 
the story of the Port from the time when the first shallop 
skimmed the harbor waters to the strenuous days when de- 
stroyers are building along the shores. It would, we thought, 
be especially helpful to interpret to the general public in non- 
technical terms the economic and legalistic problems now 
confronting champions of the Port. 

We first broached our idea to the Honorable John F. Fitz- 
gerald, known for his achievements on behalf of the Port dur- 
ing his terms as Mayor of Boston and, more recently, as an 
active member of the Boston Port Authority. With his encour- 
agement we offered our services to the Boston Port Authority, 
who agreed to sponsor this book as one of their numerous 
activities on behalf of Port development. Our wholehearted 
thanks are due especially to Mr. Richard Parkhurst, Vice- 
Chairman, who has given 11 years to his work for the Port 
and achieved substantial results in this voluntary public serv- 
ice; his meticulous analysis of our manuscript has assured its 

8 Boston Looks Seaward 

The Writers' Project has come to know that we may con- 
fidently rely upon co-operation from both the public and the 
private agencies with whom our work brings us in contact. 
Custom, however, has not staled our lively sense of gratitude 
to those who are generous with their time and thought in our 
behalf. We wish to acknowledge the assistance given us by 
the Librarians of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the 
Bostonian Society and the staff of the Boston Public Library; 
by the Maritime Division of the Boston Chamber of Com- 
merce; the Boston Marine Society; the Boston office staff of 
the United States Bureau of Fisheries; the District office staff 
of the United States Army Corps of Engineers; the Massachu- 
setts Fisheries Association; the State Street Trust Company; 
and the Shipbuilding Division of the Bethlehem Steel Com- 
pany at Fore River. We are grateful, too, for the information 
provided by the agents and operators of shipping services, the 
operators of waterfront property, the representatives of mari- 
time and longshoremen's unions, the staffs of Federal, State, 
and city agencies associated with marine activities, and many 
other individuals and representatives of business firms, so 
numerous that we must thank them collectively rather than 
by name. 

Although the Writers' Project technique is one of collabora- 
tion among many workers, it is just and pleasurable to recog- 
nize major contributions to the growth of a book. Boston 
Looks Seaward has been, from the first tentative prospectus to 
the reading of page proof, under the immediate direction of 
Mr. Melvin D. Peach, Supervisor. During the later stages of 
the work, Mr. Roger Thomas has served as chief of the Project 
editorial staff. The corps of writers and research workers 
included Mr. Arthur Addelson (who until his resignation 
acted as editorial assistant to the supervisor), Mr. Warren M. 
Bean, Mr. Felix Doherty, Mr. David Englund, Mr. Frank 
Irwin, Mr. Francis McCarthy, Mr. William Raymond, Mr. 
Victor Rinestein, Mr. Arthur J. Saltman, Mr. Russell Seaver, 
and Mr. Edward Vial. Mr. Earle Bishop checked all final copy 
for factual accuracy; Mr. Edmund Hawes, Project photog- 
rapher, is responsible for illustrations not otherwise credited; 
and Mr. Herbert Pierce, our cartographer, drew the maps of 
the Port. Our thanks are due the Massachusetts WPA Art 
Project for their courtesy in permitting us to use as endpapers 
Mr. Stanley Scott's blockprint of Boston Harbor. 

Those who produced this book and those who contributed 

Preface 9 

to it are hoping for an intangible reward: increased awareness 
in Boston and New England, and even beyond those bound- 
aries, of the distinguished record of the Port of Boston and 
of the vigorous part it will continue to play, given public 
support, in the maritime enterprises of the United States. 

State Supervisor 





Early Explorers Settlers on the Harbor To New Ports 
The Shipbuilders Wharves, Ferries, and Forts Rum, 
Slaves, Molasses A Growing Colony Privateering Royal 
Control Piracy 

II. PROVINCIAL PERIOD, 1700-1783 41 

The Waterfront The Town Pillage on the High Seas- 
Ships and Shipyards The "Mosquito" Fleet The Har 
vest of the Sea Ocean Trade and Travel Molasses 
The Boycotts Tea and a Party Revolution and Ruin 


The Critical Period A Federalist Seaport Wharves and 
Shipyards Distress in the West Indies Baltic and Medi- 
terranean Routes Round the World The China Trade 
Pioneering in the Pacific Boston's Nor'westmen Im- 
pressment and Embargo "Mr. Madison's War" 


"From Wharf to Waterfall" Merchants and Icemen 
The Town and the People Wharf Activity Shipwrecks 
and Lifesaving Port Fees and Charges The Building of 
Ships Mackerel, Cod, and Whales Packets, Sidewheel- 
ers, Railroads South America, California, China The 
Mediterranean and Fayal The Baltic and England 


The Call of Gold Ocean Greyhounds Iron Men on 
Wooden Ships The Vanishing Clipper 


Prelude to the Civil War Civil War Years Expansion 
Along the Waterfront Gales, Shipwreck, and Murder 
The Boston Fishing Fleet Excursions in Massachusetts 
Bay Domestic Commerce and the Heyday of the Schooner 
The Decline of Shipbuilding Around the World Again 
European Trade, Travel, and Immigration War and 
the Close of the Century 


12 Contents 


Expansion to Meet New Demands Storm and Shipwreck 
More Fish Unions and Strikes Schooners and Steam- 
ers Bananas, Wool, and Lumber Rum and Bibles 
Ships of War and Peace War Activity 


Into the Prosperous Twenties Shipbuilders Expanding 
Imports, Declining Exports Coastal and Intercoastal 
Commerce Strengthening Labor Bonds The Leading 
Fish Port Disaster on the High Seas Rum-Running 
Days Foreign Trade New Life to the Port 


Busy Wharves and Piers Harbor Agencies Sailing in 
the Bay Fishdealer Supreme New Additions to the Mer- 
chant Marine Wings Over the Harbor Domestic Trade 
Foreign Trade 


A Resolute Port More Ships Wanted The Ocean-Rail 
Rate Fight The Struggle for Port Equality Local Ter- 
minal Charges Rehabilitation of Waterfront Properties 
Ship Channels Reforestation and Physical Improvement 
A Forward -Looking Port 



INDEX 303 




I. OUT OF THE PAST between pages 38 and 39 


Courtesy of State Street Trust Company 


from Painting by Robert W. Salmon 
Courtesy of State Street Trust Company 

3, 1844 

Courtesy of State Street Trust Company 


Courtesy of State Street Trust Company 

II. THE FISHING FLEET between pages 102 and 103 


"ICED UP" Arthur Griffin 


between pages 166 and 167 

LINERS Arthur Griffin 



between pages 230 and 231 


14 Illustrations 





MAPS pages 295-299 





Early Explorers 

THE MARITIME history of Boston began in the fifteenth cen- 
tury, when fishermen from the Basque region of Spain, from 
Portugal, from Normandie and Brittany were venturing to 
the Grand Banks. True, Norsemen may have visited the 
region as early as the year 1000, and no one can deny with 
certainty the legend of Thorvald's burial upon the coast 
where he had prophesied that he should "dwell forever." 
But the visits of the Vikings were individual adventures, while 
in those of the fishing vessels lay the promise that men would 
return in greater numbers as the years passed. Seafarers who 
sailed into Massachusetts Bay in search of fish or to escape 
strong northeast gales found a 4o-mile expanse of water 
between Cape Ann's granite headland and the sandy tip of 
Cape Cod. Off the great bay opened sheltered coves and 
natural harbors teeming with cod and haddock. Of these 
harbors the largest and most protected was the island-studded 
indentation later known as Boston Bay. 

More significant than fishermen's tall tales, left without 
chapter and verse, was England's claim, based on the recorded 
voyage of John Cabot in 1497, to the whole continent of North 
America. For this claim, and the European economic and 
social situation, determined that developments about the Bay 
of Boston should become increasingly English, rather than 
Spanish, French, or Dutch. The navigator, Bartholomew Gos- 
nold, and a few of his party, who skirted the coast in 1602, 
were the first Englishmen known to have landed on the soil 
of Massachusetts. Gosnold's naming of Cape Cod because of 
the abundance of cod he found in the Bay was more note- 
worthy than was any actual exploration of the harbor by the 
Frenchman DeMont, or the Dutch navigator, Adrian Block, a 
few years later. Another enterprising Englishman, Captain 
John Smith, has left us a map and a description of his explora- 
tions in 1614, which indicate that he at least entered the outer 
harbor of Boston. He viewed Massachusetts as "the Paradise 


i6 Boston Looks Seaward 

of all those parts," admitting at the same time that the French 
had been trading for 6 weeks in the Boston Bay locality and 
had "left nothing." 

The outstanding features of Boston Bay early became famil- 
iar to the Pilgrims while sailing from Plymouth to visit their 
neighbors in Salem. One of the Plymouth excursionists, Isaac 
Allerton, named after himself the bluff known as Point Aller- 
ton, in the present town of Hull. Even before the founding of 
Salem, on September 29, 1621, a shallop from Plymouth had 
carried Captain Miles Standish, with 10 white men and 3 
Indians, through the autumn haze to the first authenticated 
exploring of the inner harbor of Boston. Because of the somber 
visitation of pestilence that had ravaged the powerful tribe of 
Massachusetts, the expedition found few Indian inhabitants 
and could do little toward establishing immediate trade. The 
islands of Boston Bay, which John Smith had seen inhabited 
and tilled, presented to Miles Standish only abandoned traces 
of human life. At Medford were discovered a few women and 
one man, he showing himself "shaking and trembling for 

The Indians whom Standish did encounter in the Boston 
Bay region were not averse to trade in furs, however, and, a 
few months after his September trip, a fishing station was set 
up at Natascot (Hull), near the southeastern limits of Boston 
Harbor. Nor was the Bay region as depopulated as Standish's 
experience might imply. For many years the harbor had been 
familiar to fishermen and traders of all the maritime nations, 
and their visits may have caused the Indians to withdraw 
a little from the shore. Long before the first permanent 
settlement in 1623, a fleet of not less than 5 vessels was cruis- 
ing yearly along the Massachusetts' coast. 

The first permanent settlement around Boston harbor was 
made at Wessagusset (in present Weymouth) by Robert 
Gorges in September 1623. The Gorges Grant provided for 
complete political, religious, and criminal jurisdiction over 
10 miles of coast from Nahant to Charlestown, and over terri- 
tory extending 30 miles inland. Robert Gorges wished to 
establish an episcopacy on these shores, his plan calling for 
the complete colonization of New England. As a strategic 
measure toward accomplishing this somewhat grandiose 
project, the Wessagusset settlement was planted outside the 
tract awarded him. Although Robert Gorges found himself 

Explorers, Fishermen, Traders 17 

unequal even to the responsibility for the administration of 
the original grant, so far below his ambitions, his early depar- 
ture for England did not affect the continuance of Wessagusset 
as a community. 

Settlers on the Harbor 

From this early South Shore settlement may be traced a 
series of developments of lasting importance to the area 
around Boston, where the Charles and the Mystic Rivers meet 
the waters of the Bay. About 1625 three men Samuel Maver- 
ick, a trader, William Blackstone, a Church of England clergy- 
man, and Thomas Walford, a blacksmith settled in the 
upper Bay region and became the first permanent white 
inhabitants in or near the present Boston. Blackstone had 
come with Gorges; Maverick and Walford were in close sym- 
pathy with the aims of the Gorges plan of colonization. Black- 
stone, melancholic lover of solitude, built his cabin on the 
west slope of Beacon Hill, the sole white resident on Shawmut 
Peninsula. Walford, with his wife and children, moved to 
Charlestown, where he constructed a thatched hut enclosed 
with a stockade. Maverick's fortified house at Winnissimet 
(Chelsea) was ideally placed for trade. From its well-chosen 
situation, better communication could be maintained with 
the roving fishermen and with the coastal settlements than 
could be had from Wessagusset. The Indians brought furs by 
canoe to Winnissimet from the headwaters, where their vil- 
lages were numerous. Fish served as barter for furs. At Maver- 
ick's house on one occasion, gayety and gain mingled even 
with gospel exhortations from a visiting Church of England 
clergyman. The Reverend Francis Bright, Maverick's guest in 
1629-30, after a moving warning against covetousness and the 
sin of Sunday trade, upon delivering the benediction lost no 
time in bargaining successfully for the rich beaver coat worn 
by an Indian in the congregation. 

The North Shore colony at Salem, founded late in 1626 by 
remnants of the Dorchester Company, soon made consequen- 
tial moves about Boston Bay. It had been the intention of the 
New England Company, when John Endecott was appointed 
governor of the Salem region in 1628, to make that town the 
center of affairs in New England. But Matthew Cradock, Gov- 
ernor of the Company in London, directed that maritime 
activities be pushed beyond Salem, and, on his instructions, 

i8 Boston Looks Seaiuard 

there was established, shortly before Winthrop's coming in 
1630, a shipyard at Medford on the Mystic. Also attracted to 
the superior maritime and living conditions to the south, the 
Sprague brothers and a number of companions from Salem 
were granted permission, in the summer of 1629, to settle in 

Winthrop's seekers after a new heaven and a new earth, 
numbering some 900 souls, began one of the largest migra- 
tions in the history of England's colonial ventures. John 
Winthrop found Salem not to his liking as a capital, and 
Charlestown unlivable because of the brackish water which 
sickened his whole company. At the invitation of the Epis- 
copal Blackstone, the Puritan Governor crossed the Charles 
in the autumn of 1630 and settled on Shawmut Peninsula. 
To the eyes of Anne Pollard, the young girl who was the first 
to leap ashore when the migrants landed from their boats on 
the shores of the present North End, the Peninsula seemed a 
place "very uneven, abounding in small hollows and swamps, 
covered with blueberries and other bushes." Such was her 
recollection in old age of a child's vivid impression. 

The Boston of that day resembled a chain of islands. The 
abrupt mass of Copp's Hill on the north was separated slightly 
from the rest of Shawmut Peninsula by a marsh extending 
between two coves. At the high-water mark, "Mill Pond," on 
the northern side of the Peninsula, became a channel up to 
the marshes. Winthrop saw the waters of the "Great Cove" 
sweeping inland, covering the area near which Faneuil Hall 
was later erected. Occasional high tides, flowing across the 
narrow "Neck" of the Peninsula, detached it from the main- 
land. Out in the harbor eastward was Noddle's Island (East 
Boston), to which Samuel Maverick was to move after having 
established himself in the coasting trade. 

A talented young Englishman, William Wood, graphically 
described the Bay region in 1633: 

This Bay is both safe, spacious, and deep, free from such cockling seas as 
run upon the coast of Ireland and in the channels of England. There be no 
stiff running currents, or rocks, shelves, bars, quicksands . . . the sur- 
rounding shore being high, and showing many white cliffs, in a most 
pleasant prospect, with divers places of low land, out of which divers 
rivers vent themselves into the ocean. ... It is a safe and pleasant har- 
bour within, having but one common and safe entrance, and that not 
very broad, there scarce being room for three ships to come in, board 
and board, at a time; but being once within, there is room for the 
anchorage of five hundred ships. 

Explorers j Fishermen, Traders 19 

To New Ports 

Though the first settlers intended to become farmers, many 
found the hardscrabble, upland pastures hardly worth the 
clearing, and the building of stone walls fruitless labor. Some 
turned for their livelihood to the sea, where the shoals and 
offshore banks teemed with great schools of fish. Establishing 
themselves in settlements along the coast, they used the sea 
as the recognized highway from village to village, since land 
travel over the rude forest trails was difficult and hazardous. 
To meet the immediate need for small craft, shallops were 
built of rough-hewn timbers. Within a few months the shal- 
lops were being used in opening up trade with the Indians of 
the Kennebec River. 

Commerce increased rapidly among the settlements along 
the Bay. The hundred bushels of corn Samuel Maverick's 
pinnace brought back from the Cape Cod Indians in the 
autumn of 1630 were a modest forerunner of the rich mari- 
time exchanges which before long made Boston the chief 
trading port of the Atlantic coast. To open up new trade 
routes, John Oldham was sent 3 years later on a land expedi- 
tion to the Connecticut River country. He brought back hemp, 
beaver skins, and black lead; and gave sanguine accounts based 
on what the Indians told him of the lavish productiveness of 
the region. 

The Indian and local trade were soon followed by more 
distant coastal commerce. In May 1631, an 1 8-ton pinnace 
brought corn and tobacco from the southern settlements. Early 
the following year a Virginia bark, having unloaded at Salem, 
stopped for a month in Boston harbor. Mr. Maverick's pin- 
nace then accompanied it on its homeward voyage to estab- 
lish new trade relations between Boston and Virginia. Only 
2 years later, 10,000 bushels of corn entered the harbor from 
the southern colony, in return for which many barrels of fish 
were shipped south. Boston trade with the Dutch colonies of 
Manhattan and Long Island was also well under way. By 1634, 
the Dutch of these regions were providing the Boston people 
with sugar, brass pieces, beaver skins, and considerable num- 
bers of sheep, in exchange for liquor and linen cloth. 

Many interesting episodes accompanied the opening up of 
the coastal trade. Commerce with Maryland had various com- 
plications to overcome. The opposition of the Boston Cal- 

2O Boston Looks Seaward 

vinists to the Catholic faith of the Marylanders was an initial 
barrier. Letters from the Governor of Maryland, reenforced 
by one from the Governor of Virginia, served to smooth the 
way, and the arrival of a Maryland pinnace in 1634, bringing 
corn for fish, made exchange a simple matter. A Captain 
Young of Maryland also wrote, offering to bring cattle. But 
when, in 1642, a Mr. Neale brought two pinnaces under com- 
mission from Governor Calvert to buy mares and sheep in 
Massachusetts, he could offer only bills of exchange, payable 
by Lord Baltimore in London. We scarcely need John Win- 
throp's laconic comment to know that "no man would deal 
with him." The refusal of the Swedish and Dutch governors 
of the Delaware River region to allow traffic with the Indians 
in 1644 sent a Boston ship home empty. The following year 
another Boston ship, about to return from the same territories, 
laden with skins and other commodities, was attacked and 
plundered by Indians. 

The trade relations of Boston merchants with the French 
colonies in Canada form an entertaining chapter of their own. 
The impressions of the French themselves of the commercial 
and maritime prestige of Boston are shown in their naive 
conception of Massachusetts as "the colony of Boston." In 
their zeal for trade relations with Acadia, the Boston mer- 
chants and the Colonial government pursued the hazardous 
policy of attempting to disentangle the conflicting claims of 
the two Frenchmen, D'Aulnay and La Tour, each of whom 
asserted himself to be the rightful governor of Acadia. From 
documents presented in Boston by La Tour's agents, it seemed 
clear that he, rather than D'Aulnay, was in the favor of the 
French King. In return for promised trade concessions, the 
General Court and town authorities allowed La Tour in 1643 
to hire whatever ships he could and enlist as many men as 
were willing to accompany him in his military operations 
against D'Aulnay. The expedition was not successful, and 
2 years later D'Aulnay was able to present proof of his rightful 
standing as Governor. He then destroyed La Tour's base at 
St. John's. But La Tour, though discredited officially, found 
himself still personally popular in Boston. He had many 
friends here who outfitted him for a trading voyage. Sailing 
from the Port of Boston, this gentleman of France dumped 
the Boston members of his ship's company on shore at Cape 
Sable in dead of winter, and turned pirate. 

The Frenchman was not the first pirate to prey upon Boston 

Explorers, Fishermen, Traders 21 

shipping, for Dixey Bull has the distinction of being the pio- 
neer in that line for Boston and New England. He came from 
England in 1631 and, a year later, was known as a respectable 
trader in the beaver traffic of Penobscot Bay. When a group 
of roving Frenchmen came upon him and made off with his 
shallop and stock of coats, rugs, blankets, and even his bis- 
cuits, the outraged Bull decided an honest trader's lot was a 
hard one. He gathered a crew of adventurers and searched 
widely but vainly for his French attackers. Disappointed and 
still angry, he revenged himself by plundering colonial vessels 
along the coast and forcing a few of their crew to join his 
company. After several such escapades Dixey Bull steeled to 
the business. He is reported to have written a circular letter 
to all governors in the region advising them that he and his 
companions intended no further harm to their citizens; that 
they were going southward; and that efforts to capture them 
would be useless, as they were determined to sink before allow- 
ing themselves to be taken. Nevertheless, an expedition of 
four or five pinnaces, commanded by Samuel Maverick of 
Noddle's Island, was sent against Dixey Bull in 1632. The 
orders were to find and bring home for trial the first pirate 
of the town. After combing the seas for 2 months, the expedi- 
tion returned without having found a trace of Bull. Accounts 
of his subsequent career vary. One version is that he reached 
England safely, the other that he went over to "the enemy" 
(the French). 

The Shipbuilders 

The founder of Boston died in 1649. John Winthrop had 
seen a town hewn out of a wilderness in less than 20 years. 
A vigorous and profitable commerce with ports beyond the 
horizon had already begun to transform the sprawling cluster 
of sticks and clapboards into a "city-like towne" of brick-tile, 
stone, and slate. An anonymous Englishman about this time 
described Charlestown as consisting 

of about a hundred and fifty dwelling houses, many of them beautified 
with pleasant Gardens and Orchards: near the water-side is a large 
Market-place, forth of which issue two faire streets, and in it stands a 
large and a well built Church, over against the Island neare the Sea side 
stands Dorchester, a Frontire-town, water'd with two small rivers, built 
in form of a Serpent turning its head Northward, it consists of one hun- 
dred and forty dwelling houses with Orchards and gardens full of fruit 
trees . . . Boston the Center and Metropolis of the rest, built in form 
of a heart, and fortified with two hills on the frontice part thereof, the 
one having great store of Artillerie mounted thereon, the other having 

22 Boston Looks Seaward 

a strong batterie built of whole Timber and filled with Earth, at the 
descent of the Hill, lies a large Cave or bay, on which the cheife part of 
this towne is built, over topped with a third Hill, all three like over- 
topping Towers keeping a constant watch to fore-see the approach of 
forraign dangers, the cheifest part of this . . . town, is crouded upon 
the Seabanks, and wharfed out with a great industry and cost, the edifiese 
large and beautifull, whose continuall inlargement presageth some sump- 
tuous City. 

Winthrop had guided his people as they caught fish, built 
ships, and became shrewd traders. A pioneer of shipbuilding 
in Massachusetts, he has often been referred to as the father 
of the American Merchant Marine. Before Boston was a year 
old, he had ordered the building of a vessel near his Medford 
estate, and on July 4, 1631, the Blessing of the Bay was 
launched on the Mystic, the first sizable ship constructed in 
Massachusetts. Built mainly of locust, of between 30 and 40 
tons burden, the vessel was bark-rigged and cost between 145 
and 165. The practical reason for her building was the Gov- 
ernor's distrust of England's sending over necessary supplies 
for the storehouses of the Colony. On August 9, a group gath- 
ered near Winthrop's home, and offered prayers for the pros- 
perity and safe return of the vessel as she started on her maiden 
voyage to trade with the Dutch on Long Island. The Blessing 
of the Bay was later reconditioned for pursuit of pirates, and 
has been called the first war vessel in the country. 

Smaller boats, however, had been built before the Blessing 
of the Bay by fishermen themselves during the spare time of 
winter. They were fashioned from timber gathered in the 
common woods. The material was shaped and fitted piece- 
meal, and the cash outlay usually involved little more than 
rope and canvas. With the builder at the helm and his sons as 
the crew, vessels of this type went on fishing voyages to "the 
Banks," and a decade or two later were sailing to the West 

Medford became the center for Boston's shipbuilding. The 
Mystic River had no rocks or shoals and gave easy passage to 
an empty vessel of 25 tons. Its winding course made possible 
many shipyards within a narrow radius, and in each yard 
from one to three ships rose upon the stocks. A year after the 
Blessing of the Bay had been completed, a loo-ton ship was 
launched from Matthew Cradock's yard. In 1633 Cradock's 
agent laid the keels for one vessel of 200 tons. The Rebecca 
of unknown tonnage was also built that year. 

Private enterprise and governmental encouragement worked 

Explorers, Fishermen, Traders 23 

in active cooperation to make Boston a maritime center. Laws 
were enacted to exempt ship carpenters, millers, and fishermen 
from military training. An act of the General Court in 1639 
added provisions which freed from taxes and duties for 7 years 
any ship or other property used in the fisheries. By 1641 ship- 
building was important enough to warrant stringent regula- 
tions by the General Court, designed to assure the proper con- 
struction of all vessels. One such act read: 

Whereas the country is now in hand with the building of ships, which 
is a business of great importance for the common good, and therefore 
suitable care is to be taken that it will be well performed, according to 
the commendable course of England and other places: it is therefore 
ordered that when any ship is to be built within this jurisdiction it shall 
be lawful for the owner to appoint and put in some able man to survey 
the work and workmen from time to time, as is usual in England, and 
the same so appointed shall have such liberty and power as belongs to 
his office. 

Three years later, the General Court urged the formation of 
the shipbuilders into a company, for the better ordering of 
the industry and the maintenance of standards conducive to 
the public good. Shipbuilding became a community under- 
taking. The artisans who fashioned the planks, the merchants 
who supplied the material, the seamen who sailed the vessel, 
all became part owners, and so directly concerned in every 
voyage. The seamen were mainly former fishermen who, 
instead of fishing off "the Banks", carried dried and salted 
fish to Europe, the Barbados, and Bermuda, in exchange for 
the products of these foreign lands. 

Because an English law prevented shipowners and ship- 
masters from leaving the mother country, Nehemiah Bourne, 
son of the shipwright Robert Bourne of London, had to obtain 
special permission to come to Boston. After working as a ship- 
wright in Dorchester, Bourne established his own yard in the 
North End, where he built the Trial, of 160 tons burden in 
1641. The maiden trip of this first vessel built in Boston took 
her to the Azores and the West Indies. 

Another famous shipyard, just north of Copp's Hill, 
belonged to Benjamin Gillan & Company. Some of the ships 
it turned out were of remarkable size, among them the Wel- 
come, of 300 tons, built by Valentine Hill in the early forties. 
In beauty and size the 4oo-ton Seajort, built by Captain 
Thomas Hawkins and launched in 1644, probably surpassed 
any vessel previously constructed in the Colony. But her glory 
was brief, for within a few months the ship was wrecked on 

24 Boston Looks Seaward 

the coast of Spain. Several more fortunate vessels, immediately 
after their launching, took on cargoes of pipe staves, fish, and 
other products, and spread their sails for the Canaries. 

The work of training apprentices in the shipbuilding trade 
was the specialty of Alexander Adams, a master-craftsman. 
Among the problems of shipbuilders were a scarcity of labor 
and a tendency among workmen to shift from one yard to 
another. Mr. Adams helped to stabilize conditions by train- 
ing 30 apprentices between 1646 and 1675. The foundations 
of skilled workmanship laid by him brought benefits to the 
shipbuilding industry for the next hundred years. Foremost 
among Adams' successors was William Parker, his son-in-law, 
who followed him in the shipbuilding business. In later years, 
Parker specialized in mast building and became famous as the 
"mast merchant." 

In Hull, in the latter part of the seventeenth century, the 
Captains Langlee, father and son, had a yard at the foot of 
Ship Street. The younger Langlee was succeeded by John 
Souther, whose sons, John and Leverett, later became noted 
for their schooners and square-rigged craft. Other prominent 
builders at the foot of Ship Street were Curtis and Barstow, 
Barnes, Litchfield, and William Hall. In Hingham, Thomas 
Barker was building ships at Goose Point by 1637 and, about 
a dozen years later, was in Boston, under contract to build a 
bark. In 1675 William Pitt held a shipbuilder's license, and 
in 1693 a James Blaney was permitted to build a "vessel or 
two" near "Mill Cove." 

All manner of boats slid down the ways of the local ship- 
yards. There was a continuous demand in the fishing and 
coasting trade for shallops fitted with mainmast, foremast, 
and lugsails. The Medford yards, in addition to brigantines 
and barks, which were built square and usually weighed less 
than 50 tons, sent out many sloops and ketches. The deck 
cabins of the sloops, placed at the stern, gave the appearance 
of the poop-deck of earlier date. Another characteristic of the 
sloop was the single mast carrying fore-and-aft mainsail boom 
and a yard or two of topsail. Broad-beamed sloops often did 
duty in carrying firewood to Boston and Charlestown. The 
ketch became the common type of vessel used by Bostonians 
in the West Indies trade two-masted, rigged with a square 
sail on the mainmast and a lateen on the mizzen. Smaller 
sloops, called "lighters," used for river navigation, were built 
at Rock Hill Landing, near West Medford. Pinnaces were 

Explorers, Fishermen, Traders 25 

fashioned sharp at both ends, often having two masts, and 
sometimes built "open," with no deck or only a half-deck. 
They varied in size from a few tons to over 50 tons. 

So rapidly did the shipbuilders develop skill and enterprise 
that, within 35 years after the founding of Boston, there were 
300 New England vessels, mostly Boston owned, engaged in 
coastal and overseas trade. Thirteen hundred smaller craft 
were fishing off the coast. A variety of industries connected 
with shipping had been established on this side of the water. 
Even while huge supplies of cordage and sailcloth were emerg- 
ing out of the holds of vessels from the mother country, John 
Harrison of Salisbury, England, had in 1641 opened his rope- 
walk in Boston. 

Wharves, Ferries, and Forts 

The increased maritime activity of Boston, with its need 
for improved waterfront facilities, necessitated the gradual 
"filling in" of marshes and swamp areas covering the Penin- 
sula, and the pushing out of the water mark to the deeper 
waters of the harbor. The area of solid ground presenting 
navigable water frontage was limited, and the merchants early 
recognized that a more uniform waterfront was desirable than 
the many indentations and coves allowed. Bounties were estab- 
lished for persons who showed their public spirit by extending 
the shore line. In 1643, the town granted the North Cove 
(Mill Pond), the area now partly occupied by the North Sta- 
tion, to Henry Symonds, George Burden, and others, for the 
purpose of erecting "corn mills" on its shores. The new own- 
ers opened and deepened a channel from Mill Pond to the 
Great Cove on the other side of the Peninsula, which became 
known as Mill Creek. 

The original waterfront and the center for shipping was 
principally in the vicinity of Dock Square, near the present 
Faneuil Hall. Here the first Town Dock was established in 
the early 1630*5, and it was, for a considerable time, the focal 
point of all marketable produce. The merchant Edward Ben- 
dall was so prominently connected with the activities of this 
wharf that it became widely known as "Bendall's Dock." It 
was Mr. Bendall who contrived a primitive sort of diving bell, 
the first used in the harbor, and raised the Mary Rose, which 
had blown up in August 1641, from an explosion of gun- 
powder on board and had obstructed the harbor for almost 
a year. 

26 Boston Looks Seaward 

Although the official records of Boston do not tell when 
the first wharf was built, many persons, even before 1650, had 
received permits to construct wharves at points along the 
waterfront. An ordinance had provided that beacons be placed 
at landing places to warn of stones or logs which, partially 
submerged in the tide or too near the water's edge, might be 
a danger to vessels. This measure was passed because of the 
damage suffered by vessels loading and unloading without 
wharf facilities. In 1641, Valentine Hill and others were 
granted a large tract near the "Dock" to develop wharves, 
with the privilege of collecting for tonnage. Scarlett's Wharf 
was established at the foot of Fleet Street by Samuel Scarlett, 
who received the land in 1669. It served as an important dis- 
embarkation point for troops. Thomas Clarke, a wealthy mer- 
chant, had a wharf whose outline corresponded to the north 
side of the present Lewis Wharf. The Clarke Wharf became 
particularly famous later when it was owned by Thomas Han- 
cock and his nephew, John Hancock. Although wharves had 
to be built for unloading purposes, the lack of natural dock 
facilities was balanced by the advantages of the harbor, where 
500 ships could easily ride at anchor. 

Nor did colonial Boston neglect the ferry facilities necessi- 
tated by her situation. The rolling Charles separated the 
Shawmut settlers from the Charlestown people. A mile or two 
beyond the Charles, on the far side of the Mystic, lay Winnis- 
simet (Chelsea). Inhabited Noddle's Island, completely cut 
off from the mainland, stood some little distance out in the 
harbor. By 1631, the "Great Ferry" was in operation between 
Boston and Charlestown. Seven years later, the General Court 
established a ferry to serve for connections with Chelsea, East 
Boston, and with ships in the harbor. In 1640, the famous 
"Penny Ferry" began carrying passengers across the Mystic 
near the site of the present Maiden Bridge. 

The first fortification in the harbor, an 8o-foot eminence, 
was constructed on Fort Hill in 1632. Within 2 years elab- 
orate fortifications were ordered for Castle Island. Beacon 
Hill derives its name from the signal light established there 
in March 1635, as a guide to mariners at sea and as a warning 
of hostile approach. Eleven years later, the North Battery was 
erected at "Merry's Point" in the North End. From its earth 
ramparts encased in timber, cannon commanded the harbor. 
The famous "Boston Sconce" (South Battery) was built in 
1666, and stood guard where Rowes Wharf is now situated. 

Explorers, Fishermen, Traders 27 

The celebrated sea wall, constructed partly for defense and 
partly for use as a wharf, followed the line of the present 
Atlantic Avenue, and extended from Captain Scarlett's Wharf 
to the Sconce. This sea wall was begun in 1673; in its com- 
pleted form the timber and earth wall was almost half a mile 
long, 15 feet high and 20 feet wide, with emplacements for 
cannon, and with openings for ships to pass through. Along 
with these permanent defense arrangements, special precau- 
tions were taken on occasion, as when in 1649 tne Deputies of 
the General Court established a military guard in Boston and 
Charlestown because of the multitude of strangers from the 
many ships in the harbor. 

Rum, Slaves, Molasses 

The building of fortifications along the waterfront reflected 
the increasing importance of Boston's shipping. Her earlier 
trading enterprise had been restricted largely to the collection 
of goods for export, the redistribution of commodities im- 
ported, and the barter of various colonial products. But when 
immigration lagged and "the scarcity of foreign commod- 
ities" increased at the Port during the Civil Wars in Eng- 
land (1642-49), a more extensive maritime commerce 
developed. Opportunely neglected by the mother country, 
Boston traders roamed the ports of the Western World, ped- 
dling and bartering. Islands of the sea and far-away coasts 
entered into the growing network of trade. Boston ship- 
masters brought back potatoes, oranges, and limes from Ber- 
muda. Vessels sailed for Barbados and Jamaica with cattle, 
meat, butter, cheese, and biscuit. From Teneriffe came wines, 
pitch, sugar, and ginger good exchanges for Massachusetts 
corn. Even Madagascar was not outside the range of the Boston 
sea captain. 

In launching out into more distant trading in the 1 640*5, 
Boston found herself in the thick of the rum - slave - molasses 
traffic. Many Boston shipmasters would tajce on a cargo of 
rum from one of the numerous distilleries along the Massa- 
chusetts and Rhode Island shores and sail to the coast of 
Africa, where the product passed as currency. To slake their 
fierce thirst for the fiery beverage, the Negro chiefs sold their 
enemies, acquaintances, friends, and when those outside the 
family group had been carried away, even sold their wives, 
children, mothers, and fathers into bondage on West Indian 
plantations. After the slaves had been exchanged for molasses 

28 Boston Looks Seaward 

in the West Indies, the Boston sea captains headed north. In 
New England, the molasses was turned into the distillery for 
more rum, to be used for another voyage in this tri-cornered 
trade. The liquor was also sold in enormous quantities to 
fishermen engaged with net and harpoon in the biting spray 
and bitter winds off the Banks, to robust laborers on the docks 
and in the shipyards, and to the masters of Boston ships who 
were required by their bonds to serve rum to the crew. 

Sometimes slaves were actually imported into the Colony. 
Captain William Pierce of the Desire on his return from a 
trading voyage in 1638 brought back, as a part of the general 
cargo, Negroes whom he had taken on at Providence, Bar- 
bados. John Hull sent two Negroes to Madeira in exchange 
for wine. In 1645, the first vessel in America authentically 
known to have been engaged in the slave trade, the ship 
Rainbowe, after being fitted out by Thomas Keyser and James 
Smith, the latter a church member, sailed from Boston to the 
coast of Guinea. There she found some British slavers tied up, 
waiting for business to improve. To hurry things along, the 
Yankee skipper concocted a scheme with the Britishers. Under 
pretense of a quarrel with the natives, the combined forces 
landed a cannon, attacked a village on a quiet Sunday, killed 
many of the inhabitants, and brought away captives, two of 
whom were the share of the Boston seamen. Public indigna- 
tion was stirred at the spectacle of these slaves being brought 
into the Port. The owners of the ship were sternly rebuked by 
the authorities, and the slaves were sent back to their own 
country at public expense. 

Romance and drama of the sea live in the simple accounts 
of the West Indies trade. As early as 1638, the Desire, one of 
the first vessels engaged in traffic with the islands, brought 
back a cargo consisting mainly of cotton and tobacco. In 
1642, the Trial carried fish and staves to Fayal, in the Azores. 
The Catholics of these islands were large consumers of sea 
food, and their occupation as winemakers made the Massa- 
chusetts staves acceptable for the construction of casks. Pick- 
ing up wine, sugar, and other articles in the Azores, the Trial 
exchanged these at St. Christopher's in the West Indies for 
iron from a wrecked ship, and for cotton and tobacco, and 
returned to Boston in the winter of 1643. Other Boston sea 
captains sailed to Jamaica, bringing back bars of silver and 
Spanish coin and plate. Many lost all they had to pirates, 

Explorers, Fishermen, Traders 29 

while others returned with so much money that they were 
themselves suspected of piracy. 

More often than slaves from Guinea, the Boston shipmasters 
carried such New England foodstuffs as corn, flour, biscuit, 
and especially salt codfish, which formed the principal diet 
for thousands of slaves. In addition, hats, clapboards, pipe 
staves, lumber, and salt comprised the staples of Boston's 
export to the West Indies. The return cargo usually included 
cotton, indigo, ginger, dye-woods, tobacco, and molasses. The 
tobacco brought on one voyage was of such poor quality that 
John Winthrop pronounced the consignment sent by his son 
Henry, "very ill conditioned, fowle, full of stalks, and evill 
coloured." By the middle of the century, it had ceased to be 
an important commodity, and sugar became the chief medium 
of exchange in the Caribbean. 

The seaman of the hazardous West Indies route, according 
to Charles E. Cartwright in American Ships and Sailors, was 
typical of the seafarer from colonial Boston. Born within the 
sound of pounding surf, playing as a boy on the rough water- 
front swarming with riggers, ropemakers, and sailors, he had 
learned a love of the sea with his alphabet. Older boys had 
taught him to scull an oar and sail a dory. As soon as he was 
strong enough to heave a rope, he had shipped as an appren- 
tice, since no vessel left port without two or three boys. Then 
he chanced his luck with roaring Hatteras gales and Carib- 
bean buccaneers. In the long voyage, with no land in sight for 
weeks or even months, the Boston seafarer became a different 
breed of man, a native of the ocean rather than of the land. 
He strode about the ship in his wide canvas trousers, his broad 
belt supporting a vicious case knife. He wore rings in his ears, 
and his hair was gathered in a tarred pigtail. The Boston 
sailor lived on a hardy diet of salt pork, salt beef, hardtack, 
and lobscouse. He was subject to stern discipline aboard the 
little ships of the West Indies trade, and he might frequently 
be flogged with the rawhide cat-o'-nine-tails. Though as 
skilled with blunderbuss and cutlass as in handling the rope 
and marlin spike, though fond of rum and coarse revelry, the 
Boston seaman was still a jolly, generous chap. 

The West Indies trade developed rapidly because it formed 
a natural complement to Boston's commerce with Europe. 
Local exports to the islands exceeded the purchases made 
there, whereas the imports from England were much greater 

30 Boston Looks Seaward 

than the exports to the mother country. Through the bills of 
exchange, the specie, and the tropical produce, obtained from 
the "sugar islands," Boston shipmasters obtained the cargoes 
required for successful trade with England. Neither the wars 
of England with France and Spain nor the threat of pirates 
and privateers on the Spanish Main could stop this profitable 
exchange, to which may be largely attributed the steady com- 
mercial growth of the Port. The small West Indies island of 
Martinique became more valuable to the merchants of Boston 
than the whole of Canada. Edward Randolph, the Collector 
of the Port, called Boston in 1679 "the mart town of the West 
Indies." In the 6 months from March 25 to September 29, 
1688, out of 141 ships clearing from Boston, 84 were in the 
West Indies traffic. Nearly all these were Boston-owned and 
Massachusetts-built. Of the more than 140 arrivals during the 
same 6 months, 89 came with cargoes from the West Indies, 
37 from other American Colonies, and 21 from England. One 
of the impulses for the establishment of the famous New 
England mint in 1652 was the need for coining and recording 
the bullion and currency which poured in from the southern 

John Hull, who became mint-master in 1652, was himself a 
large owner of shipping. His vessels, the Friendship, the 
Society, the Dove, the Sea Flower, the Hope-well, the Tryall, 
and the Endeavor, were carrying his ventures up and down 
the Atlantic coast and to European ports. He imported Eng- 
lish goods and exported tanned hides and other colonial prod- 
ucts. His own men cut timber on the Piscataqua for export. 
In trading with Spain, Hull usually consigned his goods to 
the ships of John Usher, Boston merchant and bookseller. 
While Hull's own vessels concentrated on the southern route, 
his assorted cargoes were often carried by "constant traders," 
ships that left Southampton or London in the early fall, drop- 
ping anchor at Boston between late October and early Decem- 
ber. That part of his business correspondence which has been 
preserved reveals John Hull as a stern Puritan, who insisted 
that his seamen adhere rigidly to the rules of the church. In 
written orders, dated September 18, 1671, and sent to John 
Alden, son of the bashful John and master of the Friendship, 
Hull concludes, 

leave noe debts behind you, whereever you goe, I know you will be 
carefull to see to the worship of God every day on the vessell and to the 
sanctification of the lords day and the suppression of all prophaines. . . , 

Explorers, Fishermen, Traders 31 

Punctual in his dealings, Hull required the same rigid punc- 
tuality from others. He was extremely jealous of his reputation 
for honesty. When his cousin, Thomas Buckham, called him 
a "very knave" in company, the wrathful Hull wrote, 

I can through the grace of God bid defiance to you and all men to 
challenge any one action in my whole life in all my dealeings amonst 
men since I attained the yeares of a man, I thank God I have dealt 
honestly not in Craftyness nor in Guile but in the feare of God. 

A prompt apology is called for, "else I shall desire I may have 
no more to doe with you in this world, for the sin of Back- 
biteing and slandering is to be hated by all good men." 
Nevertheless, John Hull was ingenious enough to make piety 
show on the right side of the ledger. He became one of the 
wealthiest and most respected merchant princes of Boston. 

A Growing Colony 

In 1660, Parliament passed, upon the demand of the English 
mercantile class, a series of Navigation Acts which amplified 
and enforced those enacted 9 years earlier to give protection 
from the disastrous competition of colonial traders. These 
acts provided, among other things, that all goods in overseas 
trade were to be carried in ships owned by Englishmen and 
manned by crews at least three-quarters of whom were English. 
The acts also enumerated a list of articles produced in the 
colonies which could be shipped only to an English port, or 
through English ports to other countries. In 1663, the Staples 
Act was passed. This act made England the exporter of all 
European goods to be sent to the colonies and forbade the 
colonies to import directly from France, Spain, or Holland. 
An exception was made in the case of salt for the fisheries 
of New England, which could be carried from any part of 
Europe, of servants, horses, and provisions, which could be 
imported from Scotland and Ireland, and of wines, which 
could be sent directly from Madeira and the Azores. 

The Boston merchants received the news of the restrictions 
upon their liberties with anxiety. After a generation of in- 
dependence, they found it extremely distasteful to limit their 
activities and onerous to pay tribute at the London Custom 
House. While the Crown appeared unwilling to bring matters 
to a head and followed a policy of peaceful persuasion, Boston 
shipowners determinedly ignored the Navigation Acts. The 
government of the Colony did not disdain conciliation and 
diplomacy on occasion. At a timely juncture in 1666, during 

32 Boston Looks Seaward 

a brief war between England and France, a shipload of masts 
at a cost of 2000 was sent from Boston as a present for His 
Majesty's Royal Navy. Ten years later, a direct appeal was 
made to the royal appetite with a large present of cranberries 
and codfish for His Majesty's table. 

The larger part of Boston's trade between 1660 and 1675 
was carried on illegally. Products from all over the world 
entered Boston duty free, and the Port outfitted ships to trade 
at will with all the nations. Boston shipmasters sailed to New- 
foundland and Annapolis Royal, carrying provisions, salt, 
and rum; they bargained with New York, the Jerseys, Penn- 
sylvania, Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, Bermuda, and 
the Caribbee Islands, carrying every native commodity 
meats, vegetables, fruits, flour, oil, candles, soap, butter, beer, 
rum, horses, sheep, cows and oxen, staves and earthen ware. 
They received in exchange tobacco, sugar, molasses, salt, and 
wines. Routes, definitely established, were varied from time 
to time only in so far as was necessary to evade the English 
customs authorities. Boston traders sailed to Spain, Portugal, 
and Italy, trying one port after another, Cadiz, Bilbao, Ali- 
cante, Cartagena, Marseilles, Toulon, Leghorn, and Genoa. 
From these ports, some went on to England and then back to 
Boston; others went from Spain or Portugal to the Azores and 
the Canaries off the coast of Africa, then to Senegambia, Goree, 
or the Guinea coast for beeswax, gums, and ivory, and finally 
home, in some cases by way of England. Still others sailed 
direct from Boston to Madeira, the Azores and the Canaries, 
sold their cargoes of New England staples, and returned by 
the same route with the wines of these islands. 

The majority of Boston merchants sent their vessels to 
England with lumber, flour, furs, and naval stores, which 
were exchanged for cloth and iron wares. In some instances, 
the next objective, after touching in England, would be the 
Newfoundland coastal ports for fish; in others, the voyage 
would be directed to Lisbon or the Straits of Gibraltar for 
continental articles, and thence back home. Frequently, cap- 
tains sold their entire cargoes and ships for cash to London 
or Bristol merchants, invested the proceeds in manufactured 
goods, and shipped the merchandise home on a returning 
vessel. Little wonder that, when the friendly Cromwell pro- 
posed during the 1650*5 that the people of Boston remove to 
Jamaica to better their living conditions, there were few in 

Explorers, Fishermen, Traders 33 

Boston so dissatisfied with local prospects that they desired to 


The normal course of Boston's trade with ports outside 
English jurisdiction was at times upset by the turbulent 
political and military situation. The feeling of loyalty to the 
mother country was so strong among the Boston people that 
England's quarrels became their quarrels especially when 
profits were to be made thereby. While England and Holland 
were engaged in the first Dutch War in 1653, the General 
Court of Massachusetts forbade the exportation from Boston 
of such produce as corn, pork, peas, beef, and bread to the 
French and Dutch colonies of America. During these English 
wars, daring Boston sea captains turned from peaceful trad- 
ing to privateering. Equipped with a commission from the 
General Court or with letters of marque and reprisal, the 
captain and the crew of a privateer shared adventure on the 
high seas and a rich prize. Wrought up by Holland's capture 
of the Boston shallop Philip, commanded by George Manning, 
when England and Holland were again at war in 1674, the 
Council at Boston ordered Captain Mosely out after the Dutch 
ships. Mosely had participated in the earlier Dutch wars as 
a Boston privateer. He sailed in the armed vessel Salisbury 
and roamed coastal sea lanes for the enemy. Joined by a French 
vessel, willing enough to cooperate in the search, as the French 
were anxious to recover Acadia from the Dutch, Captain 
Mosely met a Dutch fleet of three vessels. As he drew near 
with his French consort, he was gratified to see that one of 
the three ships flying the Dutch flag was none other than the 
shallop Philip. When Mosely and the French captain opened 
fire on the Dutch privateers, the captured Philip, still com- 
manded by Captain Manning, turned its guns on the Dutch- 
men, who quickly surrendered. Captain Mosely returned in 
triumph to Boston with not only the recovered Philip, but 
also with two Dutch prizes, the Penobscot and the Edward 
and Thomas. He arrived in Boston Harbor on April 2, 1675, 
more than a year after England had made peace with the 

The honor of being the commander of the first Boston 
privateer in King William's War (1689-97) feH to Captain 
Cyprian Southack, who at the age of 10 had served in the 

34 Boston Looks Seaward 

English Navy. His first privateering activity for the Colonies 
was on the Mary, a little vessel of eight guns. Shortly after- 
ward, he was transferred to a more formidable ship, the Porcu- 
pine, and cruised in a campaign against the French along the 
coast of Acadia (Nova Scotia). On June 27, 1690, off Scilly 
Cove, Newfoundland, the Porcupine captured the William, 
originally an English ship and still commanded by her master, 
Jacob Chubb, of Weymouth, England, who had entered the 
French employ after seizure on the high seas. Southack con- 
voyed the recovered William first to St. John's and later to 
Boston. The following month, again off Newfoundland, 
Southack seized the French ship Gift of God, 80 tons, laden 
with wine, brandy, fish, and salt, and brought the cargo to 
Boston. Another Boston privateer active in this war was the 
Swan, commanded by Captain Thomas Gilbert. In the St. 
Lawrence River, she captured a French flyboat of 300 tons, 
bound for Quebec with claret, white wine, brandy, salt, and 
linen paper. Since the French privateers continued to harass 
Boston shipping, the Council of the Colony, on June 8, 1691, 
made proposals to two privateer captains "to encourage their 
going forth on their Majesties' service to suppress an enemy 
privateer now upon the coast." One of the two privateersmen 
was Captain Leonard Walkington, who had served under 
Southack on the Porcupine, the other was the notorious Cap- 
tain William Kidd. 

Royal Control 

Despite the outward loyalty of the Boston people to the 
mother country in her colonial wars, their smuggling activities 
led to stricter regulation for the Port. In 1675, Edward Ran- 
dolph was appointed royal messenger and investigator by the 
newly created Lords of Trade and Plantations in London. 
The previous year, when Boston merchants had boldly entered 
the Yucatan logwood trade, all exceptions allowed to Boston 
shippers had been canceled, and they were ordered to touch 
at London or other English ports. Continual complaints of 
English merchants and shipowners, and the reports of agents 
in European ports, all pointed to gross violation of the Navi- 
gation Acts by the chief port of Massachusetts. Randolph was 
dispatched to Boston to deliver a formal letter of complaint 
and summons to Governor Leverett of Massachusetts, and to 
bring back a reply to the charges. The royal instructions were 
not obeyed and Randolph was treated as a hostile agent. He 

Explorers, Fishermen, Traders 35 

managed, however, to collect all necessary information to 
prove that the English customs revenue suffered a loss of 
100,000 annually, and recommended revocation of the Massa- 
chusetts charter. In 1678, Randolph was appointed, at his 
own request, Collector and Surveyor of the Customs in New 
England. He tried to put an end to the evasion of duties. 
Taking observations on the waterfront in 1679, the distin- 
guished visitor noted that the "corporation of Boston" was 
lording it over the whole region, and that the Port was a great 
clearing house and distributing center for the American 

The merchants had vigorously opposed Randolph each time 
he returned to Boston armed with new powers to enforce the 
Navigation Acts. Their European trade was prosperous, and 
they were agreed that English trade policies had no rightful 
application to the Port of Boston. When a British agent seized 
several vessels for illegal trading with Scotland and Malaga, 
he was imprisoned by the masters and seamen of the vessels. 
To frustrate the execution of Randolph's commission, Colo- 
nial naval officers were established at the Port in 1681 to 
record all inbound and outbound ships. Boats refused to 
register with the English authorities, taking their papers in- 
stead to the Colonial naval officer. Prohibited goods were 
unloaded outside the harbor, the vessels then securing an 
unquestioned entry from the local port officers. Bostonians 
decided to discourage any person from accepting the office 
of Collector of Customs without their consent. They were 
determined to maintain their free trade with the ports of the 
world and to make Boston the trading center for all European 
goods designated for southern plantations. The flagrant 
obstructions they opposed to English restrictions were in- 
terpreted by Randolph as final proof of the disobedience of 
the Boston people. In August 1681, he embarked for England 
with all evidence necessary to convict the Colony of Massa- 
chusetts of exceeding its powers. 

When in the fall of 1684 the Charter of Massachusetts was 
annulled, English shipowners and merchants finally succeeded 
in abolishing the grave threat of Boston's competition as an 
independent port. Sir Edmund Andros was appointed Gover- 
nor of the New England Colonies in 1687, a year after the 
frigate H. M. S. Rose had been stationed outside Boston har- 
bor to apprehend smugglers. The Navigation Acts were so 
effectually enforced that Boston's trade was crippled. The 

36 Boston Looks Seaward 

more profitable shipping routes with Europe and the West 
Indies were entirely blocked, and the evasion of duties was 
practically eliminated at the Port. A severe depression set in; 
many boats idled at the wharves. The Andros government 
lasted 2 years and 4 months and ended in the violent revolt 
of the Boston people. Andros was deported, and once again 
Englishmen in Boston were free to trade with the West Indies 
and Europe. 

Commerce again began to prosper at the Port of Boston, 
even after Massachusetts became a Royal Province in 1692. 
The first of the Royal Governors, Sir William Phips, did not 
enforce the Navigation Acts. Sir William sums up in his 
personal career the Boston traditions of the sea. Unlettered, 
he had tended sheep until the age of 18, when he turned to 
the building and sailing of coasters. At 22 he became a ship's 
carpenter in Boston. Fearless and adventurous, he showed 
rare enterprise and intrepidity in salvaging treasure valued 
at more than 300,000 from a sunken Spanish vessel in West 
Indian waters between 1684-86 and, for this exploit, was 
knighted by the King. Phips' appointment had been intended 
to conciliate the Boston merchants, but he became increasingly 
unpopular. Complained against and summoned to England 
in 1694 to answer charges, Phips died of illness a short while 
after he had reached London. 

The second Royal Governor, Richard Coote, Earl of Bello- 
mont, received his commission in 1697, and arrived in Boston 
2 years later. The Boston merchants protested to Bellomont 
when new restrictions were imposed upon their commerce 
by the Lords of Trade in London. They insisted that "they 
were as much Englishmen as those in England, and had a 
right, therefore, to all the privileges which the people of Eng- 
land enjoyed." Although Bellomont tried earnestly to end 
the illegal practices which made the English trade laws a dead 
letter, he found that the laws could not be enforced. The Bos- 
ton people refused to restrict their commerce to English ships 
and ports and regarded the five percent duty on imports and 
exports as unjustifiable. The Royal Governor noted that there 
were "more good vessels belonging to the town of Boston 
than to all Scotland and Ireland." He listed the Boston-owned 
ships for the year 1698 as 25 of 100 to 300 tons; 38 of 100 tons 
and under; brigantines, 50; ketches, 13; sloops, 67; a total of 
193 vessels. Bellomont's data included the statement that Bos- 
ton was exporting annually about 50,000 quintals of dried 

Explorers, Fishermen, Traders 37 

fish (112 pounds to the quintal), three-quarters of which was 
shipped to Bilbao. Local merchants claimed for Boston four 
times the commerce of New York. 


A main object of the King in the appointment of Governor 
Bellomont was the suppression of piracy, which had assumed 
scandalous proportions along the Atlantic seaboard. The cry 
of Boston merchants against piracy had reached the ears of 
Parliament. Following the success of Dixey Bull, lesser pirates 
continued to operate in the waters outside Boston Harbor. A 
story is told by Cotton Mather of how the sailors of the An- 
tonio seized the ship, in 1672, off the Spanish coast, put the 
captain adrift in a longboat, and appeared in Boston with 
the ship and cargo. The Charlestown merchants were inclined 
to take the part of these mutineers; but, after the master 
himself had arrived to denounce the ringleaders, they were 

On the complaint of a New London sea captain in 1685 
that he had been chased by a pirate right up to the harbor's 
mouth, the General Court ordered an expedition against the 
suspected parties, one Veale and his partner Graham. The 40 
volunteers called for were in no haste to present themselves, 
and the Court offered free plunder as an inducement to any- 
one who would enlist. The expedition failed to find the pirates 
and returned home empty handed. In cases where a pirate was 
caught, the set procedure was to hang him on Bird's Island, 
now known as Nix's Mate. One victim, the mate of Captain 
Nix, in his dying speech predicted that the place of his execu- 
tion, and the island where sheep were once pastured, would 
disappear as a proof of his innocence. Indubitably, it is now 
submerged at high tide. 

In the summer of 1687, rumors spread through the town 
that the ketch Sparrow, just arrived from Barbados and Eleu- 
thera, had taken on pirates as passengers. A search revealed 
900 "pieces of eight" and some plate in the chest of Mate 
Danson, the only man left of the 18, aside from the captain, 
who had started with the ship at Eleuthera, the rest having 
disembarked at points along the way. Danson admitted that 
he had served 4 years previously on a privateer, and that he 
had later plundered what he could from Arabs and Malabars 
on the Red Sea. But nothing came of the lengthy investiga- 
tion. The plate and money were returned to Danson, and no 

38 Boston Looks Seaward 

case could be found against the captain and two other sus- 
pects arrested on board the Sparrow. 

After these lesser swashbucklers came some of the pirates 
whose exploits under the "Jolly Roger" gave to that sinister 
emblem a sure place in the annals of adventure Joseph 
Bradish, William Kidd, and the rest of their marauding com- 
pany. The first of these, apprehended in 1699, was James 
Gillam, who killed Captain Edgecomb of the Mocha, a frigate 
owned by the East India Company. A tip to the authorities 
led to the discovery of Gillam's mare at an inn, and, although 
the next morning was Sunday, Governor Bellomont called 
his Council together, and published a proclamation offering 
200 pieces of eight for the capture of Gillam. His friend, 
pirate Knot, under pressure, admitted that Gillam, alias 
"James Kelly" had recently been sheltered in his house and 
had gone thence to Charlestown. There Gillam was appre- 
hended. He first denied his identity and swore that he had 
not come on Kidd's sloop from Madagascar; but, when Kidd's 
own men identified him, the game was up. 

The Cambridge pirate, Joseph Bradish, ventured into the 
harbor in his ship Adventure in April 1699, and was soon 
lodged in the stone gaol, together with his companions. By 
his good fortune, the gaolkeeper, Caleb Roy, was his kinsman. 
Roy kept him locked up, but without irons, until June 25. 
On that day the door of the prison was found open, and 
Bradish with his friend, Tee Wetherly, had fled. The faithless 
gaoler was dismissed, and on October 24 the recaptured pris- 
oners were again under lock, well secured in irons. The money 
and goods taken from Bradish amounted to 30,000, not in- 
cluding the jewels. Another apprehended freebooter, John 
Halsey, who had started as a privateer with a commission from 
Governor Dudley, had more than 50,000 and two shiploads 
of merchandise in his possession. 

The case of Captain Kidd and Lord Bellomont presents a 
more confused picture as to the innocence or guilt of the 
accused. Captain Kidd is believed to have entered into a 
private agreement for the suppression of piracy with Lord 
Bellomont and others, before Bellomont assumed his duties 
as governor. Kidd sailed in 1697 to tne Indian Ocean to inter- 
cept pirates there, and little was heard of him for over a year. 
That little was sufficient, however, to cause the English Gov- 
ernment to order his arrest for piracy and to make Lord 








4 . .& 



Explorers., Fishermen, Traders 39 

Bellomont act with great caution to avoid appearing as an 
accomplice of the captain. Kidd was accused of turning pirate 
and capturing the Quedah-Mer chant, a vessel belonging to a 
country friendly to the English. In 1 699 Kidd arrived in Rhode 
Island and communicated through an agent with Lord Bello- 
mont. The agent produced two French passes which Kidd 
claimed were found on the Quedah-Mer chant, thereby mak- 
ing that vessel legitimate prey. Lord Bellomont presented the 
case to the Council in Boston and, with its approval, sent a 
letter to the adventurous captain in which he said ". . . you 
may safely come hither ... I assure you on my word and 
honor I will nicely perform what I have promised. . . ." Kidd 
came to Boston and was summoned before the Council on 
July 3. He pleaded for time to write an account of his voyage, 
and was given until the next day. The time was extended to 
the second day, but he was still unprepared. Lord Bellomont 
thereupon produced papers from London ordering the arrest 
of the captain, and on July 7 he was committed to prison. 

He was placed in irons weighing 16 pounds, and his gaoler 
given a 4o-shilling increase in pay per week to insure Kidd's 
remaining in prison. The pirate's loot was as fabulous as his 
adventures. An inventory of finds upon one of his ships, the 
Antonio, included 1,111 ounces of gold, 2,353 ounces of silver, 
17-3^ ounces of precious stones, 57 bags of sugar, 41 bales 
of merchandise, 17 pieces of canvas; the booty upon his ship 
Quedah-Mer chant in India was estimated as worth 30,000. 

When Kidd requested Bellomont to send him under guard 
to get the Quedah-Mer chant, which had been left in Hispa- 
nola, the Governor would not trust him; this although, if the 
ship were a lawful prize, the share of the Governor and his 
friends would have been four-fifths of the value, under the 
terms of the original agreement with Kidd. In February 1700, 
Kidd was sent to England on the frigate Advice. The follow- 
ing year he was tried for murder and piracy. Lord Bellomont, 
apparently convinced that Kidd had departed from his ori- 
ginal orders, did not send the French passes to England, and 
Kidd was deprived of his most important evidence. Kidd 
was found guilty and hanged. 

As the century closed, though harassed by pirates and 
enemy privateers, Boston owned a fleet of nearly 200 vessels. 
Borne by favoring winds or struggling with Atlantic gales, 
these ships were playthings of more than wind and weather. 

40 Boston Looks Seaward 

They and their rich cargoes were at the center of opposing 
pressures, westward from the Lords of Trade in London, east- 
ward from the merchants and traders of Boston. And so, with 
the resultant of great forces still undetermined, Boston's 
shipbuilders, shipowning merchants, sea captains, fishermen, 
and sailors moved on to a new era. 



The Waterfront 

WHILE A CHORUS of ringing hammers mingled with the screech- 
ing of winches and capstans, Boston's waterfront echoed to 
the tune of a popular ditty: 

Wide awake, Down-Easters, 

No mistake, Down-Easters, 

Old Massachusetts will carry the day! 

Hoisting sail and anchor, crews shouted the challenging 
chanty, proud in the knowledge that Boston's seagoing vessels 
numbered 194 against New York's 124; that her skilled crafts- 
men, plying their trade in the town's 14 shipyards, were 
constantly augmenting the fleet; that her fishermen were 
reaping generous bounties from the Banks of the North At- 
lantic. The doggerel boasted Boston's faith that wealth and 
riches would be won by sailing ships to the southern and 
middle Colonies, to Europe and Africa, to the sugar planta- 
tions of the West Indies and many another tropical isle. 

Successive improvements made the waterfront and harbor 
area ever more commodious. Seventy-eight wharves, in 1708, 
jutted into the harbor along the Boston and Charlestown 
waterfront. The most impressive, Long Wharf, undertaken 
by Oliver Noyes, Anthony Stoddard, John George, Daniel 
Oliver, and other businessmen, was completed in 1710 and 
set a new standard in the Port's facilities. Enabling vessels 
of any draught or burden to load and unload without lighter- 
age, the finished structure extended from the bottom of King's 
(now State) Street 800 feet out into the harbor. More than 30 
years later, after the wharf was doubled in length, an English 
traveler spoke in admiration of this engineering feat, "a fine 
wharf about half a mile in length." 

Another epochal event in the development of the harbor 
was the establishment of Boston Light, the first lighthouse in 
the Colonies. Headed by the Boston merchant, John George, 
the enterprise had been set in motion by a petition addressed 

4 1 

42 Boston Looks Seaward 

to the General Court. The details of the sponsorship and 
completion of Boston Light appeared in the Boston News- 
Letter of September 17, 1716: 

By virtue of an Act of Assembly made in the First Year of His Majesty's 
Reign, For Building and Maintaining a Lighthouse upon Great Brewster 
(called Beacon Island) at the Entrance of the Harbor of Boston, in order 
to prevent the loss of Lives and Estates of His Majesty's subjects; the 
said Light House has been built; And on Friday last the i4th Currant 
the Light was kindled, which will be very useful for all Vessels going 
out and coming into the harbor of Boston, or any other Harbors in the 
Massachusetts Bay . . . 

Early pictures show that Boston's first lighthouse was a 
tall, commanding structure with a tower of rough-cut stone. 
The rays proceeded from wicks immersed in fish or whale oil 
within large lamps. The chief difficulties with this lighting 
device were excessive smokiness and the fire hazard from 
dripping oil. It is doubtful whether the first beacon in the 
harbor was even provided with reflectors. Maintenance costs 
for the lighthouse were derived from charges imposed on 
incoming and outgoing vessels; the fees were one penny per 
ton for ships in overseas trade, 5 shillings per year for fishing 
vessels and ships in local trade, and 2 shillings for coasters 
on clearance only. 

The early annals of the lighthouse record the drownings of 
the first two keepers and the weathering of a severe gale. In 
November 1718, Captain George Worthylake was sailing with 
his wife and daughter near Noddle's Island, when a sudden 
wind capsized their boat, and all three perished in the choppy 
waters. Stirred by this accident, ig-year-old Benjamin Franklin 
wrote "The Lighthouse Tragedy." While the piteous fate of 
the Worthylakes was still fresh in the public mind, Robert 
Saunders, a sloop captain, was ordered to take over the duties 
of lighthouse keeper. Before his appointment had been offi- 
cially confirmed, he too was drowned at sea. Five years later 
the Great Storm of 1723, regarded locally as perhaps the most 
violent in the century, lashed the Massachusetts coast. Blow- 
ing up on February 24, it raised a record 1 6-foot tide, which 
loosened the walls of the lighthouse. 

The early keepers of the light performed the additional 
functions of pilot and collector of fees. The fourth lighthouse 
keeper, Mr. Ball, was sometimes too busy with his other duties, 
however, to be available for the pilotage of an incoming ship. 
Tricksters saw in this an opportunity of building up a profit- 
able occupation for themselves. Watching for their chance, 

Provincial Period, 1700-1783 43 

they would run their boats ahead of Mr. Ball's, represent 
themselves as pilots and collectors of imposts to some richly 
laden vessel, and pocket a handsome fee. Mr. Ball ended this 
practice by appearing before the General Court and having 
himself appointed official pilot of the Port. The Court assigned 
for his boats certain insignia which were not to be copied 
broad red vanes for all craft authorized to conduct ships in 
and out of Boston Harbor. 

The erection of Boston Light undoubtedly helped to pre- 
vent such serious wrecks at the entrance to the harbor as had 
happened in previous years. On the last day of January in 
1702, the brigantine Mary, loaded with logwood from the Bay 
of Campeachy, had come to grief on the rocks off Marblehead. 
In November of the following year, the ship John of Exon, 
with wine and salt from Lisbon and Fayal, struggling home- 
ward in mountainous seas, abruptly ended her voyage on the 
rocky teeth of Pemberton's (Georges) Island. Quickly filling, 
she sank almost within sight of the Port, her cargo a total 
loss. Shortly before the construction of the lighthouse, His 
Majesty's sloop Hazard was wrecked on the Cohasset Rocks. 
The manner in which the first lighthouse keepers stood by 
in emergencies was demonstrated in a terrific gale on Septem- 
ber 15, 1727, when a North Carolina sloop grounded on 
Greater Brewster Spit. Captain John Hayes, the lightkeeper, 
pulled the sloop loose and piloted her safely into the inner 
harbor. Two sailors from the endangered vessel, following in 
the lighthouse boat, ran on the rocks near South Battery 
(Rowes Wharf), and the damage resulted in a sizable repair 
bill for the General Court. 

The Town 

Boston had become the principal mart of North America, 
and symbols of commercial activity marked every quarter of 
the town. Numerous countinghouses and warehouses sha- 
dowed the wharves. Scores of sumptuous mansions lined 
King's Street. The English traveler Joseph Bennett, who 
came to Boston in 1740, observed: 

A great many good houses, and several fine streets little inferior to 
some of our best in London, the principal of which is King's Street; it 
runs upon a line from the end of the Long Wharf about a quarter of 
a mile, and at the upper end of it stands the Town House or Guild 
Hall, where the Governor meets the Council and House of Representa- 
tives; and the several Courts of Justice are held there also. And there 
are likewise walks for the merchants, where they meet every day at one 

44 Boston Looks Seaward 

o'clock, in imitation of the Exchange at London, which they call by 
the name of Royal Exchange too, round which there are several book- 
sellers' shops; and there are four or five printing-houses, which have full 
employment in printing and reprinting books, of one sort or other, that 
are brought from England and other parts of Europe. 

Life took on new style and color in Boston as the eighteenth 
century developed. The rich merchant families enjoyed ease 
and luxury with their Negro servants and fine coaches; they 
were the exclusive patrons of the tailoring, wig-making, and 
silversmithing establishments set up by indentured servants 
from the mother country. Scarlet uniforms, gold braid, pow- 
dered wigs, ruffles, and hoopskirts superseded the somber 
garb of the Puritan. The Royal Governors created an English 
atmosphere in the fashionable North End, where "How is 
this done at Court?" became the question on the lips of 
wealthy shipowners and their wives. The Boston traders en- 
joyed life to the full in their mansions at Boston and their 
roomy country places at Milton, Cambridge, or even in far-off 
Hopkinton. They derived pleasure from cruises along the 
coast and found relaxation in trout fishing. Owning the 
goods, the factories, and the ships, the mercantile "quality" 
expected and received deference from the lower classes. They 
were inclined to rule the community according to the law of 
the sea; but traders could not impose upon the populace the 
unquestioning obedience seamen gave to shipmasters. 

Despite the more lavish mode of living, many of the older 
Puritan habits of conduct and demeanor remained rigidly 
in force in the early 1700*5. Sunday travel and amusement 
were forbidden. Strolling along the streets and on the mall 
was taboo; all unnecessary public conversation was forbidden. 
Whatever orders the Boston merchants might give to the 
masters of their ships, ashore all showed uniform dignity, 
business integrity, and benevolence. To a man, the ship- 
owners were staunch church members. Some outsiders, how- 
ever, dared to question the sincerity of conviction beneath the 
Bible-reading and churchgoing of the Boston people. One 
Englishman even asserted that there were more "religious 
zealouts than honest men" in the town, and added that the 
citizens, "though they wear in their Faces the Innocence of 
Doves, you will find them in their Dealings as subtile as 

Peter Faneuil (1700-43), a leading merchant of the times 
and donor of Faneuil Hall, lived in a style that blazoned his 

Provincial Period, 1700-1783 45 

lofty position in society. His magnificent estate was centrally 
located near King's Chapel, his appearances in public were 
in "the handsomest manner," his household furnishings re- 
vealed his refined bachelor tastes and included the latest 
European importations. He ordered from a London firm 
three gold watches, one dozen French knives, one dozen silver 
spoons, one dozen silver forks, "with three Prongs, with my 
arms cutt upon them," and half a dozen razors. His palate 
was never long neglected; tripe, bacon, and citron water were 
often on the list. Faneuil gravely asked Lane and Smithhurst 
of London to send him "the latest best book of the severall 
Sorts of Cookery, which pray let be of the largest character 
for the benefit of the maids reading." When he shipped a 
pair of gray horses to St. Kitts, the proceeds were returnable, 
partly in sweets for his sister Mary Ann, and partly in sugar 
and molasses. He bought a chariot and demanded from his 
London agent four horses "right good or none." A sybarite 
and yet an unstinting benefactor, his gifts to private chanty 
were large, his public ones more lasting. 

After a training in the best mercantile tradition of careful 
yet enterprising trade, Faneuil carried on a general commis- 
sion and shipping business. Operating the vessels Providence, 
Friends Adventure, and Rochelle, he received goods from 
agents in Bristol, London, Bordeaux, Cadiz, Hamburg, and 
Kingston (Jamaica), and exported cargoes of rum, fish, prod- 
uce, as well as newly constructed ships. Faneuil engaged 
extensively in coastal commerce, especially in New York. 
Whenever he ventured both ship and cargo, the enterprise 
was almost always shared with his brother, uncles, friends, or 
correspondents. He charged 5 percent for handling a con- 
signment, whether it was fish, oil, or a bag of gold. An early 
advocate of modern business methods, Faneuil stationed near 
the fishing grounds agents who were constantly kept informed 
as to the price of fish in Massachusetts markets. His emissaries 
also acted as advertising men in extending his commercial 
connections. Seeking to protect his wealth from a fluctuating 
currency, Faneuil exhibited genuine business acumen in the 
purchase of Bank of England stock amounting to 14,800. 
His meticulous account books reveal that, though he dunned 
debtors with proper vigilance, he submitted reluctantly to 
the 2}/2 percent charged him by his friend and New York 
correspondent, Gulian Verplanck. His eyes always remained 
open to see that men everywhere "act the Honest and Just 

46 Boston Looks Seaward 

part by me." Making large profits from the sale of smuggled 
European commodities, Faneuil considered a Judge of the 
Admiralty who scanned too closely his shipping operations 
"a Ville man." 

Charles Apthorp, Thomas Boylston, and Thomas Amory 
also stood out among the wealthy shipping merchants of the 
town. They operated vessels sailing to the Mediterranean, 
West Indies, and Europe, as well as fishing boats, whalers, and 
coasters. Supplementing their maritime activities, they under- 
wrote insurance, speculated in land on a grand scale, and 
engaged in private banking. Some indication of the magnitude 
of Boston's trade was seen in the great fortunes amassed by 
these men. Through his maritime ventures, Thomas Boylston 
became one of the richest men in Massachusetts, with exten- 
sive possessions estimated in excess of 80,000. Charles Ap- 
thorp, when he died in 1758, aged 60, left to his heirs an estate 
of 50,000. Thomas Amory, rum-distiller, shipbuilder, bold 
and able trader, accumulated by shrewd management invest- 
ments valued at 20,000, aside from a brewery, a wharf, a 
beautiful home, and large land holdings in Carolina and the 
Azores. Ever wary for his good name, he was explicit in his 
counsel to agents abroad. To his representative in the Azores 
he wrote: "Now if the above people send for these effects sell 
anything that belongs to me, or take money at interest on 
my account so that you continue to discharge them, for I had 
rather be a loser any way than have my reputation in question 

Pillage on the High Seas 

Much of the wealth of socially eminent Boston families was 
founded upon privateering a form of pillage on the high 
seas honored in time of war. The news of Queen Anne's 
declaration of hostilities against France and Spain in 1702 
brought a quick response from Boston. On June 20, the Bos- 
ton ketch Endeavor, in command of Captain Thomas Dowl- 
ing, sailed to warn the other Colonies along the coast; and 
within 10 days, the Province, in charge of Captain Cyprian 
Southack, was sent to spread anti-French propaganda among 
the Indians. The sloop Seaflower was taken into the Colonial 
service, equipped with 6 guns and a crew of 50 men, and em- 
ployed to search for French privateers and to convoy coasting 
vessels into Boston Harbor. Coastguard service was maintained 
by Captain Andrew Wilson of the Greyhound, later used as an 

Provincial Period, 1700-1783 47 

express boat. Captain Peter Lawrence obtained a commission 
from Governor Dudley, and set forth, with a crew of 40 men, 
on the Boston sloop Charles in search of prizes. He sent a 
number of captured vessels into the Port. Pleased with such 
booty, the Governor wrote on August 5, 1702: "We have three 
privateers with about 60 men each, who have last week sent 
in a French ketch and three sloops laden with fish and salt, 
taken upon the coast of Cape Sables, and we hope for better 
prizes by those that are abroad." Six weeks later he triumph- 
antly announced: 

I have sent out four small sloops with about 50 men each, who have 
in 30 days past brought in four sloops and five ships, the least ship 
above 100 tons, one of them a mast-man bound to Port Royal to load: 
the other are bankers, some with fish, others with salt, etc. for a fishing 
voyage, and the sloops are abroad again for one cruise more, by which 
time our seas will be governed by the northwest wind too hard to abide. 

Boston privateers joined in the three naval expeditions 
against Port Royal, whose conquest finally placed Nova Scotia 
under the dominion of the British. The first expedition had 
decided at a council of war that its force was insufficient to 
take the Port. After ravaging the surrounding country in the 
summer of 1704, the fleet returned to Boston. The second 
Port Royal invasion was undertaken in May 1707, men-of- 
war and privateers sailing from Nantasket Roads. Reenforced 
by additional vessels from Boston, the armada reached the 
Port Royal basin the same month; they were repulsed in 
their attempt to storm the Port, and sailed for home on August 
24. Three years later, after an expedition finally captured 
Port Royal, vast preparations were made for the invasion of 
Canada; Quebec, the key to the French possessions in America, 
was to be reduced by an English fleet. To accomplish this 
objective, Sir Hovenden Walker set sail for the St. Lawrence 
River on July 30, 1711, after having been charged with delay- 
ing unnecessarily in Boston Harbor. In a sudden gale fol- 
lowed by a thick fog, 8 of his vessels were dashed to pieces on 
the rocks of Cape Gaspe, and more than 800 men were lost. 
The privateers turned back without prize or plunder. 

Yankee daring displayed in the seizure made by the Bethel 
was characteristic of Boston skippers during the troubled days 
of England's war with Spain (1739-48); the story of her adven- 
ture was only one of many similar tales of ships whose prows 
swept past the headland of Nantasket bound for Europe or 
southern ports. Excitement touched the crew of the Bethel, 

48 Boston Looks Seaward 

out of Boston for Europe, as she approached the Azores in 
the dusk of a June day in 1748. The Bethel, carrying a Colonial 
letter-of-marque, was authorized to capture any Spanish ves- 
sel that came into view, and hopes of sighting a prize ran 
high. When the lookout's jubilant shout announced a sail 
ahead, the Bethel packed on canvas. The stranger tacked, 
as though preparing to fight, but unfalteringly the Boston 
vessel drove toward her. When the prey took to flight, Captain 
Isaac Freeman, scanning the pursued vessel in the failing 
light, saw that she was armed with 24 guns. Since the Bethel 
carried only 14 guns, besides 6 dummy ones of wood, Free- 
man ordered his crew of about 38 on deck, and instructed 
them, in order to hide the real number of fighting men, to 
rig sham figures with their spare clothing. When darkness 
fell, lanterns were hoisted in all parts of the Bethel, and 
she closed in on the fugitive. "After a serenade of French 
horns and trumpets," stated Freeman in a letter to Messrs. 
Quincy and Jackson, part owners of the privateer, 

we demanded from whence she came and whither bound. When, after a 
few equivocations, . . . she announced she was from Havana for Cadiz 
... we gave them a hearty cheer, and ordered . . . her captain on board 
immediately. He begged we would tarry till morning . . . but we threaten- 
ing him with a broadside which he much feared, he complied. By day- 
light we had the last of the prisoners secured, (there were no of them) 
who were ready to hang themselves on sight of our six wooden guns, 
and scarce men enough to hoist topsails. 

The Boston Evening Post of August 29, 1748, carried the full 
story of the capture and summed up the incident by saying: 
"the Spanish Don may truly be said to have been jockey 'd out 
of a prize worth the best part of an hundred Pounds Sterling." 
A line of demarcation between legitimate privateering and 
piracy was difficult to establish. The notorious John Quelch, 
hanged in Boston, June 30, 1704, with five of his men, had 
considered himself a privateer while attacking Portuguese 
commerce off Brazil. Upon arriving at Marblehead he learned 
of the treaty of peace which made his acts piratical. The last 
words of Quelch on the execution stage must have pleased 
the Puritan ministers consoling his soul. "I am not afraid of 
Death, I am not afraid of the Gallows, but I am afraid of 
what follows; I am afraid of a Great God, and a Judgment to 
Come." Two decades later Boston was afforded another mass 
hanging, when a group of young men sailed a captured pirate 
ship into the harbor on May 3, 1724. They had been impressed 
into piracy along the Newfoundland Banks, but overpowered 

Provincial Period, ijoo-ijSj 49 

the pirate crew and killed the leader, John Phillips, and some 
of his gang. In due course, six of the pirates were condemned 
to death. Bills for the hanging of the two freebooters, Archer 
and White, on June 2, 1724, provided not only for all expenses 
connected with digging the graves and burying the dead, but 
even for the cost of "cheering drams" after the work of the 
executioners had been finished. An especially vicious ravager 
of the sea, surnamed Fly, had his neck stretched with great 
pomp in Boston in 1726. A contemporary gravely observed 
that, on the following lecture day, Dr. Cotton Mather in 
giving out the Sixteenth Psalm did not mention Fly "other- 
wise than in a bold scorn" by reading the line, "My lips their 
name shall Fly." It is not to be doubted that there were many 
substantial merchants in Dr. Mather's congregation who re- 
gretted the passing of Fly, for pirates were good customers 
and paid in silver and coin. 

Ships and Shipyards 

During the first half of the eighteenth century, while piracy 
in the Atlantic was slowly passing into romantic memory and 
the sea lanes were becoming comparatively safe, Boston ex- 
perienced a "golden age" of shipbuilding. Twenty-one ships 
of an aggregate tonnage of 1,530 were launched from Boston 
in 1710, almost half of the entire Province's output of 56 
ships, which weighed 3,720 tons. Thirteen years later, 700 
vessels slid down the ways of New England shipyards, the 
greater portion of which were probably fitted in Boston. 
Graceful and swift-sailing, the first Boston schooner was com- 
pleted in 1716; a pronounced departure from the traditional 
square-rigged type, the schooner came into great favor among 
Boston seafarers engaged in the carrying trade. In a single 
year, the Province as a whole constructed 150 ships aggregating 
6,000 tons, principally for foreign sale, and in 1720 it owned 
approximately 190 sailing and 150 fishing boats. In 1741, 
John Oldmixon, in the second edition of his book, The Brit- 
ish Empire in America, wrote that there were "at one and 
the same time, upon the stocks in Boston, forty top-sail vessels, 
measuring about 7,000 tons." 

Changing conditions of ocean trade made for the increased 
size of ships. Earlier commerce had consisted of mixed cargoes, 
sent in small consignments, and for this purpose a vessel of 
less than 100 tons was most convenient. In 1726, however, 
Thomas Amory, in noting the requirements of advancing 

50 Boston Looks Seaward 

business, spoke of a demand for a larger type of merchant 
ship. Jealous of the growing dimensions of Massachusetts 
ships, Governor Wentworth of New Hampshire reported to 
the Lords of Trade in London in 1724 that his unruly neigh- 
bors along the Massachusetts coast were building a veritable 
leviathan of 1,000 tons, for use in the contraband lumber trade 
to Spain or Portugal. Either this complaint exaggerated the 
facts or the ambitious builders abandoned their project, for 
the largest ship built for some time in the Massachusetts 
Colony, a 5Oo-ton vessel, was completed at Mr. Clark's ship- 
yard in the North End of Boston in the fall of 1732. The pre- 
ponderance of clearances over entrances for the Port of Boston 
in the year 1748 was one indication of a policy on the part 
of merchants and sea captains to sell smaller craft in some 
foreign port at the end of the voyage, bringing back only the 
larger vessels. Ships, in fact, comprised one of the chief items 
of Boston's trade with England and her colonial possessions. 

Already in the winter of 1724-25 London shipwrights had 
become vocal in protest against the growing competition of 
the Massachusetts builders. Shipbuilding, according to the 
official statement of the Lords of Trade issued in 1721, was 
the most important and best managed among the many profit- 
able lines of manufacture in Boston. Pointing out that the 
Massachusetts rate of construction was ruinous to them, the 
London people called for drastic limitations on the size of 
ships built in the Colonies. They realized that vessels could 
be produced in Boston and neighboring coastal towns for 
about 8 per ton, while in England the cost was between 
15 and 16 per ton. Although crusty protectionists, the Lords 
of Trade were unable to answer the prayers of their peti- 
tioners, and, despite recurrent periods of inactivity, Massa- 
chusetts shipbuilding continued in a fairly prosperous condi- 
tion. In Boston, however, ship construction declined after 
1741, and only 15 vessels were launched from the town's yards 
in 1749. 

Boston capital probably supplied the driving power behind 
the shipbuilding industry, even after the bulk of operations 
had been transferred to smaller shipyards along the coast, 
where the absence of rigid inspection permitted the use of 
inferior materials, and where mechanics, fishermen, and sea- 
men were available for the workmanship and manning of the 
vessels. As the need for heavy timber pushed the center of 
shipbuilding farther and farther up the Bay, much of the 

Provincial Period, 1700-1783 51 

shipping under Boston registry was built along the north- 
eastern shore of Massachusetts and in New Hampshire and 
Maine. Yards along the Piscataqua River brought out no 
less than 200 vessels a year. Shipbuilders sometimes sent gangs 
of shipwrights into forests 7 and 8 miles from the water, where 
they constructed craft of 100 tons and more. In the winter, 
these vessels were mounted on sledges and dragged by a team 
of as many as 200 oxen to the frozen surface of a navigable 
stream, down which they were towed to the sea when the ice 

The "Mosquito" Fleet 

Such small vessels trading along the southern coast in the 
ports of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and the 
Carolinas, and as far north as Canada, effectively riddled the 
Navigation Acts and brought to Boston such varied and sub- 
stantial maritime commerce that Edmund Burke aptly called 
them "the Dutch of America." Augmented by cockleshell 
fishing smacks of 30 to 40 tons, which were forced off the 
Banks by winter storms, this "mosquito" fleet loaded its holds 
with rum, flour, fish, beef, port, European products, whale 
oil, horses, livestock, salt, sugar, hats, cloth, and ironware 
and went on peddling trips to the South, returning with 
tobacco, grain, and naval stores of pitch and tar. During the 
3-year interval from June 4, 1714 to June 4, 1717, Boston 
clearances to other seaports in America numbered 390, while 
for about an equal length of time New York's departures 
amounted to less than half of the Boston tonnage. 

When it promised profitable returns, no voyage appeared 
too difficult or hazardous to these coastwise traders. In 1729, 
an exploratory cruise under Captain Henry Atkins, beyond 
the Canadian Maritime Provinces to Labrador's frozen wastes, 
extended Boston's commerce to "the Eskimeaux coast." Touch- 
ing the mainland at several points near Davis' Inlet in his 
sturdy ship, the Whale, Captain Atkins found an abundance 
of fish and seal and great forests of pine, alder, birch, and 
hazel. The natives encountered near the shore were terrified 
at the sight of the large vessel, and only after considerable 
reassurance was Atkins able to bargain with them. They 
dressed in beaver and seal skins, and their ignorance of the 
value of these pelts convinced him that they had never bar- 
tered with agents of the French of Hudson Bay posts. At one 
place he exchanged files, knives, and other small articles 

52 Boston Looks Seaward 

amounting to 10 shillings for a quantity of whalebone which 
brought 120 sterling in Boston. This pioneering trip es- 
tablished a lucrative commerce with the Belle Isle Straits, 
from which Boston was soon importing large cargoes of fish 
and furs. 

While a great number of Boston mariners doubtless made 
it a point to avoid the observant eyes of the customs officials, 
sparse and scattered figures give an approximate picture of 
the coastwise trade. In the year 1720, according to the Boston 
Gazette, departures outnumbered arrivals 368 to 277. Trade 
with the Southern Colonies was more than twice as large as 
that with the Canadian Provinces. Boston vessels sailing to 
nearby New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut 
comprised two-thirds of the total outgoing shipping. Receiv- 
ing English goods and paying with fish and lumber, New 
Hampshire alone in 1725, had a coastal traffic with Boston 
equal to well over 5,000. The week of May 8-14, 1741, was 
a busy one for the import of foodstuffs into the town of Bos- 
ton. In 7 days her wharves received from incoming vessels 
6,650 bushels of corn, 200 bushels of peas, 180 bushels of beans, 
534 bushels of flour, 291 barrels of beef, 278 barrels of pork, 
and 79 bushels of rice. In 1760, entrances into the Port of 
Boston from other North American towns had increased to 
441, while the clearances to coastwise points had advanced to 
357. By this date, shipping to the Canadian Provinces, which 
totaled 165 arrivals and 123 departures, had surpassed by 50 
percent traffic to the Southern Colonies. This increasingly 
important Canadian trade almost equalled the established 
routes with the New England towns, from which, in 1760, 
163 vessels dropped anchor in Boston, and to which 145 de- 
parted. With the neighboring emporium of New York, Boston's 
direct commerce was still small in that year, only 8 vessels 
entering, and 9 clearing. Indicating a rapid gain during the 
preceding 40 years, Boston's coastwise traffic in 1760 reached 
the grand total of 798 voyages. 

The Harvest of the Sea 

Since the slaves in the southern plantations and the West 
Indies consumed ever-increasing quantities of fish, coastal 
Massachusetts, in an effort to maintain a supply of the com- 
modity, took to reaping the rich harvest of the sea on a vast 
scale. As early as 1636, the sacred cod had been officially de- 
clared the symbol of Massachusetts, and, by 1700, dried codfish 

Provincial Period, 1700-1783 53 

had become the mainstay of Boston's export commerce. Daniel 
Neal in the History of New England, written in London in 
1720, states that Boston merchants export "about 100,000 
Quintals of dried Cod-fish yearly, which they send to Portugal, 
Spain and the Ports of Italy, the Returns for which . . . may 
amount to the Value of about 80,000 1. [pounds] annually." 
Growing rapidly, the fisheries along the coast were producing 
for export 10 years later 230,000 quintals of dried fish, which 
sold in southern Europe for about 138,000 pounds sterling. 
Some 400 Massachusetts vessels, averaging 40 tons and a crew 
of 7, serviced the codfisheries alone. For the curing of the 
fish, each boat required three or four additional men on shore. 
Although Boston fishermen were credited with only 30 percent 
of the total annual catch, their port served as the main dis- 
tributing center for the whole New England fishing fleet. 

Five trips were made every year by the Boston fishing fleet; 
the first to Sable Island early in March; the second to Brown's 
Bank for spring fish; the third and fourth to Georges' Bank, 
where large schools spawned during the summer; and the 
fifth trip to Sable Island again for winter cod. To prevent 
fishermen from deserting their vessels, the General Court, 
in 1755, enacted a law which provided that no member of a 
fishing crew could demand his share of the profits until the 
contracted term of service had been completed. Faring on a 
diet of salt port, biscuits, and rum, hardy Massachusetts fisher- 
men worked "on their own hook," the individual's catch 
determining his portion of the receipts. Although mackerel 
and herring, at first used for bait, soon found a ready market 
in the West Indies, the highest prices were commanded by 
the silvery cod. To encourage the codfisheries, Boston citizens, 
according to the Boston Evening Post, February 18, 1754, 
offered to award $60 to the vessel returning with the largest 
catch in proportion to the size of the crew, $50 as a second 
prize, and $40 to the third-place winner. 

Next to the codfisheries in economic importance, the Massa- 
chusetts whaling industry played a prominent role in Boston's 
shipping activities. As the whale supplied fuel for more and 
more lamps in Europe, local merchants foresaw the possibilities 
of handsome profits to be derived from purchasing whale oil 
at nearby ports, arranging for delivery in Boston, and then 
shipping it to London and other European markets. Eager 
to monopolize the available supply, agents were dispatched 
posthaste to Nantucket, already famed for its intrepid whalers, 

54 Boston Looks Seaward 

and in the year 1745 they obtained 10,000 barrels of oil for 
Boston's export. As early as 1720, a direct shipment to London 
of Nantucket oil cleared Boston with a quaint bill of lading: 

Shipped by the grace of God, in good order and well conditioned, by 
Paul Starbuck, in the good ship called the Hanover, whereof is master 
under God for the present voyage, William Chadder and now riding in the 
harbour of Boston, and by God's grace bound for London; to say: Six 
barrels of traine oyle, being on the proper account & risque of Nathaniel 
Starbuck, of Nantucket, and goes consigned to Richard Partridge merchant 
in London. Being marked & numbered as in the margin 8c to be delivered 
in like good order & well conditioned at the aforesaid port of London 
(The dangers of the sea only excepted) unto Richard Partridge aforesaid 
or to his assignees, He or they paying Freight for said goods, at the rate of 
fifty shillings per tonn, with primage & average accustomed. 

In witness whereof the said Master or Purser of said Ship hath affirmed 
to Two Bills of Lading all of this Tener and date, one of which two Bills 
being Accomplished, the other to stand void. 

And so God send the Good Ship to her desired Port in safety. Amen! 

Articles & Contents unknown to (signed) William Chadder 
Date at Boston the 7th 4th mo. 1720. 

Although steady profits from the far less hazardous freight- 
ing of oil proved more attractive than whaling itself to Bos- 
ton seamen, attempts to develop a local whaling fleet met with 
a fair degree of success. Encouraging the industry, the Boston 
News-Letter in July 1737, announced that "Capt. Atherton 
Hough took a whale 'in the Straits' ", and in a later issue 
stated that "there is good prospect of success in the whale 
fishery to Greenland this year for several vessels are come in 
early deeply laden and others expected." At no time, however, 
did the number of Boston whalers operating in northern and 
southern waters exceed 20. Averaging 100 tons in size and 
carrying a crew of 12, these ships accounted for an annual 
take of 1,800 barrels of spermaceti and 600 barrels of whale 

One of the whalers, returning to Boston in 1766, reported 
a harrowing variation of the Biblical Jonah story: 

Capt. Clark, on Thursday Morning last discovering a Spermaceti Whale, 
near George's Banks, mann'd his Boat, and gave Chace to her, & she 
coming up with her Jaws against the Bow of the Boat struck it with 
such Violence that it threw a Son of the Captain's; (who was forward 
ready with his Lance) a considerable Height from the Boat, and when 
he fell the Whale turned with her devouring Jaws opened, and caught 
him: He was heard to scream, when she closed her Jaws, and part of 
his Body was seen out of her Mouth, when she turned, and went off. 

Ocean Trade and Travel 

Boston commercial voyages were often so incalculable in 
their range, so diverse in their turnings and windings, that 

Provincial Period, 1700-1783 55 

one may question whether the itinerary was really fixed at 
the time of departure. If the Boston captain returned with 
the ship in which he had embarked, his wines from Madeira, 
Fayal, and the Canaries, his sugar, molasses, and often specie 
from the West Indies were a clear indication that he had 
traveled wide, and that trading had been good. Another vari- 
ation of successful voyaging was the return of the captain as 
a passenger, having sold both ship and cargo in England. In 
such a case, he brought home either the cash proceeds of the 
sale, or a shipment of English manufactured goods purchased 
with the funds derived from the sale of ship and cargo. Mari- 
time records showed that in the 3 years from June 4, 1714 to 
June 4, 1717, a total of 1,267 foreign-bound vessels sailed out 
through the Narrows of Boston Harbor 518 for the West 
Indies, 25 for the Bay of Campeachy, 58 for "foreign planta- 
tions," 45 for Newfoundland, 43 for Europe, 34 for Madeira, 
the Azores, etc., 143 for Great Britain, 390 for the English 
colonies of North America, and 1 1 for unknown ports. These 
outgoing ships aggregated nearly 63,000 tons, and employed 
between 8,000 and 9,000 seamen. While these 1,267 vessels 
departed from Boston, only 232 set sail from the rival port 
of Salem. 

Relatively few changes took place in Boston's import trade 
between 1717 and 1770. From the Canary Islands, the Iberian 
Peninsula, and Southern France came ever larger cargoes of 
salt, wine, brandy, fruit, oil, silk, lace, and fine linens. As 
Boston vessels more frequently took a southerly course to 
Mediterranean ports-of-call, the Colony of Massachusetts pur- 
chased proportionately less from the mother country. While 
in 1700 London had supplied a major part of the shipments 
which weighted the holds of Boston-bound vessels, by 1769 
only two-fifths of New England's imports came from England. 
Among the products most frequently sent by England were 
linens, serges, bays, kerseys, and stockings. In addition, the 
mother country sent ship rigging, the best grade of refined 
sugar, lead, paper, and glass. 

The Province of Massachusetts enjoyed an ever-growing ex- 
port trade. The best grade of packed codfish, "dunfish," 
mellowed by alternate burying and drying commanded a 
high price in the Catholic countries of Portugal, Spain, and 
France. The principal Massachusetts exports in 1763, shipped 
largely from Boston, were codfish valued at 100,000; whale 
and cod oil 127,500; whalebone, 8,450; pickled mackerel 

56 Boston Looks Seaward 

and shad, 15,000; masts, boards, staves, shingles, 75,000; 
ships 70 sail at 700 49,000; naval stores, 600; potash, 
35,000; horses and livestock, 37,000; pickled beef and pork, 
28,500; beeswax and sundries, 9,000. Ten years later, New 
England as a whole was credited with exporting 911,000 gal- 
lons of rum, of which 419,000 gallons went to Africa, 361,000 
gallons to Quebec, and 111,000 gallons to Newfoundland. 

Ocean travel in Boston's early shipping days was a danger- 
ous undertaking, and only urgent business forced landsmen 
to entrust their lives and comfort to the Atlantic. The price 
of passage to Europe before 1700 was quoted at 5 and this 
moderate figure proved a poor bargain for the accommoda- 
tions offered during the month-long voyage. Nevertheless, 
almost every ship that made the crossing carried merchants, 
Government officials, military men, clergymen, and scholars. 
Few of the passengers were prominent; only 18 of them were 
mentioned by name in the Boston newspapers of 1737. 

What the trans-Atlantic traveler could sometimes expect 
may be learned from the diary of Jacob Bailey, a graduate 
divinity student who sailed from Boston for London in 1760. 
Arriving on board, he found himself 

In the midst of a most horrid confusion. The deck was crowded full 
of men, and the boatswain's shrill whistle, with the swearing and halloo- 
ing of the petty officers, almost stunned my ears. I could find no retreat 
from this dismal hubbub, but was obliged to continue jostling among 
the crowd above an hour before I could find anybody at leisure to direct 
me. ( . . A young gentleman) invited me down between decks . . .1 . . . 
followed him down a ladder into a dark and dismal region, where the 
fumes of pitch, bilge water, and other kinds of nastiness almost suffocated 
me in a minute. . . . We entered a small apartment, hung round with 
damp and greasy canvas, which made, on every hand, a most gloomy and 
frightful appearance. In the middle stood a table of pine, varnished over 
with nasty slime, furnished with a bottle of rum and an old tin mug 
with a hundred and fifty bruises and several holes, through which the 
liquor poured in as many streams. This was quickly filled with toddy 
and as speedily emptied by two or three companions who presently 
joined us in this doleful retreat. . . . This detestable apartment was 
allotted by the Captain to be the place of my habitation during the 

The company was in keeping with the surroundings. The 
"young gentleman" who had invited Bailey "had fled his 
native country on account of a young lady to whom he was 
engaged." Everyone seemed to swear roundly, especially one 
swashbuckler, described as "the greatest champion of profane- 
ness that ever fell under my notice," continually "roaring out 
a tumultuous volley of stormy oaths and imprecations." An- 

Provincial Period, ijoo-ijSj 57 

other member of the company, a "lieutenant of marines . . . 
distinguished himself by the quantities of liquor he poured 
down his throat." 

A boy was called to bring supper. 

Nothing in human shape did I ever see before so loathsome and nasty. 
He had on his body a fragment only of a check shirt, his bosom was 
all naked and greasy, over his shoulders hung a bundle of woolen rags 
which reached in strings almost down to his feet, and the whole com- 
position was curiously adorned with little shining animals. 

The cuisine was correspondingly elegant: 

beef and onions, bread and potatoes, minced and stewed together, then 
served up with its broth in a wooden tub, the half of a quarter cask. The 
table was furnished with two pewter plates, the half of one was melted 
away, and the other, full of holes, was more weather-beaten than the 
sides of the ship; one knife with a bone handle, one fork with a broken 
tine, half a metal spoon and another, taken at Quebec, with part of the 
bowl cut off. 

The sleeping accommodations consisted of 

a row of greasy canvas bags, hanging overhead by the beams . . . Into one 
of them it was proposed that I should get, in order to sleep, but it was 
with the utmost difficulty I prevented myself from falling over on the 
other side. 


Engaging more than one-half of Boston's foreign shipping, 
the West Indies route provided the most profitable market for 
local merchants. During a g-year period beginning June 4, 
1714, clearances of barks, sloops, and other vessels from Boston 
for the West Indies numbered 518, most of them bound for 
the British islands. Commerce, however, with the Spanish, 
Dutch, and French possessions in the Caribbean assumed in- 
creasing proportions after the Peace of Utrecht in 1714. 
Seeking to protect the native brandy industry, the French 
Monarchy had decreed that no rum could be brought into 
the country, and in order to block her enemies' food supply 
she forbade the reexport of raw sugar. Since sugar found a 
poor demand in France, its price in the French West Indies 
tumbled downward, and the French planters were willing to 
dispose of their molasses at half the exchange rate received in 
the British islands. Ever alert for the ingredients of rum manu- 
facture and for new areas in which to unload their local 
products, Boston ships swarmed to the French islands. There 
the planters, discovering that their molasses could be ex- 
changed for good lumber, horses, oxen, and provisions, in- 

58 Boston Looks Seaward 

creased their acreage by leaps and bounds until production 
reached 122,500 hogsheads of sugar in 1744, as compared with 
60,950 hogsheads produced in the British islands. In 1731 
Boston had imported 20,000 hogsheads of French molasses, 
which were distilled into 1,260,000 gallons of rum, selling for 
2 shillings per gallon. 

The famous Molasses Act of 1733 was Parliament's answer 
to the angry protests of the British West Indies planters, who 
demanded legislative protection from the large importations 
of "foreign molasses" into the Northern Colonies. Prohibitive 
duties of ninepence per gallon were imposed on rum and 
spirits, sixpence per gallon on molasses and syrups, and five- 
pence per gallon on sugar, when these commodities were 
imported from other than the English West Indies. Rigidly 
enforced, this act would have destroyed Boston's rum trade, 
injured her fisheries, and cut off her indispensable source of 
specie in the French islands. After vain appeals by the local 
merchants, the act was completely ignored, and molasses 
flowed into Boston with no duties paid. This illegal commerce 
reached unprecedented heights after 1740, when the entire 
production of the British West Indies amounted to only one- 
eighth of the molasses brought into American ports. During 
King George's War (1744-48), Boston ships, together with 
those from other Colonial towns, carried on so extensive a 
trade in the Caribbean with England's enemy that they con- 
stituted a major cause for the failure of British naval opera- 
tions in that area. While Boston privateers were fighting to 
oust the French from Canada, local merchants were engaged 
in supplying fully the trade demands of the French in the 
West Indies. 

Boston ships of the West Indies route operated in a com- 
plicated manner. The vessels were often compelled to take 
roundabout trips before they could obtain a cargo which 
would find a ready market in Boston. One local ship of 40 
tons went to Rhode Island, Barbados, Guinea, back to the 
Barbados, and then to Antigua before returning home. An- 
other record of a chartered vessel provided for a 10- to 1 2-month 
voyage, evidently with the intention of doing a seagoing huck- 
stering business. The means employed in circumventing Brit- 
ish restrictions in the West Indies spoke well for the daring 
and ingenuity of the smugglers. One picturesque device was 
the "Jew's Raft," which consisted of timbers, chained together 
in the rough outline of a vessel. Exempted from British restric- 

Provincial Period, 1700-1783 59 

tions on ships, these suicidal contrivances were sailed to the 
West Indies by their reckless crews. Duties were often evaded 
directly from Boston through connivance with the local cus- 
toms officers and the port officials of the French West Indies. 
In wartime, ships known as "flags of truce" carried contraband. 
A vessel of this type would sail from Boston, carrying a few 
prisoners for legitimate exchange, but as soon as a French 
Indies port was reached, a valuable cargo of molasses would 
be poured into her hold. 

The Molasses Act proved a grave British blunder, for be- 
cause of it the smuggling of contraband lost all taint of 
illegitimacy and acquired a respectable status in Boston. The 
growing sentiment that every merchant had a natural right 
to exchange his property with whom he pleased had taken 
root, and, when in 1756 British revenue cutters were pressed 
into service to enforce the act, the erstwhile evader became 
the pillar of commercial propriety. His political strength later 
gave him a position of dominance in Boston. 

British naval commanders were empowered to serve as cus- 
toms officers after 1763 and were permitted to retain the usual 
percentage of profits from seizures. When this measure failed 
to put a stop to smuggling, English port officers began to use 
writs of assistance extraordinary search warrants which au- 
thorized the holder to seize suspected goods anywhere and 
without notice, even to break into homes to search for contra- 
band. In 1760-61 vigorous protests had been lodged against 
the legality of the writs, on the ground that they were tyran- 
nical. Although the Boston people were ably represented by 
James Otis, a young attorney, the Colonial Court, headed by 
Thomas Hutchinson, Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony, 
declared the writs legal according to an act of Parliament. 
Moreover, Governor Bernard claimed that Massachusetts op- 
posed them because she wished to engage in the French West 
Indies trade as freely as did the charter colonies of Rhode 
Island and Connecticut, where the customs house officials 
"did virtually nothing to enforce the law." 

Despite the zealous attempt at enforcement of the Molasses 
Act by British patrols along the coast, Boston smugglers, with 
the help of every dodge that Yankee cunning could invent, 
swept merrily on to the French West Indies. Cargoes were 
landed in the dead of night at isolated coves, and then hauled 
into Boston by horse and team. From the neutral ports of St. 
Eustatius and Monte Cristi, where as many as 50 Boston ves- 

6o Boston Looks Seaward 

sels dropped anchor at the same time, came hold after hold 
of French sugar and molasses. Other Boston sloops stopped at 
the French port of New Orleans for contraband cargo. Two- 
thirds of the molasses that entered the Port of Boston in 1760 
could be traced to French origin, and in the following year 
this illicit flood had grown to three-quarters of the total im- 

The Boycotts 

Well aware of the mounting loss of revenue occasioned by 
the persistent smuggling of the Boston traders, George Gren- 
ville, head of the Crown's Cabinet, and an advocate of colonial 
participation in expenses of British Empire defense, decided 
to adopt more intelligent measures. His Sugar Act of 1764 
cut the molasses duty by one-half, to threepence a gallon, but, 
on the other hand, implemented the law by providing that 
all cases arising under a writ might be tried in any vice- 
admiralty court in America even in Canada since Grenville 
well knew that no Colonial jury would ever convict in a 
smuggling trial. The lowered tax was still a great concession 
to the West Indies traders, and in itself it did not raise as 
much resentment as was created by the methods adopted to 
enforce the collections. Rewards were offered to informers, 
ships were boarded and searched, homes and warehouses were 
ransacked. The easygoing ways of the men in the West Indies 
trade were proscribed to an extent that made profit well-nigh 

When the odious Stamp Act was passed a year later, the 
principal merchants of Boston agreed to import no more 
manufactures from England, and even countermanded orders 
already sent over. Like the heaping of insult upon injury, the 
new tax kindled their smoldering resentment into a flaming 
outburst of opposition. On the night of August 7, 1765, under 
the cry of "freedom from revenue taxation and imperial con- 
trol of justice," milling crowds of Boston patriots and roister- 
ers hanged in effigy Andrew Oliver, the Massachusetts collec- 
tor, destroyed his home, and tore down his office. When the 
first of November arrived, not a stamp was offered for sale, 
since no royal official could enforce the act. John Hancock 
sent the Boston Packet to London without stamped clearances, 
but with a certificate from Boston port officers that no stamps 
could be procured within their jurisdiction. Arriving in the 

Provincial Period, 1700-1783 61 

Thames, she passed the customs without delay. The following 
year, on the petition of London merchants, the law was 

In 1767, guided by the new ministry of Charles Townshend, 
England's colonial policy underwent a drastic revision, dis- 
astrous for the Colonies. The Townshend Acts levied new 
import duties on wine, oil, glass, paper, paint, lead, and tea. 
The merchants called for a non-importation policy. The 
Massachusetts Assembly was not slow to protest the duties and 
called upon all the Colonies for united action. Their activities 
caused Governor Bernard, in compliance with Royal instruc- 
tions, to dissolve the General Court for its scornful insolence. 
The customs service was strengthened by placing a board of 
commissioners in the colonial ports. The Boston commission- 
ers, now that molasses smuggling had ceased with the reduc- 
tion of the duty to one penny a gallon, attempted to stop the 
illicit trade in Madeira wine, which had increased to avoid the 
excessive impost of 7 a ton. They met with the organized 
resistance of 98 Boston merchants. The climax came when a 
mob interfered with the seizure of a ship belonging to John 
Hancock. In the rioting that followed, the commissioners 
were forced to flee to the fort on Castle Island, from which 
they appealed to Admiral Hood at Halifax for protection. 
Obviously a dangerous situation had developed; on Septem- 
ber 28, 1768, a thousand British regulars landed in Boston. 

The Townshend Acts, with the exception of the duty on 
tea, were repealed in 1770. Since the principle of taxation re- 
mained, the merchants were not wholly appeased, but they 
attempted to carry on in the usual trade channels. The period 
of non-importation had had an adverse effect on Boston's for- 
eign trade and placed her in a position inferior to both New 
York and Philadelphia. Trade with Great Britain and Ireland 
was still strong, with ship chandlery, drugs, woolen materials, 
and tea among the leading imports and whaling products, 
pearl ash and potash, hides, fur, and lumber figuring promi- 
nently in the exports. The Mediterranean and African trades 
dropped to a low point when a total of only 13 entries and 13 
clearances were recorded in 1773 for both areas together. The 
West Indies trade was still Boston's best, leading in the im- 
portation of salt and molasses but running below rival ports 
in some exports. In the coasting trade, Boston was still su- 
preme, the leading items including shoes, rum, and food 

62 Boston Looks Seaward 

Tea and a Party 

As long as the price of tea continued to be comparatively 
low, it was consumed duty-paid. But when the price advanced 
sharply in 1771, the smuggling of Dutch tea became immensely 
profitable. The contraband was concealed in rice barrels, in 
wine casks, in every possible receptacle. Despite constant sei- 
zures and penalties and Boston's standing as the leading im- 
porter of dutiable tea, within a year much of the tea drunk in 
Boston was of Dutch origin. In a blundering attempt to 
destroy Dutch competition, Parliament decided in 1773 to 
provide Boston with cheaper tea by permitting the East India 
Company to export tea directly from India, thus avoiding the 
payment of a tax in England. The immediate effect of this new 
policy was to drive Boston merchants, who saw their smug- 
gling profits endangered, into the ranks of the radicals; at 
fiery mass meetings they urged the people to boycott "monopo- 
lized" tea. Nevertheless, the cargoes continued to be shipped 
to Boston. 

The dumping of the tea into Boston Harbor has become a 
famous incident in American history. On Sunday, November 
28, 1773, the tea ship Dartmouth joined shortly afterward by 
the Eleanor and the Beaver, had moored at Griffin's Wharf. 
Refusing to permit the vessels to unload their tea, the agitators 
placed them under a citizen guard. If the tea was not unloaded 
in 20 days it would be taken over by the collector of customs, a 
situation desired by neither the merchants nor the importer. 
The owner of the Dartmouth was urgently requested to return 
his ship to London, for the Boston merchants anxiously de- 
sired a peaceful removal of this threat to their prosperous 
trade; but the customs officials refused to issue clearance 
papers. On the nineteenth day, after the arrival of the ships, 
December 16, 1773, confronted with the possibility that the 
tea would be landed on the morrow, 7,000 citizens gathered at 
the largest protest meeting hitherto held in Boston. After 
listening to the bitter denunciations which poured from the 
lips of Samuel Adams, Josiah Quincy, Jr., and other mer- 
chants, and after learning that Governor Hutchinson had re- 
fused a permit for clearance, the aroused multitude advanced 
upon the waterfront. There a patriotic band of Sons of Lib- 
erty and traders, covered with Indian war-paint and brandish- 
ing tomahawks, staged the Boston Tea Party. A vast assem- 
blage, silhouetted in the moonlight, watched in solemn silence, 

Provincial Period, ijoo-ijSj 63 

while the "Mohawks" unsealed the hatches and piled the tea 
on deck. Three hundred and forty-two chests were ripped 
open, dumped overboard, and carried by the wind and the 
tide to every part of the harbor. 

Thoroughly aroused, England retaliated with the Boston 
Port Bill, which went into effect on June i, 1774. The act 
provided "for discontinuing the lading and shipping of goods, 
wares, and merchandizes, at Boston or the harbour thereof, 
and for the removal of the custom house with its depend- 
encies, to the town of Salem" until compensation should be 
made to the East India Company. Boston was designated as 
the rendezvous of all British men-of-war in American waters, 
and seaborne commerce came to a standstill. The good citizens 
of Salem, however, declined to take advantage of a situation 
that would have greatly increased their wealth. Marblehead, 
which had been declared the major Massachusetts port, 
graciously permitted Boston merchants to enjoy the free use 
of its wharves and storehouses, while its inhabitants offered to 
load and unload goods consigned to Boston. 

Revolution and Ruin 

The year 1775 found Boston a town of despair. All her 
privileges as a seaport had been annulled, her warehouses 
emptied; her ships and workers were idle, her foreign trade 
throttled. Every means of water communication, even with 
Charlestown and Dorchester, had been severed. In the face of 
a serious shortage of commodities and the ominous prospect of 
war, her population had begun to scatter. An 11 -month siege 
had reduced the town to about 6,000 inhabitants, food was 
almost unobtainable, and the cost of living doubled. Finding 
it impossible to force payment from debtors by law, merchants 
closed their shops. Although privateering on a grand scale was 
carried on by vessels from less beleaguered ports, not a Boston 
boat moved, not a raft or a lighter was allowed to approach 
the town with merchandise. Even after the British withdrawal 
on March 17, 1776, conditions were desperate, for along with 
General Howe went several hundred Tories and a large por- 
tion of Boston's wealth. 

Boston's business was slow to revive. The first efforts were 
concentrated on the outfitting of privateers; 365 vessels were 
commissioned during the Revolution, and in some cases for- 
tunes were made. By 1777 Boston privateers had roamed the 
coast from the British provinces in the north to the West 

64 Boston Looks Seaward 

Indies in the south, had crossed the ocean and plundered 
British vessels on the coasts of Spain, France, and England. 
Upon a petition to the Council, which had taken over the 
duties of the Governor, the theoretical embargo on all vessels 
except those engaged in fishing was lifted, and permission for 
a restricted export was granted. Articles for trade, however, 
were limited to lumber, dry and pickled fish, and the cargoes 
of captured vessels. Three types of commercial venture could 
be attempted from Boston: by unarmed merchantmen on 
coastwise and West India voyages, by armed letter-of-marque 
vessels, and by ships owned or chartered by the State. Under 
letter-of-marque commissions, cargoes of rice picked up at the 
Carolinas, or tobacco at Virginia were traded with Spain, 
France, and their possessions for salt, sugar, naval stores, cloth- 
ing and brandy. No embargo hindered the official State ships, 
which were dispatched at will to obtain necessities of life, but 
the harassing British cruisers made their voyages so precarious 
that the few returning vessels hardly alleviated the general 

As the War shifted south, normal commercial activities in- 
creased and more vessels entered and sailed from Boston than 
from any other Massachusetts port. In fact, Boston became the 
point of departure for most of the Cape Cod ships, as well as 
those of Maine and of states as far to the south as Virginia. Yet 
as late as 1780 the town continued to feel the distress; there 
was nothing to export, import credit was strained, and prices 
were rising continually. While the cost of outfitting a priva- 
teer was great, the chances of success had become slight; 
strongly convoyed British craft could not easily be taken, and 
Boston losses were heavy. The British patrol on the Atlantic 
coast became increasingly efficient, and while food abounded 
in the Southern States, transportation to Boston was almost 
impossible. Local merchants were forced to keep their vessels 
abroad, where they harassed British commerce on the coasts 
of Spain, France, and England, and sent their prizes into 
friendly foreign ports. Thereupon, in the manner of men 
whose profit was gained from precarious adventure, officers 
and crews lingered, caroused, and squandered fortunes. An- 
ticipating the post-war depreciation of currency, others in- 
vested their privateering profits in real estate in France and 
Spain. One of the last exploits of Boston privateers occurred 
in the summer of 1783, when five Boston merchants joined in 
an expedition, attacked and took the little town of Lunen- 

Provincial Period, 1700-1783 65 

burg, Nova Scotia, and plundered its stores of foodstuffs. 
Goods to the amount of 8,000 were brought away and sold 
in Boston. 

The town had paid dearly for having commenced the Revo- 
lution. Pestilence, privation, and military occupation had re- 
duced her population. Trade, industry, and commerce had 
been destroyed. Privateering had succeeded only in establish- 
ing a class of nouveaux riches who, in the hungriest days of the 
war, conducted themselves with a degree of ostentation never 
before seen, while the destitute in the almshouses went with- 
out bread. Many years were to pass before the social, financial, 
and political components of sound commerce were to be bal- 



The Critical Period 

THE YEARS immediately following the cessation of hostilities, 
from 1783 to 1789, are rightly known in American history as 
the "critical period." Fundamental among the problems to be 
met was the inadequacy of the Articles of Confederation, 
which provided a loose political union with no federal control 
of customs. Offering a trade treaty to the British ministers, the 
Boston statesman, John Adams, was rebuked with the con- 
temptuous observation that 13 political groups, rather than 
one, must be dealt with, and that some States already had 
signed individual tariff agreements. Adams well knew that 
separate commercial treaties for the various States only added 
to the general confusion of trade in the United States, since im- 
ports forbidden in one w r ere frequently transshipped through 
a neighboring State as domestic articles. The new nation also 
felt the loss of the privileges and protection accorded to the 
commerce of British colonial possessions. Even France, willing 
enough to aid the Colonies in their struggle against her an- 
cient enemy, would not extend that friendship to a potential 
commercial rival. Another handicap to business in the United 
States was the lack of a sound national currency. Worthless 
paper bills had driven "hard" money into hiding, and Ameri- 
can credit abroad was at an end. 

Severely hit by the post-Revolutionary decline of American 
commerce, Massachusetts experienced a prolonged depression, 
and Boston suffered more than any other port on the Atlantic 
seaboard. Her merchants lost their valuable West Indian fish 
markets when a London Order in Council, on April 17, 1784, 
directed that the products of the West India Islands be carried 
to the United States only in British bottoms. As late as 1786, 
when the exports of Virginia had passed pre-war figures, 
Massachusetts had regained only one quarter of her earlier 
trade. Her lumber and wood products were unable to find a 
profitable market, and her ships had been eliminated from the 
international carrying trade. Even Nantucket whale oil could 


Between the Wars 67 

not be sold abroad, since England was determined to develop 
her own whaling industry. To offset shipping losses, the Gen- 
eral Court in 1784 imposed a duty on foreign manufactures. 
Two years later, the tariff was increased to 25 percent, and 
leather goods, foods, luxuries, and novelties were actually pro- 
hibited from entering the Commonwealth. 

With the advent of peace, a flood of foreign goods had 
poured into Boston. Ships flying the flags of Britain, France, 
the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden filled the harbor as 
European manufacturers eagerly sought to recapture the Bos- 
ton market. Once again English firms stationed agents in Bos- 
ton, and British merchantmen direct from London anchored 
in the Port. In 1783, from May to December, 28 French vessels 
and as many British docked at the local wharves, unloading 
cargoes valued at half a million dollars. Piece goods, hardware, 
Cheshire cheese, and assorted luxuries arrived from abroad in 
such large quantities that prices fell rapidly. Paul Revere, 
temporarily an importer, advertised on November 13, 1783, 
that he would "sell hardware and cutlery at a very low ad- 
vance for cash." 

The Boston traders found themselves hard pressed to match 
exports for imports. They had no furs or rum to exchange, 
and the long years of warfare had depleted their stock of flax, 
lumber, naval stores, and general provisions. Foreign manu- 
factures had to be paid for in specie, and its constant flow 
outwards depreciated the currency still further. Determined 
to relieve the Boston merchants, the General Court placed 
stricter limitations upon the movement of British shipping 
through the Port, and so effectually banned the carrying of 
Massachusetts products in British bottoms that during the 
summer of 1785 not a London merchantman dropped anchor 
in the harbor. In their domestic trade, Boston sea captains had 
suffered for several years from another handicap they lacked 
the essential West Indian sugar and molasses for exchange in 
the Southern States. Although the Dutch, Swedish, and Danish 
West Indies again became contraband centers for the British 
islands, Boston skippers managed to regain only a small part 
of their bartering trade in the field and forest produce of the 

A Federalist Seaport 

By 1788 the depression in Boston was breaking, and com- 
merce began to regain its vigor. Once more, as in pre- 

68 Boston Looks Seaward 

Revolutionary years, Boston sloops and fishing vessels, loaded 
with bricks, potatoes, rum, fish, butter, salt, molasses, wooden 
and earthen wares, and axes, set out for Chesapeake Bay, Al- 
bermarle and Pamlico Sounds, and Cape Fear, where they 
peddled and bartered for corn and tobacco. Boston sea cap- 
tains had learned to outwit the Barbary pirates, and bravely 
they sailed to Mediterranean ports. Competing successfully 
with the Dutch and the British, they recaptured a large part 
of the carrying trade from Lisbon. For the 12 months ending 
August 1788, the expanding overseas shipments from Boston 
included fish valued at 66,000; rum, 50,000; whale and cod 
oil, 34,000; pot and pearl ashes, 30,000; flour, 15,000; flax- 
seed, 10,000; and furs, 10,000. Boards and staves, candles, 
leather and shoes, tea, coffee, and molasses were other com- 
modities shipped in sizable quantities. Already on February 
28, 1788, the Independent Chronicle had announced that 
"subscriptions were filling up to build three ships," and urged 
the establishment of a Chamber of Commerce "for the purpose 
of promoting an extensive trade upon such principles as will 
lastingly cement the union of the whole confederacy." 

When the first Congress convened in July of 1789, customs 
regulations were immediately adopted to make Boston the 
leading port of the United States. Dictating the nation's finan- 
cial and foreign policies, local merchants saw to it that no 
other section of the country was as strongly favored as mari- 
time Massachusetts. American shipping was given a 10 per- 
cent reduction of duties on all imports, and vessels carrying tea 
direct from the Far East were obliged to pay only one-half the 
impost levied upon British merchantmen. Port charges for 
American ships were reduced to 6 cents a ton, payable once a 
year, while foreign-built and owned ships were required to 
pay 50 cents a ton at every port of entry. By an Act of July 31, 
establishing districts for the collection of import and tonnage 
duties, the Port of Boston was designated as one of 20 Massa- 
chusetts areas. 

Stimulated by legislative protection, Boston's commerce en- 
tered a period of vigorous expansion. Over a thousand local 
vessels, averaging less than 75 tons in burden, crowded the 
Atlantic coastal routes. Prosperity had also returned to the 
South, and Boston sloops again distributed imported goods 
along the coast, interchanged domestic products, and collected 
commodities for the overseas trade. From foreign shores the 
Port was visited in 1790 by 60 ships, 7 snows (modified brig- 

Between the Wars 69 

antines), 159 brigs, 170 schooners, and 59 sloops a total of 455 
vessels. An article in the Independent Chronicle on October 
27, 1791, boasted: "Upwards of 70 sail of vessels sailed from 
this port on Monday last for all parts of the world." Vessels 
calling at the Port in 1793 numbered 119 from the West In- 
dies, 1 1 from England, and 1 63 from other foreign lands, while 
during a single day a year later 450 craft of all types rode at 
anchor in the harbor. For the decade from 1790 to 1800 the 
annual arrivals from abroad averaged 569. 

When the wars engendered by the French Revolution be- 
gan in 1793, the French extended a boon of incalculable value 
to enterprising Bostonians. The National Convention promul- 
gated a decree granting American vessels the rights of French 
shipping. During the hectic years that followed, however, 
trade with France took on an uncertain aspect, for although 
provisions could be sold at profiteer rates, it became increas- 
ingly difficult to collect payment. The Jane of Boston, under 
Captain Elijah Cobb, was captured by a French frigate and 
brought into Brest early in 1794. Upon her release by order of 
the prize court, Captain Cobb sold his cargo of rice and flour 
at a profit of 200 percent, but to obtain his money had to go 
to Paris during the Terror and interview Robespierre. Due to 
the "paper" blockade of the British and French coasts, Euro- 
pean trade became very hazardous in 1798, when both warring 
nations seized Boston ships on the slightest pretext. While 
French vessels captured Boston vessels for carrying contra- 
band, British men-of-war claimed the right to search American 
ships for His Majesty's subjects. Impressment and seizure not- 
withstanding, the number of Boston vessels engaged in the re- 
shipment of goods to European countries and in the European 
carrying trade continued to increase. 

Wharves and Shipyards 

Despite the vicissitudes of war and peace, of depression and 
recovery, the appearance of the town had changed little since 
the early part of the century. As reconstructed by Samuel Eliot 
Morison in the Maritime History of Massachusetts, Boston in 

seemed "almost to stand in the water, at least to be surrounded by it, 
and the shipping, with the houses, trees, and churches, have a charming 
effect." Beacon Hill, a three-peaked grassy slope, still innocent of the 
gilded dome, dominated the town. From its base a maze of narrow streets 
paved with beach stones, wound their way seaward among ancient dwell- 
ings; dividing around Copp's and Fort Hills to meet again by the water's 

70 Boston Looks Seaward 

edge. One of them, to be sure, led to "landward to the west," but at spring 
tides even that, too, went "downward to the sea." Buildings crowded out 
to the very capsills of the wharves, which poked boldly into deep water. 
The uniform mass of slate and mossy shingle roofs pointed, hipped, and 
gambreled, was broken by a few graceful church spires, serene elders of 
the masts that huddled about the wharves. 

In November of 1794, Thomas Pemberton noted that at 
Long Wharf "vessels of all burdens load and unload; and the 
London ships generally discharge their cargoes. It is the gen- 
eral resort of all the inhabitants, and is more frequented, we 
think, than any other part of the town." He added that "the 
harbour of Boston is at this date crowded with vessels. Eighty- 
four sail have been counted lying at two of the wharves only." 
Congress took further cognizance of the importance of the 
Port in 1797 by appropriating $1,600 for buoys to be placed 
in and near Boston Harbor. Within a decade the total mer- 
chant shipping of Massachusetts had tripled, and the Boston 
fleet, second only to New York City, had grown to three times 
that of Salem. Affiliated maritime enterprises were carried on 
in the new seven-story Exchange Coffee-House, and at the 
novel India Wharf structure of stores, counting-rooms, and 
warehouses. Designed by Charles Bulfinch, the famous Boston 
architect, India Wharf was considered the foremost waterfront 
development in the United States. Before the close of the 
century, a semaphore telegraph system with semaphore sta- 
tions at Woods Hole, Edgartown, Sandwich, Plymouth, Marsh- 
field, Scituate, and Hull was bringing Boston shipowners news 
of the passage of their vessels through Nantucket Sound. 

Boston and Charlestown shipyards hummed with the repair 
of vessels and the construction of naval craft. Rotted planks 
were removed, bottoms were caulked, and decks were scraped 
and painted. In 1794 the keel of the renowned Constitution 
was laid in Edmund Hartt's yard, near the present site of Con- 
stitution Wharf. Nicknamed "Old Ironsides" because of the 
exceptionally heavy timbers in her frame, the Constitution's 
lower beams were of white oak, the floor under her guns of 
solid oak, and the deck of selected Carolina pitch pine. Paul 
Revere furnished the copper for her hull, and her spikes were 
forged by a secret process. The only place in Boston large 
enough to make her sails was the Old Granary Building at the 
corner of Tremont and Park Streets, where the Park Street 
Church now stands. After two unsuccessful attempts at launch- 
ing, the frigate was finally christened on October 21, 1797, 
and in 9 months was made ready for her maiden voyage. Two 

Between the Wars 71 

years later President John Adams watched the 28-gun frigate 
Boston slide down the ways of Hartt's yard, and then on be- 
half of the Federal Government graciously accepted this gift 
from the citizens of Boston for the defense of American ship- 
ping on the high seas. The vessel so pleased the Boston mer- 
chants that they rewarded Mr. Hartt with an inscribed silver 
service, and the Columbian Centinel boldly asserted that "a 
more excellent piece of naval architecture cannot be produced 
in the United States." 

After investigating the entire New England coastline, the 
Federal Navy Department in 1797 established a Government 
shipyard at Charlestown. The choice of the location received 
widespread approval, since the Port of Boston, so it was main- 
tained, could never be effectively blockaded. A site of 43 acres, 
"little more than an unpromising mud flat," was purchased at 
a cost of $39,214. Appointed naval constructor at the Yard, 
Josiah Barker held this post for 34 years, and trained several 
young men who later became prominent shipbuilders. One of 
his pupils, Thatcher Magoun, was to achieve a reputation as a 
leading American ship designer. Commodore Samuel Nichol- 
son served as the first commandant of the Navy Yard, but his 
administration of 11 years was marked by few improvements. 
When Commodore William Bainbridge took charge in the 
spring of 1812, "the Yard possessed hardly a convenience for 
building or repairing vessels, or laying them up in ordinary." 
The new commandant succeeded in obtaining large sums of 
money, principally for the repair of vessels during the War of 
1812. These repairs were usually done at daily wages of $4 for 
master carpenters, $1.50 for sawyers, $1.25 for joiners, and $1 
for laborers. The working day began at sunrise and ended at 

The booming Federalist era saw banks and insurance offices 
spring up on State Street. Although insurance on Boston ves- 
sels had been underwritten locally since early shipping days, it 
was a marked advance in the field when three marine insur- 
ance companies were officially incorporated in Boston. Be- 
tween 1799 and 1805 Peter C. Brooks, great-uncle of the cru- 
sading Phillips Brooks, amassed a huge fortune in this shrewd 
business of weighing chances of success against failure. From 
September to December 1796, the insurance rates from Boston 
to other United States ports ranged from ii/ 2 to 2 percent, to 
any European port from 214 to 3 percent, to Baltic and Medi- 
terranean ports from 3 to %i/ 2 percent, to Mauritius from 5 to 

72 Boston Looks Seaward 

6 percent, to China out and back from 10 to 12 percent. Two 
months later, due to French spoliations, all insurance rates 
from Boston had practically doubled. 

Distress in the West Indies 

The flood tide of commerce again carried a goodly half of 
Boston's vessels to the "Sugar Islands" during some stage of 
each voyage. Swiftly taking advantage of a legal loophole 
which permitted West Indian governors to suspend the em- 
bargo on American ships in cases of emergency or disaster, 
Yankee sloops began grounding on reefs and unloading car- 
goes before becoming sufficiently light to float off. Strict en- 
forcement of the ban on Boston vessels had proved a costly 
affair to the British islanders. After 15,000 slaves had died from 
starvation, pressure from the planters became so strong that 
governors found it convenient to see almost constant "distress" 
in the islands. A disabled ship could not be refused admit- 
tance, and emergencies and disasters grew to epidemic propor- 
tions. By similar connivance of His Majesty's northern sub- 
jects, Boston vessels suddenly took on a "British" character 
in Nova Scotia. Even the Spanish ports of Trinidad and 
Havana served as smuggling centers for the British islands, 
which remained officially closed to American ships until 1830. 

The opening of the French West Indies in 1783 brought 
great joy to Boston, even though trade was limited to the 
export of certain enumerated articles and the import of rum 
and molasses. The slanting sails of many newly rigged Boston 
ships dotted the ocean pathway to the Indies, crowding the 
harbors of Guadeloupe and Martinique. The trade was unin- 
terrupted until October 1793, when England, which had that 
year declared war on France, ordered the seizure of any ship 
bearing the produce of a French colony or carrying provisions 
to such a colony. During the next 3 months, the English seized 
250 American vessels and condemned 150 of them. In January 
1794, the British Government exempted the American trade 
with the French West Indies from the prohibitory order of 
October, and Boston ships again took up the profitable trade. 
The conclusion of Jay's Treaty between the United States and 
Great Britain the same year, settling the differences arising 
from nonobservance of the peace of 1783, caused the French 
to regard the United States as unfriendly and to take retalia- 
tory measures, declaring any American vessel submitting to 
search by English men-of-war subject to capture. This action 

Between the Wars 73 

led to an undeclared naval war between the United States and 
France which lasted until 1800 and resulted in the capture of 
84 French ships. 

Baltic and Mediterranean Routes 

Hampered by trade restrictions in the West Indies, harassed 
by French and British cruisers, Boston shipowners turned to 
new and safer markets. In the spring of 1784, the Light Horse 
had already carried a cargo of West Indian sugar from Salem 
to Kronstadt, the port of St. Petersburg, and shortly afterward 
George Cabot of Beverly had opened trade with Russia by dis- 
patching his ships the Bucanier and the Commerce. In 1786 
and 1787, two vessels brought cargoes of hemp, iron and duck 
linen to Boston from St. Petersburg. By 1788 the Astrea, owned 
by "King" Derby and captained by James Magee, with his 
brother-in-law Thomas Handasyd Perkins as supercargo, was 
disposing of New England rum, Virginia flour, tobacco, im- 
ported tea and coffee at the Baltic ports of Gothenburg and 
Kronstadt. A decade later, more than 50 Massachusetts and 
New York vessels were sailing to northern European waters, 
and by 1799 they were transporting cargoes valued at more 
than a million dollars. Although the bulk of the new Baltic 
trade was carried in Massachusetts bottoms, not until after 
1802 did Boston merchants wrest the lead from Salem. 

William Gray became the principal American engaged in 
the Russian trade. Making Boston the center of his activities, 
he reshipped Russian duck, sheeting, cordage, and iron to 
Philadelphia, Charleston, and New Orleans. In southern ports, 
ships of his fleet took on tobacco, sugar, and cotton for the 
Baltic market. Other Gray vessels carried lumber and coffee 
direct from Boston to Algiers, thence going dead freight to 
Gallipolis, where olive oil was loaded for ports in the south 
of Russia. Boston vessels also arrived at Baltic seaports by way 
of Lisbon, Cadiz, the West Indies, Amsterdam, and Bremen, 
bringing pepper, sugar, fruits, coffee, tea, rum, wine, cotton, 
indigo, and tobacco. The imports from Russia contributed 
significantly to Massachusetts preeminence in shipbuilding 
during the first half of the nineteenth century; hemp, cordage, 
and duck were used in the manufacture of sailcloth, and the 
iron was turned into nails, anchors, and ship fittings. The 
iron plates and anchors, in particular, were utilized extensively 
until the Civil War, when they were replaced by superior 
products from the mines of Pennsylvania. 

74 Boston Looks Seaward 

By 1806 the trade with Russia had become so important 
that George Cabot wrote to a London friend: 

In our trade with Spain and the south of Europe, we sell much more 
than we buy. There is a loss often by the ships returning dead freighted. 
There is also a loss on the balance of this trade, which must be received 
in money or bills which are ordinarily of a correspondent value. Thus, 
when money cannot be extracted from Spain without a loss of five percent 
. . . there will be a loss of about five percent on bills. ... In Russia, 
we sell little or nothing, and buy to a great amount. We go there dead 
freighted, and pay all in cash or rather in bills on London, better to us 
than money, having cost us a considerable premium in Spain or else- 
where; yet who, among those that think no trade so important to the 
buyer as to the seller, will dare to deny that the trade with Russia since 
1783 has been for its amount the most useful trade to the country? 

The hemp, iron, and duck brought from Russia have been to our 
fisheries and navigation like seed to a crop. Had it so happened that the 
trade of Spain and Russia were united, the time and expenses of a middle 
passage and other losses would have been avoided. 

When the ports of Western Europe were closed to neutral 
shipping by orders of Napoleon in 1806, Boston's commerce 
with Russia yielded fabulous profits. In 1809 the 28i-ton Bos- 
ton ship Catherine, worth only $7,000, was said to have cleared 
$115,000 in a single voyage. During the winter of 1810-11, 
scores of Boston shipmasters swarmed about Riga and Kron- 
stadt; of the 200 American ships trading in Baltic waters, over 
one-half hailed from Boston and nearby ports. Yankee skippers 
took part in the gay social life of the Russian nobility, at- 
tended sumptuous dinners, brilliant balls, sleigh rides, and 
skating carnivals. A number of Boston traders, however, at 
first shrank from such high living and, partly to escape the 
Danish privateers which were then seizing American ships, 
they sailed all the way round Norway to Archangel, whence 
their goods were carried fully a thousand miles overland to 
Moscow. But, according to Morison, few made a second trip 
to Archangel, since their Russian customers expected them to 
stay up and drink vodka throughout the bright summer nights. 

Though at no time did Boston's eastern Mediterranean 
trade reach such spectacular heights as her Baltic traffic, the 
results were profitable and gave Boston contacts with a large 
number of ports. Usually, salt fish and sugar were sold in 
Spanish and Italian ports, and the cargo was replaced by cheap 
European goods, which commanded a high price in the Near 
East. In order to purchase Turkish opium for the Canton 
market in 1795, the Perkins Company of Boston established a 
residential agent at the busy port of Smyrna, on the Levantine 
coast of Asia Minor. For a number of years, Ebenezer Parsons 

Between the Wars 75 

of Boston brought coffee to Smyrna from Mocha on the Red 
Sea. After sailing around Africa, he disposed of his cargo for 
three or four times the price he had originally paid. Most 
Boston vessels obtained Mediterranean produce for distribu- 
tion in the United States by the transfer of domestic cargoes 
at Gibraltar and Fayal. Their return ladings comprised 
oranges and lemons, figs and currants, nuts and raisins, wine 
and olive oil, corkwood and wool, and Oriental cloths and 

Round the World 

A bold aggressiveness carried Boston skippers into strange 
waters. With characteristic Yankee acumen, Captain Hallet in 
1783 had been sent from Boston to China in the 55-ton sloop 
Harriet with a cargo of ginseng, believed by the Chinese to 
possess miraculous healing powers and to be capable of re- 
storing virility to the aged and the infirm. Although inferior 
in quality to the plant raised in China, the ginseng growing 
wild in New England commanded a high price at Canton. 
When Captain Hallet put in at the Cape of Good Hope, he 
fell in with some British East Indiamen who, alarmed at pos- 
sible future competition, bought the Harriet's cargo for double 
its weight in Hyson tea. In July of 1784, an advertisement in 
the Boston papers announced that "fresh teas taken out of an 
Indiaman, and brought by Captain Hallet from the Cape of 
Good Hope," were to be had at the Dock Square store of 
Penuel Bowen. Hallet had made a good bargain, but thereby 
lost to a New York ship the honor of hoisting the first Ameri- 
can ensign at Canton. 

The Boston merchants inaugurated and dominated a com- 
merce which carried hardy young Yankees in fragile barks 
around the Horn to the Northwest Coast, where the Indians 
were given cheap New England manufactures in return for 
valuable furs. From there the course was set to Canton, where 
the pelts were exchanged for the treasures of the Orient. The 
publication in 1783 of the journals of John Ledyard, a trav- 
eler who accompanied the great navigator, Captain Cook, had 
called the attention of the commercial world to the immense 
number of sea-otter found on the northwest coast of America. 
Ledyard advocated the opening of a fur trade between that 
region and China but he failed to convince New York mer- 
chants of the advantages of such an enterprise. Possibly local 
traders had learned from a young Bostonian, Samuel Shaw, 

76 Boston Looks Seaward 

who had sailed as supercargo on the Empress of China of New 
York, the first American ship to reach Canton, that several 
English vessels already had sold Alaskan sea-otter furs for 
amazingly high prices at that port. Before his return to Canton 
to establish the first American commission house there, and 
full of enthusiasm about the China trade, Shaw proposed that 
the merchants of Boston equip a ship to compete with the 
British and Dutch traders. Favorably impressed, Charles Bui- 
finch, John Derby, John Martin Pintard, Joseph Barrell, Sam- 
uel Brown, and Crowell Hatch raised $50,000, and assembled 
a crew which included "an expert furrier, a surgeon, and an 

Two ships were fitted out, the 83-foot Columbia of 212 tons 
and the Lady Washington of 90 tons. Captain John Kendrick 
was placed in charge of the expedition, and Captain Robert 
Gray commanded the accompanying sloop. The vessels left 
Boston for the Northwest Coast on September 30, 1787, and 
doubled treacherous Cape Horn the following April. En- 
countering severe gales enroute, the two ships became sep- 
arated. Eleven months out of Boston, the Lady Washington 
entered the still waters of Nootka Sound on the Northwest 
Coast. There the adventures of her crew demonstrated the wis- 
dom of heavily arming the trader and choosing a former priva- 
teersman as commander. After a shore party had been am- 
bushed by Indians and one of the seamen had been killed, the 
scene of the attack was named Murderer's Harbor. The Colum- 
bia finally joined the other ship; her crew was so stricken with 
scurvy that the sailors of the Lady Washington had to aid in 
hauling down sails and dropping anchor. Since it was too late 
to attempt any trading, the winter was passed in Friendly 
Cove on Vancouver Island, where the seamen lived ashore in 
log huts. They occupied themselves with fashioning rough 
chisels, which the natives had been reported as willing to 
trade for furs. When spring came, a large cargo of pelts was 
collected in exchange for copper, iron pots, pans, and trinkets. 
A few shiny nails or several chisels often obtained from the 
Indians a prime sea-otter skin which later sold for $30 in the 
China market. Running short of provisions, Captain Kendrick 
decided to remain behind in the sloop and dispatch the 
Columbia under Captain Gray. 

The Columbia set sail for Canton on July 30, 1789. Stop- 
ping for provisions at Hawaii the first American vessel re- 
corded as calling there Captain Gray took on a young native 

Between the Wars 77 

named Attoo as cabin boy. After many weeks, the vessel finally 
arrived at Canton, where the furs were readily exchanged for 
tea. The following February the Columbia weighed anchor 
and hoisted sails, maintaining a westward course. After an ab- 
sence of nearly 3 years, having navigated 42,000 miles by her 
log, the Columbia entered Boston Harbor on August 10, 1790 
the first American vessel to circumnavigate the globe. Her 
return called forth fervent enthusiasm; salvos of artillery were 
fired, and "a great concourse of citizens assembled on the 
various wharfs . . . with three huzzas and a hearty welcome." 
A rumor spread throughout the crowds that a native "Ouyhee" 
was on board, and 

before the day was out, curious Boston was gratified with a sight of 
him, marching after Captain Gray to call on Governor Hancock. Clad 
in feather cloak of golden suns set in flaming scarlet, that came halfway 
down his brown legs; crested with a gorgeous feather helmet shaped like 
a Greek warrior's, this young Hawaiian moved up State Street like a 
living flame. 

That evening the weather-bronzed faces of the captain and 
crew surrounded a festive table provided by the Governor in 
honor of the signal achievement of Boston's own seamen, and 
later Congress struck off a medal in commemoration of their 
remarkable voyage. 

The China Trade 

Although the Columbia's first trip, like most pioneering ven- 
tures, proved a financial failure, four of her sponsors showed 
their continued faith in the enterprise by preparing the ves- 
sel at once for another voyage. On September 28, seven weeks 
after arriving home, Captain Gray sailed again for the North- 
west Coast. Meeting this time with more favorable weather 
rounding Cape Horn, the Columbia rejoined her consort in 
9 months, the Lady Washington having in the interim re- 
turned from a trip to China. During the tense trading season 
which followed, the two vessels were often attacked by hostile 
natives, and four men, including Captain Kendrick's son, were 
slain. On this second trip, Captain Gray discovered a great 
river, which he named Columbia after his sturdy ship. Loaded 
with valuable pelts, Gray proceeded to Canton, disposed of 
his skins for a mixed cargo of chinaware, sugar, curios, and tea, 
and returned to Boston on July 29, 1793. To find something 
salable at Canton was the riddle of the China trade, and the 
Columbia had solved this problem with the beautiful black 

78 Boston Looks Seaward 

fur of the sea-otter, which was plentiful on the northwest 
coast of America and in great demand at Canton. 

Even before the Columbia had returned from her first voy- 
age, the Boston vessel Massachusetts had started on the direct 
route around the Cape of Good Hope to India and China. 
Modeled after a British East Indiaman, the 8oo-ton Massachu- 
setts was armed with 20 guns and measured 116 feet in length. 
Since this merchantman was the largest yet built on this con- 
tinent, her venture excited great interest in Boston. When the 
ship set sail from Hancock's Wharf at 4 o'clock on Sunday 
afternoon, March 28, 1790, vantage points nearby were 
crowded with spectators. As she made way down the harbor, 
her anchor snapped a hook on the catblock and returned to 
the bottom. After a few embarrassing moments, the ship's of- 
ficers managed to continue on a voyage which was to prove a 
series of misadventures. Sailing eastward for a month, the 
Massachusetts reached the coast of Guinea without mishap, 
and then pursued a southerly course along the African shores. 
Curiously enough, the vessel carried no chronometer, and 
none of her officers, including Captain Job Prince, could make 
a lunar observation. The discolored waters off the coast of 
Barbary and Guinea were often used as guide-marks by mari- 
ners, but, despite this substitute for nautical instruments, the 
officers of the Massachusetts found themselves so far off the 
course that the ship nearly ran aground on the barren shores 
of South Africa. An uneventful passage across the Indian 
Ocean was broken only by the cry of "Man overboard 1" when 
three seamen were catapulted into the water by a freak acci- 
dent, and one of the unlucky trio drowned. Another miscal- 
culation in the sighting of Java Head compelled the Massa- 
chusetts to make 15 degrees extra "easting" and lose 3 weeks' 
time. Dropping anchor at Pigeon Island a month later, a sec- 
ond fatal accident occurred when a midshipman, handling the 
mainsail aloft, lost his hold and went tumbling to his death on 
the deck below. The Massachusetts finally moored at the 
Dutch island of Batavia, where her cargo had been scheduled 
to be exchanged for goods salable at Canton, but the authori- 
ties only permitted her to take on water and provisions. 

When the Massachusetts arrived off Canton, at the Wham- 
poa River anchorage, on the tenth of October, her frame and 
planking, injudiciously constructed of green wood, were found 
to be rotting away. Moreover, because of poor judgment in 
stowing the holds, the cargo had spoiled beyond salvage. Green 

Between the Wars 79 

masts and spars covered with ice and mud had been placed 
with 400 to 500 barrels of beef in broken stowage, the deck 
hatches then hermetically sealed by caulking. When the holds 
were opened, after a passage under blazing tropical skies, the 
beef was found to be almost boiled, the hoops on the masts 
rotted and fallen off, and the interior of the vessel covered 
with a blue mold more than half an inch thick. Despite her 
decayed green timbers, the Massachusetts was greatly admired 
by Cantonese shipmasters and was bought by the Portuguese 
Government for $65,000. This unsuccessful venture only stif- 
fened the determination of Boston merchants to develop the 
Northwest fur trade route to China. 

Ushered in by these notable voyages, the Pacific trade from 
the Port of Boston rapidly increased. Early in 1790, the 7o-ton 
brigantine Hope, followed in November by the 1 57-ton brig- 
antine Hancock, left Boston for China via the Northwest 
Coast. A few months later the i5o-ton copper-bottomed Mar- 
garet, commanded by the veteran James Magee, set sail for the 
same region on a "voyage of observation and enterprise." De- 
scribed as "the best provided of any that ever sailed from this 
port," the ship's crew managed to collect during a single trad- 
ing season 1500 sea-otter furs, which sold at Canton for as high 
as $40 apiece. So many Boston traders appeared on the North- 
west Coast that the fur-trapping Indians named all Americans 
"Boston men." From 1790 to 1818, 108 vessels from the United 
States, as compared with 22 from England, reached the North- 
west, and a list giving the names of 63 of these ships reveals 
that 53 came from Boston. The cargoes of 12 vessels clearing 
Boston for the Northwest between 1797 and 1800 were in- 
voiced at between $7,500 and $19,700 each. 

In A Narrative of Voyages and Commercial Enterprises, 
published in 1842, Captain Richard J. Cleveland mentioned 
four Boston sloops he had seen on the Northwest Coast dur- 
ing the season of 1799, and added that 10 more were due from 
Boston. Of 16 vessels trading on the Northwest Coast in 1801, 

10 were Boston ships. All sea-otter skins imported at Canton 
from June 1800 to April 1801, were brought by Boston 
Nor'westmen; 14 Boston vessels entered Canton in 1802, and 

11 in 1803. During these 3 years over 34,000 skins, worth about 
$20 each, were shipped to China, and of this number almost 
nine-tenths arrived in Boston ships. 

There is a dramatic story of the maritime trade between 
Boston and ancient China in every voyage via the savage 

80 Boston Looks Seaward 

northwest coast of North America and the romantic islands of 
the Pacific. It was customary to clear Boston in the autumn in 
order to round Cape Horn during the Antarctic summer. 
"The passage around Cape Horn from the Eastward I posi- 
tively assert, is the most dangerous, most difficult, and attended 
with more hardships, than that of the same distance in any 
other part of the world," wrote Captain Porter of the frigate 
Essex. Although many a great ship met its doom off the Horn, 
not one of Boston's Nor'westmen, so far as is known, failed to 
round with safety. To stock fresh provisions and thus prevent 
scurvy, the Nor 'west traders interrupted their voyage twice and 
sometimes three times, at the Cape Verde Islands, the Falk- 
lands, the Galapagos, or Hawaii. They usually arrived on the 
Northwest Coast the following summer, anchored off the near- 
est Indian village, and bartered as long as they could. Putting 
in at every Indian village, Boston traders were accustomed to 
spend one or two seasons on the coast, sometimes even 2 years. 
Often a trading vessel lost several of its crew in battles with 
the Indians, and rocky coasts, fast tides, heavy fogs, and long 
calms added to the hazards of a voyage. The insurance rate for 
the Northwestern trade was 17 percent covering risk "against 
the Natives as well on shore as on board." 

Every Boston Nor'westman carried certain staples: cutlery, 
ironware, tin, chisels, knives, nails, clothing, blankets, beads, 
molasses, sugar, rum, and muskets. But the Indians often 
proved fickle; sometimes they scorned blue cloth, demanding 
only red, or insisted upon greatcoats at a rate of exchange that 
made trading impossible. On the other hand, the very next 
village might be willing almost to give furs away. At one place, 
green glass beads were so coveted that the Boston traders of- 
fered only two for a skin, while on another occasion 60 skins 
were traded for a moderate quantity of spikes. When Joseph 
Ingraham arrived off Queen Charlotte Island on the Hope 
from Boston, he noticed that all the Indians were wearing 
jackets and trousers. His cloth could not be traded until he 
hit upon the brilliant idea of sewing on brass buttons. To add 
to the fantasy, Ingraham ordered the ship's armorer to make 
iron collars, and so established a vogue that became popular 
on the Coast. He sold these collars for three skins apiece. When 
the Boston ship Jefferson anchored off the Alaskan coast with 
virtually nothing to offer the natives in return for their cache 
of some 800 sea-otter skins, the crew used their wits. Every- 
thing loose or not absolutely essential to the voyage was trans- 

Between the Wars 81 

formed into trading material. A Japanese flag and the cabin 
mirror were articles the seamen could do without. The ship's 
carpenter was put to work making rough boxes, which passed 
with the natives as trunks. To the delight of the local women, 
old sails were fashioned into garments, and unsalable bar iron 
was hammered into bangles. The Yankees were so busy trading 
that they forgot to celebrate the Fourth of July. Only the 
arrival of the bark Phoenix, of Bengal with more acceptable 
articles put an end to the flurry. 

As the profitable Northwest fur trade attracted more ships, 
operations spread southward. In violation of Spanish regula- 
tions, Boston skippers seized opportunities for contraband 
trading along the South American and California coasts. Cap- 
tain Ebenezer Dorr, Jr., sailed the first American vessel into 
California waters in 1796, when he anchored the Boston ship 
Otter at Monterey. Four years later Charles Winship, captain 
of the Boston brigantine Betsy, defied the Spanish officials by 
dealing directly with the Indians. A novel scheme first carried 
out by Captain Joseph O'Cain of Boston was an agree- 
ment with the Russian authorities at New Archangel (Sitka) 
whereby he borrowed 75 canoes and 120 Indians. O'Cain trans- 
ported these Indians to the California coast, put them off his 
vessel in their canoes to hunt sea-otter, and in a single season 
filled all his holds. 

Pioneering in the Pacific 

Most of the present insular possessions of the United States 
in the Pacific were visited by Boston Nor'westmen before 
1800. Captain Ingraham in the Hope had touched the Mar- 
quesas as early as 1791 and named two of the islands Washing- 
ton and Adams; 12 years later Amasa Delano, the Boston skip- 
per from Duxbury, called at the Wake Islands. The Sandwich 
Islands became an ideal stopping place, where the natives sup- 
plied hogs, yams, and green vegetables for the long voyage to 
Canton. The Columbia touched at these islands on her first 
and second voyages, and the Hope called there in May 1792. 

For South Sea trading, every Nor'westman carried an assort- 
ment of whale's teeth, glass bottles, calico, needles, and look- 
ing-glasses the last having an invariable appeal to the natives. 
The South Sea Islands were searched for products to bring to 
the China market; they yielded tortoise-shell, mother-of-pearl, 
edible bird's nests, shark's fins, and beche de mer, a slimy sea 
slug prized by the Chinese for soup. Sandalwood was con- 

82 Boston Looks Seaward 

tracted for at Hawaii, where Captain Kendrick had discovered 
it growing wild on the island of Kanai. Kendrick's keen eye 
did not even overlook the beeswax that had drifted ashore. 

The Boston sea captains in the South Sea Islands acquired a 
reputation as bold traders. They were willing to buy or sell 
anything, even as the Jefferson had proved their ship's 
equipment. Often a Boston trader would ceremoniously make 
an agreement with a Fiji chief, who promised to sell all native 
articles only to him. Captain Reuben Brumely signed a treaty 
with a native chief, whereby sandalwood was to be sawed in 
lengths and the bark shaved off at a cost of about one cent a 
pound; he sold the wood at Canton for 34 cents a pound. King 
Kamehameha I of Hawaii repudiated a contract with the Win- 
ship Brothers of Boston for all the sandalwood grown in his 
territories; he termed the knives, hatchets, and nails inade- 
quate. When Captain Richard J. Cleveland of Boston gave 
the King a horse, Kamehameha was skeptical; he could not 
see that a horse's ability to transport a person faster than he 
could walk was sufficient compensation for all the food that 
the animal would eat. 

Crossing the vast Pacific without charts or proper nautical 
instruments, Boston vessels made their way up the China coast 
in the autumn, approaching Canton from the south. After ob- 
taining a "chop" (official permit) at Macao, their ships were 
again examined at the mouth of the River Pearl before per- 
mission was granted to proceed to Canton. At first the Chinese 
experienced difficulty in distinguishing the Bostonians from 
the British, but later named them the "New People." The 
"Hong" merchants trafficked in Bohea, Souchong, and Hyson 
tea; they sold the finest silk, and exchanged their nankeens, 
crepes, and chinaware for furs and ginseng. The lading com- 
pleted during the winter months, Boston vessels were carried 
by the monsoon down the China Sea. Off the coast of Borneo 
there were dangerous shoals, reefs, floating islands, baffling 
currents, and treacherous winds. Often the vessels stopped for 
fresh food and water at Java. If a Nor'westman were becalmed, 
or ran on a reef in the Strait of Sunda, between Sumatra and 
Java, native pirates would suddenly appear ready to plunder 
the cargo and massacre the crew. Safely beyond these straits, 
the Nor'westmen caught a southeast wind across the Indian 
Ocean to the Cape of Good Hope, from which they headed 
directly toward Cape Cod. The passage from Canton to Boston 
usually required 6 months. 

Between the Wars 83 

This commerce from Boston to the Orient did not fit into a 
stereotyped pattern; rather, the Boston shipowner followed 
the fortunes of trade as an adventurer would follow the for- 
tunes of war. If a captain were unable to purchase a sizable 
cargo at Canton, he could always carry merchandise for an 
agent, or he might increase his profits by freighting goods to 
Ceylon and Calcutta. Then he could either return to Canton 
for more goods or stop at Mauritius to complete his cargo. 

When vast herds of fur seals were discovered on the barren 
wastes of Patagonia and along the Chilean coast, a new varia- 
tion in the China trade developed. As early as 1783, Lady 
Haley, an Englishwoman living in Boston and sister to the 
political reformer John Wilkes, had dispatched her ship States 
to the Falkland Islands in search of sealskins and sea-elephant 
oil. After uninterrupted days of chasing and clubbing seals, 
the crew collected 13,000 skins. When the pelts were brought 
to New York City, they fetched only 50 cents apiece. In the 
hope of obtaining a higher price, these furs were shipped to 
the Orient, where the Chinese merchants eagerly offered $5 
a skin. Three and one-half million seal pelts were brought to 
Canton between 1783 and 1807. The search for seals led the 
Boston sea captain, Mayhew Folger, on the ship Topaz, to Pit- 
cairn Island in 1808. Instead of finding seals, he was met by a 
canoe filled with natives who spoke perfectly good English. 
When they came aboard, Folger learned that there were de- 
scendants of the mutineers of H.M.S. Bounty. Their story was 
so amazing that Captain Folger later communicated it to the 
British Admiralty. 

Boston's Nor'westmen 

One of the most courageous Nor'westmen of the age was 
Captain William ("Bill") Sturgis. Coming from Barnstable in 
1796, he had entered the Boston counting-house of his wealthy 
relative, Thomas Handasyd Perkins. At the age of 16, the 
youth sailed to the Northwest Coast and China as foremast 
hand on the Perkins' ship Eliza, then served as chief mate on 
the Ulysses, returning to Boston 5 years later as master of the 
Caroline. Noticing in 1802 that the Indians used ermine pelts 
for currency, Sturgis purchased 5,000 of them at the Leipzig 
Fair and brought them to the Coast. There he traded one er- 
mine for one sea-otter skin, until the Indians obtained so many 
they lost their value as currency. Making his third voyage to 
Canton in command of Theodore Lyman's veteran ship Ata- 

84 Boston Looks Seaward 

hualpa, with $300,000 in specie on board, Sturgis was attacked 
at the mouth of the Canton River by Apootsae, a notorious 
Chinese pirate. As the junks approached, Captain Sturgis or- 
dered a shot across their bows "just to show how soon it will 
bring them about on the other tack." But the warning went 
unheeded, and the marauders continued their advance. The 
resolute captain, noted for his bushy eyebrows and fierce ex- 
pression, lit a cigar and ordered a keg of powder brought to 

Knowing the terrible cruelty of these pirates, Sturgis de- 
clared he would blow up the ship rather than surrender. Every- 
one on board believed he meant it and put up a fearful battle. 
Several small cannon, which Sturgis had taken on board in 
violation of Mr. Lyman's express orders, as well as boarding 
pikes, Brown Bess muskets, and horse pistols, were used effec- 
tively. The captain's cousin, James Perkins Sturgis, a passenger 
on the Atahualpa, and "yellow as a cornflower" from jaundice, 
was restored to his normal complexion by the fright of the 
battle. While the Chinese pirates, to the accompaniment of a 
terrific banging of gongs and the howls of their wounded, 
hurled hand grenades whose sulphurous powders caused them 
to be dubbed "stink pots," Captain Sturgis skillfully maneu- 
vered the Atahualpa within range of the Macao forts, which 
poured their shot down on the pirates, and put them com- 
pletely to rout. Sturgis was a hero in the eyes of the Chinese, 
and the mandarin ordered the pirate leader Apootsae killed 
by the torture of the "thousand cuts." 

William Sturgis became a leading citizen of Boston. At the 
age of 28 in 1810, he organized the firm of Bryant & Sturgis, 
which for the next 30 years controlled more than half the 
Pacific trade of the United States. "Next to a beautiful woman 
and a lovely infant," Captain Sturgis once remarked, "a prime 
sea-otter fur is the finest natural object in the world." When 
he occupied a seat in the Massachusetts General Court, one of 
the professional orators of that body declaimed a long Greek 
quotation, to which the Captain replied in one of the Indian 
dialects of the Northwest Coast. When his nephew, Robert 
Bennet Forbes, went to sea at the age of 12, he boldly ad- 
monished the boy to "always go straight forward, and if you 
meet the devil cut him in two, and go between the pieces; if 
anyone imposes on you, tell him to whistle against the north- 
wester and to bottle up moonshine." 

Another gallant Nor'westman was Captain John Suter. 

Between the Wars 85 

After privateering against the French, imprisonment in a Brest 
dungeon, and impressment by the British, he shipped from 
Boston at the age of 19 on the Alert, bound for the Northwest 
and Canton. Promoted to master of the Pearl, with a cargo and 
outfit not exceeding $40,000, he sailed again for Canton. In 
spite of difficulties with the Indians, Captain Suter managed 
to collect enough furs and sandalwood to purchase $156,743 
worth of merchandise at Canton. His return cargo consisted 
of 50 blue and white chinaware sets of 172 pieces each, 480 
tea sets of 49 pieces each, 30 boxes of enameled cups and 
saucers, 200 chests of Souchong tea, 395 chests of Hyson tea, 
400 chests of other teas, cassia oil, 191,000 pieces of nankeens, 
92 cases of silk, and sundries. When the cargo was sold at 
auction in Boston in 1810, the net profit from the voyage 
amounted to $206,000. 

John Suter, like other New England sea captains of his 
time, was a deeply religious man. Following a regular routine, 
he read chapters of the Bible to his crew. This daily habit was 
a great source of amusement to one member of the ship's com- 
pany, who delighted in setting back the marker until the day 
when Captain Suter remarked that he seemed to be running 
into headwinds through the Book of Daniel. Captain Suter 
proved an able successor to Sturgis as commander of the Ata- 
hualpa. Offered a "primage" of 10 per cent, with the usual 
"privilege" and salary, and a sixteenth share in the ship and 
cargo, Suter returned to the Northwest. While the vessel was 
carrying on a brisk trade with the Indians, a native chief came 
on board, presumably to barter. But no sooner had he set foot 
on deck than a flotilla of dugouts, containing 2,000 warriors, 
rushed out and surrounded the ship, prepared to massacre 
Suter and his men. Instantly the captain seized the chief as a 
hostage, forced him to order his savages to return to shore, and 
did not release the crestfallen leader until the Atahualpa had 
reached the open sea. This happened to be the same Indian 
chief who had previously captured the Tonquin, sent out by 
John Jacob Astor. After Suter arrived at Hawaii, after the 
War of 1812 had begun, and was informed of the proximity of 
British men-of-war, he sold his ship and later managed to send 
his valuable furs to Canton. When peace was concluded, he 
shipped a cargo from Canton to Boston and realized for the 
owners a net profit of $120,000. 

The Boston seamen in the China trade were extremely 
young. High wages and lure of the ocean called Yankee lads 

86 Boston Looks Seaward 

from the villages of Cape Cod and the farms of New England 
to the Boston waterfront, and a berth at sea. When a ship re- 
turned, some boys went back to their homes, while others 
stuck to the sea and soon became officers. On her first voyage, 
the Columbia had paid ordinary seamen $5 a month, able 
seamen $7.50, but she sailed in a time of unemployment. In 
1790 the Massachusetts carried a crew of 14 petty officers and 
44 boys from New England villages. At the ripe age of 19, as 
master of the Go-foot sloop Union of Boston, John Boit, Jr., 
started on a voyage which was perhaps the most remarkable 
youthful exploit of the period. On the Northwest Coast his 
crew of 22 beat off an Indian attack; at Hawaii they found 
"the females were quite amorous"; they exchanged sea-otter 
for silks at Canton; and successfully weathered a 4-day gale en 
route to the Cape of Good Hope. Seized and then released by 
a French cruiser, fired upon by a British frigate, the battered 
craft dropped anchor in Boston Harbor after an absence of 2 
years, probably the only sloop-rigged vessel ever to encircle the 
globe. By 1799 youths were being paid $8 to $10 a month, able 
seamen $18, and petty officers up to $24 a month in the North- 
west fur trade. Completing a voyage to Canton, the young 
crew of the Sea Otter received from $500 to $600 each. Clever 
seamen could make an extra couple of hundred dollars by 
judicious purchases at Canton, stuffed into their seachests. 
Many a young man went to sea in a Boston vessel merely to lay 
aside a little money to get married on, or to buy a farm. But 
sometimes he never returned; there were Indians to contend 
with in the Northwest, fever in the tropics, pirates and canni- 
bals in the Pacific, and raging storms on the Seven Seas. And 
always the dangerous uncertainty of European warfare threat- 
ened to make Boston vessels the prize of a combatant. 

Impressment and Embargo 

By the year 1800, the Port of Boston had reached unprece- 
dented prosperity. It had passed Philadelphia in both the 
coasting and foreign trades, and Boston's total tonnage was 
second only to that of New York. The increased activity was 
the outgrowth of Europe's absorption in military rather than 
agricultural matters, which resulted in the curtailment of the 
usual sources of supply and a heavy demand for provisions 
from America. Since Boston vessels were the chief carriers of 
American foodstuffs, their number in the overseas route in- 
creased sevenfold; by 1807, Massachusetts had become the 

Between the Wars 87 

largest shipowning State in the Union. Many Boston ships 
participated in the carrying trade between the warring nations 
and their colonial possessions, some even maintaining a "ferry- 
ing trade" between London and Copenhagen. By means of 
banking connections in London, a Boston shipmaster could 
leave an outward cargo with a commission merchant prac- 
tically anywhere, and draw a bill against his London account, 
which served as a "letter of credit" in any port. Such commo- 
dities as sugar, tea, and coffee, formerly shipped directly to 
European ports, were first brought to Boston, and then re- 
exported to Europe. 

Although the harbor was crowded with shipping and Bos- 
ton's merchants were unusually prosperous, her citizens had 
been forced for some years to endure a mounting list of abuses 
at the hands of the English and the French. When the con- 
tinued seizure of ships and cargoes at sea and the British prac- 
tice of impressing American seamen culminated in the Chesa- 
peake outrage, public opinion in the United States reached the 
boiling point. On June 22, 1807, the 5o-gun British ship 
Leopard demanded the surrender of seamen aboard the 
United States frigate Chesapeake, alleging that they might be 
British deserters. Upon the Captain's refusal to permit a search 
of his vessel, the Chesapeake was fired upon, 21 of her crew 
killed or wounded, and 4 unharmed seamen impressed on 
board the Leopard. The merchant shipowners of Boston and 
Salem attempted to condone this shameful attack, but the in- 
jured nation cried out for the "defense of national honor." 

Maritime Boston had been compelled to swallow a bitter 
pill when Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams for the 
Presidency. Mindful of the grossly inadequate military prep- 
aration of the United States, President Jefferson replied to 
popular indignation over the Chesapeake affair with the Em- 
bargo. The act, passed by Congress on December 22, 1807, 
ordered British men-of-war to leave United States ports and 
forbade all commerce with foreign countries. Despite the speed 
of its enactment, the Embargo Act was known in advance to 
Boston merchants, and the Port buzzed with the breakneck 
loading of cargoes, as vessels were hurriedly cleared. Owners 
ordered ships already at sea to stay away from American ports. 
While the "stress of weather" was usually given as the reason 
for landing these absentee craft in Nova Scotia or the West 
Indies, they really operated in the carrying trade for bel- 
ligerents. Renegade Boston sea captains conspired with the 

88 Boston Looks Seaward 

British Admiralty, forwarders, and shippers in innumerable 
misrepresentations and evasions. Great profits came out of the 
"bad weather" and the studied apathy of British naval officers. 

American naval vessels were stationed at the entrances to the 
harbor in an attempt to stifle the lucrative foreign commerce 
of Boston. Coastwise sailing and fishing were permitted only 
when bonds had been posted to guarantee return to the United 
States; certificates were even necessary for shipments from one 
State to another. The credentials issued by Governor Sullivan 
of Massachusetts, however, were so numerous that they sold in 
New York at high premiums. Many Boston ships engaged in 
the overseas trade remained abroad where American laws 
could not affect them. A number of blockaded vessels man- 
aged to obtain the necessary papers to leave Boston, after cus- 
toms officials were intimidated and threatened by irate mobs. 
Furthermore, the nearby Canadian border offered tempting 
opportunities for illegal trading; goods were shipped overland 
or run up the coast in small craft and loaded at Canadian 
wharves for trans-Atlantic passage. But the embargo tem- 
porarily ended the boom in Boston's overseas shipments. 

The resentment of the Boston populace against Jeffersonian 
policy rose to such a pitch that early in 1809 a town meeting 
went on record as refusing to aid in the enforcement of the 
embargo. In a series of resolutions, the General Court asserted 
that the act was "unjust, oppressive, and unconstitutional, 
and not legally binding on the citizens of this State." One 
especially destructive effect of the stoppage of commerce 
was the skyrocketing of prices in Boston, so that necessaries 
of life could be obtained only at "luxury" figures. Whether 
brought in by costly wagon routes, or by dodging the ubiquit- 
ous revenue cutters, flour selling for $4.50 a barrel at Rich- 
mond commanded $11.87 ^ n Boston; rice costing $4 a hundred 
pounds at Charleston retailed for $8 in Boston; and upland 
cotton purchased at Savannah for 9 cents a pound yielded 20 
cents in Boston. Wearied by the continued agitation of 14 
months of ineffective embargo, Jefferson finally capitulated. 
Since the smaller ports of Massachusetts had been ruined by 
the blockade and deserted by their merchants, the net result of 
Jefferson's Repeal Act was to increase the preeminence of 
Boston as the maritime gateway of New England. 

Three years of profitable commerce followed. In 1809 the 
value of articles of American growth and manufacture 
exported from Boston reached the huge sum of $4,000,000, and 

Between the Wars 89 

rice, flour, cotton, tobacco, staves, and naval stores accounted 
for more than half of the total shipments. A year later the 
value of domestic exports amounted to $3,500,000, more than 
twice that of all other Massachusetts shipping towns put 
together. In 1811, shipments had dropped to $3,000,000, but 
tar, pitch, turpentine, rosin, and the farm and field products 
of the South still headed the export list. Boston's trade with 
China, the West Indies, South America, and the Baltic and 
Mediterranean countries continued to flourish. 

"Mr. Madison's War" 

The early months of the War of 1812 found Boston still 
an active shipping center. Regarding open warfare as an 
unwelcome interruption, independent Boston men shook off 
this latest annoyance with their habitual disregard for restric- 
tions. Maritime Boston was bitterly aware that the slogan 
"Free Trade and Sailors' Rights" was a misnomer, and openly 
pledged sabotage to "Mr. Madison's War." A few Boston skip- 
pers even went to the extent of taking out Portuguese papers 
so that they might engage in neutral shipping. Prices soared 
as the foreign demand for provisions continued while the 
supply diminished. Through the medium of licenses from 
the British blockading squadron, Boston merchants at first 
carried on a brisk trade with England. But soon the licenses 
were revoked, and the blockade progressively tightened. Brit- 
ish men-of-war patrolled the coast, on the lookout for any 
vessel foolhardy enough to enter Boston Harbor. Occasionally 
a sloop slipped into the Port, but the risk of capture was too 
great for any vessel flying the Stars and Stripes to put to sea. 
Coastwise shipping became inactive, and even fishing in small 
craft became too dangerous. 

By the fall of 1813, Boston Harbor was a picture of desola- 
tion. Wearing "Madison's night-caps," as the inverted tarbar- 
rels and canvas bags placed over the mastheads were dubbed, 
about 250 ships lay slowly rotting at their wharves. Large 
numbers of seamen were out of employment, capital and 
ships lay idle, prices of imports rose rapidly, and domestic 
products were sold at such a high price that 44 vessels departed 
from Boston to foreign ports. Wagon traffic commenced 
between Boston and the South, and the "Horse Marine" sup- 
plied the only comic relief to an otherwise grim drama. 
Boston skippers had to weather gales of laughter as they 
plowed their way through seas of mud, while customs officials 

go Boston Looks Seaward 

literally boarded their wagons. Once more, as 30 years before, 
Boston became a sealed port. 

Opposed to the war, Boston furnished less than her share 
of privateers. As against 58 from Baltimore, 55 from New York, 
and even 40 from Salem, Boston fitted out only 31 armed 
vessels. The most famous Boston privateer, the True Blooded 
Yankee, operated from French ports and struck tenor in the 
British Isles. In company with another Boston vossel, the 
Bunker Hill of 14 guns, she cruised the Irish and English 
Channels and captured many rich prizes. One seizure brought 
into Brest was reputed to have been worth half a million dol- 
lars. Another captured vessel, laden with dry goods and Irish 
linen, was safely piloted to the United States, while a third 
was sent to Bergen, Norway, and sold there. A single voyage 
of little more than a month, in 1813, netted the True Blooded 
Yankee 27 vessels and 270 prisoners; her exploits even included 
the burning of seven ships in a Scottish harbor. 

If the "thunders" of any one American warship "shook the 
mighty deep" during the War of 1812, that vessel was Boston's 
own frigate Constitution. When Captain Hull received news 
of the formal declaration of war, he lost little time in gather- 
ing a doughty crew and setting forth. With the Stars and 
Stripes proudly floating from her masthead, the Constitution 
sailed from Boston on July 12 to join the squadron of Captain 
Rodgers in southern waters, lest by operating alone she 
encounter a superior enemy force. With 44 guns in her port- 
holes, and a crew of 475, largely untrained except for her 
officers, who were among the best in the service, Captain 
Hull confidently directed the sturdy craft. Twelve miles off 
Barnegat, New Jersey, on the afternoon of July 17, four ships 
were sighted directly ahead. The Constitution was up against 
Captain Philip Broke's blockading squadron, comprising the 
38-gun frigate Shannon, the 32-gun &olus, the 36-gun Belvi- 
dera, and the 64-gun razee Africa. Still another sail, also flying 
the Union Jack, appeared from the north. Confronted with 
the formidable squadron on one side, and the 38-gun Guerriere 
on the other, the lone Constitution wisely came about and 
packed on canvas. The chase that followed is one of the most 
thrilling incidents in naval history. Upon shifting winds, 
frequently dying down to dead calm, depended the fate of the 
Constitution. Luffing first to starboard, then to port, veering, 
and dodging, and alternately widening and closing the gap, 
the Constitution and her pursuers kept up the struggle for 3 

Between the Wars 91 

days. Becalmed at one stage of the flight, Captain Hull out- 
witted the enemy by "kedging," a process of sending ahead a 
long towline in small boats, and dropping anchors at regular 
intervals. The crew then seized the inboard end of the hawser, 
pulling slowly at first until the ship began to move, then 
gradually increasing the rate of haul, finally running aft with 
the line. To lighten the load, 2,300 gallons of drinking water 
were pumped out. At last, on the morning of the twentieth, 
the British fleet gave up the chase, and Captain Hull and his 
exultant crew returned to Boston. 

Determined to bring the fight to a different finish, Captain 
Hull quietly eased the Constitution out of Boston Harbor on 
August 2, in rank disobedience of orders. After recovering the 
American brig Adeline from the British sloop-of-war Avenger, 
he headed southward for Bermuda. On the way, Hull was 
informed by the American privateer Decatur that the Guer- 
riere was hovering nearby. A day later the two formidable 
warships met, and Hull found Captain Dacres of the Guer- 
riere no less anxious than himself to engage in battle. At 5:45 
in the afternoon, the encounter began. Captain Orne, an 
American prisoner on board the Guerriere, later narrated: 

At 6:30 I went on deck, and there beheld a scene difficult to describe. 
All the Guerri&re's masts had been shot away, and as she had no sails 
to steady her, she lay rolling like a log in the trough of the sea. Many 
of the men were employed in throwing the dead overboard. The decks 
were covered with blood, and had the appearance of a butcher's slaughter- 
house. And what with the groans of the wounded, and the noise and 
confusion of the enraged survivors on board the ill-fated ship, the scene 
was a perfect hell. 

After the remnants of the British crew had been transferred 
to the Constitution, the battered Guerriere was blown up. 
On August 30, the victor in the first important naval engage- 
ment of the war, gayly bedecked with flags and bunting, 
appeared off Boston Light. Cannon boomed and great rejoic- 
ing spread throughout the town as she passed up the harbor. 
That evening, at a banquet to Captain Hull arid his officers in 
Faneuil Hall, the pride and delight of the Boston people 
knew no bounds. Shortly afterward Congress voted an award 
of $50,000 to the officers and men of the valiant man-of-war, a 
gold medal to Captain Hull, and silver medals to his officers. 
But the victories of the Constitution did not bring the war 
to a quick conclusion, as the people of Boston had fervently 
hoped. When hostilities continued for another year, dissatis- 
faction in Massachusetts ports reached the "secession" point. 

92 Boston Looks Seaward 

Boston's soldiers were fighting in Canada; her seacoast was 
left defenseless; and her ship carpenters, sailmakers, and sea- 
men were deserting for inland regions where work could be 
obtained. Boston was in distress, but the demands of maritime 
interests were powerless to alter the policy of the Federal 
Government. With the deliberate intention of considering 
secession, the General Court of Massachusetts summoned a 
New England convention to meet at Hartford, Connecticut, in 
the autumn of 1814. Such eminent merchants as Thomas H. 
Perkins, William Sturgis, Daniel Sargent, and Israel Thorn- 
dike were among those members of the legislature who favored 
withdrawal from the Union. But secession was disapproved in 
the report the Convention issued on January 6, 1815, after a 
turbulent session. Five weeks later, news of peace reached 
Boston, and the citizens of the town enthusiastically celebrated 
their return to the freedom of the seas. 



"From Wharf to Waterfall" 

AT THE CLOSE of the war, commercially-minded Bostonians 
rushed to their vessels with all the enthusiasm of an East 
Indiaman's crew feeling the first faint puff of wind after days 
of calm under a tropical sun. Sailors swarmed up masts and 
released acres of gleaming canvas; the harbor reawakened to 
the familiar sights and sounds of a great trade. In 1815, during 
a single month, 144 ships slanted down the Bay, bound again 
for the far-distant ocean reaches. Carefully selected cargoes 
were sent to China, the East and West Indies, the Mediter- 
ranean, the South Seas, South America, and the Baltic. The 
sudden restoration of the American market, however, led 
to an alarming increase in imports; quantities of British goods 
were dumped on Boston wharves at prices below production 
costs, in a vain attempt to stifle the young factories called into 
being by the war. Coastwise trade grew in proportion, for the 
extraordinary new volume of imports had to be distributed. 

The War of 1812 materially changed the economic struc- 
ture of Massachusetts. Gloucester, Provincetown, and New 
Bedford remained loyal to the cod, mackerel, and whale fish- 
eries, but they exported their products through Boston. The 
nearby towns of Salem, Marblehead, Newburyport, and Bev- 
erly gradually turned away from the sea and sought financial 
salvation in the development of manufacturing. Capital, pre- 
viously tied up by embargo, non-intercourse, and war, was 
cautiously diverted to industry. Francis C. Lowell and Patrick 
T. Jackson, members of well-known shipping families, "pre- 
pared against peace" by establishing at Waltham, in 1814, 
the first complete cotton factory in America. Within a genera- 
tion, fishermen by the score put aside their nets and applied 
weather-toughened hands to the making of shoes. Progress in 
the State was altered, rather than arrested; by 1840 the center 
of interest had shifted "from wharf to waterfall." 

Despite the new industrial development, Boston's ocean 
commerce steadily expanded. Between 1820 and 1830 the 


94 Boston Looks Seaward 

annual arrivals from foreign lands averaged 787 ships; in the 
same decade the number of coastwise vessels arriving at the 
Port exceeded any previous record. As Boston absorbed much 
of the shipping of Massachusetts ports that were themselves 
unable to provide vessels large enough for successful competi- 
tion, the city for Boston became a city in 1822 established 
over some trade routes a national supremacy that was not to 
be challenged for years to come. 

In 1817 Congress had passed a tariff designed to protect 
American manufacturers and exclude foreign vessels from 
the coasting trade. The following year British ships were even 
forbidden to handle commerce between the United States 
and the Canadian Provinces. But the duties imposed were so 
low and so easily circumvented by false sales and invoices that 
British manufacturers continued to flood the Boston market. 
Foreign products were also smuggled in by sea captains eager 
for a high profit. Often the tariffs hurt the foreign trade of 
Boston's merchants, especially in England and the British 
West Indies. When import duties on cotton and woolen goods 
were increased, Boston's shipowners and merchants succeeded 
in obtaining low tariff schedules on noncompetitive Oriental 
goods, which had no effect on New England's "infant indus- 
tries." Already local textile manufacturers had begun to export 
to world markets, sending goods to South America and the 
Far East, as well as to southern and western communities 
where gradually growing urban centers provided ever larger 
commercial outlets. 

As Boston's maritime prosperity came to depend on manu- 
facturing, protectionist principles became essential to Massa- 
chusetts. By 1830 the number of Boston ships engaged in 
domestic trade was more than twice that employed in over- 
seas commerce. To stop the unrestrained boosting of tariff 
schedules, however, the United States signed a treaty with 
Great Britain opening American ports to English vessels and 
granting American ships, whether carrying raw materials or 
manufactured articles, similar concessions in British colonial 
ports. In substance, the treaty made it possible for the more 
efficient carrier to obtain the larger share of the trade. At first 
Boston benefited from the agreement, later her mercantile 
development was injured by it. Discriminatory tonnage taxes 
against foreign vessels docking at American ports, imposed 
since the ratification of the Constitution, were of course abro- 
gated by the new treaty. The removal of those taxes forced 

Port of the World 95 

local shipping to compete on an equal footing with British 
vessels; it was eventually to succumb under the onslaught of 
British steamship development. Clearsighted members of 
Boston's merchant families might have realized the city's 
glorious deep-water career was facing hard weather, but the 
storm warnings seemed distant, and few had time to study the 
omens, so busy were they in sailing the course their ancestors 
had charted. 

Merchants and Icemen 

Typical merchants of the time were the Cunningham 
brothers, Andrew and Charles. Methodical almost to a fault, 
the partners arrived at their counting-rooms on Rowe's Wharf 
promptly at 7 o'clock every morning. Once Captain John Cod- 
man returned from China with a cargo of tea, against the 
explicit orders of Andrew Cunningham. Although there had 
been a change in conditions since the sailing, and the tea 
realized a handsome profit, Mr. Cunningham called the cap- 
tain into his office and gave him a verbal lashing for disobedi- 
ence; he then handed him an envelope containing a check for 
$1,000. Another enterprising Boston merchant, Benjamin C. 
Clark, built the schooner-yacht Mermaid in 1832, the first 
decked-over boat in the harbor, and later created the Raven, 
winner in 1845 of the first yacht regatta in Massachusetts Bay. 
Clark, like the Cunninghams, was successful in the West 
Indies and Mediterranean trade; he sent his vessels to Sicily 
for oranges, lemons, macaroni, and sulphur, and he imported 
wines, fruit, and whale oil from Fayal in the Azores. 

Comparable was the business of Supply Clap Thwing, an 
India Wharf commission merchant who engaged chiefly in 
the New Orleans trade. He imported and exported portions 
of the cargoes of some 300 ships, all chartered except a few 
which he owned personally. Osborn Howes of Boston, the 
first American captain to set foot in Turkey, formed with 
his brother-in-law the firm of Howes 8c Crowell, trading with 
China, Western Europe, California, and Australia. The orig- 
inal Siamese twins were brought to America by a junior 
officer of Captain Daniel C. Bacon, who obligingly lodged 
them in the woodshed of his Temple Place home. Captain 
Bacon was the owner of the Gamecock, then one of the fastest 
vessels afloat. Enoch Train occupied a very prominent position 
in the maritime community, sending his ships Dorchester, 
Cairo, and Governor Davis to South America, and then, in 

96 Boston Looks Seaward 

the thirties, entering the Baltic trade with the famous Water- 
man-and-Ewell-constructed St. Petersburg, a square-sterned 
vessel 160 feet long, 33 feet wide, and of 814 tons burden, with 
spacious accommodations for passengers: a packetship in all 
respects. In the forties, Train started a packet line between 
Boston and Liverpool in competition with the Cunard steam- 
ers, diverting four vessels to the Atlantic crossing while his 
new ships were being built. 

William H. Bordman, Jr., took full advantage of the oppor- 
tunities offered in the many-cornered and unspecialized trade 
typical of the period. One of his ships, the Arabella, went to 
Calcutta in 1826, laden with cigars, paint, currant-jelly, shav- 
ing soap, cider, oakum, ham, pineapple, and native cheese. 
When his father's ships brought pepper and Bourbon cloves 
from Sumatra, part of the cargo was left with Perkins and 
Saltonstall in Baltimore in exchange for flour, and some was 
traded for sugar in Haiti and Havana. Three years afterward, 
Bordman's vessels carried sugar from Havana to Gothenburg 
for Swedish iron, and in 1830 he shipped a pepper cargo to 
the Mediterranean ports, the exact destination being left to 
the supercargo, who was to be advised at Gibraltar as to the 
possible price to be fetched by pepper at Antwerp, Leghorn, 
Genoa, and Trieste. Bordman was also interested in the South 
American, Northwest Coast, and Canton trade. 

Another phenomenon of these booming days was the ice 
man with perhaps the longest route of his trade. Young Fred- 
eric Tudor was seized with the "crazy notion" of shipping ice 
from his father's pond in Saugus to the West Indies. Added 
to his conviction that the enterprise held vast commercial 
possibilities, Tudor was motivated by a humanitarian impulse. 
Reports had come to his ears of communities depopulated by 
yellow fever. The thought that there was no ice at hand to 
relieve the sufferers aroused his determination to provide a 
palliative for future epidemics. In 1805, Bostonians laughed 
and newspapers jeered when he sent to Martinique a 130-ton 
cargo of "crystal blocks of Yankee coldness." Tudor had a 
difficult time persuading a crew to sail on his brig Favorite, 
since pessimistic critics had predicted that the melting ice 
would swamp the vessel. Financially the first venture was a 
dismal, dripping failure. In the face of this defeat, however, 
Tudor wrote in his journal that one could not be a hero in 
love, war, or the ice business by turning back; by 1812 he had 
developed a regular ice trade with the West Indies. 

Port of the World 97 

Soon Tudor owned ice-houses in Cuba, Jamaica, and the 
southern United States. To accomplish this he had to teach 
crusty sea captains never to leave the hatches open, to experi- 
ment with such insulators as rice, hay, and coal dust before 
settling upon pine sawdust, and to educate the people to the 
use of ice by first giving it away. Once the public's fancy was 
caught, however, he could name his own price. At Charleston, 
ice brought ii/ cents a pound, at New Orleans 2 cents, at 
Havana 3 cents; and at Rio de Janeiro, where the bark Mada- 
gascar successfully brought the first shipment of ice across the 
Equator in 1833, Tudor obtained a Spanish dollar for 12 
pounds. In the same year the Tuscany had plowed through the 
waters of Calcutta Harbor with a cargo of ice which had twice 
survived crossing the Equator, only one-third of the 180 tons 
placed aboard her in Charlestown having melted. Puzzled by 
the cold white blocks, the natives became indignant and 
demanded their money back when their purchases disappeared 
after having been left in the sun. Several even wanted to know 
whether ice was grown on trees or shrubs and inquired how 
they should go about starting a crop. But the European com- 
munities in the Far East quickly took to iced drinks, and the 
ice business advanced at an amazing rate. 

To meet the increasing demands, ice from almost every 
pond in greater Boston was brought by pung or train and 
loaded on brigs or barks at Tudor's Wharf in Charlestown. 
Thoreau waxed lyrical at the thought of water from his 
beloved Walden being sent to the far-off Hindu, whose mystic 
philosophers he so much admired. As for Tudor himself, 
although forced by 15 competitors to lower his retail price to i 
cent a pound, he was able in 1841 to pay off a debt of $250,000 
incurred during his early endeavors. 

These and kindred leaders in the shipping industry towered 
above the common waterfront throng, moving with sober 
dignity along their wharves and conducting business in a 
stately manner. They dealt shrewdly and kept careful records 
of every penny that passed through their fingers. To all 
appearances they symbolized decorous living combined with 
adventurous financial activity. 

The Town and the People 

Boston had grown into a city of towering masts, staunch 
hulls, and impressive buildings. Fort Hill had yet to be 
leveled, and Atlantic Avenue was still a development of the 

98 Boston Looks Seaward 

future. Proud vessels crowded India and Long Wharves. They 
lay so close to shore that passers-by had to walk under the 
extended bowsprits, and merchant owners, glancing through 
the multi-paned windows of busy counting-houses, were able 
to see the trim, dark outlines of their own vessels' riggings 
silhouetted against the sky. Stevedores bustled about the 
docks; off in the distance, mates boisterously ordered sail on 
outgoing ships. Permeating this confusion came whiffs of 
pungent fragrance from Eastern imports, the aromas of spice, 
coffee and incense, the reek of copra-filled holds, and the 
sharp tang of salt cod. 

In the center of mercantile Boston stood the Old State 
House, at that time the home of the new municipal offices 
and the post office. On the first floor was Samuel Topliff s News 
Room, a subscription club for Boston merchants, where news- 
papers, periodicals, marine registers, and bulletins from all 
corners of the world were on file. In the morning the Boston 
trader usually drove to the post office and then adjourned to 
Topliff's where he might learn of the previous night's happen- 
ings, for news of foreign arrivals was quickly wig-wagged to 
the habitues of the reading-room by a signal system from 
Long Island, in the harbor. Departing from Topliff's, the 
merchant usually walked to his office on one of the wharves. 
There he superintended the loading of his vessels, directed his 
"wharfinger," or general manager, and sent verbal orders by 
messengers to other docks. Before 2 o'clock he was picked up 
by his carriage and whisked home for an elaborate meal. In the 
late afternoon he went driving with his wife, and in the eve- 
ning dined in the company of other merchants. 

Narrow, cobblestoned Purchase and Broad Streets echoed 
to the rolling steps of brawny seamen ashore for the first 
time in months, pockets heavy with the wages of a voyage. 
Bent on finding the nearest brothel or cheap dance hall, the 
sailor "on the beach" sought solace from the brutal, dangerous 
life aboard ship. Rum-mills of the day knew how to part a 
man from his pay just as effectively as any of the modern 
"dives." Often the proprietor robbed his drunken victim and 
then promptly delivered him to some ship's captain, along 
with a padded bill for lodgings. Eventually the sailor awoke 
to the dismal discovery that he was at sea again. Worse still, 
when he returned to Boston, his erstwhile host was on the 
dock waiting to collect the lodging bill from the man's newly 
earned wages. 

Port of the World 99 

Bostonians were aware of existing conditions and took 
action to provide better conditions for the sailor ashore. On 
May 11, 1812, the Boston Society for the Religious and Moral 
Improvement of Seamen was formed to "establish a regular 
divine service" aboard merchant vessels. Before the organiza- 
tion was 6 weeks old, however, war with England broke out, 
and the Boston merchant marine was disrupted. The well- 
intentioned reformers had to content themselves with mission- 
ary work on a few of the wartime frigates. By 1820 the Boston 
Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor 
had taken the place of the original association and was devot- 
ing a good share of its attention to seamen. The Reverend 
William Jenks, a fastidious, prim-looking Boston pastor, 
preached to them from a sail loft on Central Wharf, carrying 
on his work until the close of 1826, when the society broke its 
connection with the sailors. 

Some months later Dr. Lyman Beecher and a group of Con- 
gregational ministers organized the Boston Seamen's Friend 
Society. They appealed to the public for funds and interested 
a number of prominent shipowners in the welfare of the 
sailors. Incorporated in 1829, they erected a Go-foot brick 
church for mariners on the eastern slope of Fort Hill, in clear 
view of vessels entering the Port. Some 70 feet above the 
ground floated a flag bearing the single word "Bethel," assur- 
ing a welcome to sailors from the furthermost points of the 
globe. Soon the society owned a lodging-house on Purchase 
Street, built at a cost of $19,000 and capable of accommodating 
a hundred seamen. 

Other organizations also undertook to improve the tastes 
of Jack Tar ashore. The Boston Port Society functioned first 
in a little church on Hanover Street and then, in 1833, built 
the Seamen's Bethel in North Square, on the site of the pres- 
ent Italian Roman Catholic Church. Here, for nearly four 
decades, the ex-seaman Edward Thompson Taylor, better 
known as Father Taylor, walked the pulpit "like a quarter- 
deck," telling his sailor audiences that they came from 
"below from under the hatches of sin, battened down above 
you by the evil one," and that they were going 

aloft with a fair wind all taut and trim, steering direct for Heaven in 
its glory, where there are no storms or foul weather, and where the wicked 
cease from troubling and the weary are at rest. 

Edward Thompson Taylor had visited Boston in 1810 and 
been converted in the Park Street Church. Years later his 

ioo Boston Looks Seaward 

sermons, spiced with nautical references and full of vivid 
figures of speech, made the Bethel one of Boston's most popu- 
lar resorts for the hardbitten men who sailed on ships. He 
never minced matters. Once during a spirited sermon a mem- 
ber of the congregation started to leave. Father Taylor 
stopped, leaned forward and said, "Sh! Sh! Keep still all of 
you and don't disturb that man walking out." Another time 
he noticed a woman talking and scowled down at her: "If that 
lady on the third row, sitting in the end seat, with a yellow 
bonnet, don't stop whispering, I'll point her out!" With the 
passing of the years he became almost a legendary character, 
as much a part of Boston as the Old State House. The only 
preacher in the city whom Charles Dickens cared to hear, his 
sermons also attracted Jenny Lind, Emerson, and Walt Whit- 
man. Mourned by humble folk all over the world who had 
never heard of Emerson or Whitman, Father Taylor died in 
1871, "going out on the ebb as an old salt should." 

An important service to sailors was offered by the Savings 
Bank for Seamen, now known as the Suffolk Savings Bank for 
Seamen and Others, located at the corner of Tremont Street 
and Pemberton Square. Distinguished Bostonians served as 
founders and officers of the bank, which first opened its doors 
on the morning of May i, 1833. The aim of the institution, 
which was jointly sponsored by the Boston Port Society and 
the Seamen's Friend Society, was entirely benevolent. Its 
promoters hoped that the sailors, a notably spendthrift lot, 
would place their money in the bank. The opening announce- 
ment stated that 

more than a million of dollars are paid every year to seamen in this 
port, and considering, too, these lavish habits of expenditure, it is 
reasonable to calculate that a great proportion of this sum is diffused in 
this city to support idleness, intemperance, debauchery and crime. 

Change in the physical character of the town was evident. 
The steady increase in population had compelled Boston to 
expand at the expense of the harbor. By filling in the old 
Town Cove, space for six new streets was provided; Com- 
mercial Street, one of the six, was built on the north side along 
the wharves' heads. Where the town dock had formerly stood, 
the million-dollar Quincy Market was erected in 1826. Beacon 
Hill was partially leveled, and the dirt deposited in Mill Pond, 
(North Cove) adding several acres to the city's area. This 
growth of the town, and the resulting noise along the water- 
front, drove prosperous merchants out of their homes near 

Port of the World 101 

the Bay back to "The Hill," while middle-class Boston estab- 
lished strongholds in the West End, Charlestown, and in the 
reclaimed territory. The recent immigrants poured into South 
Boston, East Boston, and the land that had once been the 
South Cove. The sailors' boarding-houses, dance halls, and 
barrooms were concentrated in the North End, east of Han- 
over Street and along Broad Street. 

Wharf Activity 

Along with the physical development of the city came 
improvement in the docking facilities of the harbor. Ware- 
houses on the north side of Long Wharf gradually extended 
to the mainland and up State Street. Dignified Commercial 
Wharf, the finest waterfront business block in the city, 
attracted merchants whose ships touched the Cape of Good 
Hope, the Spanish Main, India, China, and the shores of 
California. In 1819, Central Wharf was erected with a brick 
three-storied warehouse running down its center for a full 
quarter-mile. Here 3 great auction rooms, countingrooms, and 
54 wholesale stores provided businessmen with unexcelled 
facilities for handling their cargoes. In a cupola high above 
the structure was the office of the old Semaphore Telegraph 
Company, where advance news of arriving vessels was received 
from Telegraph Hill in Hull. 

Wares from the Far East and the South were brought to 
India Wharf for disposal in the stores on the pier. The wharf 
was also used by boats bound for New York, Hartford, New 
London, New Bedford, and Nantucket. Nearby stood Lewis 
Wharf, home of Enoch Train's packet line and later one of 
the centers of the San Francisco clipper trade. T Wharf served 
coastwise shipping and saw the start of the first packet line to 
New York, as well as the beginning of an extensive Canadian 
service. The erection of Granite Wharf, the first modern all- 
stone dock, gradually attracted the East Indian and South 
American business. Equally important was Gray's, later 
named Tudor's, Wharf, in Charlestown. 

Meanwhile vessels had grown to such dimensions that it 
became difficult to accomplish repairs below the waterline. 
The earlier method of beaching proved impracticable. To 
solve the problem, the first drydock in the United States was 
completed at the Boston Navy Yard, Charlestown, in March 
1834. Built of Quincy granite at a cost of $972,000, it has since 
been enlarged and is still in use as Dry Dock No. i. Between 

iO2 Boston Looks Seaward 

Long and Central Wharves, on the site of the present Custom 
House tower, the "new Custom House," constructed with 
granite pillars, was dedicated in 1848. 

Shipwrecks and Lifesaving 

Numerous shipwrecks led Boston merchants to lodge com- 
plaints with the Federal Government about the inefficiency of 
lighthouses. In 1838 Lieutenant Edward W. Carpenter 
reported that Boston Light had a "revolving light, consisting 
of 14 argand lamps, with parabolic reflectors," about the size 
of "similar lamps in family use." A year later Boston Light 
was refitted with a new bronze lantern of 16 sides, instead of 
the previous 8, with larger windows, and with a range officially 
listed as 22 miles. By 1842 the light was making a revolution 
every three minutes, including two periods of illumination 
and two of darkness. Twelve years later the revolving time 
was a minute and a half, while today the light flashes white 
at go-second intervals. The lighthouse received several per- 
manent improvements in 1844, including the erection in the 
tower of a circular cast-iron stairway, spiraling around an 
iron pipe at the center and protected by a guardrail of the 
same material. 

The dangers of the southern approach to Boston Harbor 
led to the establishment of Minots Light. Resting on iron 
piles 8 inches in diameter, the octagonal-shaped tower, begun 
in 1847 an d costing $30,000, rose to a height of 75 feet. It first 
sent its rays out over the water on New Year's Day of 1850. 
But the "Minots Light Gale" of April 14-16, 1851, with violent 
easterly winds, rain, hail, snow, and an extraordinarily high 
tide of 15.62 feet, proved too much for the structure. Keeper 
Joshua Bennet was in Boston at the time, unable to return 
because of the hurricane force of the storm. Though by the 
morning of the sixteenth, the waves had torn away portions 
of the wooden structure, the two assistant-keepers, Joseph 
Wilson and Joseph Antoine, faithfully lighted the lamps as 
usual that night. Anxious watchers reported the light visible 
until i o'clock in the morning. At daybreak nothing remained 
but twisted fragments of the iron piling. The two men were 
drowned in a vain effort to reach the mainland. 

The death of the two assistant lighthouse keepers followed 
upon a series of disastrous shipwrecks and bold rescues. From 
1799 to 1825 the most outstanding rescuer of Boston Bay was 
William Tewksbury, a resident of Deer Island. Probably the 










Port of the World 103 

most notable of his rescues occurred on May 26, 1817, when 
he and his son set out in a sailing canoe through choppy seas 
toward a capsized pleasure boat. Shipping water continually, 
they yet managed to reach the scene of the disaster and take 
seven of the eight survivors aboard their canoe, leaving the 
eighth clinging to the jolly boat of the overturned craft. When 
they returned, the last man had disappeared. Between 1817 
and 1825 the father and son rescued 31 persons and received 
numerous medals, including one from the Massachusetts 
Humane Society. 

The Great Hurricane of December 1839, however, com- 
pletely overwhelmed the efforts of any individual life saver. 
Between December 14 and 16, howling gales ravaged ship- 
ping, and on December 22 and 23 a second storm struck, 
wrecking the schooner Charlotte at Nantasket and driving 
the bark Lloyd ashore at the same point. Six of the Lloyd's 
crew drowned attempting to launch a lifeboat, and 2 others 
were swept from the rigging where they had lashed themselves 
near Captain Mountford. Although eventually the Charlotte's 
sailors brought Mountford ashore, he died shortly afterward. 
The third phase of the hurricane was marked by tempestuous 
winds and an exceptionally high tide, which destroyed shore 
property and shipping in the inner harbor, and sent the ice- 
laden Columbiana on a wild rampage. Breaking loose from 
her berth at Swett's Wharf, the vessel crashed clean through 
the old Charlestown bridge, hit the Warren Avenue Bridge 
wharf, demolished the drawtender's house, narrowly missing 
his sleeping family, and ended up against the bridge. There 
might have been a worse disaster had not the mate leaped to 
the wheel and held the Columbiana to some sort of course 
during her zig-zag journey. All told, these three December 
storms caused damage of $1,000,000 in Boston Harbor, and 
tossed more than 20 vessels upon the shore. 

In 1842, twenty-seven youthful members of the Farm and 
Trades School on Thompson's Island were returning aboard 
the Polka from a fishing trip, under the supervision of Oakes, 
an experienced sailor, and Mr. Peabody, one of the school's 
teachers. Tacking against a headwind for a landing on the 
island, the boat tipped over and sank almost immediately. 
Four boys managed to cling to a wooden bait box. The other 
23 half the enrollment of the institution together with the 
2 men, were drowned. 

The Massachusetts Humane Society obtained a $5,000 

104 Boston Looks Seaward 

appropriation from the General Court in 1840 and placed 11 
lifeboats in strategic positions along the coast. Volunteers 
manned these boats in cases of emergency, demonstrating 
their efficiency and bravery during the winter storms of 1841 
and the "October Gale" of 1844. On December 17, 1841, the 
Boston-bound Mohawk, entering Massachusetts Bay, encoun- 
tered an easterly wind of gale proportions. Her sails ripped to 
shreds, she drifted helplessly through the night, striking Point 
Allerton Bar the next day. The regular Nantasket lifeboat was 
damaged during the launching, but a smaller craft was util- 
ized and the ship's company safely removed. 

On the seventh of October 1844, the brig Tremont, bound 
for Boston, grounded at Point Allerton, and began to break 
up in the pounding surf. Moses B. Tower and two others 
hitched a team of horses to the Hull lifeboat and hauled it a 
mile and a half to a point opposite the ship, 5 other men 
joining them on the way. After a hard struggle the lifeboat 
was launched and inched its way through the rollers to the 
Tremont, and the captain and crew were rescued from their 
shattered vessel. Two months later the Nantasket lifeboat 
crew saved Captain Berry and 1 1 of the crew of the Massasoit 
after the Indiaman hit off Point Allerton. All night thunder- 
ing seas washed over her and by morning the waves were still 
running so high that the shore lifeboat swamped 6 times 
before a successful launching. Everyone was taken off except 
a passenger, Stephen C. Holbrook of Roxbury, who had fallen 
down a hatchway in the excitement and was not missed until 
the rescuers had reached shore. Immediately the lifesavers 
manned 2 small boats and started back for him. Holbrook 
was seen creeping from the hatchway, as the ship broke in 
two and disappeared beneath the waves. The Humane Society 
awarded $10 to each of the lifesaving crew and $15 to 7 others. 
By 1845 tne Nantasket lifeboat had rescued 36 persons. 
Inspired by this and other lifesaving records, the society con- 
tinued to place more lifeboats around Massachusetts Bay. 

The town of Hull became something of a "wreck center," 
and a brisk business sprang up from the ruins of Boston 
vessels. Thrifty citizens bought the wrecks and then broke 
them up, using the wood for fuel and saving the iron, copper, 
and other parts of value. The shell of the Favorite served as 
a stable until the sands buried it too deeply for such use; 
the roundhouse of the proud Indiaman Massasoit became a 
countingroom. Many an "old salt" might well have preferred 

Port of the World 105 

a berth in Davy Jones' Locker rather than living to see the 
ignoble use to which his craft was put. 

Port Fees and Charges 

Damage to vessels entering Boston harbor was lessened by 
the establishment, in the 1840% of definite rules regarding 
pilotage. A ship became liable to a $50 fine if it refused to 
take the pilot aboard after being hailed within ii/ miles of 
the outer light. This regulation applied to every craft bound 
for the Port, except fishing boats, intrastate shipping, and 
coastwise vessels under 200 tons. Ingoing ships were charged 
more than outgoing; the winter rates were higher than the 
summer. Thus an outward-bound craft drawing 14 feet had to 
pay $15.40 for pilotage between November and May and only 
$13.30 between May and November; incoming $26.18 in the 
winter and $18.90 in the summer. If a master preferred to 
pilot his own vessel, he might do so, providing he paid the 
full pilotage fees specified in the warrant. However, if no pilot 
appeared before his vessel passed a line from Harding's Rocks 
to the outer Graves and thence to Nahant Head, he could enter 
the Port without being liable. 

Aside from pilotage, port charges were the same in Boston as 
in New York, with an entering fee of $5.70 and a clearing fee 
of $2.70. Customs charges payable to the collector of customs 
were $2.50 each way for a vessel of 100 tons or upward and 
$1.50 for less than 100 tons. The harbor master received ii/ 
cents a ton from vessels unloading; double that for vessels 
subject to foreign duties and tonnage, the sum payable within 
48 hours after arrival. Schooners and sloops in the coasting 
trade were charged $2 by the harbor master, while an addi- 
tional $2 had to be given for adjusting any difficulties respect- 
ing anchorage. Wharfage charges were 50 cents a day for ships 
under 50 tons and 121/2 cents more for every 50 tons additional. 
There were additional fees for permits to land goods or load 
goods, debenture, and for the work of the port surveyor. 

The Building of Ships 

Shipbuilding became increasingly important in Boston as 
commerce expanded and the performance of Boston craft 
drew attention to the yards that produced them. Designers had 
developed new types of vessels: ships' hulls had increased their 
length and depth in proportion to their breadth, affording a 
cleaner, smoother run through the water and more speed 

io6 Boston Looks Seaward 

per square foot of canvas. Building materials cost relatively 
little; higher wages and steadier employment attracted skilled 
shipwrights from England and the Continent and encouraged 
local craftsmen to greater efforts. As a result Boston vessels 
were usually better built than those found anywhere else in 
the world. Often the vessels were black-hulled, with a white 
band around the side; usually they were armed or at least 
had painted gun ports as a camouflage against pirates and 
privateers. Such was the speed, strength and durability of 
these Boston vessels that generally they completed four voy- 
ages to every three by a British or Dutch merchantman. 

The productive Medford shipyards put out a great variety 
of small craft as well as many trim, admirably proportioned 
East Indiamen, seldom over 500 tons burden and able to "tack 
in a pint o' water." From 1783 to 1846, 375 vessels of 133,225 
tonnage and a value of nearly $6,000,000 slid down the ways 
of the various yards along the Mystic River. One Medford 
craft was put together, then dismantled and shipped to the 
Hawaiian Islands aboard the Thaddeus, while another was 
launched without benefit of rum, as much a requisite of the 
shipwright's trade as the very tools he used. A construction 
record was established when the 4oo-ton Av on was completed 
in 26 days. Waterman 8c Ewell turned out the 62o-ton Paul 
Jones, one of the fastest vessels of the time, as well as the large 
and beautifully appointed St. Petersburg. 

But it was Thatcher Magoun who really spread the fame of 
"Medford built" vessels to every navigable body of sea water. 
Although George Fuller, Samuel Lapham, Jotham Stetson, 
Paul Curtis, and Sprague 8c James also played important roles 
in Medford shipbuilding, they are not to be compared with 
Thatcher Magoun. Born on June 17, 1775, the day of the 
Battle of Bunker Hill, Magoun followed the trade of ships- 
carpenter, worked with Enos Briggs in Salem, and then assisted 
in designing ships at Mr. Barker's yard in Charlestown, the 
present Boston Navy Yard. In 1802 he selected a site on the 
Mystic River for his shipyard, and there built the Mt. Aetna, 
the first Medford ship to come off the ways after the Revolu- 
tion. In succeeding years he launched a large number of 
merchant vessels. 

South Boston shipbuilding originated at the close of the 
War of 1812, when Lincoln and Wheelwright began working 
under the supervision of Samuel Kent. In 1822, Noah Brooks, 
Kent's brother-in-law, took over the business, and set up a 

Port of the World 107 

yard at the foot of F Street. Since his interests were civic as 
well as commercial, Brooks managed to serve in the Legislature 
and the City Council; he petitioned for the establishment of 
the Mechanics Bank, and acted as a member of its Board 
of Directors. For a while E. & H. Briggs maintained a partner- 
ship with Brooks, but the company was dissolved in 1847, the 
Messrs. Briggs moving to the Point. 

For years the Weld family had devoted much of their ener- 
gies to the sea, and William Fletcher Weld was no exception. 
At Charlestown in 1833 he built the Senator, the largest ship 
then afloat. Soon afterward Weld moved his office and ship- 
yard to Boston, and continued to send ship after ship down 
the ways. Over each completed craft floated the "Black Horse 
Flag," insignia of the firm of William F. Weld 8c Company. 
His sails "whitened every sea," and there were those who 
said that his company of shipowners was the largest in the 
world. Weld himself was hospitable and kindly; his Beacon 
Hill home was a Mecca for down-and-outers. He handled his 
business with meticulous care, attending to the most trivial 
matters, even hiring the cooks. An applicant for the position 
of sea cook was inevitably asked: "Can you make soup out of 
rope yarn?" If the man said yes, he got the job. All told, some 
50 barks, brigs, and clippers were owned by William F. Weld 
& Company, and in later years a fleet of steamships sailed 
under the Black Horse Flag. 

But Donald McKay, a young Nova Scotian with an uncanny 
eye for perfection of line, excelled the achievements of all 
other shipbuilders in America. Even in childhood he was fond 
of playing about the docks and shipyards of Shelburne, Nova 
Scotia, watching seamen at their multiple tasks alow and 
aloft, studying the slant of a vessel and the set of her sails as 
she departed from the harbor. Early in his 'teens, he and his 
brother constructed a small fishing boat; in 1826 at the age of 
16, he was off to New York to learn the trade of shipbuilding 
from Isaac Webb. Fourteen years later he helped build the 
Delia Walker for John Currier, Jr., in Newburyport. The fol- 
lowing year he formed a company with William Currier and 
in 1842 built the Courier, which is said to be his first produc- 
tion as a designer and builder of ships. By this time the name 
of Donald McKay was beginning to be known along the Bos- 
ton waterfront. Enoch Train was persuaded to give McKay a 
trial, and the result was the Joshua Bates. So gratifying was 
this vessel that Train induced McKay to establish a shipyard 

io8 Boston Looks Seaward 

at East Boston. Here McKay created his first Boston-built 
vessel, the Washington Ii~ving, the finest, fastest, and most 
comfortable of the New York packets, and watched it glide 
smoothly down the ways in 1845. Soon afterward he launched 
the i,30i-ton Ocean Queen, and the smaller Daniel Webster, 
of 1,187 tons - These vessels firmly established McKay as a 
master builder, and paved the way for the glorious culmina- 
tion of Boston shipping in the following two decades. 

Mackerel, Cod, and Whales 

Increased shipbuilding resulted in an extensive development 
of the fishing industry throughout the State, with Glouces- 
ter finally surpassing Boston in the 1840'$. Until then Boston 
held first place in Massachusetts in the number of barrels of 
mackerel inspected annually; a total of 139,519 barrels were 
graded on the waterfronts in 1825. Boston's export of cod ran 
into large figures, especially when Gloucestermen sent their 
catches of halibut and cod, as well as mackerel, over the newly 
completed railroad. Although there were years of depression, 
the period as a whole was one of prosperity, and Boston, as 
the principal market, benefited accordingly. But the fisher- 
man's share was desperately small, averaging only $62.31 a 
year in the cod fishery between 1840 and 1850. To relieve such 
distress, Congress passed a law paying a "bounty" to fishing 
masters and crews who devoted 4 calendar months a year 
exclusively to the catching of cod. The Government allow- 
ance brought the average income from codfishing up to $76.89, 
still far from enough to support a wife and family. Work on 
shore during off months, and the making of fishnets by women 
and children helped; yet even so the fisherman's income 
remained painfully below the standard of living for the day. 

Few vessels actually sailed from Boston in search of whales; 
not more than a dozen voyages were recorded during the 30 
years between 1816 and 1846, and several of them were far 
from successful. The Boston whaler Telemachus was lost at 
sea in 1826, after the crew had been rescued by an English 
brig. Off Brazil, first mate Phillip Russel and a member of 
the crew of the Grand Turk were killed by a whale on Janu- 
ary 9, 1828. The Boston brig Margaret, of 125 tons burden, 
sailed on a whaling expedition and then disappeared. Other 
vessels fared somewhat better, returning with cargoes ranging 
from less than 100 barrels of sperm and whale oil to the cargo 
of the Hope, which docked in Boston on November 4, 1823, 

Port of the World 109 

with 1,100 barrels of sperm and 300 barrels of whale oil. 
Undoubtedly, more money could be made in other phases of 
the shipping industry, and the Boston merchants realized this. 

Packets, Sidewheelers, Railroads 

By 1817, individual "packets" were sailing from Boston to 
New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Richmond, and the larger 
Maine ports. The approximate dates of departure were adver- 
tised in the Columbian Centinel, Boston's semiweekly news- 
paper; on July 12 appeared: "For New York and Albany, The 
good stanch sloop, Traveller, a regular packet, will sail in four 
or five days (wind and weather permitting); for freight or 
passage apply to the master on board, opposite 23 Long Wharf, 
or Messrs. John Barnard & Co." These vessels provided pas- 
sengers with small comfortable staterooms and excellent meals, 
but they were not packetships in the real sense of the term, 
since their departures were made only when "wind, cargo 
and master were willing," and their destinations were by no 
means regular. Often such traders diverted their routes in the 
late summer and early fall to Savannah, Charleston, Mobile, or 
New Orleans, where they obtained profitable cargoes of cot- 

Such erratic sailings made it difficult to leave Boston for a 
particular destination at a definite time. To remedy the situa- 
tion, a group of enterprising Salem and Portsmouth gentle- 
men attempted to establish a regular steampacket line between 
Boston and Salem. In 1817 the Massachusetts steamed down 
Boston Harbor, just 10 years after Fulton's initial voyage down 
the Hudson River. About 100 feet overall, 120 tons burden, 
equipped with a "walking beam" type engine, propelled by 
a series of paddles arranged like oars, the vessel boasted a 
curved stovepipe smokestack with the end fashioned into 
a devil's head, spouting flames. As a precaution, she carried a 
single mast and sails for auxiliary power. On her first trip, an 
excursion, the Massachusetts' engines broke down, and the 
passengers had to be sent home in stagecoaches. Subsequent 
delays and the apprehension aroused by boiler explosions on 
other lines contributed to the financial failure of three com- 
panies which successively tried to operate the steamer. 

The second steamboat to appear in Boston Harbor was the 
Eagle, much smaller than the Massachusetts, and designed to 
maintain a schedule between Salem and Boston. Her first 
voyage, on September 17, 1818, was remarkable in that she 

no Boston Looks Seaward 

was equipped to carry 200 passengers and only 2 persons 
availed themselves of the opportunity. At the end of the 
summer of 1821, the Eagle was broken up, the sale of her 
copper boilers, so it was claimed, bringing the owners more 
than the original cost of the steamer. During this same season 
the second Massachusetts also made the Boston-Beverly run, 
stopping at Nahant, and Marblehead, and Salem; it then ran 
between Boston and Nahant only until 1825. The summer 
colony at Nahant attracted a steady flow of visitors and the 
Nahant Steamboat Company, which was formed out of the 
ruins of the Massachusetts Steam Navigation Company, 
became the oldest steamship company on the bay, operating 
regularly from 1817 to 1893, with the sole exception of 1884. 

Gloucester likewise availed itself of steamboat service. Oper- 
ations of the Boston 8c Gloucester Steamboat Company were 
irregular, however, until 1859, when year-round service lasting 
until the 1920*5 was started. In the meantime, the south shore 
of Massachusetts Bay was not neglected. The Boston & Hing- 
ham Steamboat Company, which later became the Nantasket 
Beach Steamboat Company, was organized in 1831 and oper- 
ated the Philadelphia-built General Lincoln, 95 feet long. In 
1845 came the Mayflower, followed in 1857 by tne Nantasket, 
names still used on the company's steamers. Provincetown was 
also connected to Boston by steamer when the Naushin was 
put on the run in 1848. 

Steamships connected Maine ports with Boston as early 
as 1823, when the Kennebec Steamship Company began oper- 
ating the Patent and Maine to Bath. Six years later the Victory 
added Portland to her itinerary. By 1830 the Boston, Portland, 
and Kennebec Steamboat Line sent the 35i-ton Connecticut 
to Portland, where she connected with the Patent for Bath, 
Hallowell, Gardiner, and Augusta. The company boasted that 
the Connecticut was "copper fastened and coppered, with cop- 
per boilers and low pressure engines," and charged $5 for 
cabin passengers and $2.50 for deck passengers from Boston 
to Portland. Boston established connections with Penobscot 
ports 2 years later, when the Bangor was put into service. 
After 1836 these lines were operated by the Eastern Steamship 
Mail Line (the present Eastern Steamship Lines, Incorpor- 
ated) which maintained a daily service, except Sundays, 
between Boston and Portland. Cut-throat competition marked 
the rivalries of the various companies on the same route. 
When Captain Samuel H. Howe attempted to operate an inde- 

Port of the World 111 

pendent steamer service to Bangor in 1842, the Eastern Line 
reduced its fares to Portland as low as 50 cents, driving the 
new company out of business. 

A combination stage and steamboat route from Boston to 
New York was inaugurated in 1827, when the steamboat Long 
Branch left New London for New York on Sundays and 
Wednesdays upon the arrival of the stages from Boston and 
Providence. During the same year the Fulton Steamboat Line 
placed its Washington, Connecticut, and Fulton on the Provi- 
dence run, maintaining daily departures, except Sundays, at 
3 p.m. Regular sailing packets also operated from Boston in the 
iSgo's. Both the Despatch Line and the New Line advertised 
voyages to New York on Wednesdays and Saturdays of each 
week, wind and weather permitting. The sloops of the Des- 
patch Line and the schooners of the Regular Line offered 
weekly sailings to Albany and Troy, forwarding freight "to 
any place on the Western or Northern Canal, Lake Cham- 
plain, or Montreal." Every Saturday three Boston lines, the 
Union Line, and Regular Line, and the Union and Despatch 
Line sent brigs to Philadelphia, while two companies main- 
tained sailings to Baltimore, Norfolk, Alexandria, Charleston, 
and other southern ports. But much of this commerce would 
have died a premature death had not the "sailing packet" 
lines plied between Boston and every tidewater village along 
the New England coast, transporting freight and passengers at 
regular intervals. 

Early in the 1840'$ the rivalry between the trains and the 
stagecoaches for steamer connections grew to considerable 
proportions. After a train ride from Boston to Springfield, the 
passengers were transferred to a stagecoach line to Hartford, 
by train again to New Haven, and thence by water to New 
York. The new Independent Line via Providence advertised 
that "the elegant and commodious steamboat, Neio Haven, 
will leave Providence on the arrival of the three o'clock train 
from Boston, on Tuesday's, Thursday's and Saturday's." 
Another route passed through Worcester and Norwich, Con- 
necticut, with a train leaving Boston daily at 4 o'clock in the 
afternoon and meeting the boat at Norwich, "before 8]/i 
P. M." Through fare was $6, the same as on the Providence 
route, and the freight rate was 35 cents per 100 pounds, with 
no cotton being carried on passenger boats. In April of the 
same year, when Commodore Vanderbilt placed his Cleopatra 
on the Providence Line and lowered the rates, the Norwich 

1 1 2 Boston Looks Seaward 

Line cut the through cabin fare to $2 and the deck fare to 
$1.50, successfully meeting the Vanderbilt competition. 

The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 was potentially more 
damaging to Boston merchants than steampackets. The Mid- 
dlesex Canal had diverted traffic from Portsmouth, New 
Hampshire, to Boston, and the local shippers feared lest 
similarly the interior trade might go over the Erie to New 
York. There was talk of constructing waterways from Boston 
to the West to meet this new competition. Engineers had even 
decided it might be more practical to tunnel through the 
Berkshire Hills than to build a series of locks across them. 
Fortunately, the plan was abandoned as too expensive and 
unnecessary after the Western Railroad was completed in 
1841, connecting Boston with the Erie Canal at Albany. In 
1844, the railway transported 300,000 barrels of flour from 
Albany and Troy to the cities of New England and, 3 years 
later, 515,000 barrels to Boston alone. Manufacturers 
responded, sending their products back over the same route. 
Nevertheless, due to the low water rates, Boston still imported 
more than half of its flour by schooner, receiving from coast- 
wise shipping more than 1,000,000 barrels in 1847. 

Despite the competition of the Erie Canal, Boston's ship- 
owners prospered, devoting their energies principally to the 
importation of cotton and coal. Massachusetts shoes, Quincy 
granite, a variety of manufactured goods, rum, and ice for mint 
juleps were shipped south in exchange for the cotton; this 
trade increased until nearly one-half the cotton consumed in 
America came to Boston, where it was distributed by rail to 
the New England textile centers. While in 1832 Boston 
received by water 25,000 bales of cotton, only 17 years later, 
this figure had jumped to the almost incredible total of 270,- 
ooo bales. Due to the extensive use of stoves and furnaces and 
the growth of industries, the demand for coal was correspond- 
ingly on the upgrade; imports of anthracite from Philadelphia 
increased from 63,000 tons in 1830 to more than a million tons 
in 1850. Naturally Boston's coastwise shipping kept pace, the 
total of arrivals and clearances nearly doubling from 5,000 
in 1830 to 9,300 in 1848. 

South America, California, China 

Boston's prosperous coastwise trade was a simple matter 
compared to the hazards associated with early business ven- 
tures in South America. Spain used the death penalty as a 

Port of the World 113 

threat against any dealings with her colonies; bribes became 
the sole means of overcoming innumerable restrictions placed 
in the way of the American merchants. Nevertheless, money- 
seeking Bostonians persisted with all the skill and ingenuity 
at their command, and in 1804, William P. White of Pitts- 
field established a mercantile agency at Buenos Aires. Yet 
commerce with South America never became as lucrative as 
some of the older Boston trade routes, largely because of the 
particularist spirit of Yankee merchants, who preferred their 
individual ways of making profits to grouping together and 
forming large companies. Both the importing of such staple 
products as coffee, rubber, and chocolate and the return ship- 
ments of manufactured goods were hampered by better organ- 
ized English competition. 

A good share of the South American trade was, however, 
centralized at Boston. Buenos Aires and Montevideo hides 
supplied Massachusetts tanneries and shoe factories; River 
Plate wool, hair, hides, sheepskins, and tallow found a ready 
market in Boston. Commerce with Buenos Aires was domi- 
nated by the firm of Samuel B. Hale & Company, established 
after Hale had visited the River Plate as supercargo aboard 
a Boston vessel. His agency prospered, and at one time the 
company operated 46 ships. New England lumber found an 
excellent market along the River Plate; dilapidated India- 
men, crammed with pine boards, sailed to Buenos Aires, where 
the timber was sold and the vessels broken up for firewood. 
The ice sent by energetic Frederick Tudor found a ready sale 
in South America. Brazilian coffee held an important place in 
Boston's South American trade; from 1841 to 1850 over 37,000 
bags were imported yearly, though shipments at no time 
approached the imports of New York, New Orleans, or Balti- 
more, which were averaging between 120,000 and 245,000 

Much of the local South American trade was handled by 
Augustus Hemenway, an enterprising Boston merchant who 
controlled the Valparaiso commerce. Like other merchant- 
princes of the day, he owned both the cargoes and the vessels 
that plied between Valparaiso and his warehouses in Boston, 
importing copper ore, nitrates, wool, hides, and goatskins, 
and exporting soap, lumber, candles, kerosene, refined sugar, 
boots, lathes, shovels, picks, machines, cotton and woolen 
cloth, and even organs and pianos. Hemenway was also 
actively engaged in the West Indies commerce, which pro- 

114 Boston Looks Seaward 

vided stiff competition to South American trade, especially in 
the coffee and logwood sent from St. Domingo, Jacmel, and 
Laguarra. Sugar and molasses were of course still the princi- 
pal exports of the islands, and Hemenway, demonstrating his 
usual ability to control both ends of a commercial enterprise, 
owned both a plantation and a sugar mill. It is said that once, 
while traveling on horseback to his estate, he was captured 
by Cuban insurgents. Showing no fear, Hemenway sat up all 
night bargaining for his ransom, and at daybreak, when the 
bandits had agreed to what he considered a just price, he sent 
his manager to the bank in Sagua, paid the money, and went 
quietly on his way. Thereafter he rode on the sugar train. 

The hardy Northwest fur trade, "Boston's high-school of 
commerce for forty years," revived in 1815 but flourished for 
only a few years thereafter. During the same period, California 
saw a brisk trade in furs, but hides became the principal com- 
modity when, in 1822, her ports were thrown open to legit- 
imate commerce by the Mexican Government. Characteris- 
tically enough, a Bryant & Sturgis ship was the first to enter 
the California hide trade under the new regime; she was 
loaded deep with New England knick-knacks which her cap 
tain exchanged for hides. With such a beginning, it was not 
difficult for Boston firms to maintain a monopoly until the 
Mexican War. Trading posts sprang up all along the coast 
under the able direction of men who spoke Spanish with a 
nasal twang and took California heiresses as their wives. 

Honolulu, through the efforts of merchants, whalers, and 
missionaries, had become "Yankeefied." Cloth and rum were 
in demand, and sandalwood continued to serve as an excel- 
lent medium of exchange, until King Liholiho stripped the 
islands bare to satisfy his craving for fast vessels, billiard 
tables, and good New England rum. In 1820, Bryant & Sturgis 
of Boston sent to Honolulu a fleet of five ships, including the 
noted Cleopatra's Barge, dubbed the Hawaiian royal yacht 
after it was sold to King Liholiho for between $50,000 and 
$90,000 worth of sandalwood. 

Changes also occurred in the China trade. At Canton, 
crockeryware, nankeens, crepes, and silks had been crowded 
from the market, and teas comprised over 80 percent of the 
Boston cargoes. Most of the tea-laden vessels docked at New 
York, although, out of 91 such ships entering there between 
1838 and 1842, 39 were from Boston. Gradually the impor- 
tance of the China trade decreased, at least as far as Boston 

Port of the World 115 

was concerned, and in 1844 only 2 or 3 Boston firms were 
actively engaged in it. 

After completing one China voyage, Captain John Codman 
(1814-1900), a Boston sea captain and author of sundry books 
on the sea, discharged his regular crew in New York. Recruit- 
ing a tough gang of down-and-outers along the New York 
waterfront, he headed his tea ship for Boston. The first morn- 
ing out, the men refused to holystone the deck, claiming that 
such work was not in their contract. "Well, what is?" asked 
the Captain. The men replied, "To make sail, steer the ship, 
hoist anchor and so forth." "Very good," the Captain mur- 
mured cheerfully. "Then you can let go the anchor thirty 
fathoms and we will keep hauling it in and dropping it again 
until the gentlemen are satisfied." The decks were promptly 

Long voyages still attracted sturdy seamen such as Sam 
Holbrook, a naval shipscarpenter, who in 1817 found the 
Boston Navy Yard "more like a graveyard than a public naval 
depot," and promptly got a furlough in order to sail from 
Boston to India. Three days out a man went overboard, and 
Holbrook and another seaman, completely disregarding the 
skipper's vitriolic objections, tossed their drowning com- 
panion a wooden skylight cover for a life preserver, nothing 
else being handy. Then they lowered a boat and finally man- 
aged to rescue the man. Months later, in Bombay, a Parsee 
peddler came aboard, and, as Holbrook relates in his memoirs, 
Threescore Years, sold the seamen vast quantities of "that 
accursed crazy liquor called arack, made from the cocoa-nut, 
more maddening in its influence than any other intoxicating 
drink on earth." The crew mutinied. Two officers, blunder- 
busses in hand, faced the threatening mob. "If you come any 
farther aft, we'll fire," warned one of the mates. "Fire and be 
damned!" came a voice Holbrook recognized as that of the 
man whom he had helped rescue. There was no shooting, how- 
ever, for assistance came from other ships- in the harbor; the 
mutiny was squelched, and the men were properly chastened 
by threat of the rope's end. 

Two weeks after Holbrook's departure, ig-year-old Robert 
Bennet Forbes shipped from Boston. Seven years later, "Mr. 
Forbes," not quite 20, was bound for Java and China, captain 
of the 264-ton Levant. As a partner in the firm of Russell & 
Company, he subsequently engaged in the lucrative China 
trade, leading a life filled with excitement and adventure. 

ii6 Boston Looks Seaward 

Once, when he was a passenger aboard the Mary Chilton, a 
Chinese pilot hove to and informed the captain that his price 
for taking the ship into Hong Kong was "hundred dollah, 
welly cheap!" At this point Forbes approached and was imme- 
diately recognized by the Chinese pilot. "Hi-yah, ole Foxel" 
the latter exclaimed. "Ten dollah can do, Missee Captain." 
All told, "Commodore" Forbes, as he was later known, was 
interested in more than 70 vessels. He founded the Sailors' 
Snug Harbor in Quincy and, in 1845, built the Massachusetts, 
the first screw-propelled auxiliary steam vessel to cross the 

Forbes' most famous exploit, described in his Personal Rem- 
iniscences, was an errand of mercy. He loaded the Jamestown 
with 800 tons of food supplies for the victims of the Irish 
famine of 1846-47. Officered by volunteers, the Jamestown left 
the Boston Navy Yard on March 28 with a brisk northwest 
wind filling her sails. Next morning a terrific storm developed, 
and driving sleet covered decks and rigging with a glaze of 
ice; vicious waves snapped at the tossing craft. Thinking of 
the famine-stricken thousands, Forbes refused to take in sail, 
forcing her with every ounce of brawn and brain at his com- 
mand. Just 15 days and 3 hours after clearing Boston, the 
Jamestown dropped anchor in Cork Harbor one of the fast- 
est runs ever made by a sailing vessel from Boston to Ireland. 
The supplies were received amid great rejoicing; Irish children 
were christened "Forbes," "James," and even "Boston"; a 
silver salver was sent to the shipmaster as a token of gratitude. 

The Mediterranean and Fayal 

After the Barbary pirates had been forced to cease exacting 
annual tribute from passing merchant vessels, Boston's Medi- 
terranean trade expanded tremendously. There had been a 
steady increase in the demand for Oriental fruits, wines, wool, 
corkwood, and olive oil. Although the Mediterranean peoples 
lost their taste for New England salt cod, once a staple prod- 
uct, they learned to appreciate the wearing qualities of Lowell 
cottons and developed a thirst for New England rum. "I 
find," wrote the American consul at Genoa in 1843, "that 
a large proportion of our trade . . . has been carried on by 
Boston and Salem merchants. Some years, more than half the 
vessels entering this port have been owned by Robert Gould 
Shaw of Boston." 

Although a number of native Bostonians were active at 

Port of the World 117 

Smyrna, a considerable percentage of the Mediterranean trade 
was handled by the Marquis Nicholas Reggio, Genoese resi- 
dent of Smyrna, and Joseph lasigi, Smyrnite Armenian, who 
established themselves as merchant-shipowners in Boston. 
Their keen understanding of Oriental psychology and their 
many close connections in Smyrna maintained the city's 
supremacy in the Eastern Mediterranean down to the close 
of the sailing-ship era. lasigi, erector of the statues of Colum- 
bus and Aristides in Louisburg Square, and Reggio were 
financially successful and attained positions of prominence in 
the Commonwealth. They imported the best Smyrna figs, 
coarse wool, gum arabic and tragacanth used in the manufac- 
ture of cotton prints, sponges, Turkey carpets, and drugs like 
myrrh and scammony. Other dealers brought in opium for 
export to China, one-half the entire crop of 1820 being 
handled by a Boston firm at Canton. 

The writers of the 1830*8 did not often entrust their lives to 
the sea. Ralph Waldo Emerson, however, ventured to Malta 
in 1833 aboard the 236-ton brig Jasper, along with four other 
passengers and a cargo of logwood, mahogany, tobacco, sugar, 
coffee, beeswax, and cheese. He complained of "nausea, dark- 
ness, unrest, uncleanliness, harpy appetite and harpy feeding, 
the ugly 'sound of water in mine ears', anticipations of going 
to the bottom, and treasures of the memory." In his Diary, as 
quoted by Morison, Emerson wrote: 

Out occasionally crawled we from our several holes, but hope and fair 
weather would not; so there was nothing for it but to wriggle again into 
the crooks of the transom. Then it seemed strange that the first man 
who came to sea did not turn round and go straight back again. Strange 
that because one of my neighbours had some trumpery logs and notions 
which would sell for a few cents more here than there, he should thrust 
forth this company of his poor countrymen to the tender mercies of the 
northwest wind. . . . 

The Captain believes in the superiority of the American to every other 
countryman. "You will see", he says, "when you get out here how they 
manage in Europe; they do everything by main strength and ignorance. 
Four truckmen and four stevedores at Long Wharf will load my brig 
quicker than a hundred men at any port in the Mediterranean." It 
seems the Sicilians have tried once or twice to bring their fruit to 
America in their own bottoms, and made the passage, he says, in one 
hundred and twenty days. 

Throughout the nineteenth century the most prominent 
merchant at the port of Fayal, in the Azores, was always a 
Dabney of Boston. Outward-bound whalers often stopped 
there to unload their early oil, which the industrious Dab- 
neys promptly reshipped to Boston, along with such local 

n8 Boston Looks Seaward 

products as oranges and Pico wine, facetiously christened 
"Pico Madeira," although of inferior quality. Many pipes of 
plain Pico were exported from Boston as "Choice old London 
Particular." The most popular Boston sea captain in the 
Azores was Edmund Burke, master of the Azor, who left in 
his wake a trail of fast voyages and much affection ashore. 
Once when the Azor was overdue, the local inhabitants offered 
prayers for the vessel's safety. \Vhen on another occasion it 
became necessary to cut away the Azor's masts during a ter- 
rific storm, four of the Portuguese sailors were grief-stricken at 
the necessity of injuring her and wept bitterly as they hacked 

The Baltic and England 

More important than Boston's Mediterranean trade was her 
commerce with the other European countries. Grain and 
manufactured goods went all over Europe, France, Germany, 
Spain, and Holland. On the first leg of their voyage in the 
Baltic trade, ships resumed their task of carrying New England 
manufactures, lumber, and fish to Havana or Matazanas, in 
exchange for sugar, or, as an alternative, sailing to Fayal for 
whale oil and bones. The vessels then continued to the Baltic 
where they picked up a return cargo of Swedish steel, which 
was better than any this country could produce and was used 
in manufacture of fine tools, and Russian hemp, which was 
used in local shipyards for bolt rope and stays. 

The development of the Russian trade at this period was in 
large part due to the enterprise of William Ropes, who, while 
in the Baltic in 1829 as a supercargo, was so impressed with 
the possibilities of the region that he went back 3 years later 
and established a trading-post at St. Petersburg. Until this 
time many Boston ships had put into Kronstadt "dead- 
freighted" to carry away cargoes of hemp, cordage oakum, 
iron, and sailcloth. Ropes specialized in shipping cotton direct 
from the United States to Russia. Ropes' son, William H. 
Ropes, who took over the Russian end of the business, trav- 
eled thousands of miles through Russia each winter creating 
markets for the goods handled by his house. 

Although a New York line inaugurated the first regular 
passage to Europe, the Boston and Liverpool Packet Company 
closely followed in 1822. On October 15 of that year, S. Austin, 
Jr., and J. W. Lewis announced the immediate departure for 
Liverpool via Charleston, S. C., of the "Boston and Liverpool 

Port of the World 119 

Packet Company ship Emerald, Philip Fox, master, and of 
the ship Herald for Liverpool direct." Other ships of the line, 
the Amethyst and Topaz, also advertised that they would 
"positively leave on the days stated, if the weather permits." 
Built by Thatcher Magoun, these four vessels, as well as the 
Boston, Lowell, Liverpool, and Plymouth, were known all 
over the world. 

The eastbound Liverpool trade was adversely affected by 
the lack of suitable export cargo, a handicap that has plagued 
Boston's operations on many trade routes down to the present. 
English-owned shipping carried the Liverpool-bound East 
and West Indian goods, which formed the export staple from 
Boston on other European routes. Boston had no other cargo 
to substitute, and the Liverpool packets were forced to go to 
Charleston for outward ladings of cotton. This extended 
voyage limited the number of passengers, for many were 
unwilling to make the extra journey. When the Liverpool 
Packet Company failed two years later, the only noteworthy 
achievement of the line was the record-breaking westward 
passage from Liverpool to Boston of the ship Emerald. Leav- 
ing the English port at 3 p. m. on February 20, the ship 
"stayed with an easterly gale" all the way across and hove to 
off Boston Light just 17 days out. Her owners were amazed at 
the remarkable passage and scarcely believed Captain Fox 
until he handed them his Liverpool papers dated February 
20, 1824. 

The second Boston packet company was equally unsuccess- 
ful and for similar reasons. On October 3, 1827, George G. 
Jones, of No. 41 India Wharf, advertised a list of ships and 
their proposed departures. By the following spring his agency 
operated several Magoun-built vessels, such as the Dover, some 
121 feet in length, with a 45-foot main cabin containing 11 
staterooms, a library, a wine and spirit room, a covered deck 
abaft the mainmast for passenger use, and a "bathing room" 
with bucket and sea water facilities. Cabin passage, including 
"matresses, bedding, wines and all other stores," cost $140. A 
housed-over longboat, securely lashed between the fore and 
mainmasts, carried pens for pigs and sheep on the bottom, 
ducks and geese above them, and chickens on top of the geese, 
while over the main hatch was fastened a cow house, since to 
take cows along was then the only method of providing milk 
at sea. By 1834, however, cargoes from Boston had become so 
scarce that the line was forced to abandon operations. 

i2O Boston Looks Seaward 

In 1839, Samuel Cunard, founder of the North American 
Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, selected Boston as the 
American terminus of his line. The arrival of the Cunarder 
Unicorn the next year was followed closely by the Britannia, 
which inaugurated a fortnightly schedule of sidewheel steam- 
ers. Although the sidewheelers averaged 15 days from Liver- 
pool, they were thought to be dangerous, and could accom- 
modate only a small cargo at a high freight rate. Sailing- 
masters made a point of running as close as possible to a 
sidewheeler, when one was encountered at sea, to show the 
superior speed of sail in a good wind. Passengers generally 
preferred the dangers of broaching to, shipwreck on a lee 
shore, and "all hands lost" to those of scalding steam, bursting 
boilers, and "burning to the water's edge." While the steamer 
Sirius once brought only 7 passengers to New York in 1838, the 
sailing packets carried 800 to 1,000 immigrants and from 20 to 
40 cabin travelers in a single voyage. 

The lack of adequate return cargoes effectively prevented 
the establishment of another Liverpool line until Enoch Train 
inaugurated his famous Boston to Liverpool clipper packet- 
service in 1844. Sagaciously noting increased passenger traffic, 
Train advertised plans for a packet line to Liverpool with 
his four ships, the Dorchester (500 tons), the Cairo (600 tons), 
the Governor Davis (800 tons), and the St. Petersburg (800 
tons) "all first-class, Medford-built, copper-fastened, cop- 
pered, and fast sailing ships." The Dorchester sailed for Liver- 
pool on May 27, 1844. Later, Train built expressly for his 
line the Joshua Bates, Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-American, Wash- 
ington Irving, Ocean Monarch (1,300 tons), and Parliament. 
The Liverpool end of the business was managed by Baring 
Brothers & Company until Frederick W. Thayer, Train's part- 
ner, took it over some years afterward. In 1848 passenger rates 
were as low as $80 first cabin, $50 second cabin, and $12 
steerage, forcing the Cunard Company to reduce their fares 
from 150 to $120. 

Even on Train's packets, passenger travel left much to be 
desired. The worst sufferers were the people who had to travel 
steerage; these unfortunates were stowed, together with all 
their worldly goods, between decks in a space hardly high 
enough for a tall man to stand upright, and were allowed on 
deck only in the best of weather. The Irish famine of 1846-47 
filled every packet bound for Massachusetts with brawny men 
who came to work on the railroads and were destined to pro- 

Port of the World 121 

vide much of the State's political leadership. Since they 
furnished their own food on the way across, many sailed with 
only enough for a record trip, facing actual starvation when 
the vessel was delayed by westerly gales. The suffering in 
steerage was hardly less than the bitter experience of the 

Boston during the middle of the nineteenth century main- 
tained a dominant position in foreign commerce, through the 
courage of her sea captains and tough crews who drove her 
ships and piled on canvas to the limit of the top hamper. 
The development of the packet lines created a race of seamen 
described by Charles E. Cartwright in The Tale of Our Mer- 
chant Ships as the "roughest and toughest class of sailors 
afloat." Few native Bostonians cared to ship before the mast, 
and only a scattering of competent British tars and able Scan- 
dinavians remained among the motley aggregation of Kanakas 
from the South Seas, Lascars from India, outcasts, jailbirds, 
and scum from all the Seven Seas. Easily distinguished by 
their bell-bottomed trousers and varnished hats, these "packet 
rats" could thrive on worse weather, poorer food, less sleep, 
and more rum than any other sailors alive. Only the dread 
belaying pin wielded by a harsh bucko-mate aboard a Boston 
"Hell Wagon" could keep them in subjection. Since the pack- 
ets had to run on schedule, despite the worst kind of weather, 
the men aboard them were sailing devils, preferring to let 
canvas blow away rather than take it in. Hard-bitten masters 
established enviable records for fast runs and brilliant seaman- 

Although the ascendancy of steam should by this time have 
been obvious to even the most nearsighted of the Boston mer- 
chants, the Cunarders were gradually permitted to gain the 
choicest passenger and freight trade, while Bostonians still 
remained content with their past achievements. To some 
extent Enoch Train's line of packets helped to delay the inevit- 
able, although "Commodore" Forbes showed he was not 
asleep by constructing the Massachusetts, with auxiliary steam 
power and the new Ericsson screw propeller. Most of the Bos- 
ton shipowners were too busy with the Mediterranean, China, 
India, California, and South America trades, with the Euro- 
pean wave of immigration, and the coastwise commerce to 
consider what the future held in store for them. In steam 
navigation, Boston marked time, as if waiting for the white 
topgallants of the golden clippers to lift above the horizon. 



The Call of Gold 

WHEN A California hide-drogher unloaded a cargo of crude 
leather at the Port of Boston in the autumn of 1848, her skip- 
per lost no time in spreading the exciting news that gold had 
been discovered in the newly annexed Territory of California. 
A few months later Captain William Dane Phelps, the first 
American to carry the Stars and Stripes up the Sacramento 
River, returned to Boston from California. He brought back 
a bag of gold that created a wild furore. Boston newspapers 
printed extravagant accounts about barrels of gold, and 
hundreds of visitors flocked to Phelps' house, to examine the 
gold dust and to seek first-hand information about the gold 
mines of California. 

Boston was swept by a "gold fever"; the sight of the yellow 
metal had given substance to incredible rumors about gold 
nuggets, as large as eggs, being picked up by the handfuls 
along the California river-beds. During the "gold rush" that 
followed, Nantucket lost one-fourth of its voting population, 
and Boston suffered almost as great a depletion. Lured by the 
prospect of riches over night, local artisans, merchants, law- 
yers, and even ministers dropped their work and dashed off 
to California. True to their seafaring traditions, most of 
Boston's gold seekers chose the ocean route instead of the 
Overland Trail. In 1849, 151 ships, barks, brigs, and schoon- 
ers cleared the Port for San Francisco; the year 1850 saw 166 
California-bound vessels depart from Boston and at least an 
equal number from smaller Massachusetts towns. 

All told, about 316 companies of Forty-Niners, ranging 
from 10 to 150 members, took ship at Boston in 1849 anc ^ 
1850. The Bunker Hill Mining and Trading Company, for 
example, consisted of 30 mechanics from Charlestown, Somer- 
ville, and Cambridge, each of whom contributed $500 toward 
their ship. Few groups were as well endowed as the North 
Western Company, whose members, of the professional class, 
paid $1,000 each and purchased a luxurious clipper brig. 


The Romance of the Clippers 123 

Since little return cargo was available, only one Boston ship- 
owner found it expedient to charter his vessels to the emi- 
grants. This was Enoch Train, who felt he could divert several 
ships from his famous line of Liverpool packets to hurry men 
and merchandise to the West Coast. 

In keeping with lingering Puritan tradition, Boston's gold 
hunters prefaced their departure by church services and Bible 
presentations. William H. Thomes, at one time connected with 
the Boston Herald and a member of a company sailing for 
San Francisco on the Edward Everett, wrote Reminiscences 
of a Gold Hunter, a droll account of these sessions and their 
sequel. Octavius T. Howe, in The Argonauts of '49, quotes 
him at length: 

The Hon. Edward Everett . . . made us a present of 100 volumes as 
a library and in his letter conveying the gift said, "You are going to a 
strange country. Take the Bible in one hand and your New England 
civilization in the other and make your mark on the people and the 
country". . . . Only a few remembered the excellent advice of the good 
man, while some of our most promising students of divinity swore like 
pirates when they lost at monte and had hard luck at the mines; while 
one day at Sacramento I saw on the counter of a grogshop one of the 
Bibles which had been presented to us with so much thoughtful care for 
the welfare of our souls. One of our civilizers had sold his holy book 
for a drink. 

Sponsored by the Boston and California Joint Stock Mining 
and Trading Company, the first organized Boston prospectors 
to sail for California embarked on the Edward Everett on 
January 12, 1849. After the landlubbers had found their sea 
legs, they began to invent diversions to break the monotony 
of the long voyage around the Horn. Corridors between decks 
were christened with such familiar names as Dock Square, 
Beacon Street, and Ringers Row; a weekly newspaper was 
published; there were Sunday prayer meetings, scientific lec- 
tures, and mock trials. 

A young man on the Edward Everett wrote A Journal of a 
Voyage to California, which is full of pithy comments on 
events of the passage. In an entry dated February 3, the author 
comments on the lack of industry among liis fellow travelers: 

It is my working day . . . down in the fore hold pickling and stowing 
port. That Irish stevedore stowed everything just as it happened, so that 
the barrels that were stowed bung down the pickle run out. About half 
of the company are regular shirks. Out of the 15 men whose turn it is 
to work you can't keep more than ten of them where the work is. 

The appearance of a passing ship always supplied a wel- 
come interlude for the ocean-weary voyagers. When the 

124 Boston Looks Seaward 

Aurora of Nantucket, bound also for San Francisco, turned 
up, her crew came aboard and were treated to lemonade. Two 
days later, February 16, the Swedish brig Othello, en route to 
Rio de Janeiro, was visited by men from the Edward Everett. 
They greatly admired the Brussels carpets, mahogany table, 
chandelier, and looking-glass of the Othello. 

During warm starlight nights of February and March while 
the Edward Everett was passing through the southern lati- 
tudes, most of the company gathered on deck, spinning yarns 
and singing songs of home to the accompaniment of a violin 
and banjo. A stop at Valparaiso was a pleasant change. The 
passengers hired donkeys and galloped through the streets, 
attended bull and cock fights, and found relief from the ship's 
fare in tropical fruits and drinks. 

The last month of the voyage saw all hands employed in 
making tents and boats; mining engines were brought on deck 
and overhauled, and gold-washing machines were tried out. 
Evening entertainments followed the day's activities. A band 
was formed to dispel the gloom of homesickness; parading, 
dancing, fishing, and target shooting became popular pastimes. 
On June 22, according to the Journal, 

We had a great time after supper. About 40 of us dressed ourselves up 
with our guns, pistols, knapsacks, tin pans, wash bowls, etc., with one 
of the sailors dressed in regimentals. We marched about decks with a 
fife and flute at our head. 

A special program was arranged in celebration of the 
Fourth of July. "Hail Columbia" and "Yankee Doodle" were 
played; "Land of Our Fathers" and "The Star-Spangled Ban- 
ner" were sung. The Reverend J. A. Benton recited an orig- 
inal poem, Luis Lull delivered an oration, and the Declara- 
tion of Independence was read. Dinner included hot biscuits 
and butter, beef, pork, and applesauce, gingerbread and 
"fixings," plum cake, tarts, and fruit. In the evening, fire- 
works and a "grand soiree" by the colored population, some 
of whom were attired in women's clothes, climaxed the festivi- 
ties. The holiday spirit still prevailed 2 days later when the 
Edward Everett sailed into San Francisco Harbor, 175 days 
from Boston. Emigrants and crew alike were sorely disap- 
pointed, when they observed that the town was "no place at 
all. More tents than houses." Shortly after landing the com- 
pany disbanded. 

Thirteen days later another Boston ship, the Capitol, docked 
at San Francisco, after a voyage mainly notable for dissension 

The Romance of the Clippers 125 

between the captain and his passengers. The trouble started 
a few days out of Boston, when the gold seekers demanded 
better food, more of it, and enough forks and spoons to con- 
tinue proper table manners. When the captain replied that 
he was following the shipowner's instructions, the passengers 
threatened mutiny and drew up a protest. The resolution 
accomplished its purpose, but ill-feeling never wholly died 
down. At the order of the captain, the sailors discontinued the 
practice of hauling water over the side of the vessel for the 
ablutions of the passengers. An old leather bucket was attached 
to the monkeyrail, and thereafter every man hauled his own 
water. At San Francisco the gold-mad sailors promptly 
deserted, and the harassed captain became insane and took 
his own life, leaving a lone mate on the vessel. 

A few Boston companies took the shorter Panama route 
and suffered great hardships crossing the fever-infested Isth- 
mus. Sailing vessels or steamers were used to get to Chagres, 
a port near the Atlantic entrance to the present Panama Canal. 
Typical of the experiences of travel across the country were 
those described in letters of the members of the Boston and 
Newburyport Mining Company, who left Boston on February 
24, 1849, and by Samuel Holbrook in Threescore Years, an 
Autobiography, published in 1857. The mining company 
members hired native guides to take them to Gorgona, about 
halfway across the Isthmus, for the price of $10 per person. 
The bargain could not be enforced when, midway of the 
journey, the guides refused to continue until they were paid 
an additional $60 for each member. At the end of his first 
day's journey overland, Holbrook found the only available 
lodging was a rickety chamber built over a pigsty. Sleep was 
out of the question, for the hogs sensed his presence and 
plagued him throughout the dark hours with their grunting 
and squealing. Nor was his luck any better the next night, 
when he sought slumber in an old shanty which was nothing 
more than a few bamboo sticks "stuck in the ground, with 
others across, and the roof thatched." He had not retired long 
before he found that "there were others there who claimed a 
pre-emption right, and had assailed us from the crowns of our 
head to the soles of our feet." Holbrook and his companions 
obtained a piece of sperm candle from the old Indian women 
who owned the hut and by its light cleaned out the rubbish 
and "made out to live till morning." 

Between Gorgona and Panama, the route lay over moun- 

126 Boston Looks Seaward 

tains and was usually traversed by donkeys. The fever-wracked 
travelers relaxed at Panama if a ship were not immediately 
available and wasted their money at monte and other gam- 
bling devices. Members of the Boston and Newburyport Min- 
ing Company had planned to travel from Panama to San 
Francisco by steamer but found the $400-8600 fare too high 
for their depleted purses. After several weeks waiting they 
booked passage on the bark Circassian at a fare of $200, having 
sold part of their stores to obtain that sum. The Circassian set 
sail for the Golden Gate, but head winds drove her back 
beyond the Equator. Intense heat spoiled the barrels of pork 
and beef; the vessel's seams began to open. While pumps rat- 
tled constantly through scorching days and sultry nights, 
mutinous looks appeared on the haggard faces of the crew. 
As the days wore on, the water supply ran low, and the pas- 
sengers were restricted to a pint a day. So desperate with 
hunger were the travelers that on one occasion they broke 
into the storeroom and "found some salt pork which they 
devoured raw." During the last 3 weeks of the voyage to San 
Francisco the passengers broke their fast but once a day. At 
that single meal they ate "two ounces of jerked beef, so wormy 
that it would crawl, and four ounces of ship bread full of 

For the most part, Bostonians made the hazardous trip to 
California in the slowest and most decrepit hulks, spending 
long months at sea and weathering treacherous gales off Cape 
Horn. Every sort of craft that could float, from whale ship 
to fragile schooner, was hurriedly pressed into service to 
carry men and goods to the gold fields. During the 5 to 8 
months' voyage, scurvy and ship fever (typhus) took a heavy 
toll; lacking proper medical care, the less robust died from 
even simple ailments. 

The story of Dr. Samuel Merritt of Boston and Plymouth 
is illustrative of the fortunes won and lost by emigrating 
Yankees. While loading his brig at Boston, Dr. Merritt 
thought of purchasing tacks but was prevented by professional 
duties from getting to a tack factory, thus losing an oppor- 
tunity to sell them at San Francisco for $5 a package. During 
the voyage, he passed up an opportunity to take on potatoes, 
which were also in great demand at the Californian port. Find- 
ing no market for his cargo of general merchandise, Dr. Mer- 
ritt turned his medical profession to such good account that 
he received $40,000 in one year. His desire to trade was still 

The Romance of the Clippers 127 

strong, however, and he sent a chartered brig to Puget Sound 
for ice. The captain returned with a load of timber, which 
happened to be in great demand for the building of wharves. 
The trip proved so highly profitable that a second one was 
undertaken for the same purpose. Dr. Merritt next instructed 
his shipmaster to exchange a load of Puget Sound lumber for 
Australian coal, but the captain returned instead with a 
cargo of oranges from the Society Islands. The fruit sold for 
fabulous prices, and again the venturesome doctor won out. 

Boston's waterfront became tense with excitement when- 
ever a gold ship embarked for California. The members of 
the prospecting society exhibited themselves wearing slouch 
hats and high boots, in a spirit of reckless daring, and occu- 
pied the center of attention as they bade farewell to anxious 
relatives and envious friends. Arriving in various stages of 
inebriation, the crew was literally dragged on deck by board- 
ing-house runners. The officers brought well-stocked sea 
chests; the more provident seamen carried their entire ward- 
robe in bandanna handkerchiefs. On the quarterdeck stood 
the mate, to whom the captain had delegated the unpleasant 
duty of getting the ship out to sea. Nervously mindful that 
scores of people were studying his every movement, the bucko 
counted himself lucky if he could muster two-thirds of the sea- 
men in fit condition to cast off hawsers and stand by. Accord- 
ing to descriptions furnished by Captain Arthur H. Clark in 
The Clipper Ship Era, once the ship had drifted clear of the 
wharf, the mate bellowed cheerfully. "Heave on the windlass 
brakes. Strike a light!" Breaking into a rollicking rhyme that 
shocked the ladies gathered at the end of the dock, chanteying 
hands raised the anchor to the rail. The mate cried, " 'Vast 
heaving!", then to the captain, "The anchor's apeak, Sir." 
"Very good, Sir. Loose sails fore and aft." "Aye, aye Sir! Aloft, 
you gentlemen in disguise. You! Up in the tops and crosstrees, 
and overhaul gear. Royals and topsails! Lay out there, four 
or five of you, and loose head sails. Bos'n, take some men and 
look after the main and mizzen. You on the foretops'l! If you 
cut that gasket, I'll split your . . . thick skull!" Canvas set, 
sheets hauled to windward, and yards braced, the ship com- 
menced to move. The gold seekers gave a full-throated roar; 
the crowd on the wharf returned three cheers and watched 
the Argonaut dwindle to a white speck. 

Sighting the sandy coast of California after an ocean voyage 
of 18,000 miles, the ship-bound Bostonians burst into song: 

128 Boston Looks Seaward 

Jump along, Jonathan, jig along, Jemima, 
California's full of gold, we'll all be rich as Lima. 

Often a vessel entering the Golden Gate was kept afloat only 
by the operation of her pumps and had to be run aground on 
the mud flats of Mission Bay. Upon arrival at San Francisco, 
passengers and crew rushed off to the "diggin's," the passen- 
gers frequently leaving behind their belongings and the crew 
neglecting to collect their pay. Many Boston vessels never 
again put out to sea; deserted by their crews, they were con- 
verted into saloons, hotels, and even prisons. To man out- 
bound vessels at San Francisco captains sometimes found it 
necessary to ship jailbirds, regardless of their inexperience. 
Crews grew so scarce that the standing joke of the times 
depicted seamen requiring letters of recommendation from 
pleading sea captains. The South Carolina, one of the few 
ships to escape from San Francisco in the first year of the 
gold fever, returned to Boston with a cargo of Valparaiso 

The passenger register of Boston's gold ships listed a num- 
ber of courageous and adventurous women. Departing late 
in 1849, tne California Packet carried 12 married and 16 
unmarried women as well as 15 children. However, when an 
erstwhile matron at Sing Sing, Mrs. Farnham, attempted to 
recruit Boston women for a proposed company made up 
entirely of the gentler sex, the undertaking failed miserably, 
despite the high wages paid on the West Coast, where even 
laundresses were earning $1,200 a year. Carrying 15 male pas- 
sengers in addition to a maiden lady, two widows, and their 
redoubtable leader, Mrs. Farnham's chartered vessel, the 
Angelique, finally sailed for San Francisco in May 1849. Early 
in the voyage the captain and Mrs. Farnham developed many 
differences and aired them all the way to Valparaiso. Here 
Mrs. Farnham went ashore to see the sights. Refusing to wait 
one minute beyond the scheduled sailing hour, the captain 
left the quarrelsome lady behind. Either prompted by Latin 
chivalry or dismayed by the prospect of harboring such a for- 
midable person, the Chileans took up a collection and paid 
her passage to the Golden Gate. Subsequently, Mrs. Farnham 
prosecuted the skipper but lost her $15,000 suit for damages. 

Gold ships carried their quota of fugitives from justice, who 
employed devious ruses to evade arrest. Holbrook, in Three- 
score Years, described his fellow travelers to Chagres: 

The Romance of the Clippers 129 

On board the steamer there were about three hundred cabin and 
steerage passengers, among whom were about 40 regular New Orleans 
gamblers, together with several ladies of doubtful repute. There were 
also some who had run away from their families, and some who were 
fleeing from their creditors. . . . One of these worthies was two days 
and nights stowed away in the coal bunker of the steamer, while two 
constables were in search of him. 

The escape of another lawbreaker, who wished to sail to Cali- 
fornia on the Duxbury, is told by Howe in the Argonauts of 
'49. Upon approaching the vessel, the youthful adventurer 
noticed the sheriff at the gangplank. Quickly dodging out of 
sight, the fugitive reflected for a moment. The ship was to 
leave within 20 minutes, and the obstacle in the way of his 
boarding her seemed insurmountable. Slipping into a nearby 
grocery store owned by a friend, he explained his plight. The 
grocer told him to jump into an empty wooden box, and 
began to nail on the cover. The inscription "Medicine, this 
side up with care" was hastily written on the box. A minute 
before sailing time, under the very nose of the watchful sher- 
iff, the box was rushed up the gangplank and placed in the 
hold. Unfortunately, the busy freight handlers disregarded 
the instructions, and the young fugitive spent some time 
standing on his head before being released. 

Boston merchants rushed cargoes of every description 
around the Horn after reports had reached them that 90,000 
emigrants in San Francisco were offering fabulous prices for 
food, clothing, and every necessity of life. Flour sold for $44 
a barrel; potatoes $16 a bushel; eggs $10 a dozen, an unprece- 
dented price for eggs which had aged 160 days without transit 
refrigeration. Laden with the eagerly sought commodities, no 
less than 16 Boston vessels entered the Golden Gate between 
June 26 and July 28, 1850. Overstocked with baby cradles, one 
enterprising trader sent them around the Horn, to serve as 
rockers for placer mining. Cargo space on a California-bound 
ship sold for $1.50 per cubic foot; freight rates soared to such 
heights that the owners of the Medford-built Argonaut cleared 
their expense before the ship sailed on her maiden voyage. 
After July 24, 1850, when the New York clipper Sea Witch 
dropped anchor in San Francisco Harbor, completing a rec- 
ord-breaking passage of 97 days, every mercantile agency in 
San Francisco insisted upon the use of the speedier shipments 
by clipper. The knell had sounded for the older Pacific car- 
riers, and shipyards, far and wide, responded to the new 

130 Boston Looks Seaward 

Ocean Greyhounds 

At first, Boston shipowners had been skeptical of the clipper 
type of vessel, since, for its size, it had a relatively small cargo 
capacity and required a large crew to handle its numerous 
sails. For some time Boston merchants had recognized the 
need of faster ships for hauling China tea to European mar- 
kets, but they felt that clipper ships were suitable only if 
extra money could be collected for greater speed. Added to 
the requirements of the China trade, the sudden demand for 
quick passage to San Francisco gave the necessary incentive. 
There had been "clipper schooners" as far back as 1812 
Baltimore clippers, or "opium clippers" as they were called, 
long low craft with rakish masts and a reputation for speed 
which made them the darling of pirates, slavers, and opium 
runners. But not until 1845 did the Rainbow, an extreme clip- 
per with square sails on all masts, slide down the ways in New 
York. Her fine ends and cross-section came from the Balti- 
more clippers; the concave lines of her bow were taken from 
a Singapore sampan. 

Boston came to play a leading role in the construction of 
the fleetest and most superbly beautiful clipper ships ever 
designed. Summoning all the skill gained from nearly two 
centuries of experience, local shipbuilders fashioned ever 
larger and speedier ships. Along the East Boston waterfront 
the clang of hundreds of sledge hammers, topmauls, and 
caulking mallets rang out in a deafening chorus, as the 
aroma of boiling Carolina pitch and Stockholm tar mingled 
with that of fresh-hewn lumber. Close by the shipyards stood 
the rigging-lofts, sail-lofts, boat-builders' shops, block-and- 
pump makers' stands, painters', carvers', and gilders' shops, 
iron, copper, and brass workshops, mast and sparmakers, and 
ship supply stores, where all that was necessary for the outfit- 
ting of a vessel, from sail needle to anchor chain, could be 

Boston's first clipper, the Surprise, was built at Samuel 
Hall's East Boston yard in 1850. Designed by 23-year-old 
Samuel Hartt Pook, the "first independent architect of mer- 
chant vessels in New England," the vessel registered 1,261 
tons, and displayed a narrow beam of 40 feet compared with 
her 1 84-foot length. Her launching on October 5, 1850, was 
an elaborate affair. To provide a place for entertaining the 
wives and mothers of the craftsmen who had constructed the 

The Romance of the Clippers 131 

clipper, Hall's mold-loft, colorfully decorated with bunting, 
was transformed into a banquet hall, and a ladies' pavilion 
was set up. Fully rigged, gear-roved, spritsail yard crossed, and 
pennant flying, the Surprise disappointed waterfront critics 
who had expected her to capsize or stick in the mud. With half 
of the town cheering, the graceful vessel shot into the water, 
swayed perilously for a few moments, and then righted herself 
haughty as a queen. When she was towed into a loading 
berth at New York by the Boston steamer R. B. Forbes, the 
New York Herald declared the Surprise the handsomest ship 
ever seen in that port. Her maiden voyage under Captain 
Philip Dumaresq beat the record passage of the Sea Witch 
to San Francisco by one day, even though a capacity cargo 
of 1,800 tons, worth $200,000, was carried. After a fast voyage 
from California to Canton, the Surprise loaded tea for Lon- 
don at double the freight rates paid to British vessels, and 
cleared $50,000 net profit, above the cost of construction, for 
her owners. The ship was one of Boston's most successful 

On December 7, 1850, frostbitten spectators solemnly 
watched the i, 535-ton Stag-Hound speed down the smoking 
ways of Donald McKay's shipyard. When the shores were 
knocked out from under the vessel, she fairly leaped into the 
water, aptly materializing the symbol of her figurehead a 
hound straining at the leash. But for the quick-wittedness of 
the master rigger, who dashed a bottle of rum against her 
swift-moving hull, the Stag-Hound would not have been 
formally christened. Built like a racer, she measured 215 feet 
overall, 40 feet in breadth, and 21 feet in depth. Despite 
sharply rising sides, her mainyard spread out 86 feet and the 
stump of her mainmast extended 88 feet above deck. Fully 
clothed, the Stag-Hound carried 8,000 square yards of canvas. 
Frightened by the sharpness of her design and veritable cloud 
of canvas, the New York underwriters cautiously charged extra 

Although a faster ship than most of her predecessors, the 
Stag-Hound on her maiden voyage broke no records. She lost 
her upper masts 6 days out of New York, limped around the 
Horn, and finally put into Valparaiso for repairs. From that 
port Captain Josiah Richardson wrote to her owners: 

Gentlemen Your ship, the Staghound, anchored in this port this day, 
after a passage of 66 days, the shortest bar one ever made here; and if we 
had not lost the maintopmast and all three topgallantmasts on February 6, 

132 Boston Looks Seaward 

our passage doubtless would have been the shortest ever made. The ship is 
yet to be built to beat the Staghound. Nothing that we have fallen in with 
yet could hold her in play. I am in love with the ship, a better sea boat 
or working ship or drier I never sailed in. 

Carrying freight at the rate of $1.40 per cubic foot, the Stag- 
Hound anchored at San Francisco 107 days out of New York. 
On the way to China she beat the famous Sea Serpent by 9 
days and returned to New York after a fast passage of 94 
days, only to learn that the Sword fish, which had left Canton 
at the same time, had already been in port for 5 days. Finan- 
cially the maiden voyage of the Stag-Hound was a huge suc- 
cess; she earned $80,000 above her construction costs. 

The Witchcraft, first clipper of another East Boston builder, 
Paul O. Curtis, was also launched in 1850. One of the few 
sailing vessels to make the San Francisco run in less than 100 
days, her speed ranked with that of the Surprise and the 
Stag-Hound. In appearance she was a handsome, beautifully 
finished vessel, bearing on her masthead the carved figure of a 
Salem witch astride a broomstick. Ill fate dogged the Witch- 
craft on her maiden voyage. She lost her spars during the 
first stage of the trip and, like the Stag-Hound, was forced 
into Valparaiso for repairs. On the way to China a typhoon 
partially dismasted her. 

The gold rush to California keyed up every shipyard in 
Massachusetts to a peak of efficiency. Wild, speculative years 
of shipbuilding followed the successful launching of Boston's 
first clippers. Nine clippers were built at Boston in 1851; dur- 
ing the next year 19 more were completed, while New York 
constructed only 8. Clipper building reached its zenith in 
l &55> when 48 huge ships were added to the California fleet, 
21 being launched from Boston. The enormous cost of con- 
struction caused Boston shipowners to finance clippers by the 
public sale of stock. Every Boston citizen with money to spare, 
and some who could not spare the funds, proudly purchased 
one or more shares in the ocean greyhounds; both the pride 
of ownership and the hope of fabulous profits prompted their 
investments. But most of Boston's clippers flew the ensign of 
New York or British firms and operated out of New York. 
It was with mixed feelings of joy and sadness that Bostonians 
watched their splendid vessels glide down the harbor under 
the flag of another port, perhaps never again to return. 

Boston shipbuilders vied with each other in turning out 
handsome clippers. There was no tinsel or veneer about these 

The Romance of the Clippers 133 

vessels; no expense or detail which might increase their speed 
was spared. The best material and the most painstaking care 
went into their making solid oak beams and southern pine 
planks, sheathed and fastened without stint of the best copper. 
Contractors often spent large sums for such rare woods as 
India teak and Spanish mahogany. Many Boston clippers 
boasted pretentious staterooms and bathrooms for passengers; 
stanchions, fife railings, and deck houses fairly shone with 
brass, rosewood, and mahogany. If a Boston builder had dared 
skimp, his craftsmen would have deserted him. Larger in size, 
sharper at the bow, longer in relation to its beam, more heavily 
sparred, more gracefully designed, with inclined waterline 
and V-shaped sides, the clipper differed as much from its 
bluff-bowed predecessor as the modern streamlined engine 
from the old-fashioned steam locomotive. 

In the spring of 1851 Donald McKay launched the Flying 
Cloud, one of the fastest sailing vessels ever built. Designed 
for his friend and former partner, Enoch Train, the clipper 
was sold, while still in the stocks, to a New York firm for twice 
the contract price. The i, 783-ton vessel supported a mainmast 
88 feet high and featured a full poop deck which provided 
cabin accommodations described by Morison as "most elegant 
and tastefully wainscoted with satinwood, mahogany, and 
rosewood, set off by gilded pilasters." Command of the Flying 
Cloud was awarded to Josiah Perkins Cressy, a Marblehead 
captain who had established a noteworthy record in the East 
Indian trade as a master of the Oneida. On June 3, 1851, the 
glorious craft left New York for her record-breaking maiden 
voyage around the Horn to California. Entries in her log 
quoted by Lubbock in China Clippers, indicate the desperate 
doggedness of her skipper, who established a new mark for the 
hazardous passage. 

une 6. Lost main-topsail yard, and main and mizen topgallantmasts. 

une 7. Sent up topgallantmasts and yards. 

une 8. Sent up main-topsail yard and set all. possible sail. 

une 14. Discovered mainmast badly sprung about a foot from the 

hounds and fished it. 
June 24. Crossed the Equator, 21 days out. 

July n. Very severe thunder and lightning. Double-reefed topsails 
latter part blowing a hard gale, close reefed topsails, split 
fore and main topmast staysails. At i p. m. discovered main- 
mast had sprung. Sent down royal and topgallant yards and 
studding sail booms off lower and topsail yards to relieve 
the mast. Heavy sea running and shipping large quantities 
of water over lee rail. 
July 12. Heavy south-west gales and sea. Distance 40 miles. 

134 Boston Looks Seaward 

July 13. Let men out of irons in consequence of wanting their services, 
with the understanding that they would be taken care of 
on arriving at San Francisco. At 6 p. m. carried away main- 
topsail tye and truss band round mainmast. Single reefed 

July 19. Crossed latitude 50 south. 
July 20. At 4 a. m. close-reefed topsails and furled courses. Hard 

gale with thick weather and snow. 

July 23. Passed through the Straits of Le Maire. At 8 a. m. Cape 
Horn north 5 miles distant, the whole coast covered with 

July 26. Crossed latitude 50 south in the Pacific, 7 days from same 
latitude in Atlantic. (This was a record passage of the Horn.) 
July 31. Fresh breezes and fine weather. All sail set. At 2 p. m. wind 
south-east. At 6 squally, in lower and topgallant studding 
sails. 7 p. m., in royals. 2 a. m., in foretopmast studding sail. 
Latter part strong gales and high sea running, ship very wet 
fore and aft. Distance run this day by observation 374 miles. 
During the squalls 18 knots of line were not sufficient to 
measure the rate of speed. Topgallant sails set. 

August i. Strong gales and squally. At 6 p. m., in topgallant sails, 
double reefed fore and mizen topsails. Heavy sea running. 
At 4 a. m. made sail again. Distance 334 miles. 

August 3. Suspended first officer from duty, in consequence of his 
arrogating to himself the privilege of cutting up rigging 
contrary to my orders and long-continued neglect of duty. 

August 25. Spoke barque Amelia Pacquet 180 days out from London 
bound to San Francisco. 

August 29. Lost fore-topgallant mast. 

August 30. Sent up fore-topgallant mast. Night strong and squally 
Anchored in San Francisco Harbour at 11:30 a. m. after 
a passage of 89 days 21 hours. 

Sandy Hook to Equator 21 days 

Equator to 50 South 25 

50 Atlantic to 50 South Pacific 7 " 

50 South Pacific to Equator 17 

Equator to San Francisco 19 

89 days 

Distance Run If 7>5$7 statute miles 

Daily Average 222 

A wave of enthusiasm swept San Francisco when the Flying 
Cloud entered the Golden Gate on August 30, 1851. After 
being given a public reception, Captain Cressy was lavishly 
entertained at a succession of private banquets. Old salts 
gazed in admiration at the fishings and extra-rackings on the 
spars of the Flying Cloud, and noted her chain trappings, mast 
doublings, and splintered topmast fids, which bore mute 
evidence of the noble craft's strenuous endeavors in the teeth 
of Cape Horn storms and gales. Cressy lost no time in dis- 
charging his refractory first mate, who immediately hired a 
lawyer and brought suit, but later dropped his charges upon 

The Romance of the Clippers 135 

reading a false story of the captain's death on the second day 
out to China. After loading tea at Macao, a Portuguese port 
on the Canton River, the Flying Cloud sailed for New York 
on January 6, 1852. Halfway across the Indian Ocean, Cressy 
exchanged Anjer's fruit for newspapers, only to read his own 
obituary notices. His vessel arrived at New York 96 days out 
from China, but 10 days behind the N. B. Palmer, a New 
York-built clipper. On his next voyage to California, Captain 
Cressy left New York 8 days before the N. B. Palmer, which 
overtook the Flying Cloud when the latter was becalmed off 
the coast of Brazil. From there the Flying Cloud had the better 
of the race, and Cressy brought his ship into the Golden Gate 
113 days out and 3 weeks ahead of his rival. 

In five voyages between New York and San Francisco, Don- 
ald McKay's Flying Cloud averaged 101 days, 7 hours a 
record which has never been beaten by a sailing vessel. In 
describing this marvelous vessel, Morison noted that "for 
perfection and beauty of design, weatherliness and consistent 
speed under every condition, neither he (McKay) nor any 
one else surpassed the Flying Cloud. She was the fastest vessel 
on long voyages that ever sailed under the American flag." 

In front of the old Merchant's Exchange on State Street, 
Boston's shipping fraternity supported their favorite clippers 
with wagers ranging from the customary beaver hat to thous- 
ands of dollars. Shipowners lavished almost as much affection 
on their vessels as they did on their own flesh and blood. 
Proud of the speed records of their clippers, the American 
Navigation Club, of which Daniel C. Bacon of Boston was 
president, challenged British shipowners and merchants to a 
stake race in 1852, stipulating that 

two ships should be modelled, commanded, and officered entirely by citi- 
zens of the United States and Great Britain respectively, and that they 
should sail with cargo on board from a port in England to a port in 
China and back to the English port, the prize for the winning vessel to 
be 10,000. 

When no English shipowner dared to accept the challenge, 
the stake was doubled, and the British entry was even offered 
a two weeks' start. Despite the exhortations of London news- 
papers, no British merchant could be persuaded to make the 
race. If it had ever taken place, Captain Philip Dumaresq 
would have commanded the American ship. 

The outstanding clipper of 1852, and naturally a product of 
McKay's unequalled shipyard, was the Sovereign of the Seas. 

136 Boston Looks Seaward 

Sparing no cost, Donald McKay had supervised every aspect 
of the vessel's construction down to the minutest detail. 
Directly after her launching, she was turned over to McKay's 
younger brother, Captain Lauchlan McKay, who superin- 
tended the rigging and sail-fitting. Measuring 265 feet overall, 
registering 2,421 tons, running 6,000 square yards of canvas, 
and carrying a crew of 105 men and boys, the Sovereign of the 
Seas was by far the largest clipper yet built in America. Flying 
the ensign of Grinnell 8c Minturn's Swallow Tail Line, with 
Captain Lauchlan McKay in command, the handsome vessel 
sailed with $84,000 worth of freight for San Francisco on 
August 4. Although it was a bad season of the year for the 
run down the Atlantic, the new clipper crossed the Equator 
in the remarkably good time of 25 days. Negotiating the 
difficult passage around the Horn in only 9 more days, Captain 
McKay set his vessel on a northerly course, only to see her 
main topmast, mizzen topgallantmast, and foretopsail yard go 
by the board. Although this accident would have impelled 
the ordinary skipper to put into a Chilean port, Captain 
McKay lost no time in refitting the stricken ship at sea. While 
the vessel was kept moving, the crew rerigged her by working 
day and night under extraordinary danger. Her hard-driving 
captain did not leave the deck once during these 14 days. 

When the Sovereign of the Seas sailed past the Golden Gate, 
after a record passage for that time of the year, 103 days, her 
arrival was the occasion of an impressive popular reception. 
Crowds assembled on nearby wharves gazed in admiration 
at the carved figurehead of a marine deity blowing a conch. 
While her extra large crew warped the handsome clipper into 
her berth, they sang in chorus: 

Oh! Susannah, darling, take your ease, 
For we have beat the clipper fleet 
The Sovereign of the Seas. 

Despite Captain McKay's humane treatment, many of his 
vessel's company "skipped" to the diggings, reducing her com- 
plement to a modest 34. The clipper sailed to the Hawaiian 
Islands, where the prospect of a homeward cargo of sperm 
oil seemed more promising than China tea. Loaded with 
liquid cargo and favored by strong quartering winds, the 
Sovereign of the Seas fairly ran over the South Pacific to the 
Horn, and astonished her crew as well as her captain by log- 
ging 19 knots, covering 3,144 miles in 10 days, with a single 
day's run of 411 nautical miles. Undermanned and handi- 

The Romance of the Clippers 137 

capped by a badly sprung foretopmast, the clipper reached 
New York in 82 days. Within a year the glorious craft had 
earned her unprecedented sale price of $150,000. 

Boston's fleet of majestic clippers catapulted past Boston 
Light and whipped around the Horn to California, thence 
squared away for Canton, where they loaded tea for London 
as well as Boston. Rounding the world on nearly every voyage, 
many of these clippers like the Sovereign of the Seas paid 
for themselves within a year of their launching. Laden down 
as they were with excessive cargoes, the great ships nevertheless 
moved through the water faster than any sailing yacht or 
racing craft ever invented. Eight knots is considered a good 
average for a modern "American Cup" yacht course of 30 or 
40 miles, yet the Red Jacket logged 14.7 knots for 6 successive 
days, while the Lightning logged 15.5 knots for 10 days. More 
than anything else, the clipper ships strove for speed. Every 
passage became a contest on which depended the reputation 
of the master, the builder, and the vessel. 

The most notable race ever staged by American clippers 
took place between several Boston and New York clipper ships. 
Owned by the Boston firm of Sampson 8c Tappan, the Flying 
Fish entered the competition against such fast vessels as the 
newer Westward Ho!, the John Gilpin pride of Samuel 
Hall's yard and the New York clippers, Wild Pigeon and 
Trade Wind. The Wild Pigeon had departed from New York 
on October 12, 1852; the Westward Ho! left Boston on the 
twentieth; the John Gilpin sailed on the twenty-ninth; the 
Flying Fish followed 2 days later. Favored by an early start, 
but delayed by calms and head winds, the Wild Pigeon did 
not cross the Equator until her thirty-second day out, and 
even then, too far to the westward, in violation of Maury's 
Sailing Directions. Meanwhile, driven forward by strong 
winds, the Flying Fish and the John Gilpin gained rapidly 
on the leader. However, Captain Edward G. Nickels of the 
Flying Fish had also paid scant heed to Maury's instructions, 
and lost 3 days working eastward to clear Cape San Roque. 
When the John Gilpin overtook the becalmed Flying Fish 
off the Horn, Nickels invited Captain Doane of the John 
Gilpin to come aboard for dinner. But Captain Doane 
expected the wind at any moment and noted in his log, "I 
was reluctantly obliged to decline the invitation." Despite 
westerly gales in the Pacific, the Flying Fish moved 4 days 
ahead of her rival, caught up with the Wild Pigeon, and 

138 Boston Looks Seaward 

reached the Equator 25 miles in the lead. The Westward Ho! 
crossed the Line at the same time, and both McKay-built clip- 
pers raced it to a tie into San Francisco Harbor on February 
i, 1853. The Flying Fish won the laurels with an elapsed time 
of 92 days, 4 hours. The John Gilpin took 93 days, 20 hours, 
the Trade Wind, 102 days, the Westward Hoi, 103 days, and 
the Wild Pigeon, 1 1 8 days. 

This poor performance of Donald McKay's Westward Ho! 
on her maiden passage was explained later in a letter from one 
of her passengers, which was quoted by Lubbock in China 

Westward Ho ought to have done the run in 90 days. The captain was 
a drunken beast and remained in his cabin for nearly the whole passage, 
boosing on his own liquor and that of the passengers from whom he could 
beg, and at last broke out the forehold in search of liquor, and found some 
champagne cider on which he boosed the remainder of the passage. We 
were off the River Plate with a fair strong wind, headed east and north for 
several days, until there was nearly a mutiny among the passengers. 1 
finally told the mate to put her on her course and we would back him 
up in any trouble. The captain never knew of any change; we lost at 
least 10 days by such delays. At one time after passing Cape Horn we 
were running about N. by W., wind S.S.W., long easy sea and wind strong 
under topgallant sails, and she was going like a scared dog, her starboard 
plank sheer even with the water, two men at the wheel and they had all 
they could do to hold her on her course. One day she ran over 400 knots 
17 knots per hour another day she ran 388 knots. The drunken cap- 
tain was at once displaced in Frisco, and the mate, who had navigated 
from Boston, placed in charge. He made the run to Manila in 31 days. 

In June 1853, with Donald McKay as a passenger, the 
Sovereign of the Seas crossed the Atlantic. Her builder spent 
much of his time on deck, noting the behavior of the vessel 
and gaining ideas which he incorporated into his later master- 
pieces. The first trans-Atlantic passage of the Sovereign of the 
Seas began very unfavorably. Leaving Sandy Hook on June 
18, she was becalmed for 8 days off the Banks. After the wind 
was caught, however, her time for the deep-sea passage to 
Liverpool was only 5 days and 17 hours, which is still regarded 
as the finest performance by any wooden sailing vessel. Drop- 
ping anchor in the Mersey 13 days, 22 hours out from New 
York, the Sovereign of the Seas was immediately chartered for 
the booming emigrant trade by the Australian Black Ball 
Line of James Baines & Co. Her fast passage across the Atlantic 
enabled the lessees to charge the unheard-of rate of 7 sterling 
a ton for freight to Melbourne, with a guaranty of a rebate of 
2 a ton, if passage were beaten. It was not. 

Boston's waterfront presented an extraordinary sight during 

The Romance of the Clippers 139 

the heyday of the clippers. Towering masts, acres of gleam- 
ing white canvas, and handsomely decorated bows revealed 
clippers in various stages of construction. From Jeffries Point 
to Chelsea Creek uncompleted hulls were ranked on the 
stocks. On an April morning in 1854, looking through his 
counting-room window on Central Wharf, F. O. Dabney 
observed no less than 6 new clippers in the process of being 
rigged. In East Boston, near McKay's busy workshop, spread 
the shipyard of Robert E. Jackson, who built such famous 
clippers as the Blue Jacket, the John Bertram, and the 
Winged Racer. Other outstanding East Boston builders were 
Samuel Hall, Paul Curtis, A. 8c G. T. Sampson, and Jackson 
8c Ewell. In South Boston sprawled the shipyard of Edward 
and Henry C. Briggs, whose clipper ships were noted for their 
carefully molded waterline and small displacement, which 
frequently produced remarkable speed. The creations of 
the Briggs brothers included the Northern Light, holder of 
the all-time record of 76 days, 5 hours from San Francisco to 
Boston, and the ill-fated Golden Light, which was struck by 
lightning when only 10 days out on her maiden voyage. Many 
beauties were launched into the Mystic from the yards of S. 
Lapham, Hayden & Cudworth, and J. O. Curtis. 

The huge cost of clipper construction had brought new 
faces into the ranks of the Boston shipowners. Prominent were 
John Ellerton Lodge, whose large fleet engaged in the China 
trade; R. C. Mackay and J. S. Coolidge, leaders in the East 
Indian commerce; Osborn Howes, whose ships plied to Cali- 
fornia and Australia; George B. Upton, who sent many 
McKay-built clippers to every part of the world under Captain 
Philip Dumaresq; and Daniel C. Bacon, president of the 
American Navigation Club and owner of the Gamecock, an 
extremely fast clipper built by Samuel Hall. In recognition of 
the financial investments of noted Boston citizens, local clip- 
pers bore such names as Thomas H. Perkins, Russell Sturgis, 
Enoch Train, R. B. Forbes, Rufus Choate, Starr King, John 
E. Thayer, George Peabody, Samuel Apple ton, Robert C. 
Winthrop, and Amos Lawrence. 

Meanwhile the queen of all clippers, and one of the largest 
sailing vessels ever constructed, was taking shape in Donald 
McKay's yard. Amid the boom of artillery and the blare of 
bands, the Great Republic slid into Boston Harbor on the. 
afternoon of October 4, 1853. 

140 Boston Looks Seaward 

She starts, she moves, she seems to feel 

The thrill of life along her keel, 

And, spurning with her foot the ground, 

With one exulting, joyous bound, 

She leaps into the ocean's arms! 

Longfellow, "The Building of the Ship" 

It was a gala day in Boston. Business was suspended, schools 
were closed, and all industry was at a standstill, so that every- 
one might have an opportunity to witness the launching of 
the vessel. More than 30,000 people were present at East 
Boston. The ship was solemnly christened with a bottle of 
Cochituate water, in deference to the Temperance Move- 
ment, which had the support of numerous shareholders. In 
the afternoon she was towed to the Navy Yard across the 
harbor to receive above-deck fittings under the personal super- 
vision of Captain Lauchlan McKay. The Great Republic 
measured 335 feet in length, registered 4,555 tons, supported 
4 masts with a mainyard 120 feet long, displaced 4 decks, and 
carried a 15 horsepower engine for hoisting and working the 

Intended for the new Australian trade in competition with 
British-built clippers, the Great Republic was towed to New 
York, where she was loaded with cargo for Liverpool. Again 
the magnificent vessel drew throngs of visitors and inspectors; 
Government officials from neighboring States came to view 
her size and beauty. Never had such enormous spars, towering 
masts, and expansive sails been seen in New York Harbor. 
But her glory was brief. On December 26, 1853, when she was 
almost ready to embark on her maiden voyage, a fire broke out 
one block from her wharf and spread so rapidly that sparks 
ignited the ship and burned her to the water's edge. Although 
McKay built several distinguished clippers for the Australian 
trade, the loss of the Great Republic was a severe disappoint- 
ment to him a loss from which he never fully recovered. 
Later, lowered (or in terms of naval architecture, razeed), 
the hull of the scuttled vessel was refloated, and her super- 
structure was rebuilt. Reduced to 3,357 tons, yet retaining 
much of her former beauty, the razeed clipper was still the 
largest vessel on the seas. Finally departing on February 21, 
1855, the Great Republic made a fast maiden voyage to Eng- 
land. Upon arrival at London, the ship was obliged to anchor 
in the Thames, since no dock was large enough to receive her. 
Donald McKay built his last and fastest extreme clippers for 
the Australian Black Ball Line in 1854. In the market for the 

The Romance of the Clippers 141 

largest and swiftest vessels afloat, James Baines contracted with 
the American master builder for the construction of the 
Lightning, the James Baines, the Champion of the Seas, and 
the Donald McKay. On her maiden voyage across the Atlantic, 
the Lightning logged the astonishing distance of 436 miles on 
March i, 1854, achieving a record speed of 18.2 knots for 24 
consecutive hours. When the 2,og6-ton vessel arrived at Liver- 
pool, Baines added a moonsail and a host of ringtails to the 
6,500 square yards of canvas. On her first homeward passage 
from Australia, the Lightning was put through her paces and 
established a mark of 64 days, 3 hours, from Melbourne to 
Liverpool, after numerous sails, spars, and masts, blown away 
in the tempestuous weather, had been replaced en route. 

The James Baines was judged by the shipping experts of 
Liverpool to be the finest of all Donald McKay's clippers. 
Modeled after the Lightning but larger in size, the James 
Baines was the greater masterpiece, since McKay had cor- 
rected several minor imperfections that had been noticed in 
the design of the Lightning. On her maiden voyage, the James 
Baines completed the trans-Atlantic passage from Boston 
Light to Rock Light in 12 days and 6 hours, and was clocked 
off the Irish coast doing 20 knots. Anchoring at Liverpool, 
the clipper was pronounced the most perfect sailing ship that 
had ever entered the Mersey. When Queen Victoria inspected 
the costly interior fittings, she expressed great surprise that 
her merchant marine possessed so fine a ship. Leaving for Mel- 
bourne on December 9, 1854, the James Baines reached Port 
Phillip's Head 63 days, 18 hours out from Rock Light, beating 
the Lightning's mark, but showing a best day's run of only 
423 miles. Later she attained an epoch-making speed of 21 
knots on her voyage to Australia, practically encircling the 
globe in the unbeaten time of 132 days. On October 30, 1856, 
the James Baines was overtaken by the Lightning, which had 
sailed from Melbourne three weeks behind her. For the next 
6 days, the two great rivals were together, pitting every square 
inch of canvas against light head winds. But the smaller ship 
had the advantage, and the Lightning arrived at the Mersey 
24 hours before the long overdue James Baines, which com- 
pleted the passage in the unusually slow time of 101 days, 
resulting in a tenfold increase in the insurance rates on the 
174,000 ounces of gold carried by the clipper. 

In a long and famous career Donald McKay completed 21 
clippers, 16 ocean packets, several schooners, 2 sloops-of-war, 

142 Boston Looks Seaward 

and 4 steam vessels not one of which was a failure. For his 
sailing ships, Donald McKay chose poetic and appropriate 
names such as Stag-Hound, Mastiff, Flying Cloud, Flying Fish, 
Westward Ho!, Romance of the Seas, Sovereign of the Seas, 
Glory of the Seas, Champion of the Seas, and Republic. 
Because six vessels already carried the name of Daniel Web- 
ster, McKay decided to name two sister clippers the Expounder 
and the Defender, in recognition of Webster's understanding 
and defense of the Constitution. In Donald McKay were fused 
the qualities of scientist, artist, idealist, and man of business. 
Although several decades of adversity and ingratitude followed 
his early years of success and prosperity, his calm, thoughtful 
temperament remained unchanged. In 1877 he retired to his 
farm at Hamilton, Massachusetts, and died 3 years later. Half 
a century passed before a new generation erected a 52-foot 
granite obelisk to his memory on the grassy slope of Castle 
Island. Adorned with the shipbuilder's classic face against a 
model of the Flying Cloud, the marker overlooks the main 
harbor channel, symbolizing the exalted position of Donald 
McKay in the maritime story of the Port. Today, visitors may 
read at the base of the shaft an imposing inscription. 

Master builder whose genius produced ships of a beauty and speed before 
unknown, which swept the seven seas, made the American clipper famous 
the world over, and brought renown and prosperity to the city of Boston. 

Iron Men on Wooden Ships 

Boston's clipper captains rivaled the builders of her ships 
in skill and energy. While many a foreign vessel wallowed 
under double-reefed topsails, the powerful clippers carried 
royals and studdingsails. They were driven by their captains 
around the Horn with their sheets chained and padlocked to 
prevent weak-kneed sailors from tampering with the gear. 
When a strong wind whipped the mountainous waves, and 
heavy seas sent the spray flying masthead high, the top-ham- 
pered vessels fairly leaped through the crests, skidded down 
the troughs, and then straightened with the poise of a terrier, 
ready to spring forward once more. Although voyages often 
ended with topmasts "broomed" and splintered from hard 
driving, the exploits of these gallant vessels spoke well for 
the daring navigation of the Boston sea captains. They testi- 
fied with certainty to the shipbuilders' judgment of the 
terrific strain on wooden spars and hemp rigging, .which was 
tested only when the prow sliced the storm-driven billows. 

The Romance of the Clippers 143 

Most of Boston's clipper captains came from New England 
stock. Few others could manage these wild clippers against 
Horn howlers, where the slightest error resulted in the loss of 
canvas, the loss of precious minutes, possibly the loss of the 
ship. Recruited from the quarterdecks of roaring Liverpool 
packets, stately East Indiamen, swift privateers and opium 
runners, the men who commanded these untamed beauties 
had followed the sea from early boyhood. Philip Dumaresq, 
first commander of the Surprise had been bred from genera- 
tions of sea captains. Like "Nat" Palmer of Stonington, and 
"Perk" Cressy of Marblehead, he was a follower of the stern 
and rigid traditions of the quarterdeck. The shipmasters 
lived in dignified seclusion, gave all orders through their first 
officers, and were never spoken to unless they spoke first. They 
were paid $3,000 for an outward passage to California; if they 
made the trip in less than 100 days, they received a bonus of 

Occasionally the clipper captains took their wives along, 
and in China and India merchants vied with one another in 
offering them costly gifts and lavish entertainment. One of 
these seafaring women, Mrs. Patten, ig-year-old wife of a 
Boston skipper, proved herself a heroine off Cape Horn during 
the cold and stormy winter of 1856. With the first mate under 
suspension for neglect of duty, her husband stricken with 
brain fever, and the second officer unable to navigate, she 
commanded the i,6oo-ton clipper during the remaining 52-day 
passage to San Francisco, at the same time nursing her hus- 
band back to health. 

Although Yankees captained the Boston clippers, a motley 
gang gathered at the forecastle when the crew was mustered. 
They were British and Scandinavian for the most part, with 
a sprinkling of Spaniards, Portuguese, and Italians. Discipline 
was severe, brutality more than common, and redress before 
the law difficult. Low wages kept Americans off the clippers. 
In an age when ship caulkers and carpenters received $3 a 
day, and longshoremen $2 per tide, ordinary and able seamen 
earned only $8 to $12 a month. As applicants for clipper 
berths grew scarce, masters were forced to resort to shipping 
agencies and boarding-house keepers. While the majority of 
the shanghaied crews were taken from the merchant marine, 
some were not sailors at all, but habitual drunkards and loaf- 
ers. Once at sea, however, mates, bo'sun, and captain put 
belaying pins, capstan bars, heavers, fists, and boots to good 

144 Boston Looks Seaward 

use, and in short order so stimulated a spirit of honest toil 
that by the time the Equator was crossed, the harassed sea- 
men leaped up instantly upon command and scurried up the 
rigging as though blown there by the bellow from the mate's 
bull-like throat. In general, the clipper sailors had the repu- 
tation of being indefatigable workers. It was said of them 
that they "worked like horses at sea, and behaved like asses 

The Vanishing Clipper 

Although the California trade lasted until 1860, the year 
1854 ended the construction of fast sailing vessels for the 
Pacific Coast service. In that year only 20 clippers were built 
throughout the United States, 10 of them in Boston yards. 
By 1855 San Francisco had become flooded with merchandise, 
and freight rates had dropped to a level which was barely 
remunerative. Even in shorter coastwise and trans-Atlantic 
voyages the clippers had proved too costly to operate. When 
David Snow of Boston ventured his Reporter on the Boston- 
New Orleans-Liverpool route, he found her "a thousand ton 
ship in capacity and a two thousand ton ship to keep in 
repair." Hard-pressed by steamships and "medium" clippers, 
the extreme clipper type began to vanish from the seas. Some 
were destroyed by fire, some foundered off the China coast; 
others were sold into foreign service and hurried off to the 
Australian gold fields, where their rigging was cut and their 
identity lost. 

After a glorious career in the California and China runs, 
several Boston clippers, water-soaked and strained, spent their 
declining years in the most depraved business then known, 
the smuggling of Chinese coolies. Clippers in this trade car- 
ried coolies imprisoned in their holds, like former ships' car- 
goes of "black ivory"; the Chinese almost starved during the 

The Sovereign of the Seas finished her ocean days in the 
service of a Hamburg firm. Although her German captain 
claimed that she made a 24-hour run of 410 miles, her last 
owners expected too much from her. Having lost her topmasts, 
she arrived at Sydney after a slow passage of 84 days. On her 
homeward voyage, cholera brought about the death of nearly 
half her crew. The end of the handsome clipper came in 1859, 
when she ran aground on Pyramid Shoal in Malacca Straits. 
In 1857 the James Baines, the Lightning, the Champion of 

The Romance of the Clippers 145 

the Seas, and several other famous Boston-built clippers were 
chartered by the British Government to transport troops to 
far-off India, where the Sepoy Mutiny had broken out. Upon 
her return to Liverpool the James Baines was destroyed by 
fire. The Lightning entered the Australian wool trade and 
continued in active service until 1869, when fire finished her 

Boston's lament over the passing of the clipper is aptly 
expressed in verses found in Some Merchants and Sea Captains 
of Old Boston: 

The old Clipper days are over, and the white-winged fleets no more, 
With their snowy sails unfolded, fly along the ocean floor; 
Where their house-flags used to flutter in the ocean winds unfurled, 
Now the kettle-bellied cargo tubs go reeling around the world. 

But 'twas jolly while it lasted, and the sailor was a man; 
And it's good-by to the Lascar and the tar with face of tan; 
And its good-by mother, once for all, and good-by girls on shore; 
And it's good-by brave old Clipper -ship that sails the seas no more! 



Prelude to the Civil War 

AT THE END of the clipper ship era, Boston was a metropolis 
of refinement and wealth, the richest city for her size in the 
world. Her per capita assessment averaged $1,804 in compari- 
son with New York's $1,004. Brownstone mansions fronted 
broad Commonwealth Avenue and exclusive Beacon Street; 
the elite summered at Beverly or along the Maine coast. Suc- 
cessive generations of bold traders, hardy sea captains, and 
shrewd investors had finally given birth to a Boston aris- 
tocracy. But in reality these evidences of financial well-being 
were relics of the Port's earlier prosperity rather than symbols 
of current enterprise. By 1855 New York's imports surpassed 
Boston's fivefold, and local business houses had established 
branch offices in the rival city. Furthermore, the Government- 
subsidized Collins Steamship Line from New York to England 
not only deprived Boston of her share of the European trade, 
but drew many of her sons and much of her capital to the 
nation's first port. 

Worse still, when New York inaugurated steamship lines to 
the far South during the 1830'$ and 1840'$, Boston even lost 
her former domination over southern commerce. It is true 
that tons of cotton continued to arrive at the Port of Boston 
from New Orleans, which also sent flour, pork, corn, rice, and 
tobacco for the New England millhands, as well as reship- 
ments of South American, West Indian, and Azorean com- 
modities. The largest share of Boston's outbound southern 
trade was also directed to the Louisiana port, 175 vessels 
clearing Boston for New Orleans in 1855. In this southward 
traffic, Boston packets carried great cargoes of ice, fish, apples, 
rum, lumber, sheetings, furniture, carriages, boots, shoes, and 
saddles. By 1857, however, this upward movement in southern 
shipping had ceased and, as a financial writer observed, "for 
ten years there can not be said to be a general increase in any 
leading articles except in cotton, wool, and oats. The receipts 
of corn, flour, and wheat have rather declined." 

The Triumph of Steam 147 

For this decline Boston merchants found partial compensa- 
tion in the growth of trade with the Maritime Provinces. 
Canadian imports and exports more than doubled between 
1850 and 1855, accelerating markedly after the signing of 
the Reciprocity Treaty with Canada in 1854. Awkward Cana- 
dian "Geordies" or "Johnny-wood-boats", as they were 
dubbed, carried lumber, fish, coal, grain, spirits, provisions, 
and dairy products to Boston, and returned with their holds 
filled with hides, whale oil, Yankee manufactures, and 
imported goods. No less than 63 Boston firms handled Cana- 
dian lumber, a business which annually yielded about $2,500,- 
ooo. Unfortunately, treaty provisions did not favor American 
manufactures, and Canada soon doubled the tariff on boots, 
shoes, ironware, and textile fabrics, though it remained a 
ready market for other New England products. 

Boston received spruce, hemlock, pine, and fish from nearby 
Maine and New Hampshire; in 1856 these receipts were valued 
at $1,000,000. Maine schooners also brought into the Port 
large quantities of hay, stacked on deck in piles so high that 
the helmsman had to be directed by a lookout stationed for- 
ward. Since this cargo could be loaded or unloaded only dur- 
ing dry weather, the arrival of a "hay barge" presaged rain to 
superstitious Boston mariners. In some it revived grisly mem- 
ories of the Royal George, whose deckload of hay was so thor- 
oughly drenched after a gale had blown off the tarpaulin cover 
that the schooner became top-heavy and turned turtle. 

Notwithstanding the gradual falling off of commerce with 
the South, Boston's shipping enjoyed a most prosperous decade 
between 1850 and 1860, except for the temporary check which 
came as a sequel to the financial panic of 1857. The reexport of 
foreign commodities dwindled to some extent, but the loss was 
offset by the expanding shipments of domestic goods. Local 
manufacturing had increased, and a large volume of the 
output was sent to Europe and to the markets of the Orient, 
to South America, and to Australia. At no time during the 
1850'$, however, did Boston's total exports amount to as 
much as one-half of her imports, which continued to arrive 
over the established trade routes from China, Manila, the 
East Indies, Africa, South America, and Europe. 

Boston merchants generally relied on the regular sailing 
packet lines rather than on steam craft; in 1857 tne tota ^ ton ' 
nage of steamers that made Boston their home port was only 
8,100 as compared to New York's 84,662 tons. Boston remained 

148 Boston Looks Seaward 

content with her Cunard Line in foreign commerce, with the 
"Down East" steamers and the Merchants and Miners Line 
to Norfolk and Baltimore in domestic coastal services and 
with local steamers to Gloucester, Nahant, Hingham, and 
Cape Cod. But this was a minor factor in the Port's future 
evolution compared with the nearsighted stubbornness of her 
shipbuilders who, because of the scarcity of coal and iron, 
continued to send sailing vessels down the ways, when they 
should have been devoting money and energy to the construc- 
tion of iron screw steamers. The complaint that there was no 
steam communication between Boston and any port south of 
Norfolk was not answered until 1860 and 1861, when Bosto- 
nians built four iron screw steamers for service to Charleston 
and New Orleans. Actually, steam was in the ascendency on 
land and sea, and the Civil War served to emphasize this fact 
in a manner most distressing to the pocketbooks of Boston 

Bostonians had made several abortive attempts in the 1850*5 
to build steamships and capture their full share of ocean com- 
merce. The Ocean Steamship Company had taken advantage 
of the "Railroad Jubilee," in 1851, to announce ambitious 
plans for the construction of four ocean-going steamships. On 
October 4, the flagship of the new fleet, the i,io4-ton screw- 
propelled Lewis, sailed from Boston to Liverpool on her 
maiden voyage, but the enterprise was doomed to almost 
immediate financial failure. Undaunted, the Boston and Euro- 
pean Steamship Company was incorporated 4 years later and 
advanced as far as the experimental stage, with Donald McKay 
exhibiting the model of a steamer which he predicted would 
cross the Atlantic in 6 days. But, like its ill-fated predecessor, 
the proposed venture came to nothing in the face of powerful 
British competition. Up to 1860 the active and successful oper- 
ation of the Persia and other Cunard steamers definitely con- 
trolled local steamship relations with Great Britain. 

Civil War Years 

The Civil War hastened the crumbling of Boston's com- 
mercial prestige. Her large trade with the South was disrupted. 
The loss of export cotton, an important item in the European 
trade, retarded trans-Atlantic traffic. Increased rates, forced 
high by the presence of Confederate raiders on shipping lanes, 
made voyages unprofitable and led to the sale of ships to 
foreign companies. In addition to these immediately effective 

The Triumph of Steam 149 

conditions, Boston was a victim of a vast and extended eco- 
nomic movement which, while it had been underway for a 
decade or more, was accelerated by the Civil War. Railroads 
boomed, and the westward course of the nation advanced at 
an amazing rate. Fortunes wrested from the ocean by energetic 
Bostonians were turned more and more to the development 
of the prairie lands. 

Unlike preceding wars, the Civil War gave Boston no oppor- 
tunity to add to her maritime glory. Privateersmen were not 
used by the North, and locally built naval ships, formerly fol- 
lowed with great interest, became merged with the large Fed- 
eral fleet. Boston played a novel quiescent role on the sea; 
while Confederate raiders snatched at her commerce, she did 
nothing save withdraw or try to outwit the enemy by sailing 
new routes. The Southern seamen were bold and even raided 
in New England waters. The Florida visited the fishing 
grounds and some of her men attempted a raid on Portland, 

The Confederate cruiser most feared by Boston shippers 
was the Alabama, British-built, which sent about 100 North- 
ern ships to the bottom between July 1862 and June 1864. 
At least 13 Boston ships were among those destroyed. The 
first was the Starlight, bound from Fayal to Flores. Then fol- 
lowed in 1862 the bark Lamplighter, from New York to 
Gibraltar with tobacco, the Lauretta, also bound for Gibraltar, 
and the Parker Cook, for Haiti. Most of the captures were 
burned after the crews were taken off. A favorite trick of the 
Alabama was to approach the Northern vessels under the flag 
of a neutral nation or even that of the United States itself. 
During 1863 and 1864, the successful career of the raider con- 
tinued, and several Boston vessels became her prey. Two 
contained English-owned cargo and were ransomed; another, 
the Martha Wenzell, was captured in English waters and 
promptly released. The rest were burned. The sinking of the 
Alabama in 1864 by the U.S.S. Kearsarge brought an end to 
the major threat to Yankee shipping, and Boston ships were 
again free to roam the seas. 

Expansion Along the Waterfront 

During the decades preceding and following the Civil War 
extensive improvements, dredging the channel, removing 
shoals and rocks, and corseting the crumbling islands, were 
undertaken in Boston Harbor. Mayor Frederick W. Lincoln 

150 Boston Looks Seaward 

succeeded in persuading the United States War Department 
to cooperate in the preservation of the Port's channels and 
anchorage basins, and in 1859 the Federal Government reno- 
vated Boston Light, elevating the tower to permit installation 
of the Frennel illuminating apparatus. The 14 lamps were 
replaced by a single central beacon, whose French lens radiated 
the light in a horizontal direction. Pilots disliked the change 
and actually petitioned the Lighthouse Board to reinstall the 
"old reflectors", but the authorities ignored their protests. 

Seven years later a board of commissioners considered the 
possibilities of reclaiming some 916 acres of South Boston 
flats, filling them in and protecting them by an outer wall, 
erecting wharves, and dredging Fort Point Channel to the 
required depth. The estimated cost was $19,219,000, exclusive 
of $418,000 required for an exterior wall to hold the filling. 
But objections were so numerous that the ambitious plans of 
the commissioners were later modified. 

Between 1867 and 1892 the Narrows Channel was dredged 
to a depth of 27 feet and a width of 1,000. Although the 
Broad Sound South Channel was then unnavigable at low 
water for large ships, it had remained the logical entrance to 
the harbor from Europe, and between 1892 and 1905 it was 
deepened to 30 feet and widened to 1,200 feet by United 
States Army engineers. The North Channel, the present main 
ship channel, was dredged between 1902 and 1916. A con- 
siderable part of the cost of these improvements was borne 
by Federal appropriations made after the visit of the Con- 
gressional Committee on Rivers and Harbors in March 1896. 
Channels were constantly being deepened, and every effort 
was made to keep the Port abreast of shipping developments. 
In 1878 the steamer Hooper, next to the Great Eastern the 
largest ship in the world, and drawing 29 feet of water, chose 
Boston as a port-of-call in preference to all other Atlantic 
ports. By 1894 a lightship was in place at the harbor entrance, 
and a year later range lights were installed to mark the ship 

Terminal facilities on the Boston waterfront were greatly 
enhanced when the railroads extended their lines to the more 
important docks. As early as 1851, the Grand Junction Rail- 
road, a waterfront "trunk" line 6.6 miles long, had connected 
the Eastern, Boston and Maine, and Fitchburg and Lowell 
tracks with the steamship wharves at East Boston. But this 
important link soon fell into disuse. The Boston & Albany 

The Triumph of Steam 151 

Railroad repaired the Grand Junction in 1868 to run trains 
which picked up passengers at the Cunard and neighboring 
docks. A track had been laid by the Marginal Freight Com- 
pany connecting the railroads at the north of the city with 
the wharves on Commercial Street; the construction of At- 
lantic Avenue in the sixties was considered an important aid. 
Finally in 1872, the answer to the businessmen's need came 
with the opening of the Union Freight Railway, uniting the 
tracks of all the principal railroad lines terminating in Boston, 
and affording direct access to the principal wharves of the 

Gradually wharves, warehouses, and large grain elevators 
equipped with belt conveyors were erected by the railroad 
companies to handle the increasing volume of merchandise. 
By the last decade of the century, the Boston and Lowell, the 
Fitchburg, and the Hoosac Tunnel Lines had well-established 
terminal facilities in Charlestown; in East Boston the Boston 
and Albany owned some 6 docks, 7 piers, 17 warehouses, and 
a million-bushel grain elevator, capable of discharging 120 
cars of grain a day and 20,000 bushels an hour to a vessel. 
In 1868 the Boston, Hartford, and Erie Railroad bought from 
the Boston Wharf Company over two and a half million feet 
of South Boston flats and solid land, and within 10 years a 
million dollars had been expended in improving the area. By 
1883 this road had completed new warehouses, a 520,000- 
bushel grain elevator with belt conveyor, a new iooo-by-2OO- 
foot pier, and had enlarged an old pier to 850 feet. Of the 
8,000 feet of water frontage on the main ship channel and on 
the Fort Point Channel owned by the railroad, 3,879 feet were 
available for wharfage. The establishment of these rail and 
terminal facilities at East Boston, Charlestown, and South 
Boston drew most of the foreign commerce in the latter half 
of the century and the old waterfront was used mainly by 
coastwise steamers, towboats, excursion steamers, and fishing 
smacks. In all, 42 steamships could be accommodated on the 
entire Boston waterfront. 

The Great Fire of 1872 brought about many waterfront 
improvements, including the erection of "six magnificent 
blocks of business structures" on Atlantic Avenue from Con- 
gress Street down to the Railway Depot, 5 of which were 
promptly occupied by wool firms. The conflagration had 
swept the rich wholesale and financial section of Boston, 
destroying 776 buildings and causing damage estimated at 

152 Boston Looks Seaward 

more than $75,000,000. Vast quantities of hides, leather, shoes, 
drygoods, domestic and foreign wool, ready-made clothing, 
hardware, and other wares were completely ruined. Recon- 
struction was so rapid, however, that 3 years later a writer 

Whole forests from the State of Maine, and vast quarries of granite, and 
hills of country gravel have been put to service in fringing the water mar- 
gins, constructing wharves, piers and causeways, redeeming the flats, and 
furnishing piling and solid foundations for the stately edifices, private 
houses, halls, churches and railroad stations, principally between the 
Charles River and the old Dorchester flats. 

Ever since Boston merchant-shipowners began meeting "on 
'change'," attempts had been made to develop business asso- 
ciations for the common good. Few, however, lasted any great 
length of time. In 1854 the Boston Board of Trade had been 
formed to re-arrange the credit system, settle disputes, and 
promote local cooperation and good feeling. But the board 
could not, as had been hoped, restore the former maritime 
prosperity of the city, and in 1873 the association amalgamated 
with the Merchant's Exchange. Eventually this organization 
and the Commercial and Produce Exchanges were all consoli- 
dated into the Chamber of Commerce. Meanwhile various 
groups were chosen to supervise the filling-in of flats and bays; 
Port Wardens were appointed; a Pilot Commission was estab- 
lished; a police division was organized to guard the harbors 
and the islands; and a Marine Hospital was erected at Chelsea. 

Gales, Shipwreck, and Murder 

To protect Boston shipping, many new lifesaving stations 
were erected and dangerous portions of the Massachusetts 
shoreline were regularly patrolled. By 1897 Massachusetts had 
25 such stations along the seaboard, involving a yearly payroll 
of $125,000, yet vessels continued to be driven ashore at dis- 
tressingly frequent intervals. Tragedy and heroism marked 
the great gale and snowstorm of November 25 and 26, 1888. 
Early in the afternoon of the twenty-fifth, ships in the harbor 
began dragging anchors, and Captain Joshua James, head of 
the famous volunteer lifesavers of Hull, prepared a crew and 
lifeboat for instant action. When the schooner Cox and Green 
smashed against Toddy Rocks, the crew was safely brought 
ashore by a breeches-buoy. Hardly was this rescue completed, 
when the coal-laden, three-masted schooner Gertrude Abbott 
struck the eastern edge of Toddy Rocks and hoisted distress 

The Triumph of Steam 153 

signals. The vessel lay too far offshore to be reached by the 
beach apparatus, and the high tide and tremendous surf made 
it impossible to launch a boat until between 8 and 9 o'clock 
that night. Efforts were then successful, and the 8 members 
of the crew were saved. At 3 the next morning, the Bertha F. 
Walker was discovered ashore half a mile northwest of the 
Abbott, and her crew was brought to land in a lifeboat ob- 
tained in Hingham Bay, the regular boat having been dam- 
aged in the Abbott rescue. Next the H. C. Higginson and the 
Mattie E. Eaton were wrecked at Atlantic Hill, 5 miles dis- 
tant. The surviving members of the Higginson's crew had to 
be rescued but the Eaton's men were able to walk on to dry 
land, the vessel being driven high ashore. All told, the Hull 
volunteers saved 29 lives in less than 24 hours, and were 
awarded gold medals by an act of Congress. 

Even more disastrous was the "Portland Storm" of Novem- 
ber 26 and 27, 1898, beginning with a deceptively quiet fall 
of snow and then changing to thunderous icy winds, impene- 
trable clouds of snow, and mountainous seas. More than a 
score of vessels were wrecked between midnight and the next 
afternoon. Among them were the four-masted Boston schooner 
Abel E. Babcock, which pounded to pieces on Toddy Rocks 
with the loss of all on board, and the Coal Barge #4 from 
which only 2 were saved. Terrific losses during this storm were 
in part responsible for driving at least one Boston firm out of 
business. The J. J. Baker Company, founded in 1844, and 
interested in some 90 vessels engaged in the coasting trade in 
1881, lost 17 of them on the night of the Portland disaster. 
When in 1898 the Baker Company sold out to Harrington & 
King, there were only 12 vessels left in the fleet. 

Outside the harbor this same night occurred one of the 
most horrible sea tragedies in New England history. At exactly 
7 o'clock Saturday evening the handsome side-wheel steamer 
Portland sailed for Maine under command of Captain Hollis 
Blanchard, with 108 passengers and a crew of 68. In service 
for only 8 years, she was equipped with adequate lifesaving 
devices, including 758 life preservers, 8 metallic lifeboats and 
4 metallic life rafts. Snow was softly blanketing the water as 
the Portland sailed out of the island-dotted harbor and turned 
northward to fight her way into a raging blizzard. At 9:30 p. m. 
she was seen by a schooner about 4 miles off Thatcher Island, 
making little headway. The increasing wind apparently kept 
driving the Portland offshore, for when next sighted, by the 

154 Boston Looks Seaward 

captain of the schooner Grayling at 11 o'clock, she was 12 
miles south by east of the island but still headed into the 
wind. Shortly after that another schooner passed her. At 
11:45 P- m * a l ar g e paddle-wheel steamer, believed to be the 
Portland, was sighted by a fourth schooner. This time the 
effect of the gale was evident. Lights were out and the super- 
structure showed signs of damage. Exactly what happened 
aboard the Portland is not known. The engines may have 
failed or the force of the gale been greater than their power. 
Whatever the reason, she was pushed across the 4o-mile wide 
mouth of Massachusetts Bay to a position off Cape Cod. The 
keeper of the Race Point Lifesaving Station heard 4 distress 
signals on a steamer's whistle at 10 o'clock Sunday morning 
and at about the same time the crew of the schooner Ruth M. 
Martin sighted the Portland and another steamer, the Penta- 
gost, about 4 miles off Peaked Hill Bar. The first wreckage 
drifted to land at 7 o'clock Sunday night at Race Point. Bodies 
began coming ashore all along the Cape from Highland Light 
to Chatham, and during the course of the next 2 weeks 35 
bodies were recovered. The steamer undoubtedly sank off the 
tip of the Cape, but no one lived to tell the tale. 

Sea captains faced more than the danger of ships lost in 
storms; occasionally fire and mutiny added to their hardships 
and distress. When this happened there was little chance for 
escape, as was tragically emphasized aboard the i,6oo-ton 
Boston vessel, Frank N. Thayer, on the night of January 2, 
1886. She was 700 miles off St. Helena when two seamen taken 
aboard at Manila ran amuck, fatally stabbing the first and 
second mates and wounding Captain Clark as he came up the 
companionway to learn the cause of the hubbub on deck. 
Nine members of the crew attempted to overpower the crazed 
mutineers and only gave up after four of their number had 
been knifed. Robert Sonnberg escaped aloft and, from the 
crossjack yard, witnessed the brutal murders of the helms- 
man, the shipscarpenter, and another seaman. Meanwhile the 
injured captain crawled back to his cabin, locked himself in, 
and repulsed an attack through the skylight with his revolver. 
By daybreak, Sunday, the two Manila men were complete 
masters of the ship, having barricaded the forecastle door 
from the outside, thus preventing the captain and the crew 
from communicating with each other. The madmen forced 
the Chinese cook, Ah Say, to prepare meals for them; other- 
wise Sunday passed uneventfully. The terror of the crew gave 

The Triumph of Steam 155 

way to desperation, when on Monday morning Sonnberg 
looked down from his perch in the rigging and made the 
horrifying discovery that the murderers were about to set the 
ship on fire. Ah Say, who was more or less at liberty, also saw 
what was going on, and managed to pass an ax through one 
of the forecastle ports to the captive sailors within. 

In the interim Captain Clark, partially recovered after the 
able ministrations of his wife, made a sortie long enough to 
learn that the two Manila men were the only mutineers, rather 
than the entire ship's company. Sounds of another attack sent 
him rushing back to the cabin, where he shot one of the 
murderers in the chest as he attempted to get in through the 
skylight. The wounded desperado dashed forward as the crew 
broke from the forecastle, recognized the hopelessness of his 
plight, and leaped overboard. His companion scurried between 
decks and set afire the inflammable cargo of jute. Thick clouds 
of smoke shielded the man's movements for a while. Finally a 
well-directed bullet struck him in the shoulder, and he, too, 
leaped into the water. Both murderers clung to a spar until a 
fusillade of shots from the captain and the crew killed them. 
Immediately all aboard the Frank N. Thayer turned their 
attention to the menacing flames, but it was too late, and 
they were forced to take to the boats. After a crowded and 
dangerous trip, using blankets sewn together as sails, the sur- 
vivors reached Jamestown, St. Helena. Following this terrible 
experience, Captain Clark retired from the sea. 

One of the most gruesome stories concerning Boston ships 
is the tale of the barkentine Herbert Fuller, which sailed from 
Boston on July 2, 1896, with lumber for Buenos Aires. Charles 
P. Nash was captain, and the first mate was Thomas M. Bram, 
a native of St. Kitts. Also aboard were the captain's wife and 
a passenger, Lester H. Monks. Ten days out, Monks was sud- 
denly shocked into wakefulness at midnight by a woman's 
scream. He jumped from bed, revolver in hand, and found 
that the captain, his wife, and the second mate had been mur- 
dered with an ax as they slept. Suspicion fastened on Bram, 
and he was put in irons. The vessel made its way to Halifax, 
and the crew was brought to Boston. 

On December 15, the famous Bram murder trial opened in 
Boston, and almost a month later the jury brought a verdict 
of guilty against Bram. The storm of protest which followed 
was raised to a furious pitch the next day when Harry J. Booth, 
one of the jurymen, told the press that he and three others 

156 Boston Looks Seaward 

had voted against their better judgment, that they did not 
believe the evidence proved Bram's guilt beyond a reasonable 
doubt. In a new trial, Bram was again convicted and sent to 
Atlanta for life. Some years later, President Woodrow Wilson, 
while reading a mystery story, The After House, which Mary 
Roberts Rinehart had written on the Herbert Fuller murders, 
had his interest so aroused that he requested the Attorney 
General to examine the case. And as a result Bram was 
paroled. He carved a new life for himself in Atlanta. Starting 
as a vendor of hot-dogs and peanuts, he gradually became the 
builder and manager of the Bramwell Apartments and the 
owner of a schooner. 

The Boston Fishing Fleet 

The new method of packing fresh-caught fish in ice devel- 
oped a greatly expanded market and caused the Boston fishing 
fleet to grow rapidly after 1860. Frequently, the supply was 
not equal to the demand, and dealers stood sentinel along the 
fish wharves night after night, anxiously watching for the 
sight of a sail, ready and eager to bid for the cargo of the first 
arrival. Occasionally, even before a schooner eased into her 
berth, the captain accepted offers shouted to him by jostling 
dealers. More often he went ashore and investigated the state 
of the market before selling any of his hard-earned fish. In 
winter, stout-timbered fishing craft plowed up the harbor to 
Commercial Wharf, bearing the scars of savage encounters 
with Arctic gales and tremendous seas on the Banks, "a flag 
at half-mast for lost men; with spars or dories or rails gone 
... or with bowsprit, decks, dories, masts and rigging so 
thickly caked with snow and ice that the vessel looked like a 
fantastic iceberg." The Gloucester short-story writer, James B. 
Connolly, has vividly described the Boston fishermen: 

The T Wharf fleet was an all -sail fleet, handsome, able vessels which 
shared with the great Gloucester fleet the admiration of the world. The 
annual race between the Boston and Gloucester men was the classic sailing 
race of the North Atlantic; perhaps it would be fair to call it the classic 
of all the seas of the world, because here were no freak boats, fit only for 
light air and smooth water, but able schooners fit to battle, as out on the 
fishing banks they did battle regularly, with the strongest of gales and the 
roughest of seas. 

The produce of the deep was brought into Boston with 
profitable regularity. In season, codfish was received from 
Swampscott to Ipswich Bay, from the Newfoundland Banks 
and the back of Cape Cod. Halibut came from Greenland, 

The Triumph of Steam 157 

Iceland, and, beginning about 1900, from the Pacific coast; 
haddock was caught principally north of Cape Cod; salmon 
in Maine and Canadian waters; mackerel off the New England 
coast as far north as Halifax and as far south as Cape Henry; 
herring abounded in local waters during October and Novem- 
ber. Lobsters were obtained from Maine and oysters from Cape 
Cod, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Virginia. Pollock were 
netted in Boston Bay by means of seines stretched from one 
vessel to another; at times the ships were so close together on 
the half-mile-square pollock fishing grounds that they had to 
be held apart by oars. Warm weather found T Wharf most 
attractive to the comfort-loving landlubber, who watched 
wind-burnt men hoisting baskets of glistening fish from holds, 
their hoarse voices echoing between the boats like the strange 
cries of the circling sea birds. During the noon hour the 
tangled mass of spars, tarry rigging, and the pungent nets, 
stretched out for drying and mending, even attracted stoop- 
shouldered clerks, who gorged their starved senses on the 
sounds and odors of the sea, before hurrying back to their 
litanies of debits and credits. 

An idea of the size and foraging habits of the Boston fishing 
fleet may be obtained by examining a typical year such as 
1879, when 76 vessels and 119 sailboats and rowboats were 
trying to earn a living from the sea. Of the 76 boats, 5 were 
idle, 60 were employed in the food-fish industries, i went out 
for lobsters, 4 for menhadens, and 6 for sperm whales. The 60 
engaged in catching food fish made only short trips, one-third 
of them following mackerel from April to November and 
bringing in their wares fresh or cured on board. In 1885 the 
personnel of the fleet numbered 876 men, 636 of whom were 
American, 142 Irish, 56 from Canada and the British Prov- 
inces, 50 from Portugal, and 2 from England. They fished on 
shares, one-fifth of the proceeds going to the owner; the 
remainder, after deducting the cost of bait, tackle, and other 
items, was divided equally among the men, including the 
cook. One thousand dollars was considered a top share for 
the crew. 

Since Boston served more as a marketing place than as a 
fishing center, her annual catch represented only one-fifth of 
the total fish products received by the local dealers. All told, 
one-half of the fish arriving in Boston was distributed through- 
out New England, one-fifth throughout New York State; the 
remaining three-tenths were consumed by Baltimore, Phila- 

158 Boston Looks Seaward 

delphia, Washington, and cities and States as far west as 
Chicago and as far south as Texas. Once the catch was brought 
ashore, it was either dried, pickled, frozen, or canned, before 
being shipped to distant points. Dried fish took the form of 
"boneless," "minced fish," and "fish balls"; pickled fish 
included mackerel, herring, alewives, salmon, salmon-trout, 
and shad; seasonal frozen fish consisted of salmon, shad, blue- 
fish, and mackerel, charged with ice and salt and piled in ice 
chambers "like billets of wood"; lobsters, salt mackerel, fresh 
mackerel, smelts, fish chowder, fish balls, and clam chowder 
were sealed in cans. Fresh fish was packed, well iced, in cov- 
ered boxes and barrels. Some lobsters, in canned form, were 
even shipped to Europe. 

Outstanding among the men who played prominent parts 
in the development of the Boston fishing industry between 
1860 and 1900 was Orson W. Arnold, a former mackerel seiner, 
who became associated with C. C. Richards on Commercial 
Wharf in 1878 and, 3 years later, organized the firm of Arnold 
and Winsor. Arnold became president of the New England 
Fish Company in 1906. Two other men whose energies quick- 
ened the trade were Albert F. Rich, secretary-treasurer and 
director of the New England Fish Company, and Franklin 
Snow, who was largely responsible for the organization of the 
Boston Fish Bureau in 1875. Commercial Wharf served as 
headquarters for fish dealers until 1884, when they moved to 
T Wharf. In 1897 several Boston firms became interested in 
the possibilities of halibut fishing on the West Coast, and the 
New England Fish Company sent a $50,000 steamer, the New 
England, around the Horn and up to Seattle to investigate. 
The century closed with local fishermen unaware of the com- 
petition this Pacific venture was later to offer the Boston 

Excursions in Massachusetts Bay 

Like Boston fishermen, local shipowners recognized and 
developed the commercial possibilities of Massachusetts Bay. 
Excursion boats and commuters' services operated regular 
lines out of Boston to neighboring cities. In 1880 the Nan- 
tasket Beach Steamboat Company, now the oldest existing 
steamboat line in the bay, celebrated its 5oth season. By 1884 
the side-wheel steamers Nantasket, Twilight, Rose Standish, 
and William Harrison were all in the service of the Company. 

The Triumph of Steam 159 

The Twilight had a licensed carrying capacity of 1,500 pas- 
sengers. Sailings were advertised as at "Nearly every hour of 
the Day and Evening," fare 25 cents each way. In summertime, 
Rowes Wharf presented a scene of merry, bustling activity, as 
hundreds of Bostonians sought relief from the city's sultry 
heat. Basket-laden Nantasket excursionists descended from 
the horse cars of Atlantic Avenue; others came from the various 
railroad depots on horse-drawn versions of the modern bus; 
still others arrived in cabs and carriages. A pamphlet issued 
by the line modestly described the attractions of Nantasket: 

There is no monopoly on the sea and the air and the magnificent surf 
bathing is open to all. Almost as exhilarating as actual indulgence is the 
near view to be obtained of the hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of 
bathers, from the piazzas of the hotels which line the beach. It is im- 
possible not to catch the spirit of fun which prevails. . . . Fish stories of 
any size can be manufactured to order, and warranted to fit. If you are 
over-pressed with care, take a rowboat, go out, throw care overboard with 
a splash, and row back. 

Other Boston steamships appeared in Massachusetts Bay 
between 1880 and 1890. Captain J. N. Phillips sent the Empire 
State, self-styled the largest, staunchest, and most magnificent 
excursion steamer in our waters, to Provincetown three times 
a week, devoting the remaining days to trips along the South 
Shore, Cape Ann, and the Isle of Shoals. A few years later the 
business-minded captain substituted moonlight sails down the 
harbor for the beauties of Cape Cod. About this time Captain 
E. S. Young ran three daily excursions among the islands and 
fortifications of Boston Harbor aboard the William Harrison, 
with single fare 15 cents, two fares for a quarter. The Boston 
and Gloucester Steamboat Company inaugurated a schedule 
of two daily boats to Gloucester during July and August, 
weather permitting; they charged 50 cents for a one-way pas- 
sage when the company added a new steel ship, the Cape Ann, 
to its run in 1895. The Morrison Steamboat Company adver- 
tised 45 miles for 45 cents on the journey to Salem Willows. 
A newcomer, the Frederick de Barry, carried excursionists to 
Nahant. Right up to the twentieth century, however, the 
steamer business in Massachusetts Bay remained almost exclu- 
sively in the summer-excursion domain, with the railroads 
monopolizing the freight and express business during the 
winter, when steamship lines were forced to operate on greatly 
curtailed schedules. 

160 Boston Looks Seaward 

Domestic Commerce and the Heyday of the 

Although slow to adopt steam, Boston experienced a grad- 
ual increase in the number and importance of her coastwise 
steamship facilities. In 1849 the Sanford brothers began send- 
ing their new 220-foot side-wheeler Ocean over the Boston-to- 
Bath run, and for 5 years maintained steady summer service 
on that route. On November 24, 1854, the Ocean collided 
with the inbound Cunarder Canada in Broad Sound, Boston 
Harbor; the impact upset the Ocean's kerosene lamps and 
stores, and the ship sank in flames. Five passengers leaped to 
death, and 100 others were saved by rescuing steamers. 

The experience of the Ocean's successor, the Governor, was 
illustrative of the keen competition that developed among the 
"Down East" steamship lines which sailed out of Boston. The 
Governor was sold to another company when the Sanford's 
new steamer Eastern Queen was put into service in 1857 on 
the Bath run. The Governor became a rival of the Eastern 
Queen, sailing from Boston to Gardiner. At once the rivalry 
caused heavy cuts in freight and passenger rates, and the 
price war continued during 1857 an( ^ 1858. Successive slashes 
brought the fare to Boston on the Governor down to 25 cents, 
and the Eastern Queen countered with a 5o-cent round trip 
rate for a 3oo-mile voyage. It was estimated that while these 
prices prevailed, nearly every resident of the Kennebec Valley 
went to Boston by boat. One day, placards appeared in Gar- 
diner announcing that passengers would be carried to Boston 
on the Governor for 121/2 cents the lowest rate ever charged 
for passage on the run. When the Sanford Line met even this 
challenge, the Governor was taken off the route. Thereafter 
passenger rates resumed their normal level of $1 to Portland 
and $2 to Bath. 

The cut-throat quarrel between sail and steam is shown by 
a story told in George Wasson's recent book, Sailing Days on 
the Penobscot. A Bangor business man, financially interested 
in steamships, was traveling to Boston by steamer. When his 
breakfast was interrupted by a severe shudder along the length 
of the craft, he rushed on deck to learn the cause of the dis- 
turbance. "We've run down another schooner, sir," was the 
laconic explanation. "She undertook to tack ship right under 
our bow." The steamship stockholder spied the wreckage, 
chortled, "Good! That's the talk! Cut 'em plumb in two while 

The Triumph of Steam 161 

you're about it," and calmly returned to his breakfast. His 
delight was short-lived, however, for he soon learned that the 
schooner had been laden with coal badly needed by his own 
steamers in Bangor. 

The wooden side-wheel steamers often had a difficult time 
in plying between Boston and "Down East" points. They 
traveled in the trough of heavy seas that pounded up under 
the guards and sought to tear the deck-house from the hull. 
On account of their enormous paddle-wheel boxes, they were 
wider than was justified by their shallow hulls, built to ascend 
rivers. As the captain of one steamer put it, "once let a sea 
strike with full force under those infernal sponsons and it 
would start off the whole top hamper." The successor of this 
skipper had that experience a few years later. A huge wave 
hit the ship off Portsmouth, shattered her top structure, and 
flooded her coal bunkers. Listing badly, the crippled steamer 
headed for Portsmouth; while every combustible piece of 
freight was tossed into her firebox to maintain steam. The 
ship finally crawled into port with a load of terrified pas- 
sengers and 7 feet of water in her hold. 

Shortly after the Civil War, the Boston and Philadelphia 
Steamship Line had been inaugurated, seriously cutting into 
the profits previously realized by clipper packets operating 
between the two ports. Joseph Whitney and William B. 
Spooner founded a steamer line from Boston to Baltimore. 
In 1864 the Metropolitan Line to New York was organized 
and for many years continued to be successful. The first 
steamer of the line was the Jersey Blue, followed by the City 
of Bath, Ceres, Salvor, Wyandotte, Mary Sanford, E. B. Hale, 
and Miami, all operating on regular schedules from T Wharf 
and, later, from Hittinger's Wharf in Charlestown. Before the 
end of the century, steamship lines were maintaining regular 
schedules from Boston to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Savannah, 
Charleston, Jacksonville, and Galveston. There was no wait- 
ing for wind and weather, and the steamers provided quicker 
and safer methods of travel than did the sailing vessels. In the 
year 1900, of 10,436 ships entering the Port of Boston, exclu- 
sive of fishing vessels, only 2,686 depended on sail for 

A share of the business between Boston and the South was, 
nevertheless, still conducted by means of coastwise sailing 
craft. Squat, sturdily built Boston schooners, without either 
the beauty or the speed of the earlier clippers, plied along 

162 Boston Looks Seaward 

the Atlantic Coast laden deep with cumbersome cargoes of 
coal, ice, granite, lumber, sand, and cement. The schooner, 
distinguished by its fore-and-aft rig, was born in Gloucester 
in 1713, though it was not fully developed until 1833; an ^ its 
heyday was not reached until the period from 1870 to the 
World War of 1914-1918. There was need for coasting vessels 
to carry coal from the black-diamond regions to the hungry 
boilers of New England manufacturing plants and railroads, 
and the schooner was a practical vessel for the purpose, since 
it could be handled easily and economically by a small crew. 
The famous McKay clipper, Sovereign of the Seas, required a 
crew of 105; a schooner of the same size, carrying about 3,000 
tons, as the clipper did, could be handled by 10 men. The 
ease and economy of schooner operation was increased after 
1879, when the Charles A. Briggs introduced the steam donkey 
engine to hoist sail and anchor, man the windlass and pumps, 
and perform much of the heavy work that formerly had to be 
done by human brawn. Furthermore, because of its rig, the 
schooner could sail close to the wind, and its shoal draft 
allowed entrance to bays and rivers perilous to the great 
square-riggers. At the same time, the schooner was sturdy 
enough for the most turbulent transoceanic lanes, as many of 
them proved through years of service. 

Boston played a significant role in the financing and use of 
schooners. Among the large operators here were William F. 
Palmer, who owned and operated a fleet of 13 five-masters and 
two-masters; the Thomas family, large investors in the Thom- 
aston fleet of schooners, named after members of the family 
and managed by the Washburn Brothers; and John S. Emery 
and Company of Boston. Crowell and Thurlow, who proudly 
listed their crack vessels on their stationery, managed about 
60 large schooners in addition to 13 steamships. They were 
at one time so successful that $100 shares in their company 
were selling for $1,400. Another great Boston fleet was owned 
and operated by John G. Crowley under the name of the 
Coastwise Transportation Company. 

This company operated the only seven-masted schooner, and 
the largest sailing vessel, ever built the Thomas W. Law- 
son, designed by B. B. Crowninshield of Boston, constructed 
at the Fore River Shipyard in 1902 and named after a prom- 
inent local financier. The steel vessel of 5,218 tons had 3 decks, 
was 395 feet long, 50 feet in beam, with molded depth of 34 
feet, 5 inches and a dead-weight cargo capacity of 7,500 tons. 

The Triumph of Steam 163 

Space between her double bottoms allowed for 1,000 tons of 
water ballast. Mainmasts 135 feet tall, with topmasts 58 feet 
tall, raked the sky. It took 40,617 square feet of canvas to dress 
her, and 19 men plus a double cylinder ship engine and 5 
hoisting engines to operate her. The total cost of the vessel 
was $250,000. The Thomas W. Lawson carried coal on the 
coast for 3 years and then was converted into a tanker. In 1 907 
she was to carry a cargo of oil in bulk from Philadelphia to 
London. Broad Sound, Scilly Islands, was reached safely, a 
pilot taken aboard, and preparations made to have the vessel 
towed to London on the next day. During the night a gale 
arose which drove the magnificent schooner onto the rocks 
and left her a total loss. One old Boston salt, relating the 
story, concluded significantly, "the name Thomas W. Lawson 
contained thirteen letters and she was wrecked on Friday, 
December 13." 

Not only individual vessels, but whole fleets of schooners 
one by one met violent ends witness the fate of the Palmer 
fleet. On December 24, 1909, the Davis Palmer, her holds 
weighted down with coal, nosed her way around Cape Cod 
and anchored in Broad Sound under the watchful eye of 
Graves Lighthouse. All hands looked forward eagerly to an 
early morning tow into Boston and Christmas at home. But 
that night a roaring southeaster swooped down out of the icy 
skies and screamed through the rigging. Huge seas battered 
the vessel. Dawn added to the danger by bringing a northwest 
blow and an ebb tide that swung the schooner into the trough 
of the sea. In a short time the vessel's hatches were splintered 
and all hands drowned. Exactly 7 years later, on Christmas 
Eve, 1916, the second Fanny Palmer went to the bottom while 
en route to Spain with a cargo of coal. Four of the Palmer 
vessels were lost in 1915: the Paul Palmer burned off Cape 
Cod; the Maud Palmer went down with all hands in a Car- 
ribean hurricane while bound from Trinidad to Mobile with 
asphalt; the Baker Palmer foundered while .carrying coal to 
South America; and the Elizabeth Palmer crashed with the 
American-Hawaiian sugar steamer, Washingtonian, off the 
Delaware coast. 

Most of the other Palmer vessels met similar violent fates. 
The Marie Palmer ran ashore on Frying Pan Shoals, North 
Carolina, in 1911; the Prescott Palmer and Fuller Palmer both 
sank off Georges Bank in 1914. Sold to the France and Canada 
Steamship Company during the World War the prices rang- 

164 Boston Looks Seaward 

ing from $300,000 to $400,000 each the remnant of the 
Palmer fleet was subjected to further hazards, but only one 
vessel met a martial end. That was the Harwood Palmer, 
shelled by a submarine and beached off St. Nazaire, France, in 
1917. The Rebecca Palmer, sold to Greece during the war, 
was scrapped in 1923. The Jane Palmer was abandoned off 
Bermuda in 1920, after 16 years of service; the Singleton 
Palmer sank in a collision off Delaware in 1921; and the 
Dorothy Palmer, last survivor of the line, was abandoned off 
Nantucket in 1923. 

Methods of financing and operating schooners changed as 
their use and size increased. In the day of the small schooner, 
the resources of the captain and a few friends were sufficient 
to finance the expense of construction, the investors taking 
shares of sixty-fourths in the vessel. Once the schooner was 
launched, the captain took full charge of the financial man- 
agement, paying all dividends and making all disbursements. 
Generally he sailed the vessel on half-shares, that is, the net 
proceeds of a trip, after pilotage, towage, and stevedoring bills 
were paid, were divided into two portions. Out of one por- 
tion, the paint, sails, and chandlery, excepting provisions, were 
paid, and the residue went to the holders of shares in the 
vessel. From the other portion, the captain paid the provision 
bill and the crew's wages and kept the rest for himself. After 
1880, when the operation of schooners became a big business, 
and the number of shareholders increased, the proprietary 
interest of the captain diminished, especially in the case of 
the large schooners, and captains were then generally hired by 
the schooner operators at $45 or $50 a month, plus primage, 
usually five percent of the gross return from a trip. 

The itinerary of the schooners varied with the business they 
found, but there were a number of well-marked sea paths 
which almost all of them followed. The 3-year Odyssey of one 
Boston vessel was probably typical: the schooner started out 
for Martinique with a general cargo, sailed thence to Port de 
Paix in Haiti and loaded logwood for Boston; from Boston it 
took Bibles and rum to the African Gold Coast, where it 
loaded palm oil and returned to Boston. After a few days the 
vessel started in ballast for Norfolk, where it took coal for 
Savannah, Georgia. There it loaded lumber for Gardiner, 
Maine. At nearby Portland it picked up a cargo of barrel 
staves for the molasses and rum trade in Puerto Rico; from 
Puerto Rico it beat its way to Jamaica, where it loaded log- 

The Triumph of Steam 165 

wood for Boston and, having deposited its cargo here, again 
set sail for the African jungles with Bibles and rum and 
returned with palm oil. 

Although life on board a schooner was not luxurious, there 
were usually decent living quarters and working conditions, 
and no bucko mates or mutinous crews. The natural pride 
seamen have always taken in the vessel on which they ship 
was heightened. On the large schooners quarters for both 
officers and crew were always clean and well-ventilated, and 
the captain, housed in a comfortable suite of rooms, lived as 
handsomely as he would in an apartment ashore. The salt 
pork and hardtack of an earlier day had given place by this 
time to more varied and appetizing menus, and ice boxes kept 
the food fresh. The tradition of spotless "shipkeeping" was 
rigidly observed. Schooners came into port with spars and 
rigging gleaming and decks scrubbed white. Even the least 
among the crew would feel disturbed at the most trifling 
disorder. Captain Harold Foss remarks: 

I have seen a poor, ignorant sailor when leaving my schooner throw on 
the dock his clothes-bag containing his entire worldly possessions a few 
cheap, patched rags and stoop to pick up a rope and coil it on a belaying 
pin. He never glanced at me as I stood on the quarter-deck. He hated all 
the officers of the ship and they despised him. Yet he could not leave the 
schooner without coiling the rope. It made me feel somewhat ashamed of 
some of the harsh things I had said to him on the voyage. Yet my next 
thought was that if I never saw him again it would be too soon. 

The Decline of Shipbuilding 

The shift from sail to steam had a marked effect upon the 
Boston shipbuilding industry. Already the Civil War years 
had exhausted the financial resources of the local builders, 
and the changing conditions that followed retarded their 
recovery. Construction figures emphasize this fact clearly. 
During the year closing June 30, 1860, Boston built 23 ships, 
15 schooners, 2 sloops, and 7 steamers, with an aggregate ton- 
nage of 21,147. In place of the great, proud clippers, harbors 
along the Atlantic seaboard were visited more and more by 
iron-hulled shipantines, or four-masted barks, as they were 
sometimes called. So long and narrow that they might well 
have split their own backs had they been made out wood, 
these iron boats were equipped with donkey engines for hoist- 
ing sail and pumping and with derrick booms and cargo side 
ports for loading and unloading. Such a craft could carry 
3,000 tons, and unload as fast as a i,ooo-tpn wooden ship oper- 

i66 Boston Looks Seaward 

ated by hand winches and man power. Since many American 
merchant-owners preferred them to the older types of vessel, 
local shipyards, which did not build their kind, suffered. 

Between 1867 and 1900, Boston built 58 three-masted 
schooners. In the eighties the first great four-masters appeared, 
in sizes ranging from 1,000 to 1,700 tons, and the decade fol- 
lowing saw the five-masters of from 1,800 to 2,500 tons. The 
turn of the century brought the six-masters of from 2,800 to 
3,800 tons. Four hundred and forty-two four-masted schooners 
were built on the Atlantic Coast between 1888 and 1920; of 
these, 7 were built in Boston, i in Somerville, and i in Chelsea. 
The tonnage of these vessels ranged from the 71 8-ton Howard 
Smith, the first of the Boston four-masters, to the i, 467-ton 
Richard T. Green , which was built at the Green Shipyard in 
Chelsea. The last Hub four-master was the Isabella B. Par- 
menter, later named the Tremont, a g7g-ton vessel constructed 
at Somerville in 1920, and lost off Cape Henry on October 21, 
1925. In addition, in 1879 a Boston yard converted the 5g8-ton 
steamer, Weybosset, built at Mystic, Connecticut, in 1863, into 
a four-masted schooner. Thereafter the Weybosset carried coal 
in the coastwise trade for many years, until she foundered in 
the Pollock Rip slue near the Cape after striking the sub- 
merged wreck of Cornelius Vanderbilt's yacht, Alva. Only i 
five-masted schooner was a product of Boston shipyards, the 
Jane Palmer, a gigS-ton vessel constructed in 1904. 

Shipyards were still active in East Boston, South Boston, 
Boston, Medford, Charlestown, Quincy, Dorchester, and 
Neponset, and in the i88o's several hundred Boston-built 
schooners and brigs were carrying cargoes along the shipping 
lanes to foreign ports. The East Boston yards were especially 
busy. Curiously enough, one of the first Boston-built steam- 
ships, Le Voyageur de la Mer f was launched there February 25, 
1857, as a result of an Egyptian pasha's interest in iron vessels. 
George A. Stone, a native Bostonian who had business contacts 
with the pasha, heard so much about the advantages of iron 
ships from the Egyptian that he eventually ordered Samuel H. 
Pook to construct such a craft. 

During the latter part of his career, Samuel Hall built many 
fast fishing schooners of about 100 tons, his first two schooners 
being the Express and the Telegraph. The Marion F. Sprague, 
a handsome three-masted schooner, was designed by John 
Frisbee, who divided his time between designing boats and 
teaching ship-drafting in Charlestown and South Boston 





The Triumph of Steam 167 

schools, thereby laying the foundations of the modern drafting 
system. Several of the Frisbee creations ranked with the best 
coasters launched during these decades. 

A number of larger vessels were turned out by the Boston 
shipyards, among them the N. Boynton, tonnage 1,065, i n 
1866; the Sea Witch in 1872; and the Sachem, 1,380 tons, in 
1876. Iron steamships for Russia, China, and the East Indies 
were produced by the Atlantic Works. This firm built two 
monitors, the Nantucket and Casco, as well as fleets of ferry- 
boats and tugs, marine and land engines, turrets and other 
parts of ironclads, giving employment to several hundred 
machinists. Active also were the Lockwood Manufacturing 
Company on Summer Street, Webb and Watson on Border 
Street, makers of marine engines and propellers, the Robin- 
son Boiler Works on Liverpool Street, and the Boston Forge 
Company on Maverick Street, builders of steel shafts, anchors, 
and other ship accessories. Nearby, seven drydocks and marine 
railways steadily employed a large group of shipwrights and 
caulkers doing repair work. In Charlestown, F. J. Baldwin was 
one of the more important builders of iron and steel vessels. 

South Boston combined the launching of commercial craft 
with the creation of graceful yachts for wealthy sportsmen. 
Here could be realized the most extravagant nautical ideas, 
and many magnificent sloops and schooners were designed for 
men who desired a gentle taste of sea life. Smaller yachts were 
also produced, including steam launches and tiny catboats 
noted for their speed. The Burgess, named after her designer, 
Edward Burgess, was among the many famous racing yachts 
constructed at City Point. In the same vicinity was the City 
Point Iron Works, founded in 1847, and owned by Harrison 
Loring. This firm was employed by the Government in the 
construction of naval cruisers and tugs. In 1860 South Boston 
and East Boston together employed about 60 shipwrights and 
caulkers, yet, by the end of the century, changing business 
conditions had reduced the number to a scant half-dozen. 
Shipbuilders decreased from 12 to less than 6 over the same 

Similarly Medford and Quincy felt the effects of the shifting 
maritime scene. Medford, in particular, was forced to watch 
changing fashions pass her by, leaving vacant shipyards and 
empty purses. From 1853 to 1862, 70 ships, with an aggregate 
tonnage of 57,815, were launched in Medford, yet in the next 
decade only 14 vessels, with a tonnage total of 12,049, came 

i68 Boston Looks Seaward 

off the ways. The Mystic River was too shallow to float the 
larger schooners and steamers then coming into vogue. Quincy 
was not so handicapped. At East Braintree the Fore River 
Engine Company began building marine engines in 1883, and 
the work increased so rapidly that the factory was forced to 
move to Quincy in 1900. Other concerns were also active in 
Quincy; one of the best known was a yard owned and oper- 
ated by Deacon Thomas from 1854 to 1870. He constructed 
vessels of all sizes, from tiny cockleshells hardly large enough 
to weather a bathtub storm to craft of more than 2,000 tons 
burden. Between 1870 and 1880 other Quincy yards launched 
such famous ships as the Triumphant and the Modoc. 

Close by, Neponset gradually grew into one of the leading 
yacht-building centers of the country. During normal years 
the business averaged about $5,000,000 annually, garnered 
from the construction of knockabouts, sloops, schooners, pri- 
vate steam yachts, racing ships, combined wood and steel 
craft; in fact anything that touched the fancy of owners or 
designers. Before the close of the century a number of beau- 
tiful racing vessels were built by George Lawley and Sons, 
makers of such exceptionally fine boats as the sloop Puritan, 
successful defender of the America's Cup against the British 
cutter Genesta, and the Mayflower, cup defender against the 
Galatea. Other sections of Dorchester, Quincy, and Medford 
also produced yachts of varying sizes and abilities. 

Inevitably associated with a shipbuilding center or a great 
port are ship chandlers, provisioners in the broadest sense, 
supplying vessels, not only with food, but with all nautical 
necessities. "Rope, duck, oakum, and paints, beef, pork, flour, 
molasses and canned goods," read the signs on one ship 
chandler's store of the late nineteenth century. The business 
of the few genuine ship chandlers that remain is limited today; 
whereas once the captain of a vessel brought his requisition 
directly to the chandler who filled the order, no questions 
asked on price or quality, the modern skipper places his supply 
requisitions into the hands of the ship company's purchasing 
agent or marine superintendent, and he in turn places his 
orders according to the type and quality of the merchandise 

The chandler had other functions besides that of provis- 
ioner. He often acted as a banker, lending anywhere from 
one to three thousand dollars to a captain to defray the 
expenses of a trip. No interest was charged on these loans, 

The Triumph of Steam 169 

nor were the debts set forth in writing an eloquent testi- 
mony to the confidence these business men had in one another's 
honesty. The chandler was also a large investor in newly built 
vessels, taking shares in them with the implied understanding 
that the vessels would patronize his establishment when they 
came to port for provisioning. James Bliss and Company at 
one time had shares in all the vessels of the Crowell and Thur- 
low Company, the Rogers and Webb Line, and the Palmer 

Few of the old ship chandlers are now in existence, although 
50 years ago there were 18 or 20 of these tradesmen in Boston. 
Most prominent were George Billings (known as "Honest 
George"), Hinkley Brothers and Company, Timothy L. Mayo, 
Peter Mclntyre and Company, Harrington and King, J. H. 
Flitner and Company, which later became Flitner Atwood 
Company, Googan and Stodder, Snow and Higgins, S. P. Black- 
burn and Company, French Brothers, Walter W. Hodder, Inc., 
and the Bliss Company. The last two firms are still in exist- 
ence and, together with the Boston Provision and Ship Supply 
Company, successor to French Brothers, and the Crowell Sup- 
ply Company, they are the only real ship chandlers in Boston 

The Bliss Company deserves particular mention, for it is 
probably the oldest active ship chandlery concern on the 
Atlantic coast. It was founded in 1832 by James Bliss, and its 
first order was delivered in a wheelbarrow to a vessel at Long 
Wharf. The Company was then located at 328 Atlantic Avenue, 
where it had one floor or "loft," as the ship chandler would 
say, and a cellar. In 1876, when Bliss died his adopted son, 
James F. Bliss, and Israel Emerson Decrow of Camden, Maine, 
took over the business as equal partners. On the death of 
James F. Bliss in 1923, the business went to the surviving 
partner, and in 1925, the firm became James Bliss and Com- 
pany, Incorporated. In 1931, Israel Decrow died and for a 
time it looked as though the old firm, which had just passed 
the century mark, would have to close its doors. But Israel 
Decrow's daughter, Miss Marion L. Decrow, assisted by experi- 
enced employees of her father, piloted the firm successfully 
through the worst of the economic blow. The new manage- 
ment added to the steamship supply department a marine 
hardware department, which carries equipment for small 
boats, and a ship model department where completed models 
of vessels, including famous McKay clippers, and blueprints 

170 Boston Looks Seaward 

for the construction of model ships are on sale. Associated 
with the Bliss Company is the Crowell Supply Company, oper- 
ated by J. Edgar Crowell, who left the Blackburn Company 
in 1888 and is probably the oldest living man in the chandler- 
ing business in Boston. Through his London agent, Mr. 
Crowell holds yearly contracts with about 40 British steamship 
companies to supply their vessels when they put into the Port 
of Boston. 

Around the World Again 

Despite various trade fluctuations, Boston experienced a 
gradual and general commercial advance between 1860 and 
1900. The development of great textile centers in eastern 
Massachusetts made Boston after 1880 the second largest wool 
market in the world, surpassed only by London. Improved 
rail connections with the West brought a flood of grain and 
livestock which, supplemented by locally manufactured prod- 
ucts, boosted Boston's exports to a high 5-year average of 
$111,000,000 from 1896-1900, a 77 percent increase over the 
corresponding period of the preceding decade. During the 
same years, exports were 62 percent greater than imports, an 
unusual trend at Boston. As the century drew to a close, Bos- 
ton was strongly entrenched as the second United States port 
in foreign trade. Its $180,000,000 overseas commerce was over 
50 percent larger than that of its nearest rival, Baltimore. 

Boston's commerce with South America had developed far 
less rapidly than trade with Europe and Asia, since the Old 
World offered better markets for raw products. The steady 
growth of manufacturing had tended to change this situation, 
however, and by 1860 commercial relations with South Amer- 
ica ran into many millions of dollars. Principal imports from 
South America in that year were coffee, copper, hides, nitrates, 
petroleum, and rubber; while exports largely consisted of 
finished manufactured goods, semi-finished products, and 
manufactured foodstuffs. Boston merchants purchased $3,000,- 
ooo worth of goods from South American countries in 1870, or 
6.4 percent of the city's total imports, and in return shipped 
merchandise valued at $1,800,000, or 15.3 percent of the city's 
export business. Imports from South America continued to 
increase and passed the $6,000,000 mark in 1880. By 1890, 
however, the trade had dropped to $4,000,000, although the 
proportion to total imports remained about the same as in 

The Triumph of Steam 171 

1870. Exports showed a greater fluctuation, dropping in 1890 
to $1,340,000, which equalled only 2 percent of the total ex- 
ports from Boston in that year. Imports from the Argentine 
exceeded those from all other South American countries com- 
bined, and exports to Chile led the list for South America. 

From neighboring Central America, mahogany logs fur- 
nished a profitable supplement to bananas in the trade of the 
eighties and nineties. The George D. Emery Company im- 
ported mahogany from its concession in Nicaragua to its mill 
in Chelsea. The timber was cut in the dry season, floated down 
river during floods, towed offshore by tugs, and loaded on char- 
tered British schooners. Two logs of Spanish cedar were lashed 
to each log of mahogany to keep it afloat. This cedar was also 
brought to Boston where it was used to make cigar boxes and 
other light cartons. The mahogany trade was carried on until 
Emery's plant was destroyed by fire and the firm moved to 
New York. 

Local merchants found trade with the Far East a precarious 
business at best during the changing decades between 1850 
and 1900. Imports from and exports to China and Japan were 
greatly curtailed, dropping 75 percent in some cases. By 1857 
New York had definitely supplanted Boston as the terminus 
of the China trade, and in that year could boast of 41 arrivals 
to Boston's 6. The transition had been under way since 1824, 
when the Massachusetts Legislature laid a tax of one percent 
ad valorem on all merchandise brought from beyond the Cape 
of Good Hope and auctioned in Boston. Although the tax was 
reduced in 1849 and repealed in 1852, it was then too late to 
stop the trend to New York. More contemporary reasons for 
the loss of the China trade were such general conditions as 
the changing demands of local markets, the transfer of clipper 
ships to other routes, and the concentration of sail and steam- 
ship lines at the Port of New York. The dropping off of the 
China trade was noted as early as the 1840'$, and it was hoped 
that the arrival in Boston in 1848 of the sensational Chinese 
junk Keying would halt the decline. Bizarre in decoration, 
with elaborate saloons, cabins, and a josshouse containing the 
1 8-handed idol "Chin-Tee," the teakwood junk registered 
about 800 tons, was shaped like a Spanish galleon, and dis- 
played wooden anchors and thatched mat sails. Thousands of 
Bostonians visited the Oriental craft and marvelled that she 
had proved seaworthy during a voyage half-way around the 

172 Boston Looks Seaward 

world. The display of this strange craft failed to produce the 
desired effect, and, with the exception of one or two periods 
of unusual activity near the end of the century, trade with 
China remained at a low level. 

Similar conditions marked Boston's trade with India and 
Africa. Business continued good through 1857; in that year 
no less than 96 of the 122 ships loaded in India sailed to Bos- 
ton. Cargoes included Java coffee, Singapore rubber, Philip- 
pine sugar, and an assortment of jute, indigo, linseed, shellac, 
and gunny-cloth. In turn, Western corn growers purchased the 
gunny-bags from Boston merchants, while the uncut cloth was 
sent to the South to bale cotton. Linseed oil and jute factories 
near Salem and in Charlestown prepared these East Indian 
products for the American market. Typical of the uncertainties 
of the trade was the barter in gunny-sacks and gunny-cloth. 
While less than 5,000 bales came to Boston in 1840, the num- 
ber had increased to 86,000 bales in 1867. Ten years later, 
however, the importation of this commodity had completely 
ceased. African trade also fell off between 1860 and 1890. Im- 
portations of wool, goatskins, ostrich feathers, and diamonds, 
which amounted to $3,779,000 in 1860, dropped to less than 
$500,000 by 1890. Exports were equally weak. 

Meanwhile Boston's export trade to Australia had gradually 
advanced. For some 20 years after 1860, diversified New Eng- 
land manufactures, "from cradles and teething rings to coffins 
and tombstones," were dumped into waiting holds and 
shipped half around the world. In return Australia sent great 
loads of wool and hides. In 1880, Boston's imports from Aus- 
tralia and Asiatic British possessions amounted to $1,703,000, 
while exports to these countries were valued at $1,130,000. 

One of the important firms in the Boston-Australian trade 
was the Henry W. Peabody & Company. Peabody, who learned 
the business from Samuel Stevens, operator of the Australasian 
Line in the fifties and sixties, sent out the packetship Nellie 
Chapin to Melbourne in 1867 and followed with the Surprise, 
Sarah, Richard Bustead, Franklin, and A. W. Stevens. Vessels 
for this line were chartered. Their sailings were advertised on 
a colorful card, surmounted by the house insignia, which gave 
the destination of the vessels, the type, name, tonnage, and 
captain, and sometimes the vessel that preceded on the voyage. 
The loading berth named was most frequently Lewis Wharf, 
although one or two cards mention Constitution Wharf. The 
cards announced that "carload lots of freight are delivered 

The Triumph of Steam 173 

direct to vessel's tackles, thus saving rehandling, and no 
charges except actual disbursements are made on goods con- 
signed to our care." The rating of the vessel either by Lloyd's 
or Bureau Veritas was given, and, if the vessel had been char- 
tered before by Peabody, that fact was solemnly stated with a 
line to the effect that goods were received previously in good 
condition. Many of these cards are kept in the offices of the 
company today. 

By 1890 much of the traffic on the Atlantic seaboard was 
clearing from New York, and Peabody established the head- 
quarters of his commission business there. The Boston office 
took over the importation of the hard fibers, sisal and hemp, 
and today handles more of these products than any other firm 
in the country. The demand for sisal as a binder of wheat in- 
terested the Peabody Company in the eighties and by 1890 an 
office had been established at Merida, capital of Yucatan and 
center of great sisal plantations. Cultivation of the fiber spread 
to other countries, and Peabody now gets it from East Africa, 
Java, and Haiti, as well as Yucatan. In 1890, Henry W. Pea- 
body & Company also opened an office in Manila to facilitate 
the importation of hemp and later added sugar, copra, and 
cocoanut oil to products handled in Boston. Sisal was first 
brought by schooners, hemp by clippers. Most of the latter 
were chartered for a full cargo from John G. Hall, Charles 
Hunt, or John S. Emery. They came by way of the Cape of 
Good Hope and, from the time the ship left Manila until it 
was sighted off Highland Light, probably 5 months later, it 
was rarely heard from. Sisal is now handled by chartered 
steamers; Manila hemp is brought in as part of the cargo of 
steamers on regular Far Eastern runs. 

Although sailing vessels could not match the smokestack in 
the widening area of world trade, Boston sail was not com- 
pletely outmoded in the second half of the century. The larg- 
est merchant fleet in the United States, more than 50 square- 
rigged vessels proudly flying the "Black Horse Flag," was still 
owned by William F. Weld 8c Company of Boston. Weld ships 
saw every principal port in the world and continued to trav- 
erse trade routes almost up to the turn of the century. On 
the Atlantic seaboard, "Black Horse" ships regularly put into 
New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Sometimes they called 
at Halifax, Charleston, New Orleans, and Rio de Janeiro, 
while Pacific stops included San Francisco, New Tacoma, and 
Vancouver. Often returning by Cape Horn, these vessels would 

174 Boston Looks Seaward 

cross the Atlantic and anchor at the mouth of the Thames or 
dock at Dublin and Liverpool. 

Famous sailing ships belonging at one time or another to 
the Weld firm included the William Sturgis, lost in 1865 just 
outside Iloilo in the Philippines; the brig Laurillia, which 
disappeared without a trace; and the ship Meridian, aban- 
doned at sea after being swept by a hurricane. But the three 
Weld ships that stand out in American sailing history are the 
Enoch Train, the Golden Fleece, and the Great Admiral. Mis- 
fortune dogged the Enoch Train from the moment the 1787- 
ton ship left the ways of Paul Curtis' East Boston shipyard in 
1854. Once she sprung her whole port bow; another time, with 
33 inches of water in her pumps, and making only i knot an 
hour, she put into Norfolk, where her entire crew deserted. 
After carrying rails from England to the United States with- 
out mishap, the Enoch Train strained herself so badly on a 
trip to Rio that she had to put back into port for recaulking. 
On that single passage her deficit was over $5,000. 

In 1872 the Enoch Train was sent to Hong Kong. Believing 
that the vessel was accursed, her captain thought on several 
occasions that all was lost. His log reports that near the China 
coast he ran into "Hard squalls, weather looking wild and 
dirty. Corposants (St. Elmo's fire) at all mast-heads and top- 
gallant yard-arms. Heavy north-west gales, and a bad sea run- 
ning." The squalls increased to hurricane violence, and by the 
next day the vessel was almost totally dismasted. By noon, 
unable to ride the heavy seas, she had shipped so much water 
that her best boat was stove in, the bulwarks and monkey rail 
from poop to forecastle had been torn out, and everything 
movable on deck, including the water casks, had been washed 
overboard. When the seas abated somewhat, the vessel was in 
such disorder that the captain wrote in his log, "A stinking, 
miserable mess." A steamer passed the Enoch Train, paying 
no regard to her distress signals. The crew managed to clean 
up the ship and finally drifted in close to the coast, where 
they got out an anchor. A Chinese gunboat came within hail, 
but the current was so strong that no headway could be made 
when it tried to tow the stricken vessel. So the gunboat took 
the mail into Hong Kong, and left behind arms for the Enoch 
Train to use, if necessary, against the Chinese pirates that 
infested the waters. Then another typhoon struck, and the 
ship rolled helplessly until a steamer came out from Hong 
Kong and towed her in. The hawser broke in the wild sea but 

The Triumph of Steam 175 

was made fast again; the Enoch Train finally got into port 
after a passage of 146 days. 

Proudest and ablest of all the Weld fleet was the Great 
Admiral, built in 1869 at the Boston shipyard of E. R. Jackson. 
Among skippers and sailors, competition was keen for a place 
on the Admiral, and insurance agents vied for her coverage. 
The ship passed through three terrific typhoons, suffering 
nothing more serious than a sprung rudder post. Last of the 
Weld fleet, she was sold in 1897, and sank 9 years later, while 
carrying a cargo of lumber from Puget Sound to San Pedro, 

European Trade, Travel, and Immigration 

The commercial life of Boston still hinged on trans-Atlantic 
service and trade with England and the Continent. In 1868, 
however, Boston merchants had been forced to sit back des- 
pairingly and watch the Cunard Line shift its steamer service 
from Boston to New York. The reasons for this change were 
a reduction in the English mail subsidy and the inability of 
Boston merchants to supply full return cargoes to Liverpool. 
Although Cunard freighters occasionally did put into the Port 
on the way from Halifax to New York to complete their car- 
goes, not a single steamer sailed direct from Boston to Liver- 
pool for nearly 3 years. 

Individual sailing packets sought to recapture segments of 
the trade lost by the departure of the Cunarders, and when 
these efforts were in some measure successful the Cunard Line 
made an abrupt about-face and re-established connections with 
the Port of Boston. Accordingly, on September 22, 1870, the 
Cunard cargo steamer Palmyra, sailed directly from Boston for 
Liverpool, and Boston maritime interests took on a new lease 
of life. The railroads cooperated, the Boston and Albany even 
joining with the Cunard Line in purchasing large quantities 
of grain to assure the company full cargoes. Other vessels fol- 
lowed the Palmyra at varying intervals until April 8, 1871, 
when the departure of the Siberia marked the inauguration 
of a regular schedule. 

A number of steamship lines followed the wake of the 
Cunarders into the Port of Boston. In 1871, the Warren Line, 
successors to the old Enoch Train Line of sailing packets, 
established a route between Boston and Liverpool. Some 
months later, the British Inman Company sent the steamer 
City of Boston to Boston and New York as the pioneer vessel 

176 Boston Looks Seaward 

of their new line. On her return voyage to Liverpool, the City 
of Boston touched at Halifax and then was never heard from. 
Her tragic loss changed the plans of the Inman Company, 
which withdrew from the Boston trade. Five years later, trans- 
Atlantic sailings received a fresh impetus when the Leyland 
Line inaugurated a series of fortnightly departures, followed 
by Boston sailings of vessels of the Anchor, Allan, Wilson, and 
White Cross Line. In 1880, Bostonians waved bon voyage to 
no less than 322 steamers carrying merchandise to European 
ports. Of these, 196 were for Liverpool, 47 for Glasgow, 42 for 
London, and 37 for West Hartlepool and Hull. 

The Port continued to hold a dominant position in dealings 
with the Mediterranean. Arrivals from Bordeaux, Marseilles, 
Malaga, Messina, Palermo, and Smyrna were exceeded only 
by those from the West Indies. From Smyrna alone, several 
hundred thousand drums of figs were imported annually, be- 
sides wool, gums, drugs, and dyes. The Dabney family con- 
tinued to dominate trade with the Azores; S. W. Dabney served 
there as consul from 1871 to 1892. A Bostonian named Nichols 
brought the first steamship to the islands, causing great excite- 
ment among the inhabitants. When it departed, the natives 
saw clouds of steam rising from the smokestack and decided 
the vessel was on fire. Frantically they rushed down to the 
water, pushed off in their boats, and hastened toward the 
steamer to save the unfortunate crew. 

Closely integrated with Boston's commercial expansion was 
the varying volume of immigration entering the Port through 
the decades. Following the great wave of Irish immigration in 
the 1840*5 and early 1850*5, the entrants at Boston dropped 
steadily until after the Civil War. The Massachusetts Legis- 
lature in 1870 repealed the State head tax on immigrants en- 
tering through Boston and going on to interior States, and 
in that year some 30,000 immigrants entered the Port. Hoping 
to attract a greater number, since other States retained the 
head tax, the legislature in 1872 exempted also immigrants 
intending to remain in the Commonwealth. Any advantage 
that might have been gained was blocked by the depression 
of 1873 and by an edict of the Supreme Court 3 years later, 
which declared all State head taxes unconstitutional. Boston 
remained second to New York as an immigrant port, although 
its entries were very small in comparison to those of the great 
metropolis. A rapid increase in the eighties, caused by the 
flow of southern Europeans, sent Boston entrants soaring to 

The Triumph of Steam 177 

over 58,000 in 1882. From then until the close of the century, 
the figure fluctuated considerably, reaching a low of 12,271 
in 1898. 

War and the Close of the Century 

The influx of immigrants into Boston lagged in 1898, when 
war was declared between Spain and the United States. Ru- 
mors of a Spanish attack along the New England coast had 
turned the attention of Boston's citizens to their harbor de- 
fenses. Four guns were installed on Long Island; Fort Warren 
was inspected and strengthened; cannon were set up at Win- 
throp; and a concerted plan of battle was drawn up. Already 
the sinking of the Maine had thoroughly aroused the local 
citizenry, and a committee, headed by Mayor Quincy, had 
launched a city-wide subscription for the erection of a monu- 
ment to the victims. Within a few months, hundreds of Bos- 
ton's sons had joined the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment and 
departed for Cuba. 

After anxiously following the course of the war throughout 
the summer, Boston greeted with gay enthusiasm the news of 
the cessation of hostilities. Returning from San Juan, the Sixth 
Massachusetts steamed up the harbor on the transport Missis- 
sippi with colors flying, while whistles and sirens screamed 
from every boat along the waterfront. The transport was met 
by a tug, which brought a supply of heavy clothing and over- 
coats to the men. Sailing under the white flag of the Common- 
wealth, the Vigilant carried Governor Wolcott along the star- 
board side of the Mississippi and gave three long whistles as 
his salute to the returning boys. To the tune of "Stars and 
Stripes Forever," the troops paraded up Congress, Milk, Broad, 
State, Washington, School, and Beacon Streets to Charles, 
where the regiment was dismissed. 

The close of the Spanish-American War found Boston mer- 
chants and shipowners busily engaged in sending schooners 
up and down the coast, directing steamers across the Atlantic 
and to distant ports, and generally handling commercial activi- 
ties with more efficient methods and with their eyes wider open 
than had been the case since the golden era of the clipper 
ships. Prosperity was not a myth to be idly dreamt about; it 
was ripe and ready for the picking, and Bostonians were not 
slow in harvesting the profitable crop. With extraordinary 
consistency, Boston had remained second only to New York 
in the volume of shipping; jumping from $54,535,000 in 1860 

178 Boston Looks Seaward 

to $192,609,000 in 1900, while New York showed an improve- 
ment from $371,839,000 to $1,068,700,000 for the correspond- 
ing years. All told, Boston handled approximately one-fifth of 
the aggregate foreign tonnage of the country, and her com- 
mercial activities were still accelerating as the century ended. 



Expansion to Meet New Demands 

AT THE OPENING of the twentieth century Boston was the sec- 
ond most important port in the United States and the only 
Massachusetts city that still upheld the maritime traditions 
of the bold Yankee skippers. Steel-hulled, steam-powered ocean 
"leviathans" of 10,000 tons or more ploughed up the main 
ship channel, and then were pushed by squat, smoke-belching 
tugs to their berths in Charlestown and East Boston. Smelly, 
storm-battered fishing vessels crowded about T Wharf and 
sailed in and out of the harbor. Along the wharves, steam 
winches shrilled into life, hoisting cargo from unbattened 
holds, and brawny longshoremen moved ant-like up and down 
the gangplanks. While passengers streamed aboard or moved 
gingerly about, trying to accustom "sea-legs" to the solidity 
of land, coastwise steamers and excursion boats cluttered the 
old piers off Atlantic Avenue, which had remained the center 
of much port activity. Receiving shipments from the ancient 
brick and stone warehouses in the vicinity, the steamships and 
sailing vessels of 18 companies berthed at Long, Lewis, India, 
and Central Wharves. 

The natural advantages of Boston Harbor were being en- 
hanced by important alterations and improvements. In 1902 
the United States Government began dredging a channel 
35 feet deep at mean low water, 1,200 feet wide from Charles- 
town, Chelsea North, Meridian Street, and Charles River 
Bridges to President Roads and 1,500 feet wide through Broad 
Sound to the sea. Three years later the largest stone and con- 
crete drydock then in the world was completed at the Boston 
Navy Yard and immediately put into use. The armored cruiser 
Maryland was the first ship to enter its tremendous steel 

The Commonwealth undertook a series of extensive im- 
provements planned to care for the increased tonnage expected 
to be attracted to the Port by the enlarged channels. Under 
the direction of the Board of Directors of the Port, established 


180 Boston Looks Seaward 

in 1911, the large and excellently equipped Commonwealth 
Pier No. 5 was completed in South Boston in 1913. Some 1,200 
feet in length, with a 400-foot frontage on the main ship chan- 
nel and a 35-foot depth at mean low water, the pier was 
equipped with three two-story fireproof sheds, six railroad 
tracks, and electric winches for handling freight, and could 
accommodate five steamships at once. The Boston Fish Pier 
nearby was opened a short while later, the most modern and 
largest plant of its kind in the world. Practically all the fishing 
fleet moved to the new location, leaving T Wharf to the mercy 
of a few small Italian and Portuguese vessels, various "atmos- 
pheric" tearooms, and groups of literary folk. At the new pier, 
the industry soon reached a point where 750,000 pounds of 
fish were being processed daily. Across the harbor, adjoining 
the Boston & Albany piers, the Commonwealth Pier No. i was 
completed in 1919, to supplement the excellent facilities that 
were already attracting much of the trans-Atlantic trade to 
East Boston. 

Throughout these years of remarkable waterfront improve- 
ments, the Honorable John F. Fitzgerald played an outstand- 
ing role in the progress of the Port of Boston. During his 
entire career in public office, the energetic Fitzgerald spared 
no effort, left no stone unturned to make Boston the greatest 
seaport of the nation. In Congress he demanded a deeper chan- 
nel for Boston Harbor and a lighthouse and fog signal on 
State Ledge; he introduced a bill for the construction of dry- 
docks in Charlestown and urged changes in the law requiring 
the installation of life-saving apparatus on ships. Reading a 
newspaper statement that the beloved Boston frigate Consti- 
tution was in danger of sinking in Portsmouth Harbor, Fitz- 
gerald made a stirring speech on the floor of the House on 
January 14, 1897, and, as a result, the famous vessel was re- 
paired and then towed to the Charlestown Navy Yard, where 
a solemn celebration was held. In and out of New England, 
"John F." advocated the bringing of new steamship lines to 
Boston and enthusiastically furthered Boston's trade relations 
with the South American countries. In 1905 a prophetic note 
had appeared in an address delivered by Fitzgerald in favor 
of port development. 

Perhaps . . . airships may be invented to sail from this country to other 
parts of the world (laughter). Unless something of that kind happens there 
must be improvements in order to provide for the cheaper transportation 
which follows the increased carrying capacity of ships. 

A Twentieth Century Port 181 

Mr. Fitzgerald has continued his deep interest in the Port and, 
since 1934, has served as an active member of the Boston Port 

The opening of the Cape Cod Canal in the summer of 1914 
cut the running time and increased the safety of the "outside" 
line of boats between Boston and New York and facilitated 
coastwise traffic to the south. From the earliest days, settlers 
at Plymouth had realized the possibilities of a cut across the 
Cape's neck, a fact noted by Samuel Sewall in 1676 and offi- 
cially recognized by the General Court of Massachusetts in 
1697. But the matter was dropped for nearly a century un- 
til the General Court in 1776 appointed a committee to 
determine the practicability of a canal. Thomas Machin, an 
engineer, surveyed the proposed route and recommended a 
canal 14 feet deep with two double locks at each end and two 
bridges, all at an estimated cost of 32,146. Nothing came of 
this, however, and the matter again hung fire. The Federal 
Government considered the canal question in 1818, and in 
1824 Congress authorized the President to cause "necessary 
surveys, plans and estimates to be made." But no action 
was taken. 

Finally in 1860 the Massachusetts General Court decided to 
take a firmer stand on the subject of the canal and appointed 
a committee, which reported favorably on the project. The 
committee supported its opinion by calling attention to the 
fact that 10,000 ships annually sailed around the Cape and 
that in 17 years there had been 827 marine disasters in that 
region, with an annual loss of $600,000. In 1883 the recommen- 
dation for a canal without locks attracted private capital and 
the Cape Cod Ship Canal Company was incorporated. Before 
difficulties terminated the work, a canal i mile long, 15 feet 
deep, and 100 feet wide was actually excavated across the 
marshes of the Scusset River. Later a charter was given to the 
Boston, Cape Cod, and New York Canal Company; building 
was resumed in June 1909, and the waters of Buzzards and 
Cape Cod Bays met on July 4, 1914. On the thirtieth of the 
same month, the canal was opened to navigation, but only for 
vessels drawing less than 15 feet. The need of enlargement 
was recognized from the beginning, and by 1916 the minimum 
bottom width of the canal extended 100 feet, with a depth of 
25 feet at mean low water. Even these improvements did not 
attract sufficient tonnage to make the operation of the canal 
profitable to a private company. During the World War it 

182 Boston Looks Seaward 

was taken over by the United States and afterward it was 
purchased by the Government. 

Storm and Shipwreck 

Even the completion of the canal did not do away with 
adventure on the high seas off the New England coast, and 
often Boston ships ran into difficulties reminiscent of former 
days. The tragic loss of the Portland was still fresh in the 
minds of Boston mariners, and available weather reports were 
carefully scrutinized for storm warnings, resulting in a con- 
siderable decrease in the number of local shipwrecks. Yet there 
was still justification for the likening of Cape Cod to a mailed 
fist warning vessels to keep their distance or take the conse- 
quences. Many a stout sailing vessel or ably built steamship 
met disaster in the "ocean graveyard" of Massachusetts Bay. 

In December 1902, two heavily laden coal schooners, the 
five-master Louise B. Crary and the four-master Frank A. 
Palmer, collided while maneuvering against headwinds no 
more than 5 hours' sail from Long Wharf. The terrific crash 
stove in the side of the Palmer and demolished the bow of 
the Crary. Within 10 minutes both vessels were at the bottom, 
carrying down 6 men. The remaining 15 were picked up by 
the lifeboat of the Palmer and began a terrible battle against 
intense cold, thirst, hunger, and the savage sea. For 3 days the 
men rowed as best they could, while frigid water lapped over 
the gunwales, transforming hands into icy claws. Five of the 
suffering crew died. In desperation a pair of trousers from one 
of the frozen victims was hoisted on an oar in an effort to 
attract attention. Finally, late on the third day, this distress 
signal was sighted by the fishing schooner Manhassett, and the 
survivors were rescued and brought to Boston. That same 
month a large steel barge, Number 48, owned by the Standard 
Oil Company and probably laden with gasoline, was sighted 
in a leaking condition and minus its crew, off Highland Light, 
by the fishing schooner Blanche. It was immediately taken in 
tow and a salvage crew put aboard. About 10 miles from 
Gloucester, George Riley, one of the salvage crew on the barge 
went below to look for a chain. He struck a match to pene- 
trate the gloom, and an instant explosion tore him to pieces 
and set the barge on fire. Undeterred, the men on the Blanche 
lengthened the hawser and towed the flaming vessel into the 

Due to better navigation and the able efforts of lifesaving 

A Twentieth Century Port 183 

crews, disastrous shipwrecks occurred less frequently in Mass- 
achusetts Bay. In January 1909, the three-masted schooner 
Myra W. Spear sprang a leak while carrying a cargo of rail- 
road ties across Massachusetts Bay, became water-logged and 
rolled over on her side. George Loveland, the cook, was 
washed overboard and drowned. When the hulk unexpect- 
edly righted itself a short time later, Mate Peterson and a 
sailor known as "Dan" lost their holds and went down. Cap- 
tain E. T. Rogers and a member of the crew clung to the 
wreck until the fishing schooner Manhassett rescued them. 
Early on the morning of July 30, 1912, in a dense fog off 
Thatcher Island the Eastern Steamship Company's City of 
Rockland, carrying some 400 passengers, collided with the 
steam collier William I. Chisholm, and the impact sheared 
the Rockland's bow as cleanly as if it had been clipped off 
by gigantic scissors. The stricken liner sounded shrill blasts 
for help, and with an appearance of magic the steamship 
Belfast, of the same company, loomed out of the fog and 
stood by to give assistance. Two lifeboats overturned as they 
were being launched, but nobody drowned and eventually all 
the passengers were removed to the Belfast and taken to Bos- 
ton. The rammed ship Chisholm was not seriously damaged 
and, aided by the tugs Mercury and Juno, successfully beached 
the Rockland stern first in the shoal water off Deer Island. 

Five years later the busy movement of war vessels in and 
out of Boston Harbor accounted for several accidents that 
just avoided tragic consequences. On the afternoon of Au- 
gust 11, 1917, the Nantasket-bound Mayflower, carrying 1,164 
passengers, was rammed by the U. S. submarine L-io in a 
dense fog between Spectacle and Castle Islands. The submer- 
sible literally gored the steamer, burying her steel prow 20 feet 
into its side. While the panic-stricken passengers were being 
quieted, the Rose Standish arrived and all on board were 
saved. The following year the U. S. destroyer Reid, then on 
neutrality duty at quarantine, collided with the coal barge 
Mauch Chunk from New York, crushing the stem of the 
barge and damaging her own bow. Another crash occurred 
the same season during a dense fog, when a British freighter 
with a full cargo of munitions collided off Boston Light with 
a steamship owned by the same company. Fortunately there 
was no explosion, and the pumps kept both vessels afloat 
until they were able to put into port. 

184 Boston Looks Seaward 

More Fish 

But events of wider scope were also taking shape at the 
Port. The fishing industry underwent a series of changes 
during the first decade of this century. A number of immi- 
grants from the Azores, Italy, and the Maritime Provinces 
had gradually replaced the old New England stock on the 
Boston fishing boats. As early as 1902, small dories with gaso- 
line or naphtha engines were "put-putting" off the Massachu- 
setts shore, forming the nucleus of what was later dubbed the 
"kicker fleet." That same year Thomas B. McManus designed 
a new type of sailing schooner, minus bowsprit and with 
changed rig, while 3 auxiliary schooners made their debuts, 
averaging more than 100 feet in length and capable of making 
7 or 8 knots under power. A new steamer, the Kingfisher, was 
added to the halibut fleet, and another steamer was fitted out 
for mackerel fishing. Following the lead of European con- 
cerns, the Bay State Fishing Company introduced the first 
of a fleet of steam trawlers in 1905. Typical was the Foam, 
steel-built, about 126 feet overall, with a capacity of 120,000 
pounds of iced fish and a i4O-foot wide, winch-operated trawl 
which swept the sea floor, garnering sunken refuse, marine 
plants, and vast quantities of fish. Such a craft carried a crew 
of 19 or more men who worked in shifts and harvested large 
cargoes on voyages of a week's duration to the Grand Banks. 

Decisive changes were also made in every branch of Boston's 
fish-marketing system. The organization of the New England 
Fish Exchange in 1908, under the direction of William K. 
Beardsley, eliminated much of the chaotic hubbub of the 
past and provided a comfortable place where bidding could 
be done within specified hours. Relations between wholesalers 
and retailers were placed on a similarly efficient basis a few 
years later, when Mr. Beardsley organized the Boston Whole- 
sale Fish Dealers' Credit Association. Other improvements 
included an attempt to remedy unsanitary conditions in retail 
markets and to emphasize the quality rather than the quantity 
of fish sold. Unfortunately, dishonest dealers began to misrep- 
resent their wares; the humble pollock became the "Boston 
Bay Blues," or even "Bluefish," and the lowly catfish was 
sold as Great Lakes' "Whitefish." This situation was not cor- 
rected until 1919, when the State Legislature appointed 
Arthur Millett as Inspector of Fish, and he introduced regu- 
lations forbidding falsification in advertising and governing 

A Twentieth Century Port 185 

the grading, sale, and marketing of fresh and cold-storage fish. 
At the beginning of the twentieth century, it became evi- 
dent that the rapidly growing Boston fishing fleet had ex- 
panded beyond the confines of T Wharf. In 1906 the Massa- 
chusetts Commissioners of Fisheries and Game branded the 
facilities as "grossly inadequate," unsanitary, and uneco- 
nomical, and the Boston Board of Health also raised its voice 
in protest. On March 17, 1909, a total of 61 vessels put in at 
T Wharf, the largest number to arrive in a single day that 
season. Masts spiked the sky; husky seamen moved about the 
dock with the roll of the boat still in their walk. The ships 
were so close together that 

it would have been possible to explore the entire district comprised by 
T, Commercial, and Long Wharves without setting foot on the piers, 
simply by stepping from the rail of one vessel to the rail of the next. 
When the fish exchange opened at 7 a.m., there was not room for a dory 
to push its nose in anywhere in the solid mass of hulls. 

Such conditions were intolerable and the very next year work 
was started on the new Fish Pier in South Boston. 

The pier was constructed by the Commonwealth on State- 
owned land at a cost of $1,017,000. The Boston Fish Market 
Corporation leased the pier for 15 years at a rental of $35,000 
per year, with provisions for further rental at 1 5-year periods 
to 1973, and erected buildings at a cost of slightly more than 
$1,035,000. By April 1914, nearly all the firms had moved to 
the new location, anxious to take advantage of its i,2oo-foot 
length, 3oo-foot width, and accommodations for discharging 
80 vessels at one time. On the water end stood the Adminis- 
tration Building, headquarters for exchange and commission 
dealers; up the pier extended two parallel rows of three-story 
brick wholesale fishstores with the latest sanitary equipment; 
in the middle was a broad avenue for teams; the outside space 
between stores and caplogs was utilized for unloading. At the 
head of the dock loomed the tremendous plant of the Com- 
monwealth Ice and Cold Storage Company, with a capacity 
of 15,000,000 pounds, the largest of its kind in the world. 
By 1920, the new center was distributing 150,000,000 to 
175,000,000 pounds of fish yearly. 

Although Boston led all other cities in the United States 
in the value of her fresh-fish trade and next to Grimsby, Eng- 
land, was the largest fresh-fish market in the world, the city 
had a great rival in Gloucester, which was not only first in 
the saltfish field, but even threatened Boston's supremacy in 

i86 Boston Looks Seaward 

the fresh-fish business. Competition was so keen between the 
two cities that biased financial experts were able to pick vari- 
ous figures and claim that either Boston or Gloucester was 
in the lead, whichever they preferred. Thus in 1905 there 
were 77 Boston firms engaged in the wholesale fresh-fish busi- 
ness; in Gloucester there were 53. Boston firms employed 887 
persons, Gloucester, 1552. The cash capital invested in the 
Boston trade was $888,000; in Gloucester, $780,000. The wages 
paid in Boston amounted to $498,000; in Gloucester, $727,000. 
Except for the first 2 years of the century, the annual pound- 
age of fresh fish received in Boston direct from the fishing 
fleet was well over the 77,000,000 pound mark, and went above 
the 100,000,000 mark six times. There was no falling off of 
returns during the war years, and the 1920 receipts were the 
highest of the period 118,559,000 pounds. 

Long before the introduction of mechanized fishing methods 
Boston vessels were bringing in record catches. For 6 months' 
work in 1902, the 18 sharesmen in the crew of 23 aboard the 
steamer Alice M. Jacobs made $862 each. The year previous 
the steamer New England plunged heavily back to port 7 days 
after departure, weighted to the deckline with 125,000 pounds 
of halibut, and the two top men on this vessel earned $2,000 
apiece in the season of 1901. But these returns were excep- 
tional, and most Boston fishermen earned a great deal less 
than the crews of the Alice M. Jacobs and the New England, 
although the industry as a whole grossed over $1,000,000 a 

A wide gap existed between the price paid to the Boston 
fishermen for their catch and that charged the ultimate con- 
sumer. According to the report of the special committee of 
the General Court which investigated the fishing industry in 
1918-19, haddock sold on the Exchange for i to 2 cents per 
pound retailed for 6 to 7 cents. The report also revealed Bos- 
ton as a high-priced fishmarket in which little or no attempt 
was made to sell fish according to grade. The prevailing price 
was usually that for the highest grade. In one particular in- 
stance, it was found that codfish, shipped from Boston and 
assessed a duty of one cent a pound, could be bought in 
Toronto at 11 cents a pound on the same day that codfish 
was selling in Boston at 15 cents. Throughout the State, the 
average cost price to the retailer was found to be greater than 
in 22 other States, although the expense of handling was 
presumably less. 

A Twentieth Century Port 187 

A disproportion between labor expended and wages re- 
ceived resulted in various labor disputes. Mutinies of ships' 
crews due to lack of bait were frequent in 1903 and numer- 
ous voyages were interrupted. In 1917 the Fishermen's Union 
of the Atlantic called a strike at Boston and Gloucester with 
the object of effecting changes in the apportionment of cer- 
tain operating costs of vessels, part of which were borne by 
the crews. The walk-out tied up practically the entire industry 
and lasted 8 weeks, ending only after Governor McCall inter- 
vened and effected a settlement for the duration of the war. 
The terms included concessions by the operators on towing 
charges and the cost of oil and food. Again in 1919, on the 
eve of Independence Day, the Fishermen's Union called a 
strike which involved the Boston, Gloucester, and Province- 
town fleets of about 175 steam trawlers and schooners and 
between 3,000 and 4,000 men. The fishermen demanded a 
fixed minimum price for fish, on which their wages could be 
based. After the State Attorney-General ruled that price fixing 
was illegal, the fishermen shifted their demands to a wage 
based on an agreed minimum value for the fish, irrespective 
of the price actually brought. On August 14, the union and 
the owners agreed to this principle as a basis for arbitration 
and the fleet went back to work. 

Unions and Strikes 

Other labor organizations were also active on the Boston 
waterfront. The longshoremen developed sufficient strength 
to make demands on employers and in a number of cases saw 
these demands granted. Playing an important part in the 
organizational struggles of the longshoremen for more than 
30 years, until his death in 1936, was John P. Mullen, presi- 
dent of Local 800 of the International Longshoremen's Asso- 
ciation as well as of the Longshoremen's District Council. 
Although his activities were more outstanding in the post- 
war period, he participated in the longshoremen's strike of 
1909, about which a Boston newspaper report furnishes a 
few details. 

The foreign steamship agents and the stevedores have been in conference 
at the chamber of commerce to consider the latest demands of the long- 
shoremen. Nearly every line was represented and the demands of the men 
were carefully considered. They ask an increase in pay for handling bulk 
cargo, besides other concessions. While the consensus of opinion seems to 
be that the request of the men was ill-timed in that the steamship people 
are facing one of the worst periods of depression they have known for 

i88 Boston Looks Seaward 

years, still a committee was appointed to confer with a committee of the 
longshoremen and report at a subsequent meeting of the agents. 

Along with the numerical growth of the longshoremen's 
union, there came a decided change in the nature of their 
work. Whereas at the opening of the century waterfront hus- 
kies were given such elementary tasks as the unloading of 
lumber from Maine and New Hampshire, by 1919 their jobs 
included not only the loading and unloading of ships, but also 
grain-elevator operating, dock and marine engineering, and 
stationary dock hoisting, requiring a wide variety of spe- 
cialized ability. This emphasis on craftsmanship as well as 
strength resulted in a higher wage scale. In 1914 Boston long- 
shoremen operating deep-water shipping received 33 cents an 
hour, in 1916 it was 40 cents, and by December 1918, the fig- 
ure jumped to a 65-cent per hour level. During April 1918, 
the old Boston Marine Engineers Association secured from 
the local adjustment commission a wage of $24 a week for 
engineers on lighters and $22 a week for engineers on wharves. 

The International Seamen's Union of America, affiliated 
with the American Federation of Labor, was represented in 
Boston by a local of the Marine Firemen, Oilers, and Water- 
tenders as early as 1902 or 1903, and by the Marine Cooks 
and Stewards Association in 1903 or 1904. The actual num- 
ber of members for any given year during the first decade of 
the century would be hard to determine; that they were 
organized, however, they made evident. On June 30, 1911, 
the United Fruit Company's steamer Limon, finally sailed for 
Costa Rica after having been delayed nearly 2 hours waiting 
for 2 men to complete her crew, following a strike among the 
firemen. The day before, a detail of police was assigned to 
the company's terminal on Long Wharf, and the Limon was 
moved from the dock to an anchorage in the harbor. That 
night the ingenious firemen's union chartered a steam launch 
and picketed the United Fruiter, moving in circles about the 
ship to prevent the taking on of nonunion firemen. These 
tactics failed to hold the steamer at the Port, for on the morn- 
ing of the thirtieth the 10 passengers and their baggage were 
taken to the Limon by the tug Neponset. When the steamer 
finally weighed anchor, only 5 of her crew were visible on 
deck, and the persistent union-chartered launch followed her 
halfway down the harbor, displaying large signs which read, 
"Where are your men?" 

The Boston seaman fared less fortunately than the long- 

A Twentieth Century Port 189 

shoreman, at least so far as union organization was concerned. 
Aboard ship he had to accept hard work, long hours, and 
small pay. Ashore he was frequently "broke," and his local 
had no widely known general headquarters available for a 
meeting place. Members of the I. W. W., which was taboo in 
Boston, were constantly seeking him out, and the seaman was 
thus placed between "the devil and the deep blue sea." Fur- 
thermore, by 1917 every man had to have a "Seaman's Employ- 
ment Book" containing his record before he could obtain 
work aboard a vessel, thereby enabling the Employers' Asso- 
ciation to check the individual's past. The adoption of the 
Military Defense Act the same year suspended various bene- 
ficial labor laws, thus depriving labor, under the stress of war, 
of part of its hard-won gains. The ordinary and able-bodied 
seaman worked on deck or stood watch 4 hours "on" and 
4 "off" for from $30 to $60 a month, with bed and board 
furnished. Salaried ship's officers no longer received a share 
of the profits over and above their regular pay. 

Schooners and Steamers 

During the first two decades of the twentieth century more 
than 200 schooners, as well as many square-riggers and barks, 
operated from the Port of Boston. The fleet of Crowell 8c 
Thurlow, a firm founded in 1900, comprised about 100 sailing 
vessels and included the largest schooners on the Atlantic 
coast, which were engaged in African, European, South Ameri- 
can, West Indian, and Atlantic coastal trade. Sending 
schooners to Gulf ports and to the West Indies, C. S. Glidden 
& Company did not buy any vessels outright, but purchased 
a sufficient number of shares to gain control. Hundreds of 
similarly operated schooners were jointly owned by the 
builders, riggers, sailmakers, chandlers, shipbrokers, and mer- 
chants of Boston. Like most operators, Glidden & Company 
also leased privately owned schooners and loaded them with 
freight for Europe and South America. The firm went bank- 
rupt in 1913, seeming to confirm an oft-repeated saying among 
captains and traders that Glidden was too honest in business 
to succeed. Until bought out by C. H. Sprague & Son, the 
William F. Palmer & Company maintained vessels in the coast- 
wise trade and owned many five-masted schooners with a dead- 
weight of about 5,000 tons. J. S. Winslow & Company, one 
of the more important Boston firms, had 40 vessels and ships 
in service at one time, including barks, schooners, brigs, and 

Boston Looks Seaward 

steamships. Carrying heavy cargoes of Chilean nitrate, Win- 
slow's vessels, known as deep-water ships, sailed all over 
the world. 

Coastal arrivals came to the city from Maine and the Mari- 
time Provinces, from the Gulf of Mexico and many Atlantic 
ports. In 1908, 2,500 steamers, 1,100 schooners, 3,300 barges, 
and 2,000 tugs arrived at Boston, and the actual number of 
coastwise craft entering the Port exceeded the arrivals at both 
New York and Philadelphia, Boston boasting 9,115 arrivals 
as compared to New York's 5,470 and Philadelphia's 4,280. 
The principal inbound cargo included coal, raw cotton, pe- 
troleum products, sugar, molasses, fish, sand, lumber, and wool. 
Raw cotton proved to be a large and commercially profitable 
item in the coastal trade, although the World War caused a 
decrease from 530,000 bales in 1913 to 278,000 bales in 1918. 
Vast quantities of domestic wool continued to pour in to 
supply one of New England's largest industries. The receipts 
doubled between 1900 and 1907 and reached 205,000,000 
pounds in 1916. However, lumber sent by water declined from 
158,000,000 board feet in 1910 to a mere 20,000,000 board feet 
in 1918. 

The bulk of this merchandise was carried by over a score 
of steamship lines, which called at Boston on regular sched- 
ules. The Clyde Steamship Company had two steamers offer- 
ing a weekly freight service on the Boston-Charleston-Jackson- 
ville run, southbound with burlap bagging, meat products, 
paper stock, fertilizer, boots and shoes, and northbound with 
cotton, lumber, and naval stores. 

After operating clipper ships between Boston, New York, 
and San Francisco for almost half a century, the American- 
Hawaiian Line inaugurated a steamship service over the same 
route on October 30, 1900, reducing the sailing time to 56 days. 
By establishing a rail transshipment line across the Isthmus 
of Tehuantepec, sailing time to San Francisco was further cut 
to 26 days in 1907. The United American Lines, the C. & T. 
Intercoastal Line, the Luckenbach Line, the Nawsco Line, 
the W. R. Grace & Company, the Tri-National Steamship Cor- 
poration, and the Panama Pacific Line of the International 
Mercantile Marine had weekly or fortnightly sailings from 
Boston to various West Coast ports and offered various freight 
and passenger-freight services. By 1915 a new type of "steam 
schooner" was developed for the lumber trade with the 
Pacific coast. Slightly more than 200 feet in length, with a 

A Twentieth Century Port 191 

40-foot beam, such a schooner could carry 1,500,000 feet of 
lumber below hatches and on deck, and could sail in a fair 
breeze or buck rough weather under steam power. 

Coal was the most important tonnage commodity in the 
coastal trade, and over 100 schooners were engaged in carrying 
it between the Chesapeake region and Boston. Many of these 
vessels were built along the Maine coast, at Kennebunkport, 
Bath, and Hancock, and many were owned by Bath citizens, 
who operated them out of Boston. Costing about $250,000 
each, such sturdy "four-masters" as the Wyoming, the Edward 
J. Lawrence, and the Winslow were engaged in the coal- 
carrying business. The average schooner was manned by a 
crew of 12 and completed 15 voyages a year to the Chesapeake 
Bay, transporting on each trip its own weight in "black dirt." 
Surpassing the average, the Sarah W. Lawrence landed 26 
cargoes of coal at Boston in a single year. 

The Coastwise Transportation Company, founded by John 
Crowley and later bought out by the C. H. Sprague Company, 
was the first Boston steamship line to enter the coal trade. 
During the years 1905-06 Crowley operated six steamers, two 
of which were appropriately enough called the Norfolk and 
the Suffolk. Six years later, eight new steam colliers were in- 
troduced into the Boston fleet, leading to a marked decline 
in the number of coal schooners. With 3 tons of bituminous 
being carried for every single ton of anthracite, receipts of 
coal at the Port jumped from 3,000,000 tons in 1902 to twice 
that figure in 1916. 

Berthing its ships on the Atlantic Avenue waterfront, the 
Eastern Steamship Lines was engaged exclusively in the coast- 
wise traffic. This organization was the successor to several 
of the oldest steamship companies in New England, includ- 
ing the Portland Steam Packet Company, which had never 
recovered from the loss of the ill-fated Portland, the Interna- 
tional Steamship Company, which maintained a service be- 
tween Portland and St. John, New Brunswick, and Yarmouth, 
Nova Scotia, and the Boston and Bangor Steamship Company. 
Following the consolidation of all these lines into the Eastern 
Steamship Company of Maine in 1901, the Governor Cobb 
and the Calvin Austin were built for the International Line, 
the R. B. Fuller for the Kennebec Line, the City of Rockland, 
City of Bangor,, and the Belfast and Camden for the Boston 
and Bangor Line. A year later the Eastern absorbed the 
Kennebec Steamboat Company, which had already driven all 

igs Boston Looks Seaward 

competitors from the Boston-Bath-Gardiner run. After opera- 
ting the combination freight and passenger steamers Harvard 
and Yale between Boston and New York, and then the Massa- 
chusetts, Old Colony, and Bunker Hill, the Metropolitan Line 
joined with the Eastern in 1912, the latter being reorganized 
as the Eastern Steamship Corporation with a capital of 
$6,150,000. The new corporation also included the Maine 
Steamship Company and the Marine Department of the 
Dominion Atlantic Railway, which had developed a passen- 
ger service from Boston to Yarmouth. In January 1917, the 
Eastern Steamship Corporation went into bankruptcy and was 
sold at auction. In March of the same year the Eastern Steam- 
ship Lines was reorganized and incorporated under the Maine 
laws. During the World War, the United States Government 
took over some of the Eastern's ships; the remainder main- 
tained the company's regular service. 

Between 1900 and 1920 Boston underwent a serious disloca- 
tion of its trade, losing ground along all commercial lanes of 
the world and only maintaining her position as the center of 
transportation for New England. In 1902 the formation of the 
International Mercantile Marine Company transferred to New 
York the independent management of many of Boston's steam- 
ship lines, and a year later Canada became sea-conscious, 
discontinuing much of the business that had previously passed 
through Boston. The remaining foreign commerce was con- 
stantly changing to meet new conditions. Vast quantities of 
raw materials from the East Indies, Australia, Egypt, and 
Argentina were included among the imports from more than 
40 different countries. The city held her position as the 
second largest importing center of the country, with aggregate 
imports mounting from $61,452,000 in 1901 to $160,109,000 in 
1914. Boston had become the leading wool market in the 
United States, importing $36,772,000 worth in 1914; she sent 
thousands of tons of hides and leather to such prosperous tan- 
ning communities as Peabody, Salem, and Woburn. Unfortu- 
nately adverse rail rates from the interior of the country di- 
verted much of Boston's export business, and the volume of 
foodstuffs available for shipment out of the Port diminished 
between 1905 and 1920. Exports of grain dropped from 
$25,000,000 in 1900 to $2,361,000 in 1914, and the export of 
livestock decreased from $9,697,000 to $20,600 during the same 
period. The rapid industrial expansion in the State, neverthe- 
less, had led to a marked advance in the shipment of tools 

A Twentieth Century Port 193 

and machinery; the export of articles manufactured in Massa- 
chusetts more than tripled between 1890 and 1925. Though 
Boston's total overseas commerce improved from $192,600,000 
in 1900 to $584,632,000 in 1920, this development did not 
match similar advances in competing shipping centers. Bos- 
ton rapidly lost ground, descending from second to fourth 
place in the total volume of her foreign trade as early as 1908 
and to the sixth position among American ports in 1920. 

The most important single factor affecting the Port's com- 
merce was the fight over freight rates. The struggle reached 
its first peak in 1877. After several years of disastrous rate wars, 
the trunk-line railroads established freight rates, arrived at 
by use of agreed port differentials on export-import commerce 
between points located west of their western terminals (Buf- 
falo, Pittsburgh, etc.) and North Atlantic seaports. These port 
differentials, which are still adhered to, resulted in rates that 
bore some relation to relative distance and relative cost of 
service, and gave Philadelphia and Baltimore rates less 2 and 
3 cents per hundred pounds, respectively, than those to Boston 
and New York on east-bound traffic. West-bound differentials 
were even more unfavorable to Boston. Between 1877 and 
1912 Boston made a number of unsuccessful efforts to main- 
tain import rates on the same level as those in effect from 
Baltimore to these western destinations, and tried to main- 
tain rates on ex-lake grain for export which were lower than 
the ex-lake rates to New York. In 1912 the Interstate Com- 
merce Commission ruled that Boston must go on the same 
basis as New York, and this ruling has not been changed. The 
differentials set up during these controversial years were par- 
tially offset by the fact that ocean rates were maintained on 
the "distance principle"; and Boston, being nearer to Euro- 
pean, African, and many South American ports, really had 
through rates equal to those of other ports. In 1916, however, 
the North Atlantic Conference, composed of steamship lines 
operating in the foreign trade, equalized ocean rates to all 
ports on the North Atlantic range, from' Portland to Nor- 
folk. In 1920, the United States Shipping Board extended these 
equalized ocean rates to all Gulf ports. This destroyed any 
advantage Boston had had with respect to through rail-ocean 
rates and theoretically placed her on equality with New 
York. In actuality, the practice of absorbing charges for light- 
erage and other accessorial services rendered by the railroads 
serving New York gave that port an advantage over Boston 

194 Boston Looks Seaward 

that attracted to it a large portion of the commerce to and 
from the interior which might otherwise have passed through 

After long sharing in the growth of the Port's foreign busi- 
ness, the Furness Withy Company, Ltd., experienced the same 
difficulty as other steamship lines which called at Boston a 
dearth of export cargoes. The Port situation had changed 
radically since December 1884, when Christopher Furness, 
a member of the English shipping family of that name, had 
come to Boston and established the firm of C. Furness 8c Com- 
pany, which acted as agents for the Warren Line to Liverpool 
and the Furness Line to London. At that time Boston stood 
second to none as an Atlantic port for sailings to England, 
and shippers had no trouble in finding capacity cargoes for 
their vessels. Averaging two sailings a month, the Furness 
Company operated five steamships, the Boston City, the Dur- 
ham City, the Stockholm City, the Gothenburg City, and the 
Carlyle City, each of which registered from 3,000 to 4,000 tons 
dead-weight and was capable of about gi/ knots. Boston then 
provided such export cargo as cotton, leather, lumber, meats, 
and provisions, as well as large shipments of grain and flour, 
which originated in the Central Freight Association territory 
and Canada. This heavy movement of freight had encouraged 
the expansion of its steamship services, and from 1885 to 1903 
the Furness Company represented the Puritan and Wilson 
Lines operating between Boston and Antwerp. Its Liverpool 
and London services were maintained until 1914, when all 
the company's regular schedules were discontinued, because 
every ship flying the British flag then sailed under orders from 
the British Government. During the World War the Furness 
Withy Company acted as Boston agents for the British Min- 
istry of Shipping, and sent to Europe large quantities of 
freight, including grain, foodstuffs, frozen meats, forgings, 
and munitions. 

During the early i goo's the Warren, Cunard, Leyland, and 
Dominion Lines operated between Boston, Liverpool, Bristol, 
Hull, Copenhagen, and Rotterdam. The Dominion Line put 
into service two i2,ooo-ton ships, with accommodations for 
300 cabin and 1,500 steerage passengers, and the Red Star 
Line to Antwerp and the Leyland service to Manchester main- 
tained biweekly sailings from Boston. The North German 
Lloyd Line established a freight and a passenger service be- 

A Twentieth Century Port 195 

tween Boston, Bremen, and New Orleans, with winter sailings 
every 3 weeks. 

The advent of many European steamship lines led to the 
establishment of local shipping agencies. Among them A. C. 
Lombard's Sons, founded in 1825, nas ne ^ a leading place 
for decades. Before the World War, the Lombards acted as 
agents for 13 prominent steamship lines which offered serv- 
ices to England, France, Germany, the Scandinavian countries, 
and Greece. 

Although primarily a ship-owning concern, John G. Hall 
& Company also conducted a ship-agent's business, handling 
freight cargoes for the Elder-Dempster Line, which ran from 
Boston to Hull and Avonmouth. As early as 1847 tne Hall 
Company had sent small sailing packets to the Canadian 
Maritime Provinces, exchanging flour, beef, and anthracite 
coal for smoked and salted fish, timber, piling, ships' knees, 
and the produce of the Provinces. Setting up a storage basin 
for piling in South Boston, Hall became the leader among 
New Englanders supplying spruce piling and hackmatack 
ships' knees to local builders and shipwrights. At the time of 
the rapid development of the steamship, the company secured 
an interest in several steamers, though it continued to operate 
a fleet of sailing vessels. Among them was the last Boston 
square-rigger, the bark Belmont, which was used as a freighter 
until 2 or 3 years after the World War. For decades the 
sturdy vessel had sailed to Australia for wool and to South 
America for linseed, following sea trails wherever a cargo 
could be found and carrying the American flag to all parts 
of the world. 

Passenger traffic played a prominent part in the develop- 
ment of Boston's steamship lines, accounting to a considerable 
degree for the continued growth of trans-Atlantic services. 
While in 1900 ocean liners carried a total of 40,905 persons, 
3 years later the number of inbound passengers alone had 
advanced to 101,700, and it remained well above the 100,000 
mark until 1915; a pre-war record of 138,000 was established 
in 1913. About two-thirds of this prosperous passenger move- 
ment was composed of immigrants. In 1907, 85,580 aliens came 
into the United States through Boston, and in 1913, when 
immigration was at its height, the Port had 101,700 foreign- 
born entrants. By 1915, however, the immigration figure had 
dropped to 11,250, the non-immigrant traffic to 8,687; from 

196 Boston Looks Seaward 

that year until 1920 the number of people entering and leav- 
ing the Port diminished annually. 

In contrast to export losses abroad, Boston's trade made 
definite gains in the countries ceded to the United States at 
the end of the Spanish-American War, since the added ter- 
ritory was not bound by the tariff barriers of the past. Between 
1900 and 1920 most of Boston's trade with Cuba, Porto Rico, 
and the Philippines was one-way trade, consisting almost en- 
tirely of imports. Cuba, rather than Porto Rico or the Philip- 
pines, accounted mainly for the large increase in trade with 
the islands. In 1900, trade with Cuba, Porto Rico, the Philip- 
pines, and the Virgin Islands amounted to approximately 
2.6 percent of Boston's total foreign commerce. Two decades 
later Cuba, the Philippines, and the Virgin Islands contribu- 
ted 15.2 percent and this might have been even greater if 
Porto Rico had been included in the 1920 figures. 

Bananas, Wool, and Lumber 

The largest American trader in the Caribbean area was 
the United Fruit Company, incorporated in 1899, which had 
its offices and warehouses on Long Wharf. This corporation 
immediately bought the Boston Fruit Company and its seven 
subsidiaries, headed by Andrew W. Preston and Captain Lor- 
enzo D. Baker, which had interests in the West Indies; at 
almost the same moment it acquired the four companies under 
the control of Minor C. Keith and his associates, which oper- 
ated steamers to the Central and South American banana 
fields. About 1910 local business men were attempting to 
boom the Port, and the United Fruit did its share by shifting 
several crack liners to the Boston service. In 1913 a weekly 
passenger-freight sailing to the West Indies and Panama was 
inaugurated, and the Great White Fleet of the United Fruit 
Company became a familiar sight in Boston. During several 
succeeding years, the company was successful in maintaining 
Boston's position as the "mart town of the West Indies." 

Boston still played an important role in South American 
trade. Carrying general cargo both ways, 2 British firms, 
R. P. Huston and Lamport 8c Holt, ran steamers out of Bos- 
ton to South American ports. N. W. Rice operated a fleet of 
iron sailing-vessels to the River Plate, and chartered them 
to the Boston wool traders. Frequently John G. Hall sent a 
Nova Scotian vessel to South America, and sometimes C. H. 
Sprague loaded a schooner with lumber for the Argentine. 

A Twentieth Century Port 197 

By 1912 the Furness Withy Company had 3 or 4 steamers 
plying between Boston and Rio de Janeiro; the opening of 
the Panama Canal further facilitated commerce to the west 
coast of South America. The inauguration of the Huston and 
Barber lines increased Boston's trade with the River Plate 
region and Buenos Aires at an amazing rate. In 1915 the 2 
lines sent 32 ships from the Argentine to Boston, and local 
imports leaped to over $30,000,000 in that year. 

Prominent in the South American trade was the Boston 
firm of John S. Emery, established in 1852. Between 1880 and 
1928 the company owned all together about 350 barks, brigs, 
schooners, and steamers and did a lucrative business carrying 
cotton, coal, lumber, machinery, and manufactured goods 
along the Atlantic coast and loading cargoes of sugar, rum, 
and asphalt in the West Indies, oil and wool in Australia, 
and mahogany and palm oil in Africa. The largest part of 
Emery's fleet sailed to the Argentine, Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, 
Mexico, and the Honduras, bringing back bones and guano 
for fertilizer, quebracho for tanning, wool, hides, mahogany 
logs, oil, and Spanish cedar. The trading activities of the 
company were not always tied to a specific schedule, vessels 
being sent wherever a cargo could be picked up, much as in 
the old days. Profits were high, sometimes running to 35 per- 
cent a year. When the further decline of sail set in at the 
Port in the 1920'$, Emery operated only 6 vessels in the South 
American trade, the last run for sail from Boston. 

Another Boston firm outstanding in South American com- 
merce was the Charles Hunt Company, which has had a ship- 
brokerage business since 1871. Ranging from 2,100 to 2,800 
tons cargo capacity, a dozen square-riggers and schooners be- 
longing to the company carried lumber to Buenos Aires and 
returned with wool and hides. If no return cargo was avail- 
able, the vessels loaded molasses and salt at some West Indian 
port or pitch at Trinidad, and marketed the commodities in 
ports north of Cape Hatteras. Before the entrance of the 
United States into the World War, the Hunt vessel Brynhilda 
took on hay at Buenos Aires and carried it to a German mili- 
tary reservation at Swakopmunde, in German South West 
Africa, and, after landing the cargo there, came back in ballast 
to the West Indies. During the war this trade ceased, and 
another change took place in the company's route. Vessels 
were sent in ballast from the River Plate to Calcutta, where 
they loaded jute for Boston. 

198 Boston Looks Seaward 

The Hunt fleet did not escape unscathed the hazards of the 
sea and the destruction of the World War. In 1914, on her 
maiden voyage in the Hunt service, a large schooner capsized 
and plunged to the ocean bottom; Irish deities, so it was said, 
vented their wrath on the vessel because her name had been 
changed from Gael to Pilgrim. Fortunately all hands were 
saved; less lucky was the Timandra's crew, and their captain, 
Richard Lee, and his wife, all of whom went down with their 
craft and a cargo of coal on a voyage to Buenos Aires. The 
Avon met a similar fate in 1918, when it sank with all hands. 
The cause of these disasters was never known, but they occur- 
red during the war, and it is thought a sea-raider operating 
along the Atlantic seaboard might have caused their tragic 
end. In fact, one of the most famous German raiders of the 
World War was a vessel formerly belonging to the Hunt 
Company, the Pass of Balmaha. It was stopped by the British 
off the Norwegian coast. The vessel was captured from them 
by the Germans, equipped with Diesel engines and guns, and 
was renamed the Seeadler. Commanded by the daring Count 
von Liickner, the raider passed through the British blockade 
on January 9, 1917, and destroyed about 10 Allied ships before 
being wrecked on a reef off the Society Islands. 

Rum and Bibles 

Although less adventurous than in the past, Boston's rum 
trade with the Gold Coast of Africa flourished until the Vol- 
stead Act closed down the local distilleries in 1919. Medford 
rum had remained a medium of exchange among the natives 
throughout the nineteenth century, and Massachusetts dis- 
tilleries had never stopped shipping the potent liquid, despite 
the abolition of slavery. The Chase distilleries of Somerville 
manufactured a large share of the rum, and such shipping 
firms as John G. Hall, Charles Hunt 8c Company, Crowell & 
Thurlow, and the John S. Emery Company carried it, as well 
as missionary supplies, flour, and lumber, to the West Coast 
of Africa. Several staid Bostonians, staunch supporters of the 
temperance movement, participated in this trade, and often 
a teetotaler Boston sea captain hedged his barrels of rum with 
boxes of Bibles. Instead of "black ivory," more than a score 
of Boston schooners brought back mahogany for a Kentucky 
manufacturer and palm oil for Lever Brothers of Cambridge. 

A remnant of the old Yankee sea-faring tradition clung to 
these Boston rum schooners. Manned by a crew of seven and 

A Twentieth Century Port 199 

captained by ig-year-old Harold Foss, the three-masted John 
Paul sailed from Boston on March 13, 1901, carrying 650 tons 
of cargo insured for $150,000. After an uneventful passage of 
45 days, the schooner arrived at Accra on the Gold Coast, 
where part of its cargo of supplies, oil, rum, Bibles, and lum- 
ber was unloaded. The supplies and Bibles were for the mis- 
sionaries, and the lumber was purchased by the natives, who 
had religiously adopted the Christian custom of fashioning 
coffins for their dead. The John Paul spent 40 days on the 
African coast stopping at the Secondi, Axim, Cape Coast 
Castle, and Adda trading stations to discharge cargo and 
receive palm oil, palm kernels, and cocoa beans. Since there 
were no harbors or docking places, the schooner anchored 
offshore, and small boats were used to load and unload the 
vessel. On her homeward voyage the John Paul completed a 
fast passage of 45 days, reaching Boston Harbor on September 
13, 1901. 

Ships of War and Peace 

Although schooners and sailing vessels were still being used 
extensively, Boston shipbuilding had entered a period of swift 
change at the opening of the twentieth century. Steel had sup- 
planted wood and iron in the construction of larger vessels, 
and there was no steel in New England, a fact which materially 
increased building costs. A number of Boston shipyards were 
forced to curtail ambitious plans and devote most of their 
time and money to doing repair work and turning out fishing 
boats and pleasure craft, especially yachts. Among the active 
shipbuilders and repairers were the Atlantic Works in East 
Boston; Fore River Shipbuilding Company, Quincy; Richard 
T. Greene Company, Chelsea; Lockwood Manufacturing Com- 
pany, William McKie, and Story and Wardwell of East Boston. 
Leading yacht builders and repairers included George Lawley 
& Son, Neponset; Ambrose A. Martin, East Boston; Murray & 
Tregurtha Company, South Boston. The great majority of 
these concerns failed to develop shipbuilding on an impressive 

The exception was the Fore River Shipbuilding Company. 
The plant sprang from a marine engine shop built at East 
Braintree in 1883. The organization began to produce hulls 
for its own engines, and on September 29, 1898, the Navy 
Department awarded the Fore River Ship and Engine Com- 
pany, as it was then called, contracts to build two destroyers, 

2OO Boston Looks Seaward 

the Lawrence and the MacDonough. Other contracts followed, 
and it became necessary to increase the facilities of the plant. 
A deep-water site was selected 2 miles downstream on the 
Quincy side of Fore River, which was 30 feet deep and wide 
enough to float four battleships abreast, and in April 1900, 
work commenced at the new location. In the "City of the 
Presidents," one of the great industries fast being lost to 
Massachusetts returned to its own, as riveters' hammers, the 
clang of steel, and the thud of presses echoed across acres of 
land formerly used for residential and farming purposes. In 
1901, contracts were awarded for the battleships Rhode Island 
and New Jersey, of 14,948 tons each, and 3 years later the name 
of the concern was changed to the Fore River Shipbuilding 

There followed a period of rapid growth for the organiza- 
tion, and ships of many different classifications were launched 
in almost continuous succession. In 1908 the company set a 
new record when it won 18 contracts, an achievement not 
bettered for 8 years. The Bethlehem Steel Corporation pur- 
chased the Fore River Shipbuilding Company in 1913 and 
reorganized it as the Fore River Shipbuilding Corporation. 
The construction of warships required improved equipment, 
for these mammoth fighters were the most complete and com- 
plex of all marine accomplishments, being in themselves both 
forts and floating hotels with refrigeration, electric light and 
power stations, telephones, large kitchens, and powerful 
and perfect engines. Many new buildings were erected in the 
yard, and others were enlarged until there remained hardly 
a structure less than 100 feet in length; a number were 
more than 400 feet, and some were so constructed that they 
could be joined with other buildings. The forge shop con- 
tained 2,200 square feet of floor space; the interior was lighted 
by the red eyes of flaming furnaces, while giant hammers 
and huge traveling cranes loomed through the half gloom. 
Near the door stood the second-largest anvil in existence, 
with a steam-driven arm that could strike a 25O-ton blow, yet 
under such perfect control that it was said to be capable of 
cracking a walnut shell without breaking the kernel. There 
were others of lesser size, the equipment graduating down to 
small machines necessary for the formation of nuts and bolts. 

The year 1916 saw an even greater boom than in the past, 
with contracts signed for the construction of 19 vessels at Fore 
River, including 8 submarines and 8 destroyers for the United 

A Twentieth Century Port 201 

States Government, the freighter Katrina Luckenbach, and the 
tankers George W. Darnes and W. L. Steed. Back in 1900 
the destroyer MacDonough was 47 months in the building; 
the 8 new destroyers were built in less than 12 months from 
the time the contract was signed. Entrance of the United 
States into the conflict precipitated a flood of orders, among 
them requests for a total of 63 destroyers, a battle cruiser, 15 
submarines, and the merchant vessels Andrew F. Luckenbach 
and Lewis Luckenbach. The ever-increasing demand for de- 
stroyers led to a contract with the Government calling for 
the construction of 83 destroyers, and 3 new plants in which 
to produce them. By far the largest was the Squantum estab- 
lishment, which was almost immediately named the Victory 
Plant. Soil had been broken October 7, 1917, and work had 
progressed so rapidly despite the exceedingly severe winter 
that by the spring of 1918 it was possible to lay the keels of 
5 vessels. The plant cost approximately $16,000,000, occupied 
70 acres of land, and included 10 covered building slips, 6 
wet slips, and all the miscellaneous equipment requisite in an 
up-to-the-minute shipbuilding yard. 

The success of the Victory Plant depended on capable 
mechanics as well as machinery, and skilled men were hard 
to find during the war years. The result was the formation 
of classes for instruction in many special lines of work, such 
as shipfitting, welding, and copper smithing, and the eventual 
development of a large number of trained workers. By the 
close of 1918, eighteen keels had been laid, 8 ships launched, 
and i delivered. In June 1919, four destroyers were launched 
and 2 delivered; in July, 2 were launched and 5 delivered; 
in September, 6 were launched and 4 delivered. During the 
last month the Victory Plant made a record drive of 422,591 
rivets in 51^ working days. Another record was established 
when the destroyer Reid was completed in 4514 days. 

The year 1919 saw the delivery of a total of 69 ships from 
the 2 plants, including 29 destroyers from Squantum, and 19 
destroyers, 8 merchantmen, and 13 submarines from Fore 
River. One of the notable feats accomplished at Fore River 
during this period was the launching of the S. S. Hadnot, a 
i3,5oo-ton tanker, 430 feet in length. She slid into the water 
99 and 9/10 percent complete, with steam up and ready to 
sail. All told, the Quincy plant built 36 destroyers in 27 
months and 5 days, and 16 of these destroyers went into active 
service abroad. The Fore River Yard had expanded to meet 

202 Boston Looks Seaward 

the rush of war orders. Beginning in 1916 a series of new build- 
ings and shops had been erected, among them a steel fabricat- 
ing shop 770 feet long and 186 feet wide, with 75 machines 
served by 8 cranes, and capable of fabricating 250 tons of 
steel in a single day. In 1919 a io,ooo-ton floating dock was 
built, 4 new slips were constructed, and another office building 
was added. Besides the main activity of shipbuilding, the 
yard also did engine and machine work, tank construction 
galvanizing, wood finishing, and locomotive reconditioning, 
and made brass castings. When the war ended the Fore River 
Yard and its subsidiary plants at Squantum, Buffalo, and 
Providence, employed more than 26,000 men. 

In the meantime the Charlestown Navy Yard had sprung 
into renewed activity under the driving influence of the inter- 
national conflict. The Navy Yard produced four vessels be- 
tween 1902 and 1919, although none had been built there 
between 1874 and 1902. Actually this construction program 
represented only a fragment of the war work carried on at 
the Navy Yard, since it also fitted out many of the war vessels 
built at Quincy and Squantum. 

This tremendous emergency shipbuilding rapidly increased 
the number of American vessels engaged in Boston's foreign 
commerce. In 1900 only 12 or 13 per cent of the foreign trade 
was being carried in American bottoms; of the 1,109 steam- 
ships entering the Port, 973 were foreign craft and of the 496 
schooners sailing into the harbor just 58 were under American 
registry. But the tumultuous war years of 1917 and 1918 com- 
pletely changed this picture and resulted in the building up 
of an American Merchant Marine consisting of 4,889 vessels 
registering almost 14,000,000 gross tons, thereby placing the 
United States second only to Great Britain as a shipping 
nation. By 1920 more than 40 percent of Boston's foreign trade 
was being carried in American vessels. 

War Activity 

When the World War broke out in 1914, the Boston Stock 
Exchange, following the example of New York, closed down, 
and local shipping firms, alarmed about the future, curtailed 
operations. Scores of Boston's European travelers, caught una- 
wares, were later repatriated with much difficulty. The with- 
drawal of European steamship lines sharply reduced the for- 
eign shipping of the Port, since the American Merchant 
Marine was too small at the time to compensate for the loss. 

A Twentieth Century Port 203 

But foreign ships gradually became available again as the 
Allies' need for our products increased. 

A lively demand for foodstuffs and other commodities was 
felt throughout 1915. Exports of flour rose from 556,000 bar- 
rels in 1914 to 738,000 in 1915; about 150,000 quarters of 
beef were shipped in 1915 whereas none had gone out of the 
Port in 1914. Fifty-three thousand horses and 2,300 head of 
cattle were also sent abroad in 1915, an increase of 100 per- 
cent over the preceding year. Freight rates increased as the 
demand rose; export rates on grain in January 1916, were 
quoted at 40 cents, a thousand percent advance over the Janu- 
ary 1914 rate. Giving a decided impetus to manufacturing, an 
ever-increasing flood of orders for leather, cloth, munitions, 
and almost every article produced in the State poured into the 
Port from the European belligerents during the following 2 
years and continued through the immediate post-war period. 
The Boston Transcript, December 14, 1918, noted that 

there are sometimes hundreds of cars loaded with foreign freight at the 
Boston and Albany docks in East Boston and not vessels enough in Port 
to take half of their contents. Three men with large foreign orders, 
primarily for lumber, were in Boston last week looking for transporta- 
tion and were unable to find vessels to carry their goods. There is a great 
demand for lumber abroad and one Gloucester fisherman has been char- 
tered to carry a load of lumber to England. This is the first time a fisher- 
man has been used for such a purpose; and that a sailing vessel is to be 
used is an indication of the lack of cargo space. 

The World War brought unparalleled maritime activity 
to the Port of Boston. True, voyages to European waters 
were dangerous and marine insurance on freight cargoes in 
the North Atlantic had skyrocketed, but certain lanes were 
considered safe, and Boston sea captains and crews were wil- 
ling to navigate them. Profits loomed large as a result of the 
suspension of European competition, and space in freighters 
was at a premium. Those who had commodities to export 
were so sorely pressed for carriers that every sort of vessel at 
all seaworthy appeared in Boston Harbor; even old long- 
unused square-riggers were replanked and hastily put into 
service. An item in the Boston Sunday Herald of March 19, 
1916, indicated Boston's activity at the time. 

Ten liners sailed from the Port of Boston last week, five of them carrying 
a total of more than a million bushels of grain. This was one of the 
largest shipments of grain made in a single week. The heaviest load was 
that of the Essex Baron, which sailed Tuesday for La Pallice, France, 
carrying 400,000 bushels of oats for the French Government. Of the total 
exports, 528,000 bushels were of wheat, 425,000 oats, and 83,000 barley. 

204 Boston Looks Seaward 

Since Boston was 200 miles nearer Europe than any other 
large port in the United States, exports reached unprecedented 
figures, improving from $119,040,000 in 1915 to $334,387,000 
in 1919. Imports correspondingly rose from $160,108,000 in 
1914 to $391,830,000 in 1920. Shipments of meat, dairy prod- 
ucts, and breadstuff's led the list of Boston's exports, which also 
included large amounts of leather, cotton, iron, and steel. 
Metal manufacturers throughout New England converted 
their mills and factories into munition plants, and their war- 
time freight moved through the Port in increasing quantities. 
Exports of iron and steel leaped from $4,770,000 in 1914 to 
$50,986,000 in 1917, while the value of miscellaneous metals 
sent abroad jumped from $16,388 to $40,984,000 during the 
same period. Great quantities of munitions were manufac- 
tured within a radius of 150 miles of Boston and shipped 
through the Port; arsenals and shipbuilding plants worked at 
top speed. 

The World War brought disaster to many ships long 
familiar to the Boston docks. One of the armed British mer- 
chantmen sunk by a German submarine was the Leyland Line 
Steamship Canadian, which had operated regularly in the 
Boston-Liverpool run. The ship departed from Boston on 
March 24, 1917, with 101,000 bushels of wheat, corn, and 
oats, a large shipment of horses, shells, boats, provisions, and 
general cargo, but never reached her home port; torpedoed 
without warning on April 6, she sank 8 miles from the Skel- 
lings. Although her lifeboats were picked up within an hour, 
and the crew, including 56 Americans, was saved, the loss of 
the Canadian was costly to the Boston underwriters, who had 
invested heavily in her cargo. When the Cunarder Ultonia 
arrived in Boston a few months later, she had the unusual 
experience of carrying among her officers and crew more than 
15 men who had been on ships sunk by German U-boats. 
Among these was Captain Turner, commodore of the Cunard 
Line, who was in command of the Lusitania when she went 
down. In November 1916, the sinking of British ships by 
the German submarine U-53 near Nantucket Light caused 
the suspension of many sailings from Boston. During the same 
month, Boston shippers learned with dismay that the Ameri- 
can-Hawaiian steamship Columbian, bound for Genoa from 
Boston, had plunged to the bottom of the Bay of Biscay. 
Her crew had been compelled to abandon ship; Captain Cur- 

A Twentieth Century Port 205 

tis had been held a prisoner for 6 days and then placed on a 
Swedish vessel, which landed him in Spain. 

But the crucial turn of events for American shippers did 
not come until 1917, when Germany announced that neutral 
merchant ships bound to and from ports of the Allies would 
be sunk without warning. All Boston sailings were held up, 
seriously delaying the forwarding of cargoes and mails and the 
conveyance of passengers. Massachusetts stood solidly behind 
the Administration when the President of the United States 
severed diplomatic relations with Germany and issued a dec- 
laration of war on April 5, 1917. Immediately the Federal 
Authorities seized at Boston six German steamers, including 
the Kronprinzessin Cecilie and the Cincinnati. Before surren- 
dering the latter, however, her loyal crew had so badly dam- 
aged the engines that it was necessary to tow the Cincinnati 
to the Charlestown Navy Yard, where her broken cylinders 
were repaired by a special electric welding process. There the 
former German steamer was outfitted as an American troop- 
ship. Upon receipt of war orders at the Charlestown Navy 
Yard, Captain W. R. Rush, commandant of the First Naval 
District, nastily prepared naval defense measures. Boston Har- 
bor was mined and netted as a precaution against German 
U-boats, and navigation instructions were issued to local skip- 
pers. The passage through the Narrows between Boston 
Light and Point Allerton was closed, and the South Channel 
and North Channel were kept open from sunset to sunrise each 
day, vessels being allowed to enter and leave under Federal 

Following the entrance of the United States into the World 
War, the first squadron of destroyers to start for Europe was 
fitted out at the Charlestown Navy Yard. Six destroyers were 
conditioned in short order, and they reached England on 
May 14, 1917. One of them, the Conyngham, took a prominent 
part in a skirmish with a German underseas craft on October 
19, 1917. At that time the Conyngham was a part of a con- 
voy which had gone out of formation temporarily to add to 
its fold a rescued American steamer and the destroyer which 
had saved it. Seizing advantage of the brief lapse in vigil, a 
German submarine rose to the surface and fired a torpedo 
which struck the British cruiser Orama. The Conyngham ob- 
served the submarine and dropped depth charges over the 
spot where it had submerged. The oil and debris which came 

2o6 Boston Looks Seaward 

to the surface was considered sufficient evidence to prove 
the destruction of the U-boat. A month later in another 
engagement the destroyers Fanning and Nicholson of the same 
convoy escort succeeded in capturing the crew of the 11-58. 
Discovering a periscope heading toward several freighters, 
the Fanning promptly arrived on the spot and dropped a 
series of depth charges, and the Nicholson added to the bar- 
rage. The wrecked submarine managed to rise to the surface 
to permit the rescue of the crew. Operating from a base at 
Queenstown, the Boston destroyer flotilla successfully escorted 
large American fleets to and from Europe. 

In the meantime a tragic disaster had occurred on this side 
of the Atlantic. When the Eastern Steamship Lines' North- 
land docked on the chilly evening of December 9, 1917, 
thousands of Bostonians besieged the weary passengers as 
they stepped off the gangplank for news of friends and rela- 
tives in Halifax. A munitions ship had collided with another 
vessel in Halifax Harbor on December 6, and the ensuing 
explosion had been so devastating that hundreds had been 
killed or maimed and a large section of the prosperous city 
had been reduced to shambles. When word of the Halifax 
disaster reached Boston, Governor McCall immediately offered 
as a relief ship the Calvin Austin, then temporarily on the 
Boston-Portland run. Wagons, trucks, and cars carrying food, 
clothing, surgical dressings, furniture, and building supplies 
crowded Fosters Wharf, where the ship was berthed. Quickly 
loaded until her holds were bursting, the Calvin Austin 
steamed out of the harbor under the command of Captain 
Eugene O'Donnell on December 9, 1917. Working day and 
night, Boston relief workers prepared more material for ship- 
ment, and the Northland followed the Calvin Austin with an 
$80,000 cargo for the relief of the victims. 

Dramatic events were also taking place close to Boston 
Harbor. Rumors of a German submarine off the American 
coast were finally confirmed when the 11-151 struck. While car- 
rying coal from Norfolk to Boston, the schooner Edward H. 
Cole was sunk off the New Jersey coast by the U-boat, and a 
few hours afterward several freighters were torpedoed and 
sent to the bottom. When the crew of the Cole was landed in 
New York by a rescuing ship the next day, every press wire 
in the country hummed with Robert Lattugee's account of 
the sinking of the Boston schooner. 

A Twentieth Century Port 207 

... I saw a submarine come to the surface half a mile away on the port 
bow. A Finn, who was steering, asked me why the submarine was moving 
around our ship at high speed. We both believed it was an American craft 
with some Naval Reserve cadets on board, who were trying to have fun 
with us sailors of the merchant marine. I thought it would be a good 
idea to have a little fun with our skipper ... I yelled down the skylight, 
'Tumble up deck lively, Cap. There's a big German submarine close astern, 
getting ready to attack us.' Then I took the marine glasses . . . For a 
moment or two I could not make out her nationality, and then a gust of 
wind . . . blew the ensign straight ... I shouted in earnest to Captain 
Newcombe, 'It's no joke this time. By gosh, she is a German submarine.' 
After making three circles to be certain that we did not carry a gun, 
the U-boat came up to the starboard quarter, and a tall, fair-haired officer 
on deck by the conning tower shouted in good English, 'What ship is 
that?' I replied that it was an American schooner . . . The next hail we 
got as Captain Newcombe joined me on deck was to heave to, and they 
would send an officer on board. This time the U-boat was fifty yards away, 
and we saw the tall officer get into a dinghey with three of his men . . . 
The officer, who wore gold shoulder straps and gilt buttons, and was the 
only one of the crew who was clean shaven, spoke courteously to Captain 
Newcombe, and after listening to the statements as to the name, tonnage, 
cargo, and ports of departure and destination, he made a brief inspection 
of the ship. Then he came to where we were standing and said, 'Well, 
Captain, get your crew together and tell them that they have ten minutes 
to leave the ship.' About 4:10 o'clock we pulled away from the Ediuard H. 
Cole and rowed hard to get away from the expected explosion. There was 
no water or food in the yawl, and no compass. The Captain brought his 
sextant and barometer with him. We saw the Germans, acting under 
orders from their officer, take four bombs . . . and light the fuses. Five 
minutes after we pulled away the bombs exploded . . . and in sixteen 
minutes the schooner had disappeared. 

For the first time since the War of 1812, Massachusetts 
waters were actually invaded and her coast was bombarded 
by enemy craft. In the summer of 1918 the single German 
U-boat was followed by 4 more submarines. While German 
U-boats harried cargo ships, unguarded tankers, and coast- 
wise schooners from Newfoundland to North Carolina, sinking 
with shellfire and bombs a score of American and Canadian 
fishermen, including several Boston vessels, the U-156 at- 
tacked the Boston tug Perth Amboy and several barges 3 
miles from Orleans off Cape Cod on July 21, 1918. Hundreds 
of bathers and cottagers summering on the Cape witnessed 
the shells bursting among the boats and. saw the tug burn 
to the water's edge and 3 of the barges sink. After one of 
the shells flew inland and exploded in a pond about a mile 
from the shore, the German gunners secured a more accurate 
range on the next shot, which buried itself on the beach. 
Before the submarine disappeared, 4 shells were fired at the 
shore, but no one was injured. The heroism of the Orleans 
lifeguards saved the 11 men of the Perth Amboy, and the boats 

2o8 Boston Looks Seaward 

from the barges were given a rousing cheer when they safely 
pulled into Nauset Harbor. 

During the war years, the United States Government played 
an important role in the maritime activities of the Port. Few 
of Boston's 16 coastwise steamship lines remained under priv- 
ate ownership, and the city's commerce was considerably in- 
fluenced by the Federal Government's policy of shipping sup- 
plies and troops to the Army in France from only the larger 
North Atlantic ports. Boston ranked third in the United 
States as a port of embarkation, sending out 46,000 troops. In 
1917 the Federal Government built the $26,000,000 Army 
Supply Base, with a frontage of 300 feet on the Reserve Chan- 
nel in South Boston and 2 pier sheds each 3 stories high and 
950 feet long containing a total floor area of 13 acres. Between 
the sheds was an 8-story reinforced concrete storehouse served 
directly by the New Haven Railroad and boasting a floor area 
of nearly 40 acres. The Boston Navy Yard Dry Dock No. 3 in 
South Boston was also a product of the world conflict. The 
largest in existence when completed, measuring 1,204 feet in 
length, with a bottom width of 115 feet and a sill depth at 
mean high water of 43 feet, it was constructed by the Com- 
monwealth of Massachusetts and sold to the Federal Govern- 
ment in April of 1920 for $4,000,000. 

The successful conclusion of the war was joyously greeted 
by Boston citizens, who welcomed the home-coming soldiers 
royally. The return movement of troops through the Port 
reached its peak in April 1919, when 6 transports docked with 
units of the Yankee Division. Escorted by a fleet of submar- 
ine chasers from below Boston Light, the vanguard of the 
division, 5,800 men and officers, arrived on the Mount Vernon 
on April 4. At quarantine the troopship was met by a fleet 
of harbor craft and excursion boats packed with welcoming 
officials, relatives, and friends. Two large hydroplanes circled 
overhead; sirens, whistles, and naval guns saluted the soldiers 
jammed against the rails and perched high in the rigging; 
and passing vessels of all kinds joined in the triumphal pro- 
cession up the harbor. The cheers of 50,000 people gathered 
on Castle Island were answered by those on the Mount Vernon, 
as the ship moved toward her berth at Commonwealth Pier, 
where the men received their noisiest welcome. The arrival 
of the Mount Vernon was followed by the America, Agamem- 
non, Mongolia, Patricia, and Winifredian. Between April and 
July more than 50,000 troops disembarked at Boston, includ- 

A Twentieth Century Port 209 

ing the Rainbow Division and regiments from South Caro- 
lina and Texas. By summertime some of the spontaneous 
enthusiasm seemed to have lost its force, for a Boston news- 
paperman covering the arrival of a troopship told of a vessel 
docking "amid the customary joyful shrieks of steam whistles 
and sirens and the frantic cheers of 10,000 friends." 

The end of the World War revealed great advances at the 
Port of Boston. The city had become the biggest wool center 
in any country, the largest exporter of boots and shoes, the 
leader in the importation of hides and skins, and the fore- 
most fish market in the United States. Boston could proudly 
point to more than 141 miles of waterfront, over 40 miles of 
berthing space, and the largest pier in the world. 



Into the Prosperous Twenties 

THE YEAR 1920 found Boston slowly returning to normalcy. 
Thirteen months had clasped since the signing of the Armi- 
stice, and the feverish wartime atmosphere had cooled. The 
city's industrial plants had speedily reentered the peaceful 
channels of business enterprise; her financial institutions on 
State Street had joined with Wall Street in inaugurating a 
series of huge loans for the reconstruction of Europe; her 
population had reached the high figure of 748,000, of whom 
more than half were foreign-born or of foreign-born parentage; 
her trading area encompassed over 14,000 square miles, popu- 
lated by three and one-half million potential customers; her 
factories employed 76,000 workers and manufactured 18 per- 
cent of the State's products. The city with a famous past was 
not without a mighty future. 

On the waterfront the commercial life of Boston flowed 
fullest in the newer sections of South and East Boston, where 
the ocean liners made their brief visits amidst great excite- 
ment. Millions of dollars had been spent on improvements in 
these newly developed areas. The inner regions of the harbor, 
particularly Chelsea Creek, the Mystic River, and Weymouth 
Fore River, specialized in the receipt and shipment of oil, 
lumber, coal, and chemicals. On the Atlantic Avenue water- 
front docked the coastwise ships, their cargo hoists and booms 
swinging wide above the pier sheds, their hawsers slack in the 
flood tide. A daily sight was the endless chain of stevedores 
carrying huge bunches of green bananas from the sleek white 
hulls of the United Fruiters into the wharf shed on one side 
of the ship and into freight cars, ranged on car floats, on the 
other side. On Atlantic Avenue the sailmakers, wharfingers, 
and chandlers were still a part of the commercial scene, and 
through flyspecked windows scores of little shops displayed 
diving helmets, model ships, sextants, hemp cable, bale hooks, 
officers' uniforms, Gloucester oilskins, compasses, and marine 
hardware of a thousand varieties. Here were preserved the 


Through Prosperity and Depression 2 1 1 

memories and records of glorious seafaring days when tides 
and ships brought wealth and riches from the Northwest Coast 
and China Seas. 

Even for its ordinary pursuits the changing waterfront area 
assumed a picturesque flavor borrowed from its maritime past. 
Off the South Boston shore a showboat, the four-master Horace 
A. Stone, once of the Buenos Aires trade, rode at anchor, a 
night club frequented by Boston's cafe society. At the end of 
T Wharf was the Waterfront Club, the city's most fashionable 
speakeasy, where a special guard was kept on Saturday nights 
to warn top-hatted inebriates of raiding Prohibition enforce- 
ment officers. T Wharf wafted its accustomed aroma of fish 
over a new set of habitues when a lady artist rented a studio 
in one of the lofts and was followed by 16 more "studio" dwel- 
lers. They pushed candles into the necks of bottles, hung 
fish-nets on the walls, and put on canvas trousers and berets, 
to the bewilderment and occasional annoyance of the Italian 
and Portuguese fishermen. 


After the tense war years a comparative calm had settled 
over the Boston shipbuilding industry; the clank of chains, 
the chug-chug of hoisting machines and the hammering of 
riveters had died down in East Boston and along the Chelsea 
and Quincy shoreline. 

Although the shipyards possessed abundant capital, skilled 
labor, and the equipment necessary for the construction of 
every type of ship, they did little new building, because of the 
existing "oversupply of unprofitable ships." Accidents, sea- 
sonal reconditioning, the daily wear and tear of the sea ac- 
counted for the largest share of the Boston shipyard activity. 
At this time the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation ac- 
quired two of Boston's oldest shipyards, the Simpson Dry 
Dock Company and the Atlantic Works, both of which had 
been building whalers and clipper ships in East Boston as 
early as 1853. Engaged in repairing ships, building stationary 
engines and boilers, the Atlantic Works consisted of buildings, 
docks, and piers, with more than a 1,050 foot frontage on 
the main ship channel. The Simpson yard, which specialized 
in ship repair, contained three graving or sunken docks and 
one io,ooo-ton floating drydock. 

Scattered along the East Boston waterfront among docks 
devoted to the use of coal and lumber companies, fishing 

212 Boston Looks Seaward 

fleets, and trans-Atlantic liners were a number of small ship- 
building and ship-repair concerns. Here the repair plant of 
the Mystic Steamship Company was kept active reconditioning 
its own fleet. This company had been organized on January 
18, 1924, to acquire the nine steamships of the Crowell & 
Thurlow Steamship Company and the fleet of colliers, barges, 
and towboats of the New England Fuel & Transportation 
Company. Bringing coal to Boston was their principal con- 
cern, although the company's ships were chartered to all ports 
of the world. Nearby stood the repair shop of the Boston 
Marine Works, Inc., and the small plant of Bertelsen & Peter- 
sen Engineering Company, which was succeeded by the Gen- 
eral Ship 8c Engine Works in 1931. Out on Sumner Street the 
Marine Company, established in 1883, did fine interior wood- 
work and repaired and built cabins and other parts of boats. 
At Jeffries Point lay the small, picturesque yard of Carmelo 
Tringali & Sons, who specialized in building and repairing 
the boats of the Italian fishermen of Boston. 

Across the harbor in Quincy the Bethlehem Shipbuilding 
Corporation had developed the Fore River Yard into one of 
the biggest American shipyards, yet here too the bulk of 
the business now consisted of repair work. In 1922 the City 
of Miami received extensive alterations, changing over her 
coal-burning furnaces to fuel oil burners, and adding 300 
staterooms, parlors, and suites of rooms to the passenger 
accommodations. Under a 30-day contract the Quincy yard 
converted 3 mine sweepers, the Austerlitz, Valmy, and Isly into 
fishing trawlers; 17 ships underwent repairs in the years 1925- 
26. During this period the Fore River Yard built for the 
United States Navy several cruisers and the great airplane 
carrier Lexington, which was launched in the presence of 20,- 
ooo spectators on October 3, 1925. The Lexington proved to 
be one of the world's fastest ships, out-speeding her escorts 
while carrying supplies to the survivors of the Nicaraguan 
earthquake disaster. The yard had additional contracts for 
seven 485^001 tankers, 2 scout cruisers, and 6 submarines for 
the United States Navy. By the close of the year 1925, a total 
of 400 ships of all types had been built at Fore River. 

Expanding Imports Declining Exports 

Ships were built and ships were repaired, but few of those 
handled at Boston shipyards left the ways to take their place 
among locally owned vessels. For although at the end of the 

Through Prosperity and Depression 213 

decade Boston ranked third among ports in the United States 
in the total volume of her ocean commerce, the city had aban- 
doned her ship-owning tradition. The Port remained a conven- 
ient landing place for a large volume of merchandise, but 
few Boston ships carried the cargoes. 

Boston in 1929 could not boast a single ship in foreign 
commerce, unless one counted the vessels trading with Can- 
ada, those of the New England Transatlantic Line, which 
flew the Norwegian flag, or those of the American Republics 
Line, which were chartered by C. H. Sprague 8c Son from the 
United States Shipping Board. In large part, the locally owned 
steamships were tankers belonging to the Beacon Oil Com- 
pany and the collier fleet of the Mystic Steamship Company, 
while Boston sail was maintained by the big four-masters 
of Crowell & Thurlow. 

Even more startling was the metamorphosis which the 
trade of the Port underwent between 1920 and 1929. Trade 
figures showed a steady and wholesome growth as they doubled 
in tonnage, four-fifths of which was in domestic commerce. 
Contrasting sharply was the small but extremely important 
foreign trade, which was especially weak in the export field. 
Imports were on the increase as New England industries de- 
manded ever larger quantities of raw materials from the Port; 
the importation of rubber increased twelvefold; wood pulp 
jumped from 40,000 to 232,000 tons; cocoa imports were neg- 
ligible in 1920 but reached 15,000 tons a decade later. The 
advantages of this growing import trade were, however, off- 
set by a rapid decline in the export business of the Port, a 
decrease from 573,489 tons in 1920 to 303,120 tons in 1929. The 
loss of Boston's export trade has generally been attributed to 
adverse rail and ocean rates, which favored such shipping cen- 
ters as New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. In 1882 Bos- 
ton's share of the country's exports had amounted to 8.2 per- 
cent of the total, but by 1920 the percentage had fallen to 2.3, 
and in 1929 to less than one percent. Boston had remained 
second only to New York as an exporter until 1905, when 
Baltimore forged ahead, and Philadelphia followed suit 3 years 

Besides adverse rates on inland grain and wheat and general 
merchandise, the changing nature of the country's export 
trade had a share in curbing the volume of the city's exports. 
A generation previously Boston had been the country's lead- 
ing port in the European cattle trade. In 1897 exports of cattle 

214 Boston Looks Seaward 

had totaled 162,620 head, but, owing to Great Britain's pref- 
erence for Canadian and Argentine cattle, Boston shipments 
had dropped to the vanishing point by 1929. It had become not 
at all unusual for a Boston merchant to ship goods to New 
York by rail to be loaded there for the Argentine, and an in- 
creasing number of ships entering the Port of Boston left 
in ballast. However, the unfair freight differential was more 
accountable for this inability to furnish return cargoes than 
any failure in Boston enterprise. 

Boston business men waged an unremitting fight against 
the unfair freight rates which hampered the export trade of 
the Port. Led by the eloquent Frank S. Davis, manager for 
many years of the Maritime Association of the Boston Cham- 
ber of Commerce, local business leaders persistently and val- 
iantly pleaded the cause of the Port at committee hearings 
and before the Interstate Commerce Commission in Wash- 
ington, D. C. The association petitioned for an equalization 
of freight rates with other Atlantic and Gulf ports, and the 
General Court appropriated money to fight for the removal 
of this discriminatory differential. But in 1924, Boston lost 
her case. On January 20, 1925, the United States Shipping 
Board called a conference to end rate discriminations against 
New England and Gulf ports. Achievement of parity would 
have been a great victory for Boston, since all ports would 
have been placed on a strictly competitive basis, but the con- 
ference failed because of the pressure of trunk-line railroads 
whose interests lay in keeping the existing rates. 

The wide-awake Maritime Association did secure improve- 
ments in harbor facilities and trade and boasted several nota- 
ble accomplishments. Although the world's biggest drydock 
was located near the Army Base, none of the larger ships could 
dock there, since the North Broad Sound Channel was not 
deep enough to accommodate them. At the request of the 
association, the Federal Government remedied this anomalous 
situation in 1925, when a contract was let out for the dredging 
of the channel to a depth of 40 feet. This was sufficient to per- 
mit safe passage to any ship then in existence, as was amply 
proven by the Leviathan's frequent trips to Boston for over- 
hauling. The Maritime Association also established coopera- 
tive relations between the South American coffee dealers and 
exporters and the American steamship companies, which 
resulted in the increased importation from that continent 
not only of coffee, but also of hides and other products. As 

Through Prosperity and Depression 215 

the result of another of the association's activities, which this 
time proved that wood pulp could be distributed more cheaply 
to paper-manufacturing centers from Boston than from com- 
peting ports, the importation of this product increased 15 
percent and reached a total of 110,000 tons between January 
and October 1924. 

Coastal and Intercoastal Commerce 

Throughout the 1920'$ Boston held second place in the 
coastwise trade of the Atlantic ports. As usual, New York 
took the lion's share, averaging three times as much as Bos- 
ton, while Philadelphia and Baltimore, close runners-up in 
years past, had dropped to third and fifth places respectively. 
Between 1920 and 1927, Boston's coastwise commerce averaged 
66.3 percent of the Port's entire business. In the order of 
their tonnage local receipts included coal, petroleum and 
petroleum products, sand and gravel, lumber and logs, fish 
and fish products, fertilizer, canned goods, hides and skins, 
sulphur, coal tar, and cotton. Boston's coastwise shipments 
were considerably below her receipts but involved such im- 
portant commodities as petroleum, coal, coke, hides, poultry, 
fish, and miscellaneous articles. At this time the Port was char- 
acterized as "the terminus of an extensive coastwise and inter- 
coastal trade which helps to feed the foreign shipments." 

Boston was still the clearing-house for raw materials enter- 
ing New England and for farming, fishing, and manufactured 
products shipped out. In 1928, coastwise services out of Bos- 
ton were offered by eight steamship lines, each of them serv- 
ing ports not reached by the others. Daily service was main- 
tained to New York and four sailings a week was the usual 
schedule to the Middle Atlantic ports. Freight was carried 
to Gulf cities by the Mooremack Line and to Georgia and 
Florida by the Clyde and Savannah Lines, which returned 
with cargoes of sugar and thousands of bales of cotton. Scores 
of colliers and barges brought coal to Boston from Newport 
News, Norfolk, and the Chesapeake region, while empty 
American tramps could always stop for Boston-consigned coal 
on their return trip to the North. Coal had become the lead- 
ing product received at the Port; its tonnage amounted to 68 
percent of the entire coastwise receipts between 1920 and 
1927. In return Boston continued to ship the staples of the 
Southern trade, as well as such manufactured commodities as 
plumbing fixtures, automobile parts, electrical apparatus, 

216 Boston Looks Seaward 

clothing, and many articles never before transported by water. 

Boston services to the Pacific Coast showed a considerable 
gain during the igso's, and by 1932 five lines offered 16 de- 
partures a month to California, Puget Sound, and Portland, 
Oregon. A thriving business via the Panama Canal was car- 
ried on by the American-Hawaiian and Luckenbach Lines, 
whose freighters brought back large quantities of wool from 
California. Tank steamers took on liquid cargoes of crude and 
fuel oil at Los Angeles, then the largest shipper of petroleum 
and petroleum products to Boston. San Francisco and Seattle 
sent canned and dried fruit, and canned fish and vegetables, 
while much of the lumber and logs imported at Boston origi- 
nated in Tacoma, Bellingham, and Gray's Harbor. From fur- 
ther north, from Everett and Longview in Washington, came 
paper and paper stock. On their return voyages to the West, 
Boston ships carried iron, steel, manufactured articles, and 
a great many unclassified items. 

Prominent in Boston's coastal and intercoastal trade were 
the Merchants 8c Miners Transportation Company and the 
Luckenbach Steamship Company, Inc. After the World War 
the Merchants & Miners had embarked on the most ambitious 
building program in its history, and by 1926 the company 
operated five of the largest passenger ships on the Atlantic 
Coast. The sister ships Alleghany, Berkshire, Chatham, Dor- 
chester, and Fairfax measured 367 feet in length, had a dis- 
placement of about 7,000 tons, and provided the most modern 
passenger accommodations on their runs to Philadelphia, Nor- 
folk, and points south. As a result of the heavy movement of 
freight between Boston and the West Coast, the Luckenbach 
Company established its intercoastal service out of Boston in 
1923. At first the company maintained fortnightly sailings, but 
within a year the volume of freight moving out of Boston 
warranted the extension of the line's services to a weekly 
schedule. Westbound cargo consisted largely of New Eng- 
land manufactures, while Boston freight included general 
cargo, lumber, dried fruits, and wool. 

Steamers did not yet have a monopoly on Boston's trade. 
Shipping notices in the Boston newspapers still announced the 
occasional arrival and departure of coastwise schooners. Gen- 
erally these four-, five-, and six-masters plodded up and down 
the coast with lumber, stone, gravel, and other bulky mate- 
rial which could be moved slowly and cheaply. They plied 
between the North Atlantic cities and the southern and West 

Through Prosperity and Depression 217 

Indian ports with miscellaneous cargoes, and brought lumber 
and fish to Boston from Nova Scotia. Laden with $50,000- 
worth of mahogany logs, one Boston-bound four-masted 
schooner took more than a month in 1924 for the passage 
from Barbados. The white skipper and 17 Negro crew mem- 
bers faced, not only the perils of the sea, but starvation as 
well. When a bad storm severely damaged the vessel, the crew 
refused to abandon her. Twice the Bluebird was assisted by 
other vessels, twice her food supply was exhausted, and she 
had to beg stores; but each time the crew decided to stick 
rather than allow the expensive cargo to fall into the hands 
of salvagers. Not far off Boston, the lumber craft was com- 
pletely disabled and unable to navigate under its own power. 
A call for help to a passing ship brought the Coast Guard, 
and the schooner was towed into port with her faithful crew 
still aboard. 

Boston's coastwise trade was not greatly affected by the 
Cape Cod Canal until more than 10 years after it was pur- 
chased by the Federal Government in 1928. Built to enable 
local shipping to avoid dangerous shoals and stormy waters 
on the outside of Cape Cod, this waterway accommodated, 
between 1928 and 1938, only about 17 percent of the Port's 
domestic commerce. In part, this limitation was due to the 
Canal's narrow width and rapid currents. More important 
was the shallow depth, which prevented the passage of ships 
drawing more than 25 feet and thus sent most of the coastal 
tankers and freighters around the Cape. The Corps of Engi- 
neers, United States Army, pursued an energetic program of 
enlargement and deepening, which was begun in 1933 and 
completed in 1940, and now makes the Canal available to 
larger ships drawing up to 30 feet. A substantial increase in 
traffic was noted in 1939 when almost 5,000,000 tons of com- 
merce, more than double the tonnage of 1929, passed through 
the Canal. 

Strengthening Labor Bonds 

On the Boston waterfront, labor organizations, especially 
the International Longshoremen's Association, made great 
strides. Since many of the "huskies" were of Irish descent, 
the visit of Eamon De Valera to the convention of the Massa- 
chusetts Branch of the American Federation of Labor, in 
September 1919, spurred them to increased nationalist activi- 

2i8 Boston Looks Seaward 

ties, and their association in the nationalist movement gave 
impetus to waterfront organization. 

By 1928, three unions of the International Longshoremen's 
Association controlled the cargo handling of all ships in the 
foreign and intercoastal trade. Their membership totaled 
1,761, and the average wage for those employed fairly regu- 
larly throughout the year was about $27 per week. The mem- 
bership was largely Irish or Irish-American of the second gen- 
eration, with openings being filled by the sons of members. 
The 1,000 or more longshoremen in the coastwise trade re- 
ceived a lower hourly wage and averaged about $26 per week. 
Their work was more regular, since many of the coastal 
services operated on a daily or tri-weekly basis. Some ship- 
ping companies employed the same men on regular hours and 
occasionally paid them on a weekly or monthly basis. 

The method of hiring longshoremen for work on deep-wa- 
ter ships, known as the "shaping up," remains much the same 
today as it was in the 1920*5. Each morning that a ship docks 
in East Boston, Charlestown, or South Boston, groups of 100 
or more men gather before a platform on which stands the 
stevedore foreman who picks the gangs. A gang is assigned to 
each hatch and consists of 21 or 22 men. They include a hatch 
tender, 2 winchmen, 6 hold men, who work on the ship, 2 
"landers," who guide the loaded flings as they swing out of 
the hold, and 10 dockmen, who cart the freight to its proper 
place in the pier shed. A gang boss supervises the work. The 
gang which starts working a hold has full rights to all work, 
both unloading and loading in that hold. The equipment used 
in handling the freight is the property of the stevedore firm, 
which acts as an intermediary agent for the shipper and con- 
tracts for the labor in handling the cargo. After a ship has 
been worked, the men are paid off and must "shape up" 
again before they return to work. This system does not in- 
clude any provision for an even distribution of work among 
the longshoremen. 

The Boston waterfront throughout the 1930*5 was relatively 
free from the labor disputes which caused serious tie-ups in 
several of the leading United States ports. In 1931 a 2-months' 
strike of longshoremen and tally clerks resulted in a working 
agreement with the operators which established working con- 
ditions and wage rates satisfactory to both sides. Except for 
minor changes and slight increases in wages this agreement 
was renewed annually through 1935, at which time the Port 

Through Prosperity and Depression 219 

Authority said "there exists a real desire on the part of both 
operators and longshoremen to get together and work out 
problems with a minimum of friction." In 1936, West Coast 
labor troubles tied up intercoastal shipping, but Boston long- 
shoremen resisted efforts to call a sympathy strike. The organ- 
ization of C. I. O. unions among seamen and some waterfront 
workers in 1937 resulted in a number of short strikes which 
did not seriously affect waterfront commerce. Although agree- 
ments have not been signed between operators and long- 
shoremen since 1935, a relatively smooth working relation- 
ship exists. Wage scales follow those negotiated at New York. 

The Leading Fish Port 

During the twenties and early thirties, Boston's fishing 
industry maintained a steady growth except in the years 1921 
and 1922, when the post-war depression with its decreasing 
demand for fish, its falling prices, and labor troubles caused 
a temporary decline in the fisheries. In 1923, however, receipts 
of fish at Boston rose to almost 124,000,000 pounds and there- 
after mounted annually, reaching 285,000,000 pounds in 1930. 
In the latter years, according to James B. Connolly in Fifty 
Years of Boston, "the dealers of the Fish Pier paid out more 
than $10,000,000 for fish purchased on the floor of the Ex- 
change alone, an increase of 225 per cent in the last sixteen 
years." The Boston home fishing fleet of 208 vessels was the 
largest of any North Atlantic port in 1903, and was supple- 
mented by hundreds of other vessels which landed their catches 
at Boston. The number of workers engaged in the Boston 
fisheries doubled and their wages trebled between 1914 and 
1930. An idea of the importance of the industry may be 
gained from the fact that in the year 1922 the Boston fishing 
fleet accomplished 2,754 trips to and from the fishing grounds. 

The position of Boston as the fish-marketing center of the 
Western Hemisphere remained fixed, despite the competition 
of Gloucester, New York, and Portland. The Boston fish mar- 
ket in 1922 sent 93 percent of its products to points in New 
England, New York State, and Pennsylvania; 56 percent of 
the total, however, did not go beyond Massachusetts. Sailing 
mainly from Nantucket and Hyannisport, the flounder fleet 
increasingly used the Cape Cod Canal to Boston, which suc- 
ceeded in wresting a goodly portion of the flounder business 
from New York. Mackerel was brought to Boston from points 
farther south than ever before, and 583 fishing vessels with 

22O Boston Looks Seaward 

almost 10,000,000 pounds of mackerel passed through the 
Canal on their way to Boston in May and June of 1927. 
Although the halibut vessels landed their catches at all Atlan- 
tic ports, Boston held a predominant place in the halibut 
trade, 4,000,000 of the 6,ooo,ooo-pound catch being marketed 
here in 1922. Owing to the high cost of railroad transporta- 
tion as well as attendant delays, trucks started transporting 
fish to Boston for processing and distribution as early as 1923. 
By 1930 several hundred trucks were bringing fish from 
such widespread points as Bangor, Maine, and Newport, 
Rhode Island, while others carried the packed fish products 
to Middle Atlantic and Midwestern States. The steamer, too, 
began to make a bid for the transcontinental transport of fish 
in 1923, after the first refrigerator vessel from the Pacific 
Coast to Boston the steamer Neponset arrived here in 
March 1922, via the Panama Canal. The Neponset brought a 
cargo of frozen halibut and of salmon frozen and salted, and 
took back a shipment of Boston fish presented by the Mayor 
of Boston to the Mayors of San Francisco, Seattle, and Los 

By the 1920'$ "big business," which by first taking over 
the operation of trawlers had commenced control of the Bos- 
ton fisheries, was affecting directly the lives of thousands of 
local fishermen. Where once the deck of a little schooner had 
served as trading base, now the floor of the Boston Fish Ex- 
change became the scene of daily trading. After mooring his 
vessel to the pier, the skipper went to the Fish Exchange to 
make a deal, and then returned to give the order of "break 
open." Soon the scales were ranged, and handlers stood by, 
ready to cart the fish away as quickly as it was weighed. Some- 
times, if the fish were not as represented, there were argu- 
ments and haggling, followed by a reluctant compromise on a 
price lower than the one first agreed upon. 

The fishermen were anxious about the price, since they 
still worked on a share system. This, however, was undergo- 
ing certain revisions designed to give the fishermen a fairer per- 
centage. The introduction of trawlers increased costs and so 
changed the method of operation. Control passed from the 
hands of the fishing boat captain to that of the owners and 
some of the expense was thus transferred to the latter. When 
fishermen came to be regarded as employees, an unprofitable 
trip was no longer the responsibility of either the captain or 

Through Prosperity and Depression 221 

the crew, and unpaid bills were collectible solely from the 
owner of the boat. With this change came the practice of 
guaranteeing the fisherman a minimum wage, which has 
grown from $10 to $15 in the igso's to the present $25 per 
trip. The division of profits between owner and crew is 
still in use, however, and the minimum guarantee is applied 
only when the fishermen's share is below $25. The settlement 
method is known as "the 50/50 wage lay." After the costs of 
securing space at the dock for unloading, using the scales 
for weighing, and other docking expenses are taken from the 
gross receipts of a trip, the remainder is divided equally be- 
tween the owners and the crew. The owners' half pays for 
company expenses and for operation of the boat. But the cost 
of fuel, ice, food, and a few other small items must be paid 
out of the crew's half. Captain, mate, cook, engineers, and 
fishermen share the remainder, though the captain is paid 
an additional bonus ranging from 7 to 10 percent of the own- 
ers' share. If the crew's half does not cover all bills usually 
paid by them, the owners meet any unpaid bills and the crew 
receives the guaranteed minimum agreed upon. 

Powerful steam trawlers equipped with auxiliary engines, 
radios, and electric lights, had come into general use, and 
these big mechanized ships carried heavy dredges or drags, 
to which were attached long cone-shaped nets, open at the 
forward end and closed at the other. When the cone reached 
the sea floor, the trawlers moved ahead at a speed of about 3 
knots until enough fish were caught to make it worth while to 
haul up, usually after a dragging period of i or 2 hours. 
Although steam trawlers accounted for the largest part of the 
Boston catch, they aroused serious objections, since small fish 
were not allowed to escape, and feeding and spawning grounds 
were destroyed, resulting in the dispersion of the fish. The 
latter objection was considered valid enough by several New 
England legislatures to justify laws prohibiting the use of 
beam and otter trawlers in waters close to the coast. 

In 1921 a new processing method, the cutting of the meaty 
sides of a fish from the bone structure, had a revolutionary 
effect on the fishing industry. The boneless pieces of fish, 
called fillets, were wrapped in parchment paper, packed in 
tin boxes, and then shipped to dealers over the entire coun- 
try. The waste material was utilized in the production of fish 
meal for poultry and stock raisers. From the beginning, Bos- 

222 Boston Looks Seaward 

ton has been the leader in this new business, which grew from 
50,000 pounds of fillets in 1921 to over 80,000,000 pounds in 

Another important factor in the growth of the Boston fish- 
eries was the development of fish inspection, which had been 
established by an Act of the General Court in 1919. Although 
the fish inspectors then had no authority to condemn spoiled 
fish, they accomplished much by persuading the wholesale 
dealers to cooperate, even to the extent of lending the serv- 
ices of their own employees to assist the officials in opening 
boxes for inspection, and by providing lists of retailers to 
whom imperfect fish had been sold. A similar cleanup of the 
fish peddlers' fleet also brought good results. The 1922 amend- 
ments to the Fish Inspection Act put the inspections on a 
thoroughly efficient basis; inspectors were empowered to enter 
any place where fish was sold and destroy such fish as was 
unfit for food. It became mandatory to grade fish, and "num- 
ber three" could be sold only at wholesale and only as pre- 
pared fish products. Weekly inspection of the Boston Fish 
Pier and the 150 peddlers' carts, which obtained their fish 
at the pier on Thursdays, was put in practice. 

While most Boston fishdealers were in sympathy with the 
aim of fish inspection to supply the public with edible fish 
it was 9 years before the fish inspector could say in his 
annual report for 1929 that "the idea of quality fish" was 
"well grounded in the minds of fish dealers." This result was 
achieved through the constant efforts of the inspectors to 
examine all fish brought into Boston by fishing vessel, truck, 
rail, or steamer, and to make certain that only the first two 
grades were sold as fresh or frozen fish. Although substantial 
amounts of fish were condemned each year, there was a drop 
from the high of 157,000 pounds in 1924 to 70,800 in 1928 
and 59,300 in 1929. 

The introduction of a course in fisheries engineering at 
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology climaxed the newly 
developed interest in the catching, preparing, and especially 
the refrigeration of fish, which permitted the storage of thou- 
sands of tons until the off season, when they could be marketed 
at a profit. As the result of a meeting, in Boston in 1921, of 
interested persons with Professor John N. Cobb, Director of 
Fisheries at the University of Washington, science had entered 
the fishing industry. The Technology course was approved 
by State and Federal authorities and fisheries interests, and 

Through Prosperity and Depression 223 

the Federal Bureau of Fisheries offered experts as instructors. 
The Boston fishing industry aided in a financial way and the 
Massachusetts Division of Fisheries requested the General 
Court to appropriate $3,000 annually toward securing com- 
petent instructors. 

Disaster on the High Seas 

The Boston fishing fleet continued to suffer the mishaps 
and adventures inevitable on the sea. In 1920 the steam trawler 
Loon ran amuck at the end of T Wharf, ramming and sink- 
ing the harbor tug Betsy Ross and badly damaging the Irving 
F. Ross. While the Loon was making for the fishing grounds, 
her captain discovered that some one had stolen his bunker 
belt plates, and headed back to the pier for new ones; the 
ship's steering gear suddenly became deranged, and the crash 
followed. Luckily no lives were lost in this accident. A narrow 
escape from another disaster in Boston Harbor occurred soon 
after, when Captain King of the Progress sighted a stalled 
motor boat through the haze, just as his schooner was bear- 
ing down on her. Jamming his helm hard over, the captain 
cleared the little craft by bumping across the outer sand bar 
and landing plump on the inner bar near Bug Light. 

Not all the Boston fleet returned safely to the Fish Pier. 
It took just a minute and a half for the schooner Actor and 
her cargo of fish to plunge to the bottom of Boston Harbor 
on September 26, 1924, after she was rammed by the Army 
quartermaster's boat General Batchelder in the Narrows be- 
tween Fort Strong and Fort Standish. Fortunately Army pri- 
vates and the crew of the Batchelder dived overboard and 
saved the members of the fishing schooner. Four years later, 
about 1:30 a.m. on December 15, 1928, the Georgina M., a fish- 
ing schooner carrying 60,000 pounds of haddock to the Port of 
Boston, was cut across the starboard bow by a huge ship 
which suddenly loomed out of the darkness and disappeared 
in a wide swath of foam. After this clear case of hit-and-run, 
it took the Georgina M.'s crew of 10 men 5 hours of stiff row- 
ing in the schooner's dories to reach Provincetown. 

After an interval of several years, apparently without major 
shipwrecks in Massachusetts Bay, the year 1930 wrote the 
tragic story of a horrible sea disaster. An impenetrable fog 
hung over the waters of the bay on June 10, when the Mer- 
chants & Miners' Fairfax left Boston, bound for Norfolk, Vir- 
ginia, with 71 passengers and a crew of 70. On the same day 

224 Boston Looks Seaward 

the Mallory oil tanker Pinthis departed from Fall River with 
12,000 barrels of gasoline, bound for Portland, Maine. While 
the oil tanker nosed her way through the Cape Cod Canal 
and then across the bay, the passenger ship crawled along at 
half-speed, her whistle breaking through the fog with a lugu- 
brious blast once every minute. About 23 miles from Boston 
Harbor, off Scituate, the Pinthis suddenly appeared 150 or 
200 feet off the bow of the Fairfax. One shrill scream came 
from the whistle of the Pinthis and was followed by a quick 
reversing of the Fairfax engines. But it was too late; collision 
occurred, and a moment later the gasoline in the tanker 
burst into a roaring geyser of flame. Burning gasoline shot 
high over the masthead of the Fairfax and showered her with 
a cloudburst of fire. Flames swept the port side of the Fair- 
fax, and the surface of the ocean blazed up like an inferno. 
The Pinthis had disappeared beneath the waves, but floating 
fires, fed continually by oil which welled up from her shat- 
tered hull, marked the grave of the tanker and her crew of 
19 men. 

Meanwhile order was gradually achieved on the Fairfax. 
The deluge of fire had ignited the clothing of some of the 
crew and they and a few frenzied passengers rushed to the 
rail and jumped into the burning sea. Heroic seamen fought 
their way through smoke and flame to the lifeboat stations 
and succeeded in getting the women and children into boats 
on the side of the ship farthest from the fire. Another group 
of crew members hastily repaired the burned antenna and an 
SOS was radioed. As the ship pushed her way out of the 
flaming oil, a lifeboat was lowered to search for survivors 
among those who had jumped overboard, but none was found. 
Three hours later, the Gloucester, another Merchants 8c 
Miners' ship, arrived in response to the call from the Fairfax 
and took off the remaining passengers. 

Rum-Running Days 

During the era of Prohibition, weird scenes were often en- 
acted along the Massachusetts coast by rum-runners and ships 
that came into contact with these smugglers. The Boston Coast 
Guard unit patrolled with especial vigilance the strip of coast- 
line reaching from Cape Ann to Provincetown, one of the 
most vulnerable areas on the Atlantic seaboard. Every cove and 
bay in this sector was a likely spot for rum-runners. Public 
apathy and even open resentment against those charged with 

Through Prosperity and Depression 225 

enforcement recalled the attitude of the colonists toward 
smuggling before the American Revolution. The desolate 
islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon in the Gulf of St. Lawrence 
became the main source of supply for the smugglers, who 
dropped anchor on Rum Row, outside the 3-mile limit be- 
tween Gloucester and Provincetown, and there traded with 
smaller, faster boats which operated between them and the 
shore. Rum Row soon became an institution, and it was not 
unusual to see as many as 12 or 15 vessels there at one time, 
rolling in heavy seas with decks awash and maintaining their 
position, in fair weather and foul, with the precision of a naval 
squadron carefully avoiding a territorial deadline. 

Occasionally the Boston office of the United States Coast 
Guard received advance information of the departure of a 
smuggler from St. Pierre. In consequence of such a report, 
the Federal authorities were vigilantly patrolling the waters 
off Boston in December 1921. On the twenty-ninth, their close 
watch was rewarded by the capture of the British schooner 
Golden West, which was brought into Boston by the Coast 
Guard Cutter Acushnet with about 8,000 gallons of alcohol 
in her hold. The skipper of the British schooner claimed 
that he had been having trouble with his sails for several days 
and had been forced to anchor close to the shore. According 
to the Collector of the Port, however, the Golden West, for- 
merly a Nova Scotian fishing schooner, was owned and oper- 
ated by a former Boston bartender. 

The Boston Coast Guard unit carried out one of their 
most carefully planned attacks on Rum Row in the fall of 
1924. Accompanied by a squadron of 3o-foot speedboats, the 
cutter Tampa moved into position for the raid on October 
twentieth, and for 5 days was out of contact with the shore. 
The coastguardsmen maintained a constant watch, cruising 
between Cape Ann and Cape Cod, eating and sleeping at 
irregular intervals. On Friday night more than a dozen run- 
ners were discovered at Stellwagen Bank, about 20 miles off 
the coast. The Tampa's squadron formed a blockade around 
the smugglers, and just before dawn the order to close in was 
given. Under a grey-streaked sky the smugglers caught sight 
of the Tampa, and within a few seconds their speedy crafts 
were scattering in all directions. Immediately the machine 
gunners on the patrol boats opened fire on the escaping rum- 
runners, while the Tampa turned its 3- and 5-inch guns on 
those who were out of range of the smaller boats. When the 

226 Boston Looks Seaward 

Tampa's shells began to fall, most of the fugitives decided 
to surrender, although several of the fastest boats made good 
their escape. The hail of bullets had shattered every bit of 
glass in the cabin of one of the smugglers and had begun to 
rip out her partitions. Although hundreds of cases of liquor 
were thrown overboard, the total value of the liquor seized 
amounted to about $100,000 in terms of bootleg prices. The 
captured vessels included the British schooner Marjorie E. 
Bachman, which carried 850 cases of brandy, whisky, and 
champagne, and 7 power boats still loaded with 100 cases of 

Despite a reorganized Coast Guard and the international 
recognition accorded to the 1 2-mile limit, smugglers continued 
to land liquor along the Massachusetts coast under cover of 
fog and on moonless nights. When "dry" enthusiasts gleefully 
reported that Rum Row had at last been deserted, a Boston 
reporter flew over Massachusetts Bay and discovered no less 
than 12 ocean-going ships riding at anchor on the Row. An 
even stronger shock to local "dry" morale was the presence 
in Massachusetts Bay of 5 or 6 runners, visible on a clear 
day from the piazza of the summer White House at Little's 
Point in Swampscott. In a clean-up that preceded President 
Coolidge's visit to the North Shore in the summer of 1925, 
the ships were driven to sea by destroyers. At the same time, 
Federal authorities confiscated $30,000 worth of whisky cached 
in a cottage next door to the summer White House, and a dis- 
patch to the New York Times reported that Swampscott was 
"reasonably dry." 

Speed had become an increasingly important factor in liquor 
smuggling, and within a few years smugglers had turned 
from ordinary fishing craft to the undisguised "rummies" 
which were powered by two or more airplane engines and 
were capable of showing their heels to the best boats on 
the Atlantic coast. The fastest rum chaser in the Federal 
service came to grief in the pursuit of one of these boats in 
1932, when the Coast Guard chaser Peg was beached at Prov- 
incetown with 2 feet of water in her hold, after a loo-mile 
chase in which the "rummie" had all the best of it. The Peg 
had been powered by two 75O-horsepower airplane engines, 
whose terrific pounding had opened her seams in the course 
of the chase. Whatever curiosity the Coast Guard had about 
the target they had chased across the width of Massachusetts 
Bay until it outstripped them was dispelled a week later 

Through Prosperity and Depression 227 

when a trim grey craft slipped into Provincetown Harbor 
with her papers in good order. Carrying three airplane engines 
under her decks, the "rummie" had been especially designed 
and built for the illicit liquor trade. In Nova Scotia, noted 
naval architects were designing and building armored rum 
runners, which were low-masted, broad, set low in the water, 
and powered by the most modern engines. In its endeavor to 
cope with these rum ships, the Coast Guard was forced to 
enlist the services of the same architects, who drew plans 
for the construction of several 75-foot rum chasers driven by 
twin-screw propellers. 

Meanwhile national indifference to Prohibition had 
changed rapidly into militant and organized opposition. The 
killing of 3 rum smugglers by coastguardsmen off the New 
England coast was denounced as "the Newport Massacre" at 
a mass meeting in Faneuil Hall in December 1929. At this 
meeting speakers, including a former mayor of Boston and 
two congressmen, delivered a fiery attack against the Govern- 
ment's Prohibition policy. According to official reports, at 
least 150 vessels were engaged in smuggling liquor along the 
New England coast at this time. So the fascinating, but illegal 
game went on until 1933, when the repeal of the Eighteenth 
Amendment went into effect and another phase of Boston's 
marine activity came to a close. 

Foreign Trade 

Normal commercial activities continued without the bally- 
hoo attached to the more exciting rum-running activities. 
Although foreign commerce remained an important factor in 
the Port's life, it gradually reacted from the artificial stimula- 
tion of the war years. The valuation had fallen by 1925 to 
the pre-war level, and even then the decline did not stop. 
Boston dropped to eighteenth place in the overseas export 
trade, from $192,330,000 in 1920 to $45,942,000 in 1929. The 
exportation of metals and metal manufactures had declined 
immediately after the signing of the Armistice, although some 
of the abnormal features of the Port's wartime trade per- 
sisted until the end of the decade. In 1920 more than 270,000 
tons of meats, grains, and other food products were shipped 
abroad, and in 1929 food exports still accounted for 101,400 
tons of the Port's business. By 1925 leather was again the 
leading export, followed by cottonwaste, wheat, footwear, and 
packinghouse products, two-thirds of which went to Great 
Britain and Germany. 

228 Boston Looks Seaward 

In the import trade, Boston stood much higher, being sec- 
ond only to New York, and Boston's imports constituted the 
bulk of her overseas commerce, amounting to $255,944,000 
in 1929. The importation of petroleum and petroleum prod- 
ucts from Mexico ranked first in tonnage, while more than 
half of the Boston-bound hides came from the vicinity of 
the River Plate. It is interesting to note that many raw mate- 
rials which originated in South America and British posses- 
sions were shipped to Boston by way of England, that Australia 
was the source of much of Boston's wool supply, and that 
shipments of tea, silk, and spices arrived from the Orient. 
Vegetable oils and pepper came to Boston from Sumatra, 
while thousands of tons of Egyptian cotton and fruits and 
wines entered the Port from the Mediterranean. Between 1920 
and 1929 Boston's imports were larger than they had ever 
been before in the long course of her commercial history, and 
Boston's foreign trade was marked by the greater gains of 
her competitors rather than by her own losses. 

Although receipts at every Atlantic port were greater than 
shipments, nowhere was this disparity more noticeable than 
at Boston, where the ratio between shipments and receipts 
was i to 4 in 1920 and i to 10 in 1929. The absence of western 
grain and the comparatively small amount of foreign ship- 
ments had unbalanced Boston's commerce. Her foreign trade 
suffered a further loss because New England commodities 
were increasingly exported through the Port of New York. 
On a basis of valuation, New York received 65 percent of all 
New England exports in 1928, and only 16.3 percent of the 
hardware and cutlery exported by New England firms passed 
through the Port of Boston that year; of the total wood manu- 
factures exported from New England, only 10.8 percent was 
shipped from Boston. 

Boston had regular steamship services to and from every 
important trade area in the world: European, African, Far 
Eastern, Australian, and South American. In 1928, monthly 
or semi-monthly schedules to European and Mediterranean 
ports were offered by 18 steamship lines; 3 lines maintained 
services to the Far East, and 3 carried freight to South Amer- 
ica; there were occasional departures for Australia in steam- 
ships with a limited passenger service. The Barber Steam- 
ship Company listed a monthly freight service between Bos- 
ton and West African ports, and the Isthmian Steamship Line 
operated on a similar schedule to Honolulu and the East 

Through Prosperity and Depression 229 

Indies. Due to her deficiency in export cargo, Boston was used 
as a port-of-call by some lines which did not maintain regular 
outbound schedules. Between the years 1928 and 1932 the 
total number of steamship lines serving the Port of Boston 
increased by 19, although sailings were numerically fewer. 

After the World War, the Furness Withy Company re- 
sumed services to Liverpool under the name of Johnston 
Warren Lines, Ltd., operating ships between Boston, Halifax, 
St. Johns, and Liverpool. The singlescrew steamships Digby 
and Sachem were used on this route until 1925-26, when they 
were replaced by the Newfoundland and the Nova Scotia, 
modern steamships of about 6,700 gross tons with accommoda- 
tions for 193 passengers. Sailing every 3 weeks, the Newfound- 
land and the Nova Scotia made the trans-Atlantic crossing 
from St. Johns to Liverpool in 6 days. In recent years the 
Johnston Warren Line ships have carried from Boston many 
of New England's manufactures, as well as coffee, sugar, 
meats, and some wheat. From Liverpool they have brought 
back widely diversified freight; liquors, cotton, wool, leather, 
and hides had a prominent part on the manifests of the com- 
pany's inbound cargoes. 

Boston's overseas services were increased by the inaugura- 
tion of the Dollar Line's bi-monthly sailings to 17 foreign 
ports. Pioneers in the development of a round-the-world steam- 
ship service, the Dollar Line sailings began early in 1924. 
Something of the spirit of the merchant adventurers of the 
nineteenth century inspired this twentieth-century enterprise. 
To start the service, the company purchased from the United 
States Shipping Board 7 combination passenger and cargo 
ships, with a capacity of more than 10,000 tons. Paper, wire, 
and confectionery were carried from Boston to the West 
Coast, where other cargoes were shipped to Honolulu, Japan, 
and China. Although Boston provided the Dollar ships with a 
lucrative freight business to the Pacific coast, a much larger 
part of their traffic at the Port consisted of imports from the 
Far East, India, and the Mediterranean. Boston imported 
quantities of wool, skins, and rubber. Tea, bamboo, and hemp 
came into the Port from the Far East while Bombay and 
Ceylon furnished the Dollar Line with wool, rubber, and 
skins consigned to Boston. Naples, Genoa, and Marseilles 
sent Mediterranean fruits, nuts, cheese, and olive oil. 

Arriving and departing on precise schedules, the Cunard 
and White Star liners berthed in lordly splendor for a few 

230 Boston Looks Seaward 

hours each week at East Boston and South Boston. Although 
the World War had witnessed the destruction of all the 
Cunarders which operated out of Boston, 19 new ocean liners 
were built for the company between 1921 and 1925. The ton- 
nage of the new ships ranged from 13,000 to 21,000 tons, and 
included the Carinthia, Samaria, Laconia, and Franconia. 
Directors of the Cunard Line had shrewdly anticipated the 
development of tourist travel and the course of Congressional 
legislation affecting immigration and had planned the ships 
to meet these changes. The company's tourist service estab- 
lished a high standard of comfortable travel at low prices 
and greatly encouraged summer travel to Europe. These ships 
maintained a regular weekly service from Boston to Ireland 
and Liverpool between April 15 and November 15, with less 
frequent sailings during the remainder of the year. Freight 
moving in and out of Boston in this service consisted of 
clothes, furs, and other valuable merchandise. 

A marked decline in trans-Atlantic passenger travel through 
the Port of Boston set in after the World War. Previously 
large profits had been made from passenger traffic, some 
lines realizing three-fourths of their net returns from this 
source. During the year 1914, 100,000 passengers either had 
entered or left Boston, but by 1920 passenger arrivals at 
the Port had dropped to only 19,096, and until 1929 they fell 
far short of their pre-war average. A drop in the number 
of immigrant travelers did not entirely account for this de- 
cline, since lack of export cargo and the consequent tendency 
of major trans-Atlantic lines to give up Boston as a base 
port undoubtedly diverted some of the Port's passenger traffic. 

The disproportionate number of foreign flag services at 
the Port of Boston was typical of any United States port. It was 
the outgrowth of a national situation, and not due to any local 
peculiarities or problems. Directed by poor management, 
American flag lines had maintained unnecessary and unim- 
portant route services and had failed to consolidate when- 
ever practicable. Moreover, foreign flag lines often did not 
adhere to the rate structure, and thus gained an extra advan- 
tage. The public relations of the American flag lines had 
been very poor, American passengers and shippers did not 
understand and appreciate their services, and the failure to 
exchange information produced a reluctance on the part of 
American investors to put their money into the steamship 
business. In 1932, 26 non-American lines were offering serv- 

























Through Prosperity and Depression 231 

ices in foreign areas to Boston traders as compared with 14 
American-owned and operated lines. In addition, a great many 
foreign-owned tramp steamers, of which a large number were 
Japanese, called at the Port. By the closing years of the dec- 
ade, however, only a few tramp steamers were carrying logs, 
lumber, and coal to Boston, for the established lines had taken 
over even the more variable commerce. 

In the Boston-South American trade, the passing of sail- 
ing vessels and the withdrawal of foreign steamship lines had 
left a clear field for C. H. Sprague 8c Son to obtain whatever 
business there was. Already prominent as coal carriers, the 
Spragues put about 10 steamships in the carrying trade along 
the Atlantic Coast and to South America in 1924. In addition, 
the company leased from the United States Shipping Board the 
8 steamships of the American Republics Lines and operated 
them to South America. The most important commodity 
shipped to South America by this line was lumber, followed 
by machinery, steel, coal, manufactured articles, and general 
cargo. On their return trip the Sprague ships brought back 
hides, wool, rubber, coffee, quebracho, and a little mahog- 
any. Between 1920 and 1925 the Sprague Company also oper- 
ated 6 steamships from Boston to Scandinavian ports, chiefly 
exporting corn and importing pulp. Carrying agricultural 
machinery and general manufactures, another of their lines 
maintained a service to the Black Sea, calling at Turkish, 
Georgian, and Danubian ports. There ore and grain were 
loaded for Scandinavia, where additional wood pulp was ob- 
tained for Boston. 

New Life to the Port 

Confronted with an adverse trade situation at the Port, 
the General Court established the Boston Port Authority on 
April 17, 1929. The work of this board has been defined to 
be the facilitation, regulation, and expansion of the com- 
merce of the Port of Boston. This unpaid board was com- 
posed of five members, two appointed by the Governor of 
the Commonwealth and three by the Mayor of Boston. Subse- 
quently, the membership of the board was increased to seven, 
with three appointed by the Governor and four by the Mayor. 
The expenses of the board were paid by the City of Boston 
for the first 10 years of its existence, but today they are 
shared equally by the Commonwealth and Boston. Outstand- 
ing businessmen were selected for the board: Guy W. Cur- 

232 Boston Looks Seaward 

rier, Chairman; Richard Parkhurst, Vice Chairman and Sec- 
retary; Louis E. Kirstein, Joseph W. Powell, and Harris Liv- 
ermore. Mr. Livermore was killed a few weeks later and 
Charles E. Ware, Jr., was appointed in his place. Securing 
offices at the Boston Custom House, the Port Authority began 
regular work on January i, 1930, and 6 months later, on the 
death of Mr. Currier, the board elected Louis E. Kirstein as 
its chairman. Determined to attract more shipping and com- 
merce, the board immediately turned its attention to the 
rate situation and to the Port's physical facilities. 

Early in its career the Boston Port Authority announced 
its intention to participate in all rate proceedings involving 
the Port of Boston, as well as initiating them on its own 
account whenever necessary. Accordingly it contacted many 
city and State commercial organizations; conferences were 
held with New England railroad presidents, representatives of 
shipping agencies, department heads of State and city bureaus, 
and other groups interested in the advancement of the Port. 
It kept constantly in touch with the labor situation, main- 
taining cordial relations both with the committee representing 
the steamship operators and with the waterfront unions. Mem- 
bers and counsel of the board attended hearings before the 
Interstate Commerce Commission on terminal services pro- 
vided for shippers by railroads. In 1931 the board devoted 
much of its attention to the "free lighterage" case at New York. 

The Boston Port Authority also made a strong bid for pas- 
senger traffic. Yet even in this field the New York octopus had 
to be fought, for practically all the big steamship companies 
had located their main offices there since 1902, when inde- 
pendent local management of lines had been discontinued. 
Since the steamship companies tended to route their passenger 
traffic by way of the largest flow, branch offices and tourist 
agencies almost invariably sent their customers to New York. 
After a careful investigation, the Port Authority recommended 
extensive improvement along the waterfront with a view to 
safety, convenience, and attractiveness, and then requested the 
steamship companies to change their booking policies. With 
the consequent cooperation of the companies, the departure 
of passengers from Boston to foreign ports showed an increase 
during the first 11 months of 1931 of 11 percent over the 
previous year, and in 1932 there was another increase of 21 
percent. Although Boston was unable to furnish outbound 
passenger traffic equal to the overwhelmingly large inbound 

Through Prosperity and Depression 233 

traffic, the city continued to hold her place as the "second 
overseas passenger port of the United States." 

However, the first 2 years of the Boston Port Authority's 
existence were wisely given over mainly to investigations, 
reports, and planning. The menace of old and rotting hulks 
in East Boston was investigated, and more than 100 were 
removed; recommendations were made for the dredging and 
filling-in of certain areas; reports were issued concerning con- 
ditions and practices at the Army Base; harbor regulations 
were put into force, bearing especially on the prevention of 
oil pollution by steamers' bilges; plans were drawn up for 
port renovation and reconstruction, including a scheme for 
various terminal, belt line, and warehousing projects. The 
Authority effected changes at Commonwealth Pier, where, 
with the cooperation of the State Department of Public Works 
which operates the property for the Commonwealth of Massa- 
chusetts, berthing facilities were improved by the removal of 
useless storage material. In 1930 the Port Authority instituted 
a program of port publicity, issuing annually 2 sailing lists, 
which covered inward and outward sailings. In 1931 the Port 
Authority also called attention to the following facts: Boston 
was nearer than Los Angeles to the Panama Canal and conse- 
quently nearer to all ports on the west coast of South America; 
Boston was nearer than New York to Rio de Janeiro and 
therefore to most cities on the east coast of South America; 
Boston was nearer than New York to all countries of Europe 
and Africa. 

Encouraged by the aggressive policy of the Port Authority, 
the Port of Boston managed to retain her commanding com- 
mercial position. In 1932 Boston stood fourth among the 
North Atlantic and Gulf ports in the total volume of com- 
merce, surpassed only by New York, Philadelphia, and 
Norfolk-Newport News. In foreign commerce Boston ranked 
fourth among the North Atlantic ports, led by New York, 
Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Forty-three steamship lines 
served the city in foreign commerce and 13 in domestic trade; 
the physical appearance of the Port had been improved; the 
Boston Army Base had been placed in the hands of a capable 
private operator; the Congressional Rivers and Harbors Com- 
mittee had voted favorably on a $5,ooo,ooo-program for chan- 
nels and anchorage bases in Boston Harbor and adjacent 
waters. Boston again was looking ahead. 



Busy Wharves and Piers 

BOSTON'S oldest waterfront section, off Atlantic Avenue, is still 
used by ferryboats, excursion steamers, and coastwise ships, 
but it is no longer entirely occupied with shipping. Lincoln 
Wharf has been converted into a powerhouse for the Boston 
Elevated Railway Company; Constitution Wharf and Battery 
Wharf have become distributing centers for soap and grocery 
concerns. Between Commercial Wharf and T Wharf are 
ranged the stalls of wholesale and retail fishdealers who have 
not yet gone to the Fish Pier. Barrels and baskets of fresh- 
caught fish overflow onto the sidewalk, and in a sheltered cove 
behind the stores ride the many-colored boats of the Italian 
and Portuguese fishing fleet. Only six wharves have main- 
tained a semblance of their former activity. Lewis Wharf is 
the home of the Clyde-Mallory Line and the Boston Towboat 
Company. Long Wharf receives weekly large loads of bananas, 
brought by ships of the "Great White Fleet" of the United 
Fruit Company. From India and Central Wharves, the pas- 
senger boats of the Eastern Steamship Lines depart for New 
York and the Maritime Provinces, and during the summer, 
thousands of people embark at Rowes Wharf and Fosters 
Wharf for a sail to Nantasket and Provincetown. 

Contrasting sharply with Atlantic Avenue, the South Boston 
waterfront is almost entirely devoted to maritime activities. 
Busiest of all the piers in this section of the Port is the New 
York, New Haven & Hartford's No. 2, occupied by the Mer- 
chants & Miners Transportation Company which schedules 
five sailings a week. An adjacent pier, No. 4, is an unloading 
berth for West Coast lumber and the home of one of Boston's 
fishing companies. Commonwealth Pier No. 5, a fine example 
of modern terminal construction, attracts many deep-draft 
passenger ships and large freighters. This pier is usable on 
two levels, both of which are resounding grottos of activity. 
Freight cars nose in and out, and an entire unloading job is 
often accomplished in a few hours. At the adjacent Fish Pier 


The Contemporary Port 235 

there is never a dead stop of movement, since trawlers and 
fishermen know no regular hours. Nearby, "tramps" of all 
nations, loading scrap iron, crowd speedy modern freighters 
at the Army Base, one of the Port's chief facilities for handling 
exports and imports. 

Variegated, colorful, and cluttered is the East Boston water- 
front, which extends from the airport to Chelsea Creek. Sev- 
eral of the most active ocean terminals in Boston are concen- 
trated in this relatively small area. The National Docks and 
the five piers of the Boston & Albany Railroad are visited by 
almost a score of lines operating to all parts of the world. The 
passenger ships of the Cunard Line until recently made regular 
trips to the Boston and Albany Pier No. 3. At No. 2 modern 
pumping equipment quickly drains cargoes of vegetable and 
palm oil directly from ships into tank cars. Flanking these 
docks are several ship-repair plants, centers of intense industry, 
as steel plates are hurriedly replaced, engines overhauled, or 
deck fittings installed on ships cradled in drydocks or tied 
snugly to the wharves. Activity along the inner harbor, largely 
occupied by lumberyards, proceeds at a more leisurely pace, 
adjusted, it would seem, to the mood of the Down-East lumber 
schooner which is usually in evidence. 

Boston's most important inner harbor development, Chelsea 
Creek, has been taken over by special industries, which receive 
large shipments of bulk commodities. Today the Creek boasts 
a channel 30 feet deep and 150 feet wide, which accommodates 
an increasingly important movement of oil tankers. The adap- 
tation of this area to the expeditious and economical handling 
of oil cargoes has resulted in the establishment of large oil 
depots, distribution points for most of northern New England. 
But the only time the sheltered creek reveals its activity to the 
casual observer is when the drawbridges swing out and ships 
steam through. 

The Charlestown waterfront, although sorely in need of 
rebuilding, presents a variety of enterprises including naval 
and commercial shipping. The crowded Boston Navy Yard, 
dominated by the masts of "Old Ironsides", occupies a strategic 
position at the head of the harbor. Alongside are the Hoosac 
Tunnel Docks of the Boston & Maine Railroad, once the point 
of departure of Frederick Tudor's ice ships and now capable 
of accommodating seven ships simultaneously. These docks 
have become the lading and discharging point for freighters 
and small passenger ships from Southern, and Gulf ports, and 

236 Boston Looks Seaward 

the Boston terminal of the globe-encircling American Presi- 
dent Lines. At the Mystic Piers, between the Mystic and Little 
Mystic Rivers, Swedish, British, and coastal steamers are most 
frequently seen. A lively center of specialized commerce has 
grown up along the Mystic River, where West Coast lumber 
steamers unload at Wiggin Terminal Dock, and the New 
England Coal & Coke Company, the Mystic Iron Works, the 
United States Gypsum Company, the Colonial Beacon Oil 
Company, and the Merrimac Chemical Company have estab- 
lished plants and installed up-to-date unloading equipment. 

Harbor Agencies 

Inside the harbor, the Boston Fire Department operates 3 
fireboats, which have divided responsibilities for safeguarding 
the Port's 500 docks, 140 miles of waterfront, and property 
worth millions of dollars. These marine fire engines have a 
combined pumping capacity of 28,000 gallons of water per 
minute and are equipped with gas masks, inhalators, first-aid 
kits, a deep-sea diving outfit, and 2-way radio sets. Flagship of 
the fleet is the Matthew J. Boyle, built at Lawley's Yard in 
Neponset at a cost of $350,000. This boat, which can surround 
itself with a water curtain, is now licensed to operate anywhere 
in Massachusetts Bay, although she was restricted to Boston 
Harbor at the start of her career. On one occasion the Matthew 
J. Boyle did answer a call in Salem and, as a result, was assessed 
a fine of $500 for traveling outside her prescribed territory. 
When it was found that a minimum of 10 days would have 
been necessary to receive permission to answer the call, the 
fine was canceled. This fireboat is berthed at the Northern 
Avenue Bridge and responds to all first alarms from Long 
Wharf to South Bay and Reserve Channel. The Angus H. 
McDonald protects the Charles River, Mystic River, and 
Charlestown area, while the John P. Dowd covers the East 
Boston waterfront. 

On a windy March day in 1937, the three fireboats sped to 
the upper harbor to answer a five-alarm fire in the Little 
Mystic River. The Laila, on her maiden voyage from Chilean 
ports with a load of nitrates and iodine, had caught fire while 
unloading at Mystic Pier No. 45. The three boats butted their 
bows against the stricken freighter and, from vantage points 
the land crews could not reach, strove desperately to prevent 
the fire spreading to the iodine in the afterhold. Severe explo- 

The Contemporary Port 237 

sions of burning gas sent orange flames 100 feet in the air and 
buckled the plates of the ship. Several times the fireboats 
caught fire, and the crew had to turn to save their own ship. 
The explosions shook the crews badly and injured every man 
on the McDonald. But the fireboats fought valiantly and pre- 
vented the spread of the fire. Although $200,000 damage was 
done the ship was saved and beached upstream to prevent her 
from sinking under the weight of the water poured on the fire. 
The fireboats here conclusively demonstrated their superiority 
over land equipment in fighting fires aboard vessels. 

Boston's waterfront police, a companion protective agency, 
has succeeded in making the Port one of the most orderly in 
the world. The harbor police force started in 1853 as a row- 
boat unit manned by 2 officers. For years the water patrol was 
known as the softest beat on the force, since there were no 
boxes to ring and the officers could spend much of their time 
fishing. After the turn of the century, the waterfront division 
met changing conditions by acquiring steam launches, which 
saw lively service during the lawless prohibition days. Patrol- 
ling the harbor now are the 3 fast launches Michael H. Crow- 
ley, William H. Pierce, and William H. McShane, each 
equipped with a 2-way radio, tear gas, guns, searchlights, grap- 
pling irons, and other paraphernalia. In charge of the water- 
front division is the harbor master, who holds the rank of 
captain in the Boston Police Department. He is appointed by 
the Mayor of Boston, upon the recommendation of the Boston 
Marine Society, and has direct charge of the anchoring of ships 
in the harbor. Strange as it may seem, there is a considerable 
"parking" problem in the harbor, and often ships anchor in 
forbidden waters. In such a case, the harbor police merely 
summon tugs and have the offending ship towed out of the 
way. No parking ticket is issued, but the offender must pay 
the towage charges. For violation of other harbor rules, 
offenders are taken by the harbor master to court, where 
judgment is passed and fines imposed. The police are always 
on the lookout for ships polluting the harbor with waste fuel 
oil, which spoils the bathing, destroys lobsters stored in the 
water, and endangers public health. The recovery of dead 
bodies, as many as 50 a year, is the most unpleasant task of 
the waterfront unit. 

More directly concerned with the safety of every ship from 
foreign ports are two small schooners, which cruise night and 
day off the Graves, the large black figures on their sails and 

238 Boston Looks Seaward 

their blue and white pennants notifying arriving ships that 
they are ready for service. The pilot who leaves the schooner 
and climbs up the side of an arriving vessel takes charge of all 
that the ship carries in life and property and guarantees a 
safe conduct into Boston Harbor. Carrying a cook, engineer, 
and 20 boatmen, apprentices, and licensed pilots, the Pilot 
and the Northern Light alternate weekly out on the station. 
t is the ambition of the boatmen and apprentices to join the 
Boston Pilots Association and become full-fledged pilots. 
Usually a young man receives his pilot's license after a 5- to 
7-year apprenticeship, during which he lives and studies 
aboard a pilot boat. The final requirement made of him is 
to spend 3 months, in company of an experienced pilot, 
taking ships in and out of the harbor. The Boston Pilots 
Association, offspring of the Boston Marine Society, America's 
oldest marine organization, has an unusual feature in the 
communal character of its finances. All pilotage fees are turned 
over to the association, which defrays the expenses of the boats 
and office staff, and distributes the balance to its members. 
Several present-day pilots can boast of fathers, grandfathers, 
and even great-grandfathers, who also spent their lives pilot- 
ing ships in local waters. 

Assisting the pilots in the work of docking or sailing a ship, 
the tugboat captains control their powerful and versatile craft 
with an extraordinary skill. Handling a large ship is the most 
delicate work that a tug does. Sometimes only one tugboat is 
needed, though usually there are two or three; when the U. S. 
Airplane Carrier Lexington left Fore River, six tugs were 
required to guide her down the river, and the old Leviathan 
had a large flock to push her into drydock at South Boston. 
The more usual duties of a tug are hauling strings of barges, 
loaded with bulk materials, to various parts of the harbor or 
to the harbor entrance where the barges are picked up by 
ocean-going tugs and towed up and down the coast from East- 
port to Sandy Hook. 

Most of Boston's tugs are owned by the Ross Towboat Com- 
pany of T Wharf and the Boston Towboat Company of Lewis 
Wharf. Boats of the latter company have been operating in 
the harbor since 1857 anc ^ now number 19, of which 2 are 
rated among the most powerful on the Eastern Coast. The 
Ross Towboat Company is an outgrowth of a single towboat 
owned by Captain Joseph Ross, whose son is now president of 
the company. Occasionally the towboats engage in unusual 

The Contemporary Port 239 

operations. When the City of Salisbury was wrecked off the 
Graves in April 1938, they assisted in the work of salvage and 
spent several weeks pulling in barges loaded with an assort- 
ment of East Indian goods. 

An account of a ship's departure from the Port of Boston 
dramatizes the roles of the tugboat and pilot. A freighter in 
the Central American trade, the San Bias, is lying at the foot 
of State Street, the winter shadow of the Custom House falling 
just short of her bow. Her blue peter has been flapping in the 
raw February breeze since early in the forenoon, and "Sailing 
Time, 4 p.m." is chalked up on the gangway board. The 
skipper has just returned from a flying trip home. The first 
mate and the deck crew are busy battening down the hatches. 
A meek little man in an old green mackinaw trundles up the 
gangway, a magazine in one hand and a wrinkled Boston bag 
in the other. Displaying the imperturbability of all pilots, he 
says nothing to anybody but makes undeviatingly for the 
bridge to join the skipper, who knows with melancholy cer- 
tainty that he will find the tide and current running vig- 
orously in the wrong direction at the end of the pier. The pilot 
at his side laconically remarks, "It ain't nothin' here, Cap'n, 
to what you're going to get outside." 

Fore and aft, tugs are made fast and wait with slack lines 
for the San Bias to cast off. The ship is "singled up"; only 
towlines and spring wire are holding her. The tugboat skip- 
pers stand in their wheelhouses shrilling cryptic blasts on the 
whistles. "Let everything go forrard, Cap'n," the pilot barks, 
"but hold your stern line." "All right, mister," says the cap- 
tain, and bellows the order toward the fo'c'sle head. The wind 
plays havoc with the words almost before they leave the mega- 
phone, but the mate senses the maneuver and shortly bellows 
back, "All gone forrardl" The propellers of the tugs com- 
mence to churn the water, and the San Bias starts to slant 
imperceptibly toward the center of the slip. The after-tug 
bunts against the ship's stern, holding her steady until the 
bow gets clear of the dock. Fighting against the clashing wind 
and tide, the tugs edge the steamer into the main stream and 
help her to turn outward. Shortly afterward, the two tugs 
cast off and depart across the harbor like alert and self-satisfied 
terriers, and the San Bias begins to quiver with her own life. 
The ship is carrying very little cargo and a third of her pro- 
peller blade shows at every revolution. By the time San Bias 
has reached the lower harbor, the bos'n and the day men have 

240 Boston Looks Seaward 

performed miracles. They have stowed the lines below deck, 
out of reach of the seas which will be upon them within the 
hour, and they have lowered eight 55-foot booms safely and 
accurately into their cradles a ticklish job even on a calm 
and sunny day. 

The wind's howl rises to a roar as the pilot guides the ship 
eastward through President Roads and then swings northeast 
through North Channel and out into the white-capped waters 
of Massachusetts Bay. Off the port bow stands the pilot 
schooner, a small boat's crew already putting off to meet the 
oncoming ship. On the bridge of the steamer, the pilot gives 
the final course to the sailor at the wheel, and stuffs his maga- 
zine firmly into the top of his Boston bag. "Slow her down, 
Captain, I can see the tender coming up on the lee-side." The 
San Bias settles into a lethargic rolling, and a pathetically 
tiny rowboat inches its way toward the ship, as the pilot swings 
himself over the rail. Three apprentice pilots, wearing life 
preservers, turn damp and glistening faces upward, while the 
pilot looks toward the bridge. "Pleasant voyage, Captain," he 

A pleasant voyage for a captain connotes smooth seas, fair 
winds, an efficient crew, and officers well-trained in the funda- 
mentals of their job. In recognition of the need for training 
deck and engine-room officers to handle the complicated mech- 
anisms of the modern ship, the Commonwealth established 
the Massachusetts Nautical School in 1891 and placed it under 
a board of commissioners in the Department of Education. 
Boston is the home port of this school, which is held aboard a 
ship loaned to the commissioners by the United States Navy, 
although maintenance and supervision of the school was 
placed in charge of the United States Maritime Commission 
in July 1940. The schoolship is tied up at the Navy Yard 
during winter months while the cadets receive theoretical and 
practical instruction in navigation, seamanship, ship construc- 
tion, maritime law, marine engineering, and electricity. Each 
summer the cadets put theory to practice, as the ship makes a 
io,ooo-mile cruise to such ports as Ponta Delgada, Plymouth, 
Antwerp, Havre, Lisbon, Funchal and Norfolk, New York, and 
Nantucket. The present schoolship is the Nantucket, formerly 
the U. S. S. Ranger, a bark-rigged iron ship, built in 1876 and 
equipped with wireless, submarine signal apparatus, a steam 
capstan, steam steering gear, and complete electrical equip- 
ment. The Nantucket is still a staunch and seaworthy vessel, 

The Contemporary Port 241 

but a more modern ship is desired and the Commissioners of 
the Massachusetts Nautical School and the United States Mari- 
time Commission will probably soon arrange for a replacement. 

The United States Government has become actively inter- 
ested in the training of crew members and attempted in 1939 
to establish on Gallups Island, in quarters loaned by the 
United States Public Health Service, a seamen's training 
school, open only to unemployed sailors. This was abandoned 
in a few weeks when the expected recruits failed to appear. 
In June 1940, the same buildings on the island were opened 
for the United States Maritime Service Training School, spon- 
sored by the United States Maritime Commission and oper- 
ated by the Coast Guard. The school gives a 6-months course 
in radio work and general seamanship to 500 young men, vol- 
unteers selected in part from the Civilian Conservation Corps. 
Upon completing the course, these men will be eligible for 
the Naval Reserve or for the able-bodied seaman's or radio 
man's examination. 

A highly trained staff is in charge of the United States Cus- 
toms for the District of Massachusetts, with offices in the tow- 
ering Custom House on State Street. A force of nearly 600 
workers, under the direction of the collector of the port, is 
responsible for the collection of tariffs, which sometimes 
exceed a million dollars in a single week, and the enforcement 
of United States Maritime Laws. To promote efficiency and 
speed in the handling of homecoming passengers, the pursers 
of incoming ships distribute declaration slips upon which are 
listed the number and cost of foreign purchases. These slips, 
turned over to the inspectors on the dock, assist them in mak- 
ing their examination. The inspectors have to be alert to 
intercept the smuggling of valuable jewels, furs, and drugs. 

Another Federal agency closely watching incoming ships is 
the United States Public Health Service which operates the 
Quarantine Station. The story of quarantine in Boston goes 
back to the year 1677, w hen 1,000 Massachusetts Bay Colo- 
nists died in an epidemic. As a result, Gallups Island was 
chosen as a voluntary quarantine station. After the Civil War, 
the island was purchased by the Federal Government for a 
permanent station and has since been the temporary home of 
thousands of immigrants and sailors. Operating from their 
headquarters at the Army Base, Boston's quarantine officers 
inspect an average of a thousand ships a year. Their work is 
somewhat lighter since an arrangement was worked out with 

242 Boston Looks Seaward 

passenger liners on certain routes whereby the certification of 
the travelers by the ship's doctor is sufficient examination. 
Other ships are visited at an anchorage in the outer harbor. 
Five diseases are quarantinable: bubonic plague, yellow fever, 
smallpox, Old World typhus fever, and cholera. The ships are 
closely watched for rats, and the officers have become so skilled 
in their work that they can estimate almost to a rat how many 
there are aboard and can determine immediately whether a 
ship should be fumigated. 

The United States Immigration Service provides neat and 
clean quarters at East Boston for immigrants and aliens await- 
ing deportation or held for further examination. The office 
of local commissioner of immigration was abolished in 1940 
in accordance with an extensive Government reorganization 
plan, and its activities were taken over by a district director of 
naturalization. The number of immigrants awaiting decisions 
on their cases naturally varies, but the figure is never large. 
For the year ending June 30, 1938, the Boston station exam- 
ined and admitted 997 immigrants and 4,700 non-immigrant 
aliens. During 1936 and 1937, inspectors from the Boston 
Immigration Station boarded almost 3,000 ships and barred 
22 aliens from entering the country. Criminal records, com- 
municable disease, and improperly attested credentials are the 
main reasons for prohibition of entry. 

The improvement of the harbor and adjacent navigable 
channels is entrusted to the Corps of Engineers, United States 
Army, which has been doing work in Boston since 1825, when 
Congress passed an act providing for "the preservation of the 
islands in Boston Harbor necessary to the security of that 
place." Since that time more than $42,800,000 have been 
expended by Federal, State, and local governments for the 
improvement of the Port of Boston's ship channels and 
anchorages. In addition to this work the engineers supervise 
the building and operation of bridges and drawbridges to 
prevent obstructions to marine traffic. They also compile com- 
plete records of the movement of ships and cargo through the 
Port, supplementing those kept by the Bureau of Foreign and 
Domestic Commerce and the United States Customs Service. 

From 1919 to 1939 the local branch of the Lighthouse Serv- 
ice reached a high degree of perfection and modernization 
under the supervision of Captain George E. Eaton, Superin- 
tendent of the Second Lighthouse District. Captain Eaton 
retired in 1939, soon after the loo-year old Lighthouse Service 

The Contemporary Port 243 

ceased its independent existence and came under the com- 
mand of the United States Coast Guard, which now cares for 
the colored lights and painted buoys guarding the harbor 
channels. Deer Island Light consists of a brown conical tower 
supporting a beacon visible for 13 miles, and Long Island 
Head Light, an iron and brick structure 120 feet in height, 
may be seen 17 miles away. Lovell's Island Lights, front and 
rear, are visible for a distance of 12 miles, while the two lights 
on Spectacle Island have a visibility of 13 miles. The other 
islands of Boston Harbor are illuminated by smaller lights 
such as those on Great Brewster Spit and Gallups Island. 
Scores of buoys mark the ship channels, and clanging bells 
and whistles warn the skipper of lurking shoals. A radio buoy, 
designed to direct large ships into and out of the Port during 
fogs, has been installed recently in the main ship channel off 
Deer Island. 

Guarding the outer approaches to the Port are three large 
and well-known lighthouses: Minot's, off Cohasset; Graves, at 
the entrance to the North Channel; and Boston, off the Brew- 
sters at the South Channel. Directly in the path of coastal 
shipping is Minot's Light, built of interlocking granite blocks 
in 1860. Eighty-five feet high, it shows a 1-4-3 flash ("I love 
you" to the romantic landsman) visible for 15 miles. The tower 
is anchored to a jagged granite reef, where even on calm days 
the breakers crash thunderously and only a scant hundred 
yards of rock show at dead low tide. The beam of Graves 
Light is flashed from a height of 98 feet and in clear weather 
may be seen for 16 miles. There is a legend that Graves was 
so named because the menacing ledges surrounding the light 
were the graveyard of a large number of ships in the early days 
of the Port. More probable is the story that the reefs were 
named for Thomas Graves, who as early as 1634 had noted 
the danger to navigation they presented. Neighboring Boston 
Light was the first of all American beacons. From its iO2-foot 
conical tower, flashes a ioo,ooo-candlepower beam, which is 
also visible for 16 miles. Supplementing the clear- weather 
efficiency of these lights are powerful fog signals which sound 
at regular intervals, each on a different time schedule to assist 
the mariner in getting his location. 

The activities of the United States Coast Guard are of vital 
interest to maritime Boston and her seafarers. Almost daily, 
references to the Coast Guard appear in the Boston news- 
papers. The news may be of a gala occasion, perhaps report- 

244 Boston Looks Seaward 

ing the patrol of an international fisherman's race course; it 
is more likely to be the story of a race to save some fisherman's 
life by rushing him to a hospital, or the struggle of a small, 
powerful boat to tow a disabled freighter through dangerous 
seas. Seldom does the Coast Guard lose its race. Every method 
of modern transportation and communication is at its com- 
mand; fast boats and airplanes, sea and shore patrols, radio 
and teletype assist in its service to seamen and shipowners. 
The main local unit of the Coast Guard is based at the Boston 
Navy Yard and Commercial Wharf. The work of the patrol 
stations, maintained at City Point and Point Allerton, is in 
the main with yachts and smaller boats. In addition to aiding 
ships in distress, the Coast Guard removes from the sea lanes 
derelicts and other dangers to navigation, breaks ice in inner 
harbor channels, and enforces miscellaneous Federal laws rela- 
tive to the fisheries, game, seal and bird reservations, smug- 
gling, quarantine, and immigration. Every spring, two cutters 
from Boston maintain the International Ice Patrol on the 
North Atlantic sea lanes, warning ships of the presence of 
icebergs. No loss of life has been caused by icebergs since the 
patrol assumed this responsibility. 

Sailing in the Bay 

One of the most frequent sights of the harbor's summer 
season is the excursion boat, its decks crowded with city folks 
out for a few hours' sea voyage. Proof of the popularity of a 
sail through the island-studded waters is the continuous serv- 
ice for 122 years of the Nantasket Steamboat Company, prob- 
ably the longest record of any American steamboat line. The 
line's success in recent years has not been an easy matter. 
About a decade ago a fire destroyed four steamers tied up at 
the Nantasket winter quarters, and only the action of residents 
of Hull, who subscribed $50,000 for stock, saved the company. 
Four newly-acquired steamers the Town of Hull, flagship of 
the line, the Mayflower, the Allerton, and the Nantasket 
have carried on through the depression years, when evening 
prices were reduced to attract a paying passenger load. 

The route of these picturesque steamers is from Rowes 
Wharf, Boston, to Pemberton and Nantasket. They follow the 
main ship channel between Castle and Governors Islands, both 
of which retain their old stone forts, guardians of an earlier 
day. Most of the islands are publicly owned and have Federal, 
county, or city institutions on them. On the right are Spectacle. 

The Contemporary Port 245 

Island, site of Boston's garbage disposal plant, Thompson 
Island, with its Farm and Trades School, and Long Island, 
home of a large unit of the Boston Hospital Department. 
Off the port bow is Deer Island, synonymous with Suffolk 
County's penal institution. At Nix's Mate, customary gib- 
beting spot of Colonial pirates and now visible only at low 
tide, the steamers swing to the right of Gallups Island, where 
hospital buildings and barracks were formerly crowded with 
immigrants, and near Georges Island, home of a harbor 
defense unit. Beyond them, the voyager gets a glimpse of 
Boston Light on Little Brewster. Many of the Federal islands 
were beautified in 1934 when 100,000 evergreens were planted 
by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Off Pemberton, at the 
entrance to Hingham Bay, is Peddocks Island. Here, some 
20 years before the settlement of Boston, a French trading 
vessel was raided by Indians and the entire crew was slaugh- 
tered. The quiet winding Weir River, lined with summer 
cottages, brings the steamers to Nantasket Beach, a very popu- 
lar South Shore resort. 

Sole survivor of regular operations within Massachusetts 
Bay is the Cape Cod Steamship Company, which operates the 
Steel Pier on an 8-hour daily sail to Provincetown, art colony 
and historic fishing town of Cape Cod. Gone are the excur- 
sions to Nahant, Salem Willows, and Gloucester, on the North 
Shore, and to Plymouth, home of the Pilgrims on the South 
Shore. An occasional trip through the Cape Cod Canal by the 
Nantasket or the Provincetown boats meets with a favorable 
response. "Picture and Bike" trips to Provincetown have 
stimulated business, and the "moonlight sail" has provided 
an additional source of revenue. In recent years, two rival 
lines have tried to establish themselves on the Provincetown 
run. The Bay State Steamboat Company operated the Ro- 
mance until, on a foggy day in September 1936, she was cut 
down by the New York and sank off the Brewsters without 
loss of life. The company operated the. Governor Cobb the 
next year and then ceased to function. The Yankee Clipper, a 
converted yacht formerly owned by Henry Ford, was put in 
service by another company in 1939 but was taken off the 
route in August 1940. 

For the sea-loving landsman, yachting has a great appeal. 
Dorchester, Quincy, and Hingham Bays are dotted with white 
sails, as friendly rivals pit their skill in small-class races. From 
Point Allerton to Point Shirley are scattered the stations of 

246 Boston Looks Seaward 

some 25 yacht clubs, headed by the dean of them all, the 
Boston Yacht Club, which has its headquarters on Rowes 
Wharf and a station at South Boston. Other prominent clubs 
are the Columbian and South Boston at City Point, the Wol- 
laston and Squantum in Quincy Bay, the Hingham at Hing- 
ham and Winthrop, Cottage Park, and Pleasant Park at 
Winthrop. The outstanding local races of the year are those 
held during Quincy Bay Race Week in midsummer. Many of 
the yachtsmen join with Marblehead in celebrating its famous 
Race Week in the middle of August. 

Fishdealer Supreme 

Boston is still the leading fish port in the Western Hemi- 
sphere; her fish and fish products were valued at $13,000,000 
in 1937 and $18,000,000 in 1939. In recent years, however, 
large holdings of frozen fish have created a problem of over- 
supply, and local labor troubles have harassed the industry. 
During the winter of 1936-37, disastrous floods in the Missis- 
sippi and Ohio River Valleys blocked the shipment of frozen 
fish, which usually ran to 600,000 pounds a week. To com- 
plicate the problem further, landings were unusually heavy 
because of the open winter and inventories in the warehouses 
soared to 21,000,000 pounds over the previous 5-year average. 
Some relief from this surplus of frozen fish was achieved 
through the Federal Government's purchase of millions of 
pounds of the frozen product for free distribution to the 
underprivileged. Some Boston fishdealers fear an aggravation 
to the problem of oversupply through the present trade treaty 
between the United States and Great Britain, which relaxes 
certain duties on fish imports. An additional complicating 
factor arose in 1939 when General Seafoods Corporation 
entered into an agreement with the Newfoundland Govern- 
ment whereby fish caught in the company's vessels could be 
processed in Newfoundland, by native workers at lower labor 
rates, and brought to Boston as American fish. A clarification 
of the term "American fisheries" by the 1940 Congress, how- 
ever, defines them as operated, both in catching and process- 
ing, by United States companies, ships, and workers; fish 
otherwise caught or processed is dutiable. 

Wages, working conditions, and limitation of the catch have 
long been points of dispute between the fishermen and owners 
of the Boston fishing fleet. In 1928, the Atlantic Fishermen's 
Union (A. F. of L.) threatened to call a strike involving about 

The Contemporary Port 247 

100 Boston and Gloucester trawlers, but an agreement was 
reached in time to avert an open break. In May 1939, a strike 
did tie up 2 1 Boston trawlers for 3 weeks. The settlement gave 
the fishermen an increase in wages. Demands for limitation of 
the catch have not been met, since to do so would cause 
restraint of trade. 

One of the longest labor disputes affecting the local trawler 
fishermen began on March 15, 1940 and lasted 14 weeks before 
the terms of a new contract could be agreed upon between the 
Atlantic Fishermen's Union and the Federated Fishing Boats 
of New England and New York, an association of shipowners 
and operators. Early discussions found both parties agreeable 
to wages and working conditions similar to those in the pre- 
vious contract. The strike was called when no decision could 
be reached over methods of selling the fish. The fishermen 
demanded the right to refuse to sell the fish the day they 
landed, if they felt market conditions would be better the 
next day. This the owners and operators refused to concede 
and the strike finally ended in the signing of a contract vir- 
tually identical with that of the preceding year. Although 
55 trawlers were tied up, the draggers and line-trawl schooners 
were able to supply the fresh-fish market. The fish-freezing 
industry was more seriously affected. 

In the past decade, the tonnage of the Boston fishing 
fleet has remained substantially the same. In 1940 the fleet 
numbered some 400 vessels, including 51 large otter trawlers 
(over 150 gross tons), 200 smaller otter trawlers, and 125 trawl 
schooners. The fleet was considerably reduced in August and 
November 1940, when the United States Navy purchased 14 
large otter trawlers for use as mine sweepers. These will prob- 
ably be replaced by wooden vessels, for local shipyards 
equipped to build steel boats are busy on naval orders. In 
addition to serving the local fleet, Boston is the marketing 
center for about 30 swordfishermen and 35 mackerel seiners 
which hail from other ports. The larger companies oper- 
ating these vessels include the General Seafoods Corporation, 
O'Hara Brothers Company, Inc., Booth Fisheries Company, 
Irving Usen-O'Donnell Company, F. J. O'Hara & Sons, Inc., 
R. O'Brien & Company, Raskins Fish Company, Captain Wil- 
liam H. Westerbeke Company, Atlantic Coast Fisheries Cor- 
poration, the Massachusetts Trawling Company, and the Cape 
Cod Trawling Company. These companies, and all other fish- 
ing interests, are daily supplied by the local division of the 

248 Boston Looks Seaward 

United States Bureau of Fisheries with a Market News Service 
giving current prices and vessels' landings. The fishermen at 
sea also derive much benefit from the daily radio broadcasts 
of station WHDH in Boston, which sends out market news, 
information on arrivals, and weather reports. 

The larger coal-burning otter trawlers are fast being 
superseded by Diesel-driven oil-burning vessels, each costing 
between $125,000 and $300,000. The Boston fleet has been 
equipped with the most modern devices for navigation and 
fishing, including a fathometer, which registers the depth of 
the water, and radio telephone equipment, which keeps the 
owners constantly informed as to the amount and character 
of the catch. This information is posted on the blackboard in 
the auction room of the Fish Pier, where an agent of the ship 
mounts the platform to receive bids for the catch or any part 
of it. A whistle blown twice signals prospective buyers to 
gather at the auction room to bid for the incoming catch. 
Three whistles indicate a "sell-over" or resale of fish found 
not as good as represented. At the present time the Boston 
fleet brings in swordfish, tuna, and shrimp, as well as the 
staples of the fishing industry. 

New Additions to the Merchant Marine 

Ten ships, including the airplane carrier Wasp, aggregating 
over 76,300 tons and $55,000,000 of commercial and naval 
marine construction, were launched at the Fore River Yard 
of the Bethlehem Steel Company from September 1938 to 
June 1940. In December 1940, there were in various stages of 
construction, or contracted for, several tankers, 4 destroyers, 
16 cruisers, 4 aircraft carriers, and the 35,ooo-ton battleship, 
Massachusetts. The naval contracts alone totaled more than 
$500,000,000. The yard has seen steadily increasing activity 
since the keel of the cruiser Quincy was laid in 1933. Its build- 
ing program has almost entirely consisted of contracts let by 
the United States Navy Department and the United States 
Maritime Commission as part of their plans to increase naval 
units and the merchant marine. Fore River has expanded to 
keep pace with its orders and was employing more than 10,000 
workers at the end of 1940. 

Outstanding among the ships constructed recently for the 
merchant marine are 3 liners of the Panama Railroad Com- 
pany, the Panama, the Ancon, and the Cristobal, all delivered 
in 1939. Each is a io,ooo-ton combination passenger and cargo 

The Contemporary Port 249 

vessel capable of carrying 206 first-class passengers. The use of 
all-metal furniture and of non-combustible materials in walls, 
doors, and structural parts make the ships completely fire- 
proof. The specifications follow those laid down after the 
Morro Castle disaster by the United States Maritime Com- 
mission and the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Research. 
The ships are subdivided into compartments to prevent sink- 
ing in case of collision, and are the first American boats to 
have the Schat skates equipment, which permits the safe 
launching of lifeboats even when the vessel lists sharply. The 
8 cargo steamers built for the United States Maritime Com- 
mission, to be operated by the American Export Lines, are 
ships of about 8,500 gross tons, have a speed of 161/2 knots, and 
cost in the neighborhood of $2,400,000 each. 

The tremendous building program of the United States 
Navy, which has placed more naval tonnage on the ways in 
Boston in the last 7 years than at any time since the close of 
the World War, has also resulted in increased activity at the 
Boston Navy Yard. Two i4oo-ton, six i5oo-ton, and eight 
i6oo-ton destroyers, in addition to several auxiliary craft, were 
built in the shadow of the old Constitution between January 
1933 and June 1940, and in that month four other destroyers 
were in the process of construction. The Navy is also expand- 
ing and modernizing the Boston Yard's machine shops and 
equipment. The efficiency of the South Boston drydock has 
been increased through the construction of machine shops, 
assembly buildings, and a floating crane, improvements which 
have cost over $3,500,000. Extensive additional construction 
is planned for 1941. 

Not all of Boston's shipbuilding is in the heavy construction 
class. Fishing boats, Coast Guard cutters, and pleasure craft 
keep the smaller yards busy. The firm of George Lawley and 
Son Corporation in Neponset is still turning out first-class 
yachts. Established in Scituate 64 years ago, it became famous 
for such American cup defenders as the Puritan and the May- 
flower. Willis J. Reid of Winthrop and the Kennedy Marine 
Basin, Inc., of Squantum specialize in marine repairing, while 
George F. Lawson & Son, of Dorchester, produce boats of the 
Lake Sunapee, Duxbury Pilgrim, and Mount Desert Island 
classes. Reminders of Medford's old-time shipping days are to 
be found on the banks of the Mystic in the yards of Toppans 
Boats, Inc., which builds the Twosome class, and the Baltzer- 
Jonesport Boat Yard, which builds 30- to 38-foot cruisers. 

250 Boston Looks Seaward 

Wings Over the Harbor 

Judged by the plans for its development, the Boston Munici- 
pal Airport seems certain to play an increasingly important 
role in the activity of the Port. Located close to the large 
steamship terminals in East Boston within a half-hour's auto- 
mobile ride of other harbor docks, and fifteen minutes of the 
Boston hotel and business district, the airport is in a splendid 
position to furnish trans-Atlantic passengers with direct serv- 
ice to inland points in the United States and Canada. From 
the airport the American Airways provides frequent service to 
New York and Buffalo, with connections to all parts of the 
country. The Boston-Maine-Central Vermont Airways, now 
the Northeast Airlines, Inc., serves northern New England 
and Montreal. Two other major airways applied to the Civil 
Aeronautics Commission in 1940 for permission to operate 
direct services to the Midwest, and a third line applied for a 
through route to Florida. 

The airport was opened in 1923. Three years later airmail 
service was inaugurated, and in 1929 passenger service was 
placed on a permanent schedule. The previous year the City 
of Boston leased the land and began a development that has 
resulted in a Class A airport, with an administration building 
and numerous hangars for commercial and military planes. 
The area of the airport has been enlarged by filling in along 
the waterfront and the runways are now long enough to handle 
the largest planes. 

The development of trans-Atlantic air services in the 1930*5, 
prior to the outbreak of the European War, aroused the hope 
that Boston might have a share of the business. The location 
of the airport on the harbor's edge makes it easily accessible 
to hydroplanes. A vitally needed improvement, however, is 
the dredging of a seaplane landing and take-off channel. 
Plans for such a channel, 1500 feet wide and 12 feet deep, 
extending from off Wood Island Park have been approved by 
the Corps of Engineers, United States Army, which has juris- 
diction over all waterways. A $2,300,000 authorization for the 
construction of this seaplane base was included by the 1940 
Congress in the Omnibus Rivers and Harbors Bill, which was 
vetoed by the President. A later attempt to put through a 
similar authorization was killed in the Senate Commerce Com- 
mittee at the request of the President, who opposed any non- 
military activities being undertaken by the Army Engineers 

The Contemporary Port 251 

at a time when national defense was the major problem. The 
need of the seaplane channel was subsequently reemphasized 
from the point of view of national defense, so that the project 
is again under active consideration. 

Domestic Trade 

Although world-wide shipping once made Boston, in com- 
merce as in other respects, "the Hub of the Universe," domestic 
trade during the 1930'$ accounted for approximately 80 per- 
cent of the Port's entire business and for more than 14,000,000 
tons in 1939. In terms of tonnage, coal, crude and refined oil, 
sand and gravel, lumber and logs, and fish constituted the bulk 
of Boston's coastwise receipts, while general cargo and petro- 
leum products led the list of coastwise shipments. Relatively 
large cargoes of grain, flour, petroleum products, and canned 
foods arrived from the Pacific Coast, while general cargo, pig- 
ments, and chemicals made up a large share of Boston's ship- 
ments to the West Coast. Gains were shown in Boston's receipts 
of grain, grain products and wool, as well as cotton from Gulf 
ports for transshipment to Canada. 

Most of the products, both inbound and outbound, have 
their destination or origin in industrial New England, which 
is linked to Boston by a radiating network of railroad lines. 
The Boston & Maine Railroad operates in northern Massa- 
chusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, and connects 
Boston with many points in Canada. The New York, New 
Haven & Hartford tracks extend across southern Massachu- 
setts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, and link Boston with 
every city of importance in southern New England. The 
Boston 8c Albany Railroad owns about 400 miles of track 
between Boston and Worcester, Springfield, Pittsfield, and 
Albany, joining with the Boston & Maine both at Athol and 
at North Adams. For its western connections, however, Boston 
is dependent upon trunk-lines railroads, which exercise con- 
trol over the local roads; and because the interests of those 
lines center about other ports, Boston gets very little business 
from the hinterland. 

Coal comprises as much as 45 percent of Boston's inbound 
commerce, and a vast area of the upper harbor waterfront is 
enveloped in a never-settling cloud of coal dust. Grimy coal 
ships plow one after the other through the Boston drawbridges, 
their decks almost awash under the weight of cargo ranging 
from 3,000 to 12,000 tons. Nine hours later, completely empty, 

252 Boston Looks Seaward 

riding high upon the surface of the water, and showing 15 feet 
of red underbody, they slither back through the drawbridges. 
The modern collier is well-liked by many seamen and officers 
because of the short coastwise run and opportunity for fre- 
quent visits home. Modern stateroom accommodations are 
provided for the crews. Constant communication by teletype 
between the railhead and the discharging point, and by radio 
between headquarters and the ship, keeps the traffic at an even 
flow. Captains are encouraged to make fast and safe voyages 
by the possibility of earning annual bonuses. 

Most of the coal brought to Boston is carried by the collier 
fleets of 3 local companies. Of these, the Pocahontas Fuel Com- 
pany operates the lightest boats. The largest concern, the 
Mystic Steamship Company, which in 1911 owned the first 
steam colliers, maintains a crack fleet of 16 huge colliers. 
Fifteen are capable of carrying 8,000 tons each, and the Lemuel 
Barrows can hold 12,000. Averaging 5-9 days per voyage, these 
ships completed over 700 trips from Boston to Hampton Roads 
and Baltimore in 1937. More than half of the coal brought in 
by the company is consumed in the manufacture of coke and 
illuminating gas by the New England Coal and Coke Com- 
pany in Everett. The Sprague Steamship Company, headed by 
Richard Bowditch, whose grandfather, Nathaniel Bowditch, 
won everlasting renown by his pioneer standard text, The 
Practical Navigator, has 9 coal ships in the Boston trade. The 
pride of its fleet is the Eastern Crown, a converted Japanese 
passenger ship capable of carrying more than 12,000 tons of 
coal. She is considered one of the fastest coal ships in the world 
and is greatly admired by local seamen for the fine quarters 
afforded her crew of 40. On the Sprague Company's Black 
Point travels a little black dog, formerly the mascot of the 
Navy collier Cyclops. During the World War the dog became 
so frantic, as the Cyclops prepared for a voyage, that he refused 
to go aboard. The ship sailed and was never heard from again. 

Probably the most impressive Boston waterfront apparatus 
is the coalhandling machinery. The coal towers average 90 feet 
in height and are equipped with steam or electrically operated 
buckets. Dipped into the open hatches of the colliers, these 
buckets lift and dump the coal into the hopper compartment 
of the tower, whence it is carried by conveyor belts to storage 
fields or processing plants. Quite similar in structure to the 
towers are the coal bridges, which are also equipped with 
buckets. The bridges are mounted on wheels and run along a 

The Contemporary Port 253 

track line, while the buckets pick up or deposit a load any- 
where within the length of the bridge. A close-up view of the 
coal-discharging system at the Eastern Gas and Fuel Associates 
shows the most modern methods of handling coal. A steep 
climb up many winding flights of dirty stairs swept by water- 
front winds brings the visitor to the dizzy pinnacle of the first 
coal tower, through whose windows he may look down a sheer 
drop of 90 feet to the hold of a collier, where 12,000 tons of 
coal are being removed from five open hatches by buckets 
with wide-open jaws, which dive unceasingly into holds and 
emerge dripping with 2-ton mouthfuls of coal. The load moves 
swiftly skyward, then the bucket opens, and the coal roars 
noisily down the hopper. In just 9 hours, all the coal is 
unloaded from the collier. 

Oil, the companion to coal in modern industrial uses, flows 
into the Port at the rate of over 3,500,000 tons a year. It comes 
to Boston in all types of craft, from the 6,ooo-barrel barge to 
the modern tanker carrying 120,000 barrels. Crews vary in size 
from 40 men to less than a dozen, and the ships travel from 
as far away as Venezuela or as near as Fall River. The tanker 
is "not a thing of beauty unless you see beauty in utility." 
It is usually steam driven and is divided into individual tanks, 
a row on the port side, another on the starboard, each cross 
pair connected on the deck with a Y outlet. On most modern 
tankers, there is a double wall forward and aft between pairs 
of tanks to avoid mixture in case of leakage. The tankers also 
have a package hold to carry lubricating oil, grease, and wax, 
which are packaged at the refineries and seldom carried in 
bulk. After a 9- or 10-day voyage from the Gulf, the tanker 
ties up at a modern but bare-looking dock with oil tanks squat- 
ting in the background. Here pipe lines are connected to the 
ship's outlets, the vessel's own steam-driven pumps go to work, 
and in 30 hours or less they have emptied the ship of her 
cargo. It was rather fitting that in 1939 one of these modern 
ships of the sea should be in a position to answer the SOS 
of the most modern of passenger carriers, the flying boat. On 
January 21, the tanker Esso Baytown was heading south from 
Boston. Suddenly a distress call from the Cavalier, the Imperial 
Airways flying boat on the New York-Bermuda run, came 
through the air. Hurried calculations were made, the course 
was shifted, and the world waited at the radio for progress of 
the rescue. After 9 hours of skillful navigation the captain, 
Frank H. Spurr, brought his ship to the spot where the 10 

254 Boston Looks Seaward 

survivors of the crash of the Cavalier were floating in the water. 

Although two oil companies functioned in Boston before 
the World War, it was from war demands that the business 
received an impetus that has since carried it on at an ever- 
expanding rate. The Jenney and Standard Oil Companies were 
the first to locate here. They were followed in war years by the 
Mexican Petroleum Corporation, now the American Oil Com- 
pany, the Massachusetts Oil Refinery Company, which was 
taken over by Cities Service in 1923, and the Sinclair Refining 
Company. The Colonial Beacon Oil Company established its 
Everett Refinery in 1920 and was followed 9 years later by 
Shell and Texaco on Chelsea Creek. Tide Water Oil and 
Hartol, the latter dealing exclusively in fuel oil, came in 1934. 
The Sun Oil Company established an ocean terminal here in 
1936, and the next year Gulf Oil built a depot to handle its 
Metropolitan Boston trade. More than half of these depots are 
located on the Chelsea Creek, which is known as the oil center 
of Boston, more than three-quarters of its tonnage being 
devoted to this trade. Colonial Beacon, Cities Service, Amer- 
ican Oil, and Standard Oil bring in over 5,000,000 barrels a 
year and have storage capacity for over 500,000 barrels at 
a time. The area of oil distribution from the Boston terminals 
is much smaller than for the general run of incoming cargo. 
Because oil is shipped at less cost by water than over the road, 
the oil companies have established depots at the major New 
England ports, and Boston's outlet is limited largely to eastern 
and central Massachusetts. 

With the exception of the Jenney Manufacturing Company, 
the local oil trade is handled by great, nation-wide corpora- 
tions. This comparatively small company has weathered many 
vicissitudes and today enjoys a thriving business in eastern 
New England. Established in 1812, the Jenney Company has 
been managed by fathers and sons for three generations. 
Before concentrating upon gasoline, it dealt in West Indian 
goods, whale and sperm oil, and the manufacture of a burning 
fluid composed of alcohol, turpentine, and camphene. When 
petroleum was discovered in 1859, the Jenney factory in South 
Boston was converted into a refinery. Crude oil was shipped 
to Boston in large wooden tubs mounted on flat cars, and was 
lightered across the harbor to the factory. In its early years, 
the company prospered in the manufacture of kerosene, which 
sold for $2 a gallon. Twenty years ago, it became unprofitable 
to refine oil so far from the wells, and Jenney turned its 

The Contemporary Port 255 

refinery into a processing plant. In 1930, the Jenney Company 
found it necessary to expand its storage facilities and built on 
Chelsea Creek a deep-water terminal six times as large as its 
South Boston depot. The company owns no tankers; it buys 
in the open market the 2,000,000 barrels used annually and 
has them shipped by the seller. 

Boston's domestic steamship services (see Appendix IT) 
were greatly increased and strengthened during the iggo's and 
in 1940 ships were regularly scheduled to all the important 
ports of the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts. Sailings were 
frequent, and both passenger lists and bills of lading showed 
excellent local patronage. Leaders in the West Coast services 
are the American President Lines, formerly the Dollar Line, 
which maintains only westbound sailings, and the American- 
Hawaiian and the Luckenbach Lines, both of which offer 
weekly services to California, Oregon, and Washington. 

For seven decades, the Savannah Line has maintained an 
uninterrupted coastwise shipping service at the Port of Boston. 
At the present time, northbound cargo includes naval stores 
and general merchandise, while southbound freight consists 
largely of general merchandise. The route of the line is from 
Boston through the Cape Cod Canal and Long Island Sound 
to New York and thence to Savannah. The company occupies 
under long-term lease Pier No. 42, Hoosac Tunnel Docks in 
Charlestown, where passenger and freight sailings take place 
three times a week. In keeping with its progressive record, the 
management is considering a plan to operate several latest- 
design combination passenger and cargo ships, which would 
enable it to offer more attractive services. Equally progressive 
is the Merchants & Miners Line, which provides a tri-weekly 
freight and passenger service to Baltimore and Norfolk and a 
tri-weekly freight service between Boston and Philadelphia. 
Their steamships, sailing from Pier No. 2, South Boston, carry 
cargoes of canned goods, sugar, candy, boots and shoes, liquor 
and wines, potatoes, tobacco, coffee, wool, cotton, and soap. 

A leader in the Boston-Gulf ports trade in the 1930*5 was 
the Mooremack Gulf Lines, Inc., owned and operated by 
Moore 8c McCormack, Inc. This line made Boston its home 
port and on the run to Texas ports had four freighters of the 
"Hog Island" type, so called after their place of construction. 
These ships had special refrigeration equipment and offered 
the only service of this kind to the Gulf region. On the out- 
bound trip, they carried miscellaneous goods and frozen fish 

256 Boston Looks Seaward 

and, on the return voyage, brought cotton, canned goods, and 
citrus fruits. Moore & McCormack are agents for the Calmar 
Line, to West Coast ports, and have leased from the Maritime 
Commission the American Republics Line to South America 
and the American Scantic Line to Baltic ports. In the fall of 
1940 insufficient revenue from freight rates caused Moore 8c 
McCormack to stop the operation of the Mooremack Gulf 
Lines. Still serving Gulf ports is the Pan-Atlantic Line, which 
added several vessels in 1940. The Lykes Coastwise Line, which 
sold its ships to British interests in November 1940, anticipates 
a resumption of service early in 1941. 

Boston's position in the southern coastwise trade was 
strengthened in 1932 by the entrance of a new steamship 
line and improvements in the services of another line. The 
Morgan Line began to operate a weekly freight service between 
Boston and New Orleans and Boston, Galveston, and Houston, 
and offered a combined freight and passenger sailing to New 
Orleans every 3 weeks. Until December 1940, when revenue 
returns forced cancellation of the service, the Morgan Line's 
5,ooo-ton freighters brought large shipments of wool, cotton, 
and hides to Boston from the Gulf ports, while the bulk of 
the freight moving south consisted of New England manufac- 
tures, paper, rubber products, boots and shoes. Occasionally 
in the early 1930'$ the Clyde Steamship Company listed bi- 
weekly sailings from Boston to Charleston and Jacksonville, 
although the company always returned to its weekly schedule. 
Shortly after the merger of the Clyde and Mallory Lines in 
1932, the Boston service was extensively improved and mod- 
ernized. The line's northbound movement of freight consisted 
of lumber, naval stores, citrus fruits, canned goods, potatoes, 
cotton, piece-goods, and wool, while south-bound cargo con- 
sisted largely of general freight, canned goods, and potatoes. 
It was not unusual for a Clyde-Mallory steamship to unload 
potatoes and cotton textiles at Boston and then reload other 
consignments of the same commodities for the Carolinas, 
Florida, or Texas. Finding freight rates too low for adequate 
profit, the line announced that after December 26, 1940, it 
would omit Boston as a port-of-call. A technicality requiring a 
30-day notice for cancellation of services, which was pointed 
out by an examiner for the United States Maritime Commis- 
sion, caused the company to extend its sailing schedule to 
January 9, 1941. 

The abandonment of these several services the Mooremack 

The Contemporary Port 257 

Gulf Lines, the Morgan Line, and the Clyde-Mallory Line 
was caused by revenue factors quite unconnected with local 
port conditions. It has brought forth emphatic protest from 
shippers and port organizations both in Boston and in south- 
ern ports. Under the leadership of the Boston Port Authority 
and the Maritime Association of the Boston Chamber of 
Commerce, appeals have been carried to the United States 
Maritime Commission and the Interstate Commerce Commis- 
sion. The Maritime Commission, lacking authority to restore 
services, did indicate its willingness to lease to private oper- 
ators several of its ships for operation on the abandoned 
routes. The Interstate Commerce Commission, also at present 
without authority to intervene, will in February 1941 assume 
jurisdiction over coastal shipping rates. It is hoped that it will 
then so increase the rates on the affected routes as to make 
operation profitable. The steamship companies operating 
coastwise services could, of course, make such governmental 
action unnecessary by themselves resorting to an increase in 
charges in preference to discontinuing useful and potentially 
profitable services. 

Only seven of Boston's steamship companies are still locally 
controlled, a far cry indeed from pre-steamer days. One of 
these, the United Fruit Company, operates regular year-round 
freight and passenger service to its own plantations in the 
Caribbean region. The Eastern Steamship Lines, Inc., is the 
only other locally owned company offering year-round pas- 
senger and freight service. The Boston-New York Line, which 
is maintained on a daily schedule, is the sole survivor of the 
four domestic lines this company formerly operated out of 
Boston. The growth of automobile and truck traffic forced the 
discontinuance of the Down-East lines: the Boston-Portland, 
Boston-Kennebec, and the Bangor. The company has had 
excellent results with its coastal runs to the Maritime Prov- 
inces, on which it operates the modern St. John, Acadia, 
Evangeline, and Yarmouth. Three concerns, the Mystic 
Steamship Company, the Pocahontas Fuel Company, and the 
Sprague Steamship Company, own a large number of coal 
boats. The Boston-Nantasket Steamboat Company and the 
Cape Cod Steamship Company offer summer services to local 

Some of the pioneering spirit of the past was briefly revived 
when three enterprising young men organized the Seaboard 
Navigation Company in 1937. They ran two shallow-draft 

258 Boston Looks Seaward 

freighters, the Penobscot and the Kennebec from Boston to 
Bucksport, Maine. There they loaded potatoes for the Middle 
Atlantic ports and then brought back canned goods to Boston. 
In the summer months the ships sailed every fortnight to East- 
port to bring back newly tinned sardines. Mounting deficits 
due to lack of sufficient freight revenue, coupled with the 
refusal of local unionized longshoremen to handle their cargo 
loaded at nonunion ports, caused the company to cancel opera- 
tions in 1939. 

Foreign Trade 

The decline in Boston's foreign trade, still a matter of deep 
concern, had by 1915 apparently been arrested. The situation 
remained far from satisfactory, and worse with regard to 
exports than imports. Boston's exports dropped steadily since 
the World War to $36,000,000 in 1930 and dwindled to 
$16,000,000 when the full effect of the depression was felt in 
1932. Since then, there has been a favorable trend, although 
the figure has yet to pass the $30,000,000 mark. The import 
trade is in a much stronger position, after having dropped in 
1932 to less than half of the 1930 figure of $187,000,000. A rapid 
recovery has ensued, and the total was higher in 1939 than in 
1930. The reasons for the discrepancy between imports and 
exports, which is revealed by both dollar and tonnage figures, 
are many and complex. Important among them is the fact 
that the importation of large quantities of raw materials is 
essential to the industries of Boston and the surrounding area. 
The manufactured articles wrought from these materials are 
comparatively small in bulk, and the rate situation under 
which the Port continues to labor makes it impossible under 
existing conditions to obtain adequate bulk export cargoes. 
The Port consequently lists heavily under unbalanced freight. 

This situation was emphasized before the United States 
Maritime Commission when it made a visit to Boston in 1938. 
At the 2-day hearing at the Federal Building, leading maritime 
and shipping as well as civic and business interests joined with 
the Port Authority in setting forth the needs of the Port. 
Among the proponents were Richard Parkhurst, Vice Chair- 
man, John F. Fitzgerald, member, and Captain George P. 
Lord, Marine Supervisor of the Port Authority, John B. Leon- 
ard, member of Governor Hurley's Commission-to-Study-the- 
Port-of-Boston, and Frank S. Davis, manager of the Maritime 

The Contemporary Port 259 

Association of the Boston Chamber of Commerce. These Bos- 
ton leaders were unanimous in urging the Maritime Com- 
mission to place the Port of Boston on a parity, or at least on a 
competitive basis, with other Atlantic ports. According to the 
local authorities, a joint revamping of rates could be accom- 
plished by the Maritime Commission in conjunction with the 
Interstate Commerce Commission, and the results would go 
far toward putting Boston again on the map as a great export- 
ing center. 

Incoming products originate in 73 countries and political 
divisions scattered all over the world. Vast quantities of food- 
stuffs arrive from Columbia, Honduras, Cuba, Brazil, and the 
Argentine. Large amounts of Australian wool help to make 
Boston a leading wool center. The largest single shipment of 
this product ever received in Boston came in 1937, when 
31,000 bales were unloaded at Commonwealth Pier No. 5. 
Imports of cotton arrive from Egypt, hides and skins from 
South America, and jute and hemp from the Philippines and 
India. In recent years, Boston's export tonnage has been 
greatly helped by the heavy movement of scrap iron to Italy, 
Japan, Great Britain, and Rumania. Although this particular 
type of export is of doubtful permanence, iron and steel and 
their manufactures made up more than half of Boston's export 
tonnage during 1938 and 1939, followed by paper and paper 
stock, sugar, footwear, and rubber products. 

Present-day ships carry notably diverse products in and out 
of Boston. Not unusual was the voyage in May 1939, of the 
Hokuroku Maru of the Osaka Shoshen Kaisha Line, which 
left Japan, picked up cargo at the Philippines, discharged 
part of her cargo at Los Angeles, and then unloaded the 
remainder of her Japanese products at New York and Boston. 
Here the ship took on asbestos and machinery, and then 
returned to Japan by way of the Panama Canal. On the other 
side of the world, the Kota Agoeng departed from Rotterdam 
for Java, loaded cargoes at the principal Javanese and Sumatra 
cities, stopped at Singapore and Penang, and then headed for 
North Atlantic ports via the Cape of Good Hope. Her second 
port-of-call was Boston, where she discharged such varied items 
as tapioca, flour, rubber, latex, palm oil, coffee, and tea. Here 
she packed into her hold general cargo and hundreds of bales 
of old newspapers, which are of great value in the Far East, 
being used to protect the tender sprouts of tea plants and to 

260 Boston Looks Seaward 

serve for wrapping-paper in Chinese stores. Many native huts 
are papered with brilliantly hued pages from the Boston Sun- 
day comics. 

Boston's position as the gateway to an industrial area has 
led to a heavy trade in certain raw materials. The paper, wall- 
board, rayon, and box factories necessitate the importation of 
wood pulp and other cellulose products, which average over 
7 percent of the total imports of the Port. They come in trim 
little steamers from Sweden or in a motley collection of schoon- 
ers, rusty tramps, and modern steamers from Canada, Norway, 
and Finland. Four steamers of the Gypsum Packet Company 
bring gypsum, lumber, pulpwood, and wood pulp from Wind- 
sor, Nova Scotia. These ships, the Gypsum Empress, the 
Gypsum Prince, the Gypsum King, and the Gypsum Queen, 
make about 15 voyages annually, beginning in April when the 
ice goes out of Windsor Bay. 

The importation of wool, long considered a barometer of 
the Port's business, has been considerably higher than a year 
ago. During the last 3 weeks in December 1939, over 16,000,000 
pounds of foreign wool entered the Port, and one of the largest 
quantities ever brought in in a single week, 7,613,483 pounds, 
was unloaded the week ending February 10, 1940. Between 
July i, 1939, and June 30, 1940, wool imports totaled over 
134,591,000 pounds, more than twice the amount of the pre- 
ceding year. Much of this wool came from South American 
and South African ports. At the same time there has been an 
increase in the export of manufactured woolen goods. This 
activity in the wool trade can probably be attributed to the 
domestic demand for woolen textiles brought about by the 
lessening of woolen textile imports from England because of 
war conditions. 

Imports of vegetable oil and rubber are becoming increas- 
ingly important to the Port of Boston. Most of the palm oil 
comes from Africa, while cocoanut oil is brought from the 
East Indies by ships flying the flags of many nations. A further 
extension of this trade is anticipated as a result of the opening 
of a new soap manufacturing plant on Town River, Quincy, 
in June 1940. A comparatively recent method of treating 
rubber with ammonia, so that it can be transported in a liquid 
state, has proved a definite boon to the Port in the importa- 
tion of this product, which comes from Singapore, Calcutta, 
and Malacca aboard American, Dutch, and British ships. At 
the Army Base, eight tanks were installed in 1938, complete 

The Contemporary Port 261 

with pumps and hose that can rapidly unload the liquid 

The outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939, with the 
resultant blockades of sea lanes, had immediate effects upon 
the shipping services of all countries engaged in trade with 
the belligerents, England, France, and Germany. The United 
States took the drastic step of forbidding her ships to enter the 
war zone. Boston services to United Kingdom, North Sea, and 
Baltic ports (see Appendix, II), which formed one of her 
strongest trade routes, were immediately disrupted. The 
United States Lines, which operated to English ports on fort- 
nightly sailings, and other American flag lines could no longer 
traverse their routes. The German-operated Hamburg-Amer- 
ican and North German Lloyd Lines, which connected this 
port with Hamburg and Bremen for about half a century, were 
stopped by orders of the German Government because of the 
British blockade. The French Line discontinued its summer 
passenger service, and the Cunard Line substituted for its 
frequent freight and passenger calls a carefully concealed 
movement of shipping maintained primarily for war purposes. 
For several months Scandinavian, Danish, and Belgian ships 
attempted to carry on trade, subject always to the imposition 
of strict British contraband control, but the invasion of their 
countries by Germany early in 1940 caused a further break- 
down of their schedules. 

At least a score of steamship lines bring freight to Boston 
from Far Eastern ports. The American & Indian, American- 
Manchurian, American President, Java-New York, Bank, 
Prince, and Silver Lines are among those frequently bringing 
rubber, peat, goatskins, pig iron, wool, jute, burlap, tea, 
tapioca, rattans, sisal, cocoanut oil, and coffee. Every month 
the Osaka Shoshen Kaisha Line sends two ships laden with 
tea, coffee, china, canned goods, toys, rubber, silk, and frozen 
fish. In 1931, the Kokusai Line inaugurated a service between 
Boston, Kobe, Osaka, and Yokohama. Boston is the last port- 
of-call on the American President Lines round-the-world sched- 
ule, and receives on its ships large consignments of wool, skins, 
rubber, tea, bamboo, and hemp from the Far East and Medi- 
terranean ports. 

Until Italy entered the war in June 1940, and the Mediter- 
ranean Sea was included in the belligerent zone, Boston had 
more direct connections with the Mediterranean areas than it 
had with Far Eastern ports. On this route, the American 

262 Boston Looks Seaward 

Export Lines supplied frequent direct import services, 
although it operated only an indirect export service through 
New York. American Export also served the Levant and Black 
Sea ports. The expansion of the war area also stopped the 
passenger and freight services of the Italian Line and the 
import services offered by the American President Lines from 
Mediterranean ports. 

Several local shipping agencies represent a large number of 
the steamship lines which make Boston a port-of-call. Peabody 

6 Lane, Inc., are agents for such important services as the 
America-France Line, the Black Diamond Lines, and the Wil- 
helmsen Line. Patterson, Wylde 8: Company handle the freight 
of the Holland-America and Italian Lines and act as agent for 
the Bank Line, Barber-Wilhelmsen Line, Blue Funnel Line, 
Canadian National Steamship Line, the Italian Line, Java- 
New York Line, and the Nippon (N.Y.K.) Line to Far Eastern 
ports. Norton, Lilly and Company, established in 1840, repre- 
sents, among others, the Isthmian Line, the Essco-Brodin Line, 
the American & Indian Line, the Ellerman & Bucknall Line, 
and the M.A.N.Z. Line. Another important agency, A. C. Lom- 
bard's Sons, was established in 1825, an< ^ handles the trade of 
the Scandinavian-American and Kokusai Lines 

At the present time the Furness Withy 8c Company, Ltd., 
are agents for the Prince and Silver Lines' round-the-world 
service. Both lines bring cocoanut oil, hemp, and fiber from 
the Philippines, rattan and rubber from Singapore and the 
Straits Settlements, and cinnamon, tapioca, flour, tea, and 
crepe rubber from Ceylon. The company also acts as agent 
for the freight service of the French Line, and for the Trans- 
atlantic-Swedish-American-Mexico and Clay Lines. The latter 
line brings cargoes of China clay from Fowey, England, and 
sometimes discharges wood pulp, cellulose, paper, steel, wire, 
and granite. 

The old Boston firm of John G. Hall, established in 1847, 
was incorporated in 1925. It acts as agent for the Hamburg- 
American and the North German Lloyd Lines, the Osaka 
Shoshen Kaisha Line, and the American West African and the 
Elder Dempster Lines, which bring cocoa beans, palm oil, 
rubber, and piassava from Africa. 

Boston has maintained its position as second passenger port 
in the United States. In 1937, passenger business on trans- 
Atlantic, West Indian, and Canadian runs increased almost 

7 percent over the year before, and 73,000 travelers passed 

The Contemporary Port 263 

through the Port. Boston has made a determined bid for pas- 
senger traffic and its efforts have been rewarded by having 
passenger services of the Italian and Cunard Lines increased 
during the summer tourist season. French and Dutch pas- 
senger ships also made regular summer calls. The lack of out- 
bound services has had an effect on passenger traffic similar to 
that on freight. Passenger arrivals continue to be heavier than 

The world situation created by the war is still in too nebu- 
lous a stage to be treated fully and accurately, but the changes 
which have taken place up to December 1940, and the trends 
which those changes indicate are portentous. Ships of bel- 
ligerent nations and ships bound for belligerent ports keep 
their movements secret. The trade is still strong, however, 
and along with expansion in other trade routes, especially 
South American, indicates an increase at Boston in 1939 of 
about 40 percent in imports over the figures of 1938. Exports 
also have increased about 10 percent. Weekly imports figures 
continue to show that Boston is holding its own as the second 
importing port of the United States. 



A Resolute Port 

THE PORT OF BOSTON, in the total value of the commerce 
passing through it, ranks seventh (1938) among the seaports 
of the United States. Its harbor of 30,000 acres and 30 miles 
of berthing space accommodates some 2,700 ships a year. On 
those ships travel the 220,000 passengers a year who make 
Boston the second passenger port in the country, and the 
$200,000,000 worth of incoming foreign goods which rank it 
as also the second United States port in value of imports. 

Deep channels, capable of receiving the largest liners afloat, 
lead to the busy waterfront terminals. There, engines pull 
the loaded freight cars off the docks and send them over the 
rails to the South, West, and North. Long lines of heavy 
trucks haul away loads of merchandise coming from the cor- 
ners of the earth. On the eastern edge of the harbor, a modern 
airport and seaplane base gives the trans-Atlantic passengers 
quick access to interior points. Numerous shipyards launch 
new vessels of all kinds, from fishing trawlers to airplane car- 
riers. At the Boston Fish Pier, the largest fish pier in the 
Western Hemisphere, catches valued at from $7,000,000 to 
$8,000,000 are handled annually. 

Boston is, of course, still the principal port of New England. 
It serves the greatest wool market in the United States and 
receives more than one-third of all the raw wool imported 
into this country. The territory tributary to the Port includes 
the leading shoe and leather center in the world, the second 
largest cotton-manufacturing area in the Western Hemi- 
sphere, the leading center for high-grade American coffee, one 
of the three great rubber-manufacturing centers, and the third- 
largest center in the United States for wholesale trade. Of 
goods manufactured in New England and exported through 
New England ports, 57 percent flows through the Port of 

Since the building of the railroads and the passing of the 
sailing ship as an important freight carrier, Boston has had to 


The Port Attacks Its Problems 265 

fight incessantly to maintain its proper position as a port. It 
has had to combat unfavorable railroad differentials, it has 
seen New England's own railroads financially controlled by 
outside interests, it has struggled to offset in some way the 
free, or almost free, services at the Port of New York. For a 
number of years, various port officials, shippers, and steamship 
agents have been convinced that, if Boston is to remain a lead- 
ing port, local trade must be increased. The awakening of the 
New England people to take a more active interest in the 
affairs of the Port, a revival of the proud spirit of the clipper- 
ship days, would be of the greatest importance in encouraging 
local manufacturers to use Boston as their import and export 

Various organizations have been developed to attract busi- 
ness from foreign and inland points and to stimulate greater 
maritime activity. The Maritime Association of the Boston 
Chamber of Commerce has been instrumental since its estab- 
lishment in 1920 in promoting the well-being of the Port. It 
seeks to increase commerce through advertising the facilities 
of the Port, and in general to advance the maritime interests 
of the city. This agency has aided in harbor development, the 
attraction of new industry, and the investigation of foreign 
trade possibilities. The association publishes annually a book 
on rates, rules, regulations, and practices at the Port. 

Working constantly in the interests of the Port, the Foreign 
Commerce Club of Boston is performing a signal service to 
the community. The club was formed in the fall of 1928, when 
the Port of Boston Boosters banded themselves together, and 
took its present name in 1929. Today its membership of more 
than 250 individuals participate in activities beneficial to 
Boston's foreign commerce. 

The Propeller Club of the United States Port of Boston, 
Inc., is another organization working for the furtherance and 
protection of local maritime interests. Organized in 1927, its 
175 active members include pilots, ship officers, steamship 
agents, ship brokers, railroad agents, members of the Boston 
banks' foreign departments, as well as warehousemen, truck- 
men, and others whose business contributes to port activity. 
The objectives of the club are to promote a greater merchant 
marine, to aid in worthy and justifiable harbor improvements, 
and to develop fellowship among shipping men. The activities 
of the club center about its monthly dinner meetings. Each 
year the organization awards long voyages for the best essays 

266 Boston Looks Seaward 

written about our shipping industry by high school students; 
17 steamship companies offered prize trips in 1939. 

The most active and influential port organization is the 
Boston Port Authority, which has shown gratifying results 
for its labors. In its 1938 report the Authority says: 

There is no one thing that the Port Authority can do or that the State 
or City government can do, which in itself will throw off immediately the 
Port's rate burden imposed upon it over the years by various means and 
for various reasons. There are, on the other hand, a number of things 
which can be and are being done, all directed toward the goal of establish- 
ing a fair competitive rate basis for the Port. Many are complex and inter- 
related. Time to pursue them thoroughly is required, and continuity of 
policy in that pursuit is of even more importance. The Board has the 
satisfaction, perhaps rare in public organizations, that in its efforts for the 
past ten years to help the Port and the port constituency, it has deviated 
in no important particular from the policies it originally established, 
based on the needs of the Port as it has believed them to be. 

With a small staff of efficient workers it has tackled the prob- 
lem of putting Boston on an equal basis with other North 
Atlantic ports in the matter of rates and terminal charges. It 
has labored to remove such artificial handicaps as discrimina- 
tory railroad practices at New York and other ports. It is con- 
stantly at work to improve shipping services and to interest 
shippers in the use of the Port. The Authority "firmly believes 
that the Port will be built up by its being made increasingly 
attractive to private business, rather than by additional admin- 
istrative control, management or operation by the Common- 
wealth or by the City." 

Organizations like the Maritime Association and the Port 
Authority are working intelligently and effectively to advance 
the interests of the Port. Although Boston is obliged to recog- 
nize New York's position as ranking port of the United States, 
it affirms that the metropolis of New England is entitled to 
an important place in the country's maritime affairs. Through 
these active agencies Boston manifests her will to continue 
as a major port. 

More Ships Wanted 

One of Boston's chief problems is the lack of ships, espe- 
cially of American flag lines, to carry her export and import 
cargoes. Because of the inability of American steamship com- 
panies to establish services to meet Boston's shipping needs, 
the Boston Port Authority has been obliged to make overtures 
to foreign flag lines. The use of foreign ships, aside from fail- 
ing to satisfy the natural desire to use our own ships, has the 

The Port Attacks Its Problems 267 

grave disadvantage that in time of war most of the foreign 
vessels are withdrawn, leaving Boston without adequate ship- 
ping facilities. Of the 54 active steamship lines engaged in 
foreign trade in the summer of 1939, only 17 were American. 
The lines, which are listed in Appendix II, offered on various 
trade routes 77 import services and 54 export services, of which 
about a third were covered by American ships. While most 
of the important trade routes were served by several lines, a 
majority of them were indirect, that is, the ships called at 
other American ports before or after visiting Boston. The 
resultant delay in the delivery or pick up of cargo at Boston 
tended to divert cargoes, especially exports, from this port 
to New York where more speedy handling was assured. 

Improvement of the Port of Boston's steamship services in 
the foreign trade has been a major objective of the Boston 
Port Authority. The Authority specifically recommended in 
1938-39: (i) that several additional ships be allocated to the 
American Scantic Line for service in the Baltic region; (2) that 
more ships be used in the import service from Africa and that 
at least one monthly sailing from Boston to that continent be 
established; (3) that the American Hampton Roads Line, 
which now has fortnightly sailings for London, Hull, Leigh, 
and Dundee, be divided into two divisions, a northern to serve 
Portland, Boston, and New York by continuing the present 
fortnightly sailings; and a southern division to serve Phila- 
delphia, Baltimore, and Norfolk. Under present arrangements, 
Boston cargo often is left on the docks, because the ships are 
filled to capacity before calling here. 

The Port Authority recommended also: (4) that additional 
ships be allocated to the United States Lines for service on 
the route to Liverpool and Manchester, England, in order that 
an outbound call might be made at Boston, or else that the 
defunct Oriole Line, for service to the same ports, be revived; 
(5) that further curtailment of the sailings of the Black Dia- 
mond Lines to northern European ports, which were then 
available only every 2 1 days, should be prevented, and a faster 
and more frequent service be encouraged; (6) that Boston and 
other northern ports encourage American flag line service to 
certain Mediterranean ports; (7) that ship service be estab- 
lished between Boston and the west coast of South America, 
and faster and better ships be placed in the service to and 
from the east coast; (8) that an export service from Boston 
to Puerto Rico be established; and (9) that there be estab- 

268 Boston Looks Seaward 

lished an American line, in addition to that of the United 
Fruit Company, on import service from Colombian ports and 
from Trinidad. 

Improvements in services to Europe were in progress when 
the outbreak of war between England and France and Ger- 
many, in September 1939, and the subsequent application of 
the Neutrality Act by the United States Congress disrupted 
all American trade to belligerent waters. The United States 
Lines had taken over the American Hampton Roads and the 
Oriole Lines, but the barring of American ships from the war 
zone prevents any judgment upon the results of this move. 
The Black Diamond Lines have maintained their services, 
through the use of foreign flag ships chartered to replace the 
Black Diamond steamers now scattered all over the world on 
other trade routes. South American commerce has been ad- 
vanced by the addition of faster and better ships than were 
formerly operated on these routes. Moore-McCormack added to 
its American Republics Line early in 1940 several new ships of 
the C-2 class, built by the United States Maritime Commission. 
Two of these, the Mormacpen and the Mormacyork, displace 
17,600 tons, are 492 feet long, and average 18 knots. Their 
speed enables them to cut down the running time from Buenos 
Aires to Boston from 30 to 18 days and, consequently, to 
provide a fortnightly service between these ports. 

Additional steamship services of this type will attract more 
export cargo and improve Boston's standing as a shipping 
port. Where the element of time is important, shipments often 
are made on the basis of specially quick service. Undoubtedly 
the frequency and multiplicity of its steamship services is one 
of the largest factors in diverting shipments to New York, and 
probably explains in great part why something like 65 percent 
(valuation) of New England's manufactured goods intended 
for export move through New York and only about 14 percent 
(valuation) through Boston. It helps to explain also why 
Boston's export business as a whole declined from about 
1,300,000 tons in 1905 to about 321,400 tons in 1938, or to 
approximately one percent of United States exports. 

The diversion of a large amount of bulk goods from Boston 
to New York, with consequent inroads on ship services, has 
resulted from New York's connections with the New York 
State Barge Canal System. The Barge Canal, the rejuvenated 
Erie Canal, connects New York Harbor by way of the Hudson 
River with Lake Erie; an offshoot of the Barge Canal, the 

The Port Attacks Its Problems 269 

Oswego Canal, connects with Lake Ontario. The Champlain 
Canal links the Hudson near Troy with Lake Champlain. 
Thus New York City achieves all-water routes to Lake Erie 
and Lake Ontario and to northern New York State and 
Canada. Over these inland waterways, in 1937, were carried 
no less than 5,000,000 tons of cargo. From the West came grain, 
chemicals, drugs, and mineral ores; from other parts of the 
country to New York City came petroleum and petroleum 
products, sulphur, sugar, scrap iron, fertilizers, and farm and 
forest products. Large quantities of those commodities were 
shipped abroad through the Port of New York. If Boston had 
enjoyed a more independent and aggressive railroad policy 
and better steamship services, much of that merchandise 
might have been shipped through the Port of Boston. 

A majority of the men actively interested in the Port see 
in the proposed St. Lawrence Waterway a threat to increases 
in Boston's steamship services through development of other 
means of exporting Midwestern products. The waterway proj- 
ect involves the construction of a go-foot channel from Mont- 
real to Duluth and Chicago, at a cost variously estimated at 
from $600,000,000 to $8,00,000,000. The primary purpose of 
the American advocates of the project is to provide a direct, 
low-cost, water route from our Middle West to the St. Law- 
rence River and thence to Europe. Owing to the configuration 
of the North American Continent, the mouth of the St. Law- 
rence is nearer Europe than is any seaport in the United 
States. Whether the proposed waterway is to be thought of 
as a good thing for the United States as a whole depends in 
part on its efficacy as a national defense measure; it has also 
to be determined whether our Middle West, through the pro- 
posed waterway, can increase United States foreign commerce 
beyond the volume obtainable without the use of the water- 
way. From the point of view of the Port of Boston, the pro- 
posed waterway would divert traffic between the Middle West 
and Europe from Boston, as well as from other American 
Atlantic ports, to Canadian ports, or else provide a through 
route from the Middle West to Europe without stopping at 
any ports east of the Great Lakes. Construction of the pro- 
posed St. Lawrence Waterway probably would further impede 
Boston's prospects of increasing her shipments of the products 
of our Middle West and serving as a port of entry for that 

The trade agreements which the United States recently has 

270 Boston Looks Seaward 

signed with foreign countries, particularly with Canada and 
the United Kingdom, may help the Port of Boston and lead 
to increased steamship services. The Canadian agreement of 
1936, revised in 1939, made it possible to enter non-British 
Empire products through Boston to Canada under conditions 
as favorable as if they had been imported through a Canadian 
port. Increased shipments of Canadian wheat, practically the 
only grain exported through the Port in recent years, is an- 
ticipated because of treaty provisions allowing the grain to 
enter United Kingdom ports without being assessed a heavy 
duty. Concessions on New England manufactured products 
and certain British goods also indicate possibilities of increased 
freight movements at Boston. Trade agreements with other 
countries, especially with those of South America, should also 
stimulate Boston's exports and imports. Any benefits from this 
source would make Boston's demands for better American 
flag services much stronger. 

The Ocean-Rail Rate Fight 

Accounting in large part for the inadequacy of Boston's 
shipping services is the railroad and steamship freight rate 
situation, the principles of which were discussed in Chap- 
ter VII. The Port Authority has stated the problem in its 
Annual Report for 1937: 

The Port can never be fully utilized until we are in a position to offer 
competitive through rates, i.e., rail and ocean, by which goods from and 
to other than New England points are regularly attracted to it. By every 
port with which we compete, these through rates to the interior of the 
country are lower than the ones we have. 

Since 1920 the situation has remained much the same, with 
Boston unable to take advantage of its shorter ocean route to 
Europe. The Port Authority, in its struggle to obtain more 
favorable rates for Boston, has closely watched rate cases in 
other parts of the country and has attempted to derive from 
them certain principles which might be applied to Boston. 
The United States Supreme Court in 1933, in the case of 
the Texas & Pacific Railway Company v. United States, in 
respect to identical ocean rates, made a ruling which in theory 
could apply also to all North Atlantic ports. The Court said: 

The choice of route is determined solely by the rail rates from and to the 
ports. If these are equalized, the shipper has an option; but if they are 
disparate, the route through the port taking the higher rate is necessarily 

The Port Attacks Its Problems 271 

Along the same lines, the Interstate Commerce Commission 
said in 1935, in the case of Export and Import Rates from and 
to Gulf Ports: 

As all disparities in the rail rates to and from the different ports are re- 
flected in the through rates to and from points beyond the ports, it neces- 
sarily follows that the choice of route is influenced by the rail rates to 
and from the ports. If these are equalized, consideration other than the 
rate will determine the route, but if they are different, the route through 
the port taking the higher rate is necessarily at a disadvantage. 

The Boston Port Authority repeatedly has declared that 
import-export through rates should be the same for all ports 
on a given range, "for instance in our own case the North 
Atlantic range, which covers ports from Montreal to Norfolk." 

Today, Boston's position may be briefly stated as follows: 
(i) export rail rates from the great central area of the country, 
where large amounts of bulk cargo originate, are lower by way 
of Baltimore, Norfolk, Philadelphia, and Montreal, than by 
way of Boston; import rates to the same territory are lower 
by way of Baltimore, Norfolk, Philadelphia, Portland, Mont- 
real, St. John, and Halifax than by way of Boston; (2) import- 
export rail rates to and from the Central Freight Association 
territory, which is that part of the United States west of the 
Buffalo-Pittsburgh line, north of the Ohio River, and east of 
the Mississippi River, and even to and from many points in 
New England, are theoretically the same by way of New York 
as by way of Boston, but this parity is destroyed through free 
lighterage and allowances of one kind or another made by 
rail carriers at New York but not at Boston. 

The principal competitors of Boston as a port are New 
York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. In the cases of Philadel- 
phia and Baltimore, as stated previously, there exist in their 
favor railroad differential rates which make it difficult for 
Boston to get the share of the export-import business to which 
it is entitled by virtue of its location and facilities. 

This situation is all the more irritating because rate parity 
does exist on traffic moving through South Atlantic, Gulf, and 
Pacific ports. The Interstate Commerce Commission alleges 
that it has no power to apply the same measures to North 
Atlantic ports. The railroads serving those ports can exercise 
their rights of managerial discretion and bring about such a 
change. Since the trunk line railroads are apparently satisfied 
with the present rate adjustment, there is little hope that 
Boston can achieve a remedy through the Commission. 

272 Boston Looks Seaward 

Attempts have also been made to obtain relief through Con- 
gressional enactment. In 1925, the Butler Bill, providing in 
effect for equalized through rates on the entire Atlantic sea- 
board, was introduced into Congress. Subsequently, however, 
it was withdrawn, lest the opposition it aroused place Boston 
in an even worse predicament. Despite that withdrawal, many 
champions of the Port of Boston still believe that some such 
legislation is the only effective solution of Boston's rate 

On some domestic goods passing through the Port of Bos- 
ton, rate equality has been fairly well established. In 1934, 
the Interstate Commerce Commission, in connection with cer- 
tain water lines operating regularly from the Gulf of Mexico 
to Boston, prescribed joint water-rail rates on cotton destined 
for Canada. Those rates made possible actual competition 
between rival routes. Again, in 1938, rates on cotton from the 
Gulf through Boston to up-state New York mill points found a 
parity with rates via New York. The Coastal Steamship Con- 
ference made good adjustments on joint rail and water rates, 
for rice coming north and potatoes moving south through 
Boston. The volume of water-borne commerce moving through 
Boston was increased in another case, when a permit was 
granted to the Ocean Steamship Company of Savannah to 
carry certain imports from New York via Boston, on their 
way to western destinations, at a favorable differential under 
the all-rail rates from New York. This ruling resulted in 
increased business for the Port. Such rate revisions are en- 
couraging to port authorities and shippers who are working 
for the application of these principles on a broader basis, to 
cover all import-export commerce as well as domestic freight. 

The Struggle for Port Equality 

If Boston is to receive its share of the North Atlantic export- 
import business, it must achieve port equality with other 
North Atlantic ports not only in railroad and steamship trans- 
portation rates but in other charges for accessorial services, 
such as lighterage, dockage and wharfage, insurance, trucking, 
and storage. The Port of New York has virtually nullified the 
effect of equal ocean and rail rates with Boston through offer- 
ing to shippers a number of these services free or below cost. 

Interference with equality of rates may take any one or 
more of the following forms: permission for more than 10 days' 
free time on import traffic at New York piers; less than cost 

The Port Attacks Its Problems 273 

warehouse service in the New York Harbor area; free lighter- 
age, trucking in place of lighterage, and insurance at less than 
cost. These and other sharp practices have deprived Boston 
of much water-borne commerce to which rightfully her Port 
is entitled, including a large tonnage from New England itself. 
The Interstate Commerce Commission and the United States 
Maritime Commission have heard a series of formal rate cases 
in which charges of discrimination have been alleged by 

The Port of New York has developed an elaborate system 
of lighterage, or transport of goods by lighter or barge between 
ship and harbor-front rail terminals. At New York, it includes 
a "choice of deliveries through steamship piers, through rail- 
roads and through so-called contract terminals." Free lighter- 
age, though expensive to the railroads, is a strong asset from 
the point of view of competition. In July 1934, the Interstate 
Commerce Commission, by a seven to three decision, dismissed 
a complaint filed by Boston in connection with the New 
Jersey Lighterage Case. Boston alleged that the practice of 
the railroads in performing lighterage free at New York while 
no such service was necessary at Boston, where transfer is 
made directly at the dock between ship and railroad car, was 
unduly preferential to New York and unjustly discriminatory 
against Boston. Boston contended that the difference in such 
terminal costs should be reflected in lower freight rates to 
and from Boston. The verdict was a severe blow to the Port 
of Boston, which is intervening in another New Jersey case 
of the same general character. 

Boston is placed in an unfavorable competitive position also 
through "services and allowances in lieu of lighterage," includ- 
ing allowances to stevedores for off-side loadings, and below- 
cost trucking, storage, and handling charges. For example, 
vegetable oil was coming through New York in great quanti- 
ties partly because of the excessive allowance given by rail 
carriers for flotage in tank barges. This concession more than 
offset Boston's admittedly more efficient services in offering 
direct unloading of vegetable oil from steamer to tank cars. 
An investigation by the Interstate Commerce Commission in 
1934 resulted in reduced allowances at New York, so that 
Boston's position became slightly more favorable. Subsequent 
inquiry, however, revealed that this Port in 1939 still was 
handling no more than a small percentage of such oil for 
other than local use. 

274 Boston Looks Seaward 

Another cause for irritation between the ports of Boston 
and New York has been less-than-cost warehousing, in the 
practice of which railroads at New York have absorbed part 
of the warehousing costs usually charged to the owner or 
shipper of goods. China clay and crude rubber, cargoes on the 
North Atlantic import list which are both valuable and heavy, 
and also European and Canadian wood pulp were being 
excluded from Boston because of trunk line railroad non- 
compensatory warehousing at the Port of New York. In 1935, 
there was a readjustment in the storage rates and practices 
with respect to China clay and wood pulp at New York which 
enabled Boston to compete successfully, but nothing was done 
in regard to crude rubber until April 1939. 

In 1933, the Interstate Commerce Commission, in the New 
York Harbor Warehouse Case, condemned the practice of 
granting shippers non-compensatory warehousing and storage 
by railroads serving the Port of New York. The Commission 
declared that such a practice was discriminatory against the 
Port of Boston. On January 3, 1939, the United States Supreme 
Court sustained the findings of the Interstate Commerce 
Commission. It is too soon yet to know how large the increase 
in shipments of crude rubber will be at Boston, but after 6 
years of litigation, Boston's competitive position has been 
considerably improved. 

Meanwhile the issue of non-compensatory storage at New 
York arose from another angle. In 1934, Boston, Norfolk, 
Baltimore, and Philadelphia filed a complaint with the 
United States Shipping Board alleging that steamship com- 
panies were granting to shippers at New York less-than-cost 
storage, which resulted in discrimination against the other 
North Atlantic ports. Out of this complaint grew the Pier 
Storage Case, an investigation instituted by the Shipping 
Board. At the hearings it was revealed that large shippers in 
particular were granted free storage at New York for excessive 
periods of time, while no such concessions were made by the 
steamship companies at other ports. Not until 1937 was an 
examiner's report released on the case, and shortly afterwards 
the United States Maritime Commission, which replaced the 
Shipping Board, rendered a final decision favorable to the 
complainants. Water carriers serving the Port of New York 
no longer could grant more than 10 days' free storage on 
import traffic. Exception was sought by certain carriers with 
respect to coffee, and the examiner's report proposed to grant 

The Port Attacks Its Problems 275 

such exception. Boston contended, however, that if one excep- 
tion were permitted it would lead to a general breakdown of 
the ruling and that the requirements of the coffee trade did 
not call for a longer storage period than 10 days. The Com- 
mission finally decided against the exception, and that de- 
cision was sustained by the courts. 

For the past 3 years, the Boston Port Authority has urged 
the New England Freight Association to grant to New Eng- 
land railroads the privilege of offering storage-in-transit on 
water-borne freight moving west by rail from the Port of 
Boston on a rate basis similar to that applicable on such traffic 
at New York. This meant that either the transit charge at 
Boston of $6.93 a car should be eliminated or that this charge 
should be assessed at New York, where there was no transit 
charge. Approval of the Traffic Executives Association, East- 
ern Territory, was finally obtained in July 1940, and the 
charge was abolished at Boston, thus placing the Port in a 
position favorable to competing ports for this class of traffic. 

Most attempts to correct discriminatory rates and charges 
have bogged down in the face of the marked lack of railroad 
cooperation. All three principal railroads serving New Eng- 
land are under the domination of trunk lines whose interests 
are centered elsewhere than in Boston. The Pennsylvania 
Railroad and its affiliate, the Pennroad Corporation, own 
enough stock to control the New York, New Haven & Hart- 
ford Railroad. The latter road, in turn, owns a controlling 
interest in the Boston 8c Maine, thereby insuring the Pennsyl- 
vania's control over that line also. The lease of the Boston & 
Albany Railroad to the New York Central Railroad Company 
completes the control of outside trunk lines over Boston's 
railroad services. An illustration of how this "alien domina- 
tion" works out in practice is afforded by the Boston & Albany 
Railroad. The lease of that road to the New York Central 
Railroad provides, in substance, that rail charges to Boston 
shall not be greater than to New York on export traffic and 
that rail charges from Boston shall not be greater than from 
New York on import traffic. The New York Central, as well 
as other New York rail carriers, however, has granted to 
shippers through the Port of New York such valuable induce- 
ments as low warehouse rates and free lighterage, absorbing 
all or part of the cost of such services in the freight rates. 

A campaign now is being waged to break up the trunk line 
control of at least two of New England's railroads, the Boston 

276 Boston Looks Seaward 

8c Maine and the New York, New Haven 8c Hartford. The 
opportunity may be favorable, as the New Haven, which con- 
trols the Boston & Maine, is in process of reorganization. In 
direct opposition to the aims of local interests is the plan of 
the Pennroad Corporation, which would result in the merger 
of the Boston & Maine and the New Haven under the control, 
direct or indirect, of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. 
This proposal conflicts with the ultimate goal, as expressed 
by the Boston Port Authority, of having each New England 
railroad "establish such relations of its own with lines west 
of the Hudson as to leave no question of Boston's having access 
to the interior of the country under terms and conditions 
satisfactory to all concerned." 

If port equality is to be attained, each port must be able to 
count on the business to and from its own immediate territory, 
and also must have an opportunity to compete on equal terms 
with other ports for the cargo of the hinterland. In the case 
of Boston, this means a parity of rates and incidental charges 
on shipments through Boston, as compared with other routes, 
from points in New England and from the Central Freight 
Association territory. Heretofore Boston has been the only 
North Atlantic port deprived of truly equalized rates to and 
from the central territory. 

The fight for port equality, independence of New England 
rail lines, and non-discriminatory terminal practices goes for- 
ward slowly but persistently. Much of the difficulty would be 
removed if the railroads serving the Port were able to dictate 
their own policies. Assuming the ultimate independence of 
the New England lines, they must still face the problem of 
establishing satisfactory relations with rail carriers west of the 
Hudson. From central territory, Boston must have its share 
of traffic to build up its export business. Nor must the in- 
creased use of the Port of Albany, right in New England's 
backyard, be forgotten Albany which enjoys equal ocean 
rates with Boston and other North Atlantic ports, but whose 
rail rates from the West are more favorable than those of 

The Port of Boston still has ahead of it a serious struggle. 
In law courts, before Government commissions, in steamship 
conferences, and in State legislatures, friends of the Port are 
arguing their cases. The problems to be solved are many and 
complicated. Steamship services require adjustment and ampli- 
fication, railroad freight rates on most commodities are out 

The Port Attacks Its Problems 277 

of line and railroad services need expansion, port charges call 
for greater uniformity, and local port facilities should be 
improved. Boston has many natural advantages that should 
be utilized to the fullest extent possible. The removal of 
artificial obstacles is imperative. 

Local Terminal Charges 

Seriously impeding plans to improve Boston's position as 
a world port is the diversified ownership of harbor property. 
Unlike such ports as San Francisco, Montreal, and Newport 
News, the Port of Boston never has been under the domi- 
nating control of any one interest. Yet it has been obliged to 
compete with ports which were either publicly owned and 
controlled or subsidized. The Boston Port Authority, though 
lacking power to force changes in port management, has 
brought about many improvements; many more should be 

The diversified ownership of waterfront property is reflected 
in the utter confusion of ..wharfage and dockage rates, which 
has greatly handicapped movement of traffic through the Port. 
Although the Port Authority has since 1929 worked unceas- 
ingly to bring charges into some semblance of order, the 
situation among the 200 piers and docks at the Port is still 
unsatisfactory. In 1934, terminal charges at all Atlantic ports 
were in an unsettled condition, and the Federal Coordinator 
of Railroads undertook to bring about a parity of such charges. 
But the office of coordinator was abolished 2 years later, the 
work never was concluded, and the problem reverted to the 
individual ports and railroads. To add to the confusion, the 
Boston & Maine and the New Haven railroads inaugurated 
in 1937 dockage charges of 10 cents a ton on cargo handled 
at their Boston terminals; a similar charge was made at the 
Army Base. The Boston & Albany terminals were left as the 
only railroad piers at the Port not charging dockage fees, and 
consequently considerable diversion took place toward those 
docks. This confused situation, which is not only discrimina- 
tory against certain shippers but detrimental to the Port as 
a whole, may be cleared by the action of the State in December 
1940 in changing wharfage rates at Commonwealth Pier No. 5 
to 50 cents a ton. The 3 railroads serving the Port and a num- 
ber of private interests owning other wharves have established 
the same charge. This flat rate per ton will take the place of 

278 Boston Looks Seaward 

the old Howard scale, customarily used, which assessed a 
different charge on almost every commodity. 

In their effect on competition between the various North 
Atlantic ports, terminal charges are of much importance. The 
Boston Port Authority, in its Annual Report for 1933, sum- 
marized the situation then existing. Port charges, including 
pilotage, tug hire, tonnage tax, customs fees, customs broker- 
age, watching vessel, and health inspection at quarantine, for 
a io,ooo-ton vessel entering port, were about equal at Boston, 
New York, and Philadelphia; charges at Boston and Philadel- 
phia, as a matter of fact, were slightly under those at New 
York. Most of the port charges were fixed by law and tended 
to be alike. Cargo charges, comprising wharfage, dockage, 
watching cargo, tallying and stevedoring, for a io,ooo-ton 
vessel discharging 5,500 tons of general cargo, were lower for 
the steamship company at Boston than at New York or Phila- 
delphia. To the consignee, however, the total charges at Bos- 
ton were not always lower. Boston has become, for most over- 
seas vessels, more often a port-of-call than a terminal port; 
consequently there has been a considerable amount of over- 
time and Sunday work, which has raised the actual costs to 
many vessels at Boston. Whatever advantages in port charges 
or cargo charges Boston has had over New York or Philadel- 
phia have been practically wiped out through free lighterage, 
less-than-cost storage, and other services at New York, and by 
the railroad differential in favor of Philadelphia. 

The cost of bringing a ship into the Port varies consider- 
ably in individual cases. Such factors as the use of pilots, the 
number of tugs needed, the docking above or below draw- 
bridges, the amount of overtime work by longshoremen, and 
the size of the cargo affect the final cost. A freighter bringing 
about 2,000 tons of general cargo to one of the Common- 
wealth piers and taking out 500 tons of such cargo with no 
pilotage charge, but requiring the assistance of two tugs, and 
having no overtime work for the longshoremen, would cost 
its owners about $7,000, exclusive of the running expenses of 
the ship itself. Almost two-thirds of this would be for various 
kinds of manual labor. Wharfage and dockage fees would take 
close to another thousand dollars, and the remainder would 
cover miscellaneous charges such as running lines, water 
supply, and wharf storage. 

In 1935, certain carriers serving North Atlantic ports pre- 
sented to the Trunk Line Association a plan for assessing 

The Port Attacks Its Problems 279 

charges for loading and unloading water-borne freight. The 
plan was designed partly to bring about greater uniformity of 
rates and partly to eliminate certain non-compensatory serv- 
ices. But many of the powerful railroads apparently had little 
inclination to see such changes established, and no agreement 
was reached. Handling charges on lumber at all North Atlan- 
tic ports have recently been investigated by the Maritime Com- 
mission and, while a decision has been rendered that pro- 
vides for certain corrective practices, the charges on lumber 
at Boston terminals still remain higher than those of many 
competing ports. 

There is, nevertheless, a bright side to the rather dark 
picture of charges at the Port of Boston. Local control has 
brought lower insurance rates on stevedoring. At one time, 
rates on both stevedoring insurance and terminal cargo insur- 
ance were chaotic in Boston. In connection with stevedoring 
insurance rates under the Federal Harbor Workers Acts and 
the State Workingmen's Compensation Act, the Boston Port 
Authority, with the cooperation of the Massachusetts Rating 
Bureau, began in 1931 to investigate the rates and the hazards 
of working in the occupation. As a result of this joint investi- 
gation, Boston rates for insurance against accidents in steve- 
doring have been reduced in 9 years from $17 to $9.99 per $100 
of payroll, which is one of the lowest insurance costs among 
competing ports in the North Atlantic range. The decrease 
in the cost of insurance to the stevedore concern aids substan- 
tially in the general competitive situation, for Boston steve- 
dores may now successfully compete with those at other ports 
on the cost per ton for handling cargoes. The reduction is due 
in great measure to the emphasis placed on safety by the con- 
tracting stevedores, who are incited to continued vigilance by 
the Boston Port Authority's practice of calling attention to 
various unsafe practices and suggesting safe ways of handling 

In the matter of terminal insurance based upon the value 
of the cargo, the Boston Port Authority in 1934 made an inves- 
tigation with the cooperation of the Boston Board of Fire 
Underwriters. The board surveyed conditions on every pier 
in Boston Harbor, and the rates for each terminal were recon- 
sidered. The survey resulted in a general reduction. In the 
course of the investigation of insurance rates, a practice of 
charging a minimum rate on terminal insurance to shippers 
in New York, with the railroad or terminal operators absorb- 

280 Boston Looks Seaward 

ing the balance, was found to be general. This New York 
practice has since been stopped by order of the Interstate 
Commerce Commission. 

Rehabilitation of Waterfront Properties 

Another problem of the Port of Boston is the modernizing 
of the waterfront. At the present time, the best piers in the 
harbor are owned by the railroads or by the State and Federal 
governments, and the greater part of the remaining water- 
front either has become obsolete or has been diverted to 
non-maritime uses. Property along Boston's waterfront has 
been neglected for more than 40 years, and has lapsed into 
a condition which represents one of the major obstacles to 
the development of the Port. Of the total wharfing facilities 
at Boston, amounting to 50,200 linear feet, less than one-half 
provide berths adequate to the uses of a modern port. Some 
of the busiest cargo piers in the harbor, including the Mystic 
and Hoosac terminals in Charlestown, the Eastern Steamship 
wharves on Atlantic Avenue, and the New Haven Railroad's 
piers in South Boston, are badly in need of repair. Although 
it is generally recognized that these terminal facilities are 
rapidly approaching the stage where they must be recon- 
structed or replaced, private means for undertaking this work 
have not been made available. 

In 1938, after a study by a recess committee of the legisla- 
ture, known as the Special Commission Relative to the Boston 
Port Authority and the Production and Development of the 
Commerce of the Port of Boston, the urgent need for construc- 
tion of a new State pier or for the reconstruction of existing 
terminal facilities was recognized. A bill was introduced into 
the legislature providing for a division of waterways within 
the State Department of Public Works. This bill provided 
also for the acquisition and construction of terminal facilities, 
which were to be leased to private shipping and railroad inter- 
ests under 4O-year contracts. Rentals from piers taken over by 
the State were to finance the bond issues necessary to cover 
cost of construction. When this legislation was proposed, rail- 
road and shipping company officials indicated their willingness 
to turn over to the State for a nominal sum privately owned 
terminal facilities. The cost of such a program over a period 
of years would be negligible, since in effect the State would 
merely be extending credit to companies desiring new or 
remodeled piers and would be reimbursed within a reasonable 

The Port Attacks Its Problems 281 

period from rentals. Adoption of such a plan would not only 
modernize the terminal facilities of the Port but would put 
Boston in a position to compete to better advantage with 
North American ports publicly owned or subsidized. The first 
step in the program was completed in July 1940, when the 
approval of the United States War Department was obtained 
for the 200-foot extension into the harbor of the pierhead 
levies along the South Boston-Atlantic Avenue waterfront. 

As an alternative to the proposed construction of a new 
State pier, the repair and reconstruction of Commonwealth 
Pier No. i has been suggested by the Boston Port Authority. 
This pier could be double-decked and extended to the harbor 
line at an estimated cost of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. The pier 
is badly in need of repairs, and the many stanchions on the 
property will not permit it to be used efficiently. Its recon- 
struction would provide modern terminal facilities for steam- 
ship lines carrying lumber, vegetable fiber, latex, and non- 
mineral oil cargoes. Plans for the rehabilitation of this pier 
were indefinitely suspended in October 1940 when the United 
States Navy took it over on a 5-year lease for use as a mine 
sweeper base. 

Perhaps the most important section of the Port with rela- 
tion to coastwise commerce is the Atlantic Avenue thorough- 
fare, now one of the most dilapidated areas on the Boston 
waterfront. As late as 1870, great sailing ships laden with car- 
goes from every part of the world lined this street and dis- 
charged into it their commerce. Today, the encroachment of 
non-maritime business into the district has diverted some of 
the most valuable waterfront property in the Port to the uses 
of a variety of enterprises, from tearooms to distributing plants 
for soap and grocery concerns. The elevated railway structure 
on Atlantic Avenue has been a cause of much traffic congestion, 
and its removal or conversion into an elevated highway has 
been urged. Plans for the reclamation of this area include an 
amendment to the Boston zoning laws establishing a maritime 
zone on the harbor side of the Avenue. 

The Port's most modern terminal facilities are located in 
the South Boston section. These have not always been oper- 
ated for the best interests of the Port. For instance, the un- 
certain policy of the Federal Government in leasing property 
at the Army Base has not contributed to the most efficient use 
of that terminal. Within the past 15 years, six different oper- 
ating concerns have handled freight at the Army Base, and 

282 Boston Looks Seaward 

with every change of management, importers and exporters 
have faced uncertainty. The present lessee of the Army Base, 
however, is operating under a lo-year lease and is thus pro- 
vided with the opportunity to make suitable plans for the 
accommodation of clients over a lengthy term. A major addi- 
tion to the facilities of the Army Base was completed in the 
summer of 1940 when two electro-magnet cranes were in- 
stalled. These are capable of handling 2,400 tons of scrap 
iron in a 24-hour day and bring the total crane capacity of 
the Army Base to almost 4,000 tons a day. Three cranes 
equipped for similar work are located on Mystic Pier, Charles- 

The ambitious program for Port rehabilitation cuts across 
many local interests, but, with certain exceptions, has received 
the cooperation of waterfront property owners. The burden 
of the work falls on the State division of waterways, which is 
enthusiastically making plans. Final success depends upon 
legislative action, which is slow in coming but seems assured. 
Both Port interests and the general public demand a rebuilt, 
modernly equipped port. 

Ship Channels 

Although at the present time Boston's ship channels and 
anchorages are in the best condition in the Port's history, the 
attention of both State and Federal Authorities still is occu- 
pied with regular dredging operations. These have been neces- 
sitated through soil erosion, the existence of ledges in the 
harbor's main ship channel, and the need for improving other 
approaches to deep water. The most recent Federal project 
provides for the deepening of the southerly side of the har- 
bor's main ship channel to a depth of 40 feet at mean low 
water. When completed, this channel will have a width of 600 
feet and will extend from President Roads to Commonwealth 
Pier No. i in East Boston. 

A major improvement recently accomplished was the dredg- 
ing of a 4o-foot deep anchorage basin at President Roads, 
which was completed in March 1937, under the direction of 
the Corps of Engineers, United States Army. The area pre- 
pared for vessels was 5,500 feet in length and 2,000 feet in 
width. Further rock removal and the extension of the 4o-foot 
channel to Commonwealth Pier No. i in East Boston was 
completed in 1940. The deepened channel increases greatly 
the commercial value of the Port, and provides the Navy 

The Port Attacks Its Problems 283 

access to bases for its largest battleships. The Port of Boston 
now has a main ship channel with a high-water depth of 49 
feet, compared with New York Harbor's 45-foot gateway. Bos- 
ton's channel is able to accommodate the largest liners afloat. 

Still another important Federal dredging project, started in 
1938, will create a channel about 30 feet deep, 200 feet wide, 
and 2 miles long from the mouth of Chelsea Creek to impor- 
tant tidewater oil terminals. This channel will save transpor- 
tation costs and remove navigational hazards for the large 
number of oil tankers now using this part of the harbor. Other 
proposed measures include projects to deepen the Mystic and 
Town River channels and the Reserve Channel off the Army 
Base. It is proposed also to work out a deeper and straighter 
channel through Dorchester Bay from President Roads to the 
Neponset River. The plan calls for a channel 30 feet deep and 
300 feet wide to supersede the existing 1 8-foot channel. This 
would open up one of the few sections of the harbor front still 
available for building and development. 

The Maritime Association proposed that Congress make an 
appropriation for a dragwire survey of the harbor, and the 
work was authorized for 1940. Within the past 2 years, un- 
charted rocks and obstructions in the harbor have damaged 
several ships and caused the loss of one. The American 
freighter Cold Harbor struck a ledge 22 feet below the surface 
in the North Ship Channel, where a depth of 27 feet was 
recorded on the vessel's chart. In the spring of 1938, the 
British freighter City of Salisbury became stranded on an 
uncharted rock near Graves Light and incurred a loss of 
$2,500,000. Such incidents are rare and less likely to happen 
in the future. The completion of the present dredging pro- 
gram will make Boston one of the safest and most accessible 
harbors on the Atlantic coast. 

Reforestation and Physical Improvement 

The Boston Port Authority has not neglected considerations 
of beauty in relation to the Port. In 1933, it initiated a pro- 
gram for the reforestation of the islands in Boston Harbor, 
to serve the dual purpose of improving the appearance of the 
harbor and of preventing further soil erosion on some of the 
islands. In 1934, pine trees were set out on Federal-owned 
islands by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and a survey of 
this planting in 1937 showed that some 90 percent of the trees 
had survived. Following the completion of a topographical 

284 Boston Looks Seaward 

and soil survey of the islands undertaken by an Emergency 
Relief Administration project in 1935, the Port Authority 
devised its plans for reforestation; further studies have been 
made, and costs have been refigured; only funds are lacking 
to continue this useful and farsighted program. 

Another problem which has confronted the Boston Port 
Authority since its inauguration has been the removal of hulls 
which have become a menace to health and navigation. Be- 
tween 1931 and 1935, a clean-up campaign resulted in the 
removal of 120 of those derelicts. More than $125,000 was spent 
on the work. The ribs, decks, timbers, and keels of the vessels 
were broken up and piled on shore, where needy families 
hauled them away for firewood. Old square-riggers which had 
carried the house flags of New England merchants over the 
oceans were pried out of their last berths in the harbor mud 
and disposed of in that way. But 62 of these rotting vessels 
still lie along the waterfront. Their splintered rails and plank- 
ing remind one of the days when Yankee clippers sailed out 
of Boston Harbor bound for San Francisco or the China Seas. 
The drowning of a boy swimmer in the hold of one of the 
partly sunken schooners in 1939 induced the General Court 
to appropriate funds to resume the work of removal, and sev- 
eral hulks were towed out and sunk off the Graves in the 
spring of 1940. 

A Forward-Looking Port 

The renewed interest and faith of Boston people in the 
destiny of their Port were demonstrated in the gala celebra- 
tions of National Maritime Day in June of 1938, 1939, and 
1940. Crowds of more than 100,000 persons lined the Boston 
waterfront on each occasion, and gathered on the piers and 
other vantage points to witness the most elaborate marine 
pageants ever staged in New England. The onlookers thrilled 
to the kaleidoscope of motion and color. No less than 250 ves- 
sels, including patrol boats, tankers, sailing yachts, and motor 
cruisers passed in review up the inner harbor. There were 
races between lifeboats, fishermen's dories, and Coast Guard 
boats. Open house was the order of the day on several naval 
vessels and on ships operated by the Coast and Geodetic Survey 
and the Bureau of Fisheries. 

Governor Saltonstall and Mayor Tobin in their addresses 
on Maritime Day, June 23, 1939, issued a stimulating appeal 
to the New England public to support their leading port. 

The Port Attacks Its Problems 285 

Asserted Mayor Tobin, "We shall continue to fight until Bos- 
ton has an equal chance to compete." Governor Saltonstall 
declared: "We must fight shoulder to shoulder with the men 
who are making valiant efforts to make Boston Harbor the 
key to better times. New England must still turn its eyes to- 
ward the sea." 

In Colonial times, Boston's small sailing vessels touched 
every port of the Western World and established a tradition 
of skillful trading which was the basis of Boston's maritime 
success for 200 years. From this Port sailed some of the most 
resourceful privateers and the greatest ship of our wooden 
navy, "Old Ironsides," to prove to the world that Bostonians 
could fight as well as bargain. Her ever-expanding commerce 
touched all seas and pioneered in the Pacific and China trade 
in the early iSoo's. To her everlasting glory, her shipbuilders 
produced some of the most perfect clipper ships to ride the 
waves. Under sail, she swept to unexcelled heights. Bostonians, 
however, failed to capitalize on the railroad and the steamer. 
With the increasing use of steamers on the high seas and the 
routing of trunk line railroads to other ports, Boston dropped 
lower and lower in maritime prestige. She became especially 
weak in exports and thus lost her hold on shipping services. 
Since the World War, Boston's position has remained fairly 
constant, with a favorable showing in imports, domestic com- 
merce, and passenger service. The organization of port inter- 
ests behind the leadership of the Port Authority and the 
gradual crystallization of the exact needs of the Port have 
put Boston in a strong position at the present time. She is now 
making a valiant and successful fight to improve her situation. 




(Tonnage expressed in short tons = 2000 Ibs.) 





Domestic 2 








$ 973,187,863 







































































































J 939 





(not available) 3 

1 Compiled from Annual Reports, Chief of Engineers, U. S. Army, Part II, 1920-1940. 

2 Includes Intraport Tonnage. 

3 Valuation not computed by Corps of Engineers for 1939. 





























889,309 . 


































304,9 2 7 























Compiled from Annual Reports, Chief of Engineers, U. S. Army, Part II, 1928-1940 



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American President Line 
Italian Line (F) 
Kerr Line (F) 

American Republics Lim 
Essco-Brodin (F) 
Lloyd Brazileire (F) 
Northern Pan-America I 
North German Lloyd Li 
Sprague Steamship Line 

American President Line 
Canadian National Stear 
United Fruit Company I 

Boston-Yarmouth Line 1 
Canadian National Stear 
Gypsum Packet Co. (F) 
International Line (A) 
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A. W. Stevens, 172. 

Abel E. Babcock, 153. 

Acadia, 20. 

Acadia, 257. 

Actor, 223. 

Acushnet, 225. 

Adams, Alexander, 24. 

Adams, John, 66. 

Adeline, 91. 

Adventure, 38. 

Advice, 39. 

ALolus, 90. 

Africa, steamship services to, 228, 

262, 267, 290; trade with, 27-28, 

32, 56, 61, 147, 172, 198-99, 

260, 262. 
Africa, 90. 
Agamemnon, 208. 
Alabama, 149. 
Albany, 276; packet lines to, 109, 


Alert, 85. 
Alexandria (Va.), packet lines to, 


Alice M. Jacobs, 186. 
Allan Line, 176. 
Alleghany, 216. 
Allerton, Isaac, 16. 
America, 208. 

American and African Line, 290. 
American Airways, 250. 
American Export Lines, 249, 262, 

290, 292. 

American Federation of Labor, 217. 
American-France Line, 262, 290. 
American Hampton Roads Line, 

267, 268, 290. 
American-Hawaiian Line, 190, 216, 

255. 293. 
American & Indian Line, 261, 262, 

American-Manchurian Line, 261, 


American Merchant Marine, 202. 
American Navigation Club, 135. 
American Oil Co., 254. 
American & Oriental Line, 291. 
American Pioneer Line, 290, 291. 
American President Lines, 255, 261, 

262, 291, 292, 293. 

American Republics Line, 213, 231, 

256, 268, 292. 

American Revolution, 63-65. 
American Scantic Line, 256, 267, 


American South African Line, 290. 
American West African Line, 262, 


Amethyst, 119. 
Amory, Thomas, 46, 49. 
Anchor Line, 176, 290. 
A neon, 248. 

Andrew F. Luckenbach, 201. 
Andros, Sir Edmund, 35-36. 
Angelique, 128. 
Anglo-American, 120. 
Anglo-Dutch War (1674), 33. 
Anglo-Saxon, 120. 
Angus H. McDonald, 236-37. 
Antonio, 37, 39. 
Apootsae, 84. 
Apthorp, Charles, 46. 
Arabella, 96. 
Argentine, trade with, 113, 171, 196- 

97. 259. 
Argonaut, 129. 
Arnold, Orson W., 158. 
Astrea, 73. 
Atahualpa, 84, 85. 
Atkins, Capt. Henry, 51. 
Atlantic Avenue, 27, 210, 234, 281. 
Atlantic Coast Fisheries Corp., 247. 
Atlantic Works, 167, 199, 211. 
Attoo, 77. 
Aurora, 124. 
Austerlitz, 212. 
Australasian Line, 172-73. 
Australia, packet lines to, 172-73; 

steamship services to, 228, 290; 

trade with, 95, 147, 172-73, 228, 

Australian Black Ball Line, 138, 


Avenger, 91. 
Avon, (i) 106, (2) 198. 
Azor, 118. 
Azores, trade with, 28, 32, 55, 95, 

117-18, 176. 

Bacon, Capt. Daniel C., 95, 135, 139. 



Bailey, Jacob, Diary of, quoted, 56- 

Bainbridge, Commodore William, 

7 1 - 

Baines, James, & Co., 138, 141. 

Baker, J. J., Co., 153. 

Baker, Lorenzo D., 196. 

Baker Palmer, 163. 

Baldwin, F. J., 167. 

Ball, Mr., 43. 

Baltic ports, steamship services to, 
1 94'95 231, 256, 261, 262, 267, 
290; trade with, 73-74, 89, 93, 96, 
118, 261. 

Baltimore, clippers, 130; packet 
lines to, 109, in; steamship serv- 
ices to, 148, 161, 255; trade with, 
252, 255. 

Banana trade, 196. 

Bangor, steamship services to, in, 

Bangor, 110. 

Bank Line, 261, 262, 291. 

Barbary pirates, 68. 

Barber Line, 197, 228. 

Barber-Wilhelmsen Line, 262, 291. 

Barker, Josiah, 71. 

Barker, Thomas, 24. 

Barks (described), 24. 

Barnard, John, & Co., 109. 

Bath, steamship services to, no, 
160, 192. 

Bay State Fishing Co., 184. 

Bay State Steamboat Co., 245. 

Beacon Hill, 26, 69. 

Beardsley, William K., 184. 

Beaver, 62. 

Belfast, 183. 

Belfast and Camden, 191. 

Bellomont, Earl of, 36, 37, 38-39. 

Belmont, 195. 

Belvidera, 90. 

Bendall, Edward, 25. 

Bennett, Joseph, quoted, 43. 

Berkshire, 216. 

Bermuda, trade with, 32. 

Bertelsen & Petersen Engineering 
Co., 212. 

Bertha F. Walker, 153. 

Bethel, 48. 

Bethlehem Steel Co., 200-02, 211, 
212; see Fore River Shipbuilding 

Betsey Ross, 223. 

Betsy, 81. 

Billings, George, 169. 

Blackburn, S. P., and Co., 169. 

Black Diamond Lines, 267, 268, 290. 

"Black Horse Flag," 107, 173. 

Black Point, 252. 

Black Sea ports, steamship services 

to, 231, 292; trade with, 73. 
Blackstone, William, 17-18. 
Blanchard, Capt. Hollis, 153. 
Blanche, 182. 
Blessing of the Bay, 22. 
Bliss, James & Co., Inc., 169-70. 
Blue Funnel Line, 262, 291. 
Blue Jacket, 139. 
Bluebird, 217. 
Board of Trade, 152. 
Boit, John, Jr., 86. 
Booth Fisheries Co., 247. 
Bordman, William H., Jr., 96. 
Boston, 16-19, 21, 39, 44, 63-65, 69- 

70, 91, 97-99, 100-01, 146, 170, 210; 
shipbuilding in, 22, 23, 24, 49-51, 
70-71, 105-06, 132-33, 144, 165-67, 
199; waterfront, 25-27, 41-42, 70- 

71, 100-02, 138, 149, 150-52, 179- 
80, 208, 210-11, 234-36, 279-82, 

Boston, 119; U. S. S., 71. 
Boston & Albany piers, 180, 235. 
Boston Army Base, 208, 235, 282. 
Boston & Bangor Steamship Co., 

Boston and California Joint Stock 

Mining and Trading Co., 123. 
Boston, Cape Cod, and New York 

Canal Co., 181. 
Boston City, 194. 
Boston Custom House, 102. 
Boston and European Steamship 

Co., 148. 

Boston Fish Bureau, 158. 
Boston Fish Exchange, 219, 220. 
Boston Fish Market Corp., 185. 
Boston Fish Pier, 180, 185, 219, 234. 
Boston Forge Co., 167. 
Boston Fruit Co., 196. 
Boston and Philadelphia Steamship 

Line, 161. 
Boston & Gloucester Steamboat Co., 

Boston & Hingham Steamboat Co., 

Boston and Liverpool Packet Co., 

Boston Marine Engineers Assn., 


Boston Marine Society, 238. 
Boston Marine Works, Inc., 212. 
Boston Municipal Airport, 250. 
Boston Navy Yard, 71, 115, 202, 205, 

235 249. 
Boston and Newburyport Mining 

Co., 125-26. 



Boston-New York Line, 257, 293. 

Boston Packet, 60. 

Boston Port Authority, 231-33, 266- 

68, 270-71, 275-78, 279-81, 283; 

Reports, quoted, 219, 270. 
Boston Port Bill, 63. 
Boston, Portland, and Kennebec 

Steamboat Line, 110. 
Boston Port Society, 99, 100. 
Boston Provision and Ship Supply 

Co., 169. 
Boston Seamen's Friend Society, 99, 

Boston Society for the Religious 

and Moral Improvement of Sea- 
men, 99. 

Boston Tea Party, 62. 
Boston Towboat Co., 238. 
Boston Wharf Co., 151. 
Boston Wholesale Fish Dealers' 

Credit Association, 184. 
Boston Yacht Club, 246. 
Bos ton -Yarmouth Line, 257, 292. 
Bounty, 83. 

Bourne, Nehemiah, 23. 
Bowditch, Nathaniel, 252. 
Bowditch, Richard, 252. 
Boylston, Thomas, 46. 
Bradish, Joseph, 38. 
Bram Murder Case, 155-56. 
Brazil, trade with, 113. 
Briggs, E. & H., 107, 139. 
Britannia, 120. 
Brocklebank's Cunard Line, 290, 


Brooks, Noah, 106. 
Brooks, Peter C., 71. 
Brown's Bank, 53. 
Brumely, Capt. Reuben, 82. 
Bucanier, 73. 
Bulfinch, Charles, 70, 76. 
Bull, Dixey, 21. 

Bunker Hill, go; steamboat, 192. 
Bunker Hill Mining and Trading 

Co., 122. 

Bureau of Fisheries, U. S., 223, 248. 
Bureau of Foreign and Domestic 

Commerce, U. S., 242. 
Burgess, 167. 
Burgess, Edward, 167. 
Burke, Cap't. Edmund, 118. 
Butler Bill, the, 272. 
Bryant & Sturgis, 84, 114. 

C. & T. Intercoastal Line, 190. 

Cabot, John, 15. 

Cabot, George, quoted, 174. 

Cairo, 95, 120. 

California, see Pacific Coast ports. 

California Packet, 128. 
Calmar Line, 256, 293. 
Calvin Austin, 191, 206. 
Canada, packet lines to, 195; steam- 
ship services to, 191, 229, 257, 292; 

trade with, 20, 32, 51, 52, 55, 147, 

217, 251. 
Canadian, 204. 
Canadian National Steamship Line, 

262, 292. 
Canals, Barge, 268; Cape Cod, 181- 

82, 217, 219, 245; Champlain, 269; 

Erie, 112, 268; Middlesex, 112; 

Oswego, 269; Panama, 197. 
Canary Islands, trade with, 27, 32, 


Cape Cod Ship Canal Co., 181. 
Cape Cod Steamship Co., 245, 257, 


Cape Cod Trawling Co., 247. 
Capitol, 124. 

Captains of clipper, ships, 142-44. 
Caribbean area, steamship services 

to, 257, 267-68, 292; trade with, 

see West Indies and Central 

Carinthia, 230. 
Carlyle City, 194. 
Caroline, 83. 
Cartwright, Charles E., cited, 29, 


Casco, 167. 

Catherine, 74. 

Cavalier (flying boat), 253. 

Central America, steamship services 

to, 292; trade with, 34, 55, 171, 

196* 259. 
Central Freight Assn. Territory, 

271, 276. 
Ceres, 161. 

Chamber of Commerce, 68, 152, 214. 
Champion of the Seas, 141, 144. 
Channels, 150-51, 179, 214, 233, 242, 

Charles, 47. 
Charles A. Briggs, 162. 
Charleston, packet lines to, 109, 

111; steamship services to, 148, 

161, 190, 256; trade with, 73, 97, 


Charlestown, 17, 18, 21, 235; ship- 
building in, 70-71, 101, 107, 167, 

202, 249. 
Charlotte, 103. 
Chatham, 216. 
Chelsea Creek, 235, 254, 283. 
Chesapeake, U.S.S., 87. 
China, trade with, 75-76, 77-80, 82 

83, 89, 114, 117, 171-72. 



Chinese, smuggling of, 144. 

Cincinnati, 205. 

Circassian, 126. 

Cities Service Co., 254. 

City of Bangor, 191. 

City of Bath, 161. 

City of Boston, 176. 

City of Miami, 212. 

City of Rockland, 183, 191. 

City of Salisbury, 239, 283. 

City Point Iron Works, 167. 

Civilian Conservation Corps, 245, 


Civil War, 148-49, 165. 
Clark, Capt. Arthur H., cited, 127. 
Clark, Benjamin C., 95. 
Clay Line, 262, 290. 
Cleopatra, 111. 
Cleopatra's Barge, 114. 
Cleveland, Capt. Richard J., 82, 

cited, 79. 

Clipper ships, 130-42, 144-45. 
Clyde Steamship Co., 190, 215, 256. 
Clyde-Mallory Line, 257, 293. 
Coal trade, 112, 191, 215, 251-53. 
Coast Guard, U. S., 224-27, 241, 243- 

Coastwise Transportation Co., 162, 


Cobb, Capt. Elijah, 69. 
Codman, Capt. John, 97, 115. 
Coffee trade, 113, 214. 
Cold Harbor, 283. 
Collins Steamship Line, 146. 
Colonial Beacon Oil Co., 213, 236, 


Colonial trade, 29, 30, 37, 51, 52-53, 
55> 57. 59 61-62, 63, 64. 

Columbia, 76-78, 81, 86. 

Columbian, 204. 

Columbiana, 103. 

Commerce, 73. 

Commonwealth Ice and Cold Stor- 
age Co., 185. 

Commonwealth Pier, No. i, 180, 
281, 282; No. 5, 180, 234. 

Confederate raiders, 148-49. 

Congress of Industrial Organiza- 
tions, 219. 

Connecticut, trade with, 19, 52. 

Connecticut, (i) no, (2) in. 

Connolly, James B., quoted, 156, 

Constitution, U.S.S., 70, 90-92, 180. 

Conyngham, U.S.S., 205. 

Coolidge, J. S., 139. 

Cotton trade, 112, 190. 

Courier, 107. 

Cox and Green, 152. 

Cradock, Matthew, 17, 22. 

Cressy, Capt. Josiah Perkins, 133-35, 


Cristobal, 248. 

Crowell Supply Co., 169, 170. 
Crowell & Thurlow, 162, 189, 198, 

212, 213. 

Crowley, John G., 162, 191. 

Cuba, trade with, 196. 

Cunard Line, 120, 148, 175, 194, 

229-30, 261, 263, 290. 
Cunard, Samuel, 120. 
Cunningham, Andrew, 95. 
Currier, William, 107. 
Curtis and Barstow, 24. 
Curtis, J. O., 139. 
Curtis, Paul O., 106, 132, 139, 


Customs Service, U. S., 241, 242. 
Cyclops, U.S.S., 252. 

Dabney family, 117, 139, 176. 

Daniel Webster, 108. 

Dartmouth, 62. 

D'Aulnay, 20. 

Davis, Frank S., 214, 258. 

Davis Palmer, 163. 

Decatur, 91. 

Decrow, Marion L., 169. 

Delano, Amasa, 81. 

De La Roma Line, 291. 

Delaware, trade with, 20. 

Delia Walker, 107. 

Derby, "King", 73. 

Desire, 28. 

Despatch Line, in. 

Digby, 229. 

Directors of the Port, 179. 

Doane, Capt., 137. 

Dodwell-Castle Line, 291. 

Dollar Line, 229, 255. 

Domestic trade, 67, 68, 94, 112, 123, 
129, 146, 147, 157-58, 189-90, 191, 
196, 213, 215-17, 251-58. 

Dominion Atlantic Railway, Ma- 
rine Dept., 192. 

Dominion Line, 194. 

Donald McKay, 141. 

Dorchester, 95, 120; steamboat, 216. 

Dorchester Company, 17. 

Dorothy Palmer, 164. 

Dorr, Capt. Ebenezer, Jr., 81. 

Dove, 30. 

Dover, 119. 

Dowdling, Capt. Thomas, 46. 

Dudley, Gov. Thomas, 38. 

)umaresq, Capt. Philip, 131, 135, 

139. M3- 
Durham City, 194. 


Dutch Colonies, trade with, 19, 22, 


Dutch War, First, 33. 
Duxbury, 129. 

E. B. Hale, 161. 

Eagle, 109. 

East Boston, 180, 211-12, 235; ship- 
building in, 107-08, 130-31, 132- 
33 1 35> l 39-4> 141-4*, 166-67, 

199, 211-12. 

Eastern Crown, 252. 

Eastern Gas & Fuel Assoc., 253. 

Eastern Queen, 160. 

Eastern Steamship Lines, Inc., 110- 

11, 191-92, 257, 292, 293. 
East India Company, 62, 63. 
East Indiamen, described, 106. 
East Indies, steamship services to, 

see Far East; trade with, 228, 260. 
Eaton, Capt. George E., 242. 
Edward and Thomas, 33. 
Edward Everett, 123-24. 
Edward H. Cole, 206-07. 
Edward J. Lawrence, 191. 
Egypt, trade with, 228, 259. 
Elder-Dempster Line, 195, 262, 290. 
Eleanor, 62. 
Eliza, 83. 

Elizabeth Palmer, 163. 
Ellerman & Bucknall Line, 262. 
Embargo Act (1807), 87-88. 
Emerald, 119. 

Emerson, Ralph W., quoted, 117. 
Emery, Geo. D., Co., 171. 
Emery, John S., & Co., 162, 197, 198. 
Empress of China, 76. 
Endeavor, (i) 30, (2) 46. 
Endecott, John, 17. 
England, see Great Britain. 
Enoch Train, 174-75. 
Essco-Brodin Line, 262, 292. 
Essex, U.S.S., 80. 
Essex Baron, 203. 
550 Baytown, 253. 
Europe (Continental), steamship 

services to, 194-95, 228, 261, 262, 

290; trade with, 31, 32-33, 36, 53- 

54 55-5 6 . 67-68, 95 Il8 > H7. i?5' 

76, 202-04, 227. 

European War (1939), 261, 268. 
Evangeline, 257. 
Excursions in Mass. Bay, 110, 158- 

59, 244-45. 
Express, 166. 

Fairfax, 216, 223-24. 
Faneuil, Peter, 44-45. 
Fanning, U.S.S., 206. 

Fanny Palmer, 163. 

Far East, steamship services to, 228, 
229, 261, 262, 291; trade with, 
147, 171-72, 228, 259, 260; see also 

Farnham, Mrs., 128. 

Favorite, 96, 104. 

Federal Coordinator of Railroads, 

Fern Line, 290. 

Ferries, 26. 

Fire Department, Boston, 236-37. 

Fire of 1872, 151-52. 

Fish inspection, 184, 222. 

Fish trade, 37, 53, 55, 68, 147, 157- 

Fishermen's strikes, 187-88, 246-47. 

Fishermen's Union of the Atlantic, 
187, 246-47. 

Fishing industry, 52-53, 108-09, 1 56- 
58, 180, 184-87, 219-23, 246-48, 

Fitzgerald, John F., 180-81, 258. 

Flitner Atwood Co., 169. 

Florida, 149. 

Fly, William, 49. 

Flying Cloud, 133-35. 

Flying Fish, 137-38. 

Foam, 184. 

Folger, Capt., May hew, 83. 

Forbes, Robert Bennet, 84, 115-16. 

Foreign Commerce Club of Boston, 

Foreign trade, 66, 68-69, 79-80, 88- 
89, 94, 112-21, 147, 170-74, 175-76, 
177-78, 192-93, 194-95. 196-97. 202- 
04, 213-14, 227-31, 261-63, 289. 

Fore River Shipbuilding Co., 168, 
199-202, 212, 248-49; see Bethle- 
hem Steel Co. 

Fort Hill, 26. 

Forty-Niners, 122 ff. 

Foss, Capt. Harold, 165, 199. 

Fox, Capt. Philip, 119. 

France, commercial relations with, 

66, 119-20; trade with, 32, 55, 64, 

67, 69, 261. 

France and Canada Steamship Co., 

163. . 

Franconia, 230. 
Frank A. Palmer, 182. 
Frank N. Thayer, 154-55. 
Franklin, 172. 
Frederick de Barry, 159. 
Freeman, Capt. Isaac, 48. 
Freight rates, 193, 203, 213-14, 270- 

72, 274-75. 

French Brothers, 169. 
French Line, 261, 263. 



French West Indies, 33, 55, 57, 58, 


Friends Adventure, 45. 
Friendship, 30. 
Frisbee, John, 166-67. 
Fuller, George, 106. 
Fuller Palmer, 163. 
Fulton, 111. 

Fulton Steamboat Line, 111. 
Furness Withy Co., Ltd., 194, 197, 

229, 262; see Johnston Warren 

Lines, Ltd. 

Galatea, 168. 

Gamecock, 95, 139. , 

Gardiner, steamship services to, 1 10, 
160, 192. 

General Batchelder, 223. 

General Lincoln, no. 

General Seafoods Corp., 246, 247. 

General Ship & Engine Works, 212. 

Genesta, 168. 

George W. Dames, 201. 

Georgina M., 223. 

German ships, seizure of, 205. 

German submarines, 204-08. 

Germany, steamship services to, 261, 
290; trade with, 227, 261. 

Gertrude Abbott, 153. 

Gift of God, 34. 

Gilbert, Capt. Thomas, 34. 

Gillam, James, 38. 

Gillan, Benjamin & Co., 23. 

Glidden, C. S., & Co., 189. 

Gloucester, fishing industry, 185- 
87; steamship services to, no, 159. 

Gloucester, 224. 

Golden Fleece, 174. 

Golden Light, 139. 

Golden West, 225. 

Gold rush, 122-30. 

Googan & Stodder, 169. 

Gorges, Robert, 16. 

Gosnold, Bartholomew, 15. 

Gothenburg City, 194. 

Governor, 160. 

Governor Cobb, (i) 191, (2) 245. 

Governor Davis, 95, 120. 

Grace, W. R., & Co., 190. 

Grain trade, 112, 192, 203, 270. 

Grand Turk, 108. 

Gray, Capt. Robert, 76-77. 

Gray, William, 73. 

Grayling, 154. 

Great Admiral, 174, 175. 

Great Britain, packet lines to, 96, 
118-19, 120-21; steamship services 
to, 120-21, 148, 175-76, 194-95, 
229, 230, 261, 262, 267, 290; trade 

with, 29, 30, 32, 34, 53-54, 55, 56, 
61, 67, 69, 89, 119-20, 227, 229, 
230, 259. 

Great Republic, 139-41. 

Greene, Richard T., 199. 

Greyhound, 46. 

Grinnell & Minturn, 136. 

Guerriere, 90, 91. 

Gulf Oil Co., 254. 

Gulf ports, steamship services to, 
161, 215, 255-57, 2 93 trade with, 
255-57; see a ^ so New Orleans. 

Gypsum Packet Co., 260, 292. 

H. C. Higginson, 153. 

Hadnot, 201. 

Hale, Samuel B., & Co., 113. 

Haley, Lady, 83. 

Halifax disaster, 206. 

Hallet, Captain, 75. 

Hall, John G., & Co., 195, 196, 198, 


Hall, Samuel, 130, 137, 139, 166. 
Hall, William, 24. 
Halsey, John, 38. 

Hamburg- American Line, 261, 262. 
Hancock, 79. 
Hancock, John, 60, 61. 
Hanover, 54. 
Hapag-Lloyd Line, 290. 
Harbor master, 237. 
Harriet, 75. 

Harrington & King, 153, 169. 
Hartol Oil Co., 254. 
Hartt's Shipyard, 70. 
Harvard, 192. 
Harwood Palmer, 164. 
Haskins Fish Co., 247. 
Hawaii, steamship services to, 229, 

291; trade with, 76, 82, 114. 
Hawkins, Capt. Thomas, 23. 
Hayes, Capt. John, 43. 
Hayden & Cudworth, 139. 
Hazard, 43. 

Hemenway, Augustus, 113-14. 
Hemp trade, 173. 
Herald, 119. 
Herbert Fuller, 155-56. 
Hide trade, 113-14, 192. 
Hill, Valentine, 23, 26. 
Hinkley Brothers and Co., 169. 
Hodder, Walter W., Inc., 169. 
Holbrook, Samuel, cited, 115, 125; 

quoted, 128. 

Holland- America Line, 262, 291, 
Hooper, 150. 

Hoosac Tunnel Docks, 235. 
Hope, 79, 80, 81, 108. 
Hopewell, 30. 



Horace A. Stone, 211. 

Howard Smith, 166. 

Howe, Octavius T., cited, 129; 

quoted, 123. 

Howe, Capt. Samuel H., no. 
Howes & Crowell, 95. 
Howes, Osborn, 95, 139. 
Hull, Capt. Isaac, 90-92. 
Hull, John, 28, 30-31. 
Hunt, Charles, Co., 197-98. 
Huston Line, 197. 
Huston, R. P., 196. 

lasigi, Joseph, 117. 
Ice trade, 96-97, 113. 
Immigration, 120, 176-77, 195, 241- 

42, 289. 

Immigration Service, U.S., 242. 
Independent Line, in. 
India, steamship services to, 229, 

262, 291; trade with, 62, 96, 97, 

172, 229, 259, 260, 261, 262. 
Indians, local, trade with, 16, 17, 

19, 20; Northwest Coast, trade 

with, 75-77, 79-81. 
Ingraham, Joseph, 80, 81. 
Inman Co., 176. 

Insular possessions, trade with, 196. 
Insurance, marine, 71, 80, 203; 

stevedore, 279; terminal, 279. 
International Ice Patrol, 244. 
International Mercantile Marine 

Co., 190, 192. 
International Steamship Co., 191, 

Interstate Commerce Commission, 

193, 214, 232, 257, 271-72, 273, 

274, 280. 

Irish famine, 116, 120. 
Iron and steel trade, 204, 259. 
Irving F. Ross, 223. 
Irving Usen-O'Donnell Co., 247. 
Isabella B. Parmenter, 166. 
Islands, Bird's, see Nix's Mate; Car- 

ibbee, 32; Castle, 26, 61, 244; 

Deer, 243, 245; Falklands, 83; 

Gallups, 241, 243, 245; Georges, 

245; Governors, 244; Great Brew- 

ster (Beacon Island), 42, 243; 

Long, 177, 245; Nix's Mate, 37, 

245; Peddocks, 245; Pitcairn, 83; 

Sable, 53; Spectacle, 244; Thomp- 
son, 245. 
I sly, 212. 

Isthmian Line, 228, 291, 292, 293. 
Italian Line, 262, 263, 292. 
Italy, trade with, 32, 53, 116, 259. 

Jackson, E. R., 175. 

Jackson, Robert E., 139. 
Jackson & Ewell, 139. 
Jacksonville, steamship services to, 

161, 190, 256. 
James, Capt. Joshua, 152. 
James Baines, 141-42, 144-45. 
Jamestown, 116. 
Jane, 69. 

Jane Palmer, 164. 
Japan, trade with, 171, 259. 
Jasper, 117. 
Java-New York Line, 261, 262, 


Jay's Treaty, 72. 
Jefferson, 80. 

Jenney Manufacturing Co., 254, 255. 
Jersey Blue, 161. 
"Jew's Raft," 58. 
John Bertram, 139. 
John Gilpin, 137-38. 
John of Exon, 43. 
John P. Dowd, 236. 
John Paul, 199. 
Johnston Warren Lines, Ltd., 229, 

291, 292; see Furness Withy Co. 
Jones, George G., 119. 
Joshua Bates, 107, 120. 
Juno, 183. 

Katrina Luckenbach, 201. 

Kearsarge, U.S.S., 149. 

Keith, Minor C., 196. 

Kendrick, Capt. John, 76-77. 

Kennebec, 258. 

Kennebec Steamship Co., no, 191. 

Kennedy Marine Basin, Inc., 249. 

Kerr Line, 292. 

Ketches (described), 24. 

Keying, 171. 

Kidd, Capt. William, 34, 38-39. 

King George's War, 58. 

King Kamehameha, 82. 

King Liholiho, 114. 

King William's War, 33. 

Kingfisher, 184. 

Kokusai Line, 261, 262, 291. 

Kronprinzessin Cecilie, 205. 

L-io, U.S.S., 183. 
La Tour, 20. 
Labrador trade, 51-52. 
Laconia, 230. 
Lady Washington, 76-77. 
Laila, 236-37. 
Lamplighter, 149. 
Lamport & Holt, 196. 
Lapham, Samuel, 106, 139. 
Lauretta, 149. 
Laurillia, 174. 



Lawley, George, and Son Corp., 168, 
!99. 249. 

Lawrence, Capt. Peter, 47. 

Lawrence, U.S.S., 200. 

Ledyard, John, 75. 

Lee, Capt. Richard, 198. 

Lemuel Barrows, 252. 

Leonard, John B., 258. 

Leopard, 87. 

Levant, 115. 

Leviathan, 214. 

Le Voyageur de la Mer, 166. 

Lewis, 148. 

Lewis Luckenbach, 201. 

Lexington, U.S.S., 212. 

Leyland Line, 176, 194, 204. 

Lifesavers of Hull, 152-53. 

Lighterage, 272-73. 

Light Horse, 73. 

Lighthouse Service, U.S., 242. 

Lighthouses, Boston, 41-43, 102, 150, 
243; Graves, 237, 243; Long Island 
Head, 243; Lovell's Island, 243; 
Minots, 102-03, 243; Spectacle Is- 
land, 243. 

Lightning, 137, 141, 144-45. 

Limon, 188. 

Lincoln and Wheelwright, 106. 

Liverpool, packet lines to, 118-19, 
120, 176; steamship services to, 
120, 148, 175, 194, 229, 230, 267. 

Liverpool, 119. 

Livestock trade, 192, 203, 213-14. 

Lloyd, 103. 

Lloyd Brazileire Line, 292. 

Lockwood Manufacturing Co., 167, 


Lodge, John Ellerton, 139. 

Lombard's, A. C., Sons, 195, 262. 

Long Branch, 111. 

Longshoremen, 187-88, 218-19, 278; 
strikes, 187, 219. 

Longshoremen's Assn., Interna- 
tional, 187, 188, 218. 

Longshoremen's District Council, 

Loon, 223. 

Lord, Capt. George P., 258. 

Loring, Harrison, 167. 

Louise B. Crary, 182. 

Lowell, 119. 

Lubbock, Basil, quoted, 133-34, 138. 

Luckenbach Line, 190, 216, 255, 293. 

Lumber trade, 113, 114, 147, 171, 
190, 256, 279. 

Lunenberg expedition, 64-65. 

Lykes Coastwise Line, 256, 293. 

MacDonough, U.S.S., 200, 201. 

MacKay, R. C., 139. 

Madagascar, 97. 

Maersk Line, 291. 

Magee, James, 73, 79. 

Magoun, Thatcher, 71, 106. 

Maine, packet lines to, 160; steam- 
ship services to, 110-11, 160, 191- 
92; trade with, 147-48. 

Maine, no; U.S.S., 177. 

Maine Steamship Co., 192. 

Mallory Line, 256. 

Manhassett, 183. 

Manning, Capt. George, 33. 

M.A.N.Z. Line, 262, 290. 

Marblehead, 63; steamship services 
to, no. 

Margaret, 79, 108. 

Marie Palmer, 163. 

Marine Co., 212. 

Marine Cooks & Stewards Assn., 188. 

Marine Firemen, Oilers, and Water- 
tenders Union, 188. 

Marion F. Sprague, 166. 

Maritime Association, Boston, 214, 
257, 265, 283. 

Maritime Commission, U.S., 240, 
241, 248, 249, 257, 258, 273, 274, 

Maritime Service Training School, 

U.S., 241. 

Marjorie E. Bachman, 226. 
Martha Wenzell, 149. 
Martin, Ambrose A., 199. 
Mary, (i) 34, (2) 43. 
Mary Chilton, 116. 
Mary Rose, 25. 
Mary Sanford, 161. 
Maryland, trade with, 19-20, 32, 51. 
Maryland, U.S.S., 179. 
Massachusetts, 15-16, 35-36, 55, 66, 

70, 86, 91-92, 93-95, 193, 205. 
Massachusetts, 78-79, 86; steamboat, 

(i) 109, (2) 110, (3) 116, (4) 192; 

U.S.S., 248. 
Massachusetts Commissioners of 

Fisheries and Game, 185 
Massachusetts Dept. of Public 

Works, 233, 280, 282. 
Massachusetts Div. of Fisheries, 223. 
Massachusetts Humane Society, 103, 


Massachusetts Institute of Technol- 
ogy, 222. 
Massachusetts Nautical School, 240- 


Massachusetts Oil Refinery Co., 254. 
Massachusetts Steam Navigation 

Co., no. 
Massachusetts Trawling Co., 247. 


Massasoit, 104. 

Matthew J. Boyle, 236. 

Mattie E. Eaton, 153. 

Mauch Chunk, 183. 

Maud Palmer, 163. 

Maverick, Samuel, 17, 18, 21. 

Mayflower, steamboat, (i) no, (2) 

183, (3) 244; yacht, 168, 249. 
Mayo, Timothy L., 169. 
Mclntyre, Peter, and Co., 169. 
McKay, Capt. Lauchlan, 136, 140. 
McKay, Donald, 107-08, 131, 133, 

135-36, 138, 139-42, 148- 
McKie, William, 199. 
McManus, Thomas B., 184. 
Medford, 18; shipbuilding in, 22, 

24, 106, 139, 167, 168, 249. 
Mediterranean, steamship services 

to the, 228, 229, 261, 267, 292; 

trade with the, 32, 37, 53, 55, 61, 

68, 74-75, 89, 93, 95, 96, 116-18, 

176, 259, 262. 
Merchants & Miners Transportation 

Co., 148, 216, 223-24, 255, 293. 
Mercury, 183. 
Meridian, 174. 
Mermaid, 95. 

Merrimac Chemical Co., 236. 
Merritt, Dr. Samuel, 126. 
Metropolitan Line, 161, 192. 
Mexican Petroleum Corp., 254. 
Miami, 161. 

Michael H. Crowley, 237. 
Military Defense Act (1917), 189. 
Millett, Arthur, 184. 
Mississippi, 177. 
Mitsin Line, 291. 
Mobile, packet lines to, 109. 
Mocha, 38. 
Modoc, 168. 
Mohawk, 104. 
Molasses Act, 58, 59-60. 
Molasses trade, 27-28, 57-60, 68. 
Mongolia, 208. 
Monks, Lester H., 155. 
Mooremack Gulf Lines, 215, 255, 

256, 293. 
Moore & McCormack, Inc., 255, 256, 


Morgan Line, 256, 257, 293. 
Morison, Samuel Eliot, cited, 74; 

quoted, 69-70, 117, 133, 135. 
Mormacpen, 268. 
Mormacyork, 268. 
Mosely, Capt., 53. 
Mount Vernon, 208. 
Mt. JEina, 106. 
Mullen, John P., 187. 
Murray & Tregurtha Co., 199. 

Myra W. Spear, 183. 
Mystic Iron Works, 236. 
Mystic piers, 236, 282. 
Mystic Steamship Co., 212, 213, 252, 

N. Boynton, 167. 

2V. B. Palmer, 135. 

Nahant Steamboat Co., 110. 

Nahant, steamship services to, no, 


Nantasket, (i) 110, (2) 158. 
Nantasket Beach Steamboat Co., 

110, 158, 244, 257. 
Nantucket, (i) 167, (2) 240. 
National Docks, 235. 
National Maritime Day, 284-85. 
Naushin, no. 
Navigation acts, 34-36, 51. 
Nawsco Line, 190. 
Neal, Daniel, 53. 
Nellie Chapin, 172. 
Neponset, tug, 188; steamboat, 220. 
Neutrality Act (1939), 268. 
New England, 186. 
New Eng. Coal & Coke Co., 236, 252. 
New Eng. Company, 17. 
New Eng. Convention, 92. 
New Eng. Fish Exchange, 184. 
New Eng. Freight Assn., 275. 
New Eng. Fuel & Transportation 

Co., 212. 

New Eng. Transatlantic Line, 213. 
Newfoundland, steamship services 

to, 229; trade with, -32, 52, 55, 56. 
Newfoundland, 229. 
New Hampshire, trade with, 52, 


New Haven, in. 
New Jersey Lighterage Case, 273. 
New Jersey, U.S.S., 200. 
New Line, 111. 
New Orleans, steamship services to, 

145, 195, 256; trade with, 60, 73, 

95' 97. i9- 

"Newport Massacre," 227. 
New York, packet lines to, 109, in; 

port charges and rates, 270-80; 

steamship services to, 111, 161, 

192, 215, 255, 257, 293; trade with, 

19, 22, 32, 51, 52. 
New York, 245. 

N.Y. Harbor Warehouse Case, 274. 
N.Y., N.H. & H. Pier No. 2, 234. 
N.Y. State Barge Canal System, 


Nickels, Capt. Edward G., 137. 
Nicholson, Commodore Samuel, 71. 
Nicholson, U.S.S., 206. 



Nippon (N.Y.K.) Line, 262, 291. 

Norfolk, packet lines to, 111; steam- 
ship services to, 216, 255; trade 
with, 216, 255. 

Norfolk, 191. 

Norsemen, 15. 

North American Royal Mail Steam 
Packet Co., 120. 

North Atlantic Conference, 193. 

North Battery, 26. 

North German Lloyd Line, 194, 

261, 262, 290, 292. 

North Sea ports, steamship services 

to, 261, 267, 290. 
North Western Co., 122. 
Northeast Airlines, Inc., 250. 
Northern Light, (i) 139, (2) 238. 
Northern Pan-America Line, 292. 
Northland, 206. 
Northwest Coast trade, 75-76, 83-86, 

114; see Pacific Coast ports. 
Norton, Lilly and Co., 262. 
Norwich Line, in. 
Nova Scotia, naval expeditions to, 

47; steamship services to, 191, 229, 

Nova Scotia, 229. 

O'Brien, R., & Co., 247. 

O'Cain, Capt. Joseph, 81. 

Ocean, 160. 

Ocean Monarch, 120. 

Ocean Queen, 108. 

Ocean Steamship Co. of Savannah, 

148, 272; see- Savannah Line. 
Ocean travel, 56-57, 116-17, 120. 
O'Hara Brothers Co., Inc., 247. 
O'Hara, F. J., & Sons, Inc., 247. 
Old Colony, 192. 
Oldmixon, John, quoted, 49. 
Oneida, 133. 
Orama, H.M.S., 205. 
Oriole Line, 267, 268. 
Orleans, shelled, 207. 
Osaka Shoshen Kaisha Line, 261, 

262, 291. 
Othello, 124. 
Otter, 81. 

Pacific Coast Direct Line, 293. 

Pacific Coast ports, steamship serv- 
ices to, 190, 216, 229, 255, 256, 
293; trade with, 81, 113-14, 122- 
29, 144, 216; see Northwest Coast 

Pacific Ocean islands, 81-82. 

Packets, 109, in, 118-21, 175. 

Palmer fleet, 163-64. 

Palmer, Capt. "Nat," 143. 

Palmer, William F. & Co., 162, 189. 

Palmyra, 175. 

Panama, 248. 

Panama Pacific Line, 190. 

Pan-Atlantic Line, 256, 293. 

Parker Cook, 149. 

Parker, William, 24. 

Parliament, 120. 

Parsons, Capt. Ebenezer, 74. 

Passenger traffic, 120, 195, 230, 262. 


Pass of Balmaha, 198. 
Patent, no. 
Patricia, 208. 
Patten, Mrs. Mary, 143. 
Patterson, Wylde & Co., 262. 
Paul Jones, 106. 
Paul Palmer, 163. 
Peabody, Henry W., & Co., 172-73. 
Peabody & Lane, Inc., 262. 
Peace of Utrecht, 57. 
Pearl, 85. 
Peg, 226. 

Pemberton, Thomas, 70. 
Penobscot, 33; steamboat, 258. 
Pentagost, 154. 

Perkins, Thomas Handasyd, 73. 
Perkins Co., 74. 
Persia, 148. 
Perth Amboy, 207. 
Petroleum trade, 228, 253-55. 
Phelps, Capt. William Dane, 122. 
Philadelphia, packet lines to, 109, 

111; steamship lines to, 161, 216, 

255; trade with, 73, 255. 
Philip, 33. 
Philippines, trade with, 196, 259, 


Phips, Sir William, 36. 
Phoenix, 81. 

Pierce, Capt. William, 28. 
Pier Storage Case, 274. 
Pilgrim, 198. 
Pilot, 238. 

Pilots, 42-43, 105, 152, 237-40. 
Pilots Assn., Boston, 237-38. 
Pinnaces, 24. 
Pinthis, 224. 

Pirates, 20-21, 37-40, 48-49. 
Plymouth, 119. 

Pocahontas Fuel Co., 252, 257. 
Police Dept., Boston, 237. 
Polka, 103. 

Pook, Samuel Hartt, 130, 166. 
Porcupine, 34. 

Port charges, 68, 105-06, 277-80. 
Portland, steamship services to, 1 10, 

160-61, 191. 
Portland, 153-54. 



Portland Steam Packet Co., 191. 

Port of Boston Boosters, 265. 

Port Royal, 47. 

Portugal, trade with, 32, 53, 55, 68. 

Port Wardens, 152. 

Prescott Palmer, 163. 

Preston, Andrew W., 196. 

Prince, Capt. Job, 78. 

Prince Line, 261, 262, 291. 

Privateers, 33-34, 46-49, 63-64, 90. 

Progress, 223. 

Prohibition era, 224-27. 

Propeller Club, 265. 

Providence, 45. 

Providence Line, 1 1 1 . 

Province, 46. 

Provincetown, steamship services to, 

no, 159, 245. 

Public Health Service, U.S., 241. 
Puerto Rico, steamship services to, 

267; trade with, 196. 
Puritan, 168. 
Puritan Line, 194. 

Quarantine, 241-42. 

Quedah-Merchant, 39. 

Queen Anne's War, 46-48. 

Quelch, John, 48. 

Quincy, shipbuilding in, 167-68, 

199-202, 212, 248-49. 
Quincy, U.S.S., 248. 

R. B. Fuller, 191. 

Railroads, 111, 112, 150-51, 251, 270- 
72, 275-77; Boston & Albany, 150, 
151, 251, 275, 277; Boston & 
Maine, 150, 251, 275, 277; New 
York Central, 275; New York, 
New Haven & Hartford, 251, 275, 
276, 277; Pennroad Corp., 275, 
276; Pennsylvania, 275, 276; 
Union Freight, 151. 

Rainbow, 130. 

Rainbowe, 28. 

Randolph, Edward, 30, 34-35. 

Raven, 95. 

Rebecca, 22. 

Rebecca Palmer, 164. 

Red Jacket, 137. 

Red Star Line, 194. 

Reforestation, 283. 

Reggio, Marquis Nicholas, 117. 

Regular Line, 111. 

Reid, U.S.S., 201. 

Reid, Willis J., 249. 

Reporter, 144. 

Revere, Paul, 70. 

Rhode Island, U.S.S., 200. 

Rice, N. W., 196. 

Rich, Albert F., 158. 

Richard Bustead, 172. 

Richard T. Green, 166. 

Richardson, Capt. Josiah, quoted, 

Richmond, packet lines to, 109. 

River Plate, trade with, 113, 196-97, 

Rivers, Columbia, 77; Mystic, 22, 
23, 26, 283; Piscataqua, 51; Town, 

Robin Line, 290. 

Robinson Boiler Works, 167. 

Rochelle, 45. 

Rodgers, Capt. John, 90. 

Rogers, Capt. E. T., 183. 

Romance, 245. 

Ropes, William, 118. 

Ropes, William H., 118. 

Rose, H.M.S., 35. 

Rose Standish, 158, 183. 

Ross Towboat Co., 238. 

Round the world steamship serv- 
ices, 229, 262. 

Royal George, 147. 

Rum Row, 224-26. 

Rum-running, 224-27. 

Rum trade, 27-28, 56, 68, 114, 198- 


Rush, Capt. W. R., 205. 
Russell & Company, 1 15. 
Russia, trade with, 73-74, 118. 
Ruth M. Martin, 154. 

Sachem, 167; steamboat, 229. 

St. John, 257. 

St. John, N. B., steamship services 

to, 191, 257. 
St. John's, steamship services to, 


St. Lawrence Waterway, 269. 
St. Petersburg, 96, 106, 120. 
Salem, steamship services to, 109-10, 


Salisbury, 33. 

Saltonstall, Gov. Leverett, 284. 

Salvor, 161. 

Samaria; 230. 

Sampson, A. & G. T., 139. 

Sampson & Tappan, 137. 

San Bias, 239-40. 

Sanford Line, 160. 

Sarah, 172. 

Sarah W. Lawrence, 191. 

Savannah, packet lines to, 109; 
steamship services to, 161, 215, 
255; trade with, 215, 255. 

Savannah Line, 215, 255, 293. 

Savings Bank for Seamen, 100. 


Scandinavian-American Line, 262, South Sea Islands, trade with, 81-82, 

Schooners, 49, 161-65, 189-90, 190- 

91, 198-99, 217. 
Sea Flower, 30. 
Sea Otter, 86. 
Sea Serpent, 132. 

Sea Witch, (i) 129, 131, (2) 167. 

Seaboard Navigation Co., 257. 

Seaflower, 46. 

Seafort, 23. 

Seamen, 29, 86-87, 121 1 43 1 ^5 188- 
89, 240-41. 

Seamen's Bethel, 99-100. 

Seamen's strikes, 188-89. 

Seamen's Union of America, Inter- 
national, 188. 

Seaplane channel, 250-51. 

Seeadler, 198. 

Semaphore Telegraph Co., 101. 

Senator, 107. 

Shallops, described, 24. 

Shannon, 90. 

Shaw, Samuel, 75. 

Shell Oil Co., 254. 

Shepard Steamship Co., 293. 

Ship chandlers, 168-70. 

Shipbuilding, 21-25, 41, 49-51, 70- 
71, 101, 105-108, 130-31, 131-33, 
135' 139-40. ML H4. 165-68, 191- 

92, 199-2O2, 211-12, 248-49. 

Shipping Board, U. S., 193, 214, 229, 
231, 274; see Maritime Commis- 

Shipwrecks, 43, 103-05, 152-55, 163- 
64, 182-83, 204-05, 223-24. 

Siberia, 175. 

Silver Line, 261, 262, 291. 

Simpson Dry Dock Co., 211. 

Singleton Palmer, 164. 

Sirius, 120. 

Slave trade, 27-28. 

Sloop, described, 24. 

Smith, John, 15, 16. 

Smyrna, trade with, 74, 117, 176. 

Snow, David, 144. 

Snow, Franklin, 158. 

Snow & Higgins, 169. 

Society, 30. 

South America, steamship services 
to, 195, 196-97, 228, 231, 256, 267, 
268, 292; trade with, 88-89, 93> 9 6 ' 
97, 112-14, 147, 170-71, 196-97, 
228, 231, 259, 260. 

South Battery, 26. 

South Boston, 281; shipbuilding in, 
106-07, 139, 167, 199. 

South Boston Dry Dock, 208, 249. 

South Carolina, 128. 

Southack, Capt. Cyprian, 33-34, 46. 
Souther, John, 24. 
Southern Pacific Line, 293. 
Sovereign of the Seas, 135-37, 138. 

144, 162. 
Spain, trade with, 31, 32, 37, 53, 55, 

64, 74; war with (1739-48), 47-48. 
Spanish -American War, 177, 196. 
Sparrow, 37, 38. 
Sprague, C. H. & Son, 189, 191, 196, 

213, 231, 252, 257, 292. 
Sprague & James, 106. 
Spurr, Capt. Frank H., 253. 
Stag-Hound, 131-32. 
Stamp Act, 60. 
Standard Oil Co., 254. 
Standish, Miles, 16. 
Staples Act, 31. 
Starlight, 149. 
States, 83. 

Steamship agencies, 194, 195, 262. 
Steamships, 109-11, 118-21, 148, 159- 

62, 174-76, 189-92, 194-96, 215-17, 

228-31, 255-58, 259, 261-63, 266-68, 


Steel Pier, 245. 
Stetson, Jotham, 106. 
Stockholm City, 194. 
Story & Wardwell, 199. 
Sturgis, Capt. William, 84. 
Suffolk, 191. 
Sugar Act of 1764, 60. 
Sun Oil Co., 25. 

Supreme Court decisions, 270, 274. 
Surprise, (i) 130, 131, 132, 143, (2) 


Suter, Capt. John, 84-85. 
Swallow Tail Line, 136. 
Swan, 34. 
Swordfish, 132. 

Tampa, 225. 

Tariffs, 67-68, 94-95. 

Taylor, Edward Thompson, 99-100. 

Tea trade, 62-66, 114. 

Telegraph, 166. 

Telemachus, 108. 

Tewksbury, William, 102. 

Texaco Oil Co., 254. 

Thaddeus, 106. 

Thomas, Deacon, 168. 

Thomas W. Lawson, 162-63. 

Thomaston fleet, 162. 

Thomes, William H., quoted, 123. 

Thorden Line, 290. 

Thwing, Supply Clap, 95. 

Tide Water Oil Co., 254. 



Timandra, 198. 

Tobin, Mayor Maurice J., 284. 

Tonquin, 85. 

Topaz, (i) 83, (2) 119. 

Topliff, Samuel, 98. 

Toppans Boats, Inc., 249. 

Town Dock, 25. 

Town of Hull, 244. 

Townshend Acts, 61. 

Trade agreements, 147, 246-47, 269- 

Trade routes, see entries under 

countries and ports. 
Trade Wind, 138. 
Train, Enoch, 95, 107, 120, 123, 133, 


Mexico Line, 262, 290. 

Traveller, 109. 

Trawlers, 184, 221, 247-48. 

Tremont, (i) 104, (2) 166. 

Trial, 23, 28. 

Tri-National Steamship Corp., 190. 

Tringali, Carmelo, and Sons, 212. 

Triumphant, 168. 

True Blooded Yankee, go. 

Tryall, 30. 

Tudor, Frederic, 96-97, 113. 

Tugboats, 238-240. 

Tuscany, 97. 

Twilight, 159. 

Ultonia, 204. 

Ulysses, 83. 

Unicorn, 120. 

Union Castle Mail S. S. Line, 290. 

United American Lines, 190. 

United Fruit Co., 188, 196, 210, 257, 

268, 292. 
U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, 150, 

179, 217, 242, 250, 282. 
U. S. Navy, 199, 247, 248, 249, 281; 

see Boston Navy Yard. 
United States Lines, 261, 267, 268, 


Union, 86. 
Union Line, in. 
Union and Despatch Line, in. 
Upton, George B., 139. 

Valmy, 212. 

Vanderbilt, Commodore, in. 
Vegetable oil trade, 260, 273. 
Victory, 110. 
Victory Plant, 201. 
Vigilant, 177. 

Virgin Islands, trade with, 196. 
Virginia, trade with, 19, 32, 51, 64, 
68, 111, 215-16, 255. 

Von Luckner, Count, 198. 

WHDH, 248. 

W. L. Steed, 201. 

Walford, Thomas, 17. 

War of 1812, 89-92. 

Warehousing and storage, 274-75. 

Warren Line, 175, 194. 

Washburn Brothers, 162. 

Washington, 111. 

Washington Irving, 108, 120. 

Washingtonian, 163. 

Wasp, 248. 

Wasson, George, cited, 160. 

Waterman & Ewell, 96, 106. 

Webb and Watson, 167. 

Welcome, 23. 

Weld, William F., & Co., 107, 173- 


Wessagusset (Weymouth), 16. 

West Africa, steamship services to, 
228, 290. 

West Indies, steamship services to, 
196, 257, 268, 292; trade with, 27, 
29. 32. 3 6 55. 57- 60 ' 61, 66, 67, 
69, 72, 89, 95, 96-97, 113, 118, 176, 
196-97, 217. 

Westerbeke, William H., Co., 247. 

Westward Hoi, 137-38. 

Weybosset, 166. 

Whale, 51. 

Whaling industry, 53-54, 108-09. 

Wharves, Battery, 234; Central, 101, 
234; Clark, 26; Commercial, 158, 
234; Constitution, 70, 234; Fos- 
ters, 234; Granite, 101; Grays, 
101 ; Griffin's, 62; Hittinger's, 161; 
India, 70, 234; Lewis, 26, 101, 234; 
Lincoln, 234; Long, 41, 70, 101, 
234; Rowes, 44, 158-59, 234; Scar- 
lett's, 26; T, 101, 156-57, 158, 161, 
180, 185, 211, 234; Tudor's 97, 

White Cross Line, 176. 

White Star Line, 229. 

White, William P., 113. 

Wiggin Terminal Dock, 236. 

Wild Pigeon, 137-38. 

Wilhelmsen Line, 262, 290. 

William, 34. 

William Harrison, 158. 

William H. McShane, 237. 

William H. Pierce, 237. 

William 7. Chisholm, 183. 

William Sturgis, 174. 

Wilson, Capt. Andrew, 46. 

Wilson Line, 176, 194. 

Winged Racer, 139. 

Winifredian, 208. 



Winnissimet, 17, 26. 

Winship Brothers, 82. 

Winship, Capt. Charles, 81. 

Winslow, 191. 

Winslow, J. S. & Co., 189. 

Witchcraft, 132. 

Winthrop, John, 18, 21, 22, 29. 

Wood pulp trade, 213, 215, 260. 

Wood, William, quoted, 18. 

Wool trade, 113, 190, 192, 259, 


World War (1914-18), 192, 202-09. 
Worthylake, Capt. George, 42. 

Writs of Assistance, 59. 
Wyandotte, 161. 
Wyoming, 191. 

Yachting, 245-46. 
Yacht building, 168, 249. 
Yale, 192. 

Yankee Clipper, 245. 
Yankee Line, 291. 
Yarmouth, 257. 

Yarmouth, N. S., steamship services 
to, 192, 257. 

with vision and enterprise it may be. 
No attempt has been made to draw a 
veil of past grandeurs over present eco- 
nomic, physical, and legalistic difficul- 
ties facing the Port; the interests of this 
survey are at once historical and im- 

In the prosperity of its molasses-and- 
rum trade, in the idle days of "Mr. 
Madison's War," in the fabulous era of 
its clipper ships, in its struggles against 
the centripetal force of New York, the 
veteran Port has experienced the ex- 
tremes of fortune. Once the principal 
port of the entire hemisphere, Boston 
now resolutely holds its own as the 
second importing port of the country, 
the second passenger port, and the 
seventh port in total value of commerce 
passing through it. Romantic as are 
the materials of maritime history, the 
present survey aims not to stimulate 
nostalgic yearnings for past glories but 
rather, in promoting awareness of the 
distinguished record of the Port, to in- 
dicate the vigorous part it is yet capable 
of playing in the maritime enterprises 
of the United States. 

OtU&i book*, you will Uke 


By David Cheney 

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