Skip to main content

Full text of "The maritime history of Massachusetts, 1783-1860"

See other formats





Mernmas/clt. *^*$ 


20 / 


13 /O ^ -^* \ ' 

^z/lrsyicif\/ 2 

1 r^ 




Master Builder of Clipper Ships 








re? Cambridge 


S/6 / 



MAR 2 ! 1974 


N. G. H. , 1875-1907 
T. C D. , 1885-1918 
Q. S. G. , 1891-1918 


Here is no catalogue of ships, reader, nor naval chronicle, 
but a story of maritime enterprise; of the shipping, sea- 
borne commerce, whaling, and fishing belonging to one 
American commonwealth. I have chosen to catch the story 
at half flood, when Massachusetts vessels first sought Far- 
Eastern waters, and to stay with it only so long as wind 
and sail would serve. For to one who has sailed a clip- 
per ship, even in fancy, all later modes of ocean carriage 
must seem decadent. 

Having written these pages for your enjoyment, I have 
not burdened them with citations; but, having discovered 
much sunken historical treasure, and taken of it but spar- 
ingly, I have added some sailing directions and soundings 
thereto in a bibliography. Therein also, that this preface 
may be short, I have thanked the many persons who have 
aided me in the search. But I cannot close without par- 
ticular acknowledgment to Captain Arthur H. Clark, au- 
thor of " The Clipper Ship Era," for bearing with my 
constant demands on his time, patience, and memory; and 
to Dr. Octavius T. Howe, who placed freely at my dis- 
posal the results of many years 1 research on the A rgonauts 
of forty-nine. 


Harvard University 
February 1921 










DONALD McKAY Frontispiece 

From an engraving owned by Mr. Charles H. Taylor, Jr. 


From a contemporary painting in the Massachusetts His- 
torical Society. 


From the Royal American Magazine. 


From the portrait by John Johnston, owned by George 
Shaw, Esq. 



This and the preceding are from the drawings by George 
Davidson, who accompanied the Columbia on her second 
voyage; owned by Dr. Edward L. Twombly. 


From a portrait by Sully in the Boston Athenaeum. 


The ship Boston. From the Frontispiece of "Jewitt's 
Narrative," 1816. 


From a painting in the Peabody Museum, Salem. 


From a painting owned by the Historical Society of Old 



From a photograph owned by Dr. William Sturgis Bigelow. 

From a miniature owned by Rev. John W. Suter. 


From a watercolor by Captain Boit in his Journal of the 
Voyage, at the Massachusetts Historical Society. 




Representing scenes in Salem Harbor, about 1790. 


From portraits in the Peabody Museum. 


In the Peabody Museum. 


From an unfinished portrait by Gilbert Stuart, owned by 
James H. Bowditch, Esq. 


From a portrait by Mather Brown, 1786, in the Massa- 
chusetts Historical Society. 


Painted about 1800; in the Marblehead Historical Society. 

TRADE, 1796 138 

From a watercolor of the schooner Raven in the Marble- 
head Historical Society. 

YEAR 1800 144 

From a painting now in the Harrison Gray Otis house, 
2 Lynde Street, Boston. 


From an engraving in Dennie's Portfolio, 1814, after ja. 
drawing by J. Samson. 


From a portrait owned by Mrs. E. C. Doane. 


From a portrait owned by Mrs. A. S. Cobb. 


Schooner Lidia of Newburyport entering Marseilles, 1807. 
From a painting by Cammillieri, owned by Mr. Charles 
H. Taylor, Jr. 


From a painting in the Peabody Museum. 




Federalist ballot for the election of 1814, in the Massa- 
chusetts Historical Society. 

SEILLES, 1815 202 

From a painting by Antoine Roux in the Peabody Museum. 


From a portrait by Charles Osgood in the Peabody Museum. 


From a watercolor in the Peabody Museum. 

ROADS, 1825 232 

From a painting owned by H. K. Devereux, Esq. 


From a painting owned by William O. Taylor, Esq. 


From a photograph owned by Frederic Cunningham, Esq. 


From a painting in the Eastern Yacht Club. 


From a photograph owned by the Bostonian Society. 


East-Indiaman Columbiana, built at Medford in 1837, 

from a painting by Walters owned by Mr. Charles H. 

" ip Dr 
John Devereux master, off the port of Marseilles in 1836, 

Taylor, Jr. The Merrimac-built ship Dromo of Boston, 

from a painting by Antoine Roux fils, owned by H. K. 
Devereux, Esq. 

YACHT 262 

From a drawing by Charles S. Stewart, reproduced in 
his "Voyage to the Pacific Ocean." 


Owned by Rev. John W. Suter. 


From 'a photograph taken about 1870, owned by Joseph 
Grafton Minot, Esq. 




From a painting by Raffael Corsini, 1851, owned by T. G. 
Frothingham, Esq. 

OF MALAGA, 1833 292 

From a painting by Francesco Lengi, owned by Captain 
Arthur H. Clark. 


From the original woodcut block used in Barber's His- 
torical Collections, lent by George F. Dow, Esq. 


Captain Caleb Sprague, master of the clipper ship Gravina, 
etc., and his cottage at Barnstable, from photographs 
owned by F. W. Sprague, Esq. 


From colored engraving by J. Hill, "A Shoal of Sperm 
Whale off the Island of Hawaii, 1833" after a drawing by 
Cornelius B. Hulsart, who was aboard one of the ships. 
Owned by Allan Forbes, Esq. 


For July 21-23, 1831. Recorded by Joseph Taber, Jr. 
Owned by George H. Tripp, Esq. 


Ship Mary Glover and Clipper Ship Wild Ranger. From 
paintings formerly in the Williams Collection. 


From painting formerly in the Williams Collection. 


Poster of a Forty-niner emigrant company, owned by the 
Bostonian Society. 


From a painting owned by Mrs. Philip K. Dumaresq. 


Photograph taken from Josiah Bradlee's Counting Room. 
Negative owned by F. B. C. Bradlee, Esq. 


From a crayon portrait by Stagg, 1847; owned by Mrs. 
George Wheatland. 




Photograph taken during the Civil War; owned by S. 
Brown, Esq. 


From a painting formerly in the Williams Collection. 


From a painting. Negative owned by Captain Arthur H. 


From a painting after the original plans by Charles Tor- 
rey, Esq., and owned by him. 


From a lithograph after a drawing by S. Walters; owned 
by Captain Arthur H. Clark. 


From an engraving by C. Mottram; owned by Allan 
Forbes, Esq. 


Photograph of a model after the original plans, made by 
the H. E. Boucher Company, New York, under the di- 
rection of Captain Arthur H. Clark. Owned by Frederick 
C. Fletcher, Esq. 

The chart of Boston Harbor on the front end-paper is from 
Captain Cyprian Southack's Survey of the Sea Coast from 
New York to the I. Cape Breton, 1735. The other end-paper 
charts, front and back, are from A New Edition Much En- 
larged of the Second Part of thf North American Pilot for New 
England, by Robert Laurie and James Whittle, 1800. 


ESSEX COUNTY includes Salem, Marblehead, Cape Ann, 
Newburyport, and all the seacoast north of Boston and its 
suburbs. Hingham and the South Shore (except Cohasset) 
are in Plymouth County, which also includes a few towns 
on Buzzard's Bay. Barnstable County is synonymous with 
Cape Cod. Bristol County includes New Bedford, Fair- 
haven, and the Taunton valley. Nantucket is a separate 
county, and Martha's Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands 
constitute the "County of Dukes County." It will be un- 
derstood that the term " town," in this book, has no urban 
connotation, being used in its New England sense of a terri- 
torial and political unit. 

When three dimensions are given for a vessel, they are 
length on deck, greatest breadth of beam, and depth of 





MASSACHUSETTS has a history of many moods, every 
one of which may be traced in the national character 
of America. By chance, rather than design, this short 
strip of uninviting coast-line became the seat of a 
great experiment in colonization, self-government, and 
religion. For a generation, Massachusetts shared with 
her elder sister, Virginia, leadership in the Ameri- 
can Revolution. For another generation, with her off- 
spring Connecticut, she opposed a static social system 
to the ferment of revolutionary France. With the world 
peace of 1815 she quickened into new life, harnessed 
her waterfalls to machine industry, bred statesmen, 
seers, and poets, generated radical and revolutionary 
thought. The Civil War rubbed smooth her rough 
corners, sapped her vitality to preserve the Union and 
build the Great West, and drew into the vacuum new 
faiths and peoples. 

Through every phase and period, save the last, 
breathes a rugged faith and blows the east wind. For 
two hundred years the Bible was the spiritual, the sea 
the material sustenance of Massachusetts. The pulse 
of her life-story, like the surf on her coast-line, beat 
once with the nervous crash of storm-driven waves on 


granite rock; but now with the soothing pour of 
ground-swell on golden sands. Now and again a 
greater wave rolls in with crested menace, but ends in 
harmless curl of foam on shelving beach. 

Massachusetts proper (for I do not speak of her 
first-born, Maine, whose maritime history deserves a 
special volume) has a coast-line of some seven hundred 
and fifty miles, following the high- water mark. It 
begins "three English miles to the northward " of a 
"great river there commonly called Monomack river, 
alias Merrimack river," as King Charles I determined. 
The Merrimac now means whirring spindles, sordid 
tenements, and class struggles. But for two centuries 
and more its tidal waters, flowing between towns that 
bear the old-world names of Salisbury, Amesbury, 
Haverhill, and Newbury, midwifed hundreds of noble 
vessels; and Newburyport was the mart for a goodly 
portion of interior New England. 

From the river mouth to Cape Ann, the long sandy 
finger of Plum Island protects a region sung by 
Whittier, where 

Broad meadows reached out seaward, the tidal creeks between, 
And hills rolled wave-like inland, with oaks and walnuts green. 

Here even the agriculture was maritime ; not creaking 
wains, but broad-beamed "gundalows" collected the 
harvest of salt hay. Yet seagoing vessels could make 
their way up to Rowley and Essex, and the white spires 
of old Ipswich. 

Once past the gleaming dunes of Castle Neck, and 
across Squam River (which may lead us, if we will, to 
Gloucester's back door), we are fairly on Cape Ann. 
This rocky fist of Massachusetts, like the slender, 
sandy arm of Cape Cod, has led whole generations of 
boys afishing. Hotels and villas and granite quarries 



now crowd its shores, once white with drying codfish, 
and more funnels than sails now break the horizon. 
But on its seaward thrust you may still find spots 
where, but for the wail of whistling buoy, and the twin 
light towers of Thatcher's, nothing has changed since 
the "spectral host, defying stroke of steel and aim of 
gun," assaulted the Cape Ann garrison. 

Cape Cod and Cape Ann are the two horns of 
Massachusetts Bay; two giant limbs thrown seaward, 
like the wings of a fish-weir, to guide sea-borne com- 
merce into Boston's fruitful embrace. But Cape Ann 
and its southern base (together called the North Shore 
of Massachusetts) contains certain pockets, Glouces- 
ter and Salem and Marblehead, which for two centu- 
ries managed to cull from the choicest of the catch. 
Neither imposing nor spectacular, this North Shore; 
yet the massed and multi-colored rocks, with bits of 
beach or shingle nestling between, have a subtle charm 
that every summer attracts thousands of city-dwellers 
from all parts of America. Factory chimneys and 
yachting centers have now replaced the fishing vil- 
lages; Italian gardens and palaces blot out even the 
memory of the rugged seashore farms. 

In the lap of Massachusetts Bay sprawls Boston; 
long since outgrown the small rocky peninsula of her 
birth, and ever in need of a new suit of clothes. Point 
Shirley at the north, Hull at the south, and the rocky 
barrier of the Brewsters, as tough as the Puritan elder 
whose name they bear, shield a gracious, island-dotted 
bay, and a deep, landlocked inner harbor. The Blue 
Hills of Milton, unchanged from the day they caught 
the first white man's searching gaze, make a serene 
background to the nervous, bustling activity of the 
modern seaport. 

With Nantasket Beach begins the South Shore, 


ending at Plymouth in the armpit of Cape Cod. In 
Cohasset the granite skeleton of Massachusetts pro- 
trudes for the last time, making a small fishing har- 
bor behind a cluster of tide-swept rocks, from which 
Minot's Light, flashing one-four-three, warns shipping. 
Beyond we cross the southern boundary of the Massa- 
chusetts-Bay Colony, and enter the "Old Colony," 
as it is still called, of Plymouth Plantation. This 
South Shore is a complete contrast to the North, even 
in climate; a succession of barrier-beaches in flattish 
curves, backed by salt marshes and wooded country 
with gentle contours. There is another tiny harbor at 
Scituate, between which township and Marshfield the 
North River admits a thin stream of tidewater well 
inland. Then come Salt-House or Duxbury Beach and 
the Gurnet, Saquish and Long Beach, protecting Ply- 
mouth Bay from the Atlantic rollers. But Plymouth 
Bay, a series of tortuous channels between shoals and 
grassy flats, could not serve a great trading commu- 
nity. In compensation, Pilgrim grit and native white 
oak made of its shores and the North River banks, 
a great shipbuilding center. 

Once past the wooded bluffs of Manomet, we are on 
the biceps of "th' Cape," Cape Cod. East twenty-five 
miles into the Atlantic, then north by west another 
score, pushes this frail spit of sand, ending in a skinny 
finger forever beckoning seaward the sons of Massa- 
chusetts. The Cape is unique, this side of Brittany. 
It has been the greatest nursery of seamen in North 
America, but its offspring have had to sail from other 
ports than their own. Save for the great haven within 
its finger-tip, the Cape has no harbor fit for larger than 
fishing vessels; and Provincetown, in its ocean-walled 
isolation, could never become a center of commerce. 

The Bay side of Cape Cod is to-day the most un- 


spoiled maritime section of the Massachusetts main- 
land. From the car- shops of Sagamore to the artist- 
fishing colony at Province town, not one smoking fac- 
tory chimney, and only a handful of summer palaces, 
mar the simplicity of beach, dune, and marsh. Shin- 
gle-sided cottages of the ancient style, shell-white 
or weather-rusted, line the sandy roads; slim spires 
spindling up from a mass of foliage betray a village; 
low pine-clad hills break the sky-line. As we proceed 
northward, the Cape grows wilder and bleaker, up 
to the wind-swept highlands of Truro, the topgallant 
forecastle of Massachusetts. 

At Chatham, on the ''back side" of the Cape, we 
reach once more the summer estates' "No Trespass- 
ing" signs, which hardly end before our circuit of the 
Massachusetts coast is concluded at Westport. Nar- 
ragansett Bay belongs to Rhode Island ; but one of its 
tidal tributaries, the Taunton River, has from time 
immemorial sent herring, shad, and alewives up into 
the heart of the Old Colony; and in times historic 
floated down ships. 

Detached from the mainland, annexed to Massa- 
chusetts only in 1691, since held by the slenderest of 
political ties, is a diadem of island jewels the Eliza- 
beth Islands and Martha's Vineyard ; Chappaquiddick 
and Muskeget, Tuckernuck and Nantucket. Hardly 
a spot on the New England coast lacks passionate 
devotees; but the worshipers of Nantucket form a cult 
of positive fanatics. Anchored on the edge of the Gulf 
Stream, this bit of terminal moraine has a unique 
climate, flora, landscape, and population. On her 
south shore endlessly breaking, the southwest swells 
impart their surge to the long grasses of Nantucket's 
flower-starred moors. Under their lee nestles the one 
unspoiled seaport town of New England; a town in 



which every house built before 1840 and few were 
not was sired out of the sea. For this island, peo- 
pled by Quaker exiles from Puritan persecution, 
created that deep-sea whaling, whose peculiar blend of 
enterprise, dare-deviltry, and ruthlessness forms one 
of the most precious memories of our maritime past. 
New Bedford, and the minor ports of Buzzard's Bay, 
were but mainland colonies of Nan tucket; although 
in course of time, like the colonies of ancient Greece, 
they surpassed their mother state. 

Yet for all this wealth of coast-line and abundance 
of good harbors, maritime Massachusetts enjoyed no 
natural advantage over other sections of the Atlantic 
coast. Cape Breton and Newfoundland are nearer the 
Grand Banks; hundred-harbored Maine offers better 
anchorage. Chesapeake Bay is more deeply indented, 
more richly supplied with agricultural wealth, more 
centrally placed, and seldom obstructed by snow or 
fog. No great river comparable to the St. Lawrence, 
the Hudson, or the Delaware, tapping the wealth of 
a mighty interior, makes a great trading city on the 
Massachusetts coast inevitable. Boston has always 
felt this handicap; her persistent place among the 
greater American cities, in spite of it, is a miracle of 
human enterprise. The back country, limited by a 
political frontier in the north and a mountain barrier 
in the Berkshires, produced no staple to compare 
with those of the middle and southern colonies. 
Boston is two hundred miles nearer northern Europe 
than New York: but Nova Scotia is nearer still. 
Boston Harbor freezes but once a generation: but 
Massachusetts Bay in sailing-ship days was dangerous 
water in dirty weather. Its irregular bottom gives the 
lead-line no clue. When a northeast snowstorm ob- 
scured Boston Light, a mistake of a quarter-point 



fetched up many a good ship on Cohasset rocks or 
the Graves. Before the days of cheap chronometers, 
when a slight mistake in longitude meant Nantucket 
South Shoals, vessels from the West Indies, South 
America, and the Orient dared approach Boston or 
Salem only by the long detour of Vineyard Sound, 
Nantucket Sound, and the back side of the Cape. 
Returning East-Indiamen were sometimes detained 
for weeks in Wood's Hole or Vineyard Haven, awaiting 
a chance to weather Monomoy and Pollock Rip, whilst 
fair wind and sheltered waters pled the advantages of 
New York. The Pilgrims began to agitate for a Cape 
Cod canal as soon as they discovered the head of 
Buzzard's Bay; but it was not until 1916 that the 
canal was built. 

Nature seemed to doom Massachusetts to insignifi- 
cance; to support perhaps a line of poor fishing sta- 
tions and hardscrabble farms, half-starved between 
the two hungry mouths of Hudson and St. Lawrence. 
Man and a rugged faith have made her what she is. 
With but a tithe of the bounty that Nature grants 
more favored lands, the Puritan settlers made their 
land the most fruitful not only in things of the spirit, 
but in material wealth. Even Nature's apparent liabili- 
ties were turned into assets. The long-lying snow gave 
cheap transport inland, the river rapids turned grist 
and fulling mills, then textile factories ; even granite and 
ice became currency in Southern and Oriental trade. 

The ocean knows no favorites. Her bounty is re- 
served for those who have the wit to learn her secrets, 
the courage to bear her buffets, and the will to persist, 
through good fortune and ill, in her rugged service. 



THE maritime history of Massachusetts, so far as 
white men are concerned, began when some Basque or 
Norman or "Portingale" unknown, blown off Grand 
Banks by an easterly gale, found shelter under the lee 
of Cape Cod or Cape Ann. Finding the Indians ready 
to truck, and the adjacent waters teeming with fish, 
he and his kind returned. By the time the Mayflower 
sailed, one could find men in any fishing port from 
Bristol to Bilbao who could tell the bearings of Cape 
Ann from Cape Cod, and compare the holding-ground 
in every harbor from Narragansett to Passamaquoddy. 
When the Pilgrims were casting about for a permanent 
settlement, the Mayflower's pilot recommended "a 
good harbor on the other headland of the bay, almost 
right over against Cape Cod ... in which he had been 
once." They would have fared better had they taken 
this seaman 's advice. 

Bartholomew Gosnold visited Cape Cod and the 
Elizabeth Islands in 1602, and named them. De 
Champlain, two years later, made a good harbor 
chart of Gloucester ("le Beau Port"), fought with 
natives at Nauset ("Mallebarre"), and looked in at 
the site of Boston; but New France he preferred to 
build along the mighty outlet of the Great Lakes. 
The Onrust sailed around Cape Cod to Nahant, and 
returned to Manhattan. 

Captain John Smith, in 1614, was the first English- 
man to examine the Massachusetts coast, and to give 



it that name. Erecting his fish-flakes (wooden frames 
for drying fish) on the Island of Monhegan, he sent 
one shipload to England, and another to Spain, where 
it fetched five Spanish dollars the quintal. The six 
months' voyage cleared fifteen hundred pounds. In 
the meantime he explored the coast, and told the 
world about it in his "Description of New England,'* 
a sane, conservative exposition of the natural advan- 
tages of Massachusetts. For his pioneer work, sound 
advice, and hearty support of the Pilgrim colony, 
John Smith should rightly be regarded as the founder 
of maritime Massachusetts. Yet in all our glut of 
tercentenaries, this honest, valiant captain has been 
forgotten. No monument or tablet commemorates his 
services in the region of his choice. 

Stirred by Captain Smith's writings, and still more 
by his success, English fishermen began to crowd their 
Celtic rivals from New England waters. Now, Smith 
himself had urged his countrymen to save time and 
" overhead" by basing the fisheries in New England, 
and combining them with fur-trading and shipbuild- 
ing ; rather than sending out fresh crews and equipment 
every summer. In 1623 the "Dorchester Adven- 
turers," a group of West-County capitalists, endeav- 
ored to put his suggestion into practice. A crew of 
men landed at the site of Stage Fort Park on Glouces- 
ter Harbor, built huts, flakes and a fishing stage, 
commenced tillage, and drew plans for a fishing- 
trading colony, with church, school, and shipyards. 
The immediate experiment failed (though not before a 
full fare had been sent to Spain); but the. promoters 
were reorganized as the "Governor and Company of 
the Massachusetts- Bay," with a title to all land be- 
tween the Merrimac and the Charles, from sea to sea. 

In the meantime, the Plymouth Colony had arrived. 



The Pilgrim fathers sailed with high hopes and a 
burning faith, but with few preparations and no clear 
idea of how to make a living on the Atlantic coast. 
Intending to "finde some place aboute Hudsons 
river for their habitation," the "deangerous shoulds 
and roring breakers" about Monomoy forced the 
Mayflower to " bear up againe for the Cape." Had the 
sands of Cape Cod afforded a sustenance, they might 
well have tarried at the site of Province town. But 
the cleared Indian cornfields across the bay, vacant 
through a providential pestilence, tempted them to the 
spot named Plymouth on Captain Smith's map. 

Save for the overwhelming need of saving precious 
lives, this choice was unfortunate. Plymouth was 
deeply embayed, devoid of a dry landing place or 
anchorage for large vessels ; and ill provided with back 
country. The Pilgrims learned the secrets of fur- trad- 
ing and fishing only after costly failures. They were 
mercilessly exploited by English financiers. For two 
generations they owned no great shipping. Ree'n- 
forced by the Puritan emigration of a later decade, 
they eventually spread out along Cape Cod, the South 
Shore, and Buzzard's Bay. Their faith and courage 
are beyond disparagement; but had Massachusetts 
been peopled alone by the Pilgrim seed, it would long 
have remained a mere slender line of cornfields, 
trucking posts, and fishing stations. 

In 1630, ten years after its settlement, the Plymouth 
Colony contained but three hundred white people. At 
that time the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay, founded 
only at the end of 1628, had over two thousand in- 
habitants. Within thirteen years the numbers had 
reached sixteen thousand, more than the rest of the 
English colonies combined; and the characteristic 
maritime activities of Massachusetts fishing, ship- 



ping, and West India trading were already com- 

It was not the intention of the founders of Massa- 
chusetts-Bay to establish a predominantly maritime 
community. The first and foremost object of Winthrop 
and Dudley and Endecot and Saltonstall was to found 
a church and commonwealth in which Calvinist Pu- 
ritans might live and worship according to the Word 
of God, as they conceived it. They aimed to found a 
New England, purged of Old England's corruptions, 
but preserving all her goodly heritage. They intended 
the economic foundation of New England, as of Old 
England and Virginia, to be large landed estates, tilled 
by tenants and hired labor. 

In this they failed. The New England town, based 
on freehold and free labor, sprang up instead of the 
Old English manor. And for only a decade was 
agriculture the mainstay of Massachusetts. The 
constant inflow of immigrants, requiring food and 
bringing goods, enabled the first comers to profit by 
corn-growing and cattle-raising. This could not con- 
tinue. "For the present, we make a shift to live," 
wrote a pessimistic pioneer in 1637; "but hereafter, 
when our numbers increase, and the fertility of the 
soil doth decrease, if God discover not means to enrich 
the land, what shall become ^oi us I will not deter- 

God performed no miracle on the New England soil. 
He gave the sea. Stark necessity made seamen of 
would-be planters. The crisis came in 1641, when civil 
war in England cut short the flow of immigrants. 
"All foreign commodities grew scarce/' wrote Gover- 
nor Winthrop, "and our own of no price. Corn would 
buy nothing; a cow which cost last year 20 might now 
be bought for 4 or 5 ... These straits set our people 



on work to provide fish, clapboards, plank, etc., . . . 
and to look out to the West Indies for a trade . . . " 

In these simple sentences, Winthrop explains how 
maritime Massachusetts came to be. The gravelly, 
boulder-strewn soil was back-breaking to clear, and 
afforded small increase to unscientific farmers. No 
staple of ready sale in England, like Virginia tobacco 
or Canadian beaver, could be produced or readily 
obtained. Forest, farms, and sea yielded lumber, beef, 
and fish. But England was supplied with these from 
the Baltic, and by her own farmers and fishermen. Un- 
less a new market be found for them, Massachusetts 
must stew in her own juice. It was found in the West 
Indies tropical islands which applied slave labor to 
exotic staples like sugar-cane, but imported every ne- 
cessity of life. More and more they became dependent 
on New England for lumber, provisions, and dried 
fish. More and more the New England ships and mer- 
chants who brought these necessities, controlled the 
distribution of West-India products. 

Massachusetts went to sea, then, not of choice, but 
of necessity. Yet the transition was easy and natural. 
"Farm us!" laughed the waters of the Bay in May- 
time, to a weary yeoman, victim of the ' mocking 
spring's perpetual loss/ "Here thou may'st reap 
without sowing yet not without God's blessing; 
'twas the Apostles' calling." And with sharp scorn 
spake the waters to an axeman, hewing a path from 
river landing to new allotment: "Hither thy road! 
And of the oak thou wastest, make means to ride it! 
Southward, dull clod, and barter the logs thou would'st 
spend to warm thy silly body, for chinking doubloons, 
as golden as the sunlight that bathes the Spanish 


Materials and teachers for a maritime colony were 



already at hand. The founders had been careful to 
secure artisans, and tools for all useful trades, that 
Massachusetts might not have the one-sided devel- 
opment of Virginia. Fishing had not ceased with the 
failure of the Gloucester experiment. Dorchester, the 
first community "that set upon the trade of fishing 
in the bay," was little more than a transference to New 
England soil of Dorset fishing interests. Scituate was 
settled by a similar company. The rocky peninsula of 
Marblehead, with its ample harbor, attracted fisher- 
folk from Cornwall and the Channel Islands, who 
cared neither for Lord Bishop nor Lord Brethren. 
Their descendants retained a distinct dialect, and a 
jealous exclusiveness for over two centuries. Marble- 
head obeyed or not the laws of the Great and General 
Court, as suited her good pleasure ; but as long as she 
'made fish,' the Puritan magistrates did not interfere. 
Literally true was the Marblehead fisherman's reproof 
to an exhorting preacher: "Our ancestors came not 
here for religion. Their main end was to catch fish!" 
Equally true was Marblehead 's protest against an 
export tax in 1669. "Fish is the only great stapple 
which the Country produceth for forraine parts and 
is so benefitiall for making returns for what wee need." 
The firm-fleshed codfish of northern waters is unsur- 
passed for salting and drying. Colonial Massachusetts 
packed three grades. Dun fish, the best, was 'made* 
by alternately burying and drying the larger-sized cod 
until it mellowed sufficiently for the taste of Catho- 
lic Europe. Portugal and Spain, where Captain John 
Smith sold his first fare, Southern France and the 
'Western' and 'Wine' Islands, were the markets for 
dun fish; and for barrel- and pipe-staves as well. 
In exchange, Cadiz salt; Madeira and Canary wine; 
Bilbao iron and pieces of eight; Malaga grapes and 



Valencia oranges were carried to English and colonial 
markets. When Charles II began tightening up colo- 
nial trade, Sir George Downing, of Harvard's first 
graduating class, saw to it that this Mediterranean 
traffic was allowed to continue. The middling grade 
of dried codfish, easy to transport, to keep, and to 
prepare, was a favorite winter food of colonial farm- 
ers. The lowest-grade dried fish, together with pickled 
mackerel, bass, and alewives, was the principal me- 
dium in West-India trade. As John Smith predicted, 
4 'Nothing is here to be had which fishing doth hinder, 
but further us to obtain." Puritan Massachusetts de- 
rived her ideals from a sacred book; her wealth and 
power from the sacred cod. 

Shipping was the other key industry of the colony. 
Fishing would have brought little wealth, had Massa- 
chusetts depended on outside interests for vessels 
as she must to-day for freight-cars. Distribution, not 
production, brought the big returns in 1620 as in 1920. 
Massachusetts shipbuilding began with the launching 
in 1631 of Governor Winthrop's Blessing of the Bay, 
on the same Mystic River that later gave birth to 
the beautiful Medford-built East-Indiamen. By 1660 
shipbuilding had become a leading industry in New- 
bury, Ipswich, Gloucester, Salem, and Boston. The 
great Puritan emigration brought many shipwrights 
and master builders, such as William Stephen, who 
"prepared to go to Spayne, but was persuaded to New 
England." A four-hundred-ton ship Seafort l was built 

1 The method of computing tonnage in colonial times was probably 
the same that prevailed in the United States from the Revolution to 
1865. Tonnage meant a vessel's capacity in tons of forty cubic feet each, 
estimated by the following formula (L = length on deck, B = greatest 
breadth, D = depth of hold) : 



at Boston in 1648, but wrecked on the Spanish coast, 
decoyed by false lights ashore. 

Few Massachusetts- built vessels were so large as 
this; four hundred tons meant a great ship as late as 
1815. The colonial fleet for the most part consisted 
of small single-decked sloops, the usual rig for coasters, 
and lateen-rigged ketches, the favorite rig for fisher- 
men, of twenty to thirty tons burthen, and thirty-five 
to fifty feet long. 1 Good oak timber and pine spars were 
so plentiful that building large ships on order or specu- 
lation for the English market soon became a recognized 
industry. Rope-walks were established, hempen sail- 
cloth was made on hand looms, anchors and coarse iron- 
work were forged from bog ore, and wooden ' trunnels ' 
(tree nails) were used for fastening planking to frame. 

The English Navigation Act of 1651, restraining 
Colonial commerce to English and colonial vessels, 
gave an increased impetus to New England ship- 
building; for the Dutch, with their base at New Am- 
sterdam, had been serious competitors. In another 
generation, vessels built and owned in New England 
were doing the bulk of the carrying trade from Chesa- 
peake Bay to England and southern Europe. "Many 
a fair ship had her framing and finishing here," wrote 
Edward Johnson about 1650, "besides lesser vessels, 
barques and ketches; many a Master, beside common 
Seamen, had their first learning in this Colony." 

Half the breadth was generally used in lieu of depth after the War of 
1812, and sometimes so used as early as 1789. William Stephen in 1661 
contracted to build for Salem parties a two-decked ship, 91 x 23 X 9$ at 
^3-5 per ton. Her tonnage would be 190. The Mayflower's was 180 
(according to Bradford), but she was probably somewhat shorter and 

1 See the model of the ketch Sparrow-Hawk, which brought forty 
passengers to Plymouth Colony in 1626, in the Peabody Museum, 
Salem; and her very ribs, preserved for two centuries in Cape Cod sand, 
now in the basement of Pilgrim Hall, Plymouth. 



The shipmaster's calling has always been of high 
repute in Massachusetts. Only the clergy, the magis- 
tracy, and the shipowning merchants, most of whom 
were retired master mariners, enjoyed a higher social 
standing in colonial days. The ship Trial of two hun- 
dred tons, one of the first vessels built at Boston, was 
commanded by Mr. Thomas Coytmore, a gentleman 
of good estate, "a right godly man, and an expert 
seaman," says Governor Winthrop who made his 
fourth matrimonial venture with Captain Coytmore's 
widow. The foremast hands were recruited in part 
from English seaports, but mostly from the adventure- 
loving youth of the colonies. When Captain John 
Turner came back from the West Indies in a fifteen- 
ton pinnace, with so many pieces of eight that the 
neighbors hissed "Piracy!"; when the Trial "by the 
help of a diving tub," recovered gold and silver from a 
sunken Spanish galleon ; what ploughboy did not long 
for a sea-change from grubbing stumps and splitting 
staves? When gray November days succeeded the 
splendor of Indian summer, the clang of wild geese 
overhead summoned the spirit of youth to wealth and 

"L&-bas, ou les Antilles bleues 
Se pament sous 1'ardeur de 1'astre occidental." 

A sea voyage, moreover, was an easy escape from 
the strict conventions and prying busybodies of New 
England towns. Not even Cotton Mather could ex- 
tend the long arm of Puritan elder into cabin and fore- 
castle. " It is a matter of saddest complaint that there 
should be no more Serious Piety in the Sea-faring 
Tribe" state* his "Sailours Companion and Counsel- 
lor." "Old Ambrose called the Sea, The School of 
Vertue. It afflicts all the vertuous here, that the Mari- 



ners of our Dayes do no more to make it so." His sub- 
sequent enumeration of seamen's vices suggests that 
the clipper-ship crews could have taught little to these 
sons of pious Puritan households. "No Sundays off 
soundings" doubtless held good in the seventeenth 
century as in the nineteenth. 

Edward Randolph, an unfriendly but accurate Eng- 
lish observer, describes Massachusetts in 1676 as a 
thriving maritime colony. Thirty of her merchants 
have fortunes of ten to twenty thousand pounds. 
The colony feeds itself, and produces a surplus for 
export to Virginia and the West Indies, as well as 
" all things necessary for shipping and naval furniture." 
Four hundred and thirty vessels between thirty and 
two hundred and fifty tons burthen "are built in and 
belong to that jurisdiction." They traffic with the 
West Indies, and with most parts of Europe, carrying 
their own or other colonies' produce, distributing re- 
turn ladings throughout continental colonies and West 
Indies, "so that there is little left for the merchants 
residing in England to import into any of the planta- 
tions." They pay no attention to the English laws 
regulating trade. They have even sent ships to 
' Scanderoon ' (Alexandretta) ; to Guinea, the slave 
mart; and to Madagascar, the pirate rendezvous. 
Randolph's conclusion is significant. " It is the great 
care of the merchants to keep their ships in constant 
employ, which makes them trye all ports to force a 
trade, whereby they abound with all sorts of commodi- 
ties, and Boston may be esteemed the mart town of the 
West Indies. 1 ' 

Colonial Massachusetts, then, was a chain of pros- 
perous trading towns and fishing villages, separated 
from the wilderness by a belt of farming communities. 
The key industries were fishing and shipbuilding. 



The secret of maritime success was that persistent 
enterprise which led her merchant- shipowners to 
"trye all ports'* and to risk all freights. 

Even farming Massachusetts clung to coast-line 
or Connecticut River, a feeder of the Sound ports. 
Worcester County was a wilderness until 1730. For 
over a century after the Mayflower's voyage, few 
Massachusetts farms were more than thirty miles 
distant from tidewater, and all felt the ebb and flow of 
sea-borne commerce. " If the merchant trade be not 
kept on foot, they fear greatly their corne and cattel 
will lye in their hands," writes Edward Johnson. 
A Yankee farmer prospered only through foreign 
markets for his industrial by-products, such as bar- 
reled beef and pork, hewn lumber and staves; bowls, 
buckets, brooms, ox-bows, axe-helves, and the like, 
whittled out by firelight in long winter evenings. The 
influence of West- India trade and the fisheries pene- 
trated the remotest frontier settlements of New Eng- 

* * 

The half-century of peace and virtual independence, 
which permitted this extraordinary development, was 
followed by forty years of war, Indian massacres, 
pestilence, witchcraft, and loss of liberty. In 1691 the 
Massachusetts-Bay Colony was combined with Ply- 
mouth, the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nan- 
tucket, and the provinces of Maine and Sagadahoc, 
under a royal charter as the "Province of Massa- 
chusetts-Bay." Imperial control was tightened, but 
not enough to prevent another outburst of prosperity 
after the Peace of Utrecht in 1713. 

That date begins a general broadening-out in all 



lines of marine activity.' In codfishing it marks an era, 
both by the launching of the first schooner at Glouces- 
ter, and the British acquisition of Newfoundland and 
Nova Scotia, with their convenient shores and teeming 
waters. Admission to the French West Indies in 1717 
extended our fish market, and increased our impor- 
tations of molasses, until sixty-three Massachusetts 
distilleries were running full time. New England rum 
replaced beer and cider as the favorite American 
beverage, and supplanted French brandy as medium 
in the 'Guinea trade.' Slaving popular tradition 
and Faneuil 1 Hall to the contrary notwithstanding 
never became a leading interest of Massachusetts; 
Boston and Salem as slaving ports were poor rivals to 
Newport. But most Boston merchants owned slaves 
as house servants, and bought and sold them like other 

Massachusetts also traded with the mainland of 
South America. At Surinam fish and lumber were ex- 
changed for the products of the Dutch East Indies; 
at Honduras logwood and mahogany were cut for the 
London market. New England provisions even found 
their way into Brazil by way of Madeira. 

Shipbuilding increased so rapidly that in 1724 sev- 
eral master builders of London petitioned the Lords 
of Trade ''not to encourage ship building in New 
England because workmen are drawn thither." Dux- 
bury shipbuilding began in 1719, when Thomas Prince 
built his first vessel of wild cherry wood ; and the North 
River became a serious competitor to the Merrimac. 

In 1713, the merchants of Boston proposed "the 
Erecting of a Light Hous and Lan thorn" at the 

1 Properly pronounced "Funnel," and so spelled on Peter's tomb- 
stone. But the last generation of schoolma'ms has taught us to call it 
" Fan-you-well. " 



harbor entrance; and three years later Boston Light, 
the first lighthouse in the new world, was completed. 
"A great Gun to answer Ships in a Fog" was shortly 
added to its equipment. Marine insurance began at 
Boston a few years later. Offshore whaling was per- 
haps the most important development of the half- 
century before the Revolution. Cape Cod taught Nan- 
tucket how to harpoon whales, but Nantucket went 
her teacher one better when in 1715 Christopher 
Hussey fitted out a vessel to pursue sperm whales, and 
tow them ashore. A few years later, by erecting brick 
try-works on shipboard, the Nantucket whalers were 
able to extend their cruising radius to the coast of 
Brazil and the Arctic Ocean. 

Massachusetts enjoyed peace for three-quarters of 
the period from 1713 to the Revolution. In war-time 
her fishing fleet was dismantled, but the fishermen 
found exciting employment on armed merchantmen 
bearing letters of marque and reprisal. A typical 
Massachusetts- built vessel of the larger class, subject 
of our unique pre-Revolutionary ship portrait, was the 
Bethel, owned by the Quincy family. 1 Armed with 
fourteen guns and carrying thirty-eight men, she 
captured in 1748 by sheer Yankee bluff a Spanish 
treasure ship of twenty-four guns and one hundred 
and ten men, "worth the better part of an hundred 
thousand pounds sterling." So congenial, in fact, did 
our provincial seamen find privateering, that many 
could not bear to give it up when peace was concluded. 
In consequence, not a few were hanged in chains on 
Bird Island or Nix's Mate, whereby every passing sea- 
man might gain a moral lesson. 

Boston increased in population from about seven 
thousand in 1690 to about seventeen thousand in 1740. 

1 The c in this name is pronounced like 2. 



It was the largest town in the English colonies until 
1755, when passed by Philadelphia, and "the principal 
mart of trade in North America" for a much longer 
period. "Boston Pier or the Long Wharf," built in 
1710, extended King (now State) Street some two 
thousand feet into deep water. Wealthy merchants 
came from overseas to share the results of Puritan 
thrift and energy. Thomas Amory, of London, after 
visiting Lisbon, Amsterdam, Charleston, Philadelphia, 
and New York, found Boston their superior in com- 
mercial activity, and settled there in 1720.- 

A fresh tide of immigration was beginning to flow 
into Massachusetts Bay, and a good part of it was non- 
English. The Yankee race, in fact, had never been all 
English. Were I asked to mention two Massachusetts 
families who generation after generation sent their 
sons to sea, I should name the Devereux and the 
Delano, both of French origin. In Mr. Whitmore's 
blue-book of Boston provincial society, about one- 
third of the families are of non-English origin; prin- 
cipally French and Scots, like the Faneuils and Bow- 
doins, Shaws and Cunninghams, but including Ger- 
mans like Caspar Crowninshield and Dutchmen like 
John Wendell. Irishmen like Patrick Tracy, of New- 
buryport, and Captain James Magee, of Boston, rose 
to eminence in maritime pursuits, and married into the 
old Puritan families. Thomas Bardin, a Welshman, 
founded the Hanover forge where North River vessels 
obtained their anchors and ironwork. Another Welsh- 
man taught Lynn to specialize in women's shoes, 
which before the Revolution became an important 
medium in the coasting trade. 

Equally false are two contrasting notions : the 
one that New England was of 'pure Anglo-Saxon 
stock' at the Revolution; the other that the Revo- 



lution was an Irish movement. These are the pet 
lapdogs of modern race snobbery. The seventeenth- 
century stock completely absorbed its eighteenth- 
century accretions, both English and non-English. To 
outsiders, as late as 1824, the population of seaboard 
Massachusetts seemed, and was, racially homogene- 
ous as that of Brittany. But the race was not Anglo- 
Saxon, or Irish. It was Yankee, a new Nordic amalgam 
on an English Puritan base; already in 1750 as differ- 
ent in its character and its dialect from the English as 
the Australians are to-day. A tough but nervous, tena- 
cious but restless race; materially ambitious, yet prone 
to introspection, and subject to waves of religious 
emotion. Conservative in its ideas of property and 
religion, yet (in the eighteenth century) radical in 
business and government. A people with few social 
graces, yet capable of deep friendships and abiding 
loyalties; law-abiding yet individualistic, and im- 
patient of restraint by government or regulation in 
business; ever attempting to repress certain traits of 
human nature, but finding an outlet in broad, crude 
humor and deep-sea voyages. A race whose typical 
member is eternally torn between a passion for right- 
eousness and a desire to get on in the world. Religion 
and climate, soil and sea, here brewed of mixed stock 
a new people. 

From 1740 to the Revolution, Boston declined 
slightly in population owing probably to frequent 
epidemics, high taxes, and high cost of fuel but the 
smaller seaports came up. A glance at the Georgian 
mansions of Michael Dal ton and Jonathan Jackson 
at Newburyport; of John Heard at Ipswich; of Win- 
throp Sargent at Gloucester; of George Cabot at 
Beverly; of Richard Derby and Nathaniel Ropes at 
Salem; of Jeremiah Lee and 'King' Hooper at Mar- 



blehead, and the latter's country seat in Danvers, will 
convince the most skeptical that wealth and good 
taste came out of the sea, into these little towns ; mere 
villages they would be called to-day. Marblehead in 
1744 had ninety vessels in active service, two hundred 
acres covered with fish-flakes, and an annual catch 
worth 34,000 sterling. In 1765, with just under five 
thousand inhabitants it was the sixth town in the thir- 
teen colonies; behind Newport, but ahead of Salem, 
Baltimore, and Albany. 

Why was maritime Massachusetts so prominent in 
the American Revolution? Because she was so demo- 
cratic! answers the bright scholar. Here is another 
fallacy I would puncture in passing. American democ- 
racy was not born in the cabin of the Mayflower or 
in Boston town meeting, but on the farming, fighting 
frontier of all the colonies, New England included. 
Seaboard Massachusetts has never known such a thing 
as a social democracy; and in seaboard Massachusetts, 
as elsewhere, inequalities of wealth have made political 
democracy a sham. Few town meetings have been 
held near tidewater where the voice of shipowner, 
merchant, or master mariner did not carry more 
weight than that of fisherman, counting-room clerk, or 
common seaman. Society in seaboard New England 
was carefully stratified, and the Revolution brought 
little change save in personnel. The ' quality ' dressed 
differently from the poor and middle classes, lived in 
finer houses, expected and received deference, and 
'ran' their communities because they controlled the 
working capital of ships and goods. The only differ- 
ence from old-world society lay in the facility in 
passing from one class to another. 

Marblehead has always had a reputation for de- 
mocracy, especially after the departure of 'King* 



Hooper. But Bentley, apropos the death of Colonel 
Glover in 1805, remarked, "The leading men had 
power nowhere else known in N. England." Visiting 
Andover, the same keen observer noted the young 
people assembling to dance, "in classes according to 
their ages, not with any regard to their condition, as 
in the Seaport Towns." Manchester, a poor fishing 
village, voted as the Boston merchant who handled its 
catch dictated. Even in Cape Cod, there was a great 
gulf between squire and fisherman. "Was Cape Cod 
democratic?" I asked an aged gentleman from Barn- 
stable, who had gone west before the Civil War. 
"Why, yes; it was n't like Boston everybody spoke 
to everybody else." "But was it democratic like 
Wisconsin?" "No! by no means!" 

The sea is no wet-nurse to democracy. Authority 
and privilege are her twin foster-children. Instant and 
unquestioning obedience to the master is the rule of the 
sea; and your typical sea-captain would make it the 
rule of the land if he could. 

Since the merchants ruled society and politics in 
Massachusetts almost from the beginning to 1825, 
when they were forced to divide with the manufac- 
turers, it were well to be sure we know what a mer- 
chant was. Down to the Civil War, the word was un- 
derstood as Dr. Johnson defines it: "one who trafficks 
to remote countries." A merchant was no mere shop- 
keeper, or commission dealer. He bought and sold, 
at home and abroad, on his own account, and handled 
'private adventures' on the side. He owned or char- 
tered the vessels that carried his goods. Specializa- 
tion came only within a generation of 1860. The 
provincial merchants owned not only merchant ships, 
but fishing craft, whalers and coasters, sent their ves- 
sels to the other continental colonies, England, the 



Mediterranean, the West Indies, and the Spanish 
main for all sorts of commodities; sold their return 
ladings at wholesale, and at retail from their own 
shops; speculated in wild lands, did a private banking 
business, and underwrote insurance policies. Many of 
them were wealthy, for the time. Thomas Boylston, 
the richest man in Provincial Massachusetts, was sup- 
posed to be worth about $400,000 just before the 
Revolution; and Colonel Elisha Doane, who main- 
tained a country estate and a perpetually sandbound 
coach at Wellfleet on the Cape, was a good second. 

These colonial merchants lived well, with a spacious 
brick mansion in Boston and a country seat at Milton 
Hill, Cambridge, or as far afield as Harvard and Hop- 
kinton, where great house parties were given. They 
were fond of feasts and pageants, of driving out to 
country inns for a dinner and dance, of trout-fishing, 
and pleasure cruises to the Maine coast. They car- 
ried swords, and drew them if not granted proper defer- 
ence by inferiors. Their wives and daughters wore the 
latest London fashions, and were painted by Smibert, 
Blackburn, and Copley. Their sons went to sea on a 
parental ship, or, if they cared not for business, to 
Harvard College. Nor was this 'codfish aristocracy* 
ashamed of the source of all these blessings. The 
proudest names in the province appear in "Boston 
Gazette" or "Post-Boy" offering for sale everything 
from fish-lines to broadcloth. The Honorable Benja- 
min Pickman placed a half-model of a codfish on every 
front stair-end in his new Salem mansion. 

The backbone of maritime Massachusetts, however, 
was its middle class; the captains and mates of vessels, 
the master builders and shipwrights, the ropemakers, 
sailmakers, and skilled mechanics of many different 
trades, without whom the merchants were nothing. 



Benjamin Franklin was a typical product of this class, 
the son of an English-born tallow-chandler, and a 
Folger of Nantucket. As the broad humor of that 
island puts it, "Ben's keel was laid in Nantucket, but 
the old lady went to Boston to launch him." His 
first childish invention was a cob-wharf in the Boston 
millpond marsh, as a fishing station for minnows; his 
first imprints were broadside ballads on Blackbeard, 
and the shipwreck of Captain Worthilake, which he 
hawked about the crooked streets. In all his varied 
career the New England salt never worked out of 
Franklin's blood. One remembers the Gulf-Stream 
chart, which he persuaded a Nantucket cousin to 
sketch, in the vain hope of dissuading British ship- 
masters from bucking that ocean river. His " Mari- 
time Suggestions" contain some practical hints that 
were later followed up by shipbuilders. It was this 
Yankee middle class of the water-front, keen, ambi- 
tious, inventive, courageous, that produced the great 
merchants and shipmasters of later generations; that 
gave maritime Massachusetts its characteristic flavor. 



A DOGGEREL tory poet made no bad analysis of the 
Patriot party in the northern colonies, as a coalition 
of 'John Presbyter/ 'Will Democrack,' and 'Nathan 

John answer'd, Thou art proud, 

Brittania, mad and rich, 

Will d -d her, with his Crowd, 

And call'd her, 'Tyrant .' 

While Nathan his Effusions bray'd 
And veaw'd She ruin'd all his Trade. 

Boston became the headquarters of the American 
Revolution largely because the policy of George III 
threatened her maritime interests. "Massachusetts- 
Bay is the most prejudicial plantation to this king- 
dom," wrote Sir Josiah Child. Instead of trading only 
with the mother country, and producing some staple 
which she could monopolize, Massachusetts would 
spite the Acts of Trade and Navigation, would "trye 
all ports," would trade with England's rivals, and 
drive English ships from colonial commerce. 

Of course she had to do all this in order to live and 
prosper; and every penny won from free trade (as she 
called it) or smuggling (as the English called it) was 
spent in England. Until 1760, Englishmen saw the 
point and let well enough alone; but the ministers of 
George III believed it their duty to enforce the stat- 
utes, and make Massachusetts a colony in fact as in 
name. Not only their policy, but their method of exe- 



cuting it was objectionable. Loyalty was chilled, and 
a fighting spirit aroused, by incidents such as this: 

On Friday last a Coaster belonging to Scituate was passing one 
of the Ships of War in this harbour, when they dous'd their mainsail, 
but it not being quite to the satisfaction of the commanding officer 
of the Ship, they sent their boat on board and upon the Officer's 
stepping upon the Sloop's deck he immediately drew a cutlass with 
which he struck the master of the Coaster on the cheek, which cut a 
gash near three inches long, after which he damn'd him for not 
showing more respect to the King's Ship and then cut the halliards 
of the mainsail and let the sail run down upon deck. 1 

The American Revolution in eastern Massachu- 
setts was financed and in part led by wealthy mer- 
chants like John Hancock, Josiah Quincy, James 
Bowdoin, Richard Derby, and Elbridge Gerry. 2 When 
the crisis came in 1775, a minority of the merchants, 
alarmed at mob violence, preferred law and order to 
liberty and property; but the majority risked the one 
to secure the other and obtained both. They may, 
too, have been moved by the same high ideals which, 
spread broadcast by the voice and pen of Adams and 
Otis, Hawley and Warren, set interior Massachusetts 
ablaze. But their interests as well were at stake. If 
American trade were regulated by corrupt incom- 
petents three thousand miles away, Massachusetts 
might as well retire from the sea. 

In consequence, the Revolution in eastern Massa- 
chusetts, radical in appearance, was conservative in 
character. The war closed with little change in the 
social system of provincial days, although the change 
in personnel was great. Maritime interests were still 
supreme. The Constitution of 1780 was a lawyers' 
and merchants' constitution, directed toward some- 

1 Boston Gazette and Country Journal, Sept. 25, 1769. 
8 The G in this name is hard. 




thing like quarterdeck efficiency in government, and 
the protection of property against democratic pirates. 

The maritime history of Massachusetts during the 
War of Independence would make a book in itself; 
it has already lent color to many books. We must pass 
by the marine Lexington in Machias Bay, the state 
navy fitted out in 1775, the British attacks on Glouces- 
ter, Portland, and New Bedford. Just a word, how- 
ever, on privateering. Her success in this legalized 
piracy was probably the greatest contribution of sea- 
board Massachusetts to the common cause. Six hun- 
dred and twenty-six letters of marque were issued to 
Massachusetts vessels by the Continental Congress, 
and some thousand more by the General Court. Priva- 
teers were of little use in naval operations, as the dis- 
astrous Penobscot expedition proved; but they were 
of very greatest service in preying on the enemy's 
commerce, intercepting his communications with 
America, carrying terror and destruction into the very 
chops of the Channel, and supplying the patriot army 
with munitions, stores and clothing at Johnny Bull's 

From an economic and social viewpoint, privateer- 
ing employed the fishermen, and all those who de- 
pended on shipping; taught daring seamanship, and 
strengthened our maritime aptitude and tradition. 
Privateers required speed; and the Massachusetts 
builders, observing, it is said, the scientifically de- 
signed vessels of our French allies, did away with high 
quarterdecks, eased water-lines, and substituted a 
nearly U-shaped cross-section for the barrel-shaped 
bottom and unseemly tumble-home of the old-style 
ships. Commerce continued with the West Indies, 
France, and Spain in letter-of-marque ships, armed 
merchantmen with a license to take prizes on the side. 



The letter-of-marque ship General Pickering of Salem, 
Captain Jonathan Haraden, fourteen guns and forty- 
five men, but heavily laden with sugar, beat the Brit- 
ish privateer Achilles of three times her size and arma- 
ment off Bilbao, in one of the most gallant sea-fights 
of the Revolution. On the back side of Cape Cod, 
whalemen with swivel-armed boats kept watch on 
Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds, the sea-lane to the 
British base in New York. With an impudent daring 
that astounded the enemy, they swooped down on his 
vessels when becalmed, or cut them out of Tarpaulin 
Cove and Holmes Hole at night-time. On Salem, in 
particular, the Revolution wrought an entire change in 
commercial spirit. Before the war Salem was mainly 
a fishing port. Privateering gave her seamen a broader 
horizon, and her merchants a splendid ambition. 

In the earlier years of the war, large profits were 
made from privateering by every one connected with 
it. A favorite speculation for merchants was to buy, 
in advance of his cruise, half a privateersman's share 
of his forthcoming prizes. But in the last year or two 
of the war the British tightened their blockade, cap- 
tured a large part of our fleet, and drove the rest into 
port. The insurance rate from Beverly to Hayti and 
back was forty per cent in 1780. The Derbys of Salem 
are said to have been the only privateering firm to re- 
tain a favorable balance, when peace was concluded. 

But it was a great war while it lasted! 

Then came the worst economic depression Massa- 
chusetts has ever known. The double readjustment 
from a war to a peace basis, and from a colonial to an 
independent basis, caused hardship throughout the 
colonies. It worked havoc with the delicate adjust- 
ment of fishing, seafaring, and shipbuilding by which 
Massachusetts was accustomed to gain her living. By 



1786, the exports of Virginia had more than regained 
their pre-Revolutionary figures. At the same date the 
exports of Massachusetts were only one-fourth of what 
they had been twelve years earlier. 

The fisheries had to be reconstructed from the be- 
ginning. Owing to the diplomacy of John Adams, 
Massachusetts codfishermen retained access to their 
old grounds; but they lacked vessels, gear, and capital. 
It is generally assumed that our fishing fleet had been 
transformed into privateers, and needed only recon- 
version to go out and catch cod. But the fishing 
schooner of that period was a slow, unwieldy craft, of 
little use in privateering. Such of them as had been 
converted, for the most part were captured; the rest, 
high and dry for seven years, needed expensive repairs. 
The whaling fleet of Nantucket and Dartmouth x had 
been wiped out. Only four or five remained out of two 
hundred sail; the rest had been lost, burned, or cap- 

Independence deprived the Massachusetts cod- 
fisheries of their greatest market, the British West 
Indies; and the whale-fisheries of their only foreign 
market, England. Johnny Bull naturally slammed 
his colonial doors in Jonathan's face; would receive his 
ships on no terms, nor even his salt provisions and cod- 
fish in British vessels. He intended to build up his own 
fisheries and lumber trade. France and Spain excluded 
recent allies from their colonial preserves. The Dutch, 
Danish, and Swedish islands remained ; not important 
markets, but good centers for smuggling. But until 
the new ropes were learned, the returns to New Eng- 
land fishermen were meager indeed. After four years 
of peace, about four-fifths of the Grand Banks fleet 

1 Dartmouth until 1787 included New Bedford, Fairhaven, and 



was in commission; but the men were not earning 
enough to see their families through the winter. By 
1789, only one-third of the whaling tonnage of 1773 
had been restored. 1 

The coasting trade was under a similar handicap, for 
Massachusetts had been accustomed to pay for her im- 
ports of tobacco and Southern produce largely with 
West India goods. Almost the only thing that could 
be done was to send small sloops and fishing vessels 
to peddle out local produce along the shores of Ches- 
apeake Bay, Albemarle Sound, Pamlico Sound, and 
Cape Fear River, for corn, tobacco, and naval stores. 
For example, three fishing schooners cleared from 
Beverly for Maryland and North Carolina during the 
first two weeks of December, 1787. The Swallow, forty- 
five tons, takes bricks, butter, fish, rum, potatoes, and 
"6 Tons of English Hay here produced." The Wood- 
bridge, Seward Lee master, takes "5 hhd. salt, 12 q. 
dry fish, 5 hhd. molasses, 4 bbl. Mackerell, 6 doz, 
buckets, 9 Setts wooden measures, 3 half-pecks, n 
buckets with covers, 6 hhd. & 6 bbl. N.E. Rum, 8 
boxes chocolate, 3 doz. common cheeses, 2 cases 
Earthen ware, I doz. axes, 36 bbl. potatoes, i doz. 
setts Sugar Boxes " ; and " all the above are the Growth 
and Manufacture of this state." With such typical 
cargoes of " Yankee notions," pathetic in their homely 
variety, the smaller seaports of Massachusetts were 
wooing the prosperity which had already returned to 
the South. 

And what of the slave trade? A dark subject, indeed ; 
one which I have endeavored in vain to illuminate. 
The "Guinea trade" had never been an important 
line of commerce in Massachusetts. It was forbidden, 
under heavy penalties, by an act of the General Court 

1 See table in Appendix. 


in 1788. Yet it did not entirely cease. Felt, in his 
"Annals of Salem/' prints the instructions of an owner 
to a slaver which left that port in 1785. Dr. Bentley, 
who had a keen scent for this nefarious traffic, notes in 
his diary the names of at least eight Salem shipmasters 
who engaged in it, at one time or another, between 
1788 and 1802. A mutiny in the middle passage dis- 
posed of one ; another was killed by a negro in revenge ; 
one, "of a most worthy family," died at Havana, an- 
other cut his own throat. Only one seems to have been 
arrested, and he was released for lack of evidence; al- 
though an extant log of one of his voyages, from Salem 
to the Guinea coast and the West Indies, bears witness 
to his guilt. Salem had a regular trade with the West 
African coast, rum and fish for gold dust, palm oil, and 
ivory; and it would be surprising if an occasional ship- 
master did not yield to the temptation to load ' black 
ivory' as well. 

The statistics of slave imports at Charleston, be- 
tween 1804 and 1808, disclosed by Senator Smith, of 
South Carolina, in the latter year, state that seventy 
of the entering vessels belonged to Great Britain, sixty- 
one to Charleston itself, fifty-nine to Rhode Island, 
only one to Boston, and none to any other Massachu- 
setts port. But this does not include the West-Indian 
slave trade; and an interesting insurance policy, dated 
June 13, 1803, suggests how it could be carried on with- 
out breaking either the laws of Massachusetts or of 
the United States. One of the most eminent and fa- 
mous firms of China merchants, acting as agents for 
one Robert Cuming, of St. Croix (Danish West Indies), 
insures for $33,000 at ten per cent, his ship Hope and 
cargo from the coast of Africa to Havana, under Danish 
colors. "The assurers are liable for loss by insurrection, 
but not by natural mortality. Each slave is valued at 



two hundred dollars." This policy is underwritten by 
seven of the most respectable Boston merchants, and 
negotiated by an eighth. 

William Lloyd Garrison exposed a domestic slave- 
trader of Newburyport in 1829, one who took slaves as 
freight from Baltimore to New Orleans. Even later the 
New Bedford whaling masters occasionally engaged 
in the African trade. Only a thorough examination of 
our court records, and of the archives of such foreign 
seaports as Havana, would reveal a measure of the full 
truth. Yet I believe the statement warranted that the 
slave trade, as prosecuted from Massachusetts or by 
Massachusetts capital after the Revolution, was occa- 
sional and furtive, rather than a recognized under- 
ground traffic. Certainly it played no prominent part 
in the commercial prosperity of the community; and 
the assertion, often disproved but as often repeated, 
that Massachusetts was ''the nursing mother of the 
horrors of the middle passage," is without any founda- 
tion in fact. 

Shipbuilding came to a standstill shortly after the 
Revolution. With no British market for our bottoms, 
and British colonial ports closed to the American 
flag; with French, Austrians, Germans, Dutch, and 
Swedes competing for our carrying trade, and no gov- 
ernment capable of granting protection; the shipping 
supremacy of Massachusetts seemed forever ended. 
According to an official report of the French consul at 
Boston, about one hundred and twenty- five vessels 
had been launched annually in Massachusetts be- 
fore the war. In 1784, only forty-five vessels left the 
ways; and twelve of them, built for the French East- 
India service, were so poorly constructed that no more 
outside orders came. Between 1785 and 1787, only 
fifteen to twenty were built annually. A goodly fleet of 



merchantmen, and several new privateers like the 
Astrea and Grand Turk, constructed during the last 
year or two of the war, were on hand; but there was 
little employment for them. Instead of sending her 
fleet to all Europe, as optimists predicted, Massachu- 
setts found her own harbors thronged with foreign 
flags, and her wharves heaped high with foreign goods. 

Between May and December, 1783, twenty-eight 
French vessels, and almost the same number of English 
merchantmen, brought cargoes, worth almost half a 
million dollars, into Boston Harbor alone. Consisting 
largely of luxuries, they were nevertheless snapped up 
(on credit, of course) by the merchants of this war- 
stricken town of ten thousand inhabitants. Peace 
brought a riot of luxury such as Massachusetts never 
saw again until 1919. The war debt was enormous, the 
need of production imperative ; but privateering, spec- 
ulation, and the continental currency had so under- 
mined Yankee thrift and energy that many persons 
thought the character of the race had completely 
changed. Travelers commented on the vulgar display 
of the profiteers, and the reckless spending of farmers 
and mechanics. We hear of artisans buying silk 
stockings, and 'jeunes paysannes' coming into Bos- 
ton market, wearing 'chapeaux Montgolfiers.' 

Worst of all, civil conflict was impending. For some 
years before the Revolution, central and western 
Massachusetts had been increasing rapidly in popula- 
tion, and acquiring class consciousness. The farmer no 
longer blessed the merchant, but cursed him as an 
exploiter. All classes and sections had allied to resist 
British imperialism; but the war brought about much 
friction. Mutual accusations of profiteering and slack- 
ing were frequent. Berkshire County refused obe- 
dience to the Boston government until 1780; and few 



debts or taxes were paid in western Massachusetts for 
seven years. 

By 1783 the farmers had acquired a higher standard 
of living, and a heavy burden of debts. European 
creditors began to press Boston merchants; who turned 
to their country storekeeper debtors, who began to 
distrain on the farmers, who then called upon govern- 
ment to establish a moratorium for debts, and to issue 
cheap money. But maritime Massachusetts controlled 
the government, by the simple device of apportioning 
the state senate according to taxable wealth. Every 
effort of the representatives to relieve the farmers 
died in the upper house. 

The merchants even shifted the burden of taxation 
to those who could least bear it. Forty per cent of the 
state expenses were raised by poll-taxes, which fell 
equally on rich and poor, merchant prince and plough- 
boy. The customs duties were low, and largely evaded ; 
Samuel Breck tells in his " Recollections" how the best 
people would smuggle in a good proportion of each 
cargo, as if the customs were still the King's. 

Owing to the dislocation of the West-India trade 
and the departure of the French and British armies, 
there was no longer a market for the farming and 
domestic produce of central New England. Prices 
and common labor fell to almost nothing. At this 
crisis, the state government began to distrain on tax 
delinquents, and the merchants on their debtors. The 
courts became clogged with suits. Farms which had 
been in one family for generations, were sold under the 
hammer at a fraction of their real value, to pay debts 
contracted at inflated prices, or a few years' overdue 
taxes. The situation became intolerable to men who 
had fought for liberty. 

In the summer of 1786 the storm broke. The up- 



country yeomanry, under the leadership of Revolu- 
tionary officers like Daniel Shays, began breaking up 
sessions of the courts, in the hope of a respite from 
confiscations until the next state election. Govern- 
ment ordered them to disperse, and preached "fru- 
gality, industry and self-denial." The yeomanry 
persisted, and the tide of lawlessness rolled nearer 
Boston. Governor Bowdoin proclaimed the rebel 
leaders outlaws. They then resolved to be outlaws in- 
deed, and attacked the Springfield arsenal in search of 
better weapons than pitchforks and Queen's arms. 
One ' whiff of grapeshot ' dispersed the ragged battal- 
ions to the bleak hills of western Massachusetts. Loyal 
militia and gentlemen volunteers from the seaboard, 
advancing through the deep snow of a hard winter, 
broke up the remaining bands, early in 1787. It was 
a victory of property over democracy; of maritime 
Massachusetts over farming Massachusetts. 

Notwithstanding these civil disorders, some brave 
efforts were made both by the Commonwealth and by 
private individuals, in the years near 1786, to make 
the state more self-sufficient. The Massachusetts 
Bank, first in the state, was chartered in 1784. A 
small manufacturing boom set in about the same 
time. The "Boston Glass House" was established by 
a group of local capitalists in 1786, and received a state 
monopoly for manufacturing window-glass. The Cabot 
family established the Beverly Cotton Manufactory 
in 1787. Most of these experiments closed their doors 
in a few years' time. But the Charles River Bridge 
from Boston to Charlestown, opened on the eleventh 
anniversary of the battle of Bunker Hill, was a financial 
success, and encouraged the building of several other 
toll-bridges that greatly increased the facilities of the 
seaport towns. 



In the meantime, commerce was slowly reviving. 
Yankee skippers 1 were learning to outwit both Bar- 
bary corsairs and West India regulations. Orders in 
Council changed neither the Jamaican appetite for 
dried codfish, nor the Yankee thirst for Jamaica rum. 
A Massachusetts vessel putting into a British port 
4 'in distress" was likely to obtain an official permit to 
land its cargo and relieve the "starving population." 
France, thanks to Jefferson's diplomacy, gradually re- 
opened her insular possessions ; and Spain permitted di- 
rect trade with Havana, Trinidad, and New Orleans. 
St. Eustatius, St. Bartholomew, and the Virgin Islands 
became entrepots for illicit traffic. Much New England 
lumber and whale oil found its way to the West India 
and English markets by acquiring a " British " character 
in Nova Scotia. Despite the English disposition to 
"cramp us in the Cod-Fishery," as Stephen Higgin- 
son put it, and the bounties paid by France to her 
pbcheurs d'Islande, the West Indies took a greater pro- 
portion of our dried codfish in 1790 than in 1775. But 
the total exports were still far below those of the pre- 
Revolutionary era. 

By 1787 the West- India trade was in a measure re- 
stored. Beverly, for instance, imported about 3100 
gallons of foreign rum, 7000 gallons of "other foreign 
distilled spirits," 400 pounds of cocoa, 3500 pounds of 
sugar, and 50,000 pounds of leaf tobacco, between 
April I and July I, 1787. The benefits of a reopened 
market for farm produce and wooden ware, percolating 
into the interior, did more to salve the wounds of 
Shays's Rebellion than all the measures passed by the 
Great and General Court. 

1 This term is correctly used only for the masters of fishing vessels, 
coasters, and small craft such as traded with the West Indies. A docu- 
ment of 1775 in the Beverly Historical Society speaks of "the chuner 
Mary thomas Rusel Skiper & oner," 



But the general commercial situation in Massachu- 
setts was still most unsatisfactory. Every state, under 
the Confederation, had its own customs duties and 
tonnage laws. When Massachusetts attempted to dis- 
criminate against British vessels, her neighbors re- 
ceived them with open arms; and British goods reached 
Boston from other ports by coasting sloops. Not even 
the coasting trade was confined to the American flag; 
and the port dues were constantly changed. More 
commercial treaties were needed with foreign powers. 
Federal bounties were needed to revive fishing. Shays's 
Rebellion, fortunately, sent such a thrill of horror 
through the states, that conservative forces drew to- 
gether to create a more perfect union. 

In the struggle of 1788 over the ratification of the 
Federal Constitution, Massachusetts was a pivotal 
state. The voters returned an anti- Federalist majority 
to her ratifying convention. By various methods, 
enough votes were changed to obtain ratification. A 
meeting of four hundred Boston mechanics (following, 
it is said, a promise by local merchants to order three 
new vessels upon ratification) drew up strong Federalist 
resolutions, which turned the wavering Samuel Adams. 
Governor Hancock was reached by methods less 
direct. Boston hospitality had its influence. "I most 
Tel you I was never Treated with So must politeness 
in my life as I was afterwards by the Treadesmen of 
Boston merchants & every other Gentlemen," wrote a 
backwoods member. Finally the Convention ratified, 
by a majority of 19 out of 355 votes. The sectional 
alignment was significant. The coast and island coun- 
ties of Massachusetts proper cast 102 votes in favor, 
and only 19 against, ratification. The inland counties l 

1 Including Middlesex and Bristol, the bulk of whose population was 
agricultural at this period. 



cast 60 in favor, 128 against. For the third time in 
ten years, maritime Massachusetts won over farming 

On her proper element, maritime Massachusetts 
was already winning a cleaner fight: victory over 
lethargy and despair ; victory over powers who would 
cramp her restless energy, doom her ships to decay, 
and her seamen to emigrate. Some subtle instinct, or 
maybe thwarted desire of Elizabethan ancestors who, 
seeking in vain the Northwest Passage, founded an 
empire on the barrier, was pulling the ships of Massa- 
chusetts east by west, into seas where no Yankee had 
ever ventured. Off the roaring breakers of Cape Horn, 
in the vast spaces of the Pacific, on savage coasts 
and islands, and in the teeming marts of the Far East, 
the intrepid shipmasters and adventurous youth of 
New England were reclaiming their salt sea heritage. 



MARITIME commerce was the breath of life for Massa- 
chusetts. When commerce languished, the common- 
wealth fell sick. When commerce revived even a little, 
the hot passions of Shays's Rebellion cooled just 
enough to permit a ratification of the Federal Con- 
stitution. Prosperity, not only of the seaport towns, 
but of the agricultural interior, depended as of old 
upon the success of seafaring Massachusetts. Without 
prosperity, emigration would follow, and slow decay, 
and death. The codfishermen must exact tribute from 
the Banks; the whalers must pursue their 'gigantic 
game' around the Horn, the merchants and trading 
vessels must recover their grip on the home market and 
the handling of Southern exports; must find substitutes 
for the protected trade of colonial days; must elude 
the Spanish guarda costas along the circumference of 
South America; must compete with English, Scots, and 
Dutchmen in the Baltic and the Indies; and must 
seek out new, virgin markets and sources of supply in 
the Pacific. All this had to be done, that Massachu- 
setts retain her position among the brighter stars of the 
American constellation. The doing of it determined her 
political orientation ; transformed a revolutionary com- 
munity, the most fecund source of political thought in 
the western world, into a conservative commonwealth, 
the spearhead of the aggressively reactionary Federal- 
ist party. 

" From 1790 to 1820, there was not a book, a speech, 



a conversation, or a thought in the State/* wrote 
Emerson. Speaking relatively and broadly, he was 
right. The Yankee mind, engrossed in the struggle for 
existence, neglected things spiritual and intellectual 
during this Federalist period of its history; and the 
French Revolution made thought suspicious to a com- 
mercial community. Yet thought there was, even 
though the Sage of Concord might not call it by that 
name ; the thought that opens up new channels of trade, 
sets new enterprises on foot, and erects a political 
system to consolidate them. By such thought, no less 
than the other, the grist of history is ground. 

Every seaport of Massachusetts proper from New- 
buryport to Edgartown was quickening into new 
activity in 1789; none more so than the capital. The 
Boston of massacre and tea-party, of Sam Adams and 
Jim Otis, of uproarious mobs and radical meetings, 
was in transition to that quiet, prosperous, orderly 
Federalist Boston, the Boston of East- India merchants 
and Federalist statesmen; of Thomas Handasyd Per- 
kins, Charles Bulfinch, and Harrison Gray Otis. 

In appearance, the Boston of 1790 was unchanged 
since 1750. Charles Bulfinch had returned from Eu- 
rope, but his native town had barely taken up the slack 
of the turbulent era; some accumulation of wealth was 
needed to employ his architectural talents. The eight- 
een thousand inhabitants were not crowded on their 
peninsula of seven hundred and eighty acres about 
nine-tenths the area of Central Park, New York. As 
one approached it by the Charles River Bridge in 1790, 
Boston 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.' 1 
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 dwellings; 
dividing around Copp's and Fort Hills to meet again 
by the water's 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. 
As for the people, "Commerce occupies all their 
thought," writes Brissot de Warville in 1788, "turns 
all their heads, and absorbs all their speculations. 
Thus you find few estimable works, and few authors." 
But "let us not blame the Bostonians; they think of 
the useful before procuring themselves the agreeable. 
They have no brilliant monuments; but they have 
neat and commodious houses, superb bridges, and ex- 
cellent ships." To Timothy D wight, of New Haven, 
the Bostonians seemed "distinguished by a lively 
imagination. . . . Their enterprises are sudden, bold, 
and sometimes rash. A general spirit of adventure 
prevails here." 

One bright summer afternoon in 1790 saw the close 
of a great adventure. On August 9, Boston town heard 
a salute of thirteen guns down-harbor. The ship 
'Columbia, Captain Robert Gray, with the first Ameri- 
can ensign to girdle the globe snapping at her peak, 
was greeting the Castle after an absence of three years. 
Coming to anchor in the inner harbor, she fired another 
federal salute of thirteen guns, which a "great con- 
course of citizens assembled on the various wharfs re- 
turned with three huzzas and a hearty welcome." A 
rumor ran through the narrow streets that a native of 



"Owyhee" a Sandwich-Islander was on board; 
and before the day was out, curious Boston was grat- 
ified with a sight of him, marching after Captain 
Gray to call on Governor Hancock. Clad in a 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 

-- The Columbia had logged 41,899 miles since her de- 
parture from Boston on September 30, 1787. Her 
voyage was not remarkable as a feat of navigation; 
Magellan and Drake had done the trick centuries be- 
fore, under far more hazardous conditions. It was the 
practical results that counted. The Columbia's first 
voyage began the Northwest fur trade, which enabled 
the merchant adventurers of Boston to tap the vast 
reservoir of wealth in China. 

The history of this discovery goes back to the close of 
hostilities, and reveals a thread of optimism and energy 
running through years of depression. In December, 
1783, the little fifty-five- ton sloop Harriet, oi Hingham, 
Captain Hallet, sailed from Boston with a cargo of 
ginseng for China. Putting in at the Cape of Good 
Hope, she met with some British East-Indiamen who, 
alarmed at this portent of Yankee competition, bought 
her cargo for double its weight in Hyson tea. Captain 
Hallet made a good bargain, but lost the honor of 
hoisting the first American ensign in Canton, to a New 
York ship, the Empress of China. 

Although the capital and the initiative were of 
New York, the direction of this voyage was entrusted 



to the supercargo l of the Empress, Major Samuel 
Shaw, of Boston, one of the few sons of New England 
mercantile families who had served through the entire 
war. The Empress of China arrived at Macao on 
August 23, i^S^six months out from New York; and 
despite Shaw's inexperience brought home a cargo that 
proved America need pay no further tribute for teas 
or silks to the Dutch or British. Major Shaw's report 
to the government was published, stimulating others to 
repeat the experiment; and he freely gave of his ex- 
perience to all who asked. After receiving the purely 
honorary title of American consul at Canton, he re- 
turned thither in 1786, on the ship Hope of New York, 
James Magee master, to establish the first American 
commercial house in China. He was also one of the 
first in the East- India trade. A short residence in 
Bombay so affected his liver, that he died on a home- 
ward voyage in 1794, in his fortieth year. Of Samuel 
Shaw it was said by that rugged shipmaster of Dux- 
bury, Amasa Delano, that "he was a man of fine tal- 
ents and considerable cultivation ; he placed so high 
a value upon sentiments of honor that some of his 
friends thought it was carried to excess. He was can- 
did, just and generous, faithful in his friendships, an 
agreeable companion, and manly in all his inter- 

Shortly after her arrival at Canton, the Hope was 
joined by the Grand Turk, of Salem, Captain Ebenezer 
West, the first Massachusetts vessel to visit the Far 

1 A supercargo was the representative on shipboard of owners and 
consigners. He took no part in navigation, but handled the business side 
of the voyage. A captain often acted as supercargo, especially when a 
relative of the owners; in such cases he generally carried a clerk to keep 
the books. Promotion of a supercargo to the command of a vessel was 
called "coming in through the cabin window"; promotion of a foremast 
hand, "coming in through the hawse-hole." 



East. Her return to Salem on May 22, 1787, brought 
fabulous profits to her owner, whetted the appetite of 
every Massachusetts merchant, and (what was equally 
important) fixed their good wives' ambition on a chest 
of Hyson, a China silk gown, and a set of Canton china. 

Although America was outstripping every other 
nation in China trade, save Britain, she could not long 
compete with Britain without a suitable medium. 
Canton market accepted little but specie and 
eastern products. British merchants could import 
the spoil of India and the Moluccas opium and 
mummie and sharks' fins and edible birds' nests. Yet 
Britain paid for the major part of her teas and silks in 
silver. Massachusetts, on the morrow of Shays's 
Rebellion, could not afford to do this. Ginseng could 
be procured and sold only in limited quantities. Unless 
some new product were found to tickle the palate or 
suit the fancy of the finicky mandarins,, the Grand 
Turk's voyage were a flash in the pan. JTo find some- 
thing salable in Canton, was the riddle of the China 
trade. Boston and Salem solved it. 

The ship Columbia was fitted out by a group of 
Boston merchants who believed the solution of the 
problem lay in the furs of the Northwest Coast. Cap- 
tain Cook's third voyage, the account of which was 
published in 1784, and John Ledyard's report of the 
Russian fur trade in Bering Sea, gave them the hint. 
Possibly they had also learned from Samuel Shaw that 
a few Anglo- Indian traders, whom Captain Gray later 
met on the Coast, had already sold Alaskan sea-otter at 

Although privately financed, with fourteen shares of 
$3500 each, 1 the voyage was conceived in the public 

1 The shareholders were Joseph Barrell, Samuel Brown, and Captain 
Crowell Hatch, prominent Boston merchants; Charles Bulfinch the 

4 6 




spirit of the old merchant adventurers. A medal was 
struck to distribute among the natives. An expert 
furrier, a surgeon, and (luckily for us) an artist were 
taken. John Kendrick, of VVareham, commanded 
both the expedition, and the ship Columbia, eighty- 
three feet long, two hundred twelve tons burthen, 
built at Hobart's Landing on the North River, Scitu- 
ate, in 1773. Robert Gray, born of Plymouth stock in 
Tiverton, Rhode Island, and a former officer in the 
Continental navy, was master of the ninety-ton sloop 
Lady Washington, which accompanied the Columbia as 
tender. Both vessels made an unusually long passage, 
and encountered heavy westerly gales off Cape Horn, 
which they were the first North American vessels to 
pass. On April I, 1788, in latitude 57 57' south, they 
parted company. Gray reached the coast of "New 
Albion" eleven months out of Boston, and was joined 
by the Columbia at Nootka Sound, the fur- trading 
center on Vancouver Island. It was too late to do any 
trading that season, so both vessels were anchored in a 
sheltered cove, while the crew lived ashore in log huts 
and built a small boat. In the summer of 1789, before a 
full cargo of skins had been obtained, provisions began 
to run low. Captain Kendrick therefore remained be- 
hind, but sent Gray in the Columbia to Canton, where 
he exchanged his cargo of peltry for tea, and returned 
to Boston around the world. 

The Columbia's first voyage, like most pioneering 
enterprises, was not a financial success. Fourteen 
American vessels preceded her to Canton, and most of 
them reached home before her. Four of them, belong- 
ing to Elias Hasket Derby, of Salem, had approached 
the China market from a different angle and with 

architect, John Derby, son of E. H. Derby, of Salem, and J. M. Pintard, 
a merchant of New York. 



greater success. The ship Astrea, Captain James 
Magee, 1 carried a miscellaneous cargo, which had 
taken almost a year to assemble. The barques Light 
Horse and Atlantic exchanged provisions at Mauritius 
(He de France) for ftills which at Bombay, Calcutta, 
and Surat bought a good assortment for Canton; the 
brig Three Sisters, Captain Benjamin Webb, disposed 
of a mixed cargo at Batavia, where she was chartered 
by a Dutch merchant to carry Java products to Canton. 
She and the Atlantic were there sold, and the entire 
proceeds invested in silks, chinaware, and three- 
quarters of a million pounds of tea, which were loaded 
on the two larger vessels. 

Elias Hasket Derby, ignorant even of the arrival of 
his vessels at Canton, was beginning to feel a bit nerv- 
ous toward the end of May, 1790, when a brig arrived 
with news of them. On June I, the Astrea was sighted 
in Salem Bay. But Mr. Derby's troubles were not yet 
over. On June 15, the Light Horse appeared; but for 
lack of wind was forced to anchor off Marblehead. In 
the night an easterly gale sprang up. The vessel was 
too close inshore to make sail and claw off. Early in 
the morning her crew felt that sickening sensation 
of dragging anchors. Astern, nearer, nearer came the 
granite rocks of Marblehead, where the ragged popula- 
tion perched like buzzards, not displeased at the pros- 
pect of rich wreckage at Salem's expense. "King 
Darby" hurried over in his post-chaise to watch half 
his fortune inching toward disaster on his very door- 
step. Finally, with but a few yards to spare between 
rudder and rocks, the anchors bit, and saved the Light 

1 Captain James Magee (1750-1801), described as "aconvivial, noble- 
hearted Irishman," during the Revolution commanded the man-of-war 
brig General Arnold, which was wrecked in Plymouth Bay. He mar- 
ried Margaret Elliot, sister of Mrs. ^Thomas Handasyd Perkins, and 
lived in the old Governor Shirley mansion at Roxbury. 

4 8 


Horse until a shift of wind brought her to the haven 
where she would be. 

Two months later, Captain Gray entered Boston 
with a damaged cargo to find Captain Magee adver- 
tising China goods in the Boston papers. But the 
Columbia had opened a channel to fortune that her 
rivals were quick to follow. 

As supercargo of the Astrea, Mr. Derby had chosen 
Captain Magee's young brother-in-law, Thomas Hand- 
asyd Perkins. The Boston " Herald of Freedom " for 
January 6, 1789, announced that all persons "wishing 
to adventure" aboard the Astrea "may be assured of 
Mr. Perkins' assertions for their interest." Those who 
accepted were not disappointed; and the pedigrees of 
many Boston fortunes can be traced to that China 
voyage and its consequences. Young Perkins inherited 
an aptitude for the fur trade from his grandfather, 
Thomas Handasyd Peck, the leading fur exporter of 
the province; and he had learned the mercantile busi- 
ness at his mother's knee. The widow Perkins, one of 
those remarkable New England women of the Revo- 
lutionary period, carried on her husband's business 
with such success that letters used to be received from 
abroad addressed to "Elizabeth Perkins, Esq." No 
wonder that, with such forbears, Thomas Handasyd 
Perkins became the first of Boston merchants, both in 
fortune and in public spirit. 

On returning to Boston in 1790, young Perkins 
bought the little seventy-ton brigantine Hope, and 
sent her under Captain Gray's former mate, Joseph 
Ingraham, to the Northwest Coast. In a single summer 
she collected fourteen hundred sea-otter skins. The 
Columbia started on her second voyage in September, 
1790, and the brigantine Hancock, one hundred fifty- 
seven tons, Samuel Crowell master, two months later. 



Lieutenant Thomas Lamb and his brother James, 
merchants, joined Captain Magee in building at Bos- 
ton, the ship Margaret, one hundred fifty tons, which 
sailed under the latter's command on December 24, 
1791, "bound on a voyage of observation and enter- 
prise to the North- Western Coast of this Continent." 
Others quickly followed. 

v By 1792 the trade route Boston-Northwest Coast- 
Canton-Boston was fairly established. Not only the 
merchantmen of Massachusetts, but the whalers (of 
whom more anon), balked of their accustomed traffic 
by European exclusiveness, were swarming around the 
Horn in search of new markets and sources of supply. 
It was on May 12, 1792, that Captain Gray (according 
to the seventeen-year-old fifth mate of the Columbia, 
John Boit, Jr.) "saw an appearance of a spacious 
harbour abreast the Ship, haul'd our wind for it, 
observ'd two sand bars making off, with a passage 
between them to a fine river. Out pinnace and sent 
her in ahead and followed with the Ship under short 
sail, carried in from 1/2 three to 7 fm. and when over the 
bar had 10 fm. water, quite fresh. The River extended 
to the NE. as far as eye cou'd reach, and water fit to 
drink as far down as the Bars, at the entrance. We 
directed our course up this noble River in search of a 
Village. The beach was lin'd with Natives, who ran 
along shore following the Ship. Soon after, above 20 
Canoes came off, and brought a good lot of Furs, and 
Salmon, which last they sold two for a board Nail. 
The furs we likewise bought cheap, for Copper and 
Cloth. They appear'd to view the Ship with the great- 
est astonishment and no doubt we was the first civ- 
ilized people that they ever saw. At length we arriv'd 
opposite to a large village, situate on the North side of 

the River, about 5 leagues from the entrance Capt. 




Gray named this river Columbia's and the North en- 
trance Cape Hancock, and the South Point, Adams. 
This River in my opinion, wou'd be a fine place for to 
set up a Factory. . . . The river abounds with excellent 
Salmon. 11 

On her first voyage, the Columbia had solved the 
riddle of the China trade. On her second, empire fol- 
lowed in the wake. 



BEFORE the Columbia returned again, another rash 
enterprise of Boston merchants, an attempt to enter 
the Canton market through imitation of the British 
East India Company, had failed. The ship Massachu- 
setts, of almost eight hundred tons burthen, the largest 
vessel constructed to that date in an American ship- 
yard, was built at Quincy in 1789 for Samuel Shaw 
and other Boston merchants. Her model and dimen- 
sions were taken from a British East-Indiaman, and 
her equipment and roster, with midshipmen and cap- 
tain's servants, imitated the Honourable Company so 
far as Yankee economy permitted. Under the com- 
mand of Captain Job Prince, the Massachusetts sailed 
from Boston on March 28, 1790. She carried a gen- 
eral cargo, which her owners expected to exchange at 
Batavia for goods suitable for Canton. But the Dutch 
authorities (as one might have foreseen) refused a 
permit. When the Massachusetts arrived at Canton 
with an unsalable cargo, after a long and tempestuous 
voyage, Samuel Shaw gladly seized an opportunity 
to sell her for $65,000 to the Danish East India 
Company. This experience prejudiced American ship- 
owners against vessels larger than five hundred tons, 
and determined the merchants of Boston to concen- 
trate on the Northwest fur trade. 

"The habits and ordinary pursuits of the New Eng- 
landers qualified them in a peculiar manner for carry- 
ing on this trade," wrote one of them, "and the em- 



barrassed state of Europe gave them . . . almost a 
monopoly of the most lucrative part of it." Salem 

^merchants preferred the Cape of Good Hope route, 
over which they attained their first success; English- 
men, Philadelphians, and New Yorkers soon dropped 
out; and by 1801, out of sixteen ships on "The Coast" 
(as Boston called it this early) all but two were Bos- 
tonian. The masters and mates, and at first the crews, 

^ were for the most part Bostonian, and the vessels of 
Boston registry. So it is no wonder that the Chinook 
jargon, the pidgin English of the Coast, names United 
States citizens "Boston men" as distinguished from 
" Kintshautsh (King George) men." 

The most successful vessels in the Northwest fur 
trade were small, well-built brigs and ships of one 
hundred to two hundred and fifty tons burthen (say 
sixty-five to ninety feet long) , constructed in the ship- 
yards from the Kennebec to Scituate. Larger vessels 
were too difficult to work through the intricacies of the 
Northwest Coast. They were heavily manned, in case 
of an Indian attack; and copper-bottomed by Paul 
Revere's newly invented process, to prevent accumu- 
lating barnacles and weeds in tropic waters. The Win- 
ships' Albatross, which neglected this precaution, took 
almost six months to round Cape Horn, and found her 
speed reduced to two knots an hour. Clearing from 
Boston in the autumn, in order to pass the high lati- 
tudes during the Antarctic summer, they generally 
arrived on the Coast by spring. 

"The passage around Cape Horn from the East- 
ward I positively assert," wrote Captain Porter, of the 
frigate Essex, "is the most dangerous, most difficult, 
and attended with more hardships, than that of the 
same distance in any other part of the world." A 
passage in which many a great ship has met her death ; 



in which the head winds and enormous seas put small 
vessels at a great disadvantage. Yet, so far as I have 
learned, not one of these Boston Nor'westmen failed 
to round the Horn in safety. 

To obtain fresh provisions and prevent scurvy, the 
Nor'west traders broke their voyage at least twice; 
at the Cape Verde Islands, the Falklands, sometimes 
Galapagos for a giant tortoise, and invariably Hawaii. 
For these were leisurely days in seafaring, when a 
homeward-bound vessel would stand by for hours while 
the crew of an outward-bounder wrote letters home. 
Captain Ingraham on his passage out in the Hope, in 
1791, discovered and named the Washington group of 
the Marquesas Islands, whose women (so he informed 
the jealous officers of the Columbia) were "as much 
handsomer than the natives of the Sandwich Islands 
as the women of Boston are handsomer than a Guinea 

After the soft embrace of South Sea Islands, the 
savage grandeur of the Northwest Coast threw a chill 
on first-comers. Behind rocks and shingle beaches, on 
which the long Pacific rollers broke and roared in- 
cessantly, spruce and fir-clad mountains rose into 
the clouds, which distilled the sea-borne moisture in 
almost daily showers. The jagged and picturesque 
coast-line a Maine on magnificent scale offered 
countless harbors; but behind every beach on the 
outer margin was a mass of dank undergrowth, 
impenetrable even for the natives, whose dugout 
canoes served for hunting and fishing, transport and 

On making his landfall, a Boston Nor'westman came 
to anchor off the nearest Indian village, bartered so 
long as he could do business, and then moved on to one 
after another of the myriad bays and coves until his 



hold was full of valuable furs. It was a difficult and 
hazardous trade, requiring expert discrimination in 
making up a cargo, the highest skill in navigation, and 
unceasing vigilance in all dealings with the Indians. 

The Northwest Indians were dangerous customers. 
Captain Kendrick, on parting with Gray during their 
pioneer voyage, wrote him, "treet the Natives with 
Respect where Ever you go. Cultivate frindship with 
them as much as possibel and take Nothing from them 
But what you pay them for according to a fair agree- 
ment, and not suffer your peopel to affront them or 
treet them 111." Gray obeyed, although he found 
the Indians already treacherous and aggressive; the 
result, he believed, of English outrages. The Boston 
men, both from interest and humanity, endeavored by 
just and tactful dealings to win the natives' confidence. 
But their work was hampered by irresponsible fly-by- 
nights who would pirate a cargo of skins, and never 

In the early days, scarcely a voyage passed without 
a battle. Captain Kendrick lost a son, and was once 
driven from his own vessel by an Indian Amazon and 
her braves. The Columbia lost her second mate, and 
several members of her crew at " Murderers' Harbor." 
In 1803, the natives near Nootka Sound attacked 
the Amorys' ship Boston, Captain John Salter, and 
slaughtered all the ship's company but two; one of 
whom, John Jewitt, lived to write a narrative that 
thrilled generations of schoolboys. Given a firm mas- 
ter and stout crew, the Nor'west trading vessels could 
take care of themselves. Beside swivel-guns on the 
bulwarks, they were armed with six to twenty cannon, 
kept well shotted with grape, langrage or canister; 
and provided with boarding nettings, muskets, pistols, 
cutlasses and boarding pikes. The quarterdecks were 



loopholed for musket fire, the hatches were veritable 
'pill-boxes.' When a flotilla of dugouts surrounded 
the vessel, only a few natives were permitted on board 
at one time, and men armed with blunderbusses were 
sent into the cross-trees, lest the waiting customers 
lose patience. 

Even peaceably inclined, the natives were hard to 
please. "They do not seem to covet usefull things," 
writes Captain Gray's clerk, "but anything that looks 
pleasing to the eye, or what they call riches." They 
rated a fellow-Indian socially by his superfluous 
blankets, by copper tea-kettles that were never used, 
and by bunches of old keys worn like a necklace and 
kept bright by constant rubbing. When rebuked by 
Captain Sturgis for this wasteful display, an Indian 
chief anticipated Veblen by adverting to the Boston 
fashion of placing brass balls on iron fences, to tarnish 
every night and be polished by the housemaid every 
morning ! 

The Indians evidently had more discrimination than 
generally acknowledged, for on her first voyage the 
Columbia carried large numbers of snuff-bottles, rat- 
traps, Jews'-harps, and pocket mirrors, which (except 
for the last) were a dead loss. Her second cargo, in 
1790, is typical of the Northwest fur trade as long as it 
lasted. From Herman Brimmer were bought 143 
sheets of copper, many pieces of blue, red, and green 
'duffills' and scarlet coating. Solomon Cotton sold 
the Columbia's owners 4261 quarter-pound 'chissells'; 
Asa Hammond, 150 pairs shoes at 75 cents; Benjamin 
Greene, Jr., blue duffle trousers at 92 cents, pea 
jackets, Flushing great coats, watch-coats and 'fear- 
noughts'; 1 Samuel Parkman, 6 gross 'gimblets,' and 

1 A stout woolen cloth, used for outside clothing at sea. The chisels 
were merely short strips of iron. Duffles, also a coarse woolen, had been 



12 gross buttons; Baker & Brewer, striped duffle 
blanketing; Samuel Fales, 14 M 2od. nails; and the 
United States government, 100 old muskets and 
blunderbusses. 1 Very few of these articles were manu- 
factured in Massachusetts, and sometimes a Nor'west- 
man would make up a cargo in England before starting 
for the Coast. New England rum, that ancient medium 
for savage barter, is curiously absent from the North- 
west fur trade. Molasses and ship-biscuit were used 
instead of liquor to treat the natives. 

The principal fur sought by Boston traders was that 
of the sea-otter, of which the mandarins had never 
been able to obtain enough from Russian hunters. 
Next to a beautiful woman and a lovely infant, said 
Captain Sturgis, a prime sea-otter skin two feet by 
five, with its short, glossy jet-black fur, was the finest 
natural object in the world. Its price varied consider- 
ably. Captain Gray's mate obtained two hundred 
skins at Queen Charlotte's Island for two hundred 
trade chisels (mere bits of strap iron) ; but at Nootka 
Sound the price was ten chisels apiece, or six inches 
square of sheet copper. Most vessels took a metal- 
used by New Englanders in the beaver trade since the seventeenth 

1 Most Boston business firms who do not figure in the invoices are 
found among those supplying the outfit. John Derby, part owner, fur- 
nished 4 cannon and 8 swivels (probably from one of his father's former 
privateers), and Captain D. Hathorn (great-uncle of Nathaniel Haw- 
thorne) freighted them from Salem. S. & S. Salisbury furnished twine and 
lead pencils; John Joy, one medicine chest; Thomas Amory Jr. & Co., 
14 bbls. pitch and turpentine; J. & T. Lamb, 6 anchors; Josiah Bradlee, 
horn 'lantherns,' tin kettles and a coffee pot; Samuel Whitwell, a 
blacksmith's bellows; J. Levering & Sons, 27 Ib. tallow; Elisha Sigourney, 
71 Ib. grape shot; J. L. & B. Austin, cordage; Jonathan Winship, 135 
bbls. beef; Mungo Mackay, 3 hds. N.E. rum; Lewis Hoyt, 2 hds. W.I. 
rum and 3 kegs essence of spruce; Wm. Boardman Jr., 3 ironbound 
casks; Robt. & Jos. Davis 20 bbls. cider, 6 of cranberries, 2 of barberries 
and 10 pigs. (Columbia MSS., 59.) 



worker to make tools and weapons to order. Captain 
Ingraham's armorer made iron collars and bracelets, 
which became all the rage on the Coast and brought 
three otter skins each. Captain Sturgis, observing 
that the Indians used ermine pelts for currency, 
procured five thousand of them at the Leipzig fair for 
thirty cents apiece. On his next voyage he purchased 
one morning five hundred and sixty sea-otter skins, 
worth fifty dollars apiece in Canton, at the rate of five 
ermines, or a dollar and a half, each. But he so in- 
flated the currency that it soon lost value ! Later, not- 
ing that war-captives were a recognized form of wealth 
among the Indians, some Boston traders began buying 
them from tribes which were long on slaves, and selling 
them to tribes which were short. This form of specu- 
lation in foreign exchange was sternly reproved by 
George Lyman, and forbidden to his vessels and ship- 

The first white men to attempt a permanent estab- 
lishment in the Oregon country were the Winship 
brothers of Brighton Abiel, the Boston merchant, 
Captain Jonathan, Jr., and Captain Nathan, who com- 
manded the family ship Albatross. On June 4, 1810, 
she sailed forty miles up the Columbia River and 
anchored off an oak grove, where her crew broke 
ground for a vegetable garden, and started work on a 
log house. But the Chinook Indians, the fur middle- 
men of Oregon, would brook no competition. Having 
no warships or marines to back them up, the Winships 
were forced to evacuate. It was a sad disappointment. 
Jonathan Winship, Jr., whose hobby was horticulture, 
"hoped to have planted a Garden of Eden on the 
shores of the Pacific, and made that wilderness to 
blossom like the rose." Others fulfilled his dream, 
bringing slips from the very rose-garden of Brighton 



where Captain Jonathan spent the long tranquil years 
of retirement he had earned so well. 1 

Unless exceedingly lucky, vessels remained eighteen 
months to two years on the Coast, before proceeding 
to Canton, and it was commonly three years before 
Long Wharf saw them again. Small brigs and sloops 
were sent out, or built on the Coast, to continue the 
collection of furs during the absence of the larger vessel. 

The Sandwich Islands proved an ideal spot to re- 
fresh a scorbutic crew, and even to complete the cargo. 
Captain Kendrick (who plied between Canton and the 
Coast in the Lady Washington until his death in 1794) 
discovered sandal wood, an article much in demand 
at Canton, growing wild on the Island of Kauai. A 
vigorous trade with the native chiefs in this fragrant 
commodity was started by Boston fur-traders in "the 
Islands"; leading to more Hawaiian visits to New 
England, to the missionary effort of 1820, and even- 
tually to annexation. 

Another variation to the standard China voyage 
was contraband fur-trading along the coast of Spanish 
California. According to H. H. Bancroft, the first 
American vessel to anchor in California waters was 
ship Otter of Boston, one hundred and sixty-eight 
tons, Ebenezer Dorr, Jr., master, which put in at 
Monterey for provisions in 1796. All trade and inter- 
course between Boston men and Californians was con- 
traband; but both seized every opportunity to flout 
the Laws of the Indies. 

1 "Solid Men of Boston" (MS.), 70. Jonathan, Jr., founded the beef- 
slaughtering business at Brighton in 1775, and supplied the American 
army and French fleet during the Revolution. Charles Winship, another 
brother in this remarkable family, died at Valparaiso about 1800, when 
in command of the brigantine Betsy, bound for the Northwest Coast. 
A second Captain Charles Winship, son of a fifth brother, died at Val- 
paraiso in 1819 or 1820 when in command of a sealing voyage. 



Boston vessels generally carried a Carta de Amistad 
from "Don Juan Stoughton, Consul de S.M.C. para 
los Estados Unidos de New Hampshire, Massachu- 
setts," etc. This was to be used if forced to put into 
one of His Catholic Majesty's ports "par mal Tiempo 
o otre acontecimiento imprevisto" -which exigency 
was pretty sure to occur when the land breeze smelt 
sea-otterish. Richard J. Cleveland, of Salem, owner 
and master of the brig Lelia Byrd, tried to make off 
with some pelts under the very nose of Commandant 
Don Manuel Rodriguez, who retaliated in the blood- 
less "Battle of San Diego" on March 21, 1803. But 
untoward incidents were rare. At his next port, San 
Quintin, the Lelia Byrd's people got on beautifully with 
a group of mission fathers who came down to trade and 
gossip. They spent two merry weeks together on this 
lonely shore, dining alternately in tent and cabin, 
inaugurating a half-century of close and friendly rela- 
tions between Puritan and Padre on the California 
coast. Nothing like a common interest in smuggling to 
smooth religious differences! 

Captain Joseph O'Cain, of Boston, in a ship of 
two hundred and eighty tons named after himself and 
built on North River for the Winships, inaugurated a 
new system of otter-hunting in 1804. Putting in at 
New Archangel (Sitka), he persuaded Baranov, the' 
genial Russian factor, to lend him a hundred and fifty 
Aleut Indians, on shares. These expert otter-hunters, 
putting out from the ship in their skin canoes, like 
Gloucester fishermen in dories, obtained eleven hun- 
dred sea-otter pelts for Captain O'Cain in his first 
California cruise. Kills were made under the very walls 
of the San Francisco presidio. Three years later, 
O'Cain chartered his ship Eclipse of Boston to the 
Russian-American Company, traded their furs at 



Canton, visited Nagasaki and Petropavlovsk, lost the 
vessel on the Aleutian Islands, built another out of the 
wreck, and returned to trade once more. 1 California 
sea-otter and fur-seal hunting, combined with contra- 
band mission trade, was pursued with much success 
for about ten years, when the Russians declined 
further aid to their competitors. 

Another class of Pacific fur-traders were the "seal- 
skinners." About 1783, the ship States, owned by a 
Boston woman, 2 was fitted out for a voyage to the 
Falklands in search of fur-seal and sea-elephant oil. 
Some of the sealskins obtained were carried on a 
venture to China, and the result encouraged others to 
follow. Although sealskins brought but a dollar or two 
at Canton, such quantities (even a hundred thou- 
sand on a single voyage) could be obtained merely by 
landing on a beach and clubbing the helpless animals, 
that vessels were especially fitted out to go in search 
of them, and the smaller Nor'westmen occasionally 
picked up a few thousand on their way to the Coast. 
Connecticut was more conspicuous in this trade than 
Massachusetts; but several vessels were commanded 
by Nantucketers, and others were owned there and in 
Boston or Salem. As in whaling, the men were gen- 
erally shipped on shares, and often cheated out of 
them. Masafuero, in the Juan Fernandez group, was 
the center for seal-killing; but other islands off the 
Chilian coast, St. Paul and Amsterdam Islands in the 

1 One would like to know more of this Captain O'Cain. He was an 
Irishman whose parents lived in Boston, and first visited the Coast in 
1795 on an English vessel, whose master, at his request, left him at 
Santa Barbara. He managed to return to Boston in time to be married 
there in 1799. 

1 * Lady ' or ' Madam ' Haley, as she was called in Boston, was a sister 
of the famous Jack Wilkes: for second husband, she married Patrick 
Jeffery, a Boston merchant. 



Indian Ocean, South Georgia, the Farralones and 
Santa Catalina off California, were visited before 1810. 
Gangs of sealers would be left on some lonely island 
in the South Pacific, while the vessel smuggled goods 
into Callao, Concepcion, Valparaiso, and smaller places 
like Coquimbo and Pisco. Amasa Delano, of Duxbury 
(private, U.S.A., at fourteen, privateersman at sixteen, 
master shipbuilder at twenty-one, second mate of the 
ship Massachusetts), with his brother built the sealers 
Perseverance and Pilgrim, and sailed as far as Tas- 
mania, where they matched rascalities and exchanged 
brutalities with one of the British convict colonies. 
It was a Boston sealskinner, the Dorrs' Otter, which 
rescued from Botany Bay Thomas Muir, one of the 
victims of Pitt's Sedition Act. Eighty years later, 
New Bedford whalers were extending the same cour- 
tesy to exiled Fenians. 

The first commercial relations between the United 
States and the west coast of South America, were 
established by sealers, Nor'westmen, and whalers 
putting in "under stress of weather" to obtain provi- 
sions, and indulge in the favorite Yankee pastime of 
swapping. To a certain extent they imported ideas; 
Richard J. Cleveland made a point of spreading 
republican propaganda at Valparaiso. The manner of 
their reception depended on the official mood. Bernard 
Magee in the ship Jefferson had only to present his 
ship's papers, signed by Washington, to receive the 
freedom of Valparaiso from Governor-General Don 
Ambrosio O'Higgins. Others were not so fortunate, 
and many a poor sailor, forced against his will into 
smuggling, spent in consequence a term of years in a 
South American calaboose. 

Whaling was another industry of maritime Massa- 
chusetts that renewed its strength in the Pacific. But 



we must postpone our whaling voyage lest we lose sight 
of the Canton market, the golden lodestone for every 
otter-skin, sealskin, or sandal wood log collected on 
Northwest Coast, California, or Pacific Islands. 



THE Northwest trade, the Hawaiian trade, and the fur- 
seal fisheries were only a means to an end: the pro- 
curing of Chinese teas and textiles, to sell again at 
home and abroad. China was the only market for sea- 
otter, and Canton the only Chinese port where foreign- 
ers were allowed to exchange it. 

Major Shaw's description of the Canton trade in 
1784 would fit any year to 1840. After a voyage of 
several weeks from Hawaii, a Yankee trader passed be- 
tween Luzon and Formosa, made Lintin Island, ran a 
gantlet of piratical junks, paused at the old Portuguese 
factory of Macao, and sailed up-river past the Bogue 
forts to Whampoa, the anchorage for all foreign mer- 
chantmen. There the Hoppo came aboard to receive 
gifts for wife, mother, and self, and measure the ship 
for her * cumshaw-duty.' Thence her cargo was light- 
ered in chop-boats twelve miles upstream to Canton, 
landed at Jackass Point, and stored in a factory or 
hong hired from one of the twelve Chinese security 
merchants, who had a monopoly of foreign trade, and 
acted as commercial godfathers to the Fan-Kwae, or 
foreign devils. 

To Yankee seamen, fresh from the savage wilderness 
of the Northwest, how marvelous, bewildering was old 
Canton ! Against a background of terraced hongs with 
their great go-downs or warehouses, which screened 
the forbidden City of Rams from foreign devils' gaze, 
flowed the river, bearing a city of boats the like of 




which he had never dreamed. Moored to the shore 
were flower-boats, their upper works cunningly carved 
into the shape of flowers and birds, and strange sounds 
issuing from their painted windows. Mandarin boats 
decorated with gay silk pennants, and propelled by 
double banks of oars, moved up and down in stately 
cadence. Great tea-deckers, with brightly lacquered 
topsides and square sail of brown matting, brought 
the Souchong, Young Hyson, and Bohea from up- 
river. In and out darted thousands of little sampans, 
housing entire families who plied their humble trades 
afloat. Provision dealers cried their wares from boats 
heaped high with colorful and deadly produce. Bar- 
bers' skiffs announced their coming by the twanging 
of tweezers, emblem of their skippers' painful profes- 
sion. Twilight brought the boat people to their moor- 
ings, a bamboo pole thrust in oozy bottom, and paper 
lanterns diffused a soft light over the river. For color 
and exotic flavor there was no trade like the old China 
trade, no port like Canton. 

Boston traders, in contrast to the arrogant officials 
of Honourable John, were welcomed by the Chinese; 
and on their part acquired an esteem for the Chinese 
character that has endured to this day. Russell Sturgis, 
who traveled and resided in many lands, said that he 
never knew better gentlemen than the Hong merchants. 
Houqua's name was a household word in Boston mer- 
chants' families. They never tired of describing old 
Houqua tearing up the $72,000 promissory note of a 
homesick Bostonian, with the remark, " You and I olo 
flen; you belong honest man only no got chance. . . . 
Just now have setlee counter, alia finishee; you go, you 
please." But trade did not always go on in this princely 
manner. The Chinese were able to instruct even 
Bostonians in the pleasant art of smuggling. There 



was much clandestine trade in otter-skins from Yankee 
ships in Macao Roads, or the near-by Dirty Butter 
Bay ; good training for opium-running at a later period. 

The strange laws and customs of the Chinese led to 
the creation of Boston mercantile agencies at Canton 
in order to ease the way for American traders. Major 
Shaw established the first, Shaw & Randall, on his 
return to Canton as American consul in 1786. The 
Columbia's cargo was handled by him, and a commis- 
sion of seven and one-half per cent charged on the re- 
turn lading. Competition later reduced this to two and 
one-half per cent, of which one was returned to the su- 
percargo. The most famous house of our period was 
Perkins & Co., a branch of J. & T. H. Perkins, of Bos- 
ton. Established in 1803, the illness of the chief put 
this concern under the charge of his sixteen-year-old 
clerk, John Perkins Cushing. The young man's letters 
were so precocious that his uncles made him permanent 
head man, and took him into partnership. Except for 
two brief visits home, Cushing remained at Canton 
thirty years, and became the most wealthy and highly 
respected foreign merchant in China. 

What with the commissions, duties, presents, and 
graft that must be yielded at every step to hoppo, 
comprador, or linguist, the cost of doing business at 
Canton was very heavy. The Columbia's first lading, 
of one thousand and fifty sea-otter skins, sold for 
$21,404.71; but after fees, expenses, and repairs were 
deducted, only $11,241.51 remained to invest in a 
homeward cargo. Even after the ropes were learned, it 
was a clever captain who expended less than six thou- 
sand dollars at Canton. Yet the American demand for 
tea, nankeens, crapes, and silks increased so fast, and 
Boston merchant-shipowners proved so efficient in the 
cheap handling and distribution of China goods to all 



parts of the world, that the trade grew by leaps and 
bounds. The value of imports at Canton on American 
vessels rose to over five million dollars in 1805-06; of 
this over one million was accounted for by 17,445 sea- 
otter, 140,297 seal, and 34,460 beaver-skins, and 1600 
piculs of sandalwood. Most of the remainder was spe- 
cie brought directly from Boston, New York, and Phil- 
adelphia. The same year American vessels exported 
almost ten million pounds of tea from Canton. It 
was a constant marvel to Europeans, who conducted 
the China trade in great ships owned by chartered 
monopolies, how the Americans managed to survive 
these heavy charges with their small, individually 
owned vessels. Yet the American, and particularly 
the Boston way of China trading was the more econom- 
ical. Free competition, and elimination of pomp and 
circumstance, more than made up for the small craft's 
disadvantage in 'overhead.' 

When the winter season brought favoring winds, 
the ships quickly completed their lading, obtained the 
Grand Chop that passed them down-river, and caught 
the northeast monsoon down the China Sea. Off the 
coast of Borneo began several hundred miles of danger- 
ous waters: shoals, reefs, and fantastic islands, baffling 
winds and treacherous currents, among which one had 
the feeling that Conrad describes, of being constantly 
watched. Let a vessel but touch on submerged reef, 
and hundreds of Malay proas come swarming to take 
her life's blood. Through Caspar Passage or Banka 
Straits the vessel reached a welcome stretch of open 
water, and before long the sight of Java Head. A 
stop for fresh provisions was made off the village of 
Anjer, where Java "rose from level groves of shore 
palms to lofty blue peaks terraced with rice and red- 
massed kina plantations, with shining streams and 



green kananga flowers and tamarinds, and the land 
breeze, fragrant with clove buds and cinnamon, came 
off to the ship like a vaporous dusk." l There, the ship 
was quickly surrounded by a swarm of canoes plied 
by naked Malays, and laden with cocoanuts, oranges, 
mangoes and mangosteen; with Java sparrows, par- 
rots, monkeys, green turtles, and Malacca-joint canes. 

From this enchanted spot the ship threaded the 
Sunda Straits, full of dangerous rocks that rose out of 
seventy-fathom depths, toward which the currents ir- 
resistibly drew becalmed vessels. "Thank God we are 
clear of Sunda Straits," confided a Boston shipmaster 
to his sea journal on November 19, 1801. "'T is sur- 
prising to see the joy depicted on every one's counte- 
nance at getting clear of these horrid straits. Many 
of the sailors who had never been off duty was now 
obliged to take to their beds. Many a time they had 
to support themselves on a Gun while doing their 
duty. Still they would not give out till we got clear. 
Such men as these deserve my best regards." 

Once a vessel was clear of the straits, a quartering 
southeast wind stretched her across the Indian Ocean 
to Madagascar and the Cape of Good Hope. Simon's 
Town was frequently visited for a little smuggling. 
Then, after a last call at St. Helena, the China trader 
squared away for Cape Cod. 

" There are better ships nowadays, but no better 
seamen," wrote an aged Boston merchant in 1860; and 
his words still hold good. Of these gallant Nor'west- 
men, who thought no more of rounding the Horn than 
their descendants do of rounding Cape Cod, Captain 

1 Hergesheimer, Java Head. 



'Bill' Sturgis was one of the best. A tough, beetly- 
browed son of a Cape Cod shipmaster, he left Boston 
for the Coast in 1798 as sixteen-year-old foremast hand 
on the ship Eliza, belonging to T. H. Perkins, his 
young but wealthy relative. He returned to Boston 
five years later as master of the Lambs' ship Caroline, 
and of the fur trade. On his third voyage, in command 
of Theodore Lyman's new ship Atahtialpa with $300,- 
ooo in specie on board, he beat off an attack of sixteen 
pirate junks in Macao Roads. Returning, he formed 
with John Bryant, of Boston, the firm of Bryant & 
Sturgis, which after the War of 1812 revived the North- 
west fur trade, and opened the hide traffic with Cali- 

William Sturgis became one of the wealthiest mer- 
chants of Boston, and lived to hear the news of Gettys- 
burg; but no one dared call him a merchant prince. 
Owing perhaps to the caricature of leisure-class display 
he had seen among the Northwest Indians, Captain 
Sturgis refused to surround himself with paintings, 
bric-a-brac, and useless furniture. Throughout the 
worst period of interior decoration, his simple mansion 
on Church Green remained as neat and bare as a ship's 
cabin. When he occupied a Boston seat in the Great 
and General Court, one of the professional orators of 
that body got off a long Greek quotation. Captain 
Bill replied in one of the Indian dialects of the North- 
west Coast, which, he explained, was much more to the 
point, and probably as well understood by his col- 
leagues, as that of the honorable and learned gentle- 
man. Public-spirited without self-advertisement, writ- 
ing and lecturing with salty emphasis on the Oregon 
country, an honored member of learned societies, yet 
proud that he came in through the hawse-hole; Wil- 
liam Sturgis was the finest type of Boston merchant 



created by these far-flung adventures of Federalist 

Another famous Nor'westman, who had neither the 
background nor the connections of William Sturgis, 
was Captain John Suter. Born of Scots parents near 
Norfolk, Virginia, in 1781, left a penniless orphan at 
the age of eight, he made his way to Boston on a 
schooner. The child was befriended by a Boston pilot, 
who taught him to hand, reef and steer, to read his 
Bible, and to live straight. At seventeen he began his 
deep-sea voyages. The next two years brought ad- 
ventures enough to have dampened any one's ardor 
for seafaring ; privateering against France, capture, and 
a Brest dungeon; a West- India voyage, impressment 
into a British frigate, an attack of smallpox, and one of 
' yellow jack/ Yet no sooner was the boy back in Bos- 
ton than he shipped as foremast hand on the ship Alert 
outward bound to the Northwest Coast and Canton. 

Without education, family, or anything but his own 
merits to recommend him, John Suter did so well on his 
first Northwest voyage that on his second, in 1804, 
he sailed as mate and "assistant trader" on the ship 
Pearl. On her return, he was promoted to master and 
supercargo, and made a most successful voyage to the 
Coast and Canton. The value of ship, outfit, and cargo, 
judging from statistics of other voyages, could not 
have exceeded forty thousand dollars. 1 In spite of 
some unpleasantness with the Indians who once had 
to be cleared from the Pearl's decks by cross-fire from 
the loopholes Captain Suter collected enough furs 

1 The cargoes of twelve vessels which cleared from Boston for the 
Northwest Coast between 1797 and 1800 were invoiced between $7500 
and $19,700. (Solid Men of Boston, 76.) The Caroline in 1803 asked only 
$14,000 and obtained but $13,000 insurance for ship, cargo, and outfit. 
The rate was seventeen per cent, covering risk "against the Natives and 
as well on shore as on board." 



and sandal wood to pay all expenses at Canton, and 
lay out $156,743.21 in goods. His return cargo is so 
typical of that trade and period, that I give it in detail, 
from the Captain's own manuscript memoranda, with 
the prices realized at auction sale in Boston. 


50 blue and white dining sets, 172 pieces each. ... $ 2 290.00 

480 tea sets, 49 pieces each 2 704.80 

30 boxes enameled cups and sauces, 50 dozen each i 360.00 

100 boxes Superior Souchong tea 795-87 

loo chests Souchong 3 834.66 

235 Hyson 13 290.65 

160 Hyson Skin 5 577.40 

400 " other teas 13668.48 

200 chests Cassia of 2208 "matts" each 8 585.52 

170 ooo pieces ' Nankins' 1 18 850.00 

14 ooo " (280 bales) blue do 24 195.00 

5 ooo " (50 " ) yellow do 6 800.00 

2 ooo " (50 " ) white do 2 580.00 

24 bottles oil of Cassia 466.65 

92 cases silks (black 'sinchaws,' black 'sattins,' 
white and blue striped do. dark brown plains, 
bottle-green and black striped 'sattins for 

Gentlemens ware' 56 344.61 

And sundries, bring the total to 261 343.18 

Expenses of sale, including auctioneer's commission, 
wharfage, truckage, "advertising in Centinel and 
Gazette, 5.50," "advertising and crying of sales, 30.31," 

"liquors, 5.88" 2 129.06 

Captain Suter's 'primage,' 5% on balance.. 12 960.70 

Balance to owners 246 253.42 

On this were paid customs duties, within 12 months. . . 39 602.95 
Net profit on voyage 206 650.47 

Having proved himself both a keen trader and an 
able master, Captain Suter was offered by George 



Lyman a 'primage* of ten per cent, with the usual 
'privilege' and salary, to succeed Captain Sturgis on 
the Atahualpa. He accepted, and took a sixteenth 
share in ship and cargo as well. 

Owing to his ruthless repulse of a band of Indians 
who had boarded the Pearl, Captain Suter returned 
to the Coast a marked man. One day an Indian chief 
came on board, ostensibly to trade. Immediately a 
flotilla of dugouts, containing over two thousand 
warriors, issued from behind a wooded point and sur- 
rounded the Atahualpa. They found a worthy suc- 
cessor to Captain Sturgis on her quarterdeck. Suter 
took the chief by the throat, put a pistol to his head, 
and told him to order the canoes away or he would 
blow his brains out. The order was given. Deliber- 
ately weighing anchor, Captain Suter made sail, and 
when free of the canoes released his prisoner, who 
turned out to be the very Indian who had successfully 
attacked John Jacob Astor's Tonquin. 

Owing to the War of 1812 and the presence of British 
cruisers in the Pacific, Captain Suter sold the Atahu- 
alpa at Hawaii at considerable sacrifice; but he got 
enough furs into Canton to send home, after peace was 
concluded, a cargo that netted the owners almost 
$120,000 on their original adventure of not over 

Would that we could reproduce the language, ex- 
pressions, and motions of that extinct breed, the Nor'- 
westman of Boston ! Of John Suter, little survives but 
bare facts, and one anecdote. He was more deeply 
religious than most New England-born sea-captains, 
and read the Bible aloud daily on shipboard. One 
young scamp of a supercargo amused himself by put- 
ting back the bookmark at the conclusion of every 
day's reading, until the Captain remarked mildly that 



he seemed to be having head winds through the Book 
of Daniel! After a sixth and a seventh voyage around 
the world, Captain Suter settled down in Boston to 
the tranquil joys of home and family, church and lodge, 
that he had fairly won from sea and savage barter. 

"Sir, you'l please to let my mama know that I am 
well, Mr. Boit [the fifth mate, aged seventeen] also 
requests you'l let his parent know he is in health." 
This postscript to a letter of John Hoskins, clerk of the 
Columbia, to her principal owner, reminds us how 
young were the Yankee seamen of that period. It 
seems that the generation of Revolutionary privateers- 
men was so quickly absorbed in our expanding mer- 
chant marine as to call the youngest classes to the 
colors. A famous youngsters' voyage to Eastern 
waters, many times described, was that of the Derby 
ship Benjamin, of Salem, in 1792-94. Captain Na- 
thaniel Silsbee, later United States Senator from 
Massachusetts, was but nineteen when he took com- 
mand of this vessel; yet he had followed the sea for 
five years, served as Captain Magee's clerk on the 
Astrea, and commanded two voyages to the West In- 
dies. His first mate, Charles Derby, was but one year 
older; his clerk, Richard J. Cleveland, but eighteen. 
The second mate, an old salt of twenty-four, proved 
insubordinate and was put ashore! 

With a miscellaneous cargo, including hops, saddlery, 
window glass, mahogany boards, tobacco, and Madeira 
wine, these schoolboys made a most successful voyage 
to the Cape of Good Hope and He de France, using 
sound judgment as to ports, cargoes, and freight, 
amid embargoes and revolutions; slipping their cables 
at Capetown after dark in a gale of wind to escape a 
British frigate; drifting out of Bourbon with the ebb 
tide to elude a French brig-o'-war; spending a few 



days fishing, shooting wild goats, and catching turtles 
at Ascension ; returning to Salem after nineteen months 1 
absence, with a cargo which brought almost five hun- 
dred per cent profit to the owner, and enabled the young 
master to make a home for his mother and sisters. 

Captain Silsbee was by no means the youngest ship- 
master on record. James Rowland, 2d, of New Bed- 
ford, was given a merchant ship by his father on his 
eighteenth birthday, and as her captain went on a 
honeymoon voyage to the Baltic with his still younger 
bride, before the year elapsed. 

But the most remarkable youthful exploit in this 
bright dawn of Pacific adventure, that has come to my 
notice, is John Boit, Jr.'s voyage around the world, 
in the eighty-nine-ton sloop Union, of Boston. 

At the age of nineteen, on August I, 1794, he sailed 
from Newport as master of this sixty-foot craft and 
her crew of twenty-two, with ten carriage guns, eight 
swivels, and a full cargo and outfit for the Northwest 
Coast. The voyage south was pleasantly broken by 
catching green turtles and shooting albatross one 
measuring sixteen feet tip to tip ; by celebrating Christ- 
mas Day, and stopping at St. lago and the Falklands, 
to save the crew from scurvy, and to hunt wild hogs. 
The Union rounded the Horn safely in thick, blowy 
weather, reaching 57 42' south latitude on February 
4, 1795. On May 16, two hundred and sixty days out, 
she sighted land, and the next day dropped anchor in 
4 'Columbia's cove, Bulfinch's Sound," on Vancouver 
Island. Here, young Boit tells us, he felt quite at 
home. The natives recognized him, and inquired 
after each and every member of the Columbia's crew. 
Furs were double the price of 1792, but trade was 
brisk, and the sloop went as far north as 54 15' to 
complete her cargo. 



On June 20, when lying at anchor in Puget Sound, 
the Union was attacked by several hundred Indians 
under Chief Scootch-Eye. With husky savages swarm- 
ing around the sloop and over his bulwarks, Captain 
Boit and his crew kept their nerve, and without a sin- 
gle casualty to themselves killed the chief and forty of 
his warriors. When they got under weigh, and stood 
in toward the nearest village, the Indians came out 
trembling, waving green boughs and offering otter- 
skins in propitiation. 

After a fruitless attempt to cross the bar at the 
mouth of the Columbia River, the Union went north 
again to Queen Charlotte's Island, and left the Coast 
for Canton on September 12, 1795. One month later, 
Captain Boit sighted "Owhyhee," at a distance of 
thirty leagues. The next day, sailing alongshore, the 
sloop was visited by native canoes bringing hogs and 
pineapples, and " the females were quite amorous. 11 
On December 5, the sloop joined seven larger American 
vessels at Whampoa. After exchanging his sea-otter 
for silk and nankeens, and taking freight and passen- 
gers for the He de France, he got under weigh in com- 
pany with the American fleet on January 12, 1796. 
It was a two months' sail through the China Sea, the 
Straits of Sunda, and the Indian Ocean to Mauritius. 
Completing his cargo there with coffee and pepper, 
Captain Boit began the last leg of his voyage at the 
end of March, 1796. After passing the Island of Mada- 
gascar, he found the sloop's mast sprung, and had to 
fish it and apply preventer backstays while under 
weigh. Then came a four days' westerly gale, which 
stove in part of the Union's bulwarks, and swept the 
hen-coops off her deck, as she lay to. Early in May she 
rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and caught the 
southeast trades. Off Georges Bank, she was brought 



to by the French 'sloop-of-war Scipio, but allowed to 
pass "with the utmost politeness." Near Boston Har- 
bor the British frigate Reason fired a shot through the 
Union's staysail, and forced the young master to come 
aboard with his papers, but "finding they could not 
make a prize of the sloop, suffer 'd me to pass, after 
treating me in a rough and un gentlemanlike manner." 
At last, on July 8, came the welcome gleam of Boston 
Light. Castle William, as seafaring men still called 
Fort Independence, saluted the returning sloop with 
fifteen guns, which she returned. Anchoring in the 
inner harbor, she saluted the town, and got "three 
huzzas of welcome" from the wharves. The Union 
made a "saving voyage," beat most of the fleet home, 
and was the first, possibly the only, sloop-rigged vessel 
ever to circumnavigate the globe. 

In view of the newspaper publicity given nowadays 
to men of twice Boit's age and experience for cross- 
ing the Atlantic in vessels no smaller than the Union 
and far better equipped, it is refreshing to note the 
scant attention he got. "Sloop Union, Boit, Canton," 
in small type at the end of 'Arrivals' in the "Boston 
Centinel." That was all I 1 

Many a Boston family owes its rise to fame and 
fortune to the old Nor'west and China trade ; and not 
a few of them were founded by masters who came 
in through the hawse-hole, like Sturgis and Suter. 
Emoluments were much higher than on any other trade 
route. Masters and mates received only twenty to 
twenty-five dollars monthly wages; but each officer 

1 Another Boston paper reports his experience with the men-of-war, 
but makes no comment on his voyages. 



had the 'privilege* of one-half to five tons (twenty to 
two hundred cubic feet) cargo space on the homeward 
passage for his private adventures in China goods; 
beside 'primage,' a commission of from one to eight 
per cent * on the net proceeds of the voyage. It was 
only prudent for owners to be generous with their 
ships' officers, on a route where the opportunities for 
private trading and fixing accounts were so great. 
Even with half the luck of John Suter, a master could 
clear twenty-five hundred dollars a year, and pyramid 
his profits by taking a share in the next voyage he 

These wages and allowances were sufficient to at- 
tract the best type of New Englander. Nor'westmen's 
officers were almost exclusively native-born or adopted 
Yankees, and the men recruited largely from Cape 
Cod, Boston, and ' down East.' But every forecastle 
contained a few foreigners. 2 

No Richard Dana has told the story of the Nor'- 
westmen from the foremast angle. Unless the rec- 
ords of our admiralty courts yield something, the 
common seaman's side is lost. Certain it is, that the 
Northwest fur trade, until it existed no more, enjoyed 
a greater prestige and popularity among New England 
seamen than any other route. 3 Mutinies occurred, but 

1 Suter 's primage of ten per cent on the Atahualpa was exceptional. 
On his next voyage, in the Mentor, he received but seven and one-half. 
The Mentor's chief mate had twenty dollars wages, one per cent on net 
sales at Canton, and two and one-half tons 4 privilege' home. 

2 See chapter vm. 

1 Dana tells a good story illustrating this, in his Two Years Before 
the Mast. On her homeward voyage from the California coast, with a 
cargo of hides, the Alert spoke a Plymouth brig, and sent a boat aboard 
to procure fresh provisions. Her Yankee mate leaned over the rail, and 
asked where they were from. "From the Nor'west Coast!" said sailor 
Joe, wishing to gain glory in the eyes of this humble West-India trader. 
"What's your cargo?" came next. "Skins!" said Joe. "Here and there 
a horn?" said the mate dryly, and every one laughed. 



mutinies prove little. One that Captain Suter sup- 
pressed in Honolulu Harbor, with his strong right arm 
and cutlass, was caused by gambling among the crew. 
Many deserted in the Sandwich Islands, but who would 
not? Rumors have come down of unscrupulous own- 
ers, who in order to save money abandoned men on 
the Northwest Coast and substituted Kanakas. Cap- 
tain James Magee brought the first Chinaman to the 
United States, but he was a student, not a sailor. And 
few such made the voyage twice. As "China Jack" 
(the favorite Whampoa factotum for American ves- 
sels) remarked after essaying a round trip to Boston, 
"Too muchee strong gale, sea allsame high mast head 
no can see sky!" 



THE most formidable rival to Boston in the contest for 
Oriental wealth lay but sixteen miles "to the east'd," 
as we say on the Massachusetts coast when we mean 
north. Salem, with a little under eight thousand in- 
habitants, was the sixth city in the United States in 
I7QO. 1 Her appearance was more antique even than 
that of Boston, and her reek of the salt water, that 
almost surrounded her, yet more pronounced. For half 
a mile along the harbor front, subtended by the long 
finger of Derby Wharf, ran Derby Street, the residen- 
tial and business center of the town. On one side were 
the houses of the gentry, Derbys and Princes and 
Crowninshields, goodly gambrel or hip-roofed brick 
and wooden mansions dating from the middle of the 
century, standing well back with tidy gardens in front. 
Opposite were the wharves, separated from the street 
by counting-rooms, warehouses, ship-chandlers' stores, 
pump-makers' shops, sailmakers' lofts; all against a 
background of spars, rigging, and furled or brailed-up 
sails. Crowded within three hundred yards of Derby 
Street, peeping between the merchants' mansions and 
over their garden walls like small boys behind a po- 
lice cordon, were some eighteen or nineteen hundred 
wooden buildings, including dwellings of pre-witch- 
craft days, with overhanging upper stories, peaked 
gables, small-paned windows, and hand-rifted clap- 
boards black with age. 

1 Not including Beverly, which with three thousand, three hundred 
inhabitants in 1790, was combined with Salem as a port of entry in 1789. 



A few steps from the merchant's mansion lies his 
counting-room and wharf, where his favorite vessel is 
loading Russia duck, West- India sugar, New-England 
rum and French brandy for anywhere beyond the 
Cape of Good Hope; to return with goodness knows 
what produce of Asia, Africa, and the Malay Archipel- 
ago, which you may then purchase at wholesale or 
retail from the selfsame wharf. From his front chamber 
the merchant may watch the progress of his new vessel 
in the near-by shipyard; but unless he be a privileged 
character like ' King* Derby, with "an intuitive faculty 
in judging of models and proportions," he had best not 
interfere. Shipbuilding, an ancient industry in Salem, 
is now growing fast ; the China voyages of the Grand 
Turk and Astrea produced such a demand for new ton- 
nage that Enos Briggs, a master builder of Pembroke 
in the Old Colony, has come to Salem, and at the head 
of Derby Wharf is constructing a new Grand Turk of 
five hundred and sixty tons, for which the new duck 
manufactory is weaving sailcloth. Next year he shall 
astonish the natives by launching a vessel sideways 
from the wharf; all Salem, summoned by town crier, 
helping or cheering. Ebenezer Mann, another North- 
Riverite, has the barque Good Intent on the stocks for 
Simon Forrester ; and a vessel is rising on every slip of 
the ancient yard where Retire Becket carries on the 
business of his ancestors. 

A Salem boy in those days was born to the music of 
windlass chanty and caulker's maul; he drew in a taste 
for the sea with his mother's milk; wharves and ship- 
yards were his playground; he shipped as boy on a 
coaster in his early teens, saw Demerara and St. 
Petersburg before he set foot in Boston, and if he had 
the right stuff in him, commanded an East-Indiaman 
before he was twenty-five. 



Whenever a Salem lad could tear himself away from 
the wharves, he would go barefoot to Juniper Point 
or pull a skiff to Winter Island, and scan the bay for 
approaching sail. Marblehead was a better vantage- 
point; but it was a lion-hearted Salem boy indeed who 
dared venture within the territorial waters of Marble- 
head in those days! The appearance of a coaster or 
fisherman or West-India trader caused no special 
emotion; but if the stately form of an East-Indiaman 
came in view, then 't was race back to Derby Wharf, 
and earn a silver Spanish dollar for good news. The 
word speeds rapidly through the town, which begins to 
swarm like an ant-hill ; counting-room clerks rush out to 
engage men for unloading, sailors' taverns and board- 
ing-houses prepare for a brisk run of trade, parrots 
scream and monkeys jabber, and every master of his 
own time makes for cap-sill, roof- tree, or other vantage- 

Let us follow one of the privileged, an old-time 
provincial magnate now in the East-India trade, as 
with powdered wig, cocked hat, and scarlet cloak, 
attended by Pompey or Cuff with the precious tele- 
scope, he puffs up garret ladder to captain's walk. 
What a panorama! To the east stretches the noble 
North Shore, Cape Ann fading in the distance. No 
sail in that direction, save a fisherman beating inside 
Baker's. Across the harbor, obscuring the southerly 
channel, Marblehead presents her back side of rocky 
pasture to the world at large, and Salem in particular. 
Wind is due south, tide half flood and the afternoon 
waning, so if the master be a Salem boy he will bring 
his ship around Peach's Point, inside Kettle Bottom, 
Endeavors, Triangles, and the Aqua Vitses. We adjust 
the glass to the outer point where she must first appear, 
and wait impatiently. A flash of white as the sun 



catches foretopgallant sails over Naugus Head; then 
the entire ship bursts into view, bowling along at a good 
eight knots. Her ensign 's apeak, so all aboard are well. 
A puff of smoke bursts from her starboard bow, and 
then another, as the first crack of a federal salute 
strikes the ear. Fort William replies in kind, and all 
Salem with a roar of cheering. Every one recognizes 
the smart East-Indiaman that dropped down-harbor 
thirty months ago. 

"Is the front chamber prepared for Captain Rich- 
ard?" asks our elderly merchant, as he descends to 
greet his son just in time, for the ship, hauling close 
to the wind, is making for Derby Wharf. Within ten 
minutes she has made a running moor, brailed up her 
sails, and warped into the best berth. The crowd parts 
deferentially as master and supercargo stalk ashore, 
gapes at a turbaned Oriental who shipped as cabin 
boy, exchanges good-natured if somewhat Rabelaisian 
banter with officers and crew, and waits to see the 
mysterious matting-covered bales, shouldered out of 
the vessel's hold. 

To conclude this picture of Salem at the dawn of her 
period of greatest prosperity, read this abstract of the 
entries and customs duties during a period of twenty 
days, from May 31 to June 18, 1790, as I found them 
in the old custom house on Derby Street ; and remem- 
ber that these are foreign entries only, not including 
the fishermen, and the coasters that distributed Salem's 
winnings to a hundred American ports. 

May 31. Brig William & Henry, B. Hodges master, 
from Canton. Tea, coffee, silks, spices and nankeens for 
Gray & One, Benj. Hodges, George Dodge, Jno. Apple- 
ton, Samuel Hewes Jr., Simon Elliot, Robt. Wyer, Mark 
Haskoll 9,783.81 

June 2. Schooner Betsy, William Wooldridge master, 


j .:^/_-^o 

'y t/</*uttr>f 
rittf CWmJJ/"'"///' 


Above is a view of Salem Harbor from South Salem. Derby and Crowninshield 
wharves are shown on the left; Baker Island and Naugus Head in right back- 
ground. The small engravings on the left show men heading a barrel of dried fish, 
and a vessel hove down, having her seams payed with tar 


from Cadiz. Lemons, feathers, raisins, oil and salt for 

William Gray 1 14.30 

June 3. Schooner Active, Seward Lee master, from 
Lisbon. Wine, salt, lemons, and feathers for William Gray 17147 

June 5. Schooner Lark, Saml. Foster master, from 
Cadiz. Salt, Lemons, figs, &c. for Brown & Thorndike. . . . 354O 

June 5. Schooner Bee, Hezekiah Wallace master, from 
Lisbon. Wine, salt and feathers for William Gray 166.92 

June 5. Ship Astrea, James Magee master, from Can- 
ton. Tea, silks, China ware, nankeens and other mer- 
chandise for O. Brewster, J. Powers, Wm. Cabot, Webb 
& Brown, E. Verry, A. Jacobs, David Barber, B. Pick- 
man, J. McGregore, G. Dodge, E. H. Derby, S. Parkman, 

D. Sears, E. Johnson, N. West, J. Gardner Jr., T. H. 
Perkins, Jno. Derby Jr., W r ebb & Bray, Magee & Perkins, 

J. Magee, T. H. Perkins & Co., J. Magee & Co 27,109.18 

June II. Schooner Experiment, Joseph Teel master, 
from St. Eustatia. Sugar, rum, gin and salt for R. Beck- 
ett & J. Teel 123.64 

June ii. Brig Three Brothers, John Collins master, 
from the West Indies. Sugar, rum, iron and salt for John 
Collins 207.82 

June 12. Schooner Nancy, Sam. Mclntire master, 
from the Isle of May. 1 Salt for Samuel Page 96.12 

June 14. Schooner Hanah, Rich. Ober master, from 
Lisbon. Salt, wine, and lemons for Hill & Ober 55-23 

June 15. Ship Light Horse, Ichabod Nichols master, 
from Canton. Tea, silks and China ware for E. H. Derby, 
Hy. Elkins, J. Crowninshield, I. Nichols, Jno. Derby Jr., 

E. Gibaut 16,312.98 

June 17. . Schooner Dolphin, Thos. Bowditch Jr. 

master, from Port au Prince. Salt, sugar, and coffee for 

Norris & Burchmore 56.97 

June 17. Schooner Sally, John Burchmore master, from 
Port au Prince. Sugar and molasses for Jno. Norris & Co. 323.93 

June 1 8. Schooner Lydia, Gabriel Holman master, 
from Aux Cayes. Molasses for Sprague & Holman 70.43 

June 18. Schooner Sukey & Betsey., Thos. Bowditch 
master, from Martinico. Molasses, raisins & limes, for 
Saml. Ingersoll 101.97 

1 Maia, in the Cape Verde Islands. 



June 1 8. Schooner John, Nehemiah Andrews master, 
from St. Lucia. Sugar, coffee, cocoa and molasses for 
N. West 297.42 

June 1 8. Brig Favorite, William Bradshaw master, from 
Lisbon. Salt, wine, and lemons for Joshua Ward & Co.. 113.13 

Boston was the Spain, Salem the Portugal, in the 
race for Oriental opulence. Boston followed Magellan 
and the Columbia westward, around the Horn; Salem 
sent her vessels eastward after the Astrea, around Af- 
rica, along the path blazed by Vasco da Gama. Trace a 
rough curve from the Chinese coast along 20 north 
latitude, pull it south before reaching Hawaii, to join 
120 west longitude at the equator, and you have a 
rough line of demarcation between the two. Every- 
thing north and east was preempted by Boston. Salem 
never entered the Northwest fur trade, and her first 
circumnavigator was a humble sealskinner in 1802* 
But to the southward and westward of this line, in the 
Dutch East Indies, Manila, Mauritius, both coasts of 
Africa, and the smaller islands of the Pacific, Salem had 
the same connotation as Boston on the Northwest 
Coast ; it stood for the whole United States. As late 
as 1833, Po Adam, the wealthiest merchant of Qual- 
lah Battoo, "believed Salem to be a country by itself, 
and one of the richest and most important sections 
of the globe. " Boston vessels competed at Calcutta; 
Salem vessels sometimes attained Canton; the fleet 
met off Java Head and returned home together; but 
for the most part each respected the other's territory, 
and left little to divide between Providence, New York, 
Philadelphia, and Baltimore. 

The usual Salem method of making a trading voyage 
was to start off with a mixed cargo, assembled from 
Southern ports, the Baltic, the West Indies, and New 
England; peddle it out at the Cape of Good Hope, 


Mauritius, and various ports in the East Indies; pick- 
ing up oddments here and there, taking freight when 
occasion offered, buying bills of exchange on London or 
Amsterdam, and like as not making three or four com- 
plete turnovers before returning home. A typical out- 
ward cargo was that of ' King ' Derby's ship Henry, 
one hundred ninety tons, which cleared from Salem for 
the He de France (Mauritius) in 1791. Pottery and ale, 
iron and salt fish, soap and gin, hams and flints, whale 
oil and candles, saddles and bridles, lard and tobacco, 
chocolate and flour, tables and desks made up her 
manifest. Her twenty-one-year-old master, Jacob 
Crowninshield, 1 was one of four brothers, each of whom 
commanded a vessel at about the same age. Their 
father, George Crowninshield, had but recently retired 
from the sea at the age of fifty-five, and was soon to 
rival 'King* Derby as merchant-shipowner. Captain 
Jacob had a great career before him; crowned by an 
offer, thirteen years later, of the Navy Department 
by President Jefferson. Ill health from long voyages 
in tropical waters obliged him to decline ; but the same 
high office was subsequently conferred on a younger 
brother by President Madison. 

The Henry obtained most of her return lading at 
Mauritius. But British sea power gradually strangled 
this eastern emporium of France, and Salem vessels 
were obliged to go to the source of supplies. This led to 
Massachusetts men taking up their residence in the 
seaports of British India. Samuel Shaw found his 
friend Benjamin Joy already established at Calcutta, 
on his return from China; and Thomas Lechmere, of 
Salem, became an alderman of Bombay. 

In this sort of commerce, a large discretion was left 
to shipmasters and supercargoes. A typical letter of 

1 Pronounced 'Grounsell* at that period, but now as it is spelled. 



instruction is one of 1792 from William Gray, another 
Salem rival of the Derbys, to Captain William Ward, 
of the brig Enterprise, one hundred sixty-four tons. He 
will dispose of his Russia duck, * coles' (from Liver- 
pool), and anything that he may think proper, at the 
Cape of Good Hope. There he is to pick up wine, brandy, 
raisins, and almonds for the He de France, where the 
whole cargo ought to sell for one hundred percent profit, 
provided the Enterprise arrives before a certain Boston 
vessel. Captain Ward is to purchase there anything 
that will pay cent per cent at Salem, according to a list 
of prices current furnished him. His next stop should 
be Calcutta to take on sugar, saltpeter, and " Bandanno 
silk Handkerchiefs" at the same rate. Otherwise he 
must try to get a 'cheep* cargo of teak to exchange 
at Canton for China goods. He may even sell the brig, 
if a good opportunity offers. As Captain Ward did not 
find prices low enough for his owner's modest expecta- 
tions, he took freight from India to Ostend, and there 
filled his hold with European merchandise. 

Until 1811, when British regulations (surprisingly 
liberal at first) forbade all but direct voyages between 
India and the United States, the East-India trade was 
susceptible of infinite variety. Benjamin Carpenter, 
the Salem master of the Boston ship Hercules, wrote in 
1794 that profits might be pyramided indefinitely by 
freighting goods between Ceylon, Bombay, Calcutta, 
and Madras, and by judicious turnovers at Rangoon, 
Bengal, and Coromandel. That is, provided one tipped 
heavily, and behaved like a gentleman. "From the 
Governor to the meanest citizen, I have made it my 
study to please. Let a man's occupation be what it will, 
you may have occasion for his aid. I have known a 
present of 10 s. to be the means of saving 100. Good 
language will have the same effect, therefore exert 



yourself as much as possible this way and set apart 
20 for these purposes." 

During the European war, Madeira acquired an im- 
portant relation to the East- India trade. Salem and 
Boston merchants exchanged general cargoes there 
for Madeira wine, which found a ready sale in Cal- 
cutta. They also began the pleasant practice of lay- 
ing in a few pipes * for home consumption, the long 
voyage in southern waters improving its flavor. A 
typical voyage was that of the Maine-built ship Her- 
ald, three hundred twenty-eight tons, commanded 
by Nathaniel Silsbee (formerly of the Benjamin), and 
owned by himself, Samuel Parkman, and Ebenezer 
Preble. She sailed from Boston in January, 1800, with 
a cargo consisting of butter, beef, tobacco, codfish, 
rum, nankeen from China, two hundred thirty-six pipes 
of French brandy that had run the British blockade, 
and a large quantity of silver dollars and bills of ex- 
change. Most of the provisions, the nankeen and the 
liquorwere exchanged at Madeira for two hundred sixty 
pipes of " India market" wine and a score of "choice 
old London particular" for Boston. This genial cargo 
was carried around the Cape of Good Hope to Madras, 
where the India market wine was sold, and pepper, blue 
cloth, 'camboys' and 'Pulicate' handkerchiefs taken 
aboard. At Bombay and Calcutta, the bills and specie 
purchased pepper, sugar, ginger, and a bewildering 
array of India cottons, for which the fashions of that 
day, and the absence of domestic competition, afforded 
an excellent market in the United States. 2 The Herald's 

1 A pipe was a double hogshead, containing no to 125 gallons. 

2 In the "Beverly Shipping Documents," I, at the Beverly Historical 
Society, is an important letter of 1796 from Benjamin Pickman, of Salem, 
to Israel Thorndike, of Beverly, advising him how best to lay out $20,000 
at Calcutta, with samples of several different cottons attached. It ap- 
pears from this that Beerboom Gurrahs, a stout white sheeting, cost 



invoice shows ' Callipatti Baftas,' ' Beerboom Gurrahs,' 
'Allabad Emerties,' and a score of different weaves. 
Madras chintzes and seersuckers are the only names 
recognizable to-day. 

Calcutta, lying eighty miles up the Hoogly River, 
was a port most difficult of access before the days of 
tugboats. After passing the Sand Heads a consid- 
erable feat of navigation in itself, at times it often 
took weeks to beat up-river. The anchorage at Cal- 
cutta was dangerous on account of the tidal bores, which 
in certain seasons worked havoc with ground-tackle 
and shipping. In the southwest monsoon season of 
1799, writes William Cleveland, of Salem, insurance 
from Calcutta to Hamburg was sixteen per cent; but 
premiums would be written for half that rate from the 
Sand Heads to Hamburg. 

The Herald left the Hoogly in company with three 
vessels from Philadelphia and one from Baltimore. 
Outside competition was evidently becoming serious. 
It was the period of our naval hostilities with France. 
When the Americans fell in with a British East- India- 
man, under fire from a French privateer, they decided 
to bear a hand, and formed line-of-battle. The master 
of the vessel abreast the Herald expressed a keen desire 
to leave, his speed being sufficient to elude the privateer. 
Captain Silsbee roared through his speaking-trumpet, 
" If you do, I '11 sink you!" To which his colleague re- 
plied, "Damn you, Silsbee, I know you would!"; and 
saw the action through to a successful finish. 

Small " private adventures" for the officers* and 

about twelve cents a yard, white print cloth seven to eleven cents, and 
"mock Pulicat Handkerchiefs," eighty-four to ninety-five cents for 
eight. William Tileston, of Boston, known as ' Count Indigo,' did an 
extensive business printing India bandannas at his dyehouse in the old 
feather store, Dock Square, and at Staten Island. The duty saved by 
importing plain goods made this profitable. 



owners* friends, varying in amount from a box of cod- 
fish to several thousand dollars in specie, were carried 
both by China and East-India traders. Captain Gibaut, 
of Salem, in 1796, "had private orders to execute in his 
ship at Canton amounting to $4000, for the little ele- 
gancies of life ... so rapid are our strides to wealth and 
luxury," notes the Reverend William Bentley. On the 
brig Caravan, of Salem (two hundred sixty-seven tons), 
early in 1812, Captain Augustine Heard took two thou- 
sand silver dollars to invest for his father, the same for 
each brother, and from twenty to one hundred dollars 
for sundry maiden aunts and retired Ipswich sea-cap- 
tains. Numerous friends requested him to purchase 
for their wives red cornelian necklaces, camel's-hair 
shawls, pieces of cobweb muslin or Mull Mull, straw 
carpets, bed coverings, and pots of preserved ginger. 
Henry Pickering wanted a Sanskrit bible, and three 
children gave him a dollar each to invest in Calcutta. 1 
Besides there was a cargo valued at forty thousand 
dollars, and the first consignment of missionaries, male 
and female, sent by the Puritan Church of Massachu- 
setts to " India's coral strand." But the Reverend and 
Mrs. Adoniram Judson and Samuel Newell were not 
wanted at Calcutta by the British authorities, and had 
to be dropped at Mauritius. 

Augustine Heard was a shipmaster whose cool daring 
became legendary. Approaching the Sand Heads in an 
onshore hurricane, having lost his best bower anchor, 
and drawing a foot more water than there was on the 
bar, Captain Heard shook a reef out of his topsails, 
and laying the vessel on her beam ends, managed to 

1 One of the notes pasted in the Caravan's invoice book is: "Sir 
Please to purchase for Capt. John Barr $200 2 Camels Hair Shawls 
White 2 yards in Length & i? yards in width, with a Broad Palm 
leaf Border mostly Green." A feminine hand has added, "narrow Bordei 
round Edge avoid Red. If any Bal[ance] buy best Bandannas." 

8 9 


scrape across. Once, he is said to have run a pirate 
ship under in the China Sea. There are two versions of 
his return voyage in the Caravan, after the War of 1812 
had commenced. According to one, he sold the Caravan 
and cargo to avoid capture in a South American port, 
and disguised as a shipwrecked mariner, with the 
specie proceeds in his sea-chest, took passage on a 
slaver to Rio de Janeiro, and thence to Boston. Ac- 
cording to the other, the Caravan was captured off the 
coast of Madagascar by an English cruiser, which sent 
a lieutenant and prize crew aboard. All the Ameri- 
cans were placed in irons except the colored cook, and 
Captain Heard. Some days afterwards, a sudden and 
violent storm arose. While the English crew was aloft 
taking in sail, and the lieutenant busy giving orders, 
Heard went into the galley, got the cook, and with his 
aid knocked the irons off his own people. They then 
seized arms, rushed on deck, and as each English Jack 
descended the rigging, clapped him in irons and sent 
him below. Captain Heard then extended the courtesies 
of the cabin to the English officer, and brought him and 
his crew as prisoners into Salem Harbor. 

On the Northwest coast of Sumatra, Salem found 
wealth and adventure such as Boston men obtained on 
the Northwest coast of America. Her merchant sea- 
men, like the Portuguese before them, tracked Eastern 
spices to their source. It was at Benkulen, in 1793, 
that Captain Jonathan Carnes heard a rumor of wild 
pepper to the northwestward. Returning to Salem, he 
was given command of a fast schooner, and cleared for 
unknown destination. " Without chart or guide of any 
kind, he made his way amid numerous coral reefs, of 
which navigators have so much dread even at the 
present day, as far as the port of Analaboo." 1 His 

1 J. H. Reynolds, Voyage of the U.S. Frigate Potomac (1835), 201. 



cargo, costing (with expenses) eighteen thousand dol- 
lars, sold for seven hundred per cent profit at Salem. 
The town went pepper mad. A dozen vessels cleared 
for Benkulen ; but few of them got so much as a sneeze 
for their trouble. Gradually, however, the secret 
leaked out; and by 1800, years before there was a 
published chart of the Malay archipelago, the harbors 
of Analabu, Susu, Tally-Pow, Mingin, Labuan-Haji, 
and Muckie and all those treacherous waters now il- 
luminated by the genius of Conrad, were as familiar 
to Salem shipmasters as Danvers River. Twenty-one 
American vessels, ten from Salem and eight from Bos- 
ton, visited this coast between March i and May 14, 
1803, bargaining with local datus for the wild pepper 
as the natives brought it in. Between the two north- 
west coasts there was little choice, in point of danger. 
Many a Salem man's bones lie in Sumatran waters, a 
Malay kreese between the ribs. 

By way of reward, Salem became the American, and 
for a time the world emporium for pepper. In 1791, 
the United States exported 492 pounds of pepper; 
in 1805, it exported 7,559,244 pounds over seven- 
eighths of the entire Northwest Sumatran crop; and 
a very large proportion of this was landed in Salem. 
Captain James Cook imported over one million pounds 
of pepper in one lading of his five-hundred-ton ship 

Some of the tinware that itinerant Yankees peddled 
throughout the Eastern States, was made from Banka 
tin, obtained by Salem traders from an island beside 
the Caspar Straits. Batavia, the Tyre of Java, shortly 

This is the usual version of the origin of the Northwest Sumatra trade. 
W. Vans, however, claims that he and Jonathan Freeman opened that 
trade in their brigantine Cadet in 1788. (Life of William Vans (1832), 4.) 
See forthcoming articles by Mr. George Putnam in Essex Historical 




after the ship Massachusetts was refused entrance, 
opened her doors to American vessels, which brought 
home increasing amounts of sugar and coffee. 

The famous Astrea, John Gibaut master, ventured 
into the harbor of Pegu, near Rangoon, in 1793, and 
was promptly commandeered by His Burmese Majesty. 
This enabled Captain Gibaut to travel up the Irawaddy 
River, collecting curiosities for the East- India Museum 
and for his Salem pastor, Dr. Bentley. He was un- 
doubtedly the first American to take this classic road 
to Mandalay. No permanent trading connection, how- 
ever, seems to have been established with Burma. 
A year later, one of the numerous Captain Hodges of 
Salem adventured a quantity of gum lacquer from 
Pegu, but was unable to dispose of it at any price. 

''This day a letter from an Arabian Chief, Said 
Aimed," records Dr. Bentley on October 2, 1805, "by 
Mr. Bancroft, a Salem Factor in those seas. He men- 
tioned the wish of a Jew to write to me in that country, 
from whom I may expect to hear by Capt. Elkins." 
That year Salem imported two million pounds of coffee 
from Arabia. So remote from the beaten track of ves- 
sels was Mocha, that the Recovery, of Salem, Captain 
Joseph Ropes, which opened the trade in 1798, was 
given a reception similar to that of Columbus in the 
new world. In 1806, the ship Essex, Captain Joseph 
Orne, with sixty thousand dollars in specie, adventured 
up the Red Sea to Hodeda. At Mocha he augmented 
his crew with some Arabs, who turned out to be ' in- 
side men* of a notorious pirate. The Essex was cap- 
tured, and her entire crew massacred. When the news 
reached the Salem owner, who was Captain Orne's 
uncle, he is said to have remarked, "Well, the ship is 

A more cheerful story of the Mocha trade is the 



maiden voyage of the well-armed ship America, owned 
by George Crowninshield and his sons, and com- 
manded by his nephew, Benjamin Crowninshield. 
On July 2, 1804, she left Salem with very positive and 
emphatic orders to proceed to Sumatra for pepper, 
and nowhere else; for Captain Benjamin was too much 
inclined to use his own judgment. "Obey orders if you 
break owners," was a maxim of the old merchant ma- 
rine. Yet this independent master received at Mauri- 
tius such favorable news of the coffee market that once 
more he determined to disobey. On November 30, the 
America passed "through the straits of Babelmandel, 
and anchored off Mocha, the Grand Mosque bearing 
E. by S." There, and at Aden and Macalla Roads she 
took in coffee, gum arabic, hides, goatskins, and senna, 
and cleared for Salem. 

Now, by June, 1805, when the America was sighted 
from Salem town, pepper had fallen and coffee risen 
to such an extent that the owners were praying Captain 
Ben had broken orders! Unable to restrain their im- 
patience until she docked, the Crowninshield brothers 
put off in a small boat. Approaching her to leeward, 
they began sniffing the air. One was sure he smelled 
the desired bean; but another suggested it might be 
merely a pot of coffee on the galley stove. Finally, dis- 
regarding all marine etiquette, Benjamin W. Crownin- 
shield shouted, "What's your cargo? " " Pe-pe-per ! " 
answered the Captain, who was enjoying the situation 
hugely. "You lie! I smell coffee!" roared the future 
Secretary of the Navy through his speaking-trumpet. 

Once having found their way into the Pacific Ocean, 
Salem shipmasters began to exploit its " Milky-ways 
of coral isles, and low-lying, endless, unknown archi- 
pelagoes and impenetrable Japans." The crews of Sa- 
lem vessels, undismayed by the occasional killing and 



eating of their comrades by Fiji cannibals, gathered 
edible birds' nests from surf-beaten rocks, employed 
native divers to fish tortoise-shell and mother-of-pearl ; 
and gathered slimy sea-cucumbers ('beech de mer') 
from coral reefs, to make soup for the mandarins. 
Thus a new medium was obtained for purchasing China 
tea. One lonely group in the South Atlantic, Tristan 
de Cunha, was taken in formal possession by Jonathan 
Lambert, of Salem, remaining his private principality 
until his dearth in 1813. 

A second ship Astrea, Henry Prince master, dis- 
played her ensign in Manila Bay on October 3, 1796, 
and opened a trade in sugar, hemp, and indigo that con- 
tinued as long as Salem men owned vessels. No Salem 
boy, in seventeen ninety-eight, thought the Philippines 
were canned goods! Most of our present insular pos- 
sessions were visited by Boston or Salem ships before 
the nineteenth century except Guam, which was 
saved for 1801. The barque Lydia, of Boston, Moses 
Barnard master, was chartered by the Spanish govern- 
ment to convey thither a new governor of the Mari- 
anas, with " Lady, three Children and two servant girls 
and 12 men servents, A Fryar & his servent, A Judge 
and two servents." The log of this voyage, by the 
Lydia 1 s first mate, William Haswell, is among the most 
entertaining of the several hundred sea- journals pre- 
served in Salem. The Lydia first put in at Zamboanga 
(Mindanao), a pleasant place which produced nothing 
but "Cocoa Nuts, water & Girls." Six of the latter 
were brought on board by the governor's sons, with 
"Music to Entertain us, but the Ship was so full of 
Lumber that they had no place to shew their Dancing 
in ; how ever we made a shift to amuse ourselves till 3 
in the Morning, the Currant then turning and a light 
breeze from the Northward springing up sent them all 



on shore, they Singing and Playing their Music all the 
way." At Guam, officers and crew had royal enter- 
tainment. The governor and family wept copiously at 
their departure, and pressed livestock, fruit, and other 
gifts on the captain until they overflowed the deck, and 
had to be towed astern in the jolly-boat. 

This commerce with the Far East, in pursuit of 
which early discoverers had scorned the barren coast 
of Massachusetts, was a primary factor in restoring 
the commonwealth to prosperity and power, in giving 
her maritime genius a new object and a new training, in 
maintaining a maritime supremacy that ended in a 
burst of glory with the clipper ship. By 1800, Massa- 
chusetts had proved the power of her merchants and 
seamen, when unrestrained by a colonial system; had 
given the lie to tory pessimists who predicted her 
speedy decay when detached from the British Empire. 
A tea party in Boston Harbor, at the expense of the 
British East India Company, brought on the American 
Revolution. Twenty years later, tea and spices earned 
through trafficking with savage tribes, carried in Mas- 
sachusetts vessels and handled by her merchants, were 
underselling the imports of that mighty monopoly in 
the markets of Europe. 



SHIPBUILDING, the ancient key industry of Massachu- 
setts, expanded greatly during the Federalist period. 
Exactly how much, we have no means of knowing, 
for no record was kept of the many vessels built for 
other states and countries. But the total merchant 
and fashing fleet owned in Massachusetts (including 
Maine) tripled between 1789 and 1792, doubled again 
in the next decade, and by 1810 increased another fifty 
per cent, attaining 500,000 tons, a figure not surpassed 
until after 1830. 

The far-flung commerce of Salem and Boston was 
conducted in vessels that were small even by contem- 
porary standards. 'King' Derby's entire fleet of six 
ships, one barque, four brigs, two ketches, and a 
schooner had a total tonnage of 2380, less than the 
clipper-ship Sovereign of the Seas a half-century later. 
William Gray owned 113 vessels first and last, before 
1815 ; but only ten of them were over 300 tons burthen, 
and the largest was 425 tons. The average dimensions 
of six famous East-Indiamen of Salem, built between 
1794 and 1805, are, length 99 feet, breadth 28 feet, 
burthen 336. 1 The second Grand Turk (124 feet long, 
564 tons), Salem's "Great Ship," was sold to New York 
in 1795 for $32,000, as "much too large for our Port & 
the method of our Trade." Salem Harbor was so 
shallow that vessels drawing more than twelve feet 

1 The same length as, and a slightly greater breadth than the Boston 
mackerel schooner Fannie Belle Alwood in 1920. 

9 6 


had to unload by lighters; but in Boston, twelve feet 
could be carried up to Long Wharf at low tide. Yet 
Boston vessels seem to have been no larger than those 
of Salem, and the average Nor'westman was nearer 
two hundred than three hundred tons. 

"A wise marchant neuer adventures all his goodes 
in one ship," wrote Sir Thomas More. Even those 
who could afford large ships preferred to distribute 
the tonnage among several small ones. For it is a great 
mistake to suppose that the danger of seafaring de- 
creases as tonnage increases, beyond a certain point. 
Every square yard more sail area, in those days of 
single topsails, hemp rigging, and simple purchases, 
increased the difficulty of handling. Every foot more 
draft increased the danger of navigating uncharted 
seas and entering unbuoyed harbors. "Lost at sea 
with all hands," that frequent epitaph of the great 
clipper ships, was seldom if ever the fate of a Massa- 
chusetts vessel in the Federal period. The Crownin- 
shields lost but four of their great fleet of East- India- 
men by 1806; two on Cape Cod, one on Egg Harbor bar, 
and one on the French coast. Massachusetts builders, 
moreover, had not yet acquired the technique to con- 
struct large vessels properly. Hence the superstition, 
current in New England seaports until 1830 or there- 
abouts, that five hundred tons was the limit of safety ; 
that a larger vessel might break her back in a heavy 
sea. To round the Horn in a vessel under one hundred 
tons, as did several of the Boston Nor'westmen, was 
a remarkable feat of seamanship. But the boldest 
Yankee shipmaster of 1800, if given the choice, would 
rather have taken a Chebacco boat around Cape Stiff 
than a two- thousand- ton clipper ship. 

Salem' s fleet included vessels constructed on the 
North River, the Merrimac, or "Down East," but her 



merchants greatly preferred home-built ships, under 
their immediate supervision. A launching, "the no- 
blest sight man can exhibit," thought Dr. Bentley, was 
a gala occasion. In his diary for October 31, 1807, he 
writes: "This day Mr. Brigs in South Fields launched a 
ship [the Francis] for Mr. Peabody, Merchant of this 
town of Salem, into South river. And about an hour 
afterwards Barker, Magoun & Co. launched at the en- 
trance of the neck into the Lower harbour a Ship for 
Nathaniel Silsbee, Merchant of this Town. This last 
I saw. As the flats are level & the building ground low, 
the builders could not have the advantages of the two 
other yards which are steep banks of the rivers. But 
As soon as her stem block was taken away she began 
with a gradual increased motion to descend to the 
water, & without the least interruption or crack of 
anything near her, she rode upon the Ocean amidst the 
incessant shouts of the Spectators." 

Most American seaports, including Boston, have 
shamefully neglected the splendid history of their 
maritime efforts. But Salem loved her ships, and 
cherished their memory. Hence she has taken first 
place by default, and her many writers have uncon- 
sciously given the modern public (as did their ances- 
tors the South-Sea islanders) the impression that Sa- 
lem means America; that nowhere else in the world 
were built or owned such fast and wonderful vessels. 
The Peabody Museum ship portraits deepen this im- 
pression; for Salem employed the best artists of the 
day to depict her vessels Antoine Roux, of Mar- 
seilles, portraitists de navires unsurpassed for precision 
of detail and artistic effect; Michele Corne, whom the 
Mount Vernon brought from Naples in 1800, to pass 
the rest of his long life in New England seaports ; and 
his pupil George Ropes. "In every house we see the 



ships of our harbor delineated for those who have 
navigated them," wrote Dr. Bentley in 1804; and the 
same holds true to-day. When Salem capital was 
transferred to cotton mills, her merchants, unlike 
those of Boston and New York, did not discard their 
ship pictures in favor of steel engravings after Sir 
Edmund Landseer, or dismal anonymous etchings of 
wintry trees. 

Quaint and interesting the ships of the Federalist 
period certainly were, with their varied coloring 
(bright, lemon, or orange waist against black, blue, or 
dark green topsides, and a gay contrasting color for 
the inside of bulwarks); their carved 'gingerbread 
work' on stern, and * quick- work' about the bows; 
their few large, well-proportioned sails (royals seldom, 
and skysails never being carried), and their occa- 
sionally graceful sheer. But strip off their ornaments, 
and you find, with few exceptions, a chunky, wall- 
sided model. The big ships of that day were built in 
Philadelphia and Europe; the small, fast clipper 
schooners and brigs, on Chesapeake Bay. New Eng- 
land builders obeyed the ancient tradition that " ships 
require a spreading body at the water's edge, both 
afore and abaft, to support them from being plung'd 
too deep into the sea." 1 The apparently sharp bow in 
some contemporary pictures is really nothing but 
deadwood, an ornamental cutwater preserving the 
tradition of a Roman galley's rostrum. The real bows 
were of the * cod's head* type, bluff and full, buffeting 
a passage for the ship by sheer strength. And in no 
Massachusetts- built ship of this period whose dimen- 
sions are preserved, was the length as much as four 
times the beam. 

1 William Hutchinson, Treatise on Practical Seamanship (Liverpool, 

1777), 12. 



Several of these vessels made good, but not remark- 
able passages. The ship Fame (112 feet long, 263 
tons), whose launching was a great event of 1802, once 
made Vineyard Haven in ninety-two days from Su- 
matra, completing the round voyage in seven months 
and seven days. But the full-bodied New York 
packet-ship Natchez, built in 1831, made her home 
port in sixty-seven days from Java Head, when driven 
by 'Bully* Waterman. The fastest Salem vessel of 
our period was the ship America, 114 feet long, 31 feet 
beam, and 473 tons burthen, built in 1809 by Retire 
Becket, with the aid of a local Scots draughtsman. 
Her beautiful portrait by Antoine Roux suggests 
easier lines than were then common. But her record 
day's run (over 240 miles) and bursts of speed (13 
knots) were made as a privateer, with hull razeed to 
331 tons, and a lofty rig that no mere merchantman 
could have carried. Another much- touted Salem- 
built vessel is the frigate Essex; but a careful reading 
of Captain David Porter's log of her Pacific cruise 
proves her to have been an uncommonly slow sailer 
for an American frigate. In the Peabody Museum, 
Salem, is an interesting half-model of the ketch Eliza 
(93 X 25 x 9 feet, 184 tons), built by Enos Briggs in 
1794, and indicating a striving after speed. She has a 
curved stem, hollow water-lines, the stern of a modern 
navy cutter, and considerable deadrise; suggesting 
both a Baltimore clipper and the yacht America. 1 The 
Eliza once made a round voyage to India in nine 
months. She must have carried very little cargo com- 
pared with the usual chunky type, for which reason, 
possibly, the experiment led to nothing. 

1 Very likely her lines were copied from a Chesapeake Bay schooner. 
The "Fast-sailing Virginia built schooner Fox, 30 tons, 58 feet," is ad- 
vertised for sale in the Salem Gazette of July 15, 1796. 





It did not take much in those days to give a vessel a 
reputation for speed. In 1816, Augustine Heard, who 
had commanded Boston and Salem vessels for years, 
considered the brig Hindu fast, because on a voyage 
from Calcutta to Boston she sailed 7 to 7.5 knots an 
hour within six points of the wind, and 8.9 knots off 
the wind. Dr. Bentley notes that several Salem ves- 
sels, unable in their outward passage to breast the 
winds and currents off the coast of Brazil, were forced 
ignominiously to run home. 

Until some competent naval architect makes a 
thorough study of American shipbuilding (and may 
the day come soon !) no one has a right to be dogmatic. 
But I venture the opinion that Salem-built vessels of 
the Federalist period were in no way superior to those 
constructed elsewhere in Massachusetts; that the 
builders of New York, the Delaware, and Long Island 
Sound were probably quite as competent as those of 
New England; and that the first real advance in the 
design of large American merchantmen, subsequent to 
the Revolution, came during or after the War of 1812. 

The lower Merrimac from Haverhill to Newbury- 
port was undoubtedly the greatest shipbuilding center 
of New England, at this period as in colonial days. 
Currier's rare monograph on Merrimac shipbuilding 
lists about 1115 vessels constructed and registered 
there between 1793 and 1815, inclusive; and a number 
constructed for outside parties are not to be found 
on his list. Twelve thousand tons of shipping were 
launched on the Merrimac in the banner year of 1810. 
As in other shipbuilding centers, all the cordage, sails, 
blocks, pumps, ironwork, anchors, and other fittings 
were made locally, employing hundreds of skilled 
mechanics. The jolly ropemakers of Salem used to 
outwit the Puritan taboo on a merry Christmas, by 



feasting St. Catherine of Alexandria, the patron saint 
of their profession, every December 25 ! 

It was a Newburyport builder, Orlando B. Merrill, 
who in 1794 invented the lift or water : line model, 
probably the greatest invention in the technique of 
naval architecture between the days of Drake and 
the days of Ericsson. The lifts of the model, measured 
with a foot-rule, determined the dimensions of the 
vessel; and when she was completed, the model was 
neatly sawed amidships, one-half going to the owner, 
the other remaining in the builder's shop. Every 
builder was his own designer, as a matter of course. 
The technique was handed down from father to son ; 
but there was such competition that no shipbuilder 
ever grew rich in the Federalist period. 1 

Medford, where the Blessing of the Bay was launched 
in 1631, became again a shipbuilding center in 1802. 
In that year Thatcher Magoun, of Pembroke, a pupil 
of his townsman Enos Briggs at Salem, examined the 
shores and bed of the Mystic River. Finding them 
free of obstruction, noting the noble oak groves in 
the neighborhood, and estimating that the Middlesex 
Canal, just completed, would enable him to tap the 
timber resources of the upper Merrimac, he decided to 
establish a shipyard at Medford. Calvin Turner, of 
Scituate, and another member of the house of Briggs, 
joined him in 1804. From the start, these Medford 
builders specialized in large ships and brigs two 
hundred and fifty tons up but until the War of 1812 
they only built two or three apiece annually. After 
1815, the vessels that he built for the China trade gave 

1 I have found little data on the cost of vessels at this period. The 
Merrimac-built brig Enterprise, 164 tons, cost $5000 to build in 1792, 
and the Maine-built ship Wells, 205 tons, sold when three years old for 
$7000 in 1804. 



Thatcher Magoun a reputation second to none among 
American shipbuilders; and " Medford-built " came to 
mean the best. 

Boston and Charlestown yards did little but naval 
construction and repairing during the Federalist pe- 
riod, although several fine ships were there built by 
Josiah Barker (of North River origin), and Edmund 
Hart, the master builders of the Constitution. The Bos- 
ton fleet, three times as great as Salem's and second 
only to New York's, was largely procured from the Maine 
coast, the Merrimac, and the North River. That narrow 
tidal stream, dividing the towns of Marsh field and Pem- 
broke from Scituate, Norvvell, and Hanover, was like 
the Merrimac a cradle of New England shipbuilding. 

The North River attained the height of its activity 
in Federalist days. Thirty vessels were completed 
here in 1801, and an average of twenty- three a year, 
1799 to 1804. Looking downstream from the Hanover 
bridge, eleven shipyards were in view, filled with ves- 
sels in various stages of construction. Every morning 
at daybreak the shipwrights might be seen crossing 
the pastures or walking along the sedgy riverbank to 
their work, for a dollar a day from dawn to dark. 
When the sun rose above the Marshfield hills, like a 
great red ball through the river mist, there began the 
cheery clatter of wooden shipbuilding clean, musi- 
cal sounds of steel on wood, iron on anvil, creak of 
tackle and rattle of sheave; with much geeing and 
hawing as ox-teams brought in loads of fragrant oak, 
pine, and hackmatack, and a snatch of chanty as a 
large timber is hoisted into place. At eleven o'clock, 
and again at four came the foreman's welcome shout 
of "Grog O!" For it took rum to build ships in those 
days ; a quart to a ton, by rough allowance ; and more 
to launch her properly. 



Standing on this same Hanover bridge to-day, it is 
hard to believe what the records show to be true, that 
within a few hundred yards, where there seems hardly 
water enough for a good-sized motor boat, were built 
for New York merchants in 1810-11 the ships Mount 
Vernon 1 and Mohawk, respectively 352 and 407 tons 
burthen. Farther down, near the Columbia's birth- 
place, even greater vessels were launched poking 
their sterns into the opposite bank, and having to be 
dug out. Getting them down this narrow, tortuous 
river, full of rocks and shoals, was a ticklish business, 
entrusted to a special breed of North River pilots. 
Crews of men followed the vessel on both banks, with 
long ropes attached to each bow and quarter, hauling 
or checking as the pilot, enthroned between knight- 
heads, commanded, "Haul her over to Ma'sh-field ! " 
or, " Haul her over to Sit-u-wate ! " Motive power was 
provided by kedging, heaving up to an anchor dropped 
ahead by the pilot's boat. Fourteen tides were some- 
times required to get a vessel to sea, as the mocking 
river sauntered for miles behind the barrier beach, and 
dribbled out over a bar that taxed all Yankee ingenu- 
ity to surmount. When shipbuilding had ceased, a 
new outlet opened at the nearest point to the ocean. 

The North River builders did much work for "for- 
eign" (i.e., non- Massachusetts) order, and for the 
whalemen. Their vessels seem to have lacked even 
a local reputation for speed. Very few paintings of 
them have survived. One, of the ship Minerva, 223 
tons, built by Joshua Magoun at Pembroke in 1808 for 
Ezra Weston and others of Duxbury, shows a vessel 
built in the best style of the day; gray-blue topsides 

1 Length 99 feet, 6 inches, breadth 28 feet, depth 14 feet, 3 inches. 
The largest vessel ever constructed on the North River was another ship 
Mount Vernon, 464 tons, built in 1815 for Philadelphia by Samuel Hartt. 



and bulwarks, with bright waist, quarter-galleries, 
beautiful quick-work on the bows, and a finely pro- 
portioned sail plan. 

Fishermen and other small vessels were constructed 
in Plymouth Bay at this period ; and at Wareham and 
Mattapoisett on Buzzard's Bay were more children 
of North River, building three-hundred-ton whalers 
for Nantucket, and neutral traders for New Bedford. 
Fishing vessels were also built on Cape Cod, Cape Ann, 
and Essex, as well as in the larger centers. The pres- 
ence in the Boston registry of the two-hundred-ton 
ship Merry Quaker, built at Dighton in 1795, proves 
that that center of religious dissent on the Taunton 
was up and doing. But having viewed the Merrimac, 
Salem, the Mystic and North Rivers, we have made 
the rounds of the greater shipyards in Massachusetts 

And now for the sailors. A frequent occurrence in 
the New England of our period is illustrated by a pretty 
story of Cohasset. One spring evening young South- 
ward Pratt, a farmer's barefoot boy, goes out as usual 
to drive the cattle home. But the cows are heard 
lowing at the pasture bars, long after their accustomed 
hour to be milked. There is no trace of the lad. Some- 
thing called him from that rocky pasture; a sea-turn 
in the wind, perhaps; or a glimpse of Massachusetts 
Bay, deep blue and sail-studded, laughing in the May 
sunshine. True to his name, Southward obeyed the 

Three years pass. The cows are now tended by young 
Mercy Gannett, who has come from Scituate to live 
with the Pratts as hired girl, in the friendly fashion of 



the day. One summer evening she comes running home 
from the pasture, frightened, breathless. A strange 
young man with bronzed face and lithe, free move- 
ments, had appeared at the pasture bars, and an- 
nounced he would drive the cattle home that evening. 
Of course it was the prodigal son; and naturally he 
married Mercy, and lived happily ever after. 

Southward's sudden departure, and his return, are 
both typical of the Massachusetts merchant marine. 
The Bay State, more seafaring in her taste (if one in- 
cludes Maine) than any other American common- 
wealth, has never had a native deep-sea proletariat. 
Her fleet was manned by successive waves of adven- 
ture-seeking boys, and officered by such of them as 
determined to make the sea their calling. The Euro- 
pean type of sailor, the "old salt" of English fiction, 
content to serve before the mast his entire lifetime, 
was almost unknown in New England. High wages 
and the ocean's lure pulled the Yankee boys to sea; 
but only promotion or rum could keep them 
there. If Southward or Hiram enjoyed his first voyage 
and made good, he was soon given an officer's berth, 
of which there were plenty vacant in a marine that in- 
creased from 58,800 to 435,700 tons (excluding fisher- 
men 1 ) between 1789 and 1810, which required from 
eleven to fifteen men per ton, and in which the pro- 
portion of officers to seamen was not less than one to 
five. If quickly cured of his wanderlust, he went back 
to the farm, and was replaced by another boy. When 
the embargo tied up Salem shipping, the discharged 
crews returned to their villages precisely as did the 
Russian workmen during the late Revolution.. 

Speaking broadly, officers' berths in European ma- 

1 For the crews of fishermen, to which these statements do not apply, 
see chapter x. 



rines were class preserves, going by favor and influ- 
ence to the sons of shipmasters, merchants, and their 
dependents. Few European sailors had the education 
to qualify themselves for command. But in the Massa- 
chusetts marine the great majority of masters came 
in through the hawse-hole, and the vast majority of 
seamen had sufficient command of the three R's to 
post a log, draft a protest, draw up a manifest, and, 
with a little instruction on shore or shipboard, find a 
position at sea. Captain Zachary G. Lamson, of Bev- 
erly, tells of sailing as foremast hand on a Salem brigan- 
tine, every one of whose crew of thirteen rose to be 
master of a vessel. With officers thoroughly trained in 
the rudiments of their profession, and young, ambi- 
tious seamen culled from the most active element of a 
pushing race, it is no wonder that the Massachusetts 
marine achieved great things. 

Never, save possibly at some colonial period, has 
the Massachusetts marine been one hundred per cent 
American. In Federalist days, it certainly contained an 
appreciable minority of foreigners. How much, it is 
impossible to say. Not until 1817 did federal law re- 
quire two-thirds of a crew to be American. Even be- 
fore 1793 we find a foreign minority in the crew lists 
of some famous Pacific traders; l and after that date, 

1 On the ship Massachusetts in 1790, there were six petty officers from 
Massachusetts, four from England, and one each from New Hampshire, 
Ireland, Scotland, and Sweden. Before the mast were nineteen from 
Massachusetts, seven from other New England states, ten from England, 
six from Ireland, and one each from Scotland and Virginia (Delano, Voy- 
ages, 27). Eight nationalities were represented in the Boston's crew of 
fifteen, in 1803 (Jewitt's Narrative)', but this crew was enlisted in Eng- 
land. The New York brig Betsey, in the China trade, picked up her 
crew at New Haven and Stonington (Edmund Fanning, Voyages, 1833 
ed. f 69). The Margaret, Captain James Magee, had two Swedes, one 
Dutchman, and sixteen Americans before the mast. On the Boston 
ship Herctdes, in a voyage to Calcutta in 1792-94, all four officers, eight 



when British subjects with forged naturalization pa- 
pers, or birth certificates purchased from a discharged 
American, sought whatever protection the American 
flag afforded, these crew lists are open to suspicion. A 
Spanish boy named Benito, who joined the Astrea at 
Cadiz, shipped on his next voyage as Benjamin Eaton, 
of Salem. Captain Samuel Snow, of Cohasset, was 
really Salvador Sabate y Morell, brought from Spain 
many years before by Captain Ephraim Snow, of 
Truro. William Gray testified in 1813 that in his opin- 
ion one-fifth of the seamen in the American merchant 
marine were foreigners. Adam Seybert, the statisti- 
cian, estimated one-sixth in 1807. Probably the pro- 
portion was less in New England, where the native 
supply was abundant. A British agent was told by 
Salem merchants in 1808 that they no longer em- 
ployed British seamen, in order to avoid trouble from 
impressment. John Lowell asserts that only the ves- 
sels of the middle and southern states, where the 
native population had little maritime aptitude, em- 
ployed foreigners to any extent. This statement must 
be taken with caution, as made for political effect; but 
the argument is reasonable. Only a careful examina- 
tion and rigorous checking-up of the crew lists in our 
custom-house records can establish the truth. 

Looking over these crew lists of registered vessels, 
one finds a small, constant minority of foreigners 
not only Englishmen, but Germans, Scandinavians, 
and Latins who acknowledge themselves such. But 
the great majority profess to be native-born Yan- 
kees, and probably were. Newburyport drew farmers' 

out of nine petty officers, and fifteen out of twenty-five seamen were 
Massachusetts men. The other petty officer and one seaman were Irish, 
seven seamen were English, and two doubtful. (MS. Journals, Essex 

1 08 


boys from the valley of the Merrimac and from all 
southern New Hampshire. Marblehead's sailors were 
mostly of the tough local breed. Salem drew upon her 
own population, and all Essex County; her vessels also 
include a large number of men from the Middle States 
and Baltimore. 1 Boston's crew lists have been de- 
stroyed; but most Cape Cod boys seem to have gone 
there for a start. The youthfulness of them is striking. 
Most are in their teens and early twenties; seamen 
over thirty are rare, and over forty almost unknown. 
The few older men were probably victims of drink, 
who squandered their wages at the end of each voyage, 
in classic sailor fashion, and had no other recourse but 
to reship. 

Tradition, love of adventure, desire to see the world, 
and the social prestige of the shipmaster's calling were 
partly responsible for Yankee boys going to sea. Few 
could grow up in a seaport town and resist the lure. 
For boys in the inland towns, seafaring offered the 
only alternative to clodhopping, the sole means of 
foreign travel, and the best opportunity to gather 
wealth. The West was not yet a word to fire the imagi- 
nation. Hewing out a new farm in the Green Moun- 
tains or the Genesee Valley did not promise much 
variety from home life. One could fight Indians on the 
Northwest Coast and play with the Kanaka girls 
between fights. Ordinary life, to be sure, was not so 
dismal in New England farming towns as the self- 
styled experts in Puritanism would have us think. 

1 On the ship Restitution of Salem in 1804, out of nine seamen seven 
give their residence as Baltimore, although two were born in Salem, two 
in Germany, and one each in North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Phila- 
delphia. On the ship John of Salem, 250 tons, in 1804 nine seamen give 
their birthplace in Essex County, nine elsewhere in Massachusetts, three 
elsewhere in New England, two in New Jersey, one each in Maryland, 
"America," and Denmark. 


There was a succession of husking-bees and barn-rais- 
ings and rustic dances and sleighing parties, well lu- 
bricated with rum. But imagine the effect of a young 
man returning with tales of pirates and sea-fights and 
South Sea Islands, with 'cumshaws' of tea and silk 
and Chinese carving for his mother and sweetheart, 
and a bag of silver dollars to boot. 

For one of the chief attractions of seafaring was the 
high wages that were not only earned, but actually 
paid, in the Federalist period. The Columbia, on her 
first voyage, paid ordinary seamen but $5, and able 
seamen $7.50 per month; but she sailed in a period of 
unemployment. Wages quickly rose with commercial 
expansion. By 1799, J. & T. Lamb were paying boys 
$8 to $10, ordinary seamen $14 to $17, able seamen 
$18, and petty officers up to $24 per month, in the 
Northwest fur trade. The crew of their snow Sea Otter 
was paid off with $500 to $600 each, after deducting 
$100 to $150 for articles furnished from the slop chest, 
on which (if the Lambs followed the practice of Bryant 
& Sturgis) the men were charged at least one hundred 
per cent profit. In addition they could make a couple 
of hundred dollars on a judicious investment at Can- 
ton, stuffed into their sea-chests. 

Data on wages in other trade routes are scarce, but 
what we have indicate a rise to a similar high level. 
Israel Thorndike, of Beverly, was paying ordinary sea- 
men $4.50 and able seamen $7 per month in schooner 
voyages to the West Indies and Portugal in 1790. In 
1794, the A.B.'s rate had risen to $10. On the U.S. 
frigate Essex, in 1799, boys and ordinary seamen got 
from $5 to $14, able seamen $17, besides prize money; 
at a time when an army private's pay was $3 per month. 
According to a French admiral in 1806, some seamen he 
impressed from an American brig were getting $17. 



In the Russian trade in 1811, William Gray is paying 
his ordinary seamen $16 and his A.B.'s $20 and $21. 
Senator Lloyd, of Massachusetts, stated early in 1812 
that the average pay of American seamen was $22.50 
per month. 

Shore wages, in comparison, were low. Common 
labor received but eighty cents to a dollar a day in New 
England between 1800 and 1810, and out of this had 
to feed and house itself. There were few opportunities 
for wage-earning, outside farm labor. Consequently 
many young men went to sea merely to lay by a little 
money to get married on, or buy a farm. But many of 
them never returned from their dangerous calling. 
Yellow Jack contracted in a West-India port disposed 
of many a stout ploughboy. We hear of schooners 
limping home from the Spanish Main, sailed only by 
one sickly man and a boy. Out of 634 members of the 
Essex Lodge of Free Masons in Salem, 293 were mari- 
ners and 246 master mariners ; of these 50 were lost at 
sea and 42 died in foreign ports. "By the arrival of 
Capt. Phillips from Calcutta in the ship Recovery," 
writes Dr. Bentley, "we learn of the death of Winthrop 
Gray, the last of a company of jolly fellows at Salem. 
We hear of the death of several of our promising young 
seamen." Within a few yards of each other in the old 
graveyard at Kingston, overlooking Plymouth Bay, 
may still be seen the following memorial stones: 

Erected in memory of Capt. Joshua Delano who died in Havanna 
April 2, 1800 aged 31 years. 

Erected in memory of Capt. William Delano, who died on his 
passage home from Batavia Octr. 21, 1797, aged 27 years. 

In memory of Peleg Wadsworth, who was drowned February 
24th 1795 in Lat. 39 N. Long. 70 W. aged 21 years 6 months and 
5 days. 



In memory of Amasa Holmes, who died in his passage from 
Cronstadt to Boston Jan'y 30, 1834, in the 24th year of his age. 

In memory of Simeon Washburn who was drowned July 6, 1805, 
aged 24 years. 

The only approach to a privileged class in the Massa- 
chusetts fleet was the supercargoes. This position - 
the business agent of the owners on shipboard was 
often reserved for Harvard graduates, merchants' 
sons, and other young men of good family who had 
neither the taste nor the ruggedness for the rough-and- 
tumble of forecastle life. His position was no sinecure. 
The relationship with the master, between whose 
functions and the supercargo's there was no sharp line, 
required diplomatic qualities. Responsibility for sell- 
ing and obtaining cargoes required self-reliance, and 
sound knowledge of world commerce and economics. 
John Bromfield, a supercargo with two generations of 
Boston merchants back of him, read Henry Cole- 
brooke's " Husbandry and Commerce of Bengal," 
William Marsden's "History of Sumatra," Colonel 
Symes's "Embassy to Ava," Stavorinus's "Voyage a 
Batavia," and Wilcocke's "History of Buenos Ayres," 
to qualify himself for his business. As supercargo un- 
der Captain Bill Sturgis in the Atahualpa, he informed 
the master of the pirate junks' approach off Macao - 
his brother had been killed by Malay pirates a few 
years before and fought like a lion during the action. 
Joseph W. Cogswell, one of that group of New England 
intellectuals who attended Gottingen, first changed 
his sky if not his mind as supercargo on William Gray's 
brig Radius, in the most difficult days of neutral trade. 
Patrick T. Jackson, pioneer cotton manufacturer and 
founder of the city of Lowell, learned his first lessons 
from the world as clerk to his brother Captain Henry 



Jackson, on J. & T. H. Perkins's ship Thomas Russell, 
in the Mediterranean and East- India trade. 

A supercargo was occasionally promoted to master 
mariner, as in the case of Dr. Bowditch; but there were 
few captains in the Massachusetts fleet who had not 
worked their way up from the forecastle. In spite of 
this democratic method of selection, New England 
shipmasters were distinguished for their gentlemanly 
qualities. The English merchant marine, in spite of 
privilege, was still officered by Captain Cuttles and 
Hatchways, of the type described by Smollett. If an 
English gentleman went to sea, he chose the navy. But 
in New England the social prestige of the merchant 
service remained as high as in colonial days. Gentle- 
men of family and education set the quarterdeck 
standards, to which homespun recruits conformed as 
best they could. Consequently we find American ship- 
masters received into the upper bourgeois society of 
the seaports where they traded ; and not infrequently 
marrying Spanish or Italian girls of good family. 
Captain E. H. Derby, Jr., was entertained by Nelson 
aboard the Victory. The same wages and commissions 
were given generally as in the Canton trade, 1 although 
naturally the latter was the most lucrative, and ob- 
tained the best men. Thus the officers became partners 
in every voyage. Not infrequently a shipmaster re- 
tired by the age of thirty with sufficient capital to start 
a mercantile business of his own. The master mariners 
whose names are in the records of the Boston Marine 
Society before 1812, were the merchant-shipowners of 
the next generation. 

Hitherto, Yankee shipmasters had never been con- 
spicuous in navigation. In seamanship they were 
preeminent; in rigging, handling, and caring for their 

1 Chapter vi. 


vessels in getting the last ounce of speed and service 
out of them. Having no dockyards to depend on, they 
were used to turn engineer on occasion. Captain 
William Mugford received a gold medal from the 
American Philosophical Society, for the jury rudder 
he rigged on the ship Ulysses. They thought nothing 
of heaving down or careening a vessel on some lonely 
South-Sea beach, scrubbing her bottom, paying her 
seams, and making extensive repairs, while part of the 
crew stood guard against cannibals. When Captain 
Penn Townsend, by miscalculation, found his brig 
Eunice high and dry on St. Paul's Island (a favorite 
Salem resort in the Indian Ocean), his crew built a 
huge wooden cask around her hull, and rolled her off. 

Dead reckoning, by compass, log, and dipsey lead, 
was the traditional New England method of finding 
one's position at sea. * That was all very well for At- 
lantic and West- India voyages, but not for circum- 
navigating the globe. The stately ship Massachusetts, 
in 1790, in all her padded equipment, had no chro- 
nometer, and no officer who could find longitude by 
any other method. Consequently she missed Java 
Head, and lost several weeks' time. But a Salem boy 
was already planning a remedy. 

Nathaniel Bowditch 2 was born at Salem in 1773, the 
son of Habakkuk Bowditch, a shipmaster who had 
seen better days. His formal schooling was slight. 
The dawn of Salem's maritime expansion found him ap- 
prentice to a local ship-chandler. He fed a precocious 
passion for mathematics in the Philosophical Library, 

1 All the seaport towns had private schools of navigation in the sev- 
enteen-nineties. Even at as small a village as Wellfleet, "We have in the 
winter a number of private schools, by which means the greater part of 
the young men are taught the art of navigation," writes the Reverend 
Levi Whitman, of that place, in 1794. 

2 First syllable rhymes with 'how.' 




the nucleus of which was an Irish scientist's collection 
which a Beverly privateer had captured during the 
Revolution. In 1796, he went to sea as captain's clerk 
on the ship Henry, Salem to the He de France, and the 
following year sailed as supercargo in the Astrea, to 
Manila. On this voyage he not only spent every spare 
moment in making observations, but taught twelve 
members of the crew to take and work lunars, the only 
method of getting longitude without a chronometer, 
which no Salem vessel could afford. Working lunars 
is a tricky business, for any error in the observation 
brings a thirty-fold error in the result; and as young 
Bowditch found no less than eight thousand errors in 
the tables of the standard English book on navigation, 
he decided to get one out of his own. Two more 
voyages gave him the practice and the leisure for the 
immense amount of detailed calculations; and in 1801 
appeared the first edition of Bowditch's ''Practical 
Navigator," which has been translated into a dozen 
languages, passed through countless editions, and still 
remains the standard American treatise on navigation. 

While the " Navigator" was making a market for 
itself, its author went to sea, as master of the ship 
Putnam, Beverly to the northwest coast of Sumatra. 
At the close of this successful pepper voyage, he proved 
his own theories by entering Salem Harbor on Christ- 
mas Eve, 1803, in a blinding northeast snowstorm, 
without having picked up a single landmark. For 
years to come, " I sailed with Captain Bowditch, Sir!" 
was a Salem man's password to an officer's berth. 

Notwithstanding the work of Bowditch, it took a 
generation or more to wean most Massachusetts ship- 
masters from their dependence on dead reckoning, in 
which primitive method they were adepts. An inter- 
esting incident of neutral trading illustrates this. In 


1810, an American vessel was seized at Christiansand, 
and condemned by the admiralty courts of Denmark 
(then at war with England) on the ground that her lack 
of chart or sextant proved that her voyage commenced 
in the British Isles. The other American shipmasters 
in port then drew up a protest in which they assert, 
"we have frequently made voyages from America 
without the above articles, and we are fully persuaded 
that every seaman with common nautical knowledge 
can do the same." 

Captain Jeremiah Mayo, of Brewster, about the 
year 1816, took the brig Sally of Boston, 264 tons, from 
Denmark through the English Channel to the Western 
Ocean in thick weather without an observation or 
a sight of land. Bryant & Sturgis reprimand one of 
their East-India shipmasters, in 1823, for purchasing 
a chronometer for $250, and inform him he must pay 
for it himself. "Could we have anticipated that our 
injunctions respecting economy would have been so 
totally disregarded we would have sett fire to the Ship 
rather than have sent her to sea.** Nathaniel Silsbee, 
in 1827, sailed to Rotterdam in a brig that had no 
chronometer, and whose officers knew nothing of lunar 

Still it was not Bowditch's fault if seamen did not 
use the means he offered ; and an increasing proportion 
of them did. On his death, in 1838, the Boston Marine 
Society resolved, "As astronomer, a mathematician 
and navigator himself, a friend and benefactor has he 
been to the navigator and Seaman, and few can so 
justly appreciate the excellence and utility of his la- 
bours, as the members of this Society. . . . His intui- 
tive mind sought and amassed knowledge, to impart 
it to the world in more easy forms.*' 

Boston, Salem, and Newburyport all had their 



marine societies, open to master mariners and some- 
times shipowners as well, before the Revolution. But 
at Salem in 1799 there was organized the East India 
Marine Society, with membership restricted to Salem 
shipmasters or supercargoes, "who shall have actually 
navigated the Seas near the Cape of Good Hope or 
Cape Horn." An exclusive club, perhaps; one whose 
certificate of membership equaled a patent of nobility 
in Essex County; but not a small or merely a social 
club. Fifty-seven members were admitted during the 
first two years. The Society furnished them with blank 
duplicate sea-journals to be filled out and deposited 
in the Marine Library at the close of each voyage. 
Therein were faithfully noted all observations of lati- 
tude, with the position of ports, reefs, and headlands, 
as "the means of procuring a valuable collection of 
useful information." Blank pages were assigned for 
"remarks on the commerce of the different places 
touched at in the voyage with the imports, exports 
and manner of transacting business." In this way the 
community gathered strength from the achievements 
of its members. 

"Whatever is singular in the measures, customs, 
dress, ornaments, &c. of any people, is deserving of 
notice," continue the directions, which conclude with 
an injunction to note down "any remarkable books in 
use, among any of the eastern natives, with their sub- 
jects, dates and titles"; and to collect for the East 
India Marine Museum, articles of dress and ornament, 
idols and implements and all things vegetable, animal, 
and mineral. At their annual meetings the members, 
each bearing some Oriental trophy, passed in proces- 
sion through the streets, preceded by a man "in Chi- 
nese habits and mask," and a palanquin borne by Sa- 
lem negroes tricked out as natives of India, bearing a 



proud Salem youngster in the habiliments of a native 
prince. To the public spirit of her shipmasters, Salem 
owes the nucleus of her famous Ethnological Museum, 
and records of her early commerce unsurpassed by any 
American seaport. 



DIVITIS India usque ad ultimum sinum (the spoil of 
Ind, to the uttermost gulf) was the appropriate motto 
on Salem's city seal. Wealth, her merchants certainly 
did acquire. Elias Hasket Derby, dying in 1799, be- 
queathed an estate of a million and a half dollars to 
his sons. Israel Thorndike, of Beverly, and Captain 
Simon Forrester, who came to Salem a poor Irish lad, 
each left about the same sum. * Billy' Gray, when 
Jefferson's embargo caught him, was reputed to be 
worth three million dollars, and known to be the 
greatest individual shipowner in the United States. 
But more than this, the Salem merchants spent their 
money in a manner that enhanced the pleasant art of 
living, and permanently enriched the artistic content 
of America. 

Puritanism, in its religious and social implications, 
stamped Federalist Salem. Puritanism is the reputed 
enemy of art and genial living. Yet the people of 
Massachusetts Bay, since their first struggle for exist- 
ence on the fringe of the continent, had built a succes- 
sion of goodly houses in oak and pine, and even brick, 
whose beauty improved as the sea yielded an increas- 
ing store. The spoil, accumulated through twenty 
years' voyaging to the uttermost limits of the Far 
East, produced at Salem the fairest flowers of Ameri- 
can domestic architecture. 

The presiding genius of this Federal architecture 
(as it should be called, rather than the loose and ill- 



fitting 'Colonial* or 'Georgian') was Samuel Mc- 
Intire. Born at Salem in 1757, the son of a house- 
wright, Mclntire had as hard and meager a boyhood 
as Bowditch. Of his young manhood we know little. 
Probably he worked as a woodcarver, and exercised his 
talents not only on houses, but on the figureheads, 
cabin mouldings, and quick-work of vessels. Suddenly 
in 1782, the year of peace, he blossoms forth as the 
architect of the Fierce-Nichols house; with its out- 
buildings one of the finest architectural groups ever 
executed in wood in the United States. 

This house was built for Jerathmeel Pierce, a mer- 
chant who saved enough out of the Revolution to prove 
an early success in the East-India trade. It marks a 
new type, the square, three-storied, hip-roofed, de- 
tached dwelling, which stamps the Federalist period in 
New England. Captain Pierce, after a frugal fashion of 
that day, had only half the interior completed at once. 
The rest was fortunately postponed until Mclntire had 
acquired a new manner; the refined and delicate style 
of interior decoration introduced in London by the 
brothers Adam. The east parlor was completed in 
1801, just in time for the marriage of Sally Pierce to 
Captain George Nichols. 

This twenty-three-year-old shipmaster had followed 
the sea since the age of sixteen, and had many ac- 
quaintances at London, St. Petersburg, Calcutta, and 
Batavia. He brought his bride from Bombay, for her 
wedding dress, the most beautiful piece of striped mus- 
lin ever seen in Salem. After four weeks' honeymoon 
he was off again to Sumatra. At the age of twenty- 
nine he retired from the sea, and lived long enough in 
the beautiful house that his father-in-law built, to vote 
twice for Abraham Lincoln. 

For twenty years after the building of the Pierce- 



Nichols house, little notable construction was done in 
Salem. A few merchants, like E. H. Derby, employed 
the young architect to erect new and splendid dwellings, 
adorned by pilasters and surmounted by glazed cupolas 
whence approaching sail might be surveyed in comfort. 
But the greater number required a prudent accumula- 
tion, before deserting the ancestral gambrel. As they 
gathered wealth and the possibility of leisure, the mer- 
cantile families shrank from the raw east winds, and 
picturesque but embarrassing contacts of the water- 
front. About 1801, they began to desert Derby Street 
and its tributaries for Essex Street, Washington Square, 
and above all, Chestnut Street. 

On this broad, elm-shaded avenue to-day the 
finest street, architecturally, in New England Mc- 
Intire and his nameless fellow- workers expended the 
endeavors of their fruitful years. The square, three- 
storied, hip- roofed house, constructed of warm red 
brick laid in flawless Flemish bond, prevailed. The 
front doors are framed in fanlight and sidelights, 
shaded by oblong or elliptical porches whose roofs are 
supported by attenuated columns, their capitals carved 
by the master himself. A Palladian window opens on 
a formal garden in the rear. The interiors are simply 
arranged, with four rooms to a floor, and decorated in a 
free and original adaptation of the Adam style. Stables, 
barns, and garden houses are designed with the same 
care as the mansion, that nothing might mar the 
general effect. 

In his public buildings the Court House, assem- 
bly halls, and South Meeting-House, Mclntire was 
equally successful. 

There was little in the architecture of these dwellings, 
save their uncompromisingly square mass, to suggest 
the character of their occupants. For very few of the 



shipmasters and merchants of Federalist Salem came 
of wealthy colonial families. They were a rugged race, 
with little of the polish that marked contemporary 
society in Boston or Philadelphia or Charleston. They 
were self-educated; for Salem then had miserable 
schools, and no boy destined for the sea went to Har- 
vard. They were not ashamed to work with their own 
hands in garden or outlying farm ; and in a run of ill- 
luck, their wives or sisters could without loss of caste 
open a little shop in a front room as Hepzibah in 
' l The House of the Seven Gables. ' ' Their ways were at 
best bluff and simple; at worst, harsh and blustering. 
Too many carried the manners of the quarterdeck 
into their Adam parlors. One wonders where they 
acquired the taste to erect such dwellings, or, if the 
taste was wholly their architects' l to enrich them with 
the beautiful furniture, porcelain, and glass that are 
still the pride of Salem. Everything made in 1810 was 
not good ; Chestnut Street mansions might as well have 
been stuffed with vulgarized empire as with chaste 

Salem society, like that of all our seaport towns, was 
stratified. Of the life of her middle and lower classes 
we know little save their occasional delinquencies. 
Salem is said to have had a greater per capita wealth 
than any American town; but hard winters always 
crowded the almshouse and demanded much charity 
of the well-to-do. All classes were bound together by a 
common interest in maritime prosperity. In 1790, the 
two hundred and twenty-eight heads of families (includ- 
ing widows) in Dr. Bentley's East Church, included 
thirty-five mariners, fifty-eight master mariners, nine 

1 For the sort of thing that the Salem architects avoided, see the 
engraving of "Mr. Dorsey's Gothic mansion" at Philadelphia, in Den- 
nie's Portfolio, v, 124 (1811). 



boat- or ship-builders, five rope- or sail-makers, and 
five fishermen. Even people whose principal occupa- 
tion was independent of commerce, generally owned a 
share in a ship, or made private adventures. Nathaniel 
Richardson, who owned the largest tannery in Essex 
County, also owned four vessels; and his son Nathaniel, 
who "hurried into bold adventures," died in Malaga 
at the age of eighteen. 

Unquestioned social preeminence was enjoyed by 
the merchant-shipowners, who with few exceptions 
had commanded vessels on East- India voyages. Their 
social life was simple rather than brilliant. Formal 
dinners were infrequent, balls given only by subscrip- 
tion, at stated intervals, in Hamilton Hall or Washing- 
ton Hall, according as the company was Federalist 
or Republican. For the bitter politics of this period 
divided Salem society by a deep longitudinal chasm, 
across which the rival clans of Derby and Crownin- 
shield glared defiance. Driving or sleigh-riding, with 
Nahant or some good tavern for objective, was a com- 
mon diversion. But perhaps the favorite one for ship- 
masters' families was a fishing party in the bay, followed 
by landing on Baker's or Misery Island for a magnifi- 
cent chowder, cooked, as a chowder should be, in iron 
pot over driftwood fire by a Salem African. Several 
families maintained small pleasure-boats. The finest 
of them, George Crowninshield, Jr.'s, thirty-six-foot 
Jefferson, rigged like a Chebacco boat, once took 
Dr. Bentley from Salem to Beverly harbor in fifteen 
minutes and back in thirty-four. Wealth cost that 
generation too much effort to be frittered in riotous 
living or wasteful display. Those Salem families who 
acquired a fortune in the days when every day brought 
a ship, have with few exceptions retained their position 
to this day. 



Boston throughout the Federalist period was a 
commercial center of about three times the importance 
of Salem, whether one takes population, tonnage, or 
customs duties as the standard of comparison. The 
commercial activity of Boston Harbor was prodigious. 
"Upwards of seventy sail of vessels sailed from this 
port on Monday last, for various parts of the world," 
states the " Columbian Centinel " on Wednesday, Oc- 
tober 26, 1791. In 1793 there entered and cleared 
eleven vessels from England, one hundred and nine- 
teen from the West Indies, and one hundred and sixty- 
three from other foreign ports. "The harbour of Bos- 
ton is at this date [November, 1794] crowded with 
vessels," wrote Thomas Pemberton. " Eighty-four sail 
have been counted lying at two of the wharves only. 
It is reckoned that not less than four hundred and 
fifty sail of ships, brigs, schooners, sloops and small 
craft are now in this port." The population increased 
from 18,320 in 1790 to 33,787 in 1810. 

To take care of this expanding commerce and popu- 
lation, Boston began the process, which still continues, 
of making new land by filling in various coves that 
gave her so jagged a shore-line. A corporation began 
shoveling the crest of Beacon Hill into the Mill Pond, 
near the present North Station, about 1807; and 
another laid out Broad Street, somewhat straight- 
ening the harbor front. Other companies financed 
new wooden bridges to Charlestown, Cambridge, and 
South Boston, which opened up sections of the town 
never before utilized ; and before the end of the War of 
1812 work started on the Mill Dam, a continuation 
of Beacon Street across the Back Bay. Still, not very 
much was done before 1825 to take away the pictur- 
esque stabs that salt water made into old Boston. One 
tongue of the harbor came up to Liberty Square; and 




another to Dock Square, which was the market and 
retail center of the town. A few yards away was State 
Street, rapidly becoming lined with the new banks and 
insurance offices that commercial expansion required. 
Near by was completed, in 1808, the new Exchange 
Coffee-House, whose seven stories proclaimed Boston 
a town, merely because she was too proud to become a 
mere city! A Boston Loyalist who returned for a visit 
in 1808, wrote, "The great number of new and elegant 
buildings which have been erected in this Town, within 
the last ten years, strike the eye with astonishment, 
and prove the rapid manner in which the people have 
been acquiring wealth." Boston was practically re- 
built between 1790 and 1815, in a distinctive style 
of Federal architecture which the public persists in 
lumping with everything else built before 1840 as 

Like the merchants of Renaissance Italy, those of 
Federalist Boston wished to perpetuate their names and 
glorify their city by mansions, churches, and public 
buildings of a new style and magnificence. Luckily, 
among their number was a young man who had the 
training and the genius to guide this impulse into fruit- 
ful and worthy channels. Charles Bulfinch, in con- 
trast to Mclntire, had every advantage of birth, 
wealth, and education. The son and grandson of prom- 
inent physicians, he graduated at Harvard in 1781, and 
was sent to France and England for five years' study of 
architecture. On his return, in 1786, he found Boston 
more concerned in preserving its existing property 
from Dan Shays, than ambitious to build. With un- 
erring instinct, he helped to launch the very voyage 
whose consequences made his career. The Columbia's 
great adventure was planned at his father's house, and 
Charles Bulfinch himself was one of her owners. 



The merchants were soon ready for new houses, and 
the cramped condition of Boston compelled them to 
economize space. Only in "West Boston" (Cambridge 
Street) and Beacon Hill ("out of town") was it still 
possible to erect detached mansions. Hence the first 
important commission that came to young Bulfinch 
was to design the first solid block of residences in New 
England, the Tontine Crescent on Franklin Place. 1 

Crescents are common enough in English cities ; but 
none had yet been built when Bulfinch sailed for 
Boston. He may have seen a design for one by the 
Adam brothers, who taught him his sense of propor- 
tion, as they inspired Mclntire's detail. Whatever the 
source, Bulfinch's handling of the problem was mas- 
terly. Sixteen three-story brick houses were built ac- 
cording to a plan that showed uniformity without tire- 
some repetition. The entrances were grouped by twos, 
the end groups advanced six feet beyond the others, 
and adorned by pilasters. Instead of breaking the 
crescent in its center, where another street entered 
Franklin Place, Bulfinch arched it over with a library, 
whose classic columns, Venetian window, and attic 
story pleasantly broke the uniform line of roofs. The 
middle of the oval in front was occupied by a grass 
plot and trees, with a classic urn in memory of Frank- 
lin ; the opposite side was filled with another harmoni- 
ous group of dwellings, and the approaches were given 
distinction by Boston's first theater, and first Catholic 
cathedral church, which the young master designed. 
The general effect of Franklin Place, as of all the Bul- 
finch school, suggests London of the Regency; but 
loyal Bostonians prefer to compare London to Boston 
and the chronology bears them out ! 

Bulfinch also designed a new form of detached man- 

1 On the site of the curved portion of Franklin Street. 


sion for the wide, elm-shaded spaces on Summer 
Street, and for Beacon Hill, where residences were 
springing up on the sunny slope of Copley's pasture. 
Bulfinch relieved the square mass of Georgian tradi- 
tion by a bow in the center of side or rear, making 
place on the ground story for an elliptical dining-room. 
The best example, still extant, is the Governor Gore 
mansion at Waltham. His later city houses gained 
light and distinction by a double bow or swell front, 
accentuated by pilasters reaching to the cornice. 

As architect of public buildings, from the capital 
at Augusta to that of Washington, no American save 
Stanford White has ever surpassed Bulfinch. The 
Boston State House (1795), with its gilded dome, is 
his most famous early work; one should visit the old 
Representatives', and present Senate Chamber, to 
appreciate the full measure of his genius at the age of 
thirty-two. In his later work, like the New South 
Meeting-House (1814), and University Hall at Harvard 
(1815), he found in hammered granite a fit medium 
for his chaste lines, as a gray dress for a Puritan maiden. 
Most interesting of his public works, from our view- 
point, was the brick block of thirty-two stores, with 
counting-rooms or warehouses overhead, which he 
designed for the new India Wharf in 1805, giving the 
water-front an air of. solidity and permanence more 
common to European than American ports. 1 It was 
the boldest bit of harbor development yet undertaken 
in the United States. Sixty years later, Atlantic 
Avenue ploughed its way through the middle of India 
Wharf, disrupting the graceful archway with attic 
story that broke the long slate roof. The remaining 
portion, its red brick mellowed by the east wind, still 

1 A part of India Wharf may be seen at the right of the photograph 
of shipping in chapter xxu. 



maintains a frigate-like dignity amid motor trucks 
and excursion steamers. 

In repairing and enlarging old buildings, like Christ 
Church and Faneuil Hall, Bulfinch showed a reverence 
for the old forms, of which his own work seemed a 
natural development. He and his school gave Boston 
architecture a stamp of distinction that even the imita- 
tors of Romanesque, Gothic, and French Renaissance 
have been unable wholly to efface. One is tempted 
to ascribe his pure taste and perfect proportion to an 
ocean origin; but, curiously enough, land architecture 
grew steadily worse in Massachusetts as naval archi- 
tecture reached perfection in the clipper ships. 

Boston society differed from that of Salem, as the 
graceful curves of Bulfinch 's dining-rooms and spiral 
staircases differ from the straight lines of Mclntire's 
interiors. Boston society was less simple, both in its 
manners and its composition ; and quite as aristocratic 
as that of Philadelphia or London. "The better people 
are all aristocrats," wrote John Singleton Copley, Jr., 
from Boston in 1796. " My father is too rank a Jacobin 
to live among them." Well-to-do professional men like 
Harrison Gray Otis, Federalist politicians like Josiah 
Quincy, retired capitalists like Christopher Gore, and 
wealthy shopkeepers like Samuel Eliot and David 
Sears, formed as conspicuous a portion of the social 
upper crust as merchant-shipowners; and few names 
were included which had risen to prominence since the 
Revolution. Social life was formal and brilliant, with 
private balls and cotillion parties, and immense din- 
ners. Several merchants maintained country seats in 
the neighborhood, like their colonial forbears; but most 
of them found Boston a good enough summer resort. 
Few traces of Puritanism were left among the gentry. 
It was a period of religious tolerance, before Protestant 



and Catholic had renewed, or Orthodox and Unitarian 
begun their quarrels. But political feeling was ex- 
ceedingly bitter, and any deviation from Federalist 
orthodoxy was punished by social ostracism. East- 
India voyages seemed to mellow manners, and Madeira 
wine; but to sharpen political prejudices. 

The merchants themselves did not form a social 
unit, as in smaller towns. Their portraits by Gilbert 
Stuart have a sort of family likeness, a complacent air 
and ruddy face suggesting a seafaring youth, with a 
plenty of "choice old London particular," that had 
passed the equator four times before its final ripening 
under the eaves. Those who inherited wealth, or had 
begun business before the Revolution, were more highly 
regarded than the self-made man who had traced new 
trade-routes; but certain families combined both dis- 
tinctions. There was a distinct class of merchant 
princes, who lived in magnificent style, surrounded 
by suggestions of Oriental opulence. The Honorable 
Thomas Russell was a sort of marshal of this mer- 
cantile nobility, and passed on his baton to Thomas 
Handasyd Perkins. On a social pinnacle of their own 
making were the mercantile emigres from Essex 
County the Lowells, the Higginsons, and the Jack- 
sons, who (according to Colonel Henry Lee) "came 
up from Newburyport to Boston, social and kindly 
people, inclined to make acquaintances and mingle 
with the world pleasantly. But they got some Cabot 
wives, who shut them up." Another distinct group 
was composed of plain, hard-working men, toilsomely 
accumulating a fortune and a name ; men like Nathan- 
iel Goddard, of a poor farmer's family of Brookline, 
who made his first capital by tending a lonely trad- 
ing post on Passamaquoddy Bay; Josiah Marshall, a 
farmer's boy from Billerica, who attained Franklin 



Place via Coast and Islands; Josiah Bradlee, the most 
extensive advertiser in the Federal press, spending in 
his entire lifetime, from 1778 to 1860, but one night 
outside Boston, and that at Nahant; a merchant of 
whom it was said that if he sent a shingle afloat on 
the ebb tide bearing a pebble, it would return on the 
flood, freighted with a silver dollar! 

The merchant princes clung to the ways and fashions 
of colonial days, or of 1790 at the latest, unwilling to 
admit even by the cut of a waistcoat that Robespierre 
could change their world. At eight or eight- thirty the 
well-to-do Boston merchant appeared among his fam- 
ily in China silk dressing-gown and cap, as Copley had 
painted his father. Short family prayers, and a hearty 
breakfast by a blazing hickory fire. Then the mysteries 
of the toilet, performed by body servant or, preferably, 
by a neighborhood Figaro, a San Domingo refugee who 
discreetly gossips while he performs the rite of shav- 
ing. Hair is dressed, tied in a queue, and powdered; 
unless there is a white wig to be nicely adjusted. A 
fresh white cravat with long lapels, is folded and skill- 
fully tied. Then for the nether limbs. Linen drawers 
are tied down, silk stockings pulled up smooth, and gar- 
tered against all chance of ungentlemanly wrinkling; 
buff nankeen breeches arranged neatly over them and 
silver buckle drawn tight. Low-hung waistcoat and 
broad-skirted coat of light-colored broadcloth come 
next. After a few parting suggestions to his lady, 
Master takes a stout gold-headed Malacca- joint cane, 
three-cornered hat, scarlet cloak if chilly, and sallies 
forth on foot, followed by Cicero, the colored butler, 
with huge market-basket. For it is the simple custom 
of the day, on one's way to business, to choose the 
materials for one's dinner, in the neighborhood of 
Faneuil Hall. 



Suppose one of those sharp, bright winter days, fol- 
lowing a fresh snowfall that has etched the outlines of 
new brick shops and black old gabled houses with high 
lights. Huge"pungs" (ox- or horse-drawn sledges) , the 
connecting links between ocean commerce and New 
England farms, are drawn up in Dock Square three 
deep and piled high with butter, cheeses, fresh and 
salt meat, game, winter vegetables, wooden ware, and 
barrels of cider and perry, from some of which small 
boys are sucking through a straw until the owner 
shouts "Hey, you've had your penny-worth!" 
Through this cheerful activity strolls our merchant, 
and having chosen his joint and poultry and game 
and fixings, sends his servant home, and continues 
to his counting-room on India Wharf, or near by. 

If it is winter, there is not much to do; for the larger 
vessels are away; but there are always accounts to be 
made up, tea and silks to be withdrawn from bond, and 
plans for next season discussed with master builders. 
At eleven, Henry the chief clerk mixes a stiff jorum of 
Jamaica rum, to get himself and master through the 
morning. At half-after twelve or one, the business 
day ends, save for the genial institution of 'Change. 
This is a meeting of all the merchants, on the sidewalk 
of State Street if weather permits, otherwise in tavern 
or insurance office, to talk shop, ships, and politics 
for a half-hour or so. 

By two o'clock the merchant is at home again, and 
at two-thirty comes dinner. Perhaps it is a formal 
feast, in the oval dining-room, with some fellow-mer- 
chants, a state senator or two, a judge, and their re- 
spective ladies; begun by a hot punch handed to the 
gentlemen in a China loving-cup; continued through 
several substantial courses, washed down with sherry, 
madeira, and (rarely) champagne; prolonged into can- 


dlelight after the ladies retire and the cloth is removed, 
by port, brandy, political gossip, and damning the 
Jacobins. If an ordinary family dinner, it is followed 
by a sleigh-ride, or, in long summer days, a family 
drive in coach or high English phaeton, behind fat 
bays, to take tea and fruit at some country seat 
with Harry Otis at Oakley, or Kitty Gore at Waltham, 
or John Lowell at Roxbury, or Ben Bussey at Jamaica 
Plain. A ball or evening supper party, perhaps; other- 
wise a cold supper and glass of madeira at home, ' and 
so to bed.' 

Federalist Boston was full of small gentlemen's 
clubs, which met at each others' houses or at taverns, 
for evening talk and cheer. Several of them were fire 
societies, each member maintaining a pair of leathern 
buckets, a canvas bag for saving valuables, and a bed 
key; which articles had to be solemnly inspected every 
so often, as an excuse for a party. In addition, there 
were large public dinners, followed by formal toasts, 
accompanied by music, and (on the Fourth) discharges 
of artillery such as the annual feast of shells on 
Forefathers' Day, the festivities of election week, and 
the annual dinner of the Boston Marine Society. The 
meetings of this society were common ground where all 
Bostonians interested in seaborne commerce met. The 
secretary describes it in 1811 as "composed of upwards 
of one hundred former shipmasters who have retired 
from sea with adequate fortunes, many of whom are 
largely interested in the insurance offices and as under- 
writers, and about fifty of the most respectable mer- 
chants and shipowners and gentlemen of the highest 
stations in the commonwealth. The rest of the Soci- 
ety is composed of the more active and younger mari- 
ners who still follow the seas as a professional business." 
These last were the men who made the name of Bos- 



ton famous from Archangel to Smyrna, and east by 
west to the River Plate and Calcutta. Too busy, as 
yet, to care for social life or Bulfinch mansions, the 
next generation was their harvest season. 



ON March 17, 1784, Mr. John Rowe, of Boston, mer- 
chant, arose from his seat in the Representatives' Hall 
of the Old State House, and offered a motion, "That 
leave might be given to hang up the representation 
of a Codfish in the room where the House sit, as a 
memorial of the importance of the Cod-Fishery to the 
welfare of this Commonwealth, as had been usual 
formerly.'* Leave was accordingly granted; and the 
same wooden emblem presented by genial Johnny 
Rowe, having followed the Great and General Court to 
Beacon Hill, still faces the Speaker's desk. 

Massachusetts still retains her supremacy in the 
American codfisheries; but in 1790 this industry was 
in the parlous state that the war had left it. Relief 
came quickly from the federal government. On July 4, 
1789, Congress granted a bounty of five cents on every 
quintal of dried fish or barrel of pickled fish exported. 
Elbridge Gerry, of Marblehead, and Benjamin Good- 
hue, of Salem, had a good deal to do with obtaining this 
favor; but there was no opposition from other parts of 
the country. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, of South 
Carolina, in the debates of the ratifying convention 
in his state, had generously urged the distress of the 
New England fisheries as a reason for closer union. 
In 1791, the General Court of Massachusetts begged 
additional protection. Thomas Jefferson, Secretary 
of State, issued a friendly but rather non-committal 
report ; but Senator George Cabot, formerly the owner 



of Beverly fishermen, framed and put through the act 
of February 9, 1792, granting a bounty of one dollar 
to two dollars and a half per ton (depending on the 
size) to vessels engaged in the codfishery four months 
in the year; three-eighths of the bounty to go to the 
owner, the rest to be divided among the crew. 

Under the influence of federal bounties, and the 
general expansion of commerce in the late eighteenth 
century, the Massachusetts codfishery began to look 
up again. The tonnage of her fishing fleet (including 
that of Maine) gradually increased from about 10,000 
in 1790 to 62,000 in 1807, when Jefferson's embargo 
brought another check. 

The Grand Banks of Newfoundland fisheries were 
renewed in what was left of the pre-Revolutionary 
fleet old-fashioned barrel-bottomed schooners of 
not over seventy tons, called "heel-tappers" on ac- 
count of their low waists and high quarterdecks. 1 
Fishermen, the most conservative of seafarers, seem 
to have made no improvement in their models until 
after 1815. Methods were unchanged. Bankers made 
two or three fishing trips a year. The spring fare was 
either brought home in time for election day (the last 
Wednesday in May), or dried on "any of the unsettled 
bays, harbors and creeks of Nova Scotia, Magdalen 
Islands and Labrador," as Article III of the Treaty 
of Peace (thanks to John Adams) permitted, but most 
of the curing was done on the sands or ledges of the 
home port. 

The only innovation of the Federalist period was a 
wider range. The "Bay" (of Chaleur) and Labrador 
shore fisheries, secured in the same treaty, were first 

1 One of these tubby schooners is depicted in the foreground of the 
Salem Marine Society Certificate, in chapter vn. The old fireboard op- 
posite shows two of them at anchor in Marblehead Harbor. 



visited shortly after the war, and immediately became 
popular. Almost a thousand sail passed through the 
Strait of Canso in 1807, outward bound 

Where Anticosti lies 
Like a fell spider in its web of fog, . . . 
And frost-rimmed bays and trading stations seem 
Familiar as Great Neck and Kettle Cove, 
Nubble and Boon, the common names of home. 

On Sundays, the New England fishermen "swarmed 
like flies " on the shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, said 
a British observer, whose reports were largely responsi- 
ble for his government's efforts to restrict these grounds 
in the negotiations at Ghent. By 1808, three-quarters 
of the dried fish exported from Massachusetts came 
from the Bay and Labrador coast; less than one-quar- 
ter from the Grand Banks, which required larger ves- 
sels and more expensive outfits. The Bank fishermen, 
however, were able to export their own fares, when 
cured, to France, Spain, Portugal, or the West Indies 
in the winter season. 

Encouragement of the New England fisheries was 
often justified on the ground that they contributed 
both men and vessels to the navy and merchant ma- 
rine. In time of war, when unarmed Bankers would fall 
certain prey to the enemy, their crews perforce enlisted 
in the navy or on a privateer. But on the merchant 
marine their influence was slight, except in so far as 
their produce furnished freight and a medium for trade. 
The more ambitious youths of fishing towns entered 
the merchant marine Captain Cressy, for instance, 
of the Flying Cloud clipper, was a Marblehead boy. 
But notwithstanding popular belief and congressional 
oratory, ex-fishermen were seldom found among the 
crews of deep-sea merchantmen, at any period of our 



history. 1 "They make troublesome merchantmen/' 
writes Bentley of the Marblehead fishermen in 1816. 
11 But no men are equal to them in the things they know 
how to do from habit." 

Fishing was a specialized form of maritime enter- 
prise. The small amount of capital required, the short 
voyages (enabling a man to live at home with his 
family at least half the year), and the share system of 
rewarding crews, appealed to a class of men who could 
not afford the expense of mercantile ventures, and would 
not submit to the wage system, the discipline, and the 
lengthy voyages of merchant vessels. The Yankee liked 
fishing ' on his own hook ' the phrase originated 
here, before the Revolution, to describe a system in 
which each member of the crew supplied his own gear, 
bedding, and food. Fishermen had their own customs 
and costumes, 2 types and traditions which were handed 
down from generation to generation. 

A fisherman's son was predestined to the sea. As 
soon as he could walk, he swarmed over every Banker 
or Chebacco boat that came into port, began 'hand- 
lining ' for cunners off wharves and ledges, and begging 
older boys to teach him to row. At six he was already 
some aid in curing the catch, and he helped his mother 
with the household work, in order to qualify as sea- 
cook. Boys of nine to twelve years did the cooking in 
Marblehead and Gloucester fishermen at this period, 

1 R. B. Forbes is most emphatic on this point. Captain Arthur H. 
Clark backs him up. The author of The Mate and his Duties (Liver- 
pool, 1855), p. 24, states, "It is in general much easier to make a good 
sailor out of a landsman than a fisherman." Fishermen were not used to 
discipline or to quick movements, and were apt to shy at laying out on 

2 The New England fisherman's costume, until about 1830, when 
oilskins were adopted, was a sheep- or goat-skin jacket, and 'barvel' 
(leather apron), baggy calfskin trousers, yellow cowhide "churn boots," 
and tarred canvas hat, shaped like the modern sou'wester. 



and on Cape-Codders even later. After a voyage or two 
he handed over his cooking utensils a single iron 
pot and long spoon to a younger brother or cousin, 
became an apprentice, learned the secrets of luring 
codfish to hook, and the art of heading, splitting, and 
salting with quick precision. A strong boy of fifteen or 
sixteen might be as accomplished a fisherman as any; 
a ' high-liner ' of the fleet. To save enough to acquire 
a fishing vessel, and live ashore on her earnings, was 
his highest ambition. Otherwise he grew gray in the 
service of the sea. When rheumatic arms could no 
longer haul on sheet or cable, and eyes grew dim from 
straining through night, fog, and easterlies, he retired 
from deep waters, and puttered about with lobstering, 
shore fishing, or clam-digging. 

Marblehead, a scant three miles from Salem, was 
as different in its appearance, its commerce, and the 
character of its people, as if it lay overseas. Built on 
ground so hilly and boulder-strewn that there seemed 
hardly place for the weather-beaten houses ; peopled by 
descendants of the peculiar old stock ; the harbor open 
to northeast gales, which sent in great wicked rollers 
that tore up the stoutest ground tackle; Marblehead 
yet remained the premier fishing port of Massachu- 

Few seaport towns in America had lost more by 
the Revolution. Before the war, Marblehead had 
rivaled Salem in population and foreign commerce. 
But 'King' Hooper and Benjamin Marston had be- 
come tories, and the elder Ornes, Lees, Pedricks, and 
Gerrys had died or removed to more prosperous cen- 
ters. Their sons remained (for this being Marblehead 
the ordinary laws of emigration did not hold) ; but they 
had no capital to renew the foreign trade; and indeed 
it would have been useless to compete with Salem. 



. ~-J . 




; iu' \ii-K:i:\i)A.\ii{uasJ) MAIM i.\ 



There was nothing left but the fisheries, and even they 
were at the lowest ebb. Average gross earnings per 
vessel had fallen from $483 in 1787 to $273 in 1789. 
There were 459 widows and 865 orphans, mostly de- 
pendent for support on the taxpayers, in this town of 
5500 people. Houses and fish sheds were tumbling to 
pieces, and the sea threatened to make a clean breach 
through the Neck and ruin the harbor. 

Marblehead stiffened her back, organized a lottery 
to relieve the poor, founded an academy in time to fit 
Joseph Story for college, acquired a bank and insur- 
ance company, and was rewarded with a partial return 
of prosperity. Her fishing schooners were the largest 
and best of the New England fleet. With the aid of 
small brigantines and topsail schooners like the Raven, 
their local catch was exported to France, Spain, and 
the West Indies, where high prices prevailed. "We 
got about one dollar for every fish we carried out" to 
Bilbao, one voyage, remembered an old fisherman. 

When the Napoleonic wars raised freights to un- 
heard-of figures, the Marblehead schooners and brig- 
antines from seventy-five to one hundred and fifty tons 
burthen found it profitable to engage in the carrying 
trade. In 1 792, Marblehead had only three entries from 
Europe; in 1805, the old impost book at the custom 
house records sixteen entries from Bilbao, one from 
Lisbon, four from Bordeaux, three from Nantes, one 
from La Rochelle, one from Alicante, two from Tonning 
(Holstein), one from St. Petersburg, and eight, with 
salt, from the Cape Verde Islands. In addition, there 
were the same year ten entries from Martinique, three 
from Havana, and one each from Guadeloupe and 
Dominica. In 1806, Marblehead had her first entry 
from the East Indies; the brigantine Orient (187 tons), 
Edmund Bray master, from Calcutta, with cottons, 



gunny bags, ginger, sugar, segars, bandannas, carpets, 
cords and blinds for Robert Hooper and several others. 
The customs duties annually collected at this little 
port rose from $22,300 in 1801 to $156,000 in 1807, 
when her fleet had a tonnage of 21,068; more than 
half that of Salem, but less than Newburyport or New 

Notwithstanding these impressive figures, 1 Marble- 
head never recovered her provincial affluence. Her 
newly won wealth went mostly to swell Salem and 
Boston fortunes. Her fishermen, less thrifty than the 
Puritan stock of Beverly and Cape Cod, frolicked 
away every winter the remembrance of their summer 
toils, and kept in debt to the vessel owners. Her popu- 
lation increased only by 239 souls from 1790 to 1810, 
which means, in view of the notoriously large families 
of Marblehead fishermen, that considerable emigration 
took place. 

Jefferson's embargo achieved the ruin of Marblehead 
as the first fishing port of New England ; and the War 
of 1812 found her much as the Revolution had left 
her, poor but proud, sullen but excitable. Happy the 
visiting 'furriner' from Salem, Lynn, or Boston, who 
escaped a 'squaeling' from her 'ragged urchins!' 2 
In 1808 occurred the regrettable incident of Skipper 
Benjamin (not Floyd) Ireson, for his crew's cowardice 
and lying (not for his hard heart), tarred and feathered 
and carried in a dory (not cart) by the fishermen (not 

1 Due partly to Oriental imports in Boston vessels, consigned to 
Boston and other outside merchants. One such cargo, in the ship Liver- 
pool Packet, W. T. Magee master, from Canton, consigned to George 
W. Lyman and James Morgan, paid over $72,500 duties in 1811. 

2 'Squaeling,' in Marblehead dialect, meant hurling a stone, or other 
hard object. " I don't remember any one being squaeled," said an old 
lady of Marblehead to a friend of mine not many years ago "unless 
't were a Lynn man!" she added, thoughtfully. 



the women) of Marblehead. Mr. Roads told the facts 
in his history, and Mr. Whittier acknowledged, "I 
have no doubt that thy version of Skipper Ireson's 
ride is the correct one." 

T'other side Salem from Marblehead, not fifteen 
minutes' ride across Essex Bridge (completed in 1788 at 
the colossal cost of sixteen thousand dollars), was the 
ancient town of Beverly. Here were the stately homes 
of the Cabots, Lees, and Thorndikes, who, in combina- 
tion with the clever lawyers of Newburyport, the ora- 
tors of Boston, and the tea barons of Salem, controlled 
Massachusetts politics for the coming generation. 
History has not been kind to Beverly. After teaching 
Boston how to bake beans, the metropolis usurped the 
credit. After showing Salem how to fish and privateer, 
the larger port absorbed her neighbor in 1789 as a place 
of entry and registry. But the records of the state 
custom house, during the 'critical period,' throw light 
on her commercial economy. Apart from the operations 
of her distinguished triumvirate, Beverly was a fishing 
port, and the only fishing port which by 1790 had in- 
creased her catch and tonnage over pre- Revolutionary 
figures. In 1785, she was the proud possessor of thirty 
schooners and a sloop, from twenty to fifty tons bur- 
then, including two Pollys two Larks, three Betsys, 
three Swallows, a Two Friends, a Three Friends, a Three 
Brothers, an Industry, a Cicero, and a Hannah. Every 
summer they made from two to four fares of fish, and 
every winter traded with the South and the West 
Indies, and the Cape Verde Islands. Within ten years 
Beverly's tonnage had doubled. Dr. Dwight, of Yale, 
judged her fishermen "distinguished for good order, 
industry, sober manners, and sound morals." The 
records of the Beverly Farms Social Library, organized 
in 1806, bear him out; for we find that Skipper Charles 



Dodge took to sea with him Bishop Gardiner's 'Life,' 
Henry's 'Meditations,' and Baxter's 'Saints' Rest'; 
while Skipper Gamaliel Ober, for light summer read- 
ing on the Grand Banks, chose Jonathan Edwards on 
' Religious Affections,' the third volume of Josephus, 
and Drelincourt on ' Death/ 

Whilst Marblehead reverted from trading to fishing, 
and back again, Gloucester declined as a fishing port, 
but revived her foreign trade. In 1790, she already 
owned four ships, nine brigs, and twenty-three schoon- 
ers, beside fishing vessels. Gloucester's specialty was 
a commerce in fish and molasses with Surinam. Why 
Gloucester should have gotten a grip on this trade, 
which was common to all the fishing ports in colonial 
days, is a mystery; but certain it is that until well on in 
the nineteenth century, Gloucester vessels were better 
known in Dutch Guiana than those of any other North 
American port. The wealthier merchant families of 
Gloucester Harbor Sargents and Parsons and Pearces 
- aspired to higher things. They formed an asso- 
ciation to carry on the East-India trade in the ship 
Winthrop and Mary, but the total loss of this vessel on 
her homeward passage from Sumatra in 1800 ended 
the experiment. Nevertheless, Gloucester was a thriv- 
ing and prosperous town in the Federalist period, boast- 
ing a bank with a vault carved out of solid rock, a 
schoolhouse with cupola, and a two-story "artillery 
house" or armory, with four field pieces and a bell pro- 
cured from Denmark. "They excell in their parties, 
their clubs, and also in their military parades," wrote 
Dr. Bentley, after being entertained by the Gloucester 
people in 1799. 

Inability to man her Bankers, owing to the popular- 
ity of the Bay, Labrador, and offshore fisheries, was 
responsible for Gloucester's temporary decline as a 



fishing port. These minor fisheries were the specialty 
of Gallop's, Folly, Pigeon, Long, and Loblolly coves 
on Sandy Bay and the north side of Cape Ann. 1 They 
were prosecuted not in Bankers of a size requiring capi- 
talist backing, but in smaller boats, which the fisher- 
men themselves could build and own on shares. The 
typical Cape Ann fishing vessel of the Federalist period 
was a Chebacco boat (ancestor of the Down East 
* pinkies' of to-day) so called from the Chebacco 
Parish of Ipswich where the type was invented and 
built. Double-ended, 'pink' (sharp) sterned, rigged 
with two pole masts, stepped well forward so that 
no headsail was needed, and not over thirty feet long, 
the Chebacco boats were easy to handle and rode 
the waves like a duck. They were seaworthy enough 
for a Labrador voyage, but for the most part sought 
cod, haddock, or pollock on the banks and submerged 
ledges along the Maine coast, or within a hundred 
miles of Eastern Point Old Man's Pasture, Matinicus 
Sou' Sou' West, Spot o' Rocks, Saturday Night Ledge, 
Kettle Bottom, Cashe's Ledge, and the Fippennies. 
In 1792, Cape Ann owned one hundred and thirty- 
three Chebacco boats of eleven tons burthen on an 
average; and by 1804 the number had increased to 
two hundred and the tonnage doubled. 

Yet the Cape Ann fishermen were as a class miser- 
ably poor, and generally in debt to some storekeeper 
at Gloucester Harbor. The picturesque coves where 
their tiny cottages clustered, afforded poor anchor- 
age and protection. At any sign of a northeast storm 
every Chebacco boat had to leave its tree-root moor- 

1 These villages were all in the township of Gloucester, until 1840, 
when some of them were set off as the town of Rockport. Gloucester 
village, now the city, was called "The Harbor," to distinguish it from 
other villages in the township. 



ing, and slip around Cape Ann, to the protection of 
Gloucester Harbor. 

Chebacco (incorporated as a town of Essex in 1819) 
owned a fleet of about forty local boats. At Ipswich, up 
a narrow, winding river where nothing larger than a 
motor boat ventures nowadays, the Parleys, Tread- 
wells, Lakemans, and others owned a fleet of Bankers, 
Bay fishermen, and West-Indiamen. In ascending the 
river, they had to be warped around Nabby's Point by 
cables bent onto iron rings set in the rocks. Ipswich, 
in spite of her lace industry and fishing fleet, was 
somewhat of a decayed town during the Federalist 
period; an example of what Salem would have been 
without the East-India trade. 

Reserving Newburyport for another chapter, let 
us coast by the fishing ports south of Boston. The 
South Shore was at a standstill during the Federalist 
period; but whatever life it had came from fishing. 
Cohasset with but 817 inhabitants in 1790, barely 
passed the thousand mark in 1820. Scituate increased 
by less than three hundred between 1776 and 1810. 
"The whole region," observed Dr. Dwight, "wears re- 
markably the appearance of stillness and retirement; 
and the inhabitants seem to be separated, in a great 
measure, from all active intercourse with their coun- 
try." But Dr. Dwight did not visit the active ship- 
yards on the upper North River. Plymouth Bay was 
slightly more progressive; but the combined popula- 
tion of Duxbury, Kingston, and Plymouth, including 
considerable farming country, hardly exceeded that of 
Marblehead or Gloucester in 1800, and "about half 
the inhabitants live by husbandry." Their fleet was 
almost annihilated by the Revolution. Before the 
war, these towns marketed their catch at the West 
Indies or through Boston, but about 1790 a Plymouth 



merchant opened an export trade to the Mediterra- 
nean. Plymouth Bay then built up a considerable fleet 
- sixty-two schooners of thirty-eight to one hundred 
and thirty-six tons burthen by 1807. Two of them 
belonged to Joshua Winsor, of Duxbury, whose house, 
warehouse, wharf, and other possessions are shown in 
the attached illustration, the work of some itinerant 
painter. Fish-flakes of the ancient pattern woven 
platforms of alder branches, on posts about thirty 
inches above the ground lined the shores for two 
miles either side of Plymouth Rock. And as a neutral 
trading port, Plymouth Bay was not far behind 
Marblehead. 1 

Cape Cod, which had never permitted the war to 
shake its thrift and frugality, recovered a modest 
prosperity through a combination of fishing and salt- 
making. This latter industry began at Dennis early 
in the Revolution, when the British fleet cut off 
our supply of salt a necessity for curing fish, and 
preserving meat in pre-cold-storage days. After the 
war, it was necessary to cheapen the process in order 
to compete with imports. One Cape-Codder har- 
nessed the wind, to save pumping; and another har- 
nessed the sun, with an ingenious arrangement of 
wooden vats and sliding covers, to save fuel. By 1800 
there were one hundred and thirty-six salt-works be- 
tween Sandwich and Provincetown, yielding twenty- 
five to thirty-three per cent profit from their sales of 
marine and Glauber salts, despite the heavy imports 
from Maia, Lisbon, and Turks Island. Dr. Dwight 
in his travels was impressed by the "tidy, comfortable 
appearance" of the Cape Cod cottages, and with the 
surprisingly fruitful yield of Cape Cod agriculture. 
Barnstable, for instance, exported about fifteen thou- 
1 See below, chapter xn. 


sand bushels of flax annually. "But husbandry is 
pursued with little spirit/* wrote the minister of 
Chatham; "the people in general passing the flower of 
their lives at sea, which they do not quit till they are 
fifty years of age, leaving at home none but the old men 
and small boys to cultivate the ground." In Wood's 
Hole, Barnstable, and other harbors vessels were 
fitted for combination fishing and whaling voyages, 
sailing to the Gulf of St. Lawrence prepared to catch 
anything from a herring to a Greenland whale. The 
population of Cape Cod increased from seventeen 
thousand in 1790 to twenty-two thousand in 1810; and 
the fishing fleet in proportion. But Province town, in 
1810, still had less than one thousand inhabitants; and 
Cape civilization did not reach full bloom for another 

Going fishing or to sea was looked forward to by 
every Cape Cod boy. Elijah Cobb, later an eminent 
Brewster shipmaster, embarked at Namskaket on the 
packet-schooner Creture in 1783, to seek his fortune at 
Boston, paying his passage with two bushels of home- 
grown corn. He felt lucky to be shipped as cook and 
cabin boy for Surinam, at $3. 50 per month; and brought 
his mother twenty silver dollars, more than she had 
seen since the death of her husband at sea, years be- 
fore. Osborne Howes, a prominent Boston merchant 
of Cape origin, describes the thrifty life in a North 
Dennis shipmaster's family, about 1812. Deborah, his 
mother, made all the clothing for herself and the five 
children. Cotton and wool were purchased in Boston, 
and made into yarn on the family spinning-wheel 
during the winter. When the days became longer, she 
and the older children spent an hour or more weaving 
every morning before feeding the stock or preparing 
breakfast; and in this way every child had a new 



woolen kersey suit, and two of striped or checked 
cotton cloth every year. Yet she was always bright 
and joyous, and received or gave visits three or four 
times a week. The Cape had to work hard for its daily 
bread, but what it got was good. The minister of 
Chatham gives us the typical menu of fishermen's 
families, toward the end of the eighteenth century. 
Breakfast: tea or coffee, brown bread (of home-grown 
'rye and injun'), and salt or fresh fish. Dinner: one 
or more of the following dishes: roots and herbs, 
boiled salt meat, wild fowl in autumn, fresh fish, boiled 
or fried with pork, shellfish, boiled salt fish, indian 
pudding, pork and beans. Supper: the same as break- 
fast, plus cheese, cakes, gingerbread, and pie. "Some 
have pie for breakfast." Thank God for that! 

" In the seaports of Massachusetts Bay, one-quarter 
of the people live on fresh fish," wrote Stephen Higgin- 
son in 1775. Every seaside village sheltered a number 
of boat fishermen, who supplied the population with 
fresh fish, especially in the winter season. Of this in- 
dustry no statistics and few records have been pre- 
served. Every locality had its favorite type of boat, 
the larger using the mainsail and foresail rig of the 
Chebacco boats (as shown in the picture of Mr. 
Joshua Winsor's house at Duxbury and the wood cut 
of Provincetown in 1839); the smaller hoisting a 
spritsail, as shown on the certificate of the Salem 
Marine Society. One also finds frequent mention of 
canoes, 1 but whether these were dugouts, such as the 

1 For instance, "Went adrift, a small canoe last week, supposed to 
have been taken up by some Vessel a spritsail, driver and Gibb, 
two oars, &c on board." (Boston Independent Chronicle, July 2, 1798.) 
The birch-bark canoe was very little used in colonial Massachusetts, 
which lay south of the range of the canoe birch. The square-sterned skiffs 
carried at the taffrail on seagoing vessels, as shown in several of our il- 
lustrations, were called "Moses boats." 



colonists used, or whether the name had been trans- 
ferred to a small type of lapstreak boat, I have been 
unable to ascertain. On Cape Ann, when winter kept 
the Chebacco boats at home, the Sandy Bay boys put 
out in small flat-bottomed wherries, ancestors of the 
modern dory, and sold their catch to local storekeepers. 
Swampscott, a snug little village on the bight between 
Marblehead and Nahant, used a similar model to 
supply the shoemakers of Lynn. Cape Cod and Buz- 
zard's Bay used the lapstreak, round-bottomed whale- 
boat, and the Block Island or Vineyard sailboat, a 
fast, able flat-bottomed type with a Chebacco rig. 

We must not forget the humble shellfish, whose 
praises were sung by William Wood in his "New 
England's Prospect ": 

The luscious Lobster, with the Crabfish raw, 
The Brinish Oister, Muscle, Periwigge, 
And Tortoise sought for by the Indian Squaw, 
Which to the flats daunce many a winters Jigge, 
To dive for Codes, and to digge for Clamms, 
Whereby her lazie husbands guts shee cramms. 

Wellfleet, on Cape Cod, specialized in oysters. The 
enterprising people of this place, when some marine 
epidemic depleted their oyster-beds, procured fresh 
stock from Chesapeake Bay; and by 1800 some sixty 
thousand bivalves were annually transplanted in order 
to acquire the Wellfleet flavor. When properly fat- 
tened, they were transported by locally owned vessels 
to the markets of Boston, Salem, and Portland. 

Swampscott claims the invention of the lobster 
trap in 1808, previous to which one could pick up 
enough lobsters at low tide to supply the Boston mar- 
ket. Orleans specialized in the humble industry of clam- 
digging, the product of which, shucked and salted 
and packed into barrels, provided bait for codfishing. 



Another Cape industry which profited by the shipping 
expansion of Federalist days was " moon-cursing," or 
plundering wrecks. Gossipy Dr. Bentley, apropos the 
snowstorm of 180.2 in which several of his parishioners 
were lost on Peaked Hill Bar, recalled the story of the 
Reverend Mr. Lewis of Wellfleet. During his sermon 
one Sabbath, this sporting parson saw through the 
window a vessel going ashore. He stopped his ser- 
mon, descended the pulpit stairs, and with a shout 
of " Start fair!" led his congregation pell-mell out of 
the meeting-house door. A few years later, Dr. Bent- 
ley had to acknowledge his Cape Ann neighbors no 
greater respecters of flotsam than the men of Cape 
Cod. A richly laden East-Indiaman, running ashore 
on Thatcher's, was quickly relieved of her cargo. But 
note the inexorable workings of divine justice. The 
local market became so glutted with India cottons that 
the wreckers' wives could sell no product of their looms 
for almost a year! 

Dark traditions have come down of the inhabitants 
of Cuttyhunk and Tarpaulin Cove, decoying vessels 
ashore by false lights, and murdering the crew. But 
the people of Cape Cod and Cape Ann always treated 
shipwrecked mariners with the utmost humanity. 
Zachary G. Lamson, in his autobiography, describes 
running ashore on the back side of Cape Cod, on the 
last night of the year 1801. The schooner drove over 
the shoals onto the beach, so that the crew was able 
to walk ashore over the bowsprit; but after wandering 
about in the small hours of a frigid morning, in vain 
search for shelter, two fell exhausted on the beach. 
The others crawled over the schooner's gunwale as she 
lay stranded by the tide, and turned in, with clothes 
frozen stiff. That afternoon some men of Orleans and 
Chatham, who had seen the vessel from the hills, 



pulled them out of bed, and dug their shipmates out 
of the snow. A tough breed, these Beverly seamen. 
Peter Woodbury and John Low, after lying twelve 
hours in the snow without boots or mittens, plus a six- 
mile boat journey, encrusted with ice like a tongue in 
aspic, were restored by kind Chatham women apply- 
ing hot blankets steadily for seven hours. A day or two 
later, they walked all the way home to Beverly; and 
Peter served as master's mate on the Constitution dur- 
ing the War of 1812. 

Although the codfisheries no longer played a stellar 
r61e in the pageant of maritime Massachusetts, their 
lesser part was no less indispensable. Pacific and Baltic 
trade required other currency than fish; but much of 
that currency was obtained in the first instance from 
fish. The sacred cod still fed the West-India and Medi- 
terranean trades. He and his humbler cousins pro- 
vided the seaboard population with cheap food. Pur- 
suit of him employed thousands of people who must 
otherwise have emigrated; restored prosperity to the 
minor seaports, and preserved their pristine vigor. 



NEWBURYPORT was unique among Massachusetts sea- 
ports of Federalist days, in that she acquired consid- 
erable wealth without aid of Oriental trading. This 
compact little town, covering one square mile at the 
mouth of the Merrimac, recovered prosperity through 
a thrifty combination of shipbuilding, fishing, West- 
India and European trading, distilling, domestic manu- 
factures, and internal improvements. Her population 
doubled between 1776 and 1810, her fleet increased 
from 118 vessels of twelve thousand tons in 1790 to 
176 vessels of thirty thousand tons in 1806. Duties 
collected on imports tripled in ten years. 

Much human effort was required before Newbury- 
port could reap full advantage of her position at the 
mouth of the Merrimac. The entrance lay over a bar 
with only seven feet of water on it at low tide; a bar 
that broke in easterly gales. An intricate system of 
day and night signals, shown from the lighthouses on 
Plum Island, warned approaching sail when it was un- 
safe to enter. Newburyport opened inland communi- 
cation with Hampton by a canal through the salt 
marshes. Her capitalists organized, in 1792, the " Pro- 
prietors of the Locks and Canals on Merrimack River," 
who in four years' time completed a canal around the 
Pawtucket Falls between Chelmsford and Dracut. 1 

1 It was this corporation which, in the hands of Boston capitalists 
of Newburyport descent, became the corporate overlord of the manu- 
facturing city of Lowell. 


By this means, Newburyport became the emporium 
for lumber, firewood, and country produce of north- 
eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. 
At the same time the Chain Bridge, built three miles 
above the town, induced seagoing vessels to end their 
voyages at Newburyport instead of ascending higher. 

It was this canal, tapping new sources for oak and 
pine, plus inherited aptitude, which enabled the lower 
Merrimac to hold its ow r n in shipbuilding. There were 
two shipyards at Haverhill in 1800, others at Ames- 
bury, Salisbury, and Old Newbury, and at least six 
at Newburyport, owned by Jackmans, Curriers, and 
other ancestors of the clipper-ship builders. Twelve 
thousand tons of shipping were launched on the Merri- 
mac in 1810, and practically all their cordage, sails, 
blocks, ironwork, and fittings were made locally. 

Newburyport specialized in the Labrador and Bay 
fisheries, in which sixty vessels were engaged in 1806. 
Her other hundred and sixteen vessels were employed 
in coasting, West-Indian, and European trade of 
which more anon. Newburyport was also noted for 
rum and whiskey distilleries, for Laird's ale and porter, 
and for goldsmiths; Jacob Perkins having discovered 
a cheap method of making gold-plated beads, which 
were then in fashion. Even after the war-time de- 
pression there were ten jewelers' and watchmakers' 
shops at Newburyport. Here were printed and pub- 
lished the numerous editions of Bowditch's "Navi- 
gator," and Captain Furlong's " American Coast 

Newburyport boasted a society inferior to that of 
no other town on the continent. Most of the leading 
families were but one generation removed from the 
plough or the forecastle; but they had acquired wealth 
before the Revolution, and conducted social matters 



with the grace and dignity of an old regime. When 
Governor Gore, in 1809, made a state visit to New- 
buryport, where he had once studied law, he came in 
coach and four with outriders, uniformed aides, and 
a cavalry escort ; and when the town fathers informed 
his ancient benefactress, Madam Atkins, that His Ex- 
cellency would honor her with a call, the spokesman 
delivered his message on his knees at the good lady's 
feet. We read of weekly balls and routs, of wedding 
coaches drawn by six white horses with liveried foot- 
men, in this town of less than eight thousand inhab- 
itants. When personal property was assessed, several 
Newburyport merchants reported from one thousand 
to twelve hundred gallons of wine in their cellars. 

Federalist architecture has here left perhaps her 
finest permanent trace. High street, winding along a 
ridge commanding the Merrimac, rivals Chestnut 
Street of Salem, despite hideous interpolations of the 
late nineteenth century. The gambrel-roofed type 
lasted into the seventeen-nineties, when the Newbury- 
port merchants began to build square, three-storied, 
hip-roofed houses of brick, surrounded with ample 
grounds, gardens, and 'housins.' The ship carpen- 
ters who (if tradition is correct) designed and built 
these houses, adopted neither the graceful porches nor 
the applied Adam detail of Mclntire ; but their tooled 
mouldings on panel, cornice, and chimneypiece have 
a graceful and original vigor. They also invented, or 
perhaps acquired from provincial Portsmouth, an 
ingenious form of stairway, branching, Y-shaped, to 
serve front and rear. Although inferior to Boston and 
Salem in public buildings, "the steeple of the First 
Church lately built" in Newburyport, asserts the criti- 
cal and much-traveled Dr. Bentley, "rivals anything 
in New England." It certainly does, to-day. 



Timothy Dwight, who visited Newburyport about 
1800, wrote: "The houses, taken collectively, make a 
better appearance than those of any other town in 
New-England. Many of them are particularly hand- 
some. Their appendages, also, are unusually neat. 
Indeed, an air of wealth, taste and elegance, is spread 
over this beautiful spot with the cheerfulness and bril- 
liancy, to which I know no rival. . . . Upon the whole, 
few places, probably, in the world, furnish more means 
of a delightful residence than Newburyport.'* 

When 'Lord* Timothy Dexter, Newburyport's fa- 
mous eccentric, sent his consignment of warming- 
pans and woolen mittens to the West Indies, he knew 
what he was about. The warming-pans, as every one 
knows, were sold for syrup ladles ; and the mitts made 
a suitable speculation for some Massachusetts vessel 
that was leaving for Russia. 

This Russian trade was an innovation of the Federal- 
ist period. Massachusetts began it, and until the Civil 
War retained over half of it, through her facilities for 
handling the West- India goods of which Russia stood 
in need. George Cabot of Beverly opened this com- 
merce in May, 1784, by sending his ships Bucanier 
and Commerce to the Baltic and to St. Petersburg. In 
1788 the Astrea was disposing of tea, Bourbon coffee, 
New England rum, Virginia flour and tobacco at 
Gothenburg. They brought back canvas, duck, hemp, 
Russian and Swedish iron, which, with household 
linen, were the staples of the Baltic trade for the 
next fifty years. These articles were used in the New 
England shipbuilding industry, and also entered 
largely into cargoes exported to the Far East. No in- 



considerable part of the goods exchanged by St. Peters- 
burg and Riga with India and China went in Massa- 
chusetts vessels, via Salem and Boston. And it will 
doubtless surprise many people to learn that Salem was 
importing candles and soap from Archangel in 1798. 

Dipping casually into the old custom-house records 
of Newburyport, I find on top of a neat bundle of 
coastwise manifests for 1810, that the locally owned 
ship Nancy, Moses Brown master, paid $3279.25 in 
duties on eighty-eight boxes of sugar from Pernam- 
buco. It was shipped to Boston in the sloop Mary, and 
exported thence to St. Petersburg in the brig Industry. 
The next document traces a parcel of Russia linen 
sheetings. Imported from Cronstadt into Newbury- 
port by the ship Merrimack, William Bartlett master, it 
was shipped in the sloop Blue Bird * to Boston, and re- 
exported thence in the brig Betsey to Havana. There, 
it was doubtless exchanged for sugar, the most valu- 
able medium for our Baltic trade. Not only did this tri- 
angular commerce give quick turnover and large prof- 
its; it supplied maritime New England with the iron, 
hemp, and linen duck, which, until replaced by the 
products of Pennsylvania, Manila, and Lowell, were 
indispensable to her shipbuilding, fisheries, and naviga- 

The first white settlers of Nantucket, in the seven- 
teenth century, were Quakers and harborers of Quakers 
who fled from persecution at Old Newbury. With 
Whittier as guide, let us follow Goodman Macy's little 
shallop across the harbor bar, by the golden sands of 

1 This small coasting packet, when wrecked in 1805, had a cargo 
aboard worth $90,000. She was refloated, but the cargo lost. 



Plum Island, and watch the sun drop behind the 
rounded Ipswich hills. The garrison's watch-fire guides 
us around Cape Ann ; keeping the North Star over our 
port quarter brings us to Cape Cod. After a pause in 
Provincetown Harbor for a good chance, an offshore 
breeze takes us around the Cape, through the danger- 
ous shoals and rips which deflected the Mayflower from 
her course ; and to Nan tucket. 

Before 1775, the descendants of the Macys and 
Coffins and Folgers and Husseys had spread the fame 
of this island by their boldness and enterprise as 
whalemen. Then came the war. Nantucket lost one 
hundred and fifty vessels by capture and shipwreck, 
leaving only two or three old hulks out of her entire 
fleet. The whaling village of Bedford, her young main- 
land rival, was equally depressed. The British had 
burned its warehouses and thirty-four sail in the har- 
bor; and only two or three survived of its whaling fleet 
of forty or fifty. 

The English government, hoping to force the Is- 
landers to remove to Nova Scotia, placed a prohibitive 
duty on whale and sperm oil, cutting off their principal 
market; and in 1785 the French government invited 
them to settle at Dunkirk. Beggars were crying for 
bread in the streets of Nantucket ; but only nine fami- 
lies accepted this invitation, and even less went to 
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. But over two hundred of the 
men, either during or after the Revolution, were forced 
to accept commands of British or French whalers. 
Others turned to codfishing, founding picturesque but 
profitless settlements on the south shore of the island, 
at Siasconset, Sasacacha, and Weweeder. One group 
attempted an East-India voyage, with disastrous re- 
sults. For the most part the people waited for better 
times, "taking in each others' washing" for a living, 



according to the classic jest and it was something 
more than a jest in the Nantucket of 1790, with no less 
than one hundred and eighty-five widows unable to 
support themselves. 

The commonwealth, out of its poverty, granted a 
bounty on whaling products; England gave up trying 
to sink Nantucket ; and the old whaling masters began 
to fit out old vessels, and to have apple-bowed, square- 
sterned ships of two to three hundred tons burthen 
built for them on the North River. 1 By 1789, Nan- 
tucket had eighteen vessels engaged in the northern 
right-whale fishery, and an equal number pursuing the 
more valuable sperm whale off the coast of Brazil; 
Dartmouth (including New Bedford and Westport) 
and Cape Cod had fifty-seven small right-whalers of 
sixty tons, and nine sperm-whalers. 

It was a British whaler manned by exiled Nantuck- 
eters that first pursued the sperm whale into the Pa- 
cific Ocean. Four years later, in 1791, six Nantucket 
whalers, and one from New Bedford, took the same 
course. They found good hunting along the Chilian 
coast, and returned in time to profit by a good market 
in France. 

From that time on, smoky glare of whalers' try- 
works was never absent from the vast spaces of the 
Pacific. Before the end of the eighteenth century, the 
whalemen began that exploration of the South Sea 
which is still recorded by islands named for Starbucks, 
Coffins, Bakers, Folgers, Husseys, and Rowlands of 
Nantucket and New Bedford. 

1 The Maria, 202 tons, built at Pembroke for William Rotch, in 1782, 
was still whaling in 1872. Oil acted on the timbers as a preservative. 
The ship Rousseau was in commission ninety-seven years, the barque 
Triton, seventy-nine; and in the summer of 1920 the barque Charles W. 
Morgan, built in 1841, was fitting out for another whaling voyage at 



On the Island of Santa Maria in the Galapagos 
group, was the 'whalers' post-office'; a box on a tree 
where letters and two-year-old newspapers were ex- 
changed. Even Australasia lay within their scope. By 
1804, our whalemen and sealskinners had made them- 
selves so comfortable along the north coast of Tasmania 
that the governor of Australia issued a proclamation 
against their building vessels on his shores. 

Whaling crews at this period were recruited entirely 
from Nantucket and the Old Colony. Gay Head In- 
dians were preferred as harpooners, and many local 
negroes were shipped as green hands; but a whaling 
skipper generally knew the record if not the pedigree 
of every man who sailed under his command. Wages 
were not paid to whalemen. The old share or 'lay 1 
system of the seventeenth century continued; and for 
the first time was recorded in written contracts. The 
workers' share was far more generous than in the so- 
called golden age of whaling, a generation later. The 
usual 'lay* for a three-boat ship of twenty-one men, 
about 1804, was three-fifths of the catch to the owners, 
one-eighteenth to the master, one-forty-eighth to the 
"ends men," one-seventy-fifth to each able seaman, 
one-eightieth or ninetieth to each negro hand, and 
a one-hundred-and-twentieth to the cabin boy. 

Prices of whale products ruled fairly high during 
the Federalist period, and a good export trade was 
built up; England being our best customer for sperm 
oil, and France and Spain for whale oil. But the ground 
lost in the Revolutionary War was not entirely recov- 
ered. 1 Americans had become so used to tallow can- 
dles during the war, that they had to be educated to 
appreciate the excellent spermaceti article turned out 
by Nantucket. The European war, with its spoliations 

1 See table in Appendix. 



and embargoes, greatly hampered whaling, while it 
gave inflated profits to the merchant marine. The 
harbor, with only seven and a half feet on the bar at 
low tide, was a serious handicap as the size of whal- 
ers increased, and eventually proved Nantucket's un- 

Nantucket, however, by handling and marketing 
her own products, prevented 'off-islanders' from reap- 
ing the fruits of her industry. By 1811, when a Phila- 
delphia traveler made the accompanying sketch, the 
town had every earmark of thrift and prosperity. It 
had doubled its pre-Revolutionary population, and 
acquired some fifteen thousand tons of shipping, most 
of which was absent on the Pacific Ocean when the 
sketch was made. Several sail of whalers, however, 
are lying at the wharves, and the Falmouth packet- 
sloop has just passed in between Brant Point Light 
and Coatue. 

Even before the famous foundation of her distin- 
guished exile, Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin, Nantucket 
had better schools than many mainland seaports. She 
had fifteen to twenty candle-works and refineries, ten 
rope-walks, a bank, a museum, an insurance office, and 
a Free Masons' hall "with lonick pilasters in front." 
The Lisbon bell, whose sweet tones to-day greet off- 
island visitors, was already hung in the stumpy tower 
of the old North Church. Tidy clapboarded houses, 
painted white or green, with 'captains' walks' atop, 
were beginning to replace the shingled dwellings of 
colonial days. Almost the entire male population of 
Nantucket followed the sea; and the rest were de- 
pendent on it. Even the cows, apparently, came down 
to the harbor's edge to browse, and take in the scene 
of marine activity! 



FEDERALISM has opposite connotations in Europe and 
America, and a very special meaning east of the Hud- 
son. New England Federalism was at once a political 
system, and a point of view. Sired by Neptune out 
of Puritanism, the teacher of its youth was Edmund 
Burke. Washington, Hamilton, and Fisher Ames 
formed the trinity of its worship. Timothy Pickering 
was the kept politician of New England Federalism, 
Harrison Gray Otis its spellbinder, Boston its political 
and Hartford its intellectual capital, Harvard and 
Yale the seminaries of its priesthood. New England 
Federalism believed that the main object of govern- 
ment was to protect property, especially commercial 
and shipping property; and it supported nationalism 
or states' rights according as the federal government 
protected or neglected these interests of maritime New 
England. It aimed to create and maintain in power 
a governing class, of educated, well-to-do men. Re- 
garding Jeffersonian democracy a mere misbegotten 
brat of the French Revolution, New England Federal- 
ism directed its main efforts toward choking the par- 
ent, hoping thereby either to starve the progeny, or to 
wean it from an evil heritage. 

Federalism did not attain the rigidity of a system 
until the early nineteenth century; but the economic 
block that formed its basis was already formed in 1790. 
All the maritime interests of New England were in 
reality one interest, that must stand or fall together. 

1 60 


No one of her sea-borne industries was self-sufficient, 
and many of the greater merchants were directly con- 
cerned in all of them. By 1790, Boston and Salem 
were no mere market towns for salt fish and country 
produce, but entrepots of world commerce. The out- 
ward cargoes to the East Indies were first obtained 
through trading with the West Indies, the Mediter- 
ranean, and northern Europe; and the success of 
Yankee vessels in these markets depended as much on 
their skillful handling of Southern produce, as on the 
ancient Massachusetts staples of fish, lumber, whale- 
oil, and rum. Although the use of tea, coffee, spices, 
and imported sugar became general among all classes 
of the New England population at this period, the 
bulk of the Oriental cargoes brought into Salem and 
Boston was reexported. No section of the edifice 
could be touched without disturbing the rest. Yet 
every block was composed of white oak, the raw ma- 
terial of New England shipping. In final analysis, the 
power of Massachusetts as a commercial state lay in 
her ships, and the men who built, owned, and sailed 

All matters of shipping and navigation fell within 
the scope of the federal government's protecting arm. 
Massachusetts promptly ceded her seven lighthouses 1 
to the United States, which assumed the burden of 
maintaining them, and of building new ones. For 
these few, dim whale-oil lights did not satisfy com- 

1 Portland Head (Maine), Plum Island Lights near Newburyport, 
Cape Ann Lights on Thatcher's Island, Boston Light, Plymouth Lights 
on the Gurnet, Brant Point- and Great Point Lights on Nantucket. 
There were only eight more in the whole United States. 



mercial interests. Vessels from the South, the West 
Indies, and the Far East approached Massachusetts 
Bay by way of Vineyard Sound, Nantucket Sound, 
and the back side of the Cape. On a fair westerly day 
in the seventeen-nineties, fifty or sixty sail could be 
seen from any point on this great ocean fairway. But 
imagine sailing this course at night, as the most lei- 
surely of merchantmen might wish to do if the wind 
were fair, rather than risk a week's stay at Holmes's 
Hole. Leaving Great Point astern, one entered a dark 
chasm into which Cape Cod stretched its tentacles of 

Petitions from the Boston Marine Society and other 
influential bodies induced the Government in 1797 
to erect on the Clay Pounds, Truro, the Highland or 
Cape Cod Light. His powerful glare, varied by a com- 
forting wink every sixty seconds, took vessels in charge 
before Great Point dipped under the horizon, and saw 
them safely around the Cape to within the scope of 
Boston Light or Thatcher's. Within a few years Gay 
Head Light was established at the entrance to this 
highway, the twins of Chatham Bar gave the line to a 
safe shelter, and Boon and Seguin were set up to guard 
the coast of Maine. 

The approach to Salem Harbor is particularly diffi- 
cult in thick weather or at night, on account of the 
many islands and submerged rocks in the bay. After 
a fatal storm in January, 1796, the federal govern- 
ment established a safe guide to the best channel, the 
Baker's Island Lights: 

Two pale sisters, all alone 

On an island bleak and bare, 
Listening to the breakers moan, 

Shivering in the chilly air. 



Four buoys at the mouth of the Merrimac were ap- 
parently the only such aids to navigation in Massa- 
chusetts waters until 1797, when Congress appro- 
priated sixteen hundred dollars for sixteen buoys, "to 
be placed in and near the harbor of Boston." They 
were made of five-foot wooden staves bound by iron 
hoops, in the form of a truncated cone, and moored by 
the smaller end. Nantucket Harbor, so difficult of 
access as to require twice the pilotage rates of Bos- 
ton, was buoyed before 1809. But the present efficient 
marking of ledges and channels developed very slowly. l 
Not until 1843 did the federal government begin a sys- 
tematic coast survey. 

Private enterprise supplemented the Government's 
efforts. The Boston Marine Society passed critical 
judgment on published charts, and examined candi- 
dates for Boston pilots. Nathaniel Bowditch brought 
out an excellent chart and sailing directions to Salem 
bay, based on surveys and soundings made by Captain 
John Gibaut and his pastor, Dr. Bentley. Before 1800 
there was established a 'Telegraphe' system, which, 
by semaphores at Edgartown, Wood's Hole, Sand- 
wich, Plymouth, Marshfield, Scituate, and Hull, noti- 
fied Boston and Salem shipmasters of the arrival of 
their vessels at Vineyard Haven. The Humane So- 
ciety of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the 
Merrimack Humane Society erected huts of refuge 
on dangerous and deserted stretches of the coast; a 

1 The method of establishing new buoys is shown by the following let- 
ter from H. A. S. Dearborn, collector of the port of Boston, to the col- 
lector at Barnstable, May 22, 1813: "Sir, I am directed by the Secretary 
of the Treasury to have a Buoy placed at the entrance of Barnstable 
Harbour, provided the expense does not exceed one Hundred Dollars. 
You are hereby authorized to have a Buoy made, & placed where it is 
most wanted. . . . Mr. J. L. Green has recommended Captain Prince 
Howe as a suitable person to do the work." 



boon to shipwrecked mariners who often passed safely 
through the breakers only to perish of exposure and 
hunger on the sandy wastes of Cape Cod or Plum 

Shipwrecks on the New England coast still remained 
the principal form of casualty in the Massachusetts 
merchant marine. Peaked Hill Bar on Cape Cod took 
a heavy toll, even after Highland Light was estab- 
lished; for no light could penetrate the fog, rain, and 
snowstorms that inflict our coast. Four vessels were 
lost within sight of Salem, in a southeast rainstorm of 
February, 1807. The reefs off Cohasset were "annu- 
ally the scene of the most heart-rending disasters," 
forty vessels being wrecked in one space of nine years, 
until the present lighthouse on Minot's Ledge, a site 
more difficult even than the famous Eddystone, was 
completed in i860. 1 Nan tucket Shoals lightship was 
not established until 1854. But the lighthouses 
erected and maintained by the United States, under 
the watchful care of Hamilton, saved many valuable 
lives and ships, and created a new bond of obligation 
between maritime Massachusetts and the administra- 

Maritime Massachusetts expected something more 
from the federal government than Mights, buoys and 
daymarks,' and she sent the right men to the capital 
to get it. Her senior senatorship was first conferred 
upon Caleb Strong, of Northampton, to conciliate the 
western counties. But when it came to choosing the 
junior senator, "the merchants made the Constitu- 
tion," said James Sullivan, "and they should name the 
candidate." Tristram Dalton was accordingly chosen, 
and proceeded to New York in Newburyport style, in 

1 The first Minot's Ledge Lighthouse, completed in 1850, was demol- 
ished by a gale the following year. 



his own four-horse coach, emblazoned with the Dal ton 
arms, and attended by servants in the Dalton livery. 
"Everything that can affect shipbuilding I shall watch 
with a jealous eye," he wrote a constituent, when the 
first tariff debate began. Other jealous eyes were on 
the rum industry, and Vice- President Adams's casting 
vote once broke a Senate deadlock in favor of a low 
duty on molasses. Dalton was succeeded in the Senate 
by George Cabot, who had left Harvard before the 
Revolution to go to sea, and conducted a mercantile 
business at Beverly and Boston, beside taking an ac- 
tive part in the state government. Until 1816 the 
United States Senate contained a merchant of Boston 
or of Essex County, except for a period of five years, 
when Timothy Pickering upheld the same interest. 

The merchants had worked for a more perfect union 
to obtain protection; nor were they disappointed. No 
section or interest in the United States was so fa- 
vored by Washington's and Adams's administrations, 
as maritime Massachusetts. The fishing bounties, we 
have already mentioned. The first tariff acts (1789 
and 1790) caused much grumbling, because of duties 
on iron, hemp, and molasses (2\ cents a gallon!); but 
no subsequent tariff proved of such benefit to Massa- 
chusetts shipping and commerce. The drawback sys- 
tem (refunding of tariff duties) was adopted for goods 
reexported within a year; and Massachusetts became 
the greatest state for this branch of commerce. For- 
eign vessels had to pay ten per cent additional duty 
on ordinary goods, and about fifty per cent on teas. l 

1 Bohea tea, the cheapest grade, paid 10 cents a pound duty if im- 
ported in an American vessel from beyond the Cape of Good Hope; 12 
cents if imported in an American vessel from Europe; 15 cents if other- 
wise imported. For Hyson tea the figures were 32, 40, and 50 cents. 
American registry at this period was confined to vessels owned wholly 
by American citizens and built in the United States; or foreign-built 



Elias Hasket Derby petitioned, and Hamilton recom- 
mended a bonded warehouse system, which was 
adopted for teas in 1791. Customs duties could be paid 
as the teas were sold, at any time within two years of 
their importation. A similar privilege for shorter pe- 
riods was extended in 1795 to importers of West-India 
and European goods. 

Most important in their consequences were the ton- 
nage duties, which were levied on vessels entering from 
foreign ports. American vessels paid six cents per ton 
burthen under the act of 1790; foreign vessels, fifty 
cents per ton. In the coasting trade an American ves- 
sel need pay this fee but once a year, but a foreign ves- 
sel had to pay it at every port. 

_ The direct result of these discriminating duties was to 
drive English and other foreign vessels from American 
ports, in favor of those built and owned in the United 
States. Massachusetts shipbuilding was quick to bene- 
fit from the change. Her tonnage in 1792 was triple that 
of 1789, and amounted to a little over one-third the 
total American fleet. This extraordinary increase came 
before the Anglo-French war gave additional stimulus. 

Most of these protective measures had been pushed 
through by Alexander Hamilton. His conscious policy 
was to favor the merchant-shipowner class, both to gain 
their powerful influence for strong government, and 
for the impost and tonnage duties, which accounted 
for ninety-two per cent of the revenues of the United 
States in 1791. His funding of the domestic debt, and 
assumption of the state debts, put money in the 
pockets of the merchants, who held large quantities 

vessels already owned by Americans in 1789. Other vessels such as 
condemned French prizes owned by Americans were allowed to sail 
under authority of a sea-letter, but had to pay the same dues as foreign 
vessels, except light-money. 

1 66 


of depreciated government securities. Consequently 
Hamilton's financial policy, which from the latitude 
of Charlottesville, Virginia, appeared unwarranted, 
unconstitutional, and anti-republican, seemed natural, 
necessary, and statesmanlike in Essex County, Massa- 
chusetts. It was just what maritime Massachusetts 
had ratified the Constitution to obtain ! To the leaders 
of Bay State Federalism, Thomas Jefferson seemed a 
mutinous officer on the ship of state, and his demo- 
cratic, loose-construction principles, the Jolly Roger 
of a piratical craft. 

From 1789 to 1799 Hamilton dictated the financial 
and the foreign policies of the Washington and Adams 
administrations; and his privy council was the Essex 
Junto. This remarkable group of men, which guided 
the destinies of New England Federalism from its birth 
to its dissolution, was composed of practical and highly 
intelligent merchants and lawyers of Essex origin, who 
had migrated to Boston in search of greater opportu- 
nities. George Cabot was the Junto oracle, Stephen 
Higginson, of Salem, its practical merchant, Jonathan 
Jackson and John Lowell, Jr., of Newburyport, its 
elder statesman and pamphleteer, and Chief Justice 
Parsons, brother of two prominent merchants from 
Gloucester, its fount of legal learning. Timothy Pick- 
ering and Fisher Ames were admitted to full intimacy, 
Christopher Gore and James Lloyd hovered on the out- 
skirts. Most of their families were intermarried, and 
their opinions, or rather prejudices, were the standard 
of 'right thinking* in eastern Massachusetts. Life 
and politics they regarded as from the quarterdeck of 
an East-Indiaman. Harrison Gray Otis and Josiah 
Quincy were little more than their political chantey- 
men, and all Massachusetts scurried to furl topsails 
when the Essex Junto roared the command. 


The affiliations of maritime Massachusetts with 
British capital were equally significant. In 1783 the 
merchants renewed their ties with London merchant- 
bankers, like the firm of Lane, Son & Eraser, with 
whom they had traded before the war. With other 
firms, like the Baring Brothers (both of whom married 
daughters of a wealthy Philadelphia merchant), their 
relations became very close. Hamilton's United States 
Bank, and the several state banks organized at this 
period, by no means sufficed to float commercial 
operations. 1 It was from merchant-bankers of London 

1 The insurance of the Massachusetts merchant marine at this period 
was underwritten locally, however. Between 1799 and 1805 there were 
incorporated at least three marine insurance companies in Boston (in 
addition to seven private insurance offices), three each in Salem and 
Newburyport, two in Nantucket, and one each in Beverly, Marblehead, 
Gloucester, and New Bedford. Peter C. Brooks, one of the wealthiest of 
Boston merchants, made most of his fortune in marine insurance. I add 
some of the rates occasionally quoted in the Boston Price-Current and 
Marine Intelligencer showing the difference made by the French spolia- 

From Boston to 


Feb. 6, 

Any Kuropean port, except the following 

2\ @ I 

6 @ 7 

Baltic and Mediterranean ports, warranted free 
from seizure 

? @ -a 


Cape of Good Hope, He de France, &c 
Madeira, Canaries, C. Verde Is. &c 


2\ @ 1 

9@ IO 


Persia, India, with liberty to trade at any ports 
or places 

5 6 


China out and home . ... 

IO @ 12 



2s @ 3 


Other West-India Islands 

2| 3 

9 @ 10 

Nova Scotia and Newfoundland 

2 @ 2\ 

5 @ 6 


7i @, A. 

New Orleans . 

. .-li @ 4 


St. Augustine and Bahamas 



United States ports 

l @ 2 

2$ @ 3 



that the Boston shipowners obtained, on credit, their 
outward cargoes to the Northwest Coast. London, 
moreover, was the world's money-market. Exchange 
on Boston or New York was valueless outside the 
United States ; but exchange on London was as good 
as gold throughout the western world. With proper 
banking connections in London, a Massachusetts ship- 
master could buy bills with his cargo in a foreign port 
where no profitable return lading was available, and 
remit to his London banker; or instead of having to 
sell his outward cargo before reloading, he could leave 
it with a commission merchant, obtain a new venture 
by drawing against his London account, and be off 
without loss of time. Such relations were particularly 
useful when unexpected repairs or losses had to be met. 
They were equivalent to a Brown-Shipley or Baring 
Brothers letter of credit to-day, or to a checking ac- 
count in making local purchases. Consequently her 
English connections were vital to maritime Massachu- 
setts, and peace with Britain seemed worth almost any 

Had Europe remained tranquil, had the Dutch Re- 
public endured, and had French energy been guided 
into finance and industry, it is possible that Amster- 
dam or Paris would have replaced London as the finan- 
cial center for American commerce. Many Massachu- 
setts merchants deplored their too close dependence 
on English credit. The French Revolution served to 
draw the two countries together in trade as well as in 
thought, until its cataclysmic period began in 1792. 
From that time on the American trade with France 
and the French colonies became a colossal speculation, 
which appealed to the younger and more adventurous 
merchants, but appalled those who already had sound 
British connections. France, hemmed in by British 


sea-power, threw open her colonial trade to neutrals. 
Famine, disorganization, and blockade raised the price 
of American provisions to unheard-of figures. Fortunes 
could be made in Paris by speculating in exchange, 
buying confiscated church or emigre estates, taking 
a share in French privateers, or bidding in their prizes. 
Such members of the younger generation as desired 
more refined adventure than the Northwest Coast af- 
forded, hastened to France. The blithe spirit of these 
youngsters is well illustrated by a letter of twenty-one- 
year-old Ralph Bennet Forbes, who founded a great 
mercantile family of Boston: 

Boston i Nov. 1794. 

... I was hurried away in June ten days after my arrival in France 
(almost malgre moi) in order to close in the West Indies to the sat- 
isfaction of the two respectable houses who were concerned (James 
& Thomas H. Perkins & Stephen Higginson, Esq.) of these people 
I enjoy the confidence and I believe the esteem, this I hope is not 
lessened by having made a great voyage this by the way le 
temps passe, il faut tenir parole. 

I have now in contemplation a voyage to France . . . my plan is 
rather speculative and I may extend my personal excursion as far 
as 1'Isle de France, this will depend on 1'etat actuel de la guerre, 
which I think will soon be finished. C'est le moment, mon cher, pour 
les jeunes gens de mon caractere de faire des mouvements rapides, 
de ramener quelques capitaux pour leur etablissement apres la paix. 
C'est alors qu'il faut des Bases bien solides pour e'tre respecte dans le 
Commerce. ... I find myself the loser by the Hispaniola Revolution 
of two hundred Joes (1600 Dollars) ; this affects me in beginning. 

I must speak seriously of my intentions; after this voyage it 
must be entirely between ourselves I must be fixed in Boston for 
these reasons; my mother's property will constitute part of my capi- 
tal, she will give it to me on no other terms. I have here a great 
many rich friends who though they might not launch out, would 
readily put their marks on the back of a note for an occasion, this is 
a good introduction to the Bank, of course, a key to the False Capi- 
tal mode of Operation. I am determined to have a Southern Con- 
nection, on account of French business; they are not fond of cold 



fingers. I am resolved never to connect myself, but with men 
stamped from infancy with Industry and determined like myself to 
devote every instant of time to business. My connections in Ja- 
maica are King's Contractors they will commission whomever 
established at the southward, with the purchase of flour and bis- 
cuit for that Island ; this is an object I am determined never to see 
the West Indies again. 

Many were the gay adventures enjoyed by young 
shipmasters like John Bailey of Marblehead, whose 
fresh, confident features are preserved for us in minia- 
tures and portraits by French artists. One form of 
speculation was to purchase French prizes in American 
ports, and take them to Mauritius for sale. Such a one 
the captured English snow George, with a cargo of pro- 
visions invoiced at $25,000, was bid in at Boston in 
1796 for $8000 by Crowell Hatch, one of the Colum- 
bia's owners, and placed under the command of his 
young kinsman John Boit, Jr., who had just returned 
from his remarkable voyage around the world. The 
George was foul, slow, and leaky. Near the Cape of 
Good Hope, Captain Boit got a spare topsail under 
her bows, which decreased the leak from 1500 to 400 
strokes per hour; but as he neared Port Louis, Mau- 
ritius, the snow sailed more and more slowly, the leak 
gained, and the crew became weak from pumping. 
A signal of distress the ensign in a wiff brought 
out a naval detail from the French authorities, to 
relieve the men at the pumps, and saved her from 
foundering within sight of land. Captain Boit sold 
his cargo to the Government at a "ruinous advance," 
hove down his vessel, found the bottom worm-eaten 
and almost destitute of oakum, but cheerfully " painted 
the old Snow up as fine as a fiddle, & on the 2Oth of 
May del'd her up to Monsieur Hicks a hard bar- 
gain on his side, I must confess! . . . God send I may 


never sail in the like of her again!" He then laid out 
the proceeds in coffee and East- India goods, which 
he carried to Charleston, South Carolina, for another 
turnover, in a chartered ship. 

It was easy enough to sell provisions in France at 
profiteer rates, but quite a different affair to collect 
payment. The adventures of Captain Elijah Cobb, 
of Brewster, illustrate the distinction. His brig Jane 
of Boston, on her way to Cadiz, was captured by a 
French frigate and sent into Brest, early in 1794. The 
prize court released her, and Cobb made a contract to 
sell his cargo of rice and flour for two hundred per cent 
profit, in bills of exchange on Hamburg. After waiting 
a month for the bills in vain, he sent the Jane home 
under the mate, and procuring a passport from Jean- 
bon St. Andre, went to Paris with an armed national 
courier, traveling day and night to escape brigands. 
At Paris the Terror was at its height. The authorities 
pretended never to have received the brig's papers, 
and deliberately mislaid the certified copies which the 
prudent master brought with him. There was nothing 
left but to interview Robespierre, who called him a 
sacre coquin, but gave the word that produced his 
papers and bills. Cobb left the capital just before the 
9th Thermidor; but Joseph Russell, John Higginson, 
and Thomas H. Perkins, of Boston, witnessed the 
guillotining of Robespierre in the Place de la Con- 

The death of his benefactor so reduced the market 
value of Captain Cobb's bills, that he went himself to 
Hamburg to collect. The French agent there had be- 
gun to protest payment, but by a good bluff Cobb had 
his accepted, and remitted the funds to T. Dickerson 
& Sons, London. On his next voyage to Havre, with 
flour, the same performance had to be repeated. Two 



visits to Paris, and five months' dancing attendance 
at the ministry of finance, were required to obtain full 
payment. Captain Cobb exchanged the silver ingots 
with which his debt was discharged, for three thousand 
Spanish doubloons, which he managed to smuggle out 
of France on his person despite the chouans, and a 
strict search at the frontier. 

American diplomatic history, in the period 1793- 
1815. is closely interlocked with that of commerce and 
of all maritime pursuits. Broadly speaking, one may 
say that in 1793 maritime Massachusetts was making 
up her mind on the American policy toward the Euro- 
pean war. By 1795 she found her opinion to be flatly 
pro-British; in 1796 she imposed it on the rest of the 
state, and in 1797 on the rest of the nation. 

British depredations on American commerce, in 
1793-94, were irritating and costly. Other things be- 
ing equal, maritime Massachusetts, a lusty young rival 
to the mistress of the seas, would have helped revolu- 
tionary France break British sea-power. But other 
things were not equal. American democracy, that 
nine-lived feline which the merchants had petted 
in 1775 and repeatedly drowned since now re- 
turned with a new lover, the battle-scarred French 
tomcat Jacobinism; and their amorous yowlings made 
sleep impossible for decent merchants in Franklin 
Place. They were disgusted and alarmed by Genet's 
impudence, and his American partisans' lawlessness. 
The successive upheavals in France showed that no 
substitute could there be found for the London money 
market; and in 1795 France engulfed Holland. Fi- 
nally, the Reign of Terror and the politique de Van III 



seemed to confirm Burke's warning, that the French 
Revolution was an international menace. Embattled 
France became an object of horror and loathing, as 
now Soviet Russia. To seat Jacobinism on Neptune's 
throne, because of British enmity to American ship- 
ping, would merely destroy all property. "Civiliza- 
tion" was the issue. 

So reasoned New England Federalism; an alliance 
of merchant-shipowner, country squire and Congre- 
gational clergy, that carried everything before it in 
Massachusetts. The first test came with Jay's treaty. 
This pact of November, 1794, averted a war with Eng- 
land, and secured compensation for the British spoli- 
ations; but renounced neutral rights and commercial 
equality, in terms so humiliating "that some of our 
respectable men have . . . joined the Jacobins," wrote 
Cabot. Anti-British feeling flared to its highest point 
since the war. At a word from the French consul, a 
Boston mob sacked and burned to the water's edge a 
Bermudian privateer in the harbor. But the merchants 
soon saw the deeper issue of England, law, and order 
against France, Jacobinism, and terror. The eloquence 
of Harrison Gray Otis wooed the Boston democracy 
into agreement. Thereafter, Boston regularly deliv- 
ered a Federalist majority in state and national elec- 
tions. The clergy cowed their country congregations 
with tales of French atheism and atrocity. The treaty 
was ratified and carried into effect. 1 John Adams was 

1 "In consequence of the disposition shown in the House of Repre- 
sentatives of the Union not to grant the supplies for carrying the 
British treaty into effect, business has been very slack for these two 
weeks. All new appropriations are entirely suspended. The alarm is 
very general lest the dearest interests of our country peace and 
national honor should be sacrificed to party-spirit and Antifederal- 
ism." (J. & T. H. Perkins to one of their correspondents, April 30, 
1796.) Although Jay's treaty, as ratified, did not permit American ves- 



elected President, and Timothy Pickering, of Salem, 
became Secretary of State. 

French spoliations in 1797 and Talleyrand's treat- 
ment of the American mission discredited Jefferson, 
made the Federalists dangerously popular, and en- 
abled them in the name of patriotism to enforce con- 
formity by sedition trials, social pressure, and other 
means now sadly familiar. There would, in fact, have 
been a war with France in 1799, had not President 
Adams defied Hamilton and the Essex Junto by sud- 
denly adopting a pacific policy. Thereby began the 
feud between the Adams family and State Street. 

Although war was not declared against France, a 
state of war existed on the sea, and was very popular 
in the Massachusetts seaports. By local initiative the 
sloop-of-war Merrimack and the frigate Essex were 
built at Newburyport and Salem. The frigate Consti- 
tution (Boston-built, but Philadelphia-designed) had 
been launched in view of an immense, enthusiastic 
crowd the previous year. A subscription loan of $136,- 
500 from the Boston merchants floated the frigate 
Boston in 1799. Acts of Congress, now completely 
under the control of Hamilton and the Essex Junto, 
permitted American merchantmen to strike back at 
their French tormentors, and to make prize of any 
French armed vessel. 

A typical cruise for a half-freighter, half-trader, was 
that of the letter-of-marque ship Mount Vernon of 
Salem, 355 tons, 20 guns and 50 men. She belonged 
to 'King' Derby, and was commanded by his son, 
E. H. Derby, Jr. Leaving Salem on July 14, 1799, 

sels to trade with British colonies, the regular quotations of insurance 
rates to Jamaica, Bahamas, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, 
in Boston papers of 1796-97, proves that the trade was going on never- 



with a complete outfit of light sails, including fore- and 
main-topgallant studdingsails, square spritsail on the 
jibboom, ringtail and steering-sail rigged below the 
spanker, she made Corvo in the remarkably short 
time of eight days, seven hours. After a running fight 
with a French frigate, a brush with a heavily armed 
lateener, and a regular battle with another off Alge- 
ciras, she made Gibraltar in seventeen days, twelve 
hours,' from Salem. Her last assailant struck ensign 
and pennant. Captain Derby did not stop to take 
him, but put into Gibraltar with the satisfaction of 
having "flogged the vessel in full view of the English 

At Gibraltar colonial produce such as sugar, with 
which the Mount Vernon was laden, was a drug in the 
market. Captain Derby therefore joined John Wil- 
liams, of Baltimore, 1 in chartering and loading a brig; 
and on August 10 the two vessels left for the Levant. 
Touching at Palermo, but finding the market poor, 
they continued to Naples, where Captain Derby sold 
the Mount Vernon's cargo, valued at $43,275, for 
$120,000. "My sales have been handsome, though 
not so great as I could have wished," he wrote his 

Exchange on London being disadvantageous, Cap- 
tain Derby made an investment of his gains, typical of 
this troubled period. Fifty thousand dollars were laid 
aside for wines and silks; but it was some time before 
they could be delivered. Yet even the hospitality of 
Nelson, and the smiles of Lady Hamilton, could not 
tempt Captain Derby to tarry in Naples. He pur- 
chased two new polacca-rigged ships for sixteen thou- 

1 Probably of the Roxbury Williamses, who settled in Baltimore at 
this period. Amos Williams, of Baltimore, was part owner with the 
Peabodys of the schooner Equality of Salem. 



sand dollars, and convoyed them in the Mount Vernon 
up the Adriatic (beating off two Turkish pirates en 
route) , to Manfredonia. There he loaded wheat, which 
was carried around Italy and sold at Leghorn. The 
profits on this venture paid for the two polaccas with 
thirty thousand dollars to boot, only two and a half 
months after their purchase. In less than eleven 
months' time Captain Derby had made a net profit 
of over a hundred thousand dollars on an investment 
of forty- three thousand. 

The European war did not create, it merely ex- 
panded, this Massachusetts-Mediterranean traffic, 
which dates back to Captain John Smith. The reex- 
port thither of Oriental goods began about 1790, when 
the glut of tea at Salem and Boston forced their mer- 
chants to seek new outlets. But this coasting trade of 
the Mount Vernon was new, and typical of war condi- 
tions. Schooners of seventy tons or under like the 
Raven of Marblehead and the Lidia of Newburyport 
crossed the Atlantic with a cargo of salt fish, sugar, and 
rum, bought goods cheap in one European port, sold 
them dear in another, and if they were so lucky as to 
avoid capture, cleared several times their cost in one 
voyage. Frequently they were sold abroad to avoid 
capture, and sometimes their officers and men stayed 
with them. The brig Salem of Boston, for instance, 
after a voyage to Amsterdam, Cadiz, and San Sebas- 
tian, was sold to French parties at Bordeaux. Captain 
Jeremiah Mayo, using her American papers, then took 
a cargo of claret to Morlaix, where it brought three or 
four times its cost in the Gironde. 

Wheresoever in Europe a Massachusetts vessel was 
disposed of, it was easy for the officers and crew to 
pick up a passage home, as the following letter of a 
Beverly shipmaster relates: 



Li[s]bon. May ye 18, 1793 
Kind & Loving Wife 

I now take this operty. to inform you of my well fair & good state 
of health. Blessed be God for the same; hoping this will find you 
& fammele in as good health as it Leaves me at preasent; after I sold 
the schooner hope at Bilboa I wated for to get a passage to Amer- 
ica but cold not get a passage in a vessel that was coming Directly 
hoom; therefore I took passag with Capt. Joshua Orne to Lisbone 
and from thence I expected to go with him to Marblehead ; but find- 
ing a snow near bound for Boston which wanted a mate and so I 
shipped with her, and shall sale tomorrow if nothing disapoints us, 
I have sent you By Cap. Joshua Orne: 7 dozn & 10 silk handchafs 2 
Long Looking glasses a dozn of knives & forks one half of which is for 
your brother Beckford and a Little Gun and I Expect to send sum 
other things which I shall put on bord this Night and you Go for 
them or send sum boddey with an order, you may expect me in a few 
days after you receive this if nothing happens to us ... 

from your ever loving husband till Death 


During the first half of the Revolutionary-Na- 
poleonic wars, and until 1806, the yoke of Britain's 
sea-power was an easy one. No interference was 
made with broken voyages or with neutrals trading 
between the Baltic, the Hanse towns, and France. 
"I find several vessels have been advantageously em- 
ployed in plying between Hamburg, Rotterdam, and 
France, and that neutral vessels have been permitted 
a free trade even from England," writes James Per- 
kins to his brother at Bordeaux, in February, 1795. 
He is sending out the ship Betsy, with a cargo of rice, 
which is to serve as capital for continuing the carrying 
trade between northern and French ports. American 
entries at Hamburg increased from 35 in 1791 to 192 
in 1799; and after Hamburg was closed to American 
shipping in 1804, vessels entered at Tonning in Schles- 
wig-Holstein, or at Liibeck. At Amsterdam there were 
1 60 American entries in 1801. 


This North- European trade was not without its cul- 
tural contacts. "This day my box from Hamburg 
arrived with the proceeds of my Coffee," writes Dr. 
Bentley in his Salem diary for 1806. "The good Pro- 
fessor has furnished me with great economy with some 
of the best Books which his country has yielded." 
Thus German erudition entered New England. Dr. 
Bentley was one of the American correspondents of 
Professor Ebeling, of Hamburg, buying for his learned 
friend numerous imprints of the smaller New England 
presses, which have disappeared in the country of their 
production. The books and coffee which the good 
Doctor cast upon the waters were indeed found after 
many days, and by his alma mater; for Professor 
Ebeling's incomparable collection of Americana was 
purchased by Israel Thorndike, merchant of Beverly, 
and presented to the Harvard College Library. 

If Massachusetts had the same share of the Ham- 
burg trade as of Baltic commerce, more than half the 
American entries were owned in her ports. For in 
1802, out of eighty-one vessels that passed Elsinore dur- 
ing the open season, twenty-one belonged to Salem, 
fourteen to Boston, eight to Newburyport, eight to 
New York, seven to Providence, five to Marblehead, 
four to Gloucester, two to Charleston, and one each 
to Philadelphia, Norfolk, New Bedford, and Salisbury. 1 
Many arrived not from their home port, but from Lis- 
bon, Cadiz, the Western Islands, the West Indies, 
Amsterdam, and Bremen; bringing nankeens, pepper, 
sugar, fruit, coffee, tea, rum, wine, cotton, indigo, to- 
bacco, and mahogany to Copenhagen and St. Peters- 
burg. They cleared, laden with iron, hemp, flax, cord- 
age and sailcloth, for all parts of the world. Several 
were schooners and brigantines under eighty tons 

1 From a "Sound list " brought home by one of the shipmasters. 



burthen. This type of commerce is generally called 
the neutral carrying trade; but it was more than a 
carrying trade as the term is now understood, for the 
vessels did not merely take freight at inflated figures; 
they bought and sold goods on their owners* account, 
and made immense sums, which no statistics record, 
by the repeated turnovers. 

The European trade was also vitally interlocked 
with the East- India and China trade, that was so rap- 
idly expanding in the closing years of the eighteenth 
century. Unless an East-Indiaman made Madeira her 
first port of call, she generally acquired specie in Eu- 
rope, or a cargo suitable for Bengal, by selling the 
proceeds of a former voyage, together with West-India 
goods, salt provisions, fish, and Southern staples, at 
any northern or Mediterranean port. "The speedy 
conversion of your present lading into dollars must 
be a governing object in your operation," state the in- 
structions of J. & T. H. Perkins to one of their super- 
cargoes, outward-bound with East- and West- India 
goods to the Mediterranean and Calcutta. 

Hardly a port of Europe there was, from Archangel 
to Trieste where the Yankee trader was not as familiar 
as the seasons; hardly an occasion where he was not 
present, with something to swap. As Nelson's fleet 
lay licking its wounds after Trafalgar, who should 
heave in sight but the ship Ann Alexander of New 
Bedford, Captain Loum Snow, with a cargo of lumber, 
flour, and apples just what the fleet needed! Super- 
cargoes founded mercantile houses in foreign ports. 
Thomas Hickling, of Boston, settled in the Azores 
shortly after 1780. Preble & Co. (Ebenezer and 
Henry, brothers of the Commodore) were soliciting 
consignments at Dieppe, in 1804. George Loring, of 
Hingham, married a beautiful Spanish girl in the 



seven teen-nineties; his sons formed the firm of Loring 
Brothers of Malaga, which fifty years later was oper- 
ating Massachusetts-built clipper ships under the 
Spanish flag. 

The seamen of colonial and post- Revolutionary 
Massachusetts thought they knew the ropes of Euro- 
pean trade, but the war led their sons to new ports. 
Smyrna, the mart of Asia Minor, became the final 
residence of a loyalist member of the Perkins family, 
with whom J. & T. H. Perkins opened profitable rela- 
tions before the end of the eighteenth century, obtain- 
ing Turkish opium for Canton. A convincing contrast 
of Yankee enterprise with Eastern lethargy, is the 
trade followed by Ebenezer Parsons for several years; 
loading coffee at Mocha in the Red Sea, and circum- 
navigating Africa to sell it at Smyrna, for three and 
four hundred per cent profit. 

The west coast of South America had already made 
the acquaintance of Yankee whalers and fur-traders, 
when the Napoleonic wars opened the east coast as 
well to Massachusetts vessels. The first North Ameri- 
can merchantman to enter the River Plate appears to 
have been the brig Alert of Salem, owned by Dudley 
L. Pickman and others, and commanded by Captain 
Robert Gray, of Columbia fame. She was captured by 
a French privateer and carried into Montevideo late 
in 1798. The Spanish officials fitted her out as a priva- 
teer under their own colors, but Captain Gray was 
released, and returned voluntarily in 1801 in command 
of the schooner James, after touching at Rio de Janeiro. 
Between February and July, 1802, eighteen Massa- 
chusetts vessels, and twenty-six from other North 



American ports, brought mixed cargoes to the River 
Plate, and took away hides and specie ; portending the 
great hides and lumber traffic of later years between 
New England, Argentina, and Uruguay. In 1810, 
William Gray was reexporting " Buenos Ayres Hydes " 
and Peruvian bark from Boston to Tunis. 

Several Massachusetts men entered the service of 
the new republics. Dr. Franklin Rawson, of Essex 
County, founded a distinguished Argentinian family. 
The name of Benjamin Franklin Seaver, of Boston, 
killed in battle while second in command of the Argen- 
tine fleet, is commemorated in a street of Buenos Aires; 
and William P. White, of Pittsfield, who established a 
mercantile agency there as early as 1804, gave such 
effective aid to the cause as to be called the "father of 
the Argentine Navy." A little later, Paul Delano, one 
of the twenty-one children of Nathan Delano, of Fair- 
haven, commanded the Chilean frigate Independencia, 
and applied his Yankee ingenuity to the construction 
of port works in open roadsteads. William Delano, of 
the same maritime family, served on the staff of Gen- 
eral San Martin. Both remained in Chile, where their 
descendants are prominent citizens to-day. 

Japan first saw the American flag in 1791, when the 
famous Boston sloop Lady Washington, Captain Ken- 
drick, accompanied by the Grace of New York, Cap- 
tain Douglas, entered a southern Japanese harbor in 
the hope of selling sea-otter. But the natives knew not 
the use of fur, and no business was done. It was the 
foreign policy of the French Committee of Public 
Safety that gained American commerce its first ex- 
change with the forbidden kingdom. For almost two 
centuries the Dutch East India Company had enjoyed 
the exclusive right of sending one ship a year from 
Batavia to trade at Nagasaki, when, in 1795, French 



arms and propaganda transformed the Netherlands 
into the Batavian Republic, an ally and vassal to 
France. Fearing capture of its vessels by British war- 
ships, the Dutch East India Company for four succes- 
sive years chartered American vessels for the annual 
cruise. The first, apparently, to have this honor was 
the ship Eliza of New York, of which there is a con- 
temporary Japanese painting, showing her being light- 
ered off a rock in Nagasaki Harbor, in 1798, by several 
dozen small boats. In 1799 the Perkins's ship Frank- 
lin of Boston, James Devereux master, was the lucky 
vessel ; and of her voyage from Batavia to Japan and 
back we have a full account, from Captain Dever- 
eux's clerk, George Cleveland. On entering Japanese 
waters she hoisted the Dutch ensign, fired prescribed 
salutes of seven to thirteen guns each on passing seven 
different points, and another on anchoring in Nagasaki 
Harbor. The Yankee officers had to bend almost dou- 
ble when Japanese officials came on board, and to com- 
ply with minute and rigorous harbor regulations dur- 
ing their four months' stay. But they were allowed, 
carefully guarded, to visit the town, and to bring back 
private adventures of cabinets, tea-trays, and carved 
screens which are still treasured in Salem homes. In 
1800 the ship Massachusetts of Boston received the 
annual charter for the colossal sum of $100,000, it was 
rumored ; and in 1801 the ship Margaret of Salem pulled 
off the prize. She was apparently the last American 
vessel to be received in a Japanese harbor until Com- 
modore Perry broke the isolation of Nippon. 

In 1801, with the election of Jefferson to the presi- 
dency, the national government fell into the hands of 



a combination partial to France, and professedly un- 
friendly to maritime commerce. But Jefferson's mod- 
eration agreeably disappointed maritime Massachu- 
setts. The Hamiltonian system of fishing bounties, 
drawbacks, discriminating tonnage duties, and friend- 
ship with England continued unimpaired. Barbary 
corsairs were forced to respect the American flag. 
Jefferson chose his Attorney-General and his Secretary 
of War in Massachusetts, and but for the illness of 
Jacob Crowninshield, whose family had been consist- 
ently Republican, he would have had a Secretary of the 
Navy from the same state. 

Early in 1802 Napoleon made peace with England, 
and the European trade slackened somewhat; but, of 
course, Massachusetts could not blame this on Jeffer- 
son. And in 1804, despite the raving of Federalist poli- 
ticians, the commonwealth cast its electoral vote for 
the great Virginian. No doubt the maritime interests 
would have become reconciled to his administration 
had not a renewal of the war revived the passions and 
the difficulties of the previous decade. 

England and Napoleon, by a series of Orders in 
Council and Imperial Decrees, began attempting to 
drive neutral shipping from each other's ports. As 
British sea-power tightened, and Napoleon extended 
his control over continental Europe, it became no 
longer easy for American shipping to play both sides. 
Hitherto, the British prohibition of neutral trading 
between her enemies and their colonies had been 
evaded by the "broken voyage" bringing French 
colonial produce to Boston or Salem, paying duty, re- 
loading it even on the same vessel, receiving the draw- 
back, and proceeding to France. But in 1805 Sir Wil- 
liam Scott made an example of the ship Essex of Salem, x 

1 The same vessel which met a tragic fate in the Red Sea, in 1806. 



in a decision which remains a landmark in interna- 
tional law, so-called. Her voyage from Barcelona to 
Havana via Derby Wharf was declared one continuous 
voyage, and the cargo confiscated. 

The merchants of Boston and Salem loudly pro- 
tested. But before long they discovered that the bark 
of the Essex decision was worse than its bite. An old 
drawback book in the Plymouth custom-house records 
shows what indirect trade was going on in 1806 and 
1807. The brig Eliza Hardy of Plymouth enters her 
home port from Bordeaux, on May 20, 1806, with a 
cargo of claret wine. Part of it is immediately reex- 
ported to Martinique in the schooner Pilgrim, which 
also carries a consignment of brandy that came from 
Alicante in the brig Commerce, and another of gin that 
came from Rotterdam in the barque Hannah of Ply- 
mouth. The rest of the Eliza Hardy's claret is taken 
to Philadelphia by coasters, and thence reexported in 
seven different vessels to Havana, Santiago de Cuba, St. 
Thomas, and Batavia. The brig Rufus King, about the 
same time, brought into Plymouth a cargo of coffee from 
St. Thomas. It is transferred to Boston, and thence 
reexported to Rotterdam and Amsterdam in four differ- 
ent vessels. The barque Hannah also brought wine and 
brandy from Tarragona, which is reexported from Bos- 
ton to Havana and Madeira. The schooner Honest Tom 
left Plymouth for Bordeaux on December 21, 1806, 
with sugar and coffee that another vessel had brought 
from the West Indies. She returned to Plymouth on 
May 18, 1807, with wine and brandy which flowed from 
Boston to Demerara in the ship Jason, to the East In- 
dies in the ship Jenny, and to San Domingo in the brig 
Eunice. Thus interposing a coastal voyage between the 
two ends of an essentially unneutral traffic evidently 
confused or satisfied the British admiralty. 



President Jefferson stood up for neutral rights, and 
his representatives at London did their best to have the 
Essex decision rescinded. But before anything could 
be done, new and more stringent orders and decrees 
were issued by England and Napoleon ; and in 1807 the 
country was stirred by an impressment outrage on 
the U.S.S. Chesapeake. Had Jefferson then called for 
a declaration of war, Massachusetts would have ac- 
cepted war with good grace. Instead, he chose a 
policy which, without coercing the belligerent nations, 
sacrificed the commercial profits of Massachusetts 
and her political good-will. December 22, 1807, the 
date that Jefferson's embargo went into effect, begins 
a new period in American maritime history. 



Our ships all in motion once whitened the ocean, 
They sailed and returned with a cargo; 
Now doomed to decay, they have fallen a prey 
To Jefferson worms and embargo. 

THUS jingled a newspaper poet at Newburyport in 
1808. It was bad enough trying to feel out a channel 
between orders in council and imperial decrees : but to 
have one's fleet scuttled by act of Congress, on the 
pretense of protecting it, seemed outrageous and hypo- 

The Embargo Act, which remained in force from 
December 22, 1807, to March 15, 1809, forbade any 
American vessel to clear from an American harbor for 
a foreign port, and placed coasting and fishing vessels 
under heavy bonds not to land their cargoes outside 
the United States. Another act, which went into effect 
at the same time, 'forbade the importation of many 
British goods. Nothing prevented American vessels 
then abroad from entering a home port, but once there, 
they could not legally depart for a foreign voyage. 

There were many leaks in the embargo. For a time, 
by special dispensation of the President, merchants 
were allowed to send abroad for property they had 
already purchased. An immense smuggling trade went 
on over the Canadian and Florida borders. Vessels al- 
ready abroad did not return until the embargo was 
repealed, if they could help it. The coast was more 
heavily guarded by federal officials and soldiers than 



during the War of 1812, but nevertheless a number 
of vessels managed to slip out. Captain Charles C. 
Doten, of Plymouth, performed two notable feats of 
this sort. One dark night, in a southeast rainstorm 
that drove the water-front guards to cover, he re- 
rigged the schooner Hannah, which had been ' stripped 
to a girtline' by the collector of the port, with the 
sails and rigging of another vessel, and piloted her 
safely out of Plymouth Bay. Later he took the brig 
Hope out of Provincetown in a northeast gale, hotly 
pursued and fired upon by the revenue cutter; sold 
vessel and cargo of fish at St. Lucia for twenty-five 
thousand dollars, and brought it home in the form of 
Spanish doubloons, sewed into his clothing. The em- 
bargo did not kill Massachusetts commerce, then ; but 
suspended at least half of it, and rendered the rest more 
furtive, difficult, and hazardous than it ever would 
have been under mere orders in council and imperial 

At the time the embargo was laid, Massachusetts 1 
was the principal shipowning commonwealth in 
America. Her total tonnage per capita was more than 
twice that of any other state. Her registered tonnage 
in foreign trade in 1807, 310,310 tons, was thirty- 
seven per cent of the total for the United States, and 
more than twice that of her nearest competitor, New 
York. In coasting trade she was also first, although 
her proportion was slightly less. Her fishing fleet, 
62,214 tons, was eighty-eight per cent of the total; and 
although there was nothing in the embargo acts to 
prevent fishing, loss of the foreign market put the 

1 See statistics in Appendix. The figures here quoted for the state 
include Maine; those quoted for ports include minor ports in the custom 
district of that name. Whaling vessels are apparently included in the 
foreign tonnage. 



greater part of the fleet out of commission. The same 
applied to the whaling. In all these branches of ship- 
ping the gains during the profitable years of neutral 
trade had been tremendous. Boston had passed Phila- 
delphia, and become second only to New York for 
amount of tonnage owned. Following Baltimore and 
Charleston; Portland, Salem, and Newburyport were 
respectively the sixth, seventh, and ninth shipowning 
communities in the United States. The minor ports 
of Massachusetts, tempted by the rich freights and 
turnovers of neutral commerce, had increased their 
fleet considerably in the last few years. 1 Adopting 
Adam Seybert's estimate, that the American merchant 
marine in 1801 was earning at least fifty dollars per ton 
annually, the Massachusetts fleet of 1807 was bringing 
home about fifteen and a half million dollars a year in 
freight money alone, an amount far greater than the 
capital value of the fleet that earned it. Congress 
ordered the shipowners to forego this colossal income 
equal to the entire federal revenue in 1806 as well 
as the greater gains made by buying cheap and selling 
dear, in order to save their vessels from capture. 
Could the gain balance the loss? 

This was a burning question in 1808, and continues 
to divide historians to this day. There were many in 
Massachusetts who agreed with Jefferson, but more 
who did not. John Bromfield, supercargo by profes- 
sion and a Federalist in politics, wrote from London in 

1 Plymouth tonnage, for instance, had just doubled since 1800. In 
1804 Plymouth had eleven entries from Portugal, one from Spain, one 
from Cape Verde Islands, two from Russia, ten from Martinique, and 
ten from smaller West Indian Islands all schooners. In 1805 she 
exported almost half a million pounds of sugar to Holland. New Bedford 
had increased fifty per cent, to over 25,000 tons. Of her ninety to one 
hundred square-rigged vessels, only twelve were whalers. See chapters 
x and xi for the neutral trade of Marblehead and Newburyport. 



1808, "It was certainly a very well-timed restriction 
upon our commerce, and has undoubtedly saved his 
political opponents from the loss of property to an 
immense amount." The Republican Crowninshields 
defended the embargo, and William Gray, a Federal- 
ist, and the largest individual shipowner in the United 
States, rallied to it as a necessary measure of self- 
protection. His Federalist neighbors retorted by accus- 
ing him of profiteering from his stock on hand. This 
charge he denied : and any statement from a man with 
the simple honesty and independence of William Gray 
carries weight. He sacrificed personal comfort and 
social position by his stand. Yet even Mr. Gray did 
not see fit to order home one of his vessels, the ship 
Wells, which left Salem eighteen days before the em- 
bargo was laid, and remained abroad making money 
for her owner while it endured. Marblehead remained 
faithful to embargo and Republicanism, despite her 
growing commerce. As Salem was Federalist, Marble- 
head was naturally the contrary; 1 but it seems that 
Marblehead was somewhat favored during the em- 
bargo. The local collector continued to issue San 
Domingo bonds, an indication that he was allowing 
vessels to clear for the West Indies. 2 

In general, the verdict of maritime Massachusetts 
was thumbs down on Jefferson and his " terrapin" 

1 Frequently, throughout the Federalist period, small seaports that 
were rivals to a near-by prosperous and Federalist center of commerce, 
voted Republican; Dorchester, Weymouth, Fairhaven, and Dighton, 
for example. 

2 Custom-house records, searched for me by Miss E. R. Trefry. The 
act of Feb. 28, 1806, required vessels clearing for certain parts of the 
West Indies to be bonded against trading with the Haytian rebels 
against Napoleon. But Marblehead had only twelve foreign entries dur- 
ing the embargo period, paying $35,000 duties, as compared with seventy 
for the year 1807, paying $156,000. The figures given in Dwight's 
Travels in New England are incorrect. 



policy. The new British orders required some adjust- 
ment of trade routes, but as George Cabot said, profits 
were such that if only one out of three vessels escaped 
capture, her owner could make a handsome profit on 
the lot. It was still possible to ply neutral trade under 
British convoy, inspection, and license; a system de- 
grading perhaps to national honor, but very similar to 
that which all neutrals, including the United States, 
permitted during the World War. Insurance rates were 
not prohibitive ; and after the removal of the embargo 
Massachusetts shipping arose to a new high level de- 
spite the orders in council. As a pure business propo- 
sition, then, Jefferson's plea of protection made little 

The embargo caused greatest hardship in the smaller 
ports, and among small shipowners and working peo- 
ple dependent on shipping. Newburyport, Salem, and 
Plymouth never recovered their former prosperity. 
Jefferson hastened the inevitable absorption of their 
commerce by Boston. Shipbuilding, with all its sub- 
sidiary industries, ceased altogether. Mechanics and 
master mariners had to resort to the soup kitchens 
established in the seaport towns, or exhaust their sav- 
ings, or emigrate to Canada in search of work. The 
only consolation that Dr. Bentley, the stanch Repub- 
lican pastor of Salem, could find in the embargo, was 
the stimulus it gave to pleasure-boating in Salem Bay! 
But few were so fortunately circumstanced as to seek 
solace from business depression in yachting life. 

In 1807, the Federalist Party was in extremis. It had 
lost even the state government of Massachusetts. The 
embargo rescued it from the shadow of death, thrust 
into its palsied hands the banner of state rights, and 
sent it forth to rally the seafaring tribe. Politicians 
like Timothy Pickering hoped the embargo would re- 



main in force until the "people recovered their true 
sight" - and President Jefferson proved most accom- 
modating. It was not difficult to persuade people of 
the hypocrisy of his plea of protection, and to prove 
that his real wish was to coerce England. With such an 
object the Federalists had no sympathy. Their con- 
viction that France was the center of disturbance and 
unrest had deepened, although Napoleon did his best 
to prove the contrary. Yet the Federalists were right 
in believing that the restoration of peace and the hope 
of liberty in Europe depended on the overthrow of 
Napoleon; that any attempt to clip the British Sam- 
son's hair was at that time internationally immoral, 
and without sharp scissors, imprudent. 

Not content with these arguments, the Federalists 
asserted, with some plausibility, that Jefferson's ulti- 
mate object was to destroy New England's wealth and 
power. How else could one explain, for instance, his 
ban on East- India and China commerce? The orders 
in council permitted our Oriental trade; Napoleonic 
decrees were powerless in far eastern waters. Keeping 
Salem's East-Indiamen in port merely helped English 
shipowners. So abject a failure was the embargo as a 
measure of coercion that Jefferson's persistent faith 
in it could be explained only by enmity to American 
shipping, or by pathological causes. 

Fourteen months of embargo enabled the merchants 
to recover their political supremacy, and to organize 
a campaign of town-meeting resolutions that had the 
ring of 1776. Deserted by his northern partisans in 
Congress, Jefferson finally consented to sign the repeal 
of the embargo on his last day in office March 3, 
1809. Prosperity promptly returned. But the em- 
bargo did a moral damage that determined New Eng- 
land's alignment in the coming war. It enabled the 



Essex Junto, the most bigoted group of Federalist 
politicians, to endoctrine maritime New England with 
a blind hatred for the Republican Party; to regard the 
administration as a greater enemy than any foreign 
country. It bred a spirit of narrow self-complacency, 
a belief in the superior virtue, enterprise, and worth 
of Yankees as against New Yorkers, Pennsylvanians, 
and Southerners, that all but flared up into secession 
before the cause was removed. 

After the embargo was lifted, a non-intercourse act 
with Great Britain remained in force three months; 
but this did not prevent the prompt reopening of 
Oriental, West-Indian, Baltic, South American, and 
Mediterranean commerce. Fortunes were made by 
supplying the British army in the Peninsular War. 
Shipyards awoke. Fayal in the Azores, where John B. 
Dabney, of Boston, was American consul and leading 
merchant, became a new St. Eustatius, a go-between for 
nations forbidden to trade with one another. Russia 
became almost our best customer, as Napoleon closed 
the ports of western Europe to our vessels. Almost two 
hundred United States vessels were now trading with 
Russia, over half of them, probably, belonging in 
Massachusetts. 1 Yankee shipmasters quickly adapted 
themselves to the new conditions. Wintering at Riga 
in 1810-11, they took part in the open-handed social 
life of the Bait nobility; skating carnivals, sleigh rides 
at breakneck speed over the flat country, montagnes 
russes, brilliant balls and Gargantuan dinners. To 
avoid the Danish privateers which were preying on 
American vessels, many made the long voyage around 
Norway to Archangel, whence their imports went a 
thousand miles overland to Moscow. But the ship- 

1 In 1803, fifty-four out of the ninety American arrivals in St. Peters- 
burg belonged in Massachusetts. See also chapters xi and xn. 



masters found Archangel rather exhausting, as the 
Russian merchants, after hibernating, expected their 
American customers to stay up and drink with them 
through the bright summer nights. The Baltimore 
brig Calumet penetrated the Black Sea to Odessa in 
1810; shortly followed by a vessel commanded by a 
Ropes of Salem. Profits in this Russian trade were 
immense. The ship Catherine of Boston, 281 tons, 
worth possibly $7000, cleared $115,000 net in one 
voyage of 1809. 

President Madison's policy, at first favorable to 
commerce, won away from the Federalists a part of 
their previous gains. In 1810 William Gray was 
elected lieutenant-governor of Massachusetts. His 
friend John Quincy Adams, who likewise had been 
expelled from the Federal Party for supporting the 
embargo, was appointed minister to Russia, went out 
in one of the Gray ships, and proved a useful friend at 
court. William Gray was the principal Russian trader 
in the United States. He distributed Russian duck, 
sheetings, cordage, and iron (which sold for $115 a ton 
in Boston), to Philadelphia, Charleston, and New Or- 
leans, there loading tobacco, sugar, and "cotton wool" 
for the Baltic market. Other vessels of his fleet took 
lumber and coffee to Algiers, and proceeded to Galli- 
polis to load olive oil for Russia. In addition, he was 
conducting a Mediterranean-Calcutta trade. 

Napoleon considered the American Baltic fleet essen- 
tially British ; and according to the British doctrine of 
neutral rights he was not far wrong. Certain vessels 
did a ferrying trade between Copenhagen and London ; 
and all had to conform to British regulations, and 
accept naval convoy through the Belts. Even William 
Gray, who was continually protesting his innocence 
of British connections, used London bankers almost 



exclusively, and on one occasion chartered a British 
vessel. Napoleon, to complete his continental block- 
ade, required the occlusion of neutral shipping from 
Russia, whose emperor was his nominal ally; and from 
Sweden, whose ruler was his former marshal. In the 
summer of 1810 he made the demand. Alexander and 
Bernadotte equivocated, and then refused. They had 
no intention of shutting off their subjects' supplies of 
West- and East-India goods. Then began Napoleon's 
preparations to invade Russia. Thus the Baltic trade 
of Massachusetts played an important if unconscious 
part in the chain of events that led Napoleon to Mos- 
cow and to St. Helena. 

* * 

Within a week of the Grand Army's entrance into 
Russia, the United States declared war on Great Brit- 
ain. To this War of 1812 maritime Massachusetts 
was flatly opposed. Her pocket and her heart were 
equally affected. She deemed the war immoral, be- 
cause waged against the ''world's last hope"; unjust, 
because Napoleon had done her commerce greater in- 
jury than had England; and hypocritical, because de- 
clared in the name of "free trade and sailors' rights " 
by a sectional combination that had neither com- 
merce nor shipping. In Congress, a majority of the 
representatives from New England voted against the 
declaration of war, which was carried by a new group 
of representatives from the South and West, who were 
burning for a fight and anxious to conquer Canada. 

Reviewing the diplomatic ineptitude of Madison's 
administration, the opposition of Massachusetts is not 
surprising. Napoleon's pretended revocation of his de- 
crees had been exposed by Adams at St. Petersburg 



as "a trap to catch us into a war with England." 
Every shipmaster knew that the French confiscations 
and sequestrations had continued. Secretary Monroe 
admitted as much in 1812, after war had been declared. 
By his own figures, the Napoleonic system had done 
more damage to American commerce than had British 
navalism. Yet the administration, on the ground that 
the "national faith was pledged to France," l adopted 
successively non-intercourse, embargo, and war against 
Great Britain. When the administration heard that 
England had repealed her orders in council, two days 
after our declaration of war, it decided to continue the 
war on the ground of impressment alone. 

It was difficult to discover the true extent of im- 
pressment in 1812, and impossible now. Certain it 
is, however, that those seaboard communities of New 
England, which furnished the bulk of her merchant 
seamen, showed repeatedly by vote and deed their 
opposition to a war waged ostensibly in their behalf. 
Monroe's report of 1812, giving over six thousand 
cases of American seamen impressed into the English 
navy, was shot full of holes by a committee of the Gen- 
eral Court of Massachusetts. Fifty-one of the lead- 
ing shipowners of Massachusetts, who had employed 
annually over fifteen hundred seamen for the last 
twelve years, could remember but twelve cases of 
Americans being impressed from their vessels. Nor 
were all these witnesses Federalists. William Gray 
gave witness against his party, when he was able to 
recall but two cases of impressment from his great fleet 
in the last decade. 

The truth probably lies somewhere between these 

1 By the Macon Act of 1810, which proposed that whenever either 
England or France should repeal their objectionable measures against 
the United States, non-intercourse should be adopted against the other. 


Ships of the LINK? N<> Waving Mill*. 



extremes. A large number of impressed Massachusetts 
seamen spent the period of hostilities in Dartmoor 
Prison, rather than fight against their country. Con- 
temporary newspapers, sailors' narratives and deposi- 
tions, contain numerous and outrageous cases; none 
worse, however, than an instance of which Adams in- 
formed the Secretary of State, when twenty- two Amer- 
ican seamen were seized by Napoleon's agents at 
Danzig, marched to Antwerp, and impressed into the 
French navy. Impressment gave sufficient cause for 
war, by modern standards. But war was no remedy, as 
the Peace of Ghent proved. A powerful navy was the 
only language England understood. 

"Sir, if we are going to war with Great Britain," 
said Senator Lloyd, of Massachusetts, "let it be a real, 
effectual, vigorous war. Give us a naval force . . . give 
us thirty swift-sailing, well appointed frigates . . . and 
in a few weeks, perhaps days, I would engage com- 
pletely to officer your whole fleet from New England 
alone." Yet the war congress adjourned without pro- 
viding any increase of the weakened navy; without 
even proper appropriation for the vessels in commis- 
sion. The navy department could not even afford to 
send the frigate Constitution to sea, after her escape 
from the British fleet; and had not William Gray dug 
into his own pocket for her supplies, she would not have 
met and defeated the Guerriere. Yet on the eve of war, 
Madison and Monroe squandered fifty thousand dollars 
of the nation's money on a worthless Irish adventurer, 
in the hope he would furnish proof of New England Fed- 
eralist disloyalty. Is it surprising that the Federalist 
leaders cried out at this war for "free trade and sailors' 
rights," declared by "men who rarely ever saw a ship 
or sailor"; and that maritime Massachusetts followed 
Chief Justice Marshall rather than President Madison? 



"The declaration of war has appeared to me," wrote 
John Marshall, "to be one of those portentous acts 
which ought to concentrate on itself the efforts of all 
those who can take an active part in rescuing their 
country from the ruin it threatens." Massachusetts 
agreed. "Organize a peace party throughout your 
Country," resolved her House of Representatives, 
after the declaration; and " let the sound of your dis- 
approbation of this war be loud and deep, ... let there 
be no volunteers except for defensive war. ' ' The Barn- 
stable County peace convention, uniting many ship- 
masters sent by Cape Cod town meetings, declared 
the war to have "originated in hatred to New England 
and to commerce; in subservience to the mandate of 
the Tyrant of France." To sabotage the war, in the 
interest of an early peace, became the declared policy 
of maritime Massachusetts. 

The community could not wholly refrain from en- 
thusiasm at naval victories, especially when Boston's 
favorite frigate, the Constitution, was the victor. Hull 
and Bainbridge were banqueted by Boston merchants, 
and Perry presented with a service of plate. The Fed- 
eralists even attempted to capitalize naval success, as 
the appended Boston ballot for the spring election of 
1814 indicates. 1 But the State Senate, on motion of 
Josiah Quincy, refused a vote of thanks to Captain 
Lawrence for his capture of the Peacock, on the ground 
that "in a war like the present" it was "not becoming 
a moral and religious people to express any approba- 
tion of military and naval exploits." When Law- 
rence's body, after his glorious death aboard the Chesa- 
peake, was brought back to Salem for burial, the North 

1 Ballots in these days were prepared by each party, and distributed 
at the polls. By law, they had to be written, not printed. A 'shaving- 
mill' meant a Jeffersonian gunboat. 



Meeting-House was refused for the funeral ceremony, 
and its bell hung silent when the procession passed. 
The East-India Marine Society only by a vote of 32 to 
19 decided to attend. A local militia company refused 
to do escort duty, and not a single representative of the 
state government attended in his official capacity. 

Political sentiment being such, it is not surprising 
that Massachusetts did not show her former preemi- 
nence in privateering. As against fifty-eight privateers 
from Baltimore and fifty- five from New York, Boston 
only fitted out thirty-one, Salem forty-one, 1 and the 
smaller ports, probably not more than fifteen alto- 
gether. " Federalist ideas were so prominent " in New- 
buryport "that the fitting of privateers was opposed 
strongly," stated a contemporary. New Bedford, not 
only Federalist but Quaker, declared in town meet- 
ing on July 21, 1814, "we have scrupulously abstained 
from all interest and concern in sending out private 
armed vessels"; and resolved to quarantine for forty 
days any American privateer that polluted her har- 
bor. The efforts of Salem's Republican minority, de- 
spite Federalists like Captain Ichabod Nichols, who 
read Marshall's "Life of Washington" through annu- 
ally, explain her activity. Privateering was much the 
most popular form of service in maritime Massachu- 
setts; it paid better wages, was safer, and more fun 
than the army or navy. Marblehead, which supported 
the war, provided 726 privateersmen, 120 naval sea- 
men, and only 57 soldiers, not including the local 

1 Rear- Admiral Emmons in 1853 estimated that 526 privateers were 
fitted out from the United States during the war; but this doubtless 
includes letter-of-marque vessels which were primarily traders, not 
commerce destroyers. Five of Salem's privateers were small open boats 
armed only with muskets, and only twelve were over one hundred tons 



The first privateer to fit out from Salem was the 
new Gloucester-built Chebacco boat Fame, thirty tons, 
owned jointly by her master William Webb, and crew 
of twenty- four ex-shipmasters. 1 She put to sea on July 
I, 1812, and returned eight days later with two prizes, 
a three-hundred-ton ship and a two-hundred-ton brig, 
taken off Grand Manan without firing a shot. George 
Crowninshield, Jr., decked over his thirty-six-foot 
yacht Jefferson, armed her with a gun or two, and sent 
her out with thirty men. "When I saw you landing, 
I could think of nothing else than so many goslins in 
a bread tray," said a Maine woman to the Jefferson's 
crew; but they sent in the second lot of prizes to 
Salem. There were rich pickings to be had on the 
Western Ocean that summer, before John Bull was 
fairly aroused. By the end of the year eighteen Salem 
privateers had captured eighty-seven prizes, of which 
fifty-eight, worth with their cargoes half a million dol- 
lars, were safely sent in. The local Federalist paper 
remarked that Salem property to the value of nine 
hundred thousand dollars had in the meantime been 
taken by the enemy. Perhaps the name of a new Salem 
privateer, the Grumbler and Growler, was a compliment 
to this unpatriotic sheet! 

Most Salem privateering was done near the Ameri- 
can coasts. But French ports offered a convenient 
base and refuge, as in the Revolution ; especially in the 
latter year of the war, when the United States was 
blockaded. The schooner Brutus slipped out of Salem 
early in November, 1814. According to the log kept 
by her Nantucket sailing-master, Henry Ingraham De- 
frees, she took six prizes in six weeks* time; and near 
the coast of France, after a long stern chase, came up 

1 Maclay (American Privateers, 239) is in error in identifying this 
vessel with a Revolutionary privateer of the same name. 



with the armed British ship Albion. At 3 P.M. "Bore 
down on the enemys Larboard quarter within pistol 
shot & gave him 2 broadsides, wore across his sterne & 
from thence under his Starboard quarter, gave her 
several broadsides, & musketry. At 3:30 she struck." 
Three days later, the captor put in at Quimper, 
Britanny, where one of her crew "was put in Irons for 
strikeing the 1st Seargent of Marines, he then insulted 
all the officers & to Prevent further insolence he was 
gagged for two hours with a pump bolt." 

The most artistic ship picture in the Peabody Mu- 
seum is Antoine Roux's portrait of the privateer brig 
Grand Turk 1 saluting Marseilles on her last cruise of 
the war. Her records give all the business details of 
commerce-destroying. The owners pay all expenses, 
and receive half the net proceeds of prizes. The re- 
mainder is divided into about one hundred and fifty 
shares, of which Captain Nathan Green gets ten, the 
first lieutenant, seven and a half; second lieutenant, 
sailing master, and surgeon, each six; secretary, pay- 
master, and pilot, each three; gunners and petty offi- 
cers, each two or two and a half; and ninety-five sea- 
men, each one. In addition, there is twenty dollars for 
whomever first sights a prize, and half a share extra 
for the first to board one. No seaman may sell more 
than half his share in advance. 

Chesapeake-built clipper schooners, with their sharp 
ends, shoal draft, and cloud of canvas, were the most 
popular privateers in the War of 1812. Salem owned 
several of them; but a greater proportion were cap- 
tured than of the home-built sort. During the war, 

1 Built at Wiscasset, Maine, 18 guns, 309 tons burthen. Maclay is 
again in error in identifying this vessel with the Grand Turk which 
made an early voyage to Canton. She was owned in Boston, but 
manned largely by Salem men. 



Massachusetts builders probably began that process 
of drawing out the length of vessels and sweetening 
their lines, which in another fifteen years' time pro- 
duced a much faster and handier type of merchant- 
man than the Federalist period ever knew. 1 

Although the brig Grand Turk, according to Dr. 
Bentley, was considered the best sailer out of Salem, 
the Crowninshields* ship America was the most suc- 
cessful, as indeed she had been as a merchantman. Her 
new rig was enormous in comparison with her hull. 
Her main truck was 136 feet from the deck; her bow- 
sprit, lengthened by jibboom and flying jibboom, 107 
feet long; she had a 67-foot mainyard, and the total 
spread of her sail, from studdingsail boom-end to 
boom-end, was 104 feet. 2 Yet her length was only 
108 feet, 7 inches, and breadth 30 feet, 8 inches. With 
her twenty-four guns and one hundred and fifty men 
she netted twenty-six prizes, which sold for over a 
million dollars. One of them was a Liverpool ship, by 
which the Irving family of New York was trying to 
smuggle English goods after hostilities had com- 
menced. This explains why Tom Walker, in Wash- 
ington Irving's story, on observing the name of 
Crowninshield, "recollected a mighty rich man of that 
name, who made a vulgar display of wealth, which it 
was whispered he had acquired by buccaneering." 

1 J. & T. H. Perkins to Perkins & Co., Canton, November 17, 1814, 
about their ship Jacob Jones, "Some insurance has been done on her, 
owing to her being a war built vessel, and having the reputation of a 
swift sailor, at fifty per cent . . . Vessels built before the war cannot be 
insured at seventy-five per cent." 

2 The picture of her in chapter vii shows her merchantman rig. There 
is a full-rigged model of her as a privateer in the Peabody Museum, and 
a reconstructed sail-plan in the Essex Historical Collections, xxxvn, 7. 
During her three last cruises she was commanded by James Chever, Jr., 
of Salem, who had started as her cabin boy in 1804, and had had a 
brother impressed into the British navy. 



"Mr. Madison's war" interrupted the Pacific com- 
merce of Massachusetts, to the profit of Great Britain. 
English letter-of-marque whalers, some manned by 
renegade Nantucketers, played havoc with our Pacific 
whaling fleet until Captain David Porter turned the 
tables with the frigate Essex. The salty narrative of 
her cruise, by this young Boston commander, is the 
best bit of sea literature of the period. Captain Porter 
gave his scorbutic seamen six months of heaven in 
Nukahiva Island, of which he formally took possession 
in the name of the United States, and rechristened the 
principal harbor Massachusetts Bay. Although Cap- 
tain Ingraham of the Hope had discovered the island, 
the United States did not see fit to confirm Captain 
Porter's occupation ; and the Marquesas fell to France. 

The Essex never cruised far enough to protect our 
China and East- India traders. A number of them 
reached home safely during the first year of the war, 
giving small harbors their first and last contact with 
the Far East. Late in 1812 the ship American Hero 
from India put in at Barnstable. Early in April, 1813, 
the ship Sally from Canton learned from a fishing boat 
off Cape Cod that war had been declared the previous 
June. She also learned that two British frigates were 
waiting for her outside Boston Light. A favorable 
slant enabled her to slip into Plymouth Bay, and to 
give the Pilgrim capital its greatest sensation since the 
Mayflower landed. For not only did the Sally's rich 
cargo pay $133,731.47 in duties more than that 
customs district had taken in since Jefferson's em- 
bargo but she landed a Chinese passenger, who in 
full mandarin costume attended * meeting' the follow- 
ing Sabbath. The collector of the port of Boston did 
his best to deprive Plymouth of the duties ; but posses- 
sion proved nine points of the law, and the Sally's 



Canton goods were forwarded to her Boston owners in 
a fleet of wagons. 

At Honolulu, early in 1812, the Winships of Bos- 
ton had obtained a sandalwood monopoly from King 
Kamehameha I, in return for a percentage of the 
profits. Arrival of the first fragrant cargo at Canton 
was closely followed by news of the war, so that the 
Winships' agents, for fear of capture by English cruis- 
ers, had to ship the king's share of silk and specie in a 
slow Portuguese vessel. By the time she arrived at 
Honolulu, some British residents had so prejudiced 
Hawaiian royalty against Americans that the king 
showed signs of breaking the contract. To prevent 
this, Jonathan Winship, Jr. instructed the Portuguese 
captain to hold the specie until a new lot of sandal- 
wood forthcame; unless indeed a British cruiser ap- 
proached. In that event, the silver should be landed 
on the royal wharf, to avoid the possibility of seizure. 
A Hawaiian princess, overhearing the conversation, 
played a neat Yankee trick on the Yankee traders. At 
the lookout on Diamond Head, where the government 
maintained a signal station, her royal highness cor- 
rupted the human semaphore, who signaled to the inner 
harbor, " Big British warship coming! " The Portuguese 
captain hurriedly landed his cargo ; and before the ship- 
ping intelligence proved false, Kamehameha had the 
specie, and snapped his fat fingers at Messrs. Winship, 
Winship & Davis. Not until another reign did Amer- 
icans recover their influence at the Islands. 

In order to send instructions to their blockaded 
vessels at Whampoa, the Boston China merchants 
dispatched three letters-of-marque, the brig Rambler, 
sixteen guns and fifty men, ship Jacob Jones, and 
schooner Tamaamaah. 1 All three reached Canton 

1 The common spelling at that time of Kamehameha. 


safely, and took a few prizes off Lin tin. Ordering the 
merchant vessels to remain until peace was announced, 
the three letters-of-marque, loaded deep with China 
goods, dropped down-river from Whampoa on the 
night of January 18, 1815, passing in the darkness two 
British men-of-war, and about twenty armed East- 
Indiamen, which fired guns and burned blue lights to 
no purpose. Keeping company through the homeward 
passage, they arrived at Boston on May 3 and 4, 1815, 
1 08 and 109 days out from Whampoa, in time to get 
the high prices that prevailed just after the war. 

During the first six months of the war, every Atlan- 
tic port of the United States traded with England, 
under license from the British blockading squadron. 
The ship Ariadne of Boston, owned by Amorys, Per- 
kinses, Parsons, and Nathaniel Goddard, was a case in 
point. Obtaining informal permission from the Attor- 
ney-General and the Secretary of the Treasury, she 
took a cargo of provisions to Cadiz, under British 
license. It was currently believed in Massachusetts 
that tobacco from President Madison's own plantation 
went to England by this system, which Congress made 
no effort to restrain until the crops of 1812 had found 
profitable market. Much contraband trade went on 
over the New Brunswick and Florida frontiers, and 
part of the Massachusetts fleet took out Portuguese 
papers. Boston merchants made large profits from the 
enhanced price of foreign goods. John McLane cleared 
$100,000 by a corner in molasses soon after the decla- 
ration of war. Later, he established the McLane pro- 
fessorship of modern history at Harvard. 

By 1813 conditions had changed. Only five Ameri- 
can and thirty-nine neutral vessels cleared that year 
from Boston for foreign ports. On September 8 there 
lay idle in Boston Harbor, with topmasts housed and 



mastheads covered by inverted tar-barrels or canvas 
bags (" Madison's night-caps") to prevent rotting; 
ninety-one ships, one hundred and eleven barques and 
brigs, and forty-five schooners. And in December, 
1813, Congress passed a new embargo act, which for- 
bade all coastwise as well as foreign traffic, and was 
rigorously enforced. It is said that a man from the 
Elizabeth Islands, who brought corn to the New Bed- 
ford grist-mill, was refused clearance home for his 
bag of meal. Such a clamor arose against "Madison's 
embargo" that Congress repealed it in the spring of 
1814; but no sooner was this done than the British 
blockade was extended from Long Island Sound to the 

So completely did embargo and blockade stop 
coasting that a wagon traffic began between maritime 
Massachusetts and the South. Federalist wits ex- 
pended their energy on this new form of commerce. 
Pungs and wagons were christened the Jefferson's 
Pride of Salem, and Mud-clipper of Boston. News- 
papers reported, under "Horse-marine Intelligence," 
the entrance of fast-sailing wagons from New York 
and Albany, with news of vessels spoken en route, to- 
gether with sundry searchings by customs officials and 
boardings by tithing-men, who vainly invoked blue 
laws against the deep-sea slogan of "No Sundays off 
soundings." Chanties were composed for the land 

Ye waggoners of Freedom, 

Whose chargers chew the cud; 
Whose wheels have braved a dozen years 

The gravel and the mud. 

Much commerce was also done in whaleboats which 
sneaked along the South Shore to Sandwich, and were 
then transferred overland with their cargoes to Buz- 



zard's Bay, along the present route of the Cape Cod 
Canal. An adept at this trade was Captain John Col- 
lins, of Truro, who later became a famous packet-ship 
commander, and an organizer of the Collins line of 
ocean steamers. 

The British fleet made life very stimulating along 
the Massachusetts coast, during the summer and au- 
tumn of 1814. Two frigates made their headquarters 
at Provincetown, which the government had neglected 
to fortify, and cruised constantly between Cape Cod 
and Cape Ann. In August another British base was 
established at Castine on the Penobscot. South of the 
Cape, H.M.S. Nimrod ruled the waters of Nantucket 
and Vineyard Sounds, and Buzzard's Bay. These 
vessels captured, and often ransomed, such coasting 
and fishing vessels as ventured out ; their armed barges 
made frequent forays and landings on the coast, to 
destroy shipping and obtain fresh provisions. For de- 
fense, the Navy Department provided four Jeff ersonian 
gunboats, two at Newburyport and two at New Bed- 
ford, which were perfectly useless. The southern pair 
spent most of its time safely hidden in the Acushnet 
River, and even dared not attack the Nimrod when she 
stranded on Great Ledge near New Bedford. When 
the frigates raided Wareham, destroying buildings and 
shipping to the value of many thousand dollars, the 
gunboats bravely issued forth when it was all over 
and Wareham stopped counting her losses to laugh. 
Otherwise, Massachusetts depended for defense on her 
regular militia, stationed in small forts at most of the 
larger seaports; and on volunteer companies of 'sea- 

No part of the long coastline was unvisited by the 
British frigates or barges. They landed a crew at 
Thatcher's Island off Cape Ann, and dug potatoes; cut 



fishing boats out of Kettle Cove; drove a schooner 
ashore on Mingo Beach, Beverly; took vessels from 
under the guns of Fort Sewall, Marblehead, and cap- 
tured six coasters close by the Neck. In general, Brit- 
ish landing parties had their will of Federalist towns, 
and were driven off by Democratic towns. " Province- 
town received no small benefit from the English ves- 
sels, and some of the fortunes since acquired, had their 
beginning from this source," says the historian of 
Truro. Duxbury and Plymouth informed the com- 
mander of H.M.S. Leander that they considered the 
war none of their business; the Old Colony had not 
been consulted. But for the Gurnet garrison's per- 
verse belligerency, Pilgrim neutrality might have been 
respected. Nantucket declared her neutrality in Au- 
gust, in order to procure food through the blockade. 
So near starving was the island, that a local wag asked 
his rich neighbor for a hammer to knock his teeth out 
"he had no need of them, because he could n't get 
anything to eat!" 

Captain Mathew H. Mayo, of Eastham, impressed 
as pilot on board a captured pinkie, managed by a 
series of clever stratagems to run her ashore within 
a mile of his own house. For this exploit the town of 
Eastham paid twelve hundred dollars to the British 
authorities, under threat of bombardment. Brewster 
was an easier mark. In September, 1814, Commodore 
Ragget, of H.M.S. Spencer, demanded four thousand 
dollars, to spare the village and the salt-works. Brew- 
ster had a company of artillery, with two field pieces; 
but the town meeting (whose moderator was Captain 
Elijah Cobb, that young shipmaster who had bearded 
Robespierre) calmly paid the money. Such non-re- 
sistance was quite unnecessary, for the British war- 
ships could not get within range of the bay-side Cape 



cottages, and a good demonstration of militia usually 
frightened away landing parties. Democratic Orleans 
"promptly and indignantly rejected' 1 a demand for 
ransom, and was not molested. Two girls, left in 
charge of the Scituate Lighthouse, frightened off a 
British barge by retiring behind a hillock and playing 
furiously on fife and drum. 

Falmouth l best upheld the honor of the Cape. In 
January, 1814, the commander of H.M.S. Nimrod 
demanded that Falmouth surrender the Nantucket 
packet-sloop, and several pieces of artillery which had 
been used to good effect. Weston Jenkins, shipmaster 
and militia captain, replied, "Come on and get them!" 
The Nimrod then stood close in shore, and after grant- 
ing two hours' truce to remove non-combatants, bom- 
barded the houses from noon to nightfall. Eight can- 
non balls were lodged in one cottage alone ; but beyond 
smashing furniture and breaking salt-vats, little dam- 
age was done, and no lives lost. The entrenched mili- 
tia prevented a landing. Later in the year Captain Jen- 
kins, with a crew of neighbors in a small sloop, cut the 
British privateer Retaliation out of Tarpaulin Cove. 

Disaffection reached a dangerous point in all south- 
ern New England during the summer and autumn of 
1814. In addition to its original grievance against the 
war, maritime Massachusetts felt abandoned by the 
federal government. Her volunteers were marched off 
to the Canadian frontier, and her coast left defenseless ; 
while war taxes increased, and the administration 
showed no sign of yielding its high pretensions, which 
postponed the conclusion of peace. Interior Massa- 
chusetts was in general of like mind; and Connecticut 
and Rhode Island as well. Secession from the Union 
was openly propagated by the Federalist press; and 
1 The village now known as Wood's Hole. 


there are various indications that secession sentiment 
had gone far among the people. According to the rec- 
ords of the Beverly artillery company, it "exercised 
the Gun as usual and fired a Royal Salute of 5 guns," 
on July 4, 1814. The Newburyport Sea Fencibles, 
composed principally of shipmasters and builders, 
flung a five-starred, five-striped flag to the breeze 
from Plum Island fort. 

At the darkest hour of the war, when one British 
army was massed on the Lake Champlain front, an- 
other on its way to New Orleans, and the government 
of the United States a refugee from the destroyed capi- 
tal, the General Court of Massachusetts summoned 
a New England convention at Hartford, to confer 
not only upon military defense against the enemy, 
but on political defense against the administration. 
Although the moderate Federalists conceived the 
Hartford Convention largely as a safety-valve to the 
passions they had helped arouse, the Essex Junto 
had other plans. Timothy Pickering, just reflected to 
Congress by an all but unanimous vote, wished the 
Convention to draft a new constitution, and present it 
as a loaded pistol at the original thirteen states, with 
the alternative of an independent New England Con- 
federacy. John Lowell paved the way, with articles 
and pamphlets defending the right of secession. 

The unpatriotism of this programme needs no com- 
ment. However justified the Federalist opposition to 
the war in 1812, the war in 1814 had become a defen- 
sive struggle against the massed resources of the Brit- 
ish Empire. Napoleon had been disposed of. The un- 
wisdom of secession, for communities that depended for 
their very life on free intercourse with the other United 
States, is equally obvious. Politicians were perhaps 
more directly responsible for it than shipmasters; but 



the maritime interests of Massachusetts supported 
the politicians. And among the members of the Gen- 
eral Court who voted for a convention at Hartford 
were merchants like T. H. Perkins, Israel Thorndike, 
Daniel Sargent, and Captain William Sturgis. 

It seems strange that a people whose sails whitened 
every sea; whose two commercial cities, in many and 
remote parts of the world, stood for the United States; 
who talked familiarly of the Far West and Hawaii as 
The Coast and The Islands; should be so narrow and 
inflexible in their politics. Yet this attitude was 
natural and inevitable. Cesium non animum mutant 
qui trans mare currunt. They that do business in great 
waters have little in common with their land-plodding 
countrymen. Their native land is but a resting place 
between voyages ; a wharf and shipyard and cottage by 
the sea. New England was but a broader Nan tucket, 
where aged shipmasters could be found who knew half 
the coral reefs of the South Sea, but had never set foot 
in the United States. A sailor's daughter worked the 
creed of maritime Massachusetts into her sampler: 

Amy Kittredge is my name 
Salem is my dwelling place 
New England is my nashun 
And Christ is my Salvation. 

The Union ceased to be valuable when fresh-water 
politicians took bread from the mouths of honest sea- 
men. Better go it alone, a North American Denmark, 
than stifle under the rule of scatter-brained dema- 

New England held her breath while the Hartford 
Convention secretly deliberated. Its report, appearing 
on January 6, 1815, showed that common sense and 
moderation had gained control. The administration 
was severely scolded, and nullification threatened if 



conscription were applied. But secession was calmly 
considered, and ruled out of practical politics. 

Five weeks later, in the midst of a cold February 
that sealed the war-bound shipping in the idle ports, 
arrived the news of peace. From Newburyport to 
Provincetown sped the good news; shouted along the 
roads by stage-drivers through clouds of frozen breath, 
blared out by rusty fishhorns, and joyously tolled by 
meeting-house bells whose sullen silence no battle had 
broken. For maritime Massachusetts, peace meant the 
unlocking of prison doors; a return to the wide arms of 
her ocean mother. 



THE first few years of world peace were the severest 
test that maritime Massachusetts had ever met. New 
conditions, foreign and domestic, required a readjust- 
ment of her economic system. Europe at peace was re- 
covering her own carrying trade. Only gradually did 
England open her colonial ports to Yankee ships, and a 
generation elapsed before new markets were found in 
California, Australia, and South Africa. At the same 
time the westward movement in the United States left 
Massachusetts more remote from the center of popula- 
tion ; and it was difficult to find artificial means to sur- 
mount the Berkshire barrier. As places of exchange be- 
tween the West and Europe, ports like New Orleans, 
Baltimore, and New York with the Erie Canal, had 
such obvious advantages over Boston and Salem that 
it was difficult to see how Massachusetts could survive 
as a commercial community. The futile, unpatriotic 
policy of New England Federalism made Massachu- 
setts the butt and scorn of her sister states, and lost 
her, for the time being, all influence at Washington. A 
sullen pessimism was the prevailing attitude on State 
Street. The decline of Boston to a fourth-rate seaport, 
and the total extinction of Salem, were confidently 

The younger and more far-sighted men put their 
money and brains into making Massachusetts a manu- 
facturing state. Embargo and war had acted as a pro- 
hibitive tariff on English manufactures; and just be- 



fore the war ended two scions of shipping families, 
Francis C. Lowell and Patrick T. Jackson, prepared 
against peace by setting up power looms at Waltham, 
in the first complete American cotton factory. Against 
the will of the shipping community, they obtained a 
protective tariff in 1816; and within a generation the 
manufacturing cities of Lowell, Lawrence, Chicopee, 
and Manchester, had been established by capital ac- 
cumulated through neutral trading. Every country 
town with a good-sized brook or river set up a textile 
or paper mill or iron foundry; and a similar expansion 
in shoemaking altered the economy of fishing villages. 
The center of interest in Massachusetts shifts from 
wharf to waterfall; by 1840 she had become predomi- 
nantly a manufacturing state. 

Yet the same grit and enterprise that made this 
corner of the United States into a great workshop, 
managed to retain, and even to increase, its maritime 
activities. The merchants could no longer obtain spe- 
cial favors for their class. They were unable to main- 
tain a distinct political party. Federalism, after a 
placid and powerless Indian summer, melted into 
dominant Republicanism by 1825. Daniel Webster, 
the child whom it had raised, seceded to high protec- 
tion in 1828, and Boston ratified his change by electing 
Nathan Appleton to Congress against Henry Lee, a 
leading East-India merchant and brilliant writer on 
free trade. The mercantile and shipping community 
then made the best terms it could with the Whig 
Party. At the price of prohibitive duties on India 
cottons and cheap English woolens, and a heavy tariff 
on wool, hemp, and iron, it obtained low schedules 
for other Oriental goods, fruit and wines, and exotic 
products that did not compete with "infant indus- 
tries." Manufacturing stimulated the import of wool 




from Smyrna and South America, of coal from Phila- 
delphia, and cotton from the Gulf ports and Charles- 
ton; it provided a new export medium, domestic cot- 
tons, which Yankee vessels introduced into the world's 
markets ; and it greatly increased the buying power of 
New England. Many of the old mercantile families, 
who became pioneer manufacturers, still remained 
shipowners, reluctant to lose all touch with the element 
that raised them from obscurity; and merchant-ship- 
owners invested their surplus in manufacturing stock. 
Ships lay idle when looms were still, and the ebb and 
flow of commercial prosperity passed inland with the 
east wind. 

A surprisingly large tonnage managed to follow with 
profit the old routes established in Federalist days; 
proving that superior skill, not merely war conditions, 
was at the bottom of the earlier prosperity. Boston 
remained the principal North American emporium for 
East-Indian, Baltic, and Mediterranean products until 
the Civil War. And Massachusetts, though mutilated 
by the separation of Maine in 1820, remained the lead- 
ing shipowning state until 1843, when passed by New 
York. Maritime history is punctuated by depressions, 
when money was "tighter than the skin on a cat's 
back," by periods of inflation, and by the panics of 
1819, 1837, and 1857. But on the whole there was 
progress, both in technique and in earnings. The usual 
post-bellum inflation was liquidated in 1819. A toil- 
some advance in the eighteen-twenties was followed by 
perceptible speeding-up in the thirties, full-tide pros- 
perity in the forties, and a glorious culmination in the 
fifties, with the clipper ship. 

Concentration was the order of the day. In her 
struggle to keep pace with New York, Boston ab- 
sorbed the foreign commerce and shipping of every 



other Massachusetts seaport. The capital in twenty 
years' time recovered the losses from a decade of re- 
strictions and war. Newburyport, Beverly, Salem, 
Marblehead, and Plymouth, after a brave effort to 
pick up, turned to manufacturing. New Bedford and 
Gloucester, Wellfleet and Provincetown, survived 
through specialization in whale, mackerel, and cod- 

"Newburyport has withered under the influence of 
Boston," wrote Caleb Gushing in 1825. Her popula- 
tion declined from 7634 in 1810 to 6375 in 1830. The 
Middlesex Canal, by tapping the Merrimac River at 
Chelmsford, diverted from Newburyport the lumber 
and produce of southern New Hampshire. Portland, 
Boothbay, and Bangor, in the thriving state of Maine, 
were exporting their lumber and fish direct, undermin- 
ing her West-India trade. Gloucester absorbed a large 
part of her fisheries, and those of Ipswich as well. 
Deep slumber rested upon Newburyport. William 
Lloyd Garrison, the inspired printer's devil, tried to 
arouse her with a new journal, the "Free Press." 
High Street rubbed its eyes and rolled over, mumbling 
"Jacobin!" Then Garrison followed the white sails to 

Marblehead made a brave, and partially successful, 
effort to revive her Baltic, South American, and West- 
Indian trade after the war. In August and September, 
1821, she had three entries from St. Petersburg, two 
from Brazil, and two from Martinique; all of them 
schooners and brigantines from seventy-five to one 
hundred tons burthen. 1 But by 1840 her most success- 

1 One of them, the schooner Sarah, seventy-four tons, was the last 
command of John Roads Russell, who as a private in Colonel Glover's 
regiment had rowed the boat that ferried Washington across the Dela- 



ful merchants, such as Robert Chamblett Hooper, had 
moved to Boston; and the rest put their money into 
fishing schooners and shoe shops. Lucy Larcom has 
excited our pity for Hannah at a Window Binding 
Shoes in Marblehead, awaiting the return of fisherman 
Ben. Cold statistics, however, place Hannah among 
eleven hundred Marbleheaders producing annually 
over a million pairs of shoes, worth twice the average 
catch of the fishing fleet. Clearly, there were no eco- 
nomic grounds for Hannah's loneliness! 

Salem as a seaport died hard. The merchant-ship- 
ping firm of Silsbee, Stone & Pickman, formed in the 
eighteenth century, lasted until 1893, when their (and 
Salem's) last square-rigger, the Mindoro, left Derby 
Wharf to become a coal barge. Yet Salem was pros- 
trated by the war. Her overseas trading fleet declined 
from 182 sail in 1807 to 57 in 1815, and never again did 
she attain the tonnage or the entries of pre-embargo 
days. William Gray's departure to Boston in 1808 be- 
gan a process that did not stop. The removal of an- 
other leading family of merchants and shipmasters 

Old Low, old Low's son, 

Never saw so many Lows since the world begun 

to Brooklyn about 1825, where they established the 
merchant-shipping firm of A. A. Low & Brother, was a 
typical event of the period following 1815. "Nearly 
half our commerce and capital are employed in other 
ports," stated a Salem newspaper in 1833. 

It became the practice for a Salem East-Indiaman to 
make two or three round voyages before returning to 
the home port, in the meantime piling up a balance 
for the owner at the London banking house of George 
Peabody. This famous son of Essex County was born 
of poor parents in 1795, in the part of Danvers after- 



wards given his name. His first fortune was made in a 
mercantile business at Baltimore, between 1815 and 
1837, when he established himself in London as a com- 
petitor to Baring Brothers. Being a bachelor, George 
Peabody gave or bequeathed the bulk of his fortune, 
eight and a half million dollars, to the various funds, 
libraries, institutes, and museums that now bear his 
name. His partner and successor, Junius Spencer 
Morgan, left a son. 

Joseph Peabody, a cousin of George, was the wealth- 
iest merchant-shipowner of Salem between the em- 
bargo and 1845. He emphatically did not belong to the 
class described by Hawthorne, whose "ventures go to 
swell, needlessly and imperceptibly, the mighty flood 
of commerce at New York and Boston." His brig Le- 
ander, 223 tons, built at Salem in 1821, made twenty- 
six voyages to Europe, Asia Minor, Africa, and the 
Far East in the twenty-three years of her life. His ship 
George made twenty-one round voyages from Salem to 
Calcutta between 1815 and 1837, with such regularity 
that she was called the "Salem Frigate." 1 Salem ves- 
sels were always manned in part by local boys, but the 
George was a veritable training ship. No less than 
twenty-six mates and forty-five captains graduated 
from the forecastle of this floating bit of Essex County. 

"Capt. West is respected & loved by every man on board," writes 
John Lovett, her Beverly supercargo, from Leghorn in 1818. "And 
I must say I think there is but few better men in Beverly, than Mr. 
Endicott [the first officer] is. We have an excellent crew they are 
all young & very smart, & noisy enough. It is always ' drive on boys ! ' 
Whether to work, or to play, in the heat or cold, wet or dry. On the 

1 The ship George was 1 10 feet, 10 inches by 27 feet by 13 feet, 6 inches, 
328 tons, and somewhat of a Baltimore clipper model. Built at Salem 
for a privateer in 1814, she was purchased by Mr. Peabody for $5250. 
It is said that she made Salem in forty-one days from the Cape of Good 
Hope in 1831. 



passage the Capt. wished us to take care of ourselves, when the 
weather was bad the Ship was all under water and then he would call 
every man from the deck & forecastle to sleep in the cabin and then 
he was obliged to lay with us himself to keep peace that the Super- 
cargo & mates might sleep. We have discharged the principal part 
of our Cargo, and taken in some goods for Calcutta." 

On arrival there, he writes, "There are now four ships 
in this port belonging to Mr. Peabody. . . . There are a 
great many Beverly men of my acquaintance in this 

For several years Joseph Peabody competed in the 
China trade, and continued the famous pepper trade 
between Salem and Sumatra. It was in 1830 that his 
ship Friendship was attacked and captured by natives, 
off the village of Quallah-Battoo. 

Salem had not yet spent her maritime energy. The 
palm-tree, Parsee, and ship on her new city seal repre- 
sented something more than a tradition. Salem men 
and Salem vessels were still seeking the spoil of Ind, 
usque ad ultimum sinum. They clung to their Oriental 
specialties, like the Northwest Sumatra pepper trade, 
as barnacles to a ship's bottom; and taught new black 
and brown peoples that Salem meant America. One of 
our most interesting books of American voyages, "The 
History of a Voyage to the China Sea," by Lieutenant 
John White, U.S.N., records a Salem adventure in the 
brig Franklin, which sailed up-river to Saigon in 1819, 
and opened Cochin-China to American commerce. 
The Fiji Islands were repeatedly visited, in spite of 
their danger. Nathaniel L. Rogers's brig Charles Dog- 
gett, William Driver master, lost five of her crew at 
Fiji in 1833. In the very same month that Mr. Knight, 
of Salem, chief mate of the Friendship, was done in by 
Malays at Quallah-Battoo, his brother Enoch was 
killed by Penrhyn Island savages on board Joseph 



Peabody's ship Glide. In the interesting sailor's narra- 
tive of that disaster we find the best description of the 
Fiji trepang or beech-de-mer trade, which was mo- 
nopolized by about six Salem vessels until the Civil 
War. Cannibal chiefs, warriors, women and children, 
tempted by trinkets and Yankee notions, came from a 
radius of a hundred miles to gather the delectable sea- 
cucumber, which the Salem men boiled in ' pot-houses ' 
and cured in ' batter-houses ' erected on shore. The re- 
sultant trepang, to the annual value of thirty thousand 
dollars, was carried to Manila or Canton, whence it 
found its way into soup at mandarin banquets. Occa- 
sionally the proletariat of Fiji would unite, and make 
Salem stew in the 'pot-houses/ but the Salem men 
came back, and brought their wives. 

Several of these brave ladies of the sea, to our ulti- 
mate profit, were bitten by the literary microbe so 
common in New England of their day. Mrs. Captain 
Wallis, of the barque Zotoff, published an interesting 
"Life in the Feejees." Miss Lowe, in a delightfully 
girlish journal, has described life in the foreign settle- 
ment at Macao ; and her friend Mrs. William Cleveland 
made colored sketches of Macao types and incidents. 
A brief manuscript journal of her voyage to Timor, 
Macao, and Rio Janeiro also survives. Sailing from 
Salem in the ship Zephyr commanded by her husband, 
on October 29, 1828, they made Timor in the excellent 
time of eighty-nine days, and touched at various small 
islands and harbors to obtain sandal wood. At Dilli she 
sketched the process ; the Portuguese governor, clad in 
a scarlet silk shirt and white nankeen pantaloons, is re- 
clining in a hammock slung between two palm-trees, 
watching his subjects loading sandal wood logs on the 
Zephyr's tender. 

"If the natives on the West Coast of Africa have 



been temperate," remarks a historian of Salem, "they 
have been so in spite of the efforts of the Salem mer- 
chants to supply them with the materials for intemper- 
ance. . . . Salem has contributed largely to spread a 
knowledge of the virtue and good qualities of New 
England rum, of the astounding effects of gunpowder, 
and of the consoling influences of Virginia tobacco, 
among the savage tribes of the West Coast/' 1 There 
were 558 arrivals at Salem from that part of the world 
between 1832 and 1864. It was an alongshore bartering 
business, to obtain ivory, gold dust, palm-oil, peanuts, 
and camwood. Small brigs and schooners, often com- 
manded by their owners, made Africa somewhere 
about Sierra Leone, traded along the Guinea, Libe- 
rian, Ivory and Gold Coasts, and as far east as Akessa. 
At the larger places business was transacted through 
local merchants; but at the smaller trading stations 
the appearance of a Salem brig was a signal for the 
Kroomen to launch their long trading canoes through 
the surf. A sable potentate, dressed perhaps in a cast- 
off naval jacket, a hussar's helmet, and a loin-cloth, 
would be received on board and suitably 'dashed* 
(West Coast for tipped), to obtain his gracious per- 
mission for shipboard dicker, while the vessel lay at 
anchor or hove to. At Grand Bassam "we got a little 
ivory and camphor wood and a plenty of noise and 
begging," writes the mate of the African trading brig 
Neptune of Salem. "They always bring empty jugs 
with them if nothing else and plague a man's soul to 
death with entreaties to fill them with rum and gin and 
give them a little tobacco. A person may judge of the 

1 To which list they might have added cottons, wooden clocks, brass 
pans and other 'dicker' for the natives; and furniture, shoes, and pro- 
visions for the European residents. I have found no instance of Salem 
vessels engaging in the slave-trade at this period. 



pleasure and satisfaction we have in trading with them 
by supposing himself on board a vessel and from one to 
three hundred naked niggers on deck and every one of 
them howling with the full strength of their lungs to 
make themselves heard." 

This fever-infested coast was dangerous alike for 
seamen and for vessels. Harbors there were none, and 
the Salem brigs often needed their best seamanship to 
claw out of an anchorage that became a lee shore in a 
sudden change of wind, great rollers booming in at 
short notice, and breaking in forty feet of water. Yet 
the West Africa trade afforded a good living to many 
swapping Yankees, who had insufficient capital for the 
grand routes of commerce. 

It was in the early thirties that the smaller Salem 
shipowners began trading with Madagascar, and with 
the neighboring island of Zanzibar. There they ac- 
quired the friendship of the Sultan, Seyyid Said, and 
monopolized the export of copal, a basic gum for var- 
nish. An important local industry grew out of this 
trade. Jonathan Whipple discovered a new and cheap 
method of cleaning copal, about 1835, and about a 
million and a half pounds of the gum passed annually 
through his shop on the Salem water-front between 
1845 and 1861. 

Salem's vicinity to the Danvers tanpits and the cob- 
blers' shops of Essex County, enabled her to hold a 
place in the South American hide trade, which led to 
the creation of a new American industry. According to 
local tradition it was Captain Benjamin Upton who 
brought from Para, Brazil, in 1824, the first consign- 
ment of pure gum 'rubbers.' Although heavy and 
clumsy, stiff as iron in cold, and liable to melt in warm 
weather, these overshoes proved just the thing for 
navigating the slushy streets of Salem in winter. The 



local merchants, sensing a new trade, sent Lynn lasts 
to Para, and thereby procured a better fit of rubber 
overshoes than the original native product. The Para 
customs records show that between 1836 and 1842, 
that port sent three quarters of a million pairs of pure 
gum overshoes to Salem, almost as much as to all other 
places combined. Thus began a new branch of the 
New England shoe industry, and the first step towards 
Charles Good year's momentous discovery, in 1839, of 
the vulcanization of rubber. 

About 1845 the control of the Para rubber trade 
passed to New York, which gradually absorbed most of 
Salem's South American commerce, except a part of the 
hides needed for local consumption. Direct voyages 
from Salem to Manila continued until 1858; the ship 
St. Paul, owned by Stephen C. Phillips, making twelve 
round voyages in thirteen years. Salem clung desper- 
ately to her minor specialties, such as the trade with 
Fiji, Zanzibar, and the West Coast of Africa. But 
these were poor substitutes for the Calcutta, the China, 
and the Sumatra voyages, which ended with the death 
of Joseph Peabody in 1844. Although for fifty years 
thereafter a dwindling number of Salem firms traded 
with the Far East, Salem ceased to be an important 
seaport in 1845. 

x, That was the very year when President Polk ap- 
pointed Nathaniel Hawthorne surveyor of the port of 
Salem; in 1849 President Taylor removed him. In 
"The Scarlet Letter," which Hawthorne then wrote to 
replace official emoluments, he draws a true and en- 
during picture of Salem's gentle decay. The last en- 
tries from a dozen ports of world commerce had lately 
been recorded in the custom house, where Hawthorne 
dreamed away the idle days between the arrival of 
occasional hide ships, West Coast brigs, and Nova 



Scotia wood schooners. In 1848, with the establish- 
ment of the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Mills, Salem en- 
tered the factory era; and a fluttering drone of spin- 
dles began to dominate the empty harbor and idle 



BOSTON STATE-HOUSE is the hub of the solar system. You could n't 
pry that out of a Boston man if you had the tire of all creation 
straightened out for a crowbar. (The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table.) 

WHILE foreign trade slipped away from the smaller 
seaports of Massachusetts, and riverside villages be- 
came manufacturing cities, Boston commerce in- 
creased to an extent undreamed of in Federalist days. 
Without annexing territory, Boston grew from forty- 
three thousand to sixty-one thousand souls between 
1820 and 1830, passed the hundred-thousand mark 
about 1842, and increased over sixty per cent in the 
fifteen prosperous years that followed. In shipping 
and foreign commerce she managed to remain a good 
second to New York, despite the geographical ad- 
vantages of Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New Orleans. 
Never before or since had Boston Harbor been so 
crowded, or the waterfront so congested with sailing 
vessels. 1 In 1806, the banner year of neutral trade, one 
thousand and eighty-three sail entered Boston from 
foreign ports. In the eighteen-thirties the yearly aver- 

1 Average annual arrivals from foreign ports at Boston, by decades: 
1790-1800 1800-10 1810-20 1820-30 1830-35 1835-41 
569 789 610 787 1199 1473 

Annual arrivals of coasting vessels at Boston: 

1830 1840 1844 1849 1851 

2938 4406 5312 6199 6334 

From Hazard's U.S. Register, vi, 32, and Boston Shipping List and Price 
Current, January 3, 1852. 



age almost attained fifteen hundred, and the average 
size of vessels was growing as well. Coastwise arrivals 
increased in the same proportion; and. by 1844, when a 
new and even greater era began, fifteen vessels entered 
and left the harbor for every day in the year. 

At the same time Boston had become the financial 
center for New England manufacturing, with a bank- 
ing system that withstood the panic of 1837; and itself 
a manufacturing city for Yankee notions, in both 
senses of the word. Next door to the Boston merchants 
lived the Boston reformers and poets. Not that they 
were any more welcome than before 1815; but some- 
how they appeared; and not infrequently in the midst 
of a shocked shipping family. 

Old Boston was very young in 1840. "Here was the 
moving principle itself," wrote Emerson, "a living 
mind agitating the mass and always afflicting the con- 
servative class with some odious novelty or other/' 
Here, in 1832, young Emerson himself challenged the 
past by resigning the pastorate of the Second Church. 
Within a quarter-mile of State Street was the obscure 
hole where 'the freedom of a race began,' when in 1831 
young Garrison composed, set up, and printed the first 
number of "The Liberator." Wendell Phillips, off- 
spring of all that was worthy and respectable on Bea- 
con Hill, became Garrison's convert after seeing him 
mobbed by counting-room clerks. Under the very hub 
itself began a new chapter in education, when Hor- 
ace Mann, in 1837, became chairman of a new state 
board. The education of the blind had already begun 
through the concentrated brains, money, and benevo- 
lence of Samuel Gridley Howe and Thomas Handasyd 
Perkins. Longfellow, son of a member of the Hartford 
Convention, was domiciled under the Cambridge elms 
in 1836; and Prescott, whose father belonged to the 



same council of elders, produced his "Ferdinand and 
Isabella" the following year. In Faneuil Hall, in 1845, 
Charles Sumner flung down his challenge to milita- 
rism, which James Russell Lowell mercilessly satirized 
in the "Biglow Papers." Henry Thoreau, in the mean- 
time, had found a new way of life at Concord, and 
Brook Farm had flourished and collapsed. 

There is little connection, to be sure, between the 
maritime history of Massachusetts and these high 
lights of reform, revolt, and letters. Commercial Bos- 
ton published their books, and financed such of their 
efforts as came under patchwork philanthropy ; but for 
the most part ridiculed, condemned, or ignored. In all 
New England letters there is no genuine sea poetry; 1 
nothing to equal the rollicking chanties that the com- 
mon seamen improvised. Yet maritime Massachu- 
setts became articulate in Dana's "Two Years Before 
the Mast" and Melville's "Moby Dick." What sea- 
faring people, in the nineteenth century, has left prose 
monuments to compare with these? Dana, too, must 
be counted among the New England reformers. Many 
well-meaning people endeavored to save Jack's soul, 
philanthropists provided him with a snug harbor for 
his old age; Dana endeavored to obtain him justice. 

New York was the only successful rival to Boston 
among North American ports, if one takes shipping as 
well as commerce into consideration. Her exports 
steadily advanced, while those of Boston remained 
stationary; for Boston, as usual, lacked a good export 
medium. 2 The imports of Boston increased, but New 

1 Longfellow's" Building of the Ship"and Whittier's" Legends of New 
England" perhaps might be stretched into this class, and Holmes's 
prose passage on "Sea and Mountains" in The Autocrat, paper xi. In 
general, however, the New England poets' attitude toward the sea ia 
that of a summer boarder who is afraid to get his feet wet. 

2 New England manufactures were absorbed largely by the domestic 



York's increased still more, and by 1845 the Empire 
State had a greater fleet than that of Massachusetts. 
To the extraordinary commercial growth of New 
York, the Bay State was a leading contributor. Many 
of the famous New York shipbuilders and merchants 
were Massachusetts men. "What aided in making 
great merchants in this city thirty years ago," wrote 
the author of "Old Merchants of New York City" in 
1863, "was their having foreign or New England con- 
nections. Most of the shipping was owned in these 
eastern places, and consequently the merchant in New 
York who had the most extensive eastern connec- 
tions did the largest business." "It is well known," 
writes another Manhattan expert in 1844, "that one- 
third of the commerce of New York, from 1839 to 
1842, was carried either upon Massachusetts' account, 
or in Massachusetts vessels." Eighty- three per cent 
of Boston's imports were on local account; i.e., pur- 
chased abroad by Boston firms. But only twenty- 
three per cent of New York's imports were owned 
by New-Yorkers. Manhattan's geographical position 
was such that all the world poured gold into her lap. 
Boston's growth resulted entirely from local enter- 

Shipping is the main explanation of Boston's suc- 
cessful rivalry with her other American competitors. 
A large proportion of the American merchant marine 
was still owned by Boston merchants, who preferred to 
handle the cargoes themselves rather than give Phila- 
delphia or Baltimore the profits of distribution. The 
ability of her merchant-shipowners to earn freights, to 

market. The average yearly export of domestic cottons from Boston was 
only about $2,250,000 between 1848 and 1856, although Massachusetts 
and New Hampshire together produced cotton goods to the value of 
$28,500,000 in 1850. 



gather in cargoes from all parts of the world, and to 
find the right market, lay at the very root of Boston's 

The old commercial spirit kept Boston abreast of 
modern improvements, provided harbor and railroad 
facilities, built larger and faster vessels, and estab- 
lished packet-lines. Boston's "principal advantage for 
the security of vessels," wrote a New-Yorker in i844, 1 
"and it is one that distinguishes this port from other 
principal ports of our country," is her "numerous 
docks, which are constructed with solid strength, and 
run far up into the city. These are bordered by con- 
tinuous blocks of warehouses, either of brick or Quincy 
granite, which have an appearance of remarkable uni- 
formity, solidity, and permanence. By the arrange- 
ment of these docks the numerous vessels, whose trac- 
ery of spars and cordage line them on either side, may 
unship their cargoes at the very doors of the bordering 
warehouses, and receive in return their supplies for 
foreign ports with the utmost security and dispatch." 

Central Wharf, built in 1819, with fifty- four brick 
stores running down its center for a quarter of a mile, 
was a fitting companion to India Wharf. In its upper 
stories were three great halls for auction sales, and in 
its octagonal cupola the headquarters of the "Sema- 
phore Telegraph Company," to which the approach 
of vessels was signaled from Telegraph Hill in Hull. 2 
Below, as on India Wharf, were warehouses, whole- 
sale stores, and counting-rooms of leading mercantile 
firms. Here cargoes from all parts of the world were 
bought and sold and accounted for, without the aid of 
steam heat, clacking typewriter, and office system. An 

1 James H. Lanman, in Hunt's Merchants' Magazine, x (1844). 
* Central Wharf is shown on the left of Salmon's painting of the 
Wharves of Boston. 



odor of tar and hemp, mingled with spicy suggestions 
from the merchandise stored above, pervaded every- 
thing. Respectable men clerks (female clerks, sir? 
would you have female sailors?) on high stools were 
constantly writing in the calf-bound letter-books, 
ledgers, and waste-books, or delving in the neat 
wooden chests that enclosed the records of each par- 
ticular vessel. Owners, some crabbed and crusty, others 
with the manners of a merchant prince, received you 
before blazing open fires of hickory or cannel coal, in 
rooms adorned with portraits and half-models of ves- 
sels. Through the small-paned windows one could see 
the firm's new ship being rigged under the owner's eye. 
The invention and quick application of steam rail- 
roads was a great aid to the commerce of Boston. After 
playing with the idea of a Boston and Albany canal, 
Massachusetts wisely accepted the veto of her topogra- 
phy. In 1825 the Quincy Granite Railway, a short 
gravity tramway connecting granite quarries with 
tidewater, was financed by Thomas Handasyd Perkins. 
Further progress was delayed for several years, but by 
1841 railroads spread fan wise from Boston to Salem 
and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to Lowell and other 
manufacturing centers, to Providence and to Albany. 
Other local lines, like the Old Colony to Plymouth, 
soon followed. The Western Railroad, Boston's single 
connection with the West, was badly managed, and 
sent very little through freight to her wharves until 
after the Civil War, when the first grain elevator was 
erected on the harbor front. But the others, with 
water-front termini at Boston, and (in 1850) a belt- 
line connecting all with each other and the wharves, 
distributed incoming cargoes to inland points, and 
brought miscellaneous products of farm and forest, 
home workshop and factory, to Boston warehouses. 



More important than the railroads as distributing 
agencies were the sailing packets. Every tidewater 
village between Eastport and Provincetown, and many 
beyond, had a packet-sloop plying to Boston. Even 
nearby Hanover found it cheaper to send packet-sloops 
down the tortuous course of the North River and 
around the Cohasset reefs to Boston, than to use the 
road. Plymouth, in 1830, had a population less than 
five thousand ; but six sloops of sixty tons each were em- 
ployed as Boston packets, exchanging local products 
for raw materials used in the textile, iron, and cordage 
factories; two schooners of ninety tons plied around 
the Cape to Nantucket, New Bedford, and New York; 
and three other vessels brought lumber from Maine. 
A study of our coasting trade would reveal many 
quaint characters, and curious trade routes. Skipper 
Brightman, of Westport, for instance, collected fresh 
eggs from the surrounding country, and took them to 
Providence market in his sloop ; he calculated that by 
1840 he had transported at least three million and a 
half eggs. Hingham maintained rival Republican and 
Federalist lines of Boston packets; and so high ran 
political feeling that if a Federalist missed his boat he 
would spend the night on Long Wharf rather than 
take the Jacobin sloop. The Federalist Rapid, built in 
1811, long outlasted her party, continuing in service 
until the Civil War. 

Short local lines like these had existed since colonial 
days, and in the Federalist era there had been "con- 
stant traders," as they were advertised, which took 
freight to New York, Albany, Philadelphia, Alexan- 
dria, and Baltimore. Innovations of the era of peace 
were regular packet-lines l to Southern ports and to 

1 A packet-line, as the term was understood before the Civil War, 
meant two or more vessels whose owners advertised sailings to desig- 



Liverpool. By 1844 we find advertised in the Boston 
papers the " Regular " line, with four vessels running to 
Havana, and others to Alexandria and Washington, to 
Savannah, and every ten days to New Orleans ("The 
ship has fine 'tween decks for dry goods, shoes, &c."). 
Allen & Weltch are running packets to Norfolk, Mo- 
bile, and to New Orleans ("elegant and extensive 
accomodation, no ice or lime taken"). Nathaniel 
Winsor competes for the New Orleans, the Savannah, 
and the Mobile traffic; A. C. Lombard's line runs to 
Charleston, Benjamin Bruce's to Mobile, W. B. Ken- 
dall's to Savannah, and Reed's to Norfolk, City Point, 
and Richmond; Baltimore is served by the Manufac- 
turers', the Union, and the Despatch lines; four differ- 
ent lines run to Philadelphia, and at least five to New 

Since colonial days there had been constant traders 
between Boston and Liverpool and London; but the 
famous Black Ball Line of New York, established in 
1816, was the pioneer transatlantic packet-line under 
the American flag. The Boston & Liverpool Packet 
Company was founded in 1822, with four new ships 
named after jewels, one of which, the Boston-built 
Emerald 1 made an extraordinary passage from Liver- 
pool to Boston under Captain Philip Fox, of Cohasset. 
Leaving Liverpool on February 20, 1824, at 3 P.M., 
she stayed with an easterly gale all the way, and car- 
ried sail enough to keep her lee rail buried until 3 P.M. 
March 8, when she hove to for a pilot off Boston 
Light, just seventeen days out. Three hours later 
she anchored below Fort Independence. The owners 

nated ports, on schedules as regular as wind and weather permitted; and 
which depended for their profit on freight and passengers furnished by 
the public, rather than goods shipped on their owners' account. 
1 Length no feet, breadth 27 feet, tonnage 359. 





thought she had returned from some mishap on her 
outward passage, and would hardly believe Captain 
Fox until he handed them some Liverpool papers of 
the day he sailed. 

Captain Fox was an early example of that breed of 
sea-captains called 'drivers/ for in 1819 he had made 
a similar passage only a few hours longer, in the Merri- 
mac-built ship Herald, 302 tons. Neither vessel ever 
showed much speed under other masters. To appreci- 
ate his achievement we must remember that the 
Emerald's record for a westward transatlantic passage 
was seldom, perhaps only once, surpassed by a sailing 
vessel, and then by a clipper ship five times her size. 1 

The Boston & Liverpool Packet Company failed 
very shortly, and was succeeded by a new line in 1827, 
for which several packet-ships of about 425 tons each 
were built to order at Medford and Boston. The ac- 
commodation plans of one of these, the Dover (121 feet 
long, built at Charlestown by John M. Robertson in 
1828), show a forty-five foot main cabin with eleven 
staterooms about six feet square; a library, wine and 
spirit room, covered deck abaft the mainmast, for 
passengers' use and a ''bathing room" (by the bucket 
method probably) on the port quarter. The charge 
for cabin passage was $140, including " mattresses, 
bedding, wines, and all other stores." 

1 Captain Clark (Clipper Ship Era, 247) states that the record is fif- 
teen days Rock Light to Sandy Hook, made by the Andrew Jackson 
(1676 tons) in 1860. The famous Dreadnought's fastest westward passage 
was nineteen days. For a good example of the untrustworthiness of 
second-hand and subsequent statements of sailing ships' records, com- 
pare the yarns about the Emerald's passage in R. W. Emerson's Journals, 
in, 204 (told him in 1833 on shipboard); Nathaniel Spooner, Gleanings 
from the Records of the Boston Marine Society (1879), 98; H. A. Hill, 
Trade and Commerce of Boston (1894), 121, with Edmund P. Collier (who 
took the pains to examine contemporary and reliable sources), Cohasset's 
Deep-Sea Captains, 13. 



Both packet-lines succumbed for the same cause: 
Boston's inability to furnish return cargoes. England, 
unlike the Baltic and Mediterranean, imported her 
East- and West- Indian goods in her own bottoms. No 
money could be made in the miscellaneous notions 
sassafras, corn husks, cow horns, and rubber shoes 
that Boston was shipping to Liverpool at this period. 
The packets were forced to Southern ports for an out- 
ward cargo of cotton ; and this detour lost them their 
passenger business. Not until 1844, when the Train 
Line was founded, did Boston get a Liverpool sailing 
packet service of any vitality. 

As early as 1825 the Boston merchants began to talk 
of a transatlantic steamship line. The matter had to 
wait until Samuel Cunard founded his North American 
Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, in 1839. Greatly 
to the delight of Bostonians, Mr. Cunard chose their 
city as his United States terminus. A wharf and docks 
at East Boston were leased to him rent free; and on 
June 2, 1840, the pioneer Cunarder Unicorn, 700 tons, 
entered the harbor. Boston had hardly recovered 
from the banquets given in her honor when the Bri- 
tannia steamed in, bearing Mr. Cunard himself; and 
a new set of festivities commenced. A fortnightly 
schedule of side- wheelers was soon established, greatly 
to the disgust of New York, which had only one trans- 
atlantic steam packet to Boston's four. In January, 
1844, when Boston Harbor froze out to Fort Inde- 
pendence an event that comes hardly once a genera- 
tion the local merchants, to escape the jeers of New 
York, had a channel cut for the Britannia to get to sea. 

The average length of the first thirty passages of 
Cunard liners to Boston, including the stop at Halifax, 
was one hour less than fifteen days. Within a decade, 
the time had been reduced by thirty hours. Rarely a 



sailing packet would make better time than this on an 
eastward passage; but for westward passages the 
Emerald's record was never surpassed by a packet- 
ship, and seldom approached. The average was nearer 
forty days. A great Train packet-ship in the fifties 
once took fifty-six days to make Boston against west- 
erly gales, and a New York liner once required sixteen 
weeks. The sufferings of the Irish immigrants, who 
came to Boston in these and even less speedy and com- 
modious sailing vessels, were hardly inferior to those 
of the seventeenth-century Puritans who founded our 
first settlements. 

The maritime enterprise of Massachusetts seemed 
to crumple up before the problem of steam navigation. 
On western waters the steamboat became an estab- 
lished institution before the Peace of Ghent ; but Yan- 
kees, for a generation after, regarded a steamer trip as 
a reckless form of sport. They felt much safer under 
sail. The shipwrecks on a lee shore, broachings-to and 
"all hands lost," of which the interior read with horror, 
seemed light risks in comparison with bursting boilers, 
scalding steam, and " burning to the water's edge." 
Even within my recollection, old ladies would ask for 
a stateroom on the Bangor boat "as far as possible 
from the boiler." 

Coastwise steam packet-lines were established very 
slowly. In 1 8 1 7 a group of Salem men purchased in New 
York the steamboat Massachusetts, and attempted 
to establish a route between Salem and Boston. Al- 
though they advertised liberally in the newspapers, 
offering the public a trip around the bay at a dollar a 
head, no 'write-up' appeared, or passengers either. 
The Salem "Gazette" even described a "melancholy 
occurrence" on the Potomac, a steamboat accident 
with details "too shocking to relate," at a time when 



the Massachusetts was trying to drum up trade. She 
was sold to the southward, and wrecked. A New 
Bedford-Nantucket service was attempted the next 
year in the Eagle, but withdrawn for want of patron- 
age. A tiny steam tug, the Merrimack, was placed on 
the Middlesex Canal in 1818, and several times at- 
tained Concord, New Hampshire ; but proved a finan- 
cial failure. 

Beyond a daily summer service to Nahant, which 
began in 1818, Boston had no steamboat facilities until 
1824, when a Maine corporation established a line 
from Boston 'down East.' The Medford-built steam- 
boat Patent left Boston every Tuesday for Portland 
and Bath. There one could transfer to the steamboat 
Maine (a local product of two schooners' hulls, fas- 
tened catamaran fashion), for Boothbay, Owl's Head, 
Camden, Belfast, Sedgwick, Cranberry Isles, Lubec, 
and Eastport. The entire journey consumed five days, 
spending the nights in harbors along the coast. A di- 
rect line to the Penobscot was established in 1833, 
with the steamboat Bangor. Replaced by a larger boat 
in 1842, and sold to the Turkish government, this 1 60- 
foot sidewheeler cheerfully proceeded to Constanti- 
nople under her own steam, calling for coal at Nova 
Scotia, Fayal, Gibraltar, and Malta. 

The remaining story of Massachusetts steam navi- 
gation before 1860 is one of costly failures in transat- 
lantic enterprises, ambitious projects that came to 
nothing, and a slow improvement in the down East, 
Nantucket and Long Island Sound service. Down to 
the Civil War steam played a very small part in the 
commerce of Massachusetts. 



Boston of 1 830, already outgrown her original penin- 
sula, was unable to make land fast enough to prevent 
both commerce and population spilling over into 
near-by islands and necks. Charlestown was more 
populous in 1860 than the whole of Boston in 1800; 
and East Boston, which as Noddle's Island had just 
twenty-four inhabitants in 1825, passed the fifteen 
thousand mark within thirty years. East Boston owed 
its sudden rise to a shipbuilding industry, which in 
twenty years' time produced the finest sailing ships 
that the world had ever seen. Owing to lack of timber, 
which all New England shipyards had drawn from 
their immediate neighborhood and back-country, Bos- 
ton had declined as a shipbuilding center. In 1834 the 
pioneers of East Boston purchased land and erected 
a sawmill on Grand Island in Niagara River, transport- 
ing the timber to Boston by Erie Canal and Albany 
sailing packet. When Samuel Hall, of the old North 
River breed of master builders, established a yard at 
East Boston in 1837, the future of that place was 

No sooner had Boston acquired a municipal govern- 
ment than it resumed the process of pulling itself a few 
yards nearer the sea, by filling in the old Town Cove, 
whose creeks and docks ran up into the heart of the 
city. Josiah Quincy, the second mayor, turned out to 
be as far-sighted and enterprising in municipal affairs 
as he had been narrow-minded and reactionary in the 
affairs of the nation. His monument is Quincy Market 
and the surroundings; completed in 1827 at a cost of 
over a million dollars. Unlike modern municipal im- 
provements, Quincy Market not only paid for itself, 
but has returned a handsome income to the city. A 
stone's throw from the market was a new town wharf, 
where market boats could land their provisions. Com- 



mercial Street was laid out to the northward along the 
heads of the wharves, filling up many a noisome dock 
on its way. To the southward, India and Broad 
Streets made the water-front until Atlantic Avenue 
cut off another bight of harbor in 1868. 

Charles Bulfinch was employed in Washington from 
1817 to 1830, and made few designs after his return. 
The mode of his successors in the public architecture 
of Boston, Isaiah Rogers, Ammi B. Young, and Alex- 
ander Parris, was the neo-classic, with heavy Doric 
pillars and pediment; their material, smooth Quincy 
granite, a stone without the mineral constituents to 
acquire an agreeable patina, but which takes on a cer- 
tain dingy impressiveness with age. Their masterpiece 
was the "new Custom House" constructed between 
1837 and 1848 at the head of the tongue of water be- 
tween Central and Long Wharfs. Its classic pediment 
and monolithic granite pillars each brought from 
Quincy by thirty-two yoke of oxen now mask the 
foundations of the twentieth-century Custom House 

The center of mercantile and municipal Boston in 
1840 was the Old State House, at the head of State 
Street. Built in 1748 to house the Province govern- 
ment, its walls had once resounded with the eloquence 
of Otis and the Adamses. After the state government 
had moved to its Bulfinch front on Beacon Hill, the 
Old State House became the town, and subsequently 
the city hall. But there was plenty ol room to spare. 
The small size, and still more the modest government 
of the Boston of 1840, is brought home to us when we 
find that this three-story brick building, no by 38 
feet, housed not only the municipal government, but 
the post-office and a merchants' club. In the ground- 
floor room at the Washington Street end, Nathaniel 



Greene, with fifteen other deserving Democrats, a 
messenger and a porter, handled Boston's mail. Over- 
head was the hall of the Common Council. Opposite, 
in the old Council Chamber, "the chief magistrate of 
the city, together with the City Clerk, remain through 
the day in the discharge of their ordinary duties," and 
the Board of Aldermen meet on Monday evenings. In 
the attic, and around the central stairs, were the offices 
of all other city officials. Under the aldermen's cham- 
ber, looking down State Street, was Topliff's News 
Room, a subscription club and reading-room for Bos- 
ton merchants. Newspapers and periodicals from all 
parts of the world, a complete register of entrances and 
clearances in American and foreign ports, and bulle- 
tins from foreign correspondents, were kept on file. 
Samuel Topliff had a system of signals from Long 
Island in the harbor to his house on Fort Hill, to in- 
form him of arriving vessels, when a swift rowboat that 
he maintained would put out to obtain the latest for- 
eign news. The Boston newspapers of 1840, lacking 
an Associated Press to give them such foreign news as 
seemed wise for the people to know, used Mr. Topliff 
as a news bureau. 

The Boston merchants still continued their eight- 
eenth-century custom of meeting on 'change, at one 
o'clock every week day, to discuss business and politics 
before going home to their two or three o'clock dinner. 
That formidable rite over, they 'took the air' in 
chaise or sleigh on the Mill Dam, or otherwise amused 
themselves while clerks carried on business in the 
counting-rooms. 'Change had been somewhat broken 
up into cliques by the practice of dispersing to adjoin- 
ing insurance offices in wet or cold weather. In order 
to restore a community spirit, a new Merchants' Ex- 
change building was erected on State Street in 1842. 



Thither removed the Topliff News Room, and the pre- 
vious year the municipal government had moved to 
the Court-House that Bulfinch built in 1810 on the 
site of the present City Hall. The Old State House 
was then given over to shops and offices. 

During the generation following the war, fashionable 
Boston covered the open pastures and spacious gardens 
of Beacon Hill, with blocks of houses in smooth-faced 
red brick. Their architecture retained enough im- 
press of Bulfinch to be vastly superior to anything that 
followed, but sacrificed his sense of proportion to a 
fashion for long, high-studded rooms, and ignored the 
fine detail that gave half its charm to Federal architec- 
ture. Louisburg Square, and the North side of Mount 
Vernon Street, are the best surviving examples of this 
style of the early thirties. In the flush days of the early 
fifties the newly rich turned toward the newer South 
End, where they surrounded graceful squares and 
lined broad avenues with brown-stone fronts and high 
stoops, which they speedily abandoned when the Back 
Bay was filled in. Western Avenue or the Mill Dam 
(now Beacon Street) was completed in 1821 across the 
Back Bay, which sheet of water, after a further cutting 
up by railroad embankments, became a veritable open 
cesspool. After prolonged litigation the filling in of 
the Back Bay ("with tomato cans and hoop skirts," as 
the ancient jest records) began in 1858. 

Many of the leading merchants had remained faith- 
ful to the older South End, to be near their counting- 
rooms and the harbor. Summer Street, with provin- 
cial and Federal mansions surrounded by gardens and 
shaded by great elms, was the favorite residence 
of retired shipowners. A wall of Chinese porcelain 
screened the house of John P. Cushing from vulgar 
gaze; the door, opened by Chinese servants, disclosed 



a veritable museum of Eastern art. The first shop in- 
vaded Summer Street in 1847; Bulfinch's incompa- 
rable crescent on Franklin Place was replaced by gran- 
ite business blocks between 1857 and 1859; and by the 
Civil War this section was almost wholly given over to 

Despite the rise of manufacturing, merchants con- 
tinued to dominate the social life of Boston. In the old 
directories one finds under the heading of " Merchants, 
principally ship owners and importers of cargoes of 
Russia, South America, Calcutta, Canton, European 
and West India Goods, etc.," most of the leading busi- 
ness men in Boston. Many left fortunes that are still 
intact; a few left some trace in local history. 

Robert Bennet Forbes had the most original brain, 
and the most attractive personality of any Boston 
merchant of his generation. His first sea- voyage was 
made in 1811 as a six-year-old passenger with his 
mother in the fish-laden topsail schooner Midas, to 
join his father Ralph B. Forbes in France. The whole 
family, including the baby, James Murray Forbes, 
afterwards a famous railroad builder, returned in an 
armed Baltimore clipper in 1813, escaping the British 
blockading squadron by a running fight. Perhaps it 
was his short French residence that gave Bennet his 
frank, impetuous nature, so foreign to his Scots blood 
and Yankee upbringing. 

Although a nephew of the great T. H. Perkins, 
young Bennet found no short cut to fortune. Shipping 
before the mast in the Canton Packet at the age of thir- 
teen, "with a capital consisting of a Testament, a 
Bowditch, a quadrant, a chest of sea clothes, and a 
mother's blessing," he rose to be master at twenty, 
passed but six months ashore in ten years of China 
trading, and commanded his own ship at twenty-six. 



At twenty-eight he entered the firm of Russell & Co., 
Canton, and rose to its head in eight years more. In 
1840 he became merchant-shipowner in Boston; and 
engaged in various picturesque and benevolent side 
activities. An early convert to the screw-propeller and 
the iron steamer, he would have had Massachusetts 
lead in steam as in sail; he did introduce auxiliary 
steamers to the waters of China, and built the first 
ocean-going twin-screw iron tugboat, which was ap- 
propriately named R* B. Forbes. 

The merchants of Boston were quick to respond 
whenever disaster came to the toilers of the sea. 
About 1840 a group of Boston gentlemen sent a cargo 
of provisions to famine-stricken Madeira, the product 
of whose vineyards had brought cheer to themselves 
and gout to their grandfathers. The grateful people re- 
turned the relief ship Nautilus laden with their choicest 
wine; and I have happily ascertained that the "Nau- 
tilus Madeira" is not yet entirely consumed. In 1841 
a disastrous storm at Cape Ann brought charity nearer 
home. But the Irish famine of 1846-47 brought the 
-greatest charitable 'drive' of this period. Early in 
1847 a New England Relief Committee for the Famine 
in Ireland and Scotland was organized at Boston, with 
Mayor Quincy as chairman. Through free advertising 
and local committees, cash and provisions to the value 
of over $150,000 (of which $115,500 from Massachu- 
setts) were quickly collected in New England, and a 
few hundred dollars additional came in from Yankees 
in the West, all forwarded to the wharves free of trans- 
portation charges. Congress, at the request of Robert 
C. Winthrop, lent the sloops-of-war Jamestown and 
Macedonian. The former began to load at Boston on 
St. Patrick's Day. Local Irishmen completed the 
work in record time, and on March 28 the vessel, laden 



to the danger point and officered by civilian volunteers 
under R. B. Forbes, caught a fresh northwest breeze 
from her wharf. Through northeast gales and with 
roaring westerlies in that boisterous season on the 
Western Ocean, Captain Forbes drove the Jamestown 
without mercy, mindful of the starving children of 
Erin. Fifteen days and three hours out from Boston, 
he let go both anchors in Cork Harbor. Few sailing 
packets at any season have made a faster passage. 
But she had only transported one quarter of New Eng- 
land's contributions. Captain Forbes, refusing flatter- 
ing invitations to Dublin Castle and London, drove 
her back to Boston, and hastened to New York to load 
the Macedonian, which the New York relief commit- 
tee had been unable to fill. Four merchant ships and 
two steamers were required to take the balance. Had 
Old England shown the same prompt generosity as 
New England, there need have been no famine in 

Once more, Boston's bread cast upon the waters 
returned after many days ; in the stomachs of brawny 
Irishmen who came to build her railroads, tend her 
looms, and control her politics. Furthermore, the 
Jamestown's voyage began a regular grain trade be- 
tween Boston and Great Britain. 

Two years after this errand of mercy, Captain 
Forbes, now aged forty-five, was the hero of a collision 
at sea between the Cunard side-wheeler Europa and 
the barque Charles Bartlett of Plymouth, laden with 
emigrants. Leaping overboard, he passed the end of a 
rope around a fat German, and clung to him while both 
were alternately jerked out of water and plunged under 
it by the rolling of the ship to which the rope was fast. 
Then taking bow oar in a lifeboat, he helped pull more 
people out of water. This was only one of a series of 



adventures that make his "Personal Reminiscences" 
one of the best books of its kind. 

Captain Forbes was also one of the pioneer yachts- 
men of New England. Yachting in Massachusetts re- 
sulted from a new custom of the merchants, a summer 
residence by the sea. In Colonial and Federalist days, 
Boston and Salem were so salty themselves that the 
few who felt the need of a "change of air" took it' in- 
land, at a country seat. Horticulture was the gentle- 
manly hobby for a shipowner. But as Massachusetts 
turned inland for profit, she returned seaward for pleas- 
ure. Thomas Handasyd Perkins set a new fashion 
when, in 1817, he built a stone cottage just above the 
Spouting Horn at Nahant. 

This rugged peninsula at the north margin of Boston 
Bay, a miniature, even rockier Marblehead, had re- 
mained a mere sheep-pasture for lack of a proper har- 
bor. After the war several Boston families began 
boarding in the few native houses, and in 1818 crowds 
of excursionists came by the steamboat Eagle to view 
Swallow Cave, Pulpit Rock, Natural Bridge, and other 
features that appealed to a romantic age in literature. 
Samuel A. Eliot erected a worthy example of the Greek 
revival in 1821; Frederic Tudor, the ice king, built 
a tasteful stone cottage in 1825, established a remark- 
able garden, and set out elm-trees. 1 The first Nahant 
Hotel, also of stone, was built on East Point in 1820, 
on the site of Senator Lodge's present voting residence ; 
and quickly became the center of fashionable summer 
life on the New England coast. Other mercantile fam- 
ilies followed the dean of their order; and by 1860 
Nahant exhibited every known atrocity in cottage 

1 Like almost everything else Mr. Tudor did, the setting out of elms 
was scoffed at "no tree would grow on Nahant." The Tudor elms 
now make one of the most handsome avenues of trees in New England. 



architecture, and had fairly earned its jocose subtitle 
of "Cold Roast Boston." 

This peaceful capture of Nahant by the merchant 
princes began a process that has utterly transformed 
the New England sea-front. Swampscott, for exam- 
ple, was a poor fishing village until 1815, and mainly 
that for another forty years. ' Farmer ' Phillips began 
taking a few summer boarders the year of peace. In 
twenty years this business had so expanded l that one 
of our earliest barrack-like summer hotels was erected, 
on the site of the present Ocean House. In 1842 a mer- 
chant of Boston offered four hundred dollars an acre 
for a farm next the hotel, and the astonished native 
threw down his rake and ran for a lawyer to get the 
deed signed before the Bostonian came to his senses! 
'Cottages' began to spring up along the picturesque 
bluffs and beaches; and to-day Swampscott is part 
summer resort, part bourgeois suburb of Lynn and 

The nucleus of the present Gold Coast from Beverly 
Cove to Eastern Point began between 1844 and 1846, 
when four Bostonians of mercantile stock, and a retired 
Salem shipmaster, purchased the better part of the 
shore-front of Beverly Farms; and Richard Henry Dana 
established the first summer estate in Manchester. 
The native who sold his hundred-acre seashore farm to 
Charles C. Paine for six thousand dollars (possibly a 
hundredth part of its value to-day), felt rather badly 
about the price. "These city men don't know nothing 
about farming land," he said, and threw in a yoke of 
white oxen to square the bargain with his conscience! 
It was not the fault of these newcomers that the North 

1 'Aunt Betsey' Blaney, for room and board in 1830 charged three 
dollars a week, "which was considered high, as the boarders often waited 
upon themselves." 



Shore eventually became a millionaires' club. They 
only asked to be let alone in their simple pleasures of 
boating and fishing, and driving along the twisty lanes 
of Essex County weather-rusted houses of the seven- 
teenth century with tiny detached shoe shops, elbowed 
apple-trees dropping their fruit over stone walls, dark 
pine woods where witches used to lurk, glimpses of sea 
and islands and white sails from close-nibbled sheep- 

About the same time the picturesque shore-line and 
excellent shooting at Cohasset attracted thither a few 
Boston families; and Daniel Webster maintained his 
magnificent physique by fishing and farming on his 
Marshfield estate. J. Murray Forbes acquired a foot- 
hold at Naushon in 1843, and the whole island fifteen 
years later. 

"What can be more magnificent," wrote this same 
Forbes at sea in 1830, " than a strong gale (right astern, 
mind) of a clear winter's day the ship springing for- 
ward under reefed topsails, and nothing to be seen but 
the white foamy tops of the waves. There is nothing 
that elevates the spirits so much as this, it is like riding 
a fiery horse, he goes at his own speed, but he carries you 
where you guide." Memories of these halcyon days 
led the Boston merchants to yachting, after their re- 
tirement from the sea. Others, like Captain Charles 
Blake, of the barque Griffin, returned to the ocean 
after acquiring from her bounty the privilege of leis- 
ure; trading about the Mediterranean and South Sea 
for the mere joy of it. Yachting, at best, is a poor imi- 
tation ; yet even a sail in sheltered waters, if the breeze 
be brisk, gives something of that mental uplift of which 
Forbes speaks, and the skipper of the smallest sail- 
boat that boasts a crew is kin to the proudest clipper 
ship commander. 




Apart from the two famous yachts owned by George 
Crowninshield, Jr., and small undecked pleasure boats, 
Massachusetts yachting begins in 1832 when Benja- 
min C. Clark, a Boston Mediterranean merchant who 
passed his summers at Nahant, purchased the pilot 
schooner Mermaid. John P. Gushing, just returned 
from China, then had built for him the sixty-foot 
pilot schooner Sylph and made his young kinsman 
Robert Bennet Forbes her sailing master. Her first 
cruise, with Captains 'Bill' Sturgis and Daniel C. 
Bacon as guests, was a night run from Boston 
around the Cape to Wood's Hole, which she made in 
fourteen hours. Before returning, the Sylph won the 
first recorded American yacht race, from Vineyard 
Haven to Tarpaulin Cove, against the schooner yacht 
Wave, owned by Commodore John C. Stevens, of Ho- 

In 1835 R. B. Forbes was elected commodore of the 
Boat Club, an association of young merchant-ship- 
owners and gentlemen of leisure, which owned a thirty- 
ton schooner yacht, the Dream. Three years later, 
with Daniel C. Bacon and Willaim H. Bordman, 
Forbes built another schooner, the Breeze, which 
started her career by racing the Dream from Boston 
to Marblehead for lunch, and then home; the Breeze 
flying an empty champagne bottle in lieu of ensign. 
The following year came a famous ocean race, from 
Long Island to Halfway Rock off Marblehead and 
back, between the New York sloop Osceola and Mr. 
Clark's new thirty-six-foot schooner Raven, which 

Off Nahant, on July 19, 1845, was held the first 
open yacht race in Massachusetts. A contemporary 
painting, here reproduced, gives a scene at this pioneer 
regatta. From left to right the contestants are the 



Stars and Stripes, a Swampscott fisherman; the sloop 
Evergreen, owned by an aboriginal Johnson of Na- 
hant ; Mr. Clark's Raven, the schooner Avon (on the port 
tack), owned by Edward Phillips; the Northern Light; l 
and the schooner Quarantine, owned by the City of 
Boston. Of these only the Avon and Raven started in 
the race, but there were nine other contestants not 
shown in this picture. Wind was steady, from the 
S.S.E., the hotel was full of guests, the rocks covered 
with spectators, and a fisherman's dory race (shown 
in the foreground) furnished additional sport. The 
course was triangular, around a stake-boat off the 
Graves, around Egg Rock, and thence to the starting- 
line off Nahant. The schooner Cygnet, owned by John 
E. Thayer, a Long Wharf boatman, finished first, but 
the little Raven came in only four minutes later, and 
won on a time-allowance. 

The fame of this regatta, the boats owned by her 
summer residents, and a huge new hotel, made Nahant 
the yachting center of Massachusetts Bay until the 
Civil War; although some very fast yachts, including 
the Cygnet, were kept for hire by the Long Wharf boat- 
men, who took many a party of jolly fellows for a Sun- 
day cruise down harbor and bay. For many years 
almost all the yachts were of schooner rig, and differed 
not from the prevailing type of pilot-boat and clipper 
fishing schooner; indeed, a pilot- boat was often pur- 

1 This schooner yacht (62 feet, 8 inches, by 17 feet by 7 feet, 3 inches, 
70 tons), designed by Lewis Winde, a Danish naval architect, settled in 
Boston, who made a specialty of pilot boats, was built at Boston in 1839 
at a cost of $7000, and owned by William P. Winchester, a beef-packer. 
She was the largest and smartest yacht in Massachusetts waters for 
many years. Her bends were scraped bright and varnished, she had 
black topsides with a crimson stripe, and her crew wore red shirts and 
white trousers. She was lost in the Straits of Magellan in 1850, when on 
her way to San Francisco. 



chased] for a yacht, or vice versa; and several yachts 
were sent to Pacific waters to be used as pilot-boats or 
opium clippers, 1 Light sails and outside ballast were 
unknown. But in 1854 the centerboard sloop James 
Ingersoll Day, built at Stonington, Connecticut, came 
around the Cape, beat everything in Massachusetts 
Bay, and forced the local designers to create a yacht- 
ing type. Although George Steers, of New York, with 
his America had the start of them, the Boston yacht 
designers pulled ahead after the Civil War. Corin- 
thian yachting is the only maritime activity, save 
fishing, in which Massachusetts still retains her pre- 

Summer vacations and summer yachting were the 
privilege of a very few, until after 1870. Almost every 
Boston boy learned to swim, to pull an oar, and to sail 
a small spritsail-rigged boat. His education was not 
complete until he had gotten lost in the fog, and spent 
the night on an island in Boston harbor. But another 
half-century passed before the income or the taste of 
bourgeois and mechanic allowed acquisition of summer 
camp and catboat. 

Bourgeois Boston inhabited the West End, the filled- 
in Mill Pond land and South Cove, and overflowed to 
South and East Boston. The proletarian quarters 
were the Broad Street-Fort Hill section, and the North 
End, east of Hanover Street. Here were the sailors' 
boarding-houses and dance-halls, and here lived the 
longshoremen, truckmen, and Irish laborers. Over 
half were foreign-born; congestion and the infantile 

'* The pilot schooner Fanny (7 feet by 18 feet, II inches, by 7 feet, 
22 inches, 82 tons), designed by William Kelly and built by his brother 
Daniel at East Boston in 1850, made San Francisco via the Straits of 
Magellan in 108 days from Boston, and served as pilot-boat to the 
Golden Gate for twenty-six years. 



death-rate were becoming a public scandal. For Bos- 
ton had no city water supply until I848, 1 nor until 
then one scrap of plumbing. 

In North Square, the heart of the workers' district, 
Father Taylor set his net for sinners. This remarkable 
man was born in Virginia in 1793, went to sea at seven, 
and sailed the globe for ten years. In 1810, still a 
foremast hand, a vessel brought him into Boston. 
Strolling along Tremont Street, he heard the bell toll- 
ing in the new steeple of Park Street Church, where, to 
use his own words, he " put in, doffed hat and pennant, 
scud under bare poles to the corner pew, hove to, and 
came to anchor." A Methodist preacher completed his 
conversion. War followed, and Edward T. Taylor 
experienced privateering and Dartmoor. Returning to 
Boston, he peddled tinware about the country-side, 
exhorted sinners in the Old Rock school-house at 
Saugus, rode the Methodist circuit of eastern Massa- 
chusetts, and was called by the Boston Port Society 
to its seamen's chapel. A new Sailors' Bethel was 
erected for him on North Square in 1833, and for 
the next thirty-eight years he walked its pulpit like a 

"I have never heard but one essentially perfect orator," wrote 
Walt Whitman in his "November Boughs." "During my visits to 
'the Hub,' in 1859 and '60 I several times saw and heard Father 
Taylor. In the spring or autumn, quiet Sunday forenoons, I liked 
to go down early to the quaint ship-cabin-looking church where the 
old man minister'd to enter and leisurely scan the building, the 
low ceiling, everything strongly timber 'd (polish'd and rubb'd appar- 
ently), the dark rich colors, the gallery, all in half-light and smell 
the aroma of old wood to watch the auditors, sailors, mates, 
1 matlows,' officers, singly or in groups, as they came in their physi- 
ognomies, forms, dress, gait, as they walk'd along the aisles 

1 Save a supply piped in hollow pine logs from Jamaica Pond, which 
reached comparatively few homes. 




their postures, seating themselves in the rude, roomy, undoor'd, 
uncushioned pews and the evident effect upon them of the place, 
occasion, and atmosphere. . . . 

"Father Taylor was a moderate-sized man, indeed almost small 
(reminded me of old Booth, the great actor, and my favorite of those 
and preceding days), well advanced in years, but alert, with mild 
blue or gray eyes, and good presence and voice. Soon as he open'd 
his mouth I ceased to pay any attention to church or audience or 
pictures or lights and shades; a far more potent charm entirely 
sway'd me. In the course of the sermon, (there was no sign of any 
MS., or reading from notes), some of the parts would be in the high- 
est degree majestic and picturesque. Colloquial in a severe sense, it 
often lean'd to Biblical and Oriental forms. Especially were all allu- 
sions to ships and the ocean and sailors' lives, of unrivall'd power and 
life-likeness. Sometimes there were passages of fine language and 
composition, even from the purist's point of view. A few arguments, 
and of the best, but always brief and simple. ... In the main, I 
should say, of any of these discourses, that the old Demosthenean 
rule and requirement of 'action, action, action,' first in its inward 
and then (very moderate and restrain'd) its outward sense, was the 
quality that had leading fulfilment. 

"I remember I felt the deepest impression from the old man's 
prayers, which invariably affected me to tears. Never, on any similar 
or other occasions, have I heard such impassion'd pleading such 
human-harassing reproach (like Hamlet to his mother, in the 
closet) such probing to the very depths of that latent conscience 
and remorse which probably lie somewhere in the background of 
every life, every soul. For when Father Taylor preach 'd or pray'd, 
the rhetoric and art, the mere words, (which usually play such a big 
part), seem'd altogether to disappear, and the live feeling advanced 
upon you and seiz'd you with a power before unknown. Everybody 
felt this marvellous and awful influence. One young sailor, a Rhode 
Islander (who came every Sunday, and I got acquainted with, and 
talked to once or twice as we went away), told me, ' that must be the 
Holy Ghost we read of in The Testament.' . . . 

" I repeat, and would dwell upon it (more as suggestion than mere 
fact) among all the brilliant lights of bar or stage I have heard in 
my time ... I never had anything in the way of vocal utterance to 
shake me through and through, and become fix'd, with its accom- 
paniments, in my memory, like those prayers and sermons like 
Father Taylor's personal electricity and the whole scene there 
the prone ship in the gale, and dashing wave and foam for back- 



ground in the little old sea-church in Boston, those summer Sun- 
days just before the secession war broke out." 

The fame of Father Taylor was more widespread 
than that of any Massachusetts author or statesman, 
for it penetrated every part of the world visited by 
ships and sailors. When he died in 1871, "just as the 
tide turned, going out with the ebb as an old salt 
should," Father Taylor was mourned by thousands of 
humble folk who had never so much as heard of 
Emerson and Webster. 

* * 

The coming of the Cunarders increased the morale 
of commercial Boston several hundred per cent. A 
New York paper admitted that Boston's trade with 
New Orleans and the Mississippi Valley equaled Man- 
hattan's. Boston is "gaining rapidly on her great rival, 
New York," crows Hay ward's Gazeteer in 1846. 
"In arrivals from foreign ports, New York exceeded 
Boston in 1839, 606 vessels ... in 1844, only 34 ves- 
sels." So many of Boston's foreign entries were Nova 
Scotia schooners that the tonnage figures tell a differ- 
ent story; but her waterfront activity in the harbor, 
with close to three thousand foreign and six thousand 
coastwise entries a year, was prodigious. If Boston 
really expected to catch up with New York commerce, 
she was destined to disappointment ; not even Yankee 
ingenuity could overcome the Hudson and the Erie. 
But in 1 845 the most prosperous decade in the maritime 
history of Massachusetts was just beginning. 



LITTLE change can be observed in the routes or the 
methods of Massachusetts commerce between 1815 
and 1850. Maritime commerce is still a tale of the 
West Indies and South America, of Mediterranean and 
Baltic, of East Indies and China and South Seas, and of 
small coasters that assembled and distributed cargoes. 
Certain routes, like the New Orleans and the South 
American, rise greatly in importance; others, like the 
Northwest fur trade, decline; but no new ones were 
established, for the excellent reason that our pioneer 
shipmasters of the seventeen-nineties had traced every 
ocean-way that could be pursued with profit, until 
new folk-migrations made new markets in California, 
Australia, and South Africa. 

In 1815 the old crew merely picked up the lines 
which war had loosed, and continued hauling to the 
old chanties. The bulk of our overseas trading was 
done by merchant-shipowners as before, men who 
owned fleets of vessels both large and small, traded 
with many countries on their own account, chartered 
their vessels or took freight for others when opportun- 
ity offered, distributed their cargoes by auction sales 
on the wharf or through their own wholesale stores in 
Boston. Commerce was still dominated by the men 
who had learned its secrets as captains and super- 
cargoes before the war. 1 

1 Of the twelve officers of the new Boston Chamber of Commerce 
founded in 1836, I recognize the names of all but three as prominent 
merchants and shipowners of the Federalist period. 



Besides the establishment of packet-lines, which we 
have already noted, one noteworthy change took 
place in maritime technique between 1815 and 1850 - 
an improvement in the design, rig, and handling of 
vessels. A shipmaster, retired since 1819, who took 
passage fifteen years later on a recent Boston-built 
ship, was astonished at her ability to carry sail, to beat 
to windward, and to "tack in a pint o' water." The 
Medford builders, in particular, had quietly evolved 
a new type of about 450 tons burthen which, handled 
by eighteen officers and men, would carry half as much 
freight as a British East-Indiaman of 1500 tons with 
a crew of 125, and sail half again as fast. Such a ship 
cost, in 1829, seventy dollars a ton to build or thirty 
dollars to charter for a China voyage; she could earn 
forty dollars a ton freight out and home and the in- 
surance rate was four per cent for the round passage, 
one per cent less than was charged Englishmen. More 
carrying capacity, and greater speed than older vessels 
of the same burthen, were obtained by greater length 
and depth in proportion to breadth, and a cleaner run. 
The bows are still bluff, but have sweeter water-lines 
than the older vessels. Longfellow has described the 
type in his "Building of the Ship": 

Broad in the beam, but sloping aft 
With graceful curve and slow degrees, 
That she might be docile to the helm, 
And that the currents of parted seas, 
Closing behind, with mighty force, 
Might aid and not impede her course. 

Iron was superseding rope for permanent lashings such 
as trusses, parrels, and the gammoning of bowsprits. 
Sails were now made of Lowell cotton duck, instead of 
Russia linen or baggy, porous hemp; and there were 
many more of them. Vessels of this period, in fact, 



carried a loftier rig in proportion to their length than 
the clipper ships. Skysails appear for the first time in 
our merchant fleet, and royal studdingsails so small 
that the seamen called them the 'tub o' dusters.' Rus- 
sell Sturgis describes sailing from Manila to Caspar 
Passage in 1844, with eleven sails set on the mainmast 
alone. Quarter-galleries, quick-work and gingerbread- 
work alike disappeared ; leaving nothing of traditional 
adornment but a figure-head or billet-head, and a small 
scroll or shield on the transom. The clean, stripped, 
youthful-looking hulls, in marked contrast to the 
painted ladies of Federalist days, were clothed in dead 
black, relieved only by a bright waist, or white strip 
checquered by black ports. 

In the shipbuilding boom that began about 1831, 
Maine overtook her parent Massachusetts. The great 
shipyards of the Sewalls and others on the Kennebec, 
St. George, and Penobscot rivers became serious com- 
petitors of the Mystic and Merrimac ; and small coast- 
ing vessels were constructed all along the spruce- 
rimmed shore. Skeleton schooners and brigs crowded 
the shingle beaches at the head of rocky coves; then 
noisy with the cheerful clatter of shipbuilding, now si- 
lent from one year's end to another, save for scream 
of tern, and quork of blue heron. 

Very different types of vessels were needed for dif- 
ferent routes. For the cotton-carrying trade the old- 
fashioned converging topsides were preferred, to in- 
crease stability with so light a cargo. But most ship- 
owners wanted vessels-of-all-work, as it were, which 
could be sent to any part of the world where chances 
were good and freights high. The finest type of the 
period was the Medford- or Merrimac-built East- 
Indiaman; seldom over five hundred tons burthen, and 
usually smaller; for the size of vessels was just begin- 



ning to increase. The Alert, which seemed so enormous 
to Dana after his California voyage in the brig Pilgrim, 
was but 113 feet long and 398 tons burthen. The 
Rajah, built by J. Stetson at Medford in 1836, 530 
tons, 140 feet long, and 30 feet beam, is cited as "a fair 
specimen of our best freighting vessels." 1 They were 
not sharp ships, or clipper ships, or one-quarter the 
size of the most famous clippers; but they were the 
fastest and most economical ocean carriers of their 
generation. With their burly bows, lofty rig, flush 
decks, and bright waist or painted ports, these old 
Boston East-Indiamen have a certain charm that 
the clippers lack. Happy they, born in time to have 
seen such a ship rolling down from St. Helena, lee and 
weather studdingsails set alow and aloft, tanned and 
bearded sailors on her decks and Anjer monkeys chat- 
tering in her rigging, wafting an aroma of the Far East 
into the chilly waters of Massachusetts Bay. 

From 1815 to 1840 Yankee seamen still existed. 
A strong minority, in some cases a majority, of foreign- 
ers, especially Johnny Bulls and Scandinavians, could 
be found in the forecastle of almost every Massachu- 
setts vessel. But the greater part of most crews were 
native Yankee. ' Crimping' had not yet become the 
usual method of shipping a crew. Wages were lower 

1 In the Newburyport yards, the Volant of 457 tons, launched in 1810, 
held the record for size until 1836, when John Currier, Jr., built the 
Columbus, 594 tons, for the Black Ball Line. The next record-breakers 
in size were the Flavio, 698 (1839), St. George, 845 (1843), and Castillian, 
1000 (1850). In the Medford yards, no vessel over 435 tons was built 
between 1810 and 1832. The first over 500 tons came in 1834, over 600 
in 1837, over 800 in 1839, and the thousand-ton mark was touched in 
1849. The yards of Bath, Maine, first passed the soo-ton mark in 1836. 
In 1841 the Sewalls built the Rappahannock, 1133 tons, for the cotton 
trade. She was too large to be profitable, and it is said that freight 
dropped a quarter, of a cent a pound whenever she appeared at New 
Orleans. Not until 1852 did the Bath yards build another vessel above 
1000 tons. 





than in Federalist days eight dollars a month for 
boys, ten for ordinary and twelve for able seamen on 
long voyages but good men were still attracted by 
the chance to rise, for vessels were small, and the pro- 
portion of officers to men about one to four or five. It 
was not uncommon for youngsters of the best families 
to ship before the mast, although these ship's cousins, 
as the regular seamen called them, generally bunked 
in steerage or 'tween-decks, and played the gentleman 
ashore. "Sailors are the best dressed of mankind," 
wrote Emerson in 37 4' North, 36 n' West. They 
still wore a distinctive costume; shiny black tarpaulin 
hat, red-checked shirt, blue bell-mouthed dungaree 
trousers, navy-blue pea-jacket or watch-coat off the 
Horn ; and for shore leave, a fathom of black ribbon for 
the hat, black silk kerchief in a neat sailor's knot 
around the neck, white ducks and black pumps. 

The standard of seamanship was never higher. No 
man could be rated an able seaman until he became an 
expert in the beautiful splicing, seizing, parceling, 
graffing, pointing, worming, and serving which was 
included in the old-time art of rigging. Even an ordi- 
nary seaman was expected, "to hand, reef and steer, 
... to be able to reeve all the studdingsail gear, and 
set a topgallant or royal studdingsail out of the top; 
to loose and furl a royal, and a small topgallant-sail 
or flying jib; and perhaps, also to send down or cross 
a royal yard." Constant, hard work was the rule. No 
'sogering' was allowed on Yankee vessels, and the 
treatment of the men was sometimes unnecessarily 
harsh, as Dana relates. Medicine chests were carried, 
and many a stern master nursed a sick seaman back 
to health in the cabin. But how these deep-sea sailor- 
men must have laughed at the unconscious humor of 
Dr. Lowe's "Sailor's Guide to Health" which accom- 



panied the medicine chests! Among the rules in this 
omniscient manual were, "Use tobacco sparingly if at 
all"; "Eat freely of vegetables, especially on long voy- 
ages"; "Observe regular hours for sleep"; and "Select 
an anchorage to the windward of the land." 

It was no laughing matter, however, for a sick sea- 
man who fell under the care of a captain's wife, so 
conscientious as Mrs. William Cleveland, of the Salem 
ship Zephyr. This good lady relates in her journal for 
1829, how, "intending to be on the safe and cautious 
side," while in the fever-infested waters of Timor, she 
gave a chilly sailor "a powerful dose of Calomel and 
Jalap which was afterward followed by a dose of castor 
oil and numerous injections, blisters upon the calf of 
both legs after soaking them well in hot water, a blister 
on the breast, throat rubbed with Cinnamon, &c. He 
complained of no pain excepting the headache . . . soon 
after, delirium came on, which continued but a short 
time when he appeared to fall into a gentle quiet sleep 
. . . " and passed away. 

This voyage of the Zephyr is the earliest instance 
that has come to my notice of a Massachusetts ship- 
master taking his wife to sea. The practice never be- 
came general until after the Civil War, but on short 
voyages was not uncommon in the forties. Captain 
Caleb Sprague, of Barnstable, master of the ship 
North Bend, writes from Bordeaux in 1844, "There is 
9 American Vessels here and 5 of the Capts. have their 
Wifes. ... we have had more invitations to dine than 
we have wish'd as the dinners in this Country are very 
Lengthy say from 3 to 4 houres before you rise from the 
Table and than not dry for Wine etc." No wonder 
Mrs. Sprague acquired a nautical turn of speech, re- 
marking that an ill-fitting suit of clothes on her small 
boy "set like a shirt on a marlin-spike." 



As for eating and drinking, the age of rum was pass- 
ing, and the age of canned goods not arrived. Water, 
hard-tack, molasses, and 'salt horse* were the stand- 
bys. Colored sea-cooks compounded these maritime 
staples into the questionable amalgams which Rufus 
Choate described in one of his glowing periods as the 
"nutritious hash, succulent lob-scouse, and palatable 
dandy-funk." At Anjer, where hogs, chickens, and 
fresh vegetables were incredibly cheap, shipmasters 
laid in a store of them ; but before long sarcastic grunts 
and crows informed the quarterdeck that Jack wanted 
his salt junk again. As one old shell-back asserted: 
"Yer may talk of yer flummadiddlers and fiddlepad- 
dles, but when it comes down to gen-u-ine grub, there 
ain't nothing like good old salt hoss that yer kin eat 
afore yer turns in and feel it all night a-laying in yer 
stummick and a-nourishin' of yer." 

Seafaring, at best, was a rough, dangerous calling, 
and often rendered unbearable by the brutality of 
master or mate. The humanitarian movement of the 
eighteen-thirties made a few feeble attempts to pro- 
tect Jack from injustice and extortion. A federal 
statute of 1835 prescribed severe punishment for an 
officer who "from malice, hatred or revenge" shall 
"beat, wound or imprison" a member of his crew, or 
inflict "any cruel or unusual punishment." An act of 
1840 gave a United States consul the power to dis- 
charge, with three months' advance pay, a seaman of 
whose cruel treatment he was convinced. It would 
seem, however, that those laws remained a dead letter, 
and that the shipmaster's despotism, benevolent or 
otherwise, remained unimpaired. Unscrupulous law- 
yers, inducing disgruntled seamen to bring action on 
flimsy grounds, so discredited the value of Jack's testi- 
mony that juries would seldom convict on it. And as 



United States consuls in those days received no sal- 
ary, but depended for their livelihood on commission 
business, they seldom had the courage to affront own- 
ers or officers. 

Nevertheless, a foremast hand on a Yankee East- 
Indiaman was the best paid, best fed, and most com- 
petent sailor in the world, regarded by coasters, fisher- 
men, whalers, and man-o'-war's-men, as the top-dog 
of his profession. And the officers must no more be 
judged by the brutality of Captain Thompson than 
other professions by their black sheep. A Yankee ship- 
master, in 1840, was the world's standard in ability and 
in conduct. The Massachusetts merchant marine was 
commanded for the most part by men of high charac- 
ter and education ; navigators who could work lunars as 
well as Bowditch himself, and who inherited all the 
practical seamanship of the old school; "merchant- 
captains" who owned part of their vessel, and had full 
responsibility in trading. Most of the famous clipper- 
ship commanders had their training during the thirties 
and forties, which we may fairly call the golden age of 
the American merchant marine. 

The old Northwest fur trade was resumed in 1815 by 
several Boston firms which had long been engaged in it. 
Captain 'Bill' Sturgis, now head of Bryant & Stur- 
gis, and Josiah Marshall, a countryman from Billerica 
who had built up an importing business at Boston 
during the Federalist period, were now the most active 
Nor'westmen. The letters of these firms show little 
change in method, but a decline in profits. Competi- 
tors were many; the Hudson's Bay Company, the 
Northwest Fur Company, American fur-traders who 



operated from St. Louis, and the Russians, who threat- 
ened to monopolize all. In consequence, the sea-otter 
became too scarce and high to continue an important 
medium for China. Between 1821 and 1830 the vessels 
annually engaged in the Northwest fur trade declined 
from about thirteen to two. For some years longer 
William H. Bordman, Jr., and Perkins & Co. found it 
profitable to carry supplies to Sitka and the Hudson 
Bay posts. But by 1837 the old Northwest fur trade, 
Boston's high-school of commerce for forty years, was 
a thing of the past. l 

When the fur-traders departed, the settlers began 
to arrive. Hall J. Kelley, an energetic and erratic Bos- 
ton schoolmaster, founded in 1829 an Oregon Coloniza- 
tion Society, which was supported by Edward Everett 
and other prominent men. His plans for peopling the 
banks of the Columbia with picked New Englanders 
came to naught, but his activities turned the minds of 
restless Yankees to that region. One of his associates, 
a Cambridge ice-man named Nathaniel J. Wyeth, led 
overland in 1834 the fi rs t R rou P of permanent settlers 
to the Oregon country. 

' In the meantime another outpost o/ Massachusetts 
had been founded, at Honolulu. In 1819 a band of 
Congregational missionaries and three native Hawai- 
ians, "formed into a Church of Christ" at Park 
Street, Boston, took passage around the Horn on the 
brig Thaddeus, to convert the heathen. On April 4, 
1820, one hundred and sixty-three days out of Boston, 
this Hawaiian Mayflower anchored abreast the village 
of Kailua, where the king and queen, with hundreds 

1 In 1831 Captain Dominis, of Josiah Marshall's brig Owhyhee, tried 
the experiment of bringing pickled Columbia River salmon to Boston. 
It sold for fourteen dollars a barrel, but the Treasury Department made 
Marshall pay duty on it, as if purchased outside the United States, and 
the venture was not repeated. 



of their subjects, were playing in the surf. Later in 
the day the royal family was entertained at dinner on 
the brig's quarterdeck. King Liholiho, dressed in a 
feather wreath, a string of beads, and a loincloth, was 
introduced to the missionaries' wives, while George 
Tamoree, a graceless native member of the party, fur- 
nished music for the meal on an orthodox bass viol. 

The Boston missionaries arrived in the nick of time, 
partially to offset the demoralization introduced by Bos- 
ton traders and Nantucket whalers. The latter were 
just beginning to use the Islands as a base; the traders, 
as we have seen, had been coming for a generation 
past. It so happened that the panic of 1819, making 
it difficult to procure specie for China, coincided with 
a new reign in the Sandwich Islands, which took the 
lid off the sandalwood traffic. Kamehameha I had con- 
served this important natural resource, so much in 
demand at Canton. But Liholiho, a weak-minded and 
dissolute prince, cheerfully stripped his royal domain 
in order to gratify tastes which the Boston traders 
stimulated. They sold him on credit rum and brandy, 
gin and champagne, carriages and harnesses, clothes 
and furniture, boats and vessels; until he had tonnage 
and liquor enough for an old-time yacht club cruise. 

In 1820 Josiah Marshall sent out from Boston two 
small brigs, which were exchanged for sandalwood at 
Honolulu. Bryant & Sturgis dispatched under the 
command of Captain John Suter, the veteran Nor'- 
westman, a veritable fleet consisting of the ships Tar- 
tar and Mentor, brigs Lascar, Becket, and Cleopatra's 
Barge. The latter was a famous vessel. Built at 
Salem in 1816 for George Crowninshield, Jr., a young 
gentleman of leisure, she had taken him on a trans- 
atlantic yachting cruise. Sold for a song after his 
death, she made a trading voyage to Brazil, and was 



then purchased by Bryant & Sturgis. The Hawaiian 
monarch gave in exchange for her an amount of sandal- 
wood worth fifty to ninety thousand dollars, and made 
her his royal yacht. 1 Her outward cargo, typical of 
the trade, is listed on the annexed bill of health. Pos- 
sibly its rhythmic phrasing is accidental. But General 
Henry A. S. Dearborn, who as collector of the port of 
Boston signed this document, was something of a lit- 
terateur. Did the romantic name and history of the 
Cleopatra's Barge inspire him to premature effort in 
free verse? 

The Barge was as long as the ship Columbia, but 
some of the schooners and brigs that our Pacific trad- 
ers sent around the Horn to Hawaii were even smaller 
than Captain Ingraham's brig Hope or John Boit's 
sloop Union. James Hunnewell, of Charlestown, who 
established a famous mercantile firm at Honolulu, 
brought out in 1826 a crank, leaky little schooner 
called the Missionary Packet, only fifty-four feet long, 
thirteen feet beam, six feet depth, and thirty-nine 
tons burthen. His passage of the Horn almost ended 
his career, and the single voyage took nine months. 
While resting at Honolulu after his hard experience, 
Hunnewell was pulled out of bed by a party of rollick- 
ing whalemen, and induced to treat the crowd from his 
cargo of rum. Disliking the quality of the liquor, they 
forced the owner to sample it himself before letting 
him go! 

This genial traffic continued about ten years, when 
sandalwood became a drug in the Canton market, and 
all but extinct on the Islands. In the meantime New 

1 The illustration, from a sketch made by Charles S. Stewart, one of 
the missionaries, in 1823, shows the Cleopatra's Barge under Hawaiian 
colors at Lahaina anchorage, island of Maui. Originally rigged as a 
brigantine or hermaphrodite brig, she was altered to a brig when she 
became a merchant vessel. 



Bedford and Nantucket whalers were flocking to 
Hawaii, to 'recruit/ as they called it, with fresh pro- 
visions and Kanakas. As many as sixty put in at 
Honolulu in 1822, and in 1844 the total arrivals of 
whaling craft surpassed four hundred. Their presence 
greatly increased the difficulties of the missionaries, 
but proved a godsend to the merchantmen whose 
holds they lined with oil and whalebone, obtained in 
Arctic and Japanese whaling grounds. At the same 
time the native demand for American manufactures 
was increasing. Hawaii by 1830 had become the com- 
mercial Gibraltar of the Pacific; the basis of a trade, 
by Massachusetts merchants there established, with 
California, Canton, Kamchatka, and the smaller 
South Sea islands. Honolulu, with whalemen and mer- 
chant sailors rolling through its streets, shops filled 
with Lowell shirtings, New England rum and Yankee 
notions, orthodox missionaries living in frame houses 
brought around the Horn, and a neo-classic meeting- 
house built out of coral blocks, was becoming as Yankee 
as New Bedford. " Could I have forgotten the circum- 
stances of my visit," wrote a visiting mariner in 1833, 
"I should have fancied myself in New England." 1 
Even the first constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii, 
issued by Kamehameha III under missionary influ- 
ence, had a flavor of the old Massachusetts theocracy : 
" No law shall be enacted which is at variance with the 
word of the Lord Jehovah." 

The Boston firms interested in Hawaii extended 
their operations to other South Pacific islands, violat- 
ing the old demarcation line at the expense of Salem. 

1 Francis Warriner, Cruise of the U.S. Frigate Potomac (1835), 224. 
Daniel Webster about 1840 tried a case at Barnstable, Cape Cod, that 
involved the nature of the entrance to the "harbor of Owhyhee." It 
was unnecessary to call in experts, as seven members of the jury were in- 
timately acquainted with said harbor. 



Josiah Marshall's brig Inore, Eliah Grimes master, 
even went to the Marquesas in search of edible birds' 
nests, but without success. A typical South Sea voyage 
was that of James Hunnewell's ship Tsar, Sam Ken- 
nedy master, a new vessel built for the Russian trade, 
and purchased from J. William Ropes for $28,000. 
Although of 470 tons burthen, the Tsar required no 
more men to handle her than a Nor'westman of one- 
quarter her size in the eighteenth century; for the 
South Sea was becoming safer than the Caribbean. 
Clearing from Boston in the spring of 1848, the Tsar 
stopped four days at Rio Janeiro, rounded the Horn, 
and let the trade-winds bring her to the enchanting 
island of Tahiti. For six weeks she rode at anchor 
in the landlocked harbor of Papeete (white crescent 
beach, border of palms, orange and banana trees, half 
concealing white cottages and thatched huts; back- 
drop of verdure-clad mountains, and slumbrous pour 
of surf on barrier reefs). Goods were sold to the 
amount of $23,712.20, including codfish, lumber, rice, 
Lowell and Amoskeag cottons, German glass, iron 
safes, needles and thread, drugs and gravestones. 
Some of the knobs dropped off the safes when swung 
out of the hold; one of the packages marked "Tartar 
Emetic" contained calomel; and one of the grave- 
stones, intended apparently for the Salem market, was 
already inscribed, "Sacred to the Memory of Maria 
Peabody." Otherwise everything was in good order. 
After selling all the market would take, Captain 
Kennedy unloaded a large separate consignment, with 
which Edward L. Gray, Jr., who sailed on the Tsar 
with his wife and sister, opened an agency at Papeete. 
Thence the ship proceeded to Honolulu, and discharged 
the rest of her cargo, including Merrimack Prints, 
Hamilton Ticking, Denims, fancy plaid linings, blan- 



kets, salt provisions, groceries and umbrellas, shoes 
and saddlery, and palm-leaf hats. Yankee mer- 
chants would carry coals to Newcastle, if Newcastle 
wanted them ! Captain Kennedy had the owners' per- 
mission to proceed from the Islands on "any lawful 
trade to any part of the world at peace with our na- 
tion," according to his judgment; or even to sell the 
ship. But the whalemen at Honolulu offered him a re- 
turn cargo of oil and bone, which with Hawaiian goat- 
skins and bullock hides, and some of the first gold- 
dust extracted from the California washings, gave him 
a valuable return freight. 

When the Northwest fur trade died out, its place 
was taken by the hide traffic with California. The 
Coast from Cape Mendocino to Cape San Lucas had 
long been familiar to contraband fur-traders from 
Massachusetts, when, in 1822, California's adhesion 
to the Mexican Empire threw open her ports to legi- 
timate commerce. Before the year elapsed, William 
Alden Gale, of Boston (Cuatro Ojos the Californians 
called him by reason of his spectacles), induced Bryant 
& Sturgis to send their Sachem to the Coast with a 
cargo of notions to exchange for hides. From that time 
to the Mexican War the Californians obtained most 
of their merchandise from Boston 'hide-droghers,' as 
these Pacific Coast traders were called ; for their return 
cargoes took the bulk of California's hides into New 
England shoe shops. In addition to this direct trade 
from Boston the sea-otter business continued into the 
thirties; New Bedford whalers visited the Coast for 
fresh beef, doing a little smuggling on the side; Boston 
firms at Honolulu smuggled in merchandise by swift 
brigs, using Santa Catalina Island as a base; and the 
China merchants sent over Canton goods direct. 
R. B. Forbes, when visiting the Mission Dolores at 


United States of America. 


'fit of iS&odton and 

To a\\ to -Whom these prestnta ahaVl come '. 

WE, the Collector and Naval Officer of the Port of Button and 
S~\ Charlettoicn, do, by the tenor of these presents CERTIFY and 
i make known, .that the Captain, Officers, fcJeamen, and Passenger? 

of the ilSs'/s/ called 

, laden with^ 

and o which 
consisting of 

is Captain ; 

Officers and Seamen, and 
Passengers, now ready to proceed on a 
elsewhere beyond sea, 

voyage to >^ '"'? 
/- . ' 

are all in good heidth. 

And we do further certify That no plague, or other contagious 
or dangerous disease at present exists in this port or in its vicinity. 



San Francisco in 1870, recognized among its 'old 
masters' some products of Hog Lane, Canton, which 
he had sold the padres thirty-five years before. 

Secularization of the missions was regretted by the 
Yankee traders, from its unsettling effect on business. 
Protestants were not permitted to remain in Mexican 
California, but many Yankees of Puritan stock "left 
their consciences at Cape Horn," joined Mother 
Church, spoke Spanish with a down-east twang, mar- 
ried Calif ornian heiresses, and absorbed the trade of 
the country. Dana found Massachusetts men estab- 
lished all along the Coast, from a one-eyed Fall River 
whaleman tending bar in a San Diego pulperia, to 
Thomas O. Larkin, the merchant prince of Monterey. 

In the two years (1834-36) that Dana spent before 
the mast in Bryant & Sturgis's vessels, the California 
trade was at its height. All cargoes had to be entered 
at the Monterey custom house, Mexican duties were 
from eighty to one hundred per cent, and the regula- 
tions many. But the Mexican officials, knowing Cali- 
fornia's dependence on the Boston traders, let them off 
with a reasonable lump sum per cargo. The ships 
brought ''everything that can be imagined, from 
Chinese fireworks to English cart-wheels," including 
even lumber (which the Californians were too lazy to 
cut for themselves), and shoes made at Lynn out of 
California hides. Part of the cargo was disposed of on 
shipboard, the cabin being fitted up as a variety store, 
to which dark-eyed senoras were conveyed in ship's 
boats. What they did not buy was placed in charge 
of a resident agent, who peddled it out at enormous 
profits (twenty dollars for a three-dollar piece of Lowell 
print-cloth) to the rancheros, against future deliv- 
eries of tallow at six cents a pound, and hides (' Cali- 
fornia bank-notes') at one to two dollars apiece, worth 



more than double in Boston. No contract was signed, 
for a Calif ornian's word was his bond; but the agents 
employed ctierreros, or hide-brokers, to attend the 
matanzas (slaughters), receive the hides, and convey 
them in bullock-carts to an embarcadero on the coast. 
The Boston hide-droghers collected and carried them 
to San Diego. There each firm maintained salt-vats, 
where seamen and Kanakas cured the hides, and 
stored them until a shipload was accumulated. " Since 
the time when Queen Dido came the hide game over 
the natives at Carthage," wrote an irreverent grandson 
of Paul Revere, "it is probable that there has been no 
parallel to the hide-and-go-seek game between Boston 
and California." 

Clean, slender ships anchored with slip-cable three 
miles offshore, gently swaying in the long Pacific swell, 
sails stopped with rope-yarns to break out and put to 
sea in a sou'easter. No sound to break the eternal roar 
and roll of surf on endless beach, save tinny bells jan- 
gling out vespers from a white mission tower. Sailors 
waist-high in boiling foam, 'droghing' hides on aching 
head from beach to longboat, or hurling them down 
cliff at San Juan Capistrano. Sleepy Santa Barbara 
coming to life at the wedding of Dona Anita de la 
Guerra de Noriego y Corillo to plain Alfred Robinson, 
Bryant & Sturgis's agent. "Splendid, idle forties" 
for the Calif ornians ; not so idle for the Yankee 
seamen whose labor made, cent per cent for owners, 
and fat primage for officers. Few survived to get into 
Bancroft's register of California pioneers. Dana's 
book is their only monument who would wish a 



It was the very low price of California hides that 
made it worth while to send vessels for two years' voy- 
ages around the Horn in search of them. South Amer- 
ica was the great source of supply for Massachusetts 
tanpits and shoe shops. In 1843, out of a total of 
311,000 hides imported at Boston alone (and Salem 
took many thousand in addition), over 100,000 came 
from Buenos Aires and Montevideo, over 46,000 from 
Chile, 48,000 from New Orleans, and only 33,000 from 

Many years before 1815, during the first struggles 
of the South American patriots, Yankee vessels flocked 
to their ports; and Massachusetts commission houses 
preceded American consuls in several South American 
cities. 1 Let historians seeking economic origins of the 
Monroe Doctrine look to the Northwest fur trade and 
to this early intercourse with South America! 

The Lowell power looms at Waltham were making 
sheetings for the South America trade before 1824, 
and by 1850 that continent was taking over three- 
quarters of the total export of ' domestics ' from Boston. 
The lumber trade to the River Plate increased, and 
old vessels on the point of falling to pieces were filled 
with Maine pine boards and sent to Buenos Aires to 
be sold for firewood. There was a sale for almost any- 
thing in South America, provided it could compete 
with British goods. In return, there was an excellent 
market in Boston, and all North American cities, for 
River Plate wool, hair, hides, sheepskins, and tallow, 
until the protective tariff system was applied to favor 
cattle ranches in the United States. The principal im- 

1 One of them, Richard Alsop, of the firm of Alsop, Wetmore & Cry- 
der, at Valparaiso, with a branch at Lima, was making $100,000 a year 
by 1827. Others were Samuel Pomeroy at Arica, William Wheelwright 
at Guayaquil and other ports, the Thayers of Lancaster in Chile, 
Joseph W. Clapp at Montevideo, and Loring Brothers at Valparaiso. 



porting and exporting firm at Buenos Aires was Samuel 
B. Hale & Co., whose founder, of a Boston mercantile 
family, first visited the River Plate in 1830 as super- 
cargo on a Boston ship. The firm at one time owned 
forty-six sailing vessels, and in addition Mr. Hale be- 
came a director of the first railway in the Argentine 

Along the Central American coast small brigs and 
schooners peddled notions, bringing home cochineal, 
goatskins, and tropical woods. Pirates were a menace 
in the Caribbean as late as 1840. The brig Mexican 
of Salem was plundered of her specie in 1832, and 
only an opportune gale prevented the pirate crew from 
executing their captain's order "Dead cats don't 
mew." Five of them were hanged in Boston two years 

Rio de Janeiro was a favorite port of call for Yankee 
traders. " I shall never forget," wrote Osborne Howes, 
"the beautiful afternoon that we sailed into that mag- 
nificent harbor." It was November 25, 1833, and he 
was master of the little barque Flora of Boston, with 
flour and lumber to exchange for sugar. 

We passed the fort shortly before sunset, were hailed and directed 
to proceed to the anchoring grounds some two miles distant, and 
were there boarded by the health officer. When the business with 
him was finished I went on deck. The land breeze had set in, bring- 
ing with it the fragrance of the orange-trees. The beautiful little 
islands rose abruptly from the water, on the tops of many of them 
were churches, the bells of which were ringing. West of us was a deep 
bay, some fifteen or twenty miles in extent, at the head of which 
were the Organ Mountains, with their peaks from five thousand to 
six thousand feet in height. Near us rose the Sugar Loaf, one thou- 
sand feet or more above the sea, and not far distant, the beautiful 
Corcovado Mountain. Small boats were passing across the bay, 
urged by sail or oar, and the negroes, as they pulled at the latter, 
were singing gayly. The lights of the city, some two miles distant, 
gleamed over the water, and these, brought out by the high moun- 



tainous lands a little behind them, rendered the outlook most en- 
chanting. The moon was shining brightly, and I remained on the 
deck till midnight, enjoying the beauty of the scene. 

A considerable coffee trade was built up with Brazil ; 
in 1843 Boston imported thence over four million 
pounds, one-quarter of her total imports of the fra- 
grant bean; and a million and a quarter more from 
Puerto Cabello. A million more came from Cuba, and 
eight and one half millions from Hayti. In this, as 
in most branches of South American trade, Boston 
was surpassed by other Atlantic ports of the United 
States, but at Valparaiso the enterprise of Augustus 
Hemenway gave Boston the bulk of North Ameri- 
can commerce. This self-made merchant approached 
South America by way of the Maine coast and the 
West Indies. He owned a township in Washington 
County, Maine, where pine was cut on his own land, 
sawed into lumber at his own sawmill in Machias, 
and carried to Cuba (where he owned a sugar planta- 
tion) or Valparaiso on his own ships, which returned 
from the west coast laden with copper and nitrate of 

Massachusetts merchants found South America a 
good market for India shawls and China silk, which 
suggested a direct trade from Canton in Boston ves- 
sels. R. B. Forbes, at twenty-one given command of 
his uncle Perkins's brig Nile, disposed of a Canton 
cargo at various ports from Bodega Bay to Buenos 
Aires, where John M. Forbes, another uncle, was 
charge d'affaires. 

As a feeder to New England's leading industry, as 
an outlet for her products, and as a carrying trade, 
this intercourse with South America became one of the 
most important branches of Massachusetts commerce ; 
and it is one of the few branches that still continues 



in sailing vessels. It was very similar to, and largely 
replaced the West-India trade of colonial days; with 
the important difference that it fed looms and shoe fac- 
tories instead of slave coffles and distilleries. 



RETURNING around the Horn, we find that the China 
trade until 1840 was carried on by the same unique 
methods and the same shrewd traders as before the 
war. Ships of all nations still anchored at Whampoa, 
and lightered their cargoes up-river to Jackass Point. 
Boston merchants of the old Nor'wester families 
maintained luxurious bachelor quarters in the Canton 
factories, and a summer residence at Macao. The 
only new element was the missionaries, among whom 
the Reverend Peter Parker, M.D., of Framingham, 
Massachusetts, deserves a passing mention for his 
pioneer work in founding native hospitals at Can- 
ton and Macao. There was little variation from dec- 
ade to decade in the total volume of the American 
China trade, but a great change took place, even 
before 1840, in its character, and its relative impor- 
tance for Massachusetts commerce. 

Among the "flowery-flag devils," as the Chinese 
called our compatriots, the Perkins-Sturgis-Forbes 
connection remained all-powerful; for China trading 
required great experience in details, and sound finan- 
cial backing. 'Ku-shing' (John P. Cushing), their 
Canton agent, with only two clerks to his establish- 
ment, did a business of millions a year, and returned a 
wealthy man in 1830 to his Summer Street mansion 
and his Belmont estate, attended by a retinue of 
Chinese servants. Perkins & Co., James P. Sturgis & 
Co., Russell, Sturgis & Co., and Russell & Sturgis of 



Manila were finally consolidated into the firm of Rus- 
sell & Co. of Canton, which had been founded by 
Samuel Russell, of Middletown, Connecticut, about 
1818. Joseph Peabody, of Salem, as we have seen, 
maintained a foothold at Canton until 1840. Augus- 
tine Heard, at one time a partner of Russell & Co., 
established a separate house which remained in the 
hands of his nephews until well after the Civil War. 
Small firms were founded from time to time ; but these 
"needy adventurers" and "desperadoes," as Captain 
Bill Sturgis called them, did not last long. 

Russell & Co. did more business at Canton than 
any other American house. No small measure of this 
success was due to the friendship of Houqua, the 
Chinese hong merchant; a legacy of John P. Cushing. 
Houqua, as generous as he was wealthy, extended un- 
limited credit facilities to his Boston friends during the 
worst financial panics. He shipped his own teas to 
Europe and America on the Russell ships, and on one 
occasion sent J. Murray Forbes half a million dollars to 
invest in New England factory stock. In England the 
relations of the Boston China merchants with Baring 
Brothers, who had financed their early ventures to the 
Northwest Coast, became so intimate that Joshua 
Bates (who married a Sturgis) and Russell Sturgis (a 
great-nephew of T. H. Perkins) were successively ad- 
mitted partners in that great merchant-banking house. 

After 1815 the character of American imports from 
China gradually changed. Canton willow-ware, after 
a brief recovery, was crowded out of the Boston mar- 
ket by Staffordshire, Royal Worcester, and French 
porcelain. European imitations killed the nankeens. 
Crapes and silks declined with changes in fashion, and 
by 1840 teas made up over eighty per cent of American 
imports from China. 



The greater part of this, even when shipped by 
Boston firms in Boston vessels, was sent into New 
York. Out of ninety-one vessels entering New York 
from Canton and Manila between 1839 and 1842, 
thirty-nine belonged in Massachusetts; and the en- 
tries from China at Boston and Salem averaged but 
five or six annually. 

A one per cent state tax on auction sales, the custom- 
ary method for disposing of China products, has been 
blamed for this exodus to Manhattan. This tax resulted 
from a temporary alliance in 1824 between retail grocers 
and the farmer vote. The former, for some obscure 
reason, wished to kill the auction system. The latter 
were looking for a new source of revenue rather than 
raise the state property tax from $75,000 to $100,000. 

It was unwise to remove Boston's advantage (for 
New York already had an auction tax) at a period 
when the Erie Canal was pulling trade to Manhattan. 
But it is doubtful whether the tax drove any one from 
Boston. Some of her tea ships were already being sent 
to New York in 1824, and most of them continued 
thither when the tax was reduced one-quarter in 1849, 
and abolished in 1852. East-Indian, Russian, and 
Mediterranean imports continued to be sold princi- 
pally in Boston, although disposed of by auction, and 
subject to the same duty. Both Boston and Salem 
maintained their early lead in the Manila trade, which 
was closely connected with the China trade, and car- 
ried on by the same firms. Four and a quarter million 
pounds of Philippine Islands sugar, and great quan- 
tities of Manila hemp and indigo, were landed at Bos- 
ton in 1843. Similar commodities were imported from 
Batavia, where a Bostonian was the principal Ameri- 
can merchant in 1850, and near which Boston interests 
acquired a large sugar plantation. Massachusetts also 



retained a considerable though irregular share of the 
Java coffee trade. For obvious geographical reasons 
New York, after the opening of the Erie Canal, was a 
better market for teas than Boston, so that when one 
China merchant began sending his ships there, the rest 
followed in self-defense. The same movement took 
place, twenty years later, in the wholesale cottons 
trade. Other shipping merchants and wholesalers who 
did not enjoy the social preeminence of the China mer- 
chants might have followed their example; after the 
Civil War most of them did. Until then they remained 
loyal to Boston. The fate of Salem warned Bostonians 
to retain control of distribution, as the condition of a 
healthy commercial life. 

On the whole the China trade grew less important 
for Massachusetts year by year. It enriched but two 
or three family connections, and between 1820 and 
1845 was not very lucrative even for them. Yet it 
produced a new type of vessel, the Medford-built 
East-Indiaman, 1 and provided an important outlet 
for New England manufactures. Our teas were no 
longer purchased with otter-skins and sandal wood. 
About 1817, the Boston merchants began to ship 
English goods to Canton, in competition with the 
British East India Company. Their success greatly 
irritated British merchants, excluded by the Honorable 
John's monopoly, and provided an additional incen- 
tive for Parliament throwing open the trade to all 
British subjects, in 1834. Already the Bostonians had 
begun to substitute Lowell cottons for the Lancashire ; 
and ten years later the prosaic fruit of New England 
looms, to the annual value of a million and a half 
dollars, had replaced the lustrous and fragrant prod- 
ucts of Coast and Islands. 

1 See previous chapter. 


In spite of these new exports to China there still 
remained a heavy annual balance against Boston. 
The growing Chinese consumption of Indian opium 
created a demand at Canton for bills on London, 
which our China merchants began to supply, in place 
of Spanish dollars, about 1827. To a certain extent 
they supplied the forbidden drug itself, and made no 
secret of it. Since the opening years of the century, 
Perkins & Co. had made a specialty of carrying Smyrna 
opium to Canton; so did Joseph Peabody and every 
Boston or Salem merchant who could get it. But the 
total import of this inferior variety was inconsiderable, 
in comparison with the immense consignments of 
opium from British India five hundred and seventy- 
eight thousand dollars' worth in the season of 1833-34, 
as compared with fourteen million dollars' worth of 
seductive Malwa and fragrant Patna, smuggled in by 
British ships. 1 

A small part, also, of the imports under the British 
flag were on the account of Russell & Co. and Augus- 
tine Heard. Within a few years' time, a fleet of Boston 
clipper schooners and brigs (like the 92-ton Ariel, 
which almost drowned R. B. Forbes on her trial trip, 
the I oo- ton Zephyr and the 370- ton Antelope, built by 
Samuel Hall) was distributing opium along the China 
coast from Lintin Island, where the American firms 
maintained receiving ships. One small house at Can- 
ton was founded by a Salem mate and ship's carpenter 
who, taking advantage of Chinese respect for the dead, 
landed a large consignment of the forbidden drug in 
coffins supposed to contain departed shipmates! Oly- 
phant & Co. of New York (derisively called 'Zion's 

1 The American ships at Canton this season numbered 70, as against 
24 British East-Indianmen, 77 Country ships (vessels owned in British 
India), 37 Spaniards, and 45 of all other nations. 



Corner' by their rivals) was the only Canton house 
that refused to participate in the opium trade; and 
their motive was not so much moral as practical. 
They feared that a traffic forbidden by the Chinese 
government, however countenanced by its officials, 
would breed trouble. They were right. 

Having stated these facts, I must, in justice to the 
candid old China merchants and their descendants 
who made them public, warn the reader against exag- 
gerating this opium traffic. For English firms, it was 
vital. For Boston firms, it was incidental, even in the 
China trade ; l which trade was but a small and declin- 
ing item in the commerce of Boston and Salem after 
1815. Few, at the time, appreciated the moral and 
physical injury to the Chinese people they were com- 
mitting through this traffic. Even Christian mission- 
aries countenanced it, by taking passage on the opium 
clippers to ports they could not otherwise reach, and 
by accepting money from firms and individuals who 
dealt in the drug. It was commonly asserted that 
opium had no more effect on the Chinese than rum on 
Yankees. At the risk of appearing to black the kettle, 
I further submit that there is a difference between 
smuggling opium under the official wink and driving 
in opium with cannon and bayonet when officials are 
making a sincere if tardy effort at moral reform. 

In England's opium war of 1840, Americans had no 
share; and few justified it save John Quincy Adams. 2 

1 Opium made up over half of the British imports into China in 
1831-32. Only one-fifteenth to one-twenty-fifth of the American im- 
ports at the same period were in Smyrna opium, and the amount of 
Indian opium imported in American vessels before 1850 must have 
been very small, so few were engaged in it. British opium imports ex- 
ceeded greatly the total American trade. 

2 In a public lecture at Boston, that aroused a storm of protest; 
printed in Chinese Repository, xi, 274. 



Many profited by it, nevertheless; both by absorbing 
the British trade during its course and sharing the 
fruits of its success. After England had extorted the 
Treaty of Nanking, which ended forever the old Can- 
ton methods and opened four new ports to European 
commerce, the United States government sent out 
Caleb Cushing, of Newburyport, as envoy extraor- 
dinary. In the treaty which he concluded on July 3, 
1844, the United States disavowed all protection of 
opium smugglers. 

The principal profits thereafter made by Boston 
capital in China were in tea, in steam freighting along 
the Yangtze River, and in clipper-ship freighting from 
the Treaty Ports to New York and London. A cer- 
tain amount of opium smuggling continued. As late as 
1872 fast steamers, some of Boston registry, were run- 
ning it into Formosa, a thousand chests a trip ; carrier 
pigeons conveying prices-current to interior corre- 
spondents. Russell & Co. removed to Shanghai, and 
finally went bankrupt in the nineties, by which time 
the Germans had crowded out the smaller Boston 

To-day no trace remains in Boston of the old China 
trade, the foundation of her commercial renaissance, 
save a taste for li-chi nuts, Malacca joints, and smoky 

Do you remember, in the "Second Jungle Book," 
the adjutant bird's description of his frigid and 
wounded feelings, after swallowing a "piece of white 
stuff," which a man threw him from a great boat in 
the Ganges? And Mr. Kipling's explanation that the 
Adjutant had swallowed "a seven-pound lump of 



Wenham Lake ice, off an American ice-ship"? Now, 
it cost one visionary Yankee some twenty-eight years' 
struggle to deliver that frozen sample of Wenham 
Lake, Massachusetts, to the Adjutant's crop. 

When twenty-two-year-old Frederic Tudor pro- 
posed to ship ice to the West Indies from his father's 
pond in Saugus, Boston thought him mad; and sea- 
faring men, fearing such a cargo would melt and swamp 
a vessel, with some difficulty were persuaded to handle 
his brig. His first venture was one hundred and thirty 
tons of ice to Martinique in 1805. On receiving news 
of its complete failure, he wrote in his journal, "He 
who gives back at the first repulse and without striking 
the second blow despairs of success, has never been, is 
not and never will be a hero in love, war, or business." 
By 1812 he had built up a small trade with the West 
Indies. The war wiped him out. After the Peace of 
Ghent he obtained government permission to build 
ice-houses at Kingston and Havana, with a monopoly 
of the traffic. It began to pay, and between 1817 and 
1820 he extended the business to Charleston, Savannah, 
and New Orleans. 

Frederic Tudor's letter-books (preserved in an old 
Boston office, under ship pictures and photographs of 
Tudor ice-houses in the Far East) reveal something 
of the pains, ingenuity, and persistence required to 
build up the ice-exporting business. Vessels had to be 
double-sheathed, to protect the ice from melting, and 
the captains had to be cautioned, with wearisome 
repetition, never to let the hatches be removed. Tudor 
experimented with all sorts of filling; with rice and 
wheat chaff, hay, tan-bark, and even coal-dust, before 
he settled upon pine sawdust as the best insulator. In- 
stead of filling a long-felt want, he had to create a 
market at every new port; and to make the market 



pay, he had to educate not only the well-to-do, but 
the working people. He instructed Osgood Carney, 
supercargo of the barque Madagascar which took his 
first shipment to Rio de Janeiro, "If you can make a 
commencement for introducing the habit of cold 
drinks at the same price as warm at the ordinary drink- 
ing places . . . even if you give the ice ... you will do 
well. . . . The shop frequented by the lowest people is 
the one to be chosen for this purpose." In addition, 
Mr. Carney must promote an ice-cream establishment, 
instruct people in the art of preserving ice at their 
homes, construct a temporary ice-house on shore, in- 
troduce it into the hospitals, and persuade the Brazil- 
ian government, on the ground of public health, to 
remit export duties on all products taken away by the 
Tudor vessels. 

Nor did his pioneer work end with creating a market. 
No one in Southern ports knew how to store ice during 
hot weather. Mr. Tudor had to provide the materials 
for ice-houses, employees to construct them, and 
agents to take charge of distribution. Their careless- 
ness and dishonesty was a constant trial. He became 
an expert in what nowadays is called the science of 
salesmanship. Playing on local excitement and curios- 
ity, a high price was charged on first shipments. Grad- 
ually the price was lowered ; and in order to stimulate 
steady sales, tickets were sold at a reduced rate, en- 
titling the bearer to so many pounds on presentation 
at the ice-house. 1 

1 At Charleston, South Carolina, in 1834, Tudor sold ice for I J cents 
per pound, but ice tickets were sold at the rate of ij cents. Previously 
he had cut the rate to three-fourths of a cent in order literally to freeze 
out the Thayers of Boston, who endeavored to compete with him. At 
New Orleans, to which he paid from $435 to $600 for freight per small 
brig-load of ice, he was selling it for 2 cents; at Havana for 3 cents. The 
first price at Rio de Janeiro in 1833 was 12 pounds for a Spanish dollar. 



In May, 1833, Tudor made his first venture to Cal- 
cutta; one hundred and eighty tons of ice in the ship 
Tuscany. "As soon as you have arrived in latitude 
12 north," he instructed Captain Littlefield, "you 
will have carried ice as far south as it has ever been 
carried before, and your Ship becomes a discovery 
ship and as such I feel confident you will do every- 
thing for the eventual success of the undertaking; as 
being in charge of the first ship that has ever carried 
ice to the East Indies.** 

After sailing twice through the torrid zone, the 
Tuscany landed almost two-thirds of her chilly cargo 
in good order at Calcutta. Many are the yarns told 
of its reception. A Parsee asked the Captain, "How 
this ice make grow in your country? Him grow on 
tree? Him grow on shrub?" Indignant natives de- 
manded their money back, after leaving a purchase in 
the sun. The poverty of the people made it difficult 
to establish a wide market; but the Anglo-Indian com- 
munity quickly took to iced drinks, and paid large 
sums for the Baldwin apples, which were buried in 
the chilly cargoes. The trade was as genial for ship- 
masters as it was profitable for Mr. Tudor. While 
supercargoes dickered for return freight with the Babu 
Rajkissen Mitter, or Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy & Co., 
the Boston captains moored their vessels to the banks 
of the Hoogly, and played host with drinks mixed 
Yankee- fashion, to all ships' officers in the port of 

Mr. Tudor and his ice came just in time to preserve 
Boston's East-India commerce from ruin. Our carry- 
ing trade between Calcutta and Europe had declined 
almost to extinction. A precarious foothold in Bengal 
was retained by Boston and Salem houses only by im- 
porting specie, eked out with 'notions' such as spiced 



Penobscot salmon, cods' tongues and sounds, coarse 
glassware, sperm candles and Cape Cod Glauber 
salts. 1 Our importing business from Calcutta had 
been "cut up by the roots" by the tariff of 1816, as 
Daniel Webster said ; and within a few years the Massa- 
chusetts mills were making cotton cloth in sufficient 
variety to kill all demand for Allabad Emerties, Beer- 
boom Gurrahs, and the like, so extensively imported in 
Federalist days. But the ice business increased to such 
an extent that by 1841 , although pushed by fifteen com- 
petitors, and forced to lower the retail price to one cent 
a pound, Frederic Tudor was able to pay off a debt of a 
quarter-million contracted by his early experiments. 

Between 1836 and 1850 the Boston ice trade was 
extended to every large port in South America and 
the Far East. When, at the Court of St. James, Ed- 
ward Everett met the Persian ambassador, his first 
words were an appreciation of the benefits of American 
ice in Persia. For a generation after the Civil War, 
until cheap artificial ice was invented, this export 
trade increased and prospered. Not Boston alone, but 
every New England village with a pond near tidewater, 
was able to turn this Yankee liability into an asset, 
through the genius of Frederic Tudor. 

The center of the business was Gray's (later Tudor's) 
Wharf, Charlestown. There the ice was brought by 
pung or train, as it was needed, from the ice-houses at 
Fresh Pond and other lakes in the neighborhood. In 
the winter of 1846 "a hundred Irishmen, with Yankee 
overseers, came from Cambridge every day to get out 
the ice" from Walden, where Thoreau was dividing 
his time between the study of nature and the Indian 

1 The cargo of the Emerald, Captain Augustine Heard, in 1826. See 
also that of William H. Bordman's Arbella, next chapter. 



"Thus it appears," he writes, 1 "that the sweltering inhabitants of 
Charleston and New Orleans, of Madras and Bombay and Calcutta, 
drink at my well. In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupen- 
dous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagvat-Geeta ... I lay 
down the book and go to my well for water, and lo ! there I meet the 
servant of the Brahmin, priest of Brahma and Vishnu and Indra, 
who still sits in his temple on the Ganges reading the Vedas, or dwells 
at the root of a tree with his crust and water jug. I meet his servant 
come to draw water for his master, and our buckets as it were grate 
together in the same well. The pure Walden water is mingled with 
the sacred water of the Ganges. With the favoring winds it is wafted 
past the site of the fabulous islands of Atlantis and the Hesperides, 
makes the periplus of Hanno, and floating by Ternate and Tidore 
and the mouth of the Persian Gulf, melts in the tropic gales of the 
Indian seas, and is landed in ports of which Alexander only heard 
the names." 

As might be expected, the Boston merchants found 
new East- India products with which to replace cot- 
tons, and turn over the profits they made on outward 
cargoes. "East-India goods," between 1830 and the 
Civil War, meant buffalo hides and jute; indigo and 
other dyestuffs; linseed and shellac; saltpeter; gunny- 
bags which Boston supplied to the corn-growers of the 
West, and gunny-cloth which was sent South for bal- 
ing cotton. Colonel Francis Peabody, son of Joseph, 
established a linseed oil and jute factory near Salem 
about 1841, and began exporting its by-product of 
oil-cake to England. Adjoining Tudor's Wharf at 
Charlestown was his linseed oil and cake manufactory, 
and a shop where rice and gunny-cloth were prepared 
for the American market. In 1857 ninety-six out of the 
hundred and twelve vessels that loaded at Calcutta 
for the United States, landed their cargoes at Boston, 
earning an average freight of twenty thousand dollars. 

The homeward voyage from Calcutta was not so 
pleasant as the cool outward passage. Various forms 

1 Walden, end of chapter xvi. 


of insect life came aboard with the jute and gunnies, 
and propagated with surprising rapidity. Whoever 
left his boots outside his bunk (it is said) found nothing 
in the morning but the nails and the eyelets. An arri- 
val from Calcutta in Boston (I have been told) was 
sometimes announced by a pack of terrified dogs 
running up State Street pursued by an army of Cal- 
cutta cockroaches! 

In spite of these unpleasant if true incidents, the 
East-India trade (including, in the popular meaning 
of the word, the China, Manila, and Java trades as 
well as that of British India) enjoyed a greater prestige 
than any branch of Boston commerce since the North- 
west fur trade died. An "East-India merchant," in 
ante-bellum Boston, possessed social kudos to which 
no cotton millionaire could pretend, unless previously 
initiated through Federalist commerce. To have an 
office on India Wharf, Boston, or to live in the India 
Row that comprised the fine old square-built houses 
of many a seaport town, conferred distinction. Among 
sailors, the man who had made an East- India voyage 
took no back- wind from any one ; and on Cape Cod it 
used to be said of a pretty, well-bred girl, "She 's good 
enough to marry an East-India Cap'n!" 



WHILE Frederic Tudor was building a bridge of ice 
between Concord anarchy and Indian philosophy, the 
Mediterranean trade of Boston ferried Ralph Waldo 
Emerson to Malta, on his way to Florence and Ferney, 
Savage Landor and Carlyle. Let Emerson's own jour- 
nal begin the story: 

At Sea, January 2, 1833. 

Sailed from Boston for Malta, December 25, 1832. in Brig Jasper, 
Captain Ellis, 236 tons, laden with logwood, mahogany, tobacco, 
sugar, coffee, beeswax, cheese, etc. A long storm from the second 
morn of our departure consigned all the five passengers to the irre- 
medial chagrins of the stateroom, to wit, nausea, darkness, unrest, 
uncleanness, harpy appetite and harpy feeding, the ugly "sound of 
water in mine ears," anticipations of going to the bottom, and the 
treasures of the memory. I remembered up nearly the whole of Lyci- 
das, clause by clause, here a verse and there a word, as Isis in the 
fable the broken body of Osiris. 

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 trum- 
pery 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. 



One hopes that the last item is nearer the truth than 
the wild yarns of the Emerald's record passage with 
which his homecoming captain stuffed Emerson. At 
Malta he left the brig Jasper, and she disappears into 
the fleet of undistinguished brigs and topsail schoon- 
ers that traded from Boston to that part of the world. 

Add lumber, 'domestics, 1 and East-India goods to 
the Jasper's cargo, and you have a typical outward 
lading from Boston to the Mediterranean for the pe- 
riod 1820-1850. The South European and Levantine 
peoples had by this time lost their taste for New 
England salt fish, but in compensation they had 
learned the good wearing qualities of Lowell cottons, 
and acquired a profitable thirst for New England rum. 
One Mediterranean firm ran a distillery in its Central 
Wharf store, importing the molasses and exporting the 
rum in its own vessels. But most outward cargoes had 
to be completed outside Massachusetts in Maine 
and Chesapeake Bay, in the West Indies, South 
America, and the East Indies. Honduras logwood was 
in demand, to give that warm, rich color to Medi- 
terranean wines. The ports of destination included 
Gibraltar, Malaga, Marseilles, Genoa, Leghorn, Sar- 
dinia, Gallipolis, Messina, Marsala, Palermo, Trieste, 
Zante, Volo, and Salonica. Return cargoes comprised 
oranges and lemons, wine and currants, nuts and 
raisins, corkwood, wool, olive oil, and a score of minor 
products. " I find that a large proportion of our trade 
with Genoa," wrote the American consul there in 
1 843, "has been carried on by Boston and Salem mer- 
chants. Some years, more than half the vessels en- 
tering this port have been owned by Robert Gould 
Shaw of Boston." 

The letter-book of William H. Bordman, Jr., a 
young Boston merchant who had been to sea, shows 



in some detail the indirect methods by which the Med- 
iterranean trade was generally carried on, the way it 
fitted into other trade routes, and the unspecialized 
methods by which shipowners won wealth. 

In 1824 Bordman ships domestic brown shirtings, 
Canton goods, soap, ham, and pickled Penobscot 
salmon, to the value of $1684, in one of his own ves- 
sels to South America. The supercargo is instructed 
to use his own judgment as to the port 6f sale, but is 
warned that Montevideo is overstocked with shirtings, 
and that the ship Romeo has just cleared for Buenos 
Aires with a similar cargo. The salmon will keep only 
twelve months, and must be sold before it spoils. 
Returns are left to the supercargo's judgment; but 
horsehair is suggested, and something must be shipped 
home "in time for me to take up my notes for the 
shirtings." The same year Bordman consigns codfish, 
cheese, and lard to Havana, in exchange for cigars of 
the "Dos Amygos or Cabanas brands, preferably of a 
light yellow color." Pipe, hogshead and barrel staves 
are then obtained at Norfolk, Virginia, where the coop- 
erage inspection is more strict than in New England, 
for sale at Gibraltar and Cadiz. On vessels other than 
his own, he adventures 429 pairs of shoes, invoiced at 
$347.05, to New Orleans, where they sell for $850, less 
freight and expenses; and to Liverpool a consignment 
of sassafras Gosnold's export from Cuttyhunk in 

In 1826 Bordman sends his ship Arbella to Calcutta, 
laden with cigars and paint, currant jelly and shaving 
soap, cider, oakum and ham, Dutch, pineapple, and 
native cheese the latter at three and a half cents a 
pound. The same year, when spices were scarce, one 
of his father's vessels enters from Sumatra with a 
cargo of pepper and Bourbon cloves, giving the Bord- 



man family a corner. Part was shipped to Messrs. 
Perkins & Saltonstall at Baltimore, and the proceeds 
invested in "superfine Howard St. flour" at $4.12!. 
Part of this, together with more pepper and cloves, is 
sent to Hayti and Havana, and the proceeds invested 
in sugar. Three years later Bordman's vessels are 
taking sugar from Havana to Gothenburg for Swedish 
iron; and in 1830 he is sending pepper to the Mediter- 
ranean. His supercargo will decide the destination, 
when advised at Gibraltar on the state of the pepper 
market at Antwerp, Leghorn, Genoa, and Trieste ; and 
may invest in a return cargo, or remit balance to 

By 1830 Bordman has added a new arrow to his 
quiver the Northwest Coast and Canton trade. 
The supercargo of his brig Smyrna is ordered to sell 
Northwest sea-otter at Canton, but to bring his ac- 
quisitions of beaver to Boston, where it is selling for 
eight dollars a pelt. Luckily the letter is not received, 
for by the time the Smyrna returns, enterprising 
Yankee hatters have popularized the silk hat, and 
beaver has fallen to four dollars. In search of the illicit 
medium for China trading, Bordman in 1832 sends a 
cargo of sugar from Havana to Smyrna for opium. 
"If on arrival the sugars will pay a profit, dispose of 
them at once, as I make it a rule never to speculate 
on certain gain." At this point the letter-book ends. 
From the manuscripts of Captain John Suter, who 
took a share in Bordman's vessels and ventures, we 
find that he was one of the last to enter and the last 
to leave the old Northwest fur trade. In 1833 he sent 
the ship Rasselas to Valparaiso and the Sandwich 
Islands, and the same year the brig Smyrna to Suma- 
tra for pepper. Cost of vessel, cargo, and outfit was 
$28,218.09. Expenses of the fourteen months' voyage 



were $5050.82, including $854 wages to the Captain, 
and $1404.76 to the crew. Net sales amounted to 
almost one hundred per cent on the investment. 

Massachusetts commerce, lacking a local export 
medium, was largely triangular, if not four- and five- 
cornered. For this reason, perhaps, we find that even 
those merchants who attempted to specialize in a sin- 
gle line participated in many others as well in order 
to assemble their outward cargoes and dispose of their 
acquisitions. On these secondary routes they some- 
times employed their own vessels, but perhaps more 
often retained a share in a large number of vessels, in 
order to have some control over their movements and 
their cargo space. Specialization shows a marked in- 
crease about 1830, and by 1850 there was hardly a 
Boston merchant who did not confine his activities to 
one or two regions that fitted well together, such as 
China and East Indies, the Mediterranean and Smyrna, 
the South Sea Islands and South America, the Baltic 
and West Indies, or New Orleans, Havre, and Liver- 

As yet there was no tendency to separate the ship- 
owning, purchasing, and distributing functions; and 
there were merchants who had even more irons in the 
fire than William Bordman. Ezra Weston built ves- 
sels in his own yard, opposite his paternal mansion on 
Powder Point, Duxbury, out of timber brought from 
Maine and the Merrimac in his schooners, or from 
Bridgewater and Middleborough on his own ox-teams. 
He rigged them with the products of his own ropewalk, 
sparyard, blacksmith shop, and sail loft at Duxbury; 
loaded them opposite his counting-room on Com- 
mercial Wharf, Boston; and sent them under his 
house flag to the Mediterranean, and all parts of the 



As a distributing point for Mediterranean fruit and 
wine, Boston maintained its lead over New York until 
about 1850. As emporium for the varied products of 
the Near East, which found vent through Smyrna, it 
never had a serious rival. The same strange yearning 
for the Orient which pulled Boston ships around the 
Horn to Canton, drew her Mediterranean traders to 
this ancient mart of Lydia, since the dawn of history 
an outport of the hither East. Rounding the Pelopon- 
nesus, passing the white columns of Poseidon on Cape 
Sunium, and crossing the ^Egean to Chios, the little 
brigs and barques of Boston or Plymouth, keeping a 
sharp lookout for Levantine pirates, entered a gulf 
that narrowed to a point where sits white Smyrna. 
Here, in an amphitheater of snow-crowned mountains, 
whose lower slopes were bright with orange and almond 
blossoms amid silver-gray olives, verdant fig orchards 
and somber cypress groves, they found a city in whose 
narrow streets Kurd and Anatolian rubbed shoulder 
with Armenian, Frank, and Greek; where Turkish rule 
rested lightly on survivors of ancient sea-powers 
Tyrian and Hellenic, Prankish and Maltese, Genoese 
and Venetian. Easy it was at the bazaars to swap 
clocks and cottons, candles and rum, for the products 
brought in by camel-train, pack-mule, and felucca; 
easier still to sell them for vague promises of the same. 
In Smyrna, as in every Eastern port, business ceased 
to be robbery only when conducted by men who knew 
the local ways and customs. 

It was a loyalist merchant of Boston, after long 
wanderings settling at Smyrna, who established the 
permanent connection in Federalist days. Two other 
Bostonians were resident there by 1816. Through 
them and their successors almost all the Mediterra- 
nean merchants of Central Wharf did a certain amount 


of business ; but the bulk of the traffic was absorbed by 
two adopted citizens of Massachusetts. The Marquis 
Nicholas Reggio, of a Genoese family resident at 
Smyrna for centuries, and Joseph lasigi, a Smyrniote 
Armenian, established themselves in Boston as mer- 
chant-shipowners about the year 1830. They im- 
parted color to Boston society, and erected the statues 
of Columbus and Aristides in Louisburg Square. 
Their local, almost tribal connections, and instinctive 
knowledge of the devious, immutable methods of 
Smyrna, nailed Boston's supremacy in the Eastern 
Mediterranean for the rest of the sailing-ship era. 

In a valley back of Smyrna are produced the best figs 
in the world, which, sun-dried and packed in drums, were 
shipped to Boston in sufficient quantities to supply all 
North America. Feluccas and camel-trains brought in 
coarse wool for the New England mills; gum-arabic and 
tragacanth, essentials for cotton printing; sponges and 
Turkey carpets, and drugs such as myrrh and scam- 
mony, which ante-bellum physicians loved to adminis- 
ter in generous doses. Smyrna opium we have already 
mentioned. The Mediterranean merchants imported it 
for the domestic drug trade, and the China merchants 
took it East by West; almost half the entire crop, about 
1820, being handled by one Boston firm at Canton. 

Naval architecture also profited by our Mediter- 
ranean trade. Baltimore clipper brigs and schooners 
were first used by Mediterranean merchants, to get 
their fruit to market in good season. By 1830 Massa- 
chusetts builders had created a type of deep, sharp 
brig with a rakish rig, which produced as much speed as 
the Chesapeake type and carried more cargo. Among 
the famous 'fruiters' were the brigs Water Witch, 1 

i Brig Water Witch, 86' 6" X 21' 3" X 10' 4", 168 tons; built by 
Joseph Clapp on the North River, Scituate, in 1831. 



OF MALAGA, 1833 


News Boy, 1 Sea Mew, and Red Rover. After bringing 
home grapes and oranges for the Thanksgiving and 
Christmas season, they would often make a winter 
voyage to Rio de Janeiro or to the West Indies. Cap- 
tain Paxton, of the Water Witch, would return thence 
with bunches of bananas hanging from his main boom, 
for distribution among the friends of her owner, Ben- 
jamin C. Clark. Rivalry for each new crop of figs be- 
tween the houses of Reggio and lasigi led to a com- 
petitive building of swift barques. lasigi & Goodard's 
Osmanli, 2 painted in the port of Smyrna by a local 
artist, is here shown; in the clipper ship era the Reg- 
gios' Smyrniote was only surpassed by lasigi's Race 
Horse, 5 which also distinguished herself in the San 
Francisco trade. 

Fayal in the Azores, where in any year (save three) 
between 1807 and 1892 one would discover the prin- 
cipal merchant to be a Dabney of Boston, was an out- 
post of the Mediterranean trade. The outward-bound 
whalers stopped there to pick up cheap labor, and to 
unload their early acquisitions of oil, which the Dab- 
neys then shipped to Boston in their own vessels, 
bringing back foodstuffs and notions for the Western 
Islanders. Oranges and Pico wine were local products 
that found their way to the Boston market. When his 
Dabney brother-in-law served him "Pico Madeira," 

1 Brig News Boy, in' x 26' 2" x 11' 5", 299 tons, designed by D. J. 
Lawler and built at Thomaston, Maine, for Frederic Cunningham in 

2 Barque Osmanli, 106' 2" x 24' 5" x 15', 287 tons; built by Water- 
man & Ewell at Medford in 1844. 

8 Barque Race Horse, 125' x 30' 3" X 1 6', 514 tons; designed by 
Samuel H. Pook, and built by Samuel Hall at East Boston in 1850. 



Lewis Cunningham exclaimed, "Charles, I am very 

fond of you, but d n your wines !" Like other 

Bostonians, he preferred the genuine article from 
Funchal, ripened in the hold of an East-Indiaman. 
Happily for our Fayal trade, only connoisseurs could 
tell the difference. Many a pipe of honest Pico was 
reshipped from Boston as " Choice old London par- 

Baltic-bound vessels would often stop at Fayal to 
top off their cargoes with oranges, whale-oil, and wine. 
For Massachusetts approached Russia, as in Feder- 
alist days, by a long detour in Southern waters, and 
her merchants managed to maintain their early su- 
premacy in the Baltic until the Civil War. 1 

Sugar, shipbuilding, and cotton were the three keys 
to this triangular trade. Boston vessels took mixed 
cargoes to Havana, and there loaded sugar for the 
Baltic. By this means they paid for the Russia hemp 
and Baltic iron, which until the Civil War were es- 
sential raw materials for American shipbuilding. 
Manila was used on our merchantmen for sheets and 
halyards, lifts and braces; but the stout, inelastic 
Russia hemp was required for bolt-rope and standing 
rigging. Russia hemp upheld the lofty spars of our 
clipper ships, and indeed of all our vessels, until wire 
rigging was introduced in the sixties. Russian Jron 
was preferred by the harpoon-makers of New Bedford ; 
Swedish iron was used for the metal-work of wooden 

1 In 1820 seventy-seven American vessels passed the Sound on home- 
ward passage. Of these twenty-nine were destined for Boston, eight for 
Salem, two for Newburyport, one for Marblehead, Gloucester, Plymouth, 
Beverly, and New Bedford. In 1840, out of sixty-four American vessels 
entering St. Petersburg, forty-nine belonged in Massachusetts; and out 
of sixty-five vessels entering the United States from St. Petersburg and 
Riga, thirty-two came to Boston and twelve (five of which belonged in 
Massachusetts) to New York. See also statistics in. Appendix. 



ships, and in the ironworks of Plymouth County, 
which had fairly exhausted the native ore. From 
Russia, too, came a superior grade of iron boiler-plate, 
the secret of whose composition eluded the Pennsyl- 
vania ironmasters for fifty years; also bristles for the 
brush factories, rags for the paper-mills, crash and 
linen for the housewives of New England, and ex- 
pensive furs sewed up in leather trunks. 

Boston remained the American emporium for Baltic 
products partly because it was the natural distributing 
point for shipbuilding materials, but mostly from the 
enterprise of her merchants. We have already seen, in 
William Bordman's letter-book, how a Baltic voyage 
fitted into the activities of a typical shipping mer- 
chant. Brigs and small ships were especially built for 
the trade. The itinerary of one such, the brig Cronstadt 
(100 feet long, 273 tons), built on the North River 
in 1829 for Thomas B. Wales and others of Boston, 1 
shows that even vessels as small as the usual Mediter- 
ranean fruiter could be profitably employed. Baltic- 
bound cargoes were commonly owned in thirds by the 
shipowner, the Cuban sugar merchant, and the Rus- 
sian consignee, who got the lion's share of profits 
through commissions not only on sales, but upon the 
heavy import duty, together with fees and tips as 
varied as the cumshaws of Canton. 

In order to absorb to his own profit these heavy 
charges, William Ropes, of a Salem family long expert 
in the Russian trade, established himself at St. Peters- 
burg in 1832, and was admitted to the guild of mer- 
chants. He gave the Baltic trade a fresh impetus by 

1 1834: Boston-Cuba-St. Petersburg twice, and Boston-Charleston- 
Marseilles with cotton. 1835-36: Boston-Matanzas-St. Petersburg 
twice; Boston-Charleston-Rotterdam. 1837: Boston-Rio de Janeiro- 
Hamburg twice, with coffee, and Boston-Charleston-Amsterdam; etc. 



importhig Southern cotton in his own ships, to supply 
the new factories at Narva, Riga, and Reval. Leaving 
his son William Hooper Ropes in charge of the Rus- 
sian branch, he returned to Boston, and resumed the 
active charge of his firm. As soon as mineral illuminat- 
ing oil began to replace the New Bedford product, 
William Ropes exported it to Russia, and before his 
death in 1859 Ropski kerosin was known throughout 
the Empire. 

William H. Ropes, attended by his head clerk, and a 
large dog " Tiger" as protection against bandits, trav- 
eled by sleigh thousands of miles in the interior of 
Russia every winter to buy bolt-rope, crash, and 
sheet-iron from the local merchants. His hobby was 
distributing among the peasants religious tracts, trans- 
lated into Russian by his student brother of the Im- 
perial University ; his favorite charity, and his father's, 
was to give free passage in his ships, and hospitality 
at his mansion on the English Quay, to overworked 
New England ministers. 

The Ropeses were not the only Russia merchants 
of Boston. The fortune that built Fenway Court is 
said to have originated in those northern waters. 
Enoch Train, the daring and public-spirited founder 
of the Train packet-line, saw that the Baltic cotton 
trade would require larger vessels. Waterman & 
Ewell built for him at Medford in 1839 the ship 
St. Petersburg, which broke all previous records for 
size in New England shipbuilding; she was 160 feet 
long, 33 feet broad, and 814 tons burthen. With the 
painted ports and square stern of a New York packet- 
ship, she had such beautiful fittings and accommoda- 
tions as to attract thousands of sight-seers at every 
port. Richard Trask, of Manchester, her master and 
part owner, was one of the dandy merchant-captains 



of his generation. After arranging for the return cargo 
at St. Petersburg and visiting his friends, he would 
leave the vessel in charge of the first officer and return 
via London by steamer. 

Somewhat akin to the -Baltic trade was the coffee 
carry ing- trade from Brazil to Antwerp, Amsterdam, 
Hamburg, and Konigsberg; and the staves and 
brandy trade between Norfolk and La Rochelle, in 
which Thomas B. Wales and Nathaniel H. Emmons 
kept several small vessels employed. But to analyze 
every minor route of foreign trade that began and 
ended at Boston would be an endless task. Peruse, if 
you will, in the Appendix, the list of foreign ports from 
which vessels cleared for Boston in 1857, for emphatic 
proof of the variety and interest of her foreign com- 

Space and time likewise forbid a proper analysis of 
the North American coasting trade of Massachusetts. 
In 1831 American tonnage engaged in coasting for the 
first time exceeded the registered tonnage in foreign 
trade, and the disproportion grew in spite of the rail- 
roads. Coal and cotton explain the change. James 
Collier, of Cohasset (1813-91), who once won a bet in 
London for having commanded more vessels and voy- 
ages than any shipmaster in port, first won the title of 
captain at the age of eighteen, by taking the schooner 
Profit from Boston to Norfolk, returning with a cargo 
of coal for the Ames plow works. It was landed at 
Weymouth and carted to North Easton. In the forties 
this trade increased as the use of stoves and furnaces 
became general, as hardwood disappeared from the 
Maine coast, and as tidewater textile mills were es- 



tablished at Newburyport, Salem, New Bedford, and 
Fall River. Until the adoption of steam-towed coal 
barges, after the Civil War, the freighting of lumber 
and apples, fish and ice between New England and 
Philadelphia and Norfolk, to return with coal, em- 
ployed a great fleet of small sloops and schooners, 
representing the labor and the savings of seafarers in 
every village from Eastport to Westport. 

The corn and cotton trade with the lower South, 
which we have already noted in several connections, 
deserves mention as one of the most lucrative routes 
for Massachusetts vessels between 1830 and 1860. 
In part it was a coasting trade; in part, the last sailing- 
ship phase of a Massachusetts interest two centuries 
old the carrying of Southern staples to a market. 
Year by year the wealthy Cotton Belt wore out more 
boots and shoes, purchased more cottons for her slaves, 
used more Quincy granite in her public buildings, and 
consumed more Fresh Pond ice in her mint juleps. 
The New England mills, on their part, were calling 
for more cotton; and every pound of it that they re- 
ceived, before the Civil War, came by sailing vessel 
from Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, and New Or- 
leans. The factory hands were equally hungry for 
cheap food. Boston's total imports by sea from New 
Orleans totaled $3,334,000 in 1839, and steadily rose; 
in the period from September i, 1841, to May I, 1842, 
one-quarter of the lard, more than one-quarter of the 
flour, nearly half the pork and more than half the corn 
shipped out of New Orleans went to Boston. 

Sailing packet-lines were insufficient to fill this de- 
mand. One hundred and seventy-five vessels cleared 
from Boston in 1855 for New Orleans alone. But not 
all of them returned directly to Boston. The typical 
Massachusetts cotton-carrier, after waiting for a 



place on the crowded levee of New Orleans, while the 
air rang with shouts of negro roustabouts and wild 
chanties of cotton-screwers' gangs, took the best pay- 
ing freight she could get to any foreign port. In keen 
competition with the merchant marine of England, 
France, and Germany, our vessels supplied the cotton- 
mills of Lancashire, Normandy, Flanders, Alsace, 
Prussia, Saxony, and the Baltic provinces. When 
freights were good and anything above a cent a 
pound made a ' saving voyage ' a ship would dis- 
charge her cargo at Havre or Liverpool, and hasten 
back in ballast for more cotton. 1 Otherwise she took 
a European cargo to Boston, or was chartered by a 
packet-line at Liverpool to relieve the heavy emigrant 
traffic. Boston's imports from England far exceeded 
those from any other country, and the freight money 
on cotton went a long way toward balancing accounts. 
Cotton, in fact, was the most important medium in 
our carrying trade, replacing colonial rum and codfish, 
and the Oriental goods of Federalist days. 

Few converts were obtained by the abolitionists 
in Boston counting-rooms. Society, business, and 
politics in Massachusetts were dominated by a triple 
entente between the "Lords of the Lash and the Lords 
of the Loom" and the Lords of Long Wharf. 

1 The records of the ship Rubicon (Medford built, 490 tons) from 
1836 to 1838 show that in two years, on a total investment of $25,094.28 
and disbursements of $10,960.40, she made $29,698.43 "cash receipts" 
for her owners in the New Orleans-Havre cotton trade. 



CAPE COD was ripening off, as Thoreau walked its 
sandy length in 1855. Untouched, through lack of 
water-power, by the industrial revolution; neglected 
alike by foreign commerce and railroad ; producing but 
a fraction of its own food; Barnstable County in- 
creased in population and in w r ealth solely by the skill 
of its people in farming the sea. The towns and vil- 
lages of the Cape, from Sandwich to Provincetown, 
and down the back side around Chatham to Wood's 
Hole, increased their sea-borne tonnage six fold be- 
tween 1815 and 1850. Not only Barnstable and Prov- 
incetown, but every tidal harbor and tiny creek 
Yarmouthport, Sesuet, Namskaket, Herring River, 
Rock Harbor, Wellfleet, Pamet, Chatham, Bass River, 
Harwichport, Hyannis, Osterville, and Cotuit had 
its fishing fleet, with dependent shipyards, sail-lofts, 
stores, and wharves. Coasting vessels plied "down 
East" or "out South, " and made foreign connections 
at Boston, to which every place on the Bay side ran a 
sailing packet. Provincetown and Wood's Hole had a 
small fleet of whalers, and all parts received an occa- 
sional oily bounty from a school of blackfish, driven on 
the beach and tried out by the united effort of the 
community, with a spirit that would delight Lenin. 

Of the minority that did not engage in fishing or 
coasting, the more adventurous entered the merchant 
marine, the stay-at-homes worked the oyster-beds and 
clam-flats, or harnessed wind and sun to extract salt 




from the sea. 1 Many young men worked at a trade in 
Charleston or some other Southern seaport during 
the winter, returning to the Cape by sea in time for 
a summer's fishing. Widows and retired captains in- 
vested their savings in sixteenth-shares of fishing ves- 
sels, or in the stock of a local marine insurance com- 
pany. Until 1850 almost every one lived in a snug 
Cape cottage, built with that nice sense of proportion 
that a ship-carpenter instinctively absorbs. The pop- 
ulation of thirty-five thousand (1850) was ninety- five 
per cent native-born, and in about the same propor- 
tion dependent on the sea for a livelihood. 

Distinct section that it was, Cape Cod's every town 
was distinctive. Chatham had a small fleet of shad- 
seiners about 1840. Provincetown, with its capacious 
harbor, had the largest fleet of fishermen and whalers, 
and the greatest salt-works. Her shores were lined 
with picturesque windmills, which pumped sea-water 
into pine vats for evaporation; her quaint cottages 
emerged from sand and fish-flakes, instead of gardens 
and shrubbery. Brewster, having no proper harbor, 
was a nursery of sea-captains for the merchant marine, 
and snug harbor in their old age. Barnstable, the 
county seat, had a native aristocracy of lawyers, 
judges, and clipper-ship commanders. Sandwich, 
where the Cape begins, capitalized Cape sand. Its 
six-acre glass factory was the largest in the country, 
and one of the first in New England to use steam 

Wellfleet maintained its oyster-breeding reputation. 
Seed oysters were obtained in Wareham Harbor, the 

1 The salt industry on the Cape did not entirely close until about 
1870, but it was pretty well killed off before the Civil War, through the 
import duty being reduced from twenty to two cents per bushel, 1830-46. 
In 1837 the Cape had 668 salt-works and produced to the value of 
$225,098; in 1855 this had fallen to 181 and $47,657. 



Taunton River, and other points in Buzzard's and 
Narragansett bays. In winter the local mackerel fleet 
brought bivalves from Chesapeake Bay and bedded 
them down on the Wellfleet flats, where during the 
R-less months they grew plump for the Boston market. 
About 1824 Wellfleet schooners began bringing Vir- 
ginia oysters directly to Northern markets; but a 
sojourn behind Billingsgate Island greatly enhanced 
their value. In the fifties the canning industry ex- 
tended the market not only for oysters, but for lobster 
and Penobscot salmon. From colonial times to the 
present, almost every oyster-dealer in New England 
has been a Wellfleet man. Isaac Rich climbed on 
oyster-shells to a fortune, which he left to Boston 

A regional readjustment in the fishing industry went 
on between 1835 and I855. 1 Boston, the second great- 
est fishing port in 1837, gradually went out of the 
business, and no other town on Boston Bay but Hing- 
ham owned a fishing schooner in 1855. The South 
Shore and the Merrimac declined; the North Shore 
remained stationary. The only regions which in- 
creased their fleet during these eighteen years were 
Cape Cod, and her rocky rival Cape Ann. The latter 's 
fishing fleet in 1837 was less than half that of Cape 
Cod. But in the next twenty years Cape Ann caught 
up. The population of Gloucester and Rockport (sep- 
arated in 1840) more than doubled between 1820 and 
1855. Sandy Bay Breakwater (hardy perennial of 
river and harbor bills), which the federal government 
began to construct about 1836, protected the fishing 
coves on the exposed side of Cape Ann, and made it 
possible for the Rockport granite quarries to compete 
with Quincy. But concentration was the tendency of 
1 See statistics in Appendix. 


the age, and "the harbor" (Gloucester) gradually ab- 
sorbed all Cape Ann fisheries. 

Newburyport lost half her fleet in this period, but 
codfishing remained the typical industry of the smaller 
ports of Essex County until the Civil War. Swamp- 
scott, despite an influx of summer boarders, increased 
her fleet to thirty-nine small schooners, dried her cod- 
fish exceptionally well, and remained the last place 
where the delectable dunfish was properly cured. 1 It 
was no uncommon sight to see fifty to one hundred 
farmers' teams at one time on King's and Blaney's 
beaches, dickering with the fishermen for a winter's 

"Our neighbors of Beverly have dropped quietly 
back into the fisheries again," writes Dr. Bentley in 
1816. "I saw several fields replanted with flakes, 
which had been divided for house lots. ... At Beverly 
they have received half a million of fish in 16 vessels." 
Her fleet rose from twenty-one sail in 1825 to sixty- 
four in 1840, when it began to decline: and the Beverly 
schooners were Grand Bankers, thrice the tonnage of 
the Swampscott vessels. 

Shoemaking brought a great change in the economy 
of North Shore fishing ports after 1815. The schoon- 
ers, instead of refitting for a winter's trading voyage, 
were now hauled out by Thanksgiving Day; the fish- 
ermen, instead of idling or shipping abroad, pegged 
and cut shoes in a neighborly "ten-footer" shop, dis- 
cussing meanwhile the ways of fish and politicians, 
ships and women. Many fishermen from ' abroad ' 

1 Fish for 'dunning' at this period was caught in deep water, pref- 
erably off the Isles of Shoals in early spring. It was split and slack 
salted, piled up for two or three months, covered with salt hay or eel 
grass in a dark store, uncovered once and restacked under pressure, and 
by late summer, if nothing went wrong, had acquired the proper ripeness 
and dun color. 



(Cape Cod) brought their catch for curing to Beverly, 1 
whose rocky shores as far as West Beach were white 
and odorous every autumn with drying cod. A pleas- 
ant, well-balanced life had the North Shore fisherman- 
farmer-shoemakers, for about two generations. The 
industrial revolution then made a factory industry of 
their sociable handicraft; and on the stony acres of 
their forefathers arose the palaces and Italian gardens 
of a new feudalism. 

Marblehead still had a large fleet of Bankers, and 
even in its absence the Provincetown mackerel fleet, 
putting in for shelter, would fill her harbor with sail. 
Glorious nights there were, when the Cape Codders 
came ashore, bent on draining every Marblehead grog- 
shop, kissing every Marblehead girl, and blacking the 
eyes of every Marblehead boy. Glorious mornings 
followed, when a clearing northwest breeze sent wave- 
lets slap-slap-slapping on black topsides, while the 
surf still roared outside; when to the chuckling chorus 
of halyard blocks, foresails and mainsails arose to 
catch the dawn; when "Shanandore" or "Lowlands" 
from five hundred lusty throats, brought up, all stand- 
ing, such aged natives as had thought it worth while 
to retire. Glorious days, too, when the Marblehead 
Banker fleet departed for its summer fare. Church- 
bells ring, fish-horns blare, and in sight of the whole 
town each schooner, dressed in all her colors and new- 
est suit, must sail up and down the harbor thrice, 
and for good luck toss a penny on Halfway Rock. 

Plymouth increased her fishing fleet at this period 
to over fifty sail, and specialized in mackerel; but 
the smaller South Shore fishing villages allowed their 

1 On account of her early railroad facilities, which attracted buyers 
from the interior. The Eastern Railroad reached Salem in 1838, Marble- 
head and Beverly in 1839. 



fleets to decline in the forties. Probably the active 
shipyards of Cohasset, Scituate, the North River, and 
Duxbury were absorbing the slack. West of the Cape 
there was little codfishing; but the Maine coast was 
becoming a worthy rival. 

Expansion marked the industry as a whole between 
1820 and 1860. Mackerel-fishing now for the first 
time attained the dignity and importance of codfish- 
ing. The sportive and elusive mackerel taxed the in- 
genuity of fishermen far more than the stolid cod, but 
the amount of him brought into Massachusetts in- 
creased from twelve thousand barrels full, the highest 
for any year before the war, to over three hundred 
thousand in 1830. Prices rose as well. 1 There fol- 
lowed a lean decade, when the mackerel fled the coast, 
but in 1840 a series of heavy catches began again. In 
1851 the mackerel fleet of Massachusetts numbered 
eight hundred and fifty sail, of over fifty- three thou- 
sand tons burthen. 

The same types of vessel were used in mackerel as in 
codfishing. Chebacco boats and 'heel-tappers' were 
gradually superseded by pinkies an enlarged and 
improved Chebacco boat with bowsprit and jib, meas- 
uring twenty to sixty tons. 2 About 1830 a new type 
of square-sterned schooner, of twenty to ninety tons 
burthen, came into use. Apple-bowed, barrel-sided, 
and clumsy craft that they were, these 'new-style 
bankers' or 'jiggers' had easier lines than the old type, 
and a flush deck. They were built all along the New 

1 The price of No. I mackerel rose from $5 per barrel in 1830 to $19 
in 1856. Codfish in the same period rose from $2.12 to $3.75 per quintal 
of 112 pounds. 

2 The measurements of an early pinkie, the "pink-stern schooner 
Pink of Edgartown," in the Plymouth registry for 1810, are 42' x 12' 6" 
X 5' 3", tonnage 243. One is shown in the engraving of Boston Harbor 
in chapter xxii. 



England shore from Frenchman's Bay to Dartmouth. 
In accommodations they were no improvement on 
earlier models. All the cooking, even the tea and coffee, 
was done in a large iron pot over a brick hearth di- 
rectly under the fore scuttle, through which the smoke 
was supposed to find its way out. Halibut's fins and 
napes, smoked to a pungent flavor on the cabin beams 
of the pinkies and jiggers, were a favorite delicacy in 
Massachusetts coast towns. 

Swampscott adopted small, fast schooners of im- 
proved model about I84O. 1 The launching, at Essex, 
of the so-called clipper schooner Romp, in 1847, ex- 
tended this principle to the larger vessels. Only two 
years elapsed before Samuel Hall designed the schoon- 
ers Express and Telegraph for the Wellfleet oyster and 
mackerel fleet. Of clipper model, increased size (one 
hundred tons or thereabouts), and large sail area, 
these vessels set the fashion for New England fishing 
schooners for the next generation. The Frank Atwood, 
designed by Donald McKay in 1868, was the most 
famous of this class. But the clipper schooners w r ere 
too shallow and tender for safety; every great storm 
brought a holocaust of New England fishermen. 
About 1890 a new, faster, and safer type was evolved 
through the collaboration of yacht designers with 
master mariners. To this class belongs the Esperanto, 
champion of the North American fishing fleet in 1920. 

In codfishing the ancient method of hand-lining 
from the vessel's deck, day and night, prevailed unti r 
the Civil War. Stories are told of 'high-liners' who 
fished twenty hours a day, lashed to the rigging lest 
they fall overboard when they dozed off. Mackerel- 
fishing was more sporty. The schools were generally 
found within fifty miles of the New England coast, 
1 See picture of Nahant regatta, above. 


and at times they struck into Massachusetts Bay in 
such numbers that a vessel could make her ' trip o' fish ' 
twixt dawn and dark. But often the mackerel schoon- 
ers would sail "clear to Scatteree" in search of a fare. 

The universal method of catching mackerel was 
* jigging.' A mackerel 'jig,' invented about 1812, was 
simply a hook around the shank of which was cast a 
plummet of lead or pewter. For bait, herring or small 
mackerel, or menhaden ('po'gies') were 'slivered' 
(sliced), and then ground up by the night watch in a 
bait-mill like a farmer's feed-cutter. A favorite Cape 
Cod joke was the fisherman whose wife had to grind a 
bait-mill at home to make him sleep. 

A school of mackerel was 'tolled* or attracted to 
the surface by throwing this chopped bait broadcast 
while the vessel slowly drifted, hove to. The fish 
were caught on sliver-baited jigs, each member of the 
crew handling two or three short lines, and dextrously 
snapping his mackerel into a barrel with the same mo- 
tion that jerked him out of water. It was an exciting 
moment when flashes of silver and drumming of lively 
fish in empty barrels announced that a 'spurt' had 
struck the edge of the fleet; and each master, with 
hair's-breadth handling that a yachtsman would envy, 
endeavored to dribble his schooner under the lee bow 
of some vessel with a 'fishy' skipper, like "Osceola 
Dick" Rich, of Truro, or John Pew, of Gloucester. 
The sight of such a fleet, two hundred sail, perhaps, 
engaged in these nervous evolutions; or (as Thoreau 
saw them) 'pouring around the Cape'; or, winging it 
for home with a full fare, was one of the many beauti- 
ful maritime spectacles of sailing days. 

Mackerel were dressed and salted on board the ves- 
sel that caught them, culled (graded) on shore under 
the eye of a deputy-inspector appointed by the com- 



mon wealth, and barreled by young boys at three to 
five cents a barrel. Massachusetts-inspected salt mack- 
erel was distributed all over the country. In 1835 
Georgia took thirty-seven thousand barrels, and 
Philadelphia, one hundred thousand. Toward the 
end of our period some sharp Yankees who lived in 
states where there were no inspection laws, began 
"re-inspecting" Massachusetts mackerel, so that the 
lower grades could be passed off on inland consumers 
as number one. 

Both mackerel and codfishing were much hampered 
by the British treaty of 1818, under which the Cana- 
dian and Provincial authorities undertook to with- 
draw our ancient access to the shores and territorial 
waters of Labrador and the Bay of Chaleur. A revival 
came in the thirties, when Gloucestermen began to 
frequent the Georges Bank, only a hundred miles east 
of Cape Cod. For generations fishermen had visited 
these dangerous ocean shoals without daring to anchor, 
for fear of being ' drored under * by the tide ; and mod- 
ern drift-fishing with cusk bait had not been invented. 
After Captain Samuel Wonson had proved one could 
anchor in safety, winter-fishing on the Georges became 
the chief supply for the fresh-fish business. 

This important branch of the fisheries, nowadays 
far more lucrative than the salt-fish business, began its 
first extension beyond tidewater radius about 1837, 
when some smart Yankee combined ice, fresh fish, and 
the railroad. The fish were brought alive in salt-water 
wells in the vessels* holds l to Boston, where they were 
dressed, iced, and shipped inland by rail. As early as 
the season of 1843-44, one Boston firm was sending 
almost half a million pounds of fresh cod, haddock, 

1 Vessels with wells for keeping fish alive were called 'smacks,' the 
only use of that term in the Massachusetts fisheries. 



and halibut to New York, Albany, and Philadelphia. 
When the railroad reached Gloucester, in 1846, that 
port began to compete with Boston in fresh-fishing, 
and two or three years later the Georges Bankers 
began to carry ice with them, and to chill the fish as 
soon as caught; a method which enabled even mack- 
erel to be shipped fresh. Haddock and halibut, formerly 
a drug in the market, now became valuable parts of 
the catch. 

The market for salt codfish changed radically after 
the Peace of Ghent. Exports to Europe fell off to al- 
most nothing by 1832. The West Indies and Surinam, 
where Gloucester disposed of her hake and lowest- 
grade dried fish, took over ninety per cent of our 
foreign exports ; but the amount remained constant to 
the average of Federalist days. All the increase in 
production was absorbed by the domestic market, 
which in 1840 took three-quarters of the fish cured in 
New England. Yankee pioneers saw to it that a taste 
for salt-fish dinners kept pace with the westward- 
striding frontier. Consequently there was an increase 
in the Grand Banks codfishing fleet, parallel to that 
of the mackerel fishermen. 

Although the fisheries made a smaller contribution 
than whaling to the production statistics of Massa- 
chusetts, the workers got a much larger share of the 
profits. In cod and mackerel fishing the share system 
has continued to this day, and has never become the 
caricature of communism that it did in New Bedford. 

At Gloucester, the vessels were owned by a distinct 
class of merchant-shipowners, who also kept general 
stores and acted as wholesale distributers. All sup- 
plies were furnished by the owners, each fisherman 
getting half of his catch, and the skipper an addi- 
tional bonus of six to eight per cent on the gross 



amount. On Cape Cod and the other fishing sections, 
the system was more" democratic. The vessels were 
owned generally in sixteenth-shares; sometimes, in 
part, by their own crews. Every one fished "on his 
own hook," furnishing his lines and gear and part of 
his food. The "great general" essential food such 
as salt meat and biscuit, and ship chandlery was 
furnished by the owners, who deducted the cost from 
the "whole stock" (gross proceeds) of the trip before 
a division was made. 1 In some ports there was also a 
"small general" including firewood, beans, potatoes, 
and meal, the cost of which was divided among the 
crew. Prior to the temperance movement rum was 
considered as necessary for the fisherman as bait for 
the fish; and every one took from three to six gallons 
of the liquor to sea with him for a four months' cruise. 
But "at the present time," writes Dr. Thatcher of 
Plymouth in 1832, "some vessels go entirely without 
ardent spirits." Having deducted the "great general," 
the owners took one-quarter to three-eighths of the net 
proceeds, and the rest was divided among the crew in 
proportion to the amount each man caught. In mack- 
erel-fishing it made a great difference from what part 
of the vessel one fished; hence every man's station was 
allotted beforehand. 

Codfishermen received, in addition, a bonus of eight 
to ten dollars a year from the federal government. A 
Gloucester physician stirred up a tempest in 1840, 
when he exposed methods by which mackerel- fisher- 

1 Illustrated by the "Settlement " of one trip of the Wellfleet mackerel 
schooner Boundbrook in 1843. The "whole stock" was sold for $836.11. 
Outfitter's bill was $83.92, and the "great general" (food furnished by 
owners), $87.65. The owners' share 25 per cent of the "whole stock" 
after these items were deducted was $166.13. Eleven members of 
the crew divided the rest, the lowest share being $18.78. The skipper 
and two others got $54.09 apiece. 



Captain Caleb Sprague, Master of Ship North Bend and Clipper Ship 
Gravina, and his Cottage at Barnstable 


men became codfishermen for bounty-getting pur- 
poses. But by constantly reiterating the "nursery 
of our seamen" and "cradle of the American Navy" 
argument, Massachusetts congressmen managed to 
retain the federal bounty until 1866. There is no 
doubt that the men needed it. The average earnings 
of a Gloucester fisherman, for the working year of nine 
months, were estimated at one hundred and fifty- 
seven dollars in 1850. A fair-sized Cape Cod fisher- 
man's family needed a hundred dollars more than that 
to carry it through the winter, and the maximum ever 
made by a lucky fisherman in a banner year was only 
eight to nine hundred dollars. Their calling was most 
dangerous. Seventy-eight men of the Cape Cod fleet 
were drowned in 1837. Truro, Dennis, and Yarmouth 
lost eighty-seven bread-winners in the October gale 
of 1841, which swept away the new Sandy Bay break- 
water on Cape Ann, and destroyed fourteen out of 
sixteen vessels owned at Pigeon Cove, representing a 
lifetime's savings of many hard-working men. Eleven 
vessels from Marblehead, with sixty-five men and 
boys, went down in the September gale of 1846; and 
the "Minot's Light" gale of October, 1851, took a 
fearful toll from every fishing village in New England. 
Except in the shoemaking region, a season's gains were 
generally used up by the spring, and a fisherman's 
family lived on credit in his absence. Bad luck or mis- 
fortune would prolong the debt to the vessel's owner 
or the local storekeeper (often the same person), in- 
definitely. But on the whole, especially on the North 
Shore and Cape Cod, the fishermen seem to have been 
a much happier and more independent class of sea- 
farers than the whalemen or merchant sailors. 

The decade 1850-1860 marks the end of an era in 
the Massachusetts fisheries. On the cod banks, dory 


hand-lining and trawling commenced. Mackerel-fish- 
ing was revolutionized by the purse seine; and the 
clipper fishing schooner was perfected. Gloucester in- 
itiated and reaped the benefit of these modern im- 
provements. Her branch railroad, connecting her with 
Boston in 1846, attracted buyers from all parts of the 
country. Her vessel owners, commanding more capital 
than the Cape-Codders, and living in one compact 
community, were better able to survive years of bad 
luck and disaster, more prompt to scrap obsolete ves- 
sels, and to adopt new methods. Isaac Higgins, of 
Gloucester, invented the modern seine boat, a model 
which no other builder to this day has been able to 
improve. The Canadian Reciprocity Treaty of 1854, 
notwithstanding the competition of Canadian fish, 
restored access to the inshore "Bay" fisheries, and 
permitted free import of Newfoundland herring for 
bait. Foreign immigrants settled in Gloucester in 
large numbers ; and by the close of the Civil War, it was 
by far the greatest fishing town in America, with a 
fleet of three hundred and forty-one cod and mack- 
erel schooners, a tonnage greater than Salem's, and 
an annual catch worth almost three million dollars. 
Gloucester, too, has been afflicted (or blessed, if you 
like) with factories and summer visitors ; but Glouces- 
ter still farms the sea. Her population of twenty-four 
thousand, in 1920, depends largely on the sacred cod 
and his humbler cousins. 

For Cape Cod, however, the decade 1850-1860 
marks a decline both in population and maritime 
activity. Various are the explanations. Her capitalist 
class was too small, poor, and conservative to adopt 
the new methods. Modern purse-seining required 
strong men, giving no employment to the boys who 
were useful in jigging. Lack of rail transportation 



(although the Old Colony Railroad did finally wander 
into Province town in 1873) gave the profits of dis- 
tribution to Boston wholesalers. After the Civil War 
the Cape Cod fleet began to concentrate in Wellfleet 
and Provincetown. Elsewhere wise men imitated 
Captain Zebina H. Small, of Harwich, who sold his 
fishing vessel in 1845 and set out a cranberry bog. 
Others emigrated to Boston, New York, and the West, 
where the sturdy qualities of their salty upbringing 
helped many to acquire fortunes, and summer estates 
on Cape Cod. 



the whaleman's joys! O I cruise my old cruise again! 

1 feel the ship's motion under me, I feel the Atlantic breezes fanning 

I hear the cry again sent down from the mast-head, There she 

r Again I spring up the rigging to look with the rest We see 

we descend, wild with excitement, 

I leap in the lower'd boat We row toward our prey, where he lies, 
We approach stealthy and silent I see the mountainous mass, 

lethargic, basking, 
I see the harpooner standing up I see the weapon dart from his 

vigorous arm: 

swift, again, now, far out in the ocean, the wounded whale, settling, 

running to windward, tows me, 
Again I see him rise to breathe We row close again, 

1 see a lance driven through his side, press'd deep, turn'd in the 

Again we back off I see him settle again the life is leaving him 

As he rises he spouts blood I see him swim in circles narrower 

and narrower, swiftly cutting the water I see him die; 
He gives one convulsive leap in the centre of the circle, and then 

falls flat and still in the bloody foam. 

WALT WHITMAN, "Song of Joys" 

WHEN Boston absorbed the foreign commerce of Mas- 
sachusetts, New Bedford became the whaling me- 
tropolis of the world. Nantucket, after losing half 
her fleet of forty-six whalers during the war, began to 
recover in 1818. By the end of another year she had a 
fleet of sixty whalers, and fourscore sail in the coasting 
trade as well. In 1843, the peak year of her population 



and prosperity, Nantucket had nine thousand souls, 
seventy-five hundred sheep, eighty-eight whalers, and 
the largest output of refined oil and sperm candles of 
any American community. With a high school, an 
Athenaeum, and a Lyceum; Nantucket, for all her pris- 
tine simplicity, had caught the cultural waves from 
'off-island.' But her whalemen, by following a mis- 
taken policy of sperm or nothing, ran out of luck. 
Vessels had to be floated over the harbor bar on 
'camels/ at great expense. Population and fleet be- 
gan to taper down. The last forlorn whaling barque 
sailed from Nantucket in 1870, but in the summer of 
1920 the eighty-year-old Charles W. Morgan of New 
Bedford was bravely fitting out for another voyage. 

"New Bedford is not nearer to the whales than New 
London or Portland," wrote Emerson, "yet they have 
all the equipments for a whaler ready, and they hug 
an oil-cask like a brother." He guessed the secret of 
New Bedford's success. Her spacious harbor, in con- 
trast to the bar-blocked entrance to Nantucket; her 
mainland situation, and her railroad connections 
counted for much; but her persistent specialization in 
whaling alone, counted most. Other small seaports of 
New England hugged the delusion that foreign trade 
would return ; New Bedford hugged her oil-casks. Her 
Quaker shipowners who had made fortunes by neutral 
trading before 1812, perceived that the palmy days of 
the carrying trade were past, refitted their merchant- 
men as whalers, and went out after oil with a spirit and 
perseverance that made their town within six years 
the first whaling port of North America. They were 
as tight-fisted, cruel and ruthless a set of exploiters as 
you can find in American history, these oil kings of 
New Bedford. But they were canny as well. By in- 
telligent specialization they escaped the commercial 



extinction that overtook the smaller Massachusetts 
seaports ; and instead of awaiting the inevitable decline 
of whaling, they chose the very height of its prosperity 
to give a new hostage to fortune the Wamsutta 

Fairhaven, on the opposite side of New Bedford 
Harbor, became the third whaling center by 1831, 
although later passed by New London. Edgartown 
on the Vineyard had a fleet of ten to twenty whalers 
in the forties and fifties, and Provincetown at one 
time had as many as thirty. Every little seaport on 
Buzzard's Bay Dartmouth and Mattapoisett and 
Marion, Wareham and Westport, Wood's Hole and 
Rochester entered the game. In fact there were 
few seaports of Massachusetts and Long Island Sound 
that did not at one time or another go in for blubber- 
hunting; but all north of Cape Cod gave it up after a 
short trial. New Bedford's fleet surpassed all others 
combined, attaining three hundred and thirty vessels 
in 1857. The population of four thousand in 1820 had 
tripled by 1840, and almost doubled again in the next 
twenty years. With its oil refineries, cooper's shops, 
tool-works, and the hundred-and-one industries sub- 
sidiary to whaling, New Bedford became a hive of 
industry; it was the fifth port for shipping in the 
United States, and was pushing Baltimore hard for 
fourth place. 

The historic process of opening new whaling grounds 
continued. By 1821 there were five recognized grounds 
in the Pacific Ocean the ' on-shore ' along the coast 
of Chile, the 'off-shore' between 5 and 10 south lati- 
tude and longitude IO5-I25 west, discovered by 
Captain George W. Gardner, of Nantucket, in 1818; 
the 'country whaling,' among the Pacific reefs and 
islands; the Indian Ocean; and the coast of Japan, 




which was first visited in 1820 by Captain Joseph 
Allen, of Nantucket, following a tip from Jonathan 
Winship, the Boston Nor'westman. In 1835, when 
Captain Barzillai T. Folger, of the Nantucket ship 
Ganges, took the first right whale on the Kodiak 
ground, the vessels extended their cruising grounds to 
the Northwest Coast and Alaska. Eight years later 
two New Bedford masters discovered the value of the 
bowhead whale off the coast of Kamchatka; and by 
1851 Melville could write with truth that the oil fleet 
of Massachusetts was "penetrating even through 
Bering's Strait, and into the remotest secret drawers 
and lockers of the world." 1 

A summer's cruise in the Arctic Ocean gave the 
keenest delight to owners and skippers, as the mid- 
night sun enabled them to work their crews twenty- 
four hours a day. 

When in 1839 sperm-oil rose above a dollar a gallon 
for the first time since the war, Nantucket increased 
her fleet from sixty-four to eighty-one vessels, New 
Bedford and Fairhaven from eighty-nine to two hun- 
dred and twenty-one, and others in proportion. Yet 
the price of oil and bone, after a brief depression, rose 
to unheard-of figures during this golden age of the in- 
dustry $1.77 for sperm and 79 cents for whale-oil 
in 1855-56, 97 cents a pound for whalebone; although 
two millions and a half pounds were landed that year 
as against twenty thousand in 1817, when the price 
was twelve cents. By 1840 half a million gallons of 
sperm-oil, four and a half million of whale-oil, and two 
million pounds of bone were exported from the United 
States. Whaling and the manufacture of whaling 
products became the leading industry in Massachu- 

1 Moby Dick, chap. cv. All other quotations in this chapter are from 
the same whaling classic. 



setts after shoes and cottons, and provided commerce 
with an important export medium. 1 

Little technical advance seems to have been made 
at this period. A toggle harpoon that locked the iron 
in the whale's back came into general use. The barque 
rig became popular for whaling vessels, which now 
averaged between three hundred and five hundred 
tons burthen; but little if any improvement was made 
in the model. 'Spouters,' or 'blubber-boilers/ as the 
merchant marine called them, were still broad on the 
beam, bluff-bowed, and "sailed about as fast as you 
can whip a toad through tar." Capacity, not speed, 
was the desired quality; hence many ships which had 
outlived their usefulness in the merchant service were 
converted into whalers. The whaleboats (rowboats car- 
ried aboard the whalers, and used to chase the quarry) 
were beautiful craft, perfected by a century of ex- 
perience. Double-ended, twenty-eight to thirty feet 
long, six feet broad, and but twenty-six inches deep 
amidships, with half-inch cedar planking on white-oak 
frames, propelled by a spritsail or by five stout four- 
teen- to eighteen-foot oars, "like noiseless nautilus 
shells their light prows sped through the sea." For a 
nautical thriller give us a fifteen-knot "Nantucket 
sleigh-ride" over great Pacific rollers, in a whaleboat 
fastened onto a gallied whale, steersman straining on 
his twenty-two-foot oar to prevent an upset, and the 
line smoking as it whips around the loggerhead. No 
wonder that Hawaiian royalty, in its pageants, used a 
New Bedford whaleboat for triumphal car. 

1 A good part, but not all of the oil was handled by Massachusetts 
merchants. Charles W. Morgan, of New Bedford, sent part of his 
cargoes to his brother Thomas W. Morgan at Philadelphia, part to 
Josiah Bradlee, of Boston, and part to Hussey & Macy, a Nantucket 
firm in New York. He also exported oil in his own vessels to Europe, 
and imported cargoes of general merchandise. 



W o 



n u 

iJ -^ 

ffi 2 



It was a golden age for owners. The ship Lagoda, 
belonging to Jonathan Bourne and others, netted them 
an average of ninety-eight per cent profit for each of 
the six voyages she made between 1841 and i86o. 1 
Several simple Quaker families of 1815 had become 
millionaires by 1840. The nucleus of the great How- 
land and Hetty Green fortunes was gathered in 1824, 
when Isaac Howland, Jr., died. Stately mansions of 
granite in the neo-classic style, and elaborate Gothic 
cottages, arose on the high ground overlooking the 
harbor, amid ample lawns and luxuriant gardens. New 
Bedford society combined the grace of provincial 
Newburyport and the power of Federalist Salem. . . . 
But it was an iron age for the men who did the work. 

Whaling skippers had been proverbial for cruelty 
and whale-ship owners for extortion, since colonial 
days; but the generation of 1830-60 surpassed its 
forbears. The old 'lay' system, it will be remembered, 
gave each whaleman a fractional share of the proceeds 
of the voyage. On paper, this sounds so fair and just 
that a gullible economic historian has called it "the 
best cooperation of capital, capitalizer, and laborer 
ever accomplished." Yet by 1830, if not earlier, this 
cooperation had been perverted into a foul system of 

In the first place, the dividend of a voyage was 
usually computed not on what the cargo fetched, but 
on oil prices fixed by the owner in advance, at a rate 
well below the market price, which was constantly 

1 These voyages ranged in length between two and four years. On 
her next voyages, during the Civil War, the Lagoda netted her owners 
219 and 363 per cent profit. The average cost of a whaler, fitted for sea, 
was estimated in 1841 at $20,120, of which about half was the value of 
the vessel and the other half outfit. The Lagoda' 's cost of fitting out came 
very close to this average. She measured 107' 6" X 26' 9" X 18' 4", 371 



tending upward. The 'lay' or proportion of the 
catch granted an able seaman declined to one-seventy- 
fifth or one-ninety-fifth, and that of a green hand to 
one-one-hundred-and-fiftieth, one-two-hundredth, or as 
little as ignorant men could be induced to take. Divide 
fifty to seventy-five thousand dollars, a high average 
yield for a voyage at this period, by 175, and you get 
$285.72 to $428.57; a green hand's gross compensa- 
tion for three to four years' labor at sea. 1 Even this 

1 The following account of a voyage of the New Bedford whaling ship 
Benjamin Tucker between 1839 and 1843 is fairly typical of a number I 
have seen in the New Bedford public library. Accounts of men who did 
not complete the voyage are omitted. 


Share of 
proceeds of 

Charged for 
outfit, plus 
25 per cent 

bill (slop- 
chest, and 
advances of 




First Mate 

*/ * w 



2 d " 


I /4. -i 


id " 



4th " 



Boat steerer 




Boat steerer 

/ w/ 





a a 


* Yt*' 


a a 



























**u f * 



In addition, each man had charged against him the above-mentioned 
fees for fitting out, discharging cargo, and medicine chest; but no in- 
surance. The two landsmen and the last seaman left the ship owing the 
owners money, at the end of this four-year voyage. After another voy- 
age on the same ship, one green hand was paid off with $1.31, and 
another with $16. 



beggarly sum was begrudged him by the owners, who 
devised various means to rob him thereof. On many 
ships ten per cent was deducted for 'leakage,' and 
three per cent for insurance ; yet if the ship and cargo 
were lost, all the insurance money went to the owners. 
Certain owners charged against each lay the value of 
the casks, and a commission for selling the oil, in 
spite of judicial decisions against the legality of such 
practice. Each whaleman was charged eight to ten 
dollars for fitting out, and the same for discharging 
the vessel ; and a dollar and a half for his share of the 
medicine chest. For his 'expenses' and 'outfit,' some 
* land-shark' outfitter at New Bedford was given a 
good round sum, on which the owners charged the men 
twenty-five per cent interest; and the 'slop-chest' 
absorbed a good part of the rest. 

This slop-chest was the skipper's store, from which 
the men replenished their tattered garments and empty 
tobacco pouches at a high advance on cost. 1 It existed 
on merchantmen as well. But on many whalers the 
only way for a man to get spending money at Fayal 
or Honolulu or Papeete was to buy slops at inflated 
prices and sell them ashore for a song. Consequently 

1 Verbal tradition, and some of the authorities mentioned in the 
Bibliography, state that several hundred per cent profit was made by 
the slop-chest. In the ship's disbursement accounts I have examined, 
the profits were fairly reasonable, judged by 1921 standards. Here are 
some extracts from the ' slop-chest invoice ' of the Benjamin Tucker: 

Cost Sell at 

Monkey jackets $6.50 $10.00 

Trousers 2.40 4.00 

Guernsey frocks 87 1.50 

Scotch caps 37 .62 

Jack-knives I6-.29 4O-.5O 

Tobacco, Ib 16 .25 

The slop-chest was also used in trading with natives for supplies, and 
contained bolts of cheap cottons, and other merchandise for this especial 



many whaling ships returned to New Bedford after 
a cruise of several years, with every green hand's May' 
eaten up by his debts to the ship. 

Except for the boat-steerers or harpooners, who 
lived apart from the common sailors and had a 'lay' 
that netted them something, whaling vessels did not 
ship seamen. Neither American seamen nor any other 
kind would have stood for the extortion and cruelty 
practiced by owners and skippers. Shipping agents, 
with offices in New York, Boston, and inland cities 
like Buffalo, circulated lurid handbills depicting the 
excitement of the chase and the fat profits of a voyage. 
Their principal victims were farmer boys from New 
England and New York, bitten with the lure of the 
sea. Unemployed immigrants and mill-hands, fugi- 
tives from justice, and human derelicts were also drawn 
in. Many are the stories of old-time whaling agents. 
If a raw rustic protested against the size of his lay, the 
agent would magnanimously grant him one-two- 
hundred-and-seventy-fifth instead of one-hundred- 
and-seventy-fifth. A well-known Boston agent, after 
describing to a Maine ploughboy the imaginary joys 
of this glorious profession, concluded confidentially: 
" Now, Hiram, I '11 be honest with yer. When yer out in 
the boats chasin' whales, yer git yer mince-pie cold!' 1 

During the first months of a whaling voyage the 
green hands were ' learned ' the ropes with a rope's end, 
taught to row the whaleboats, and broken in generally. 
Their numbers were increased by a few hungry and 
docile 'Portygees' at Fayal or St. lago, where the 
whaling vessels touched to trade liquor for fresh pro- 
visions and to ship home the oil obtained on the pas- 
sage across. 1 This led to an extensive migration from 

1 "We are in advance to all your crew from 70 to 80 dollars, it will 
therefore be necessary to obtain some oil before going into port as they 




the Azores and Cape Verde Islands to New Bedford, 
until to-day the Western Islanders and Bravas are 
the most numerous alien element in the Old Colony, 
and in parts of it the sole cultivators of the soil. 

Whaling vessels never returned to New Bedford or 
Nantucket with the same crew that they shipped. 
Many whalemen deserted their floating hells in the 
Pacific Islands. Those who kept out of debt to the 
ship were encouraged to desert, or abandoned no 
frivolous pretexts, in defiance of the law, that their 
lays might be forfeited. 1 And once a Pacific beach- 
comber, a man seldom became anything better. A 
United States consul in the Pacific estimated in 1859 
that three or four thousand young men were annually 
lost to their country through this channel. To replace 
them, Kanakas, Tongatabooars, Filipinos, and even 
Fiji cannibals like Melville's hero Queequeg, were 
signed on for a nominal wage or microscopic lay. 
Whaling vessels no longer returned as soon as their 
holds were full; a cargo would be shipped home by 
merchant vessels from Honolulu, and the voyage pro- 
longed until the old hooker crawled around the Horn 
with a yard of weed on her bottom and a crew that 
looked like shipwrecked mariners. 

These three- and four-year voyages, 2 touching at 

may be likely to desert in which case we are losers." (Charles W. 
Morgan's instructions to Capt. Charles Downs of the barque President, 
"4th mo., 23d, 1830.") The captain of another whaler is instructed not 
to stop at the Westward Islands, as $100 or more has been expended for 
each whaleman's 'outfit.' 

1 The most impressive fact in the ship's disbursement accounts I 
have examined is the large number of men who deserted at outlandish 
ports, although money was coming to them. If a deserter was appre- 
hended, the local police fees were charged up to him, with 25 per cent 
interest to boot. 

2 The average voyage of fifty-two sperm whalers and fifty right 
whalers which returned in 1847, was respectively forty-five months, 
twelve days, and thirty-one months, seven days. 



no civilized port, brought out the worst traits of hu- 
man nature. Whalers' forecastles were more efficient 
schools of vice than reformatories. Brutality from 
officers to men was the rule. Many whaling skippers, 
who on shore passed as pious friends or church- 
members, were cold-blooded, heartless fiends on the 
quarterdeck. Then, having made conditions such that 
no decent American would knowingly ship on a whaler, 
the blubber barons used the character of the crews 
they obtained as an argument for still harsher dis- 
cipline. Men were hazed until they deserted, became 
cringing beasts, or mutinied. The ingenuity of whaling 
skippers in devising devilish punishments surpasses 
belief. Nor should one forget other ways in which 
these blackguards degraded the flag and the name of 
America. " Paying with the foretopsail " (sailing away 
without paying) was frequently practiced on Pacific 
islanders who had furnished supplies. The numerous 
conflicts between whalemen and natives were generally 
due to the meanness and rascality of skippers. Another 
practice, by no means uncommon at New Bedford and 
the Sound ports, was to fit out a whaler for a slaving 
voyage, unbeknown to the crew. As late as 1861 the 
owners of two New Bedford barques were condemned 
to hard labor in jail for slave- trading. 

Whaling, after all, was better than most systems of 
peonage that flourish to-day, for it released its victims 
after a single voyage. Rarely, if a green hand made 
good with the skipper, he could be able seaman or 
boat-steerer (harpooner) on his second voyage; but 
the good ' short lays ' were generally reserved for na- 
tive Nantucketers, New Bedfordites, and Gay Head 
Indians. Compensations there were, even in a whale- 
man's life. If his vessel ran into several * pods' of 
whales in succession, he was worked until he dropped, 



and then kicked to his feet; but ordinarily he had 
plenty of leisure to play cards and smoke, and to 
carve sperm whales' teeth into marvelous 'scrimshaw 
work' and 'jagging wheels.' There was nothing in 
the merchant marine corresponding to the friendly 
'gams' or visits between whalers at sea; half the offi- 
cers and crew of each vessel spending several hours, 
even the whole night, aboard the other. 1 But the 
great redeeming feature of whaling was the sport of it. 

"There she blows! there she breaches/ 11 from the 
masthead lookout, was a magic formula that exalted 
this sordid, cruel business to an inspiring game; a 
game that made the rawest greenie a loyal team-mate 
of the hardest officer. First there was the bustle of 
sending away the boats, then the long, hard pull to 
the quarry, each of the four mates exhorting his crew 
with picturesque epithets to win the race: "Sing out 
and say something, my hearties. Roar and pull, my 
thunder-bolts! Beach me, beach me on their black 
backs, boys; only do that for me, and I '11 sign over to 
you my Martha's Vineyard plantation, boys; including 
wife and children, boys! Lay me on lay me on! O 
Lord, Lord! but I shall go stark, staring mad! See! 
See that white water!" The rowers' backs are to the 
whale, it is bad form to glance around, they know not 
how near they are until the mate shouts to the bow 
oar, the harpooner, "Stand up, and let him have it!" 
A shock as bow grounds on blubber, a frantic " Starn 
all!" and the death duel begins. 

Anything may happen then. At best, a Nantucket 
sleighride, waves rushing past the whaleboats with 
a "surging, hollow roar . . . like gigantic bowls in a 

1 "Endeavor to avoid those [ships] that wish to spend much time in 
gamming as a lone chance is generally best," writes Charles R. 
Tucker, owner, to Captain Charles Starbuck in 1836. 



boundless bowling-green; the brief suspended agony 
of the boat, as it would tip for an instant on the knife- 
like edge of the sharper waves, that almost seemed 
threatening to cut it in two; the sudden profound dip 
into the watery glens and hollows; the keen spurrings 
and goadings to gain the top of the opposite hill; the 
headlong, sled-like slide down its other side; . . . the 
cries of the headsmen and harpooners, and the shud- 
dering gasps of the oarsmen, with the wondrous sight 
of the ivory Pequod bearing down upon her boats with 
outstretched sails, like a wild hen after her screaming 
brood." Finally the whale slows down, exhausted, 
and the crew pull up on him, hand over hand on the 
line, and dispatch him with a few well-timed thrusts; 
then pull quickly out of his death-flurry. At worst, a 
canny old 'sparm' sinks out of sight, rises with open 
jaws, directly under the boat, and shoots with it 
twenty feet into the air, crushing its sides like an egg- 
shell, w r hile the crew jump for their lives into seething, 
blood-streaked foam. 

Whalemen enjoyed a variety of adventures such as 
no other calling approached, such as no millionaire 
big-game hunter of to-day can command. "Not the 
raw recruit, marching from the bosom of his wife into 
the fever heat of his first battle; not the dead man's 
ghost encountering the first unknown phantom in the 
other world ; neither of these can feel stranger and 
stronger emotions than that man does, who for the 
first time finds himself pulling into the charmed 
churned circle of the hunted sperm whale." When 
that moment came, no braver or gamier men could 
be found on blue water, than the whalemen of New 



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

THUS roared in lusty chorus one hundred seamen on 
the Boston clipper ship Sovereign of the Seas, as she 
sailed through Golden Gate, on November 15, 1852. 
Before her, behind a hedge of spars and rigging, 
swarmed a hill of human ants, building a great city 
where ten years before the only signs of human life 
were a mission village, and a Boston hide-drogher. 
The refrain of that old popular song, the anthem of 
the Argonauts, resounds through the clipper-ship era 
of maritime Massachusetts. 

Imagine a Yankee Rip van Winkle, who had slept 
out his twenty years within hailing distance of the 
State House dome. As he looked about him in 1853 
the most astonishing sight would be not the rail- 
road, not the telegraph, not the steamship but the 
clipper ship. During the last half of his sleep there had 
taken place the greatest revolution in naval architec- 
ture since the days of Hawkins and Drake. Below in 
Boston Harbor, and setting sail for a port whose name 
he had never heard, were vessels four and five times 
as large as any he had ever seen, with canvas five and 
six times the utmost area that the old Boston East- 
Indiamen dared spread to the lightest air. 

Now, before we relate this revolution, a paragraph 
of definitions. A ship, as old-time sailors use the word, 



and as I have attempted to use it throughout this 
book, meant a full-rigged ship, a three-masted vessel 
with square sails on all three masts. A clipper ship, 
as distinguished from other ships, was built and rigged 
with a view to speed, rather than carrying capacity or 
economy. Although larger, in general, than the older 
sailing vessels, it was the model and the rig of clipper 
ships that made them such, not their size. They were 
sharper in the ends, longer in proportion to their 
breadth, and more heavily sparred than the full- 
bodied, bluff-bowed ships of previous, and even later 
generations. 1 For the clipper ship came all at once, 
and fled as quickly as she came. There had been 
clipper schooners and clipper brigs since 1812, the 
term "clipper" connoting speed and smartness; but 
only six or eight clipper ships had been built before 
1850. Then were brought forth, like so many Cythe- 
reas arising from the sea, the fairest vessels that ever 
sailed, to meet a special need speed to California 
at any price or risk. 

About 1840 the rate of increase in the American 
merchant marine began to accelerate. The basic 
cause was ability of American shipbuilders and ship- 
owners to keep pace with the growing wealth, pros- 
perity, and population of America. In 1849 Parlia- 
ment repealed the Navigation Acts, thereby throwing 
open the British market to the products of New 

1 Compare in the accompanying illustration the ship Mary Glover, 
a non-clipper built in the clipper-ship era, with the clipper ship Wild 
Ranger; or, better still, visit the Peabody Museum, Salem, and compare 
the half-models of the Flying Cloud and the frigate Constitution; or the 
Marine Museum at the Old State House, Boston, to compare models of 
different types. 





England shipyards. At the same time the China trade 
was prospering ; and competition between the ships of 
Russell & Co., the New York firms, and the great 
British houses, to market the new teas, stimulated 

These conditions created a demand for more ships, 
speedier ships, and bigger ships. Samuel Hall, of 
East Boston, built for the Forbes's China fleet in 
1839 an unusually fast ship Akbar, 650 tons, the last 
word of the Medford type of 1830. New York build- 
ers knew how to construct the larger vessels through 
their experience with the North Atlantic packets; 
but the merchants wanted something more than size. 
Baltimore builders had the reputation for speed, 
through their clipper schooners and brigs of the long, 
low, rakish type beloved by slavers, pirates, and 
novelists. Samuel Hall had successfully copied or 
adapted their lines for pilot schooners, fishing schoon- 
ers, and small opium clippers. But the Baltimore clip- 
per model was as unsuitable for a vessel of one thou- 
sand tons, as would be a cat-boat model for a fishing 
schooner. For centuries, shipbuilders had maintained 
that you could have either speed or burthen, not both; 
but New York and Boston wanted both, and they 
got it. 

Although Boston carried the clipper ship to its 
ultimate perfection, New York invented the type. 
John W. Griffeths, chief draughtsman of Smith & 
Dimon, produced in 1845 the Rainbow, 750 tons, the 
first extreme clipper ship. Her long, fine ends and 
cross-section like a flattened V, came from the Balti- 
more clipper; but the concave lines of her bow above 
the water-line, a characteristic feature of the clipper 
ships, were suggested by the model of a Singapore 
sampan which Captain Bob Waterman brought home. 



After some remarkable passages to China, the Rain* 
bow's model was imitated in five or six clipper ships 
of moderate burthen, built at New York between 1844 
and 1848. As yet not a single vessel of this type had 
been launched from a Massachusetts yard. But the 
way was being prepared. 

Donald McKay, born of Scots stock at Shelburne, 
Nova Scotia, in 1810, played about the local yards as 
a boy, and built a fishing boat with his brother in their 
early teens. Stimulated, perhaps, by a wandering 
Sam Slick, this youthful ' blue-nose ' emigrated to New 
York, obtained employment at the shipyard of Isaac 
Webb, and quickly mastered the profession. Luckily 
for Massachusetts, he turned eastward again at the age 
of thirty, when he was ready to launch out as a mas- 
ter builder. At first working under John Currier, Jr., 
a leading shipbuilder of Newburyport, he became his 
partner in 1841, and produced for New York order 
two ships which proved wonders for finish, appearance, 
and speed. 

In 1843 Enoch Train, a Boston merchant in the 
South American and Baltic trades, decided that his 
city must have a line of Liverpool sailing packets. He 
doubted whether any New England yard were capable 
of turning one out. Meeting by chance the New York 
owner of Donald McKay's first ship, he heard such 
praise of the young master builder of Newburyport as 
to give him the contract for his first packet. When he 
saw the Joshua Bates, this pioneer ship of his new 
line, glide gracefully into the Merrimac, Enoch Train 
recognized the genius of her builder. At his persuasion, 
and backed by his financial influence, McKay estab- 
lished a new shipyard at East Boston. There he 
built in rapid succession, the Ocean Monarch, 1 Daniel 

1 Ocean Monarch, 178' 6" x 40' x 26' 10", 1301 tons; built 1848. 



Webster, 1 and other famous packet-ships for the Train 
Line, and (in 1846) the New World, 1404 tons, a 
record in size, for a New York firm. These ships were 
not clippers, but they established the reputation of 
Donald McKay, and gave him the practice and equip- 
ment to astonish the world when another event created 
a demand for clipper ships of fifteen hundred tons 

On January 24, 1848, a workman at Sutter's Mill, 
California, discovered a gold nugget in the raceway. 
When the news reached the Atlantic coast, it was re- 
ceived with incredulity, but by the end of the year, 
when reports were accompanied by actual nuggets, 
the gold-fever of '49 swept through Massachusetts. 
Farmers mortgaged their farms, workmen downed 
tools, clerks left counting-rooms, and even ministers 
abandoned their pulpits in order to seek wealth in 
this land of Havilah. Few Yankee Argonauts took 
the usual overland trail. True to type, they chose the 
ocean route. But like most of the 'forty-niners,' many 
of them went organized in semi-communistic brother- 
hoods. How this idea originated no one seems to 
know. Whether Fourierism had any influence is 
doubtful, and the Communist Manifesto could hardly 
have inspired a movement, the sole object of which 
was money-getting. A few companies were financed by 
local capitalists, in return for a guaranteed percentage 
of the winnings, precisely as the merchant adventurers 
of Old England 'grub-staked' the Pilgrim fathers. 
But for the most part the gold-seekers of Massachu- 

1 Daniel Webster, 185' x 37' 3" X 24' (unusually long and narrow for 
a packet ship), 1187 tons; built 1850. 



setts journeyed West in organized groups, each mem- 
ber of which was pledged to serve his fellows to the 
best of his particular ability, and entitled to receive an 
equal share in the common gold production. 

These emigrant companies varied in number from 
ten to one hundred and fifty young men, of all trades 
and professions. There was the Bunker Hill Mining 
& Trading Company, composed of thirty mechanics 
from Charlestown, Cambridge, and Somerville, paying 
five hundred dollars each; the New Bedford Company, 
commanded by Rotches and Delanos; the El Dorado 
Association of Roxbury; the Hampshire & Holyoke 
Mining & Trading Company; the Sagamore & Sacra- 
mento Company of Lynn; the Cotuit Port Associa- 
tion ; the Winnigahee Mining Company of Edgartown ; 
the Hyannis Gold Company; the Cape Ann Pioneers; 
and at least a hundred and fifty others from all parts 
of the state. 

A few of these emigrant companies followed the 
transcontinental route. The Overland Company, of 
fifty young Roxbury men, marched in gray-and-gold 
uniforms, with seven wagons, thirty-one mules, four 
horses, six dogs, two colored servants, and four musi- 
cians. They arrived in Sacramento after intense suf- 
ferings, and heavy casualties among the mules. A few 
took the Panama route, but suffered great hardships 
crossing the Isthmus, and were charged from two 
hundred to six hundred dollars each for passage thence 
to San Francisco. But the great majority took sail 
around the Horn. Not clipper ships; far from it! 
There were few companies like the exclusive North 
Western of Boston, composed of Adamses, Dorrs, and 
Whipples paying a thousand dollars each, which could 
afford a crack clipper brig. Few shipowners would 
charter. The oldest, slowest, and most decrepit ves- 



sels were purchased, because they were cheap. Many 
companies, especially those recruited on Cape Cod and 
Nantucket, handled their own vessels. Twelve out of 
one company of sixteen that left the island on Feb- 
ruary I, 1849, were whaling captains, as familiar with 
the route to 'Frisco as with " Marm Hackett's garden." 
The gold-fever drained Nantucket of one-quarter of 
its voting population in nine months. In the same 
period eight hundred men left New Bedford for the 
mines.- There were one hundred and fifty clearances 
from Boston to California in 1849, one hundred and 
sixty-six in 1850, and many more from the smaller 

The Mexican War had hardly disturbed Massa- 
chusetts; but all through forty-nine the Bay State 
presented the spectacle of a community preparing for 
war on a large scale. Prudent companies took two 
years' provision, and stories of 'Frisco lawlessness 
made every emigrant a walking arsenal. Beef-packing 
establishments, ship-biscuit bakeries and firearm man- 
ufactories were running full blast; and the Ames plow 
works turned from agricultural machinery to picks 
and shovels. "The members of a society could be told 
by their slouched hats, high boots, careless attire and 
general appearance of reckless daring and potential 
wealth," writes Dr. Octavius T. Howe. On the Sab- 
bath preceding departure each company marched in a 
body to hear a farewell sermon (Genesis II, 12, being 
the favorite text), and to receive one or more Bibles 
each from sympathetic and envious neighbors. Most 
companies took care to admit only men of good char- 
acter, and their by-laws usually contain prohibitions of 
drunkenness, gambling, and swearing, which, like all 
their regulations, were well enough observed until 
they reached California. The Boston Journal pub- 



lished a special California edition for circulation on 
the Coast. 

When the Salem barque Eliza cast off from Derby 
Wharf for California, late in '48, one of the passengers 
sang the following words to the popular tune of "Oh! 

I came from Salem City, 

With my washbowl on my knee, 
I 'm going to California, 

The gold dust for to see. 
It rained all night the day I left, 

The weather it was dry, 
The sun so hot I froze to death, 
Oh ! brothers, don't you cry. 
Oh! California, 

That 's the land for me! 
I'm going to Sacramento 

With my washbowl on my knee. 

1 jumped aboard the 'Liza ship, 

And traveled on the sea, 
And every time I thought of home 
I wished it was n't me! 
Oh! California, 

That 's the land for me! 
I'm off for Calif orni-a 

With my washbowl on my knee. 

This song in countless versions, but with the same 
washbowl chorus, became the anthem of the forty- 

Deep-sea sailormen have always insisted that the 
discipline and safety of a ship can only be maintained 
by despotic power in the master. But democracy 
ruled on the forty-niner vessels. Each company, al- 
though composed in good part of master mariners, was 
a miniature soviet. The captain was elected, and some- 
times deposed by majority vote; and the same method 



determined ports of call, and whether the Straits of 
Magellan or the Cape Horn were chosen. One night 
off the River Plate on the little schooner Roanoke, 
belonging to the Boston Marine Mining Company, all 
the watch were below playing whist with the skipper, 
except a man at the wheel and another on the lookout. 
The latter, seeing a squall approach, called repeatedly 
to his captain to send up the watch, but the game was 
too interesting to interrupt. Finally he sang out, 
"Say, Captain, if you don't send that watch up to 
take in the flying jib, you can take it in yourself, I '11 
be d d if I 'm going to get wet!" 

In spite of these soviet methods (or because of them 
some will say) it seems that every one of these small 
and often superannuated vessels arrived safely at San 
Francisco. But ship fever (typhus) took a heavy toll 
of their passengers, on the five to eight months' voyage. 

On arrival, each member's part was provided in the 
by-laws. Some were to stick to the ship, guard the 
stores, or cook; the majority wash for gold; but all 
share alike what the mining members produced. What 
actually happened is well told in a doggerel poem by 
Isaac W. Baker, in his manuscript "Journal of Pro- 
ceedings on board the barque San Francisco, of and 
from Beverly for California": 

The San Francisco Company, of which I Ve often told, 
At Sacramento has arrived in search of glittering gold, 
The bark hauled in, the cargo out, and that is not the worst 
The Company, like all the rest, have had a talk and burst. 
For '/ was, talk, talk, growl, growl, talk, talk away, 
The devil a bit of comfort 's here in Calif orni-a. 

While on the passage all was well, and every thing was nice, 
And if there was a civil growl, 't was settled in a trice, 
But here example had been set by companies before, 
Who 'd all dissolved and nothing less, so we did nothing more 
But talk, talk, etc. 



We 'd forty men of forty minds, instead of one alone, 
And each wished to convert the rest, but still preferred his own, 
Now in some places this might do, but here it won't, you see, 
For independence is the word in Californi-e. 

At first the price of lumber fell, which made it bad for us, 

Some wished to sell and some did not, which made the matter 


Some longed to start into the mines and let the Barkey stay 
While others said it would n't do for all to go away. 

Some longed to get their ounce a day, while others knew they 

could n't, 
And wished to share and keep all square, but then the workers 

would n't. 

A meeting of the whole was called, the question put and tried, 
Our Constitution voted down, our Bye Laws null and void. 

Now carpenters can take a job and work for what they please, 
And those who do not like to work can loaf and take their ease 
And squads can form for travelling, or any thing they choose, 
And if they don't a fortune make, they '11 not have it to lose. 

And can chat, chat, sing, sing, chat, chat away, 

And take all comfort that they can in Californi-a. 

Within three weeks of landing on California soil, 
every emigrant company dissolved into its separate, 
individual elements. For a treasure-seeking enter- 
prise like that of '49, in a setting of pioneer individual- 
ism, communism was about as well suited as to the 
New York stock exchange or the Supreme Council of 
the League of Nations. 

The Massachusetts forty-niners did not go to Cali- 
fornia to settle. The average man's intention was to 
make his pile and return home rich. A few did come 
back to dazzle the natives, and a few became Cali- 
fornia millionaires; but the greater part went broke. 
It was not the miners who made the big money in '49 
'50, but the men who exploited the miners. 

Of the many stories of fortunes lost and won by 


The Best Chance Yet, for 


A Meeting will be held in COHASSET, at the Office of 

H. ,i. mm', 

On SATURDAY, January 2Tth, at 11 O'Clook, for the pur- 
pose of forming a Company, to be called the " South Shore 
California Joint Stoek Company;" to be composed of 311 
Members, and each Member paying $3OO. 


Propeller Power Pressc., 143 WMfaiagton 8C, 



emigrating Yankees, that of Dr. Samuel Merritt, of 
Plymouth, is typical. Liquidating his property, he 
purchased a brig and loaded her with merchandise and 
passengers. At the last moment he decided to invest in 
tacks for the California market, and started on horse- 
back for the Duxbury tack factory. On the way he was 
overtaken by a messenger, who recalled him to attend 
an accident, immediately after which he had to sail, 
without the tacks. They were selling for five dollars a 
paper at San Francisco when he arrived. At Valparaiso, 
on the way, another fortune was missed by failing to 
fill up a hole in the cargo with potatoes, of which the San 
Francisco market was totally denuded. But the bottom 
had fallen out of the market for every other article in 
his cargo. However, within a year his medical practice 
at San Francisco brought him forty thousand dollars. 
Hoping to become the Frederic Tudor of the coast, 
Dr. Merritt chartered a Maine brig to load ice at 
Puget Sound and bring it to San Francisco in time for 
summer. His captain discovered that Puget Sound 
was not Maine, but returned with a load of piles in 
lieu of ice. Piles happened to be much wanted then 
for wharves, and the venture proved profitable, as did 
a second of the same nature. Vessels began to flock 
northward for piles, so the Doctor wisely decided he 
had had the cream, and would let them take the skim 
milk. He directed his shipmaster to take Puget Sound 
timber to Australia, to exchange for coal. Again the 
captain used good judgment. Instead of coal, he re- 
turned with a load of oranges from the Society Islands, 
and made another killing. Dr. Merritt then closed his 
office, purchased a large tract of land across the Bay, 
created the city of Oakland, and in due course became 
a multi-millionaire, mayor of the city, and owner of 
the finest yacht on the Coast. 

337 . 


A stranger fate was that of John Higgins, of Brew- 
ster, forty-niner who never reached California. Work- 
ing his way out on a steamer, he was wrecked on the 
Australian coast, shipped as second mate on a brig, 
was shipwrecked again, and drifted to the Wellington 
Islands, where the natives received him with open 
arms. He married the chief's daughter, established a 
trading business with the whalers, and left two sons 
to continue his work of civilization, which even the 
missionaries acknowledged to be more successful than 
any black-coated brother possibly could have done. 

Many Massachusetts shipowners sent their vessels 
with full cargoes to San Francisco in time to obtain the 
prices of '49 that seem fabulous even to-day forty- 
four dollars a barrel for flour, sixteen dollars a bushel 
for potatoes, ten dollars a dozen for eggs that had been 
around the Horn, one thousand per cent profit on 
lumber. Freights rose to such figures that the ship 
Argonaut, built at Medford in 1849 for John E. Lodge, 
paid for herself before casting off her lines for her 
maiden voyage. When reports of these prices reached 
the merchant-shipowners, they rushed cargoes of 
every sort and description around the Horn, until in 
1851 the market became glutted and unopened cases 
of dry goods were used for sidewalks in the muddy 
streets of San Francisco. Between June 26 and July 
28, 1850, there entered the Golden Gate seventeen 
vessels from New York and sixteen from Boston, 
whose average passage was one hundred and fifty-nine 
days. Yet on July 24 there arrived at San Francisco 
the little New York clipper ship Sea Witch, just 
ninety-seven days out. Every mercantile agency in 
San Francisco began clamoring for goods to be shipped 
by clipper, and the shipyards responded to their 



THE golden sands of California were a quickening 
force to the shipyards of Massachusetts. For four 
years they teemed with the noblest fleet of sailing 
vessels that man has ever seen or is likely to see. 

Massachusetts launched her first clipper ships in 
1850, from the yard of Samuel Hall; the Surprise l for 
the Salem Lows, then of New York; and the Game- 
Cock 2 for Daniel C. Bacon, of Boston. 

Samuel Hall, now fifty years old, was the most emi- 
nent shipbuilder in the commonwealth. Of an old 
Marshfield family, he served his apprenticeship on 
the North River, and at his majority left for Medford 
with a capital consisting of a broad-axe and twenty- 
five cents. After pursuing his trade on the Mystic, the 
Penobscot, and at Duxbury, he became, as we have 
seen, the pioneer master builder of East Boston. The 
Game- Cock and Surprise were designed by a twenty- 
three-year-old Bostonian named Samuel H. Pook, 8 
the first independent architect of merchant vessels 
in New England. 

Well did Sam Hall choose the name of his first 

1 Surprise, 183' 6" X 38' 8" X 22', 1261 tons. 

2 Game-Cock, 190' 6"x 39' 10" X 22', 1392 tons. 

8 Samuel Hartt Pook (1827-1901) designed three of the eighteen 
California clippers that made a voyage of less than one hundred days 
from an Atlantic port to San Francisco before 1861 the Surprise, 
Witchcraft, and Herald of the Morning ; and the Northern Light, which 
has the record from San Francisco to Boston. An early advocate of iron- 
clads, he became, like his father, Samuel Moore Pook (1804-78) a naval 
constructor, U.S.N., and remained in the service until 1889. 



clipper ship. One surprise of her launching was a 
banquet, not for owners and bankers and all bumble- 
dom, but for the mothers, wives, and sweethearts of 
the workingmen who built the ship. The next sensa- 
tion came when she was launched fully rigged, with 
her gear rove off, all three sky sail yards crossed, and 
colors flying. Water-front pessimists expected her to 
capsize with such heavy top-hamper. Others said she 
would slide into the harbor mud and stick there. But 
with half Boston cheering, and the bells of every 
church and meeting-house jangling out a welcome, the 
Surprise clave the water with her sharp stern, shot out 
into the harbor, swayed gently to get her balance, and 
paused, erect, with the air of a young and insolent 

She was the first clipper ship commanded by Philip 
Dumaresq. 1 He came of a long line of merchant- 
captains. His mother belonged to the Gardiner-Hallo- 
well family, and Philip was born on one of their great 
i Kennebec estates in 1809. But like his only peers on 
clipper quarterdecks, Captains "Bully" Waterman, 
of New York, "Nat" Palmer, of Stonington, and 
"Perk" Cressy, of Marblehead, Captain Dumaresq 
had followed the sea since his teens, and worked his 
way up from before the mast. At twenty-two he re- 
ceived his first command, and in Russell & Co.'s 
China fleet became noted for his expert navigation, 
for quiet, effective discipline, and for getting the ut- 
most speed out of a vessel. The Surprise, under 
Captain Dumaresq, again fulfilled the promise of her 
name. On her maiden voyage she knocked a day off the 
Sea Witch's record to San Francisco, which conserva- 
tives had ascribed to Waterman's luck. But the new 
mark of ninety-six days did not last long. 
1 Pronounced "D'merrick." 


On a bitterly cold December afternoon in 1850, 
Donald McKay launched the Stag-Hound, his first 
clipper. Pioneer of a new fifteen-hundred-ton class, 
the Stag-Hound both by her appearance and her per- 
formance l placed Donald McKay at the head of his 
profession. Before many months passed the head of 
the New York firm of Grinnell, Minturn & Co. visited 
McKay's yard, and took a fancy to a ship that was 
being built for Enoch Train. He offered double the 
contract price to the owner, who could not afford to 
refuse. It was a good bargain for Grinnell & Minturn ; 
for this was the Flying Cloud. 

McKay built faster clippers and larger clippers; 
but for perfection and beauty of design, weatherliness 
and consistent speed under every condition, neither 
he nor any one else surpassed the Flying Cloud. She 
was the fastest vessel on long voyages that ever sailed 
under the American flag. 

Her dimensions were 229 feet length on deck, 40 
feet, 8 inches breadth, and 21 feet, 6 inches depth; reg- 
istered tonnage 1783. Her figurehead was a winged 
angel blowing a trumpet just under the bowsprit. 
Captain Josiah Perkins Cressy, 2 of Marblehead, thirty- 
seven years old but fourteen years a shipmaster, was 
her commander. On her maiden voyage in the summer 
of 1851 the Flying Cloud made a day's run of 374 
miles, logged 1256 miles in four consecutive days, and 
arrived at San Francisco eighty-nine days out of New 
York. This run was only twice equaled, by herself in 
1854, an d by the Andrew Jackson in 1860. On her 

1 The Stag-Hound (209' x 39' 8" X 2l', 1534 tons) holds the record 
of thirteen days from Boston Light to the equator, no other ship having 
come within three days of it, whether from Boston or Sandy Hook. She 
has second-best record, eight days, twenty hours, from San Francisco to 

* Pronounced "Creecy." 



return passage, having crossed the Pacific to Canton 
for a cargo of tea, the Flying Cloud made the two 
thousand miles from that port to Java Head in six 
days, almost halving the previous record. In addition, 
she has the best average for three, four, and five voy- 
ages from an Atlantic port to San Francisco. 

Donald McKay was an unusual combination of 
artist and scientist, of idealist and practical man of 
business. With dark hair curling back from a high, 
intellectual forehead, powerful Roman nose, inscruta- 
ble brown eyes, and firm lips, he was as fair to look 
upon as his ships. His serene and beautiful character 
won him the respect and the affection of his employees, 
and made the atmosphere of his shipbuilding yard 
that of a happy, loyal family. His ships were alive to 
him, and when permitted to name them himself by 
a wise owner, he invariably chose something fitting 
and beautiful. Stag-Hound and Mastiff for two power- 
ful, determined clippers that could grapple with every 
element but fire ; Flying Cloud her rivals knew what 
that meant, when she tore by them at sea; Flying Fish 
and Westward Ho! both of the California fleet ; 
Romance of the Seas for a ship whose sleek, slender 
beauty reminded the old salts of their youthful visits 
to Nukahiva; Sovereign of the Seas for a stately clipper 
that made a marvelous record against head winds and 
hurricanes; Great Republic for the ship of ships; Light- 
ning for the fastest sailing vessel ever built, and Glory 
of the Seas for his last, and in some respects his best, 

Experience, character, and mathematics self-taught 
were the firm soil from which the genius of Donald 
McKay blossomed. He designed every vessel built in 
his yard, and personally attended to every detail of 
her construction. 



. . . First with nicest skill and art, 
Perfect and finished in every part, 
A little model the Master wrought, 
Which should be to the larger plan 
What the child is to the man, 
Its counterpart in miniature. 

From the model the lines were taken off, enlarged to 
their proper dimensions, and laid down in the mold- 
loft. When the great frames were in place, Donald 
McKay would inspect the ship's skeleton from every 
angle, clothing it in imagination with skin of oak; 
and if anything looked wrong by perhaps an eighth 
of an inch, he chalked a frame for shaving off or filling 
out. By such methods were designed these great 
clipper ships that moved faster through the water, 
laden down as they were with heavy cargoes, than 
any sailing yacht or fancy racing machine designed 
by the scientific architects of to-day. 1 Eight knots 
an hour is considered good speed for an America's cup 
race of thirty miles. The Red Jacket logged an average 
of 14.7 for six consecutive days in the Western Ocean; 
the Lightning did 15.5 for ten days, covering 3722 
miles, and averaged II for an entire passage from 
Australia to England. A speed of 12.5 knots on a 
broad reach in smooth waters, by the Resolute or 
Shamrock, excites the yachting reporters. The Light- 
ning logged 1 8.2 for twenty-four hours in 1857, and 
there is a tradition that the James Baines on an 
Australian voyage in 1856 logged 21 knots for one 
hour. 2 

1 No disparagement of modern naval architects is intended; they have 
progressed far beyond the designs of the fifties in fishing schooners and 
yachts. Yet, I am informed by one of the most eminent among them, 
no one to-day could make an essential improvement over the McKay 
clippers, for a sailing ship of their size. 

1 In justice to the improved full-bodied vessels built at this period, it 



The records show conclusively Donald McKay's 
supremacy over any other builder, and the supremacy 
of Massachusetts builders over those of any other 
state. Only twenty-two passages from an Atlantic 
port around Cape Horn to San Francisco, in less than 
one hundred days, are on record. Of these, seven were 
made by McKay ships Flying Cloud and Flying 
Fish, two each; Great Republic, Romance of the Seas, 
and Glory of the Seas. Only two other builders, Samuel 
Hall, of Boston, with the John Gilpin and Surprise, 
and Westervelt, of New York, have even two voyages 
in this honor list. Including the Witchcraft, built by 
Paul Curtis at Chelsea, and the Herald of the Morning, 
built by Hayden & Cudworth at Medford, we have 
one-half of these record voyages over the longest race- 
course in the world, to the credit of Massachusetts- 
built vessels. Of the rest, four belong to the other 
New England states, and seven to New York. 1 

There were a dozen or more Massachusetts builders 
besides Donald McKay and Samuel Hall, who built 
clipper ships that were a credit to the commonwealth. 
Edward and Henry O. Briggs, of South Boston, grand- 
should be remarked that they too made some remarkable passages. In 
1854 the barque Dragon of Salem, 289 tons, Captain Thomas C. Dunn, 
built at Newburyport in 1850, made the i6,67O-mile run from Salem 
to the Fiji Islands in eighty-five days; an average of 8.2 knots for the 
entire voyage. Few tramp steamers to-day could do better. 

1 The list of all California outward passages between 1850 and 1861 
made in no days or better (in Captain Clark's Clipper Ship Era, 
Appendix n) gives the same result. Nineteen are by McKay ships. His 
nearest competitor, Webb, of New York, has fifteen. All the other 
Boston builders together have twenty-two, all the other New York 
builders, twenty-three. Medford builders have seventeen; other Mas- 
sachusetts builders, seven. Yet out of 171 California clipper ships and 
barques listed by Captain Clark, McKay built only ten; Samuel Hall 
and Briggs Bros., of Boston, and Webb, of New York, each built eleven. 
In addition, McKay built the great Australian clippers which do not 
figure in this list, and which no builder, American or foreign, equaled. 



sons of the North River builder of the Columbia, spe- 
cialized in medium clipper ships, a class somewhat 
underbred in appearance compared with the Flying 
Cloud and Surprise, but with carefully designed water- 
lines and small displacement which often produced 
remarkable speed. Their Northern Light, 1 under the 
command of Captain Hatch, completed a round voy- 
age from Boston to San Francisco in exactly seven 
months. On the homeward passage, off Cape Horn, 
she passed the New York clipper ship Contest, which 
had sailed a day earlier; and with skysails, ringtail 
and studdingsails set on both sides, alow and aloft, she 
slipped into the Narrows of Boston Harbor on the 
evening of May 27, 1853, just seventy-six days, five 
hours, from San Francisco. That record remains good 
to this day. 2 

Other bright lights of Briggs Brothers were the 
Boston Light, Starlight, and the ill-fated Golden Light, 
which, ten days out on her first voyage, was set afire 
by lightning, and abandoned at sea. 

Robert E. Jackson, of East Boston, built the Winged 
Racer, John Bertram, Blue Jacket, and the Queen of 
Clippers, 3 " one of the finest and largest of these ships," 
wrote Frank Marryat, the English traveler, from San 
Francisco. "She is extremely sharp at either end, and, 
'bows on,' she has the appearance of a wedge. Her 
accommodations are as perfect as those of a first-class 
ocean steamer, and are as handsomely decorated; and, 

1 Northern Light, 171' 4" X 36' x 21' 9", 1021 tons; built 1851. 

2 In San Francisco voyages the homeward passage was much easier 
than the outward owing to prevailing westerly winds. Consequently 
the outward passage is always selected as a test of a vessel's performance, 
and the Northern Light's feat by no means equals the Flying Cloud's 
record of eighty-nine days to San Francisco. But she made Manila in 
eighty-nine days from Boston in 1856. 

* Queen of Clippers, 248' 6" x 45' X 24', 2360 tons; built in 1853 for 
Seccomb & Taylor, of Boston, but sold to Zerega & Co., of New York. 



as it is worthy of remark that great attention has 
been paid to the comfort of the crew." Paul Curtis's 
Witchcraft was a fast and handsome clipper, with a 
grim Salem witch for her figure-head. Medford build- 
ers like J. O. Curtis, Hayden & Cudworth, and S. 
Lapham have more fast California passages to their 
credit, considering the number they built, than those 
of any other place. Several smaller clipper ships were 
built by the Shivericks, at East Dennis, by J. M. 
Hood & Co. at Somerset, and by the experienced 
builders of Newburyport, who surpassed all others for 
careful work and finish. The Dreadnaught, built by 
Currier and Townsend, became the most famous 
Liverpool packet-ship, and was the only clipper to 
have a chanty composed in her special honor. Captain 
Samuel Samuels, of New York, unexcelled as a driver 
of men and vessels, commanded this " saucy, wild 
packet" for almost seventy passages across the At- 
lantic, in which she made several eastward runs under 
fourteen days. 1 

One finds many new names in the list of Massachu- 
setts owners of clipper ships. Their great initial cost 
and maintenance expense brought about a separation 
of shipowner and merchant. The clippers were really 

1 Dreadnaught, 220' x 39' X 26', 1400 tons. Captain Clark (Clipper 
Ship Era, 246), by printing her actual log as given in three Liverpool 
papers, has definitely exploded the myth of the Dreadnoughts nine-day 
seventeen-hour passage, from Sandy Hook to Queenstown in March, 
1859, which Captain Samuels never claimed until the twentieth cen- 
tury. For evidence on the other side of this famous controversy, see 
F. B. C. Bradlee, The Dreadnaught (2d ed., 1920). Mr. Bradlee has dis- 
covered a second "nine-day passage" in the Illustrated London News t 
July 9, 1859, which states that the Dreadnaught "arrived off Cape Clear 
on the 27th ult., in nine days from New York." But the New York 
Herald of June 17, p. 8e, reports by telegraph from "Sandy Hook, 
June 16, sunset, . . . the ship Dreadnaught, for Liverpool, passed the 
bar at 12 J P.M. Wind SW, light." On July 19, p. 8c, it reports her 
arrival at Liverpool on July 2. 



large packet-ships, whose owners depended for profit 
on freight and passage money, not on speculative car- 
goes of their own. And profit they certainly did make, 
in the flush days of 1850-53, for the glut of 1851 at 
San Francisco did not last long. Freight ranged as 
high as sixty dollars per ton, and it was an unlucky 
ship that did not pay for herself by her first round 
voyage to California. The Surprise did so, and made 
fifty thousand dollars to boot. 

Many of the most famous Massachusetts-built 
clippers were owned by New York or British firms, 
and never saw Boston after their first departure. 
Others, owned by Boston or Salem firms, were oper- 
ated out of New York. But there were still a goodly 
number that plied regularly from Boston to San 
Francisco, and then crossed the Pacific to bring tea, 
hemp, and sugar to England and America. Several 
clipper ships were owned on shares, like the old-timers, 
but operated by regular packet-lines. Such a one was 
the Wild Ranger, 1 built by J. O. Curtis at Medford 
in 1853 for various Searses and Thachers of Cape Cod, 
and commanded on two California voyages by one 
of their number, twenty-four-year-old J. Henry Sears, 
of Brewster. 

In May, 1853, an intending passenger for San Fran- 
cisco, perusing the shipping columns of the Boston 
"Daily Advertiser," would be embarrassed to make 
a choice. Winsor's Regular Line offer the "first-class 
clipper ships" Belle of the West and Bonita, and the 
"half-clipper barque" Cochituate. Timothy Davis & 
Co.'s Line advertise the "half clipper ship Sabine" 

1 Wild Ranger, 180' x 35' 4" X 23', 1044 tons. She was chartered to 
Glidden & Williams's Line. The ship Mary Clover, here depicted to 
show the contrast between a clipper and a contemporary full-bodied 
ship, was 595 tons, built by Briggs Brothers, at South Boston, in 1849. 
She was a very successful ship, and was reported still alive in 1900. 



and the "new and beautiful clipper ship Juniper." 1 
Glidden & Williams make the bravest display with 
the " magnificent first-class clipper ship White Swal- 
low," to be followed by the Wild Ranger and John 
Bertram; the "new and beautiful half clipper ship 
West Wind" and the "first-class and well-known 
packet-ship Western Star" This was the greatest of 
the Boston firms operating clipper ships. Its San 
Francisco line also contained, at one time or another, 
the Witch of the Wave, Golden West, Queen of the Seas, 
Westward Ho!, Morning Light, and Sierra Nevada. 
Sampson & Tappan owned the Flying Fish, Winged 
Racer, and Nightingale, a supremely beautiful extreme 
clipper built in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and 
named for Jenny Lind. George Bruce Upton owned the 
Stag-Hound, Reindeer, Bald Eagle, and Romance of the 
Seas. James Huckins & Sons had most of the Briggs 
Brothers' "Lights." Baker & Morrill owned the Star- 
light and Southern Cross; and John E. Lodge (father 
of Senator Lodge), the Argonaut, Don Quixote, and 
Storm King; William Lincoln & Co., the Golden Eagle, 
Kingfisher, and White Swallow; Curtis & Peabody, the 
Meteor, Cyclone, Saracen, and Mameluke. The Fear- 
less, Galatea, and two named Golden Fleece, carried the 
black race-horse flag of William F. Weld & Co., a 
house which outlasted most of the merchant-ship- 
owners of Boston, and after the Civil War owned the 
largest sailing fleet in America. 

Two famous Boston firms of Cape Cod origin were 

1 One will search in vain for several of these "clippers" in authorita- 
tive lists like Captain Clark's and Dr. O. T. Howe's, for when the clipper 
ships became popular, every new vessel of a certain size was advertised 
at least as "half-clipper." A rigid distinction is made in the early 
American Lloyds' Registers between clipper ships, and sharp ships, 
medium ships, and full-bodied ships, only the extremest of clippers 
falling in the first class. 



1-1 (/5 

to a 


OS - 





Howes & Crowell, who owned the Climax, Ringleader, 
and Robin Hood, and D. C. & W. S. Bacon, who owned 
the Game-Cock, Hoogly, and Oriental. Daniel C. Bacon 
was a link between the Federalist and the clipper 
periods, having been mate under William Sturgis in the 
old Northwest fur trade. In 1852 he was elected presi- 
dent of the American Navigation Club, an association 
of Boston shipowners and merchants, which offered 
to back an American against a British clipper for a 
race from England to China and back, 10,000 a side. 
Although the stakes were subsequently doubled, no 
acceptance was received. 

There was no veneer or sham about the beauty of 
the Massachusetts clippers. They were all well and 
solidly built of the best oak, Southern pine, and hack- 
matack, copper fastened and sheathed with Taunton 
yellow metal. Scamping or skimping never occurred 
to a clipper-ship builder, and if it had, no Yankee 
workman would have stayed in his yard. In finish the 
clipper ships surpassed anything previously attempted 
in marine art. Those built in Newburyport, in partic- 
ular, were noted for the evenness of their seams and 
the perfection of their joiner-work. The topsides, 
planed and sandpapered smooth as a mackerel, were 
painted a dull black that brought out their lines like 
a black velvet dress on a beautiful woman. The pine 
decks were holystoned cream-white. Stanchions, fife- 
rails, and houses shone with mahogany, rosewood, and 
brass. Many had sumptuous staterooms, cabins, and 
bathrooms for passengers, that put the old-time stuffy 
Cunarders to shame. The Mastiff had a library costing 
twelve hundred dollars. Constant improvements were 
made in gear and rigging. Patent blocks, trusses, and 
steering gear saved time and labor. The Howes 
double-topsail rig (an improvement on Captain R. B. 



Forbes's invention) was generally adopted by the later 
clippers, spread to the ships of all nations, and is still 
in use. No detail was omitted that might increase 
speed, and no expense spared to make the Massachu- 
setts clippers invulnerable to the most critical nautical 

Boston Harbor never presented a more animated 
spectacle than during the clipper-ship era. One April 
day in 1854, wrote F. O. Dabney, no less than six 
large new clippers, undergoing the process of rigging, 
could be seen from his counting-room windows on 
Central Wharf. Across the harbor, the East Boston 
shore from Jeffries' Point to Chelsea Bridge was al- 
most a continuous line of vessels in various stages of 
construction. Twenty ships of eleven hundred tons 
upward were built there that year. Some idea of the 
inner harbor and the water-front may be gained from 
Mottram's engraving, and from the Bradlee photo- 
graph, both made at the end of the era, in 1857. In 
the center of the engraving is the clipper ship Night- 
ingale, a marked contrast in size and form to the 
old-fashioned ship at the left of the picture. At the 
extreme left is a typical fishing pinkie ; and this side of 
the Nightingale, a coasting schooner. The photograph 
shows Mediterranean fruiters lined up against Central 
Wharf, a New York packet-schooner at the extreme 
right, and in the center, conspicuous among the tier of 
vessels at the end of India Wharf, the clipper ship 
Defender, built by Donald McKay. 

The men who handled these great vessels were a 
class by themselves. The officers, mostly of New 
England stock and many from Cape Cod, had followed 



the sea since boyhood, and were steeped in experience. 
No others could be trusted to drive these saucy, wild 
clippers against Cape Horn howlers, when the slightest 
misjudgment meant the loss of a spar, or loss of one 
hour which was more important. They were devoted 
to the rigid traditions of the quarterdeck. The cap- 
tain gave all his orders through the first officer, except 
for putting the ship about; and lived in a more digni- 
fied seclusion than the colonel of a regiment in a fron- 
tier garrison. No one spoke to him unless spoken to; 
the weather side of the quarterdeck was his private 
walk; whole voyages passed without a scrap of con- 
versation between master and officers, except in line 
of duty. Men at the head of the profession like Captain 
Dumaresq were paid three thousand dollars for an 
outward passage to San Francisco, and five thousand 
if they made it under a hundred days. 

Occasionally, clipper-ship commanders took their 
wives with them. Mrs. Cressy was the constant com- 
panion of her husband on the Flying Cloud. The wife 
of Captain Charles H. Brown gave birth to a son 
during a North Pacific gale, when the Black Prince 
was flying under close-reefed topsails. Immediately 
after, a heavy sea burst in the after cabin deadlight, 
shooting clear over the box in which the new-born 
babe was lying. But most remarkable of these brave 
women of the sea was Mrs. Captain Patten, of the 
Neptune's Car. In the midst of a Cape Horn gale 
Captain Patten came down with brain fever. The 
first mate was in irons for insubordination ; the second 
mate was ignorant of navigation. But Mrs. Patten 
had made herself mistress of the art during a previous 
voyage. Without question, she took command. For 
fifty-two days this frail little Boston woman of nine- 
teen years navigated a great clipper of eighteen hun- 



dred tons, tending her husband the while; and took 
both safely into San Francisco. 1 

Yankee workmen built the clipper ships, but they 
were not manned by Americans. The Yankee mariner, 
with his neat clothes and perfect seamanship, had 
passed into history by 1850. Few Americans could 
then be found in the forecastles of merchantmen on 
deep waters. When did this change take place? Why 
did New Englanders abandon the sea? 

In part, no doubt, it was a question of status. The 
seaman was not as free as other workmen. His per- 
sonal liberty was suspended until the end of the voyage. 
Discipline was more severe, brutality more common, 
and redress more difficult to obtain than in other call- 
ings. Laws forbidding such practices as flogging, and 
humane judges such as Peleg Sprague, of the District 
Court at Boston, could do little to alter the tradition 
of centuries. In one of his notable decisions, 2 Judge 
Sprague remarked: 

Seamen, in general, have little confidence in the justice of those 
whom circumstances have placed above them, and there is too much 
ground for this feeling. If a seaman is wronged by a subordinate 
officer, and makes a complaint to the master, it too often happens 
that he not only can obtain no hearing or redress, but brings upon 
himself further and greater ill treatment; and an appeal to an 
American consul against a master is oftentimes no more successful, 
pre-occupied, as that officer is likely to be, by the representations and 
influence of the master. Upon his return home, he finds those whom 
he has served, the owners of the ship, generally take part, at once, 

1 Incredible as it may seem, Mrs. Patten's age is confirmed by the 
Boston marriage records, which give her age as sixteen when she married 
Captain Patten on April i, 1853. She was Mary A. Brown, daughter of 
George Brown, of Boston. 

2 Swain v. Rowland (1858), I Sprague, 427. 



2 % 




with the officer, in every controversy with the seamen, and not in- 
frequently exerting themselves to intercept that justice which the 
law would give him. And if to all this be added peculiar severity, 
even by the law of his country, ... he may well be excused for feel- 
ing little confidence in the justice of superior powers. This feeling 
enters into his character, adds to his recklessness, weakens the ties 
that bind him to his country, and tends to make him a vagrant 
citizen of the world. 

Our clipper ships were, in fact, manned by an interna- 
tional proletariat of the sea, vagrants with an attitude 
curiously similar to that of the casual workers in the 
West to-day. 

Low wages, even more than low status, were re- 
sponsible for this condition. In Federalist days an 
able seaman received eighteen dollars a month on 
Pacific voyages, and even more in neutral trading. In 
comparison with shore wages, and in lack of other 
opportunities, this was sufficient to attract Yankee 
youngsters to sea, though not to keep them there. 
During the slack period that followed the War of 1812, 
twelve dollars became the standard wage. An increase 
of tonnage in the thirties required more seamen. In- 
stead of raising wages, to compete with the machine- 
shops and railroads and Western pioneering that were 
attracting young Yankees, the shipowners maintained 
or even depressed them, until ordinary and able seamen 
on California clippers received from eight to twelve 
dollars a month. 1 In the New Orleans cotton trade, 
and other lines of commerce out of Boston, as high as 
eighteen dollars was paid for able seamen, and the 
Liverpool 'packet-rats' got even more for their short 
and stormy runs. But in a period of rising costs and 
wages, the seaman's wage remained stationary, or de- 
clined. He had "no Sunday off soundings," and his 

1 Yet in 1856 Boston ship-carpenters and caulkers received $3 for a 
6| hour day; longshoremen, $2 per tide; stevedores, 25 cents per hour. 



calling was the most dangerous in the world. It took 
strength, skill, and courage to furl topsails on a great 
clipper ship, with its masts and eighty- foot yards bend- 
ing like whalebone in a River Plate pampero, great 
blocks beating about like flails, and the No. O. Lowell 
duck sails slatting with enough force to crush a man's 

Americans would not willingly accept such wages 
for such work. Coasting vessels, paying eighteen dol- 
lars a month, absorbed the Yankee boys with a crav- 
ing for the sea. The shipowners could have obtained 
American crews had they been willing to pay for 
them; but they were not. Like the factory owners, 
they preferred cheap foreign labor. 

A law of 1817 required two- thirds of an American 
crew to be American citizens. But this law was dis- 
regarded, as soon as it became the shipowners' interest 
to do so ; and by the clipper period it was a dead letter. 
Captain Clark once had a Chinese cook who shipped 
as " George Harrison of Charlestown, Mass." When 
applicants for foremast berths became fewer, the ship- 
owner had recourse to shipping agencies, which turned 
to the sailors' boarding-house keepers, making it their 
interest to rob and drug seamen in order to sign them 
on, and pocket their three months' advance wages. 
Thus began the system of crimping or shanghaiing. 
The percentage of foreigners and incompetents in- 
creased. Men of all nations, 1 an.d of the most depraved 

1 A sample crew is that of the ship Reindeer, Canton to Boston: 2 
Frenchmen, i Portuguese, I Cape Verde Islander, i Azores man, I 
Italian, i Dutchman, I Mulatto, 2 Kanakas, I Welshman, i Swede, 2 
Chinese, and 2 Americans. (Boston Atlas, July 22, 1851.) The Black 
Prince had even foreign officers. Captain Brown was a Portuguese by 
birth; the chief mate was Danish, the 2d British, the 3d German, and 
out of 24 able seamen there were but two Americans; one from Newbury- 
port and one from Boston. 



and criminal classes, some of them sailors, but many 
not, were hoisted, literally dead to the world, aboard 
the clippers. Habitual drunkards formed the only 
considerable native element in this human hash. "It 
is perfectly well known that sailors do get intoxicated," 
said Judge Sprague, when a pious captain discharged 
a seaman for a drunken frolic. " Masters hire them 
with this knowledge, . . . owners get their services at 
a less price for these very habits; year after year they 
serve at a mere pittance because of them." Many a 
landsman, as well, imbibed too much liquor on the 
Boston water-front, and awoke in the forecastle of a 
clipper ship bound round the world. 

Whenever a Yankee boy had the nerve to go to sea 
under these conditions, and the pluck to stick it out in 
such company, he was assured of quick promotion. 
Arthur H. Clark, the historian of the clipper-ship era, 
was the son of a Boston Mediterranean merchant and 
yachtsman. Instead of going to Harvard, he went to 
sea before the mast in the clipper ship Black Prince, 
returned around the globe, over two years later, as her 
third mate, and then shipped as second mate of the 
Northern Light. A few more voyages, and he became 
a shipmaster. Henry Jackson Sargent, Jr., of the 
Gloucester family that has produced such eminent 
writers and artists, shipped before the mast at the 
age of seventeen on the Flying Fish, 1 the only ship 
except the Flying Cloud which made two California 
voyages under one hundred days. Within a few years 
he was not only the youngest, but one of the most ac- 
complished clipper-ship commanders. The Medford- 
built clipper Phantom, under his command but through 
no fault of his own, ran on the Prates Shoal in thick, 

1 Flying Fish, 207' x 39' 6" x 22', 1506 tons; built by Donald McKay 
in 1851. 



heavy weather on July 12, 1862. All hands were 
saved in the boats, although not all escaped a plunder- 
ing by Chinese pirates. Obtaining another command 
in China, at the age of twenty-nine, Captain Sargent 
sailed from Shanghai, and was never heard from 
again. To this day, the Pacific holds the secret of his 
fate and that of his vessel. 

If a mate found one or two boys such as these, be- 
side the twoscore drugged and drunken bums, loafers, 
and rare seamen of all nations and colors delivered him 
by the crimp, he thanked his stars for it, and gave 
them separate quarters. For this system did not even 
deliver sailors, except by accident. Of his crew in the 
Flying Cloud's race with the N. B. Palmer, Captain 
Cressy said : " They worked like one man, and that man 
a hero." But in every crew shipped under the shanghai 
method there were bound to be men fit only ' to keep 
the bread from moulding/ Resenting their involun- 
tary servitude, many did their best to 'soger'; to be 
' yard-arm f urlers ' and * buntline reefers ' - - in other 
words, malingerers. Others watched their chance to 
start a mutiny; and yet others, who tried to do their 
duty, seemed shirkers because of their ignorance of 
English. Hence the brutality for which Yankee mates 
and masters became notorious. 1 There were clipper 
ships like the Northern Light, where no hand was ever 
raised against the men, but aboard most of them, after 
Congress forbade sailors to be * triced up' and 'intro- 
duced to the gunner's daughter* or cat o' nine tails, 

1 It is interesting to note that the practical English author of The 
Mate and his Duties (Liverpool, 1855) says: "It is acknowledged by all 
parties that they have much better discipline in American ships than 
we have . . . human nature is not allowed to ooze over, being always in 
check by the fear of immediate chastisement." He deplores the presence 
of apprentices on English vessels, as they enable Jack to shirk certain 
duties as "boy's work." 



discipline was only kept by heavy and full portions of 
' belaying-pin soup' and 'handspike hash.' 

As the men were usually stripped of all they had by 
the crimps, they were forced to buy clothing on board 
from the slop-chest; and as the crimp had pocketed 
their three months' advance wages, they usually 
ended the voyage destitute or in debt. Then began 
another segment of the vicious circle, Jack pawning 
his body for food, shelter, and drink, and awakening 
with an aching head on board another ship, outward 

Various were the remedies proposed. A committee 
of the Boston Marine Society, consisting of Boston's 
most respected shipowners, petitioned Congress in 
1852 to restore flogging as if the 'cat' would at- 
tract Americans to sea! Captains John Codman and 
R. B. Forbes wanted an apprentice or school-ship 
system, which the same Marine Society had rejected 
many years before. Improvements were made in food 
and housing; the clipper ships had a deckhouse for 
their foremast hands, instead of the dark, stuffy fore- 
castle of older vessels; and comparatively good food, 
with hot tea and coffee, was served. But no one sug- 
gested the experiment of attracting Americans to sea 
by decent wages and a freeman's status. New Eng- 
landers have more maritime aptitude than other 
Americans; but they are not a maritime people like 
the British or Scandinavians or Greeks, content to 
serve a lifetime before the mast for a mere pittance. 
The days were long past when Massachusetts boys 
had to choose between farming at home and seafaring 
abroad. In 1850 the workshops of New England 
needed men, and the great West was calling. 



"The California passage is the longest and most 
tedious within the domains of Commerce; many are 
the vicissitudes that attend it," wrote Lieutenant 
Maury. "It tries the patience of the navigator, and 
taxes his energies to the very utmost. ... It is a great 
race-course, upon which some of the most beautiful 
trials of speed the world ever saw have come off." 

Every passage from New York or Boston to San 
Francisco was a race against time, on which the build- 
er's and master's reputation depended ; and there were 
some remarkable ship-to-ship contests over this fifteen- 
thousand-mile course. One of the best took place in 
1854, between the Romance of the Seas, 1 Captain 
Dumaresq, and the David Brown, Captain George 
Brewster. The Romance, sailing from Boston two 
days after her New York rival passed Sandy Hook, 
caught up with her off the coast of Brazil, and kept 
her in sight a good part of the passage to the Golden 
Gate, which both entered side-by-side on March 23, 
respectively ninety-six and ninety-eight days out. 
After discharging, they passed out in company, set 
skysails and royal studdingsails, and kept them set for 
forty-five days, when the Romance entered Hong Kong 
one hour in the lead. 

As California afforded no outward lading in the 
early fifties, the clipper ships generally returned around 
the world, by way of China. There they came into 
competition with British vessels, and the result gave 
John Bull a worse shock than the yacht America's 
victory. So vastly superior was the speed of the 
American clippers, that British firms in Hong Kong 

1 Romance of the Seas, 240' 8" x 34' 6" x 20', 1782 tons; built by 
Donald McKay in 1853 for G. B. Upton. The David Brown, 1715 tons, 
was built the same year by Roosevelt & Joyce, New York, for A. A. Low 
& Brother. 



paid them seventy-five cents per cubic foot freight on 
teas to London, as against twenty-eight cents to their 
own ships. 

Crack British East-Indiamen humbly awaited a 
cargo in the treaty-ports for weeks on end, while one 
American clipper after another sailed proudly in, and 
secured a return freight almost before her topsails 
were furled. When the Yankee beauties arrived in the 
Thames, their decks were thronged with sight-seers, 
their records were written up in the leading papers, 
and naval draughtsmen took off their lines while in 

By the time the British builders were learning the 
first rudiments of clipper designing, the Americans had 
made still further progress. As to a cathedral builder 
of the thirteenth century, so to Donald McKay came 
visions transcending human experience, with the power 
to transmute them into reality. The public believed 
he had reached perfection with the Flying Cloud; but 
in 1852 he created the Sovereign of the Seas. 1 She had 
the longest and sharpest ends of any vessel yet built. 
Her widest point was twenty feet forward of amid- 
ships, and her figure-head showed a bronze mer-king, 
blowing a conch shell. No merchant shipowner, even 
in that era of adventure, dared order such a vessel. 
Her building was financed by McKay's loyal friends. 
But so convincing was her appearance, that immedi- 
ately after launching she was sold for the record price 
of $150,000, almost all of which she earned in freight 
on her first round voyage. 

Lauchlan McKay, who, thirty-four years before 
had helped his brother Donald build their first boat 

1 Sovereign of the Seas, 258' 2" X 44' 7" X 23' 6", 2421 tons. The 
Westward Hot, 214' x 40' 8" x 23' 6", 1650 tons, was built by Donald 
McKay the same year, for Sampson & Tappan, of Boston. 



in Nova Scotia, commanded this great vessel on her 
maiden voyage to San Francisco. Starting in the un- 
favorable month of August, the Sovereign of the Seas 
encountered southwest gales from the Falklands to 
Cape Horn. Topmasts bent like whips to the fearful 
snow squalls, yet nothing carried away, and the noble 
ship never wore nor missed stays once in the long beat 
to windward. Around the Horn she found no better 
weather, and in the course of a heavy gale, owing to 
the main topmast trestle-trees settling, her main top- 
mast, mizzen topgallantmast, and foretopsail yard 
went over the side. Luckily, the captain was an expert 
rigger, and had an unusually large crew. Within thirty 
hours he had the Sovereign under jury rig, doing 
twelve knots. And in twelve days' time, by working 
day and night, she was almost as well rigged as when 
she left Boston. In spite of these mishaps she "beat 
the clipper fleet" that sailed with her, and entered 
San Francisco one hundred and three days out of New 
York ; the fastest passage ever made by a ship leaving 
the Atlantic coast in August. 

On the homeward passage from Honolulu, with a 
cargo of oil and whalebone, a short crew, a foretopmast 
sprung in two places, and a tender maintopmast, 
Captain McKay " passed through a part of the Great 
South Sea, which has been seldom traversed by trad- 
ers." In the forties and fifties south latitude, a long, 
rolling swell and the northwest tradewinds hurled 
the Sovereign of the Seas one quarter of the distance 
around the world 5391 nautical miles in twenty- 
two days. One sea day (March 17-18, 1853) was mem- 
orable above all others. Sun and moon appeared only 
in brief glimpses. Heavy rain squalls tore down the 
wind, whipping to a white froth the crests of enormous 
seas that went roaring southward but not much 





faster than their Sovereign. When struck by a squall 
she would send spray masthead high, fly up a point or 
two, and heeling over try to take her helm and shoot 
along a deep valley between two towering rollers. 
Brought to her course again, she would lighten with 
the poise of a thoroughbred, and leap forward as if 
taking a fresh start. On that day the Sovereign of the 
Seas made 411 nautical miles; 1 an average of 17.7 
knots, and a day's run surpassed only thrice: by the 
Red Jacket, and by two other creations of Donald 

For the year 1853, Donald McKay made another 
sensation with the Great Republic. To appreciate her 
size, recall that any vessel over 130 feet long and 500 
tons burthen was considered large before 1840; that 
the Stag-Hound, 1534 tons, was the first sailing ship 
built over two hundred feet long; that the Flying 
Cloud was 229 feet long and registered 1793 tons, and 
the Sovereign of the Seas, 258 feet and 2421 tons. The 
Great Republic was 334 feet, 6 inches long, and regis- 
tered 4556 tons. Fifty-three feet, six inches broad, and 
thirty-eight feet deep, she was as sharp and shapely a 
clipper ship as any ever built. No vessel, before or 
since, has had such enormous spars and sail area. Her 
main yard was 120 feet long; her fore skysail yard, 
40 feet. In addition to her three square-rigged masts 
she carried a spanker-mast with gaff-topsail and 
gaff-topgallantsail. The leech and bolt-ropes of the 
topsails were eight-and-a-half-inch, and the fore and 

1 According to the abstract of her log, printed in Maury's Sailing 
Directions, 6th ed., 757. Yet in Lieutenant Maury's letter of May 10, 
1853, to the Secretary of the Navy (reprinted in R. B. Forbes, Ships of 
the Past, 27) he states that the greatest day's run of this passage was 
"362 knots or 419 statute miles." Captain Clark (p. 220) follows the 
log's record of 411 miles, which, on account of her easting made during 
the day, is equivalent to 424 nautical miles in twenty-four hours. 



main standing rigging, twelve-and-a-half-inch four- 
stranded Russia hemp. 

The Great Republic's sails, which would have cov- 
ered over one and a half acres if laid out flat, 1 were 
never set. She was towed to New York, where, on the 
eve of her maiden voyage, she caught fire, and had to 
be scuttled to prevent total loss. Salvaged, razeed 
to 3357 tons, and under greatly reduced rig, she made 
a voyage of ninety-two days to San Francisco. What 
wonders of speed might this ship of ships have per- 
formed, as Donald McKay built and rigged her! 
r The Great Republic had been destined for the Aus- 
tralian trade, whither British adventure and emigra- 
tion were now tending, following a discovery of gold. 
The Sovereign of the Seas, appearing in Liverpool in 
July, 1853, was immediately chartered by James 
Baines & Co.'s Australian Black Ball Line, which 
charged 7 a ton freight in her to Melbourne, and 
offered to return 2 of it if she did not beat every 
steamer on the route. Baines kept the money. The 
White Star Line, not to be outdone, chartered three 
great clipper ships McKay 's Chariot of Fame, 
Jackson's Blue Jacket, and the Red Jacket, designed 
by Samuel H. Pook and built by George Thomas at 
Rockland, Maine. On her passage from New York to 
Liverpool the Red Jacket, Asa Eldridge master, broke 
the record for that route, with rain, hail, or snow 
falling throughout the entire trip; and made a day's 
run of 413 nautical miles. Her first Australian voyage 
was so remarkable that she was purchased by her 
British charterers for thirty thousand pounds sterling. 
James Baines & Co. then went one better, and con- 
tracted with Donald McKay for four great clipper 
ships over two thousand tons, which he completed 

1 15,683 running yards. 


in the year between February, 1854, and February, 
i855 : 

With this group, the Lightning, 1 Champion of the 
Seas, 2 James Baines,* and Donald McKay,* American 
shipbuilding reached its apogee. The James Baines, 
on her way across, made the record transatlantic pas- 
sage for sailing vessels, twelve days, six hours from 
Boston Light to Rock Light, Liverpool. "She is so 
strongly built, so finely finished, and is of so beauti- 
ful a model," wrote a contemporary from Liverpool, 
"that even envy cannot prompt a fault against her. 
On all hands she has been praised as the most perfect 
sailing ship that ever entered the river Mersey." The 
portrait shows her powerful hull, with a row of ports 
along the passenger quarters; and her enormous rig, 
second only to the Great Republic's. In addition to 
three skysails, she carried skysail studdingsails and a 
main moonsail. When under way with thirty-four 
sails set, as a steamship once reported her in 1857 
(and remember, she had single topsails and topgallant- 
sails) , the James Baines might well have inspired Walt 
Whitman's "The Ship": , 

Lo! The unbounded sea! 

On its breast a Ship, spreading all her sails an ample Ship, 

carrying even her moonsails; 
The pennant is flying aloft, as she speeds, she speeds so stately 

below, emulous waves press forward, 
They surround the Ship, with shining curving motions and foam. 5 

Owing to Matthew F. Maury's discoveries, vessels 

1 Lightning, 243' X 42' 8" X 23', 2084 tons. 

1 Champion of the Seas, 252' X 45' 6" X 29', 2448 tons. 

8 James Baines, 266' x 44' 7" X 29', 2515 tons. 

4 Donald McKay, 260' 6" X 46' X 29', 2595 tons. 

* From "Drum Taps," 1865. Walt afterwards marred this poem, for 
nautical readers, by inserting 'starting' after 'Ship' in the title, and the 
second line. 



en route to Australia now made 48 south latitude be- 
fore running their easting down, and let the brave 
west winds sweep them around the world. The 
James Baines in 1855 went from Liverpool to Liver- 
pool in 132 days, omitting her stay at Melbourne. No 
sailing vessel ever equaled this record. 

The Donald McKay, on her maiden voyage to 
Liverpool, made a day's run of 421 miles, mostly under 
topsails and foresail. But this record had already been 
surpassed by the Lightning. The most remarkable of 
this group of McKay clippers, built long and low, with 
the most daringly fine and hollow bow ever constructed, 
the Lightning looked her name of irresistible strength 
and unsurpassed speed. With mingled pride and regret 
Boston saw her glide down the harbor under a foreign 
flag, making scarce a ripple in the water as her topsails 
caught a light land-breeze. But on this maiden pas- 
sage to Liverpool, as if to honor the land that gave her 
birth, the Lightning made the greatest day's run ever 
performed by sailing vessel ; a day's run that no steam- 
ship at that day could equal by a hundred miles, that 
no steamship equaled for a generation, and that barely 
fifty ocean steamers to-day could surpass. It began 
about five hundred miles off the Irish coast in latitude 
52 38' N., longitude 22 45' W. ; and here is the log 
of it: 

March 1st. Wind south. Strong gales; bore away 
for the North Channel, carried away the foretopsail 
and lost jib; hove the log several times and found the 
ship going through the water at the rate of eighteen 
to eighteen and one half knots; lee rail under water, 
and rigging slack. Distance run in twenty-four hours, 
jour hundred and thirty -six miles. 





THE clipper ships, costly to build and to operate for 
their burthen, proved prodigal ventures on routes that 
paid normal freights. David Snow, of Boston, tried 
his clipper ship Reporter 1 in the Boston-New Orleans- 
Liverpool trade in 1853; but as Captain Octavius 
Howe wrote, she was a " thousand-ton ship in capacity 
and a two thousand-ton ship to keep in repair." The 
pleasure of having the smartest vessel on that route 
did not compensate for losing voyages, and the Re- 
porter was shifted to the California trade. 

By 1854 that path of riches yielded but normal 
profits, and 1855 brought the end of the clipper-ship 
era in shipbuilding ; although American thoroughbreds 
won the sweepstakes in the world's carrying trade 
until the Civil War. Donald McKay, after completing 
his Australian Black Ball liners, wisely concluded that 
the limit had been reached ; and the three or four clip- 
per ships that he built in 1855-56 were of the medium 
class. Nevertheless the era left its impress on naval 
architecture. No more bluff-bowed vessels of the an- 
cient model were built, except for whaling. A type of 
full-bodied ship, like McKay's Glory of the Seas, was 
evolved; fuller and beamier than the clipper ship, 
less boldly rigged, yet with that clean appearance, 
round stern, and beautiful rake to the bow which make 
it difficult to distinguish from the genuine clipper. 

1 Reporter, 207' 6" X 39' X 24' 6", 1474 tons; built by Paul Curtis at 
East Boston, 1853, at a cost of $80,750. 



Throughout the clipper-ship era, nearly all the 
traditional lines of Massachusetts maritime commerce 
continued to expand and new ones were created ; cod- 
fishing and whaling attained their apogee, and the 
commercial prosperity of Boston, in 1857, reached its 
high-water mark for the ante-bellum period. The 
coffee trade with South America declined, owing to 
the establishment of steamship lines between Europe 
and Brazil; the Russia trade declined, as Russia's 
staple exports were being produced to a great extent 
in the United States; the China trade continued its 
migration to New York; but all others increased 
greatly, and Boston continued to hold her ancient 
supremacy in the East-Indian, Smyrna, Mediterra- 
nean, and South American wool trades, and in such 
Russian trade as remained profitable. 1 Her exports of 
ice more than doubled between 1847 and 1856, rum 
rose from four hundred thousand to over one million 
gallons, and three times as many boots and shoes left 
the port as ten years previously. The Boston dry- 
goods trade with the West, the bulk of which still 
went by water, had doubled since 1854, and increased 
twenty-fold over 1847. Arrivals from foreign ports at 
Boston increased fifty per cent between 1845 and 1856, 
and their tonnage a hundred and twenty per cent; 
even Newburyport and Salem showed an increase, 
owing to the new Canadian trade. 

The Canadian Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 was of 
more benefit to Massachusetts commerce than any 
treaty before or since, for it wiped out the artificial 
barrier which limited her market and source of supply 
to the northward and eastward. The trade was con- 
ducted almost exclusively in Canadian bottoms, which 
somewhat obscured its benefits, and gave that increase 

1 See statistics of arrivals in the Appendix. 


to the statistics of foreign sail in our ports, which has 
been made so much of by ship-subsidy pamphlets 
masquerading as histories of the American merchant 
marine. As a matter of fact, if the "Geordies" and 
" Johnny wood-boats/' as the Yankees called the 
clumsy down-East schooners, had not been permitted 
free access to our ports, the Canadians would have 
made Liverpool their entrepot instead of Boston, or 
developed their own direct export trade as they 
afterwards did, when the reciprocity treaty was abro- 
gated. From Nova Scotia and New Brunswick flowed 
a constant and increasing stream of firewood, coal, 
fish, flour, provisions, grain, and dairy products to 
Boston and the Essex County ports, where the ' blue- 
nose* merchants made their purchases of East- and 
West- India goods, manufactures, whaling products, 
and hides. 

Boston now had the facilities and the materials for 
an export trade to the newer countries, to California, 
Australia, and South Africa. New England manufac- 
tures, though less in value, were then much more 
diversified than nowadays, when lines such as beef- 
packing, furniture, and vehicles have been forced to 
move nearer the raw materials. Whatever was lacking 
came from other parts of the world to Boston wharves. 
A merchant could make up at short notice, within 
half a mile of State Street, an export cargo containing 
the entire apparatus of civilized life, from cradles and 
teething-rings to coffins and tombstones. Of such na- 
ture were the outward ladings to California, Australia, 
and Cape Town in the eighteen-fifties. Ploughs and 
printing-presses, picks and shovels, absinthe and rum, 
house-frames and grindstones, clocks and dictionaries, 
melodeons and cabinet organs, fancy biscuits and 
canned salmon, oysters and lobsters; in fact every- 



thing one can imagine went through Boston on its 
way to the miners and ranchers of the white man's 
new empires. Henry W. Peabody and others operated 
lines of Australian packets, which brought back wool 
and hides. 1 Benjamin C. Pray and others kept a 
fleet of barques plying between Boston and Cape 
Town, Port Elizabeth and East London, where fifty 
years before the only American trade had been a 
little smuggling of East-India goods on homeward 
passages. From South Africa were brought wool, 
goatskins, ostrich feathers, and, after 1870, diamonds. 2 
The California trade entered a new phase in 1855, when 
the Somerset-built clipper barque Greenfield took the 
first consignment of grain from San Francisco, and 
the Newburyport-built clipper ship Charmer of Boston 
took a full cargo of California wheat to New York, re- 
ceiving twenty-eight dollars a ton freight. 

In September, 1857, came a great financial crisis, 
which, unlike that of twenty years previous, affected 
Boston most grievously. The East-India merchants, 
anticipating a stoppage of trade by the Sepoy mutiny, 
had glutted the Boston market with Calcutta goods. 
Prices of all sorts of merchandise fell one-quarter to 
one-half, and freights sunk until it paid a shipowner 
to let his vessels rot. 

For two years ocean freights were dull and business 
depressed. The Canadian trade alone showed con- 
spicuous progress. By 1860 conditions were getting 
back to normal. Of the world's fleet en route to Aus- 
tralia in January of that year, thirteen ships were 

1 Six different Australian packet-lines, none of them operating clipper 
ships, announce sailings in the Boston Daily Advertiser for March 7, 
1853, and Oak Hall advertises "clothing manufactured expressly for the 
Australian and California markets." 

2 It was Benjamin C. Pray who, in cooperation with a Boston jeweler, 
introduced diamond-cutting into the United States. 



from Boston, as against twelve ships and seven barques 
from New York, and none from any other American 
port save San Francisco. The merchants, tardily ap- 
preciating the importance of steam navigation, built 
four splendid iron screw steamers over two hundred 
feet long, for two new lines to Charleston and New 
Orleans. 1 The sailing fleet found better employment 
than in any year since 1857. Then came the firing on 
Fort Sumter; and for four years the best energies of 
Massachusetts, maritime and interior, were devoted to 
preserving the Union. 

Every great war has brought an upheaval in Mas- 
sachusetts commerce; some for the better, but the 
Civil War conspicuously for the worse. Not that the 
Confederate cruisers were responsible. The American 
merchant marine had increased and prospered during 
the earlier wars, in spite of depreciations infinitely 
greater than those of the Alabama and her consorts. 
So prospered, of late, the British marine, despite Ger- 
man under-sea boats. I agree with John R. Spears 
that the decadence of American shipping " was wholly 
due to natural causes to conditions of national 
development . . . that were unavoidable." The Civil 
War merely hastened a process that had already begun, 
the substitution of steam for sail. It was the ostrich- 
like attitude of maritime Massachusetts toward this 
process, more than the war, by which she lost her an- 
cient preeminence. Far better had the brains and en- 

1 The Massachusetts, South Carolina, Merrimack, and Mississippi. 
They were designed by Samuel H. Pook and built by Harrison Loring 
at South Boston in I 860-61. The Merchants' and Miners' Line to Nor- 
folk and Baltimore, founded a few years previously, acquired two iron 
side- wheelers in 1860, and the Philadelphia Line was also improved 



ergy that produced the clipper ships been put into the 
iron screw steamer (in the same sense that Phidias had 
been better employed in sanitation, and Euripides in 
discovering the printing press). After Appomattox, 
national expansion and the protective tariff killed or 
atrophied many lines of commerce in which Massa- 
chusetts merchants had specialized; and the trans- 
atlantic cable made merchants, in the old sense, anach- 
ronisms. Several firms continued the carrying trade 
profitably in sailing vessels for some years; and many 
remained faithful to blue water for the rest of their 
lives. But it was Maine rather than Massachusetts 
that kept the flag afloat at the spanker-gaff of sailing 
ships. The era of tramp steamers and four or five 
per cent profit had little attraction for merchants who 
could gain six to ten per cent by exploiting the great 
West. Many an old shipowner's ledger, that begins 
with tea and indigo and sixteenth-shares of the ship 
Canton Packet and brig Owhyhee, ends up by record- 
ing large blocks of C. B. & Q., and Calumet & Hecla. 

The maritime history of Massachusetts, then, as 
distinct from that of America, ends with the passing 
of the clipper. 'T was a glorious ending! Never, in 
these United States, has the brain of man conceived, 
or the hand of man fashioned, so perfect a thing as 
the clipper ship. In her, the long-suppressed artistic 
impulse of a practical, hard-worked race burst into 
flower. The Flying Cloud was our Rheims, the Sov- 
ereign of the Seas our Parthenon, the Lightning our 
Amiens; but they were monuments carved from snow. 
For a brief moment of time they flashed their splendor 
around the world, then disappeared with the sudden 



completeness of the wild pigeon. One by one they 
sailed out of Boston, to return no more. A tragic or 
mysterious end was the final privilege of many, fa- 
vored by the gods. Others, with lofty rig cut down 
to cautious dimensions, with glistening decks and top- 
sides scarred and neglected, limped about the seas 
under foreign flags, like faded beauties forced upon 
the street. 

The master builders, reluctant to raise barnyard 
fowls where once they had reared eagles, dropped off 
one by one. Donald McKay, dying almost in poverty 
after a career that should have brought him wealth 
and honor, sleeps at Newburyport among the comrades 
of his young manhood. The commonwealth, so gen- 
erous in laurel to second-rate politicians and third-rate 
soldiers, contains no memorial line to this man who 
helped to make her name immortal. But in the elm 
branches over his grave the brave west winds that he 
loved so well, murmur soft versions of the tunes they 
once played on the shrouds of his glorious ships. 

Soon he will be joined by the last of the men he 
knew and loved, the shipbuilders and 

Sea-captains young or old, and the mates, and . . . intrepid sailors 
Pick'd sparingly without noise by thee, old ocean, chosen by thee, . . . 
Suckled by thee, old husky nurse, embodying thee, 
Indomitable, untamed as thee. 

The seaports of Massachusetts have turned their 
backs to the element that made them great, save for 
play and for fishing; Boston alone is still in the deep- 
sea game. But all her modern docks and terminals 
and dredged channels will avail nothing, if the spirit 
perish that led her founders to "trye all ports." 



Sicut patribus . . . We can ask no more here. But 
in that unknown harbor toward which we all are 
scudding may our eyes behold some vision like that 
vouchsafed our fathers, when a California clipper ship 
made port after a voyage around the world. 

A summer day with a sea-turn in the wind. The 
Grand Banks fog, rolling in wave after wave, is dis- 
solved by the perfumed breath of New England hay- 
fields into a gentle haze, that turns the State House 
dome to old gold, films brick walls with a soft patina, 
and sifts blue shadows among the foliage of the Com- 
mon elms. Out of the mist in Massachusetts Bay 
comes riding a clipper ship, with the effortless speed 
of an albatross. Her proud commander keeps skysails 
and studdingsails set past Boston light. After the 
long voyage she is in the pink of condition. Paint- 
work is spotless, decks holystoned cream-white, 
shrouds freshly tarred, ratlines square. Viewed through 
a powerful glass, her seizings, flemish-eyes, splices, and 
pointings are the perfection of the old-time art of 
rigging. The chafing-gear has just been removed, 
leaving spars and shrouds immaculate. The boys 
touched up her skysail poles with white paint, as she 
crossed the Bay. Boom-ending her studdingsails and 
hauling a few points on the wind to shoot the Narrows, 
between Georges and Gallups and Lovells Islands, she 
pays off again through President Road, and comes 
booming up the stream, a sight so beautiful that even 
the lounging soldiers at the Castle, persistent baiters 
of passing crews, are dumb with wonder and admira- 

Colored pennants on Telegraph Hill have an- 
nounced her coming to all who know the code. Top- 
liff's News Room breaks into a buzz of conversation, 
comparing records and guessing at freight money; 



owners and agents walk briskly down State Street; 
countingroom clerks hang out of windows to watch 
her strike skysails and royals; the crimps and hussies 
of Ann Street foregather, to offer Jack a few days' 
scabrous pleasure before selling him to a new master. 
By the time the ship has reached the inner harbor, 
thousands of critical eyes are watching her every 
movement, quick to note if in any respect the mate has 
failed to make sailormen out of her crew of broken 
Argonauts, beach-combers, Kanakas, and Lascars. 

The 'old man ' stalks the quarterdeck in top hat and 
frock coat, with the proper air of detachment; but 
the first mate is as busy as the devil in a gale of wind. 
Off India Wharf the ship rounds into the wind with a 
graceful curve, crew leaping into the rigging to furl 
topgallant sails as if shot upward by the blast of pro- 
fanity from the mate's bull-like throat. With backed 
topsails her way is checked, and the cable rattles out 
of the chain lockers for the first time since Shanghai. 
Sails are clewed up. Yards are braced to a perfect 
parallel, and running gear neatly coiled down. A warp 
is passed from capstan to stringer, and all hands on 
the capstan-bars walk her up to the wharf with the 
closing chantey of a deep-sea voyage: 

^.^L^. _ ^_ 


> v 

> ^ V 

f'T) ?-i ^ 


ji . ^ r~~p 

L_ ^ 3 0_; m 1__ 

i. O, the times are hard and the wa - ges low, 

we her , John - ny, leave her; 111 pack my bag and 

"7*1 i 


> i . 

\ s, 

- - 

-O 7 


1 * 


go be - low ; Ifs time for us to leave her. 




Fishing Ports of 

Vessels fitted out 

Value of catch 








N. of Cape Ann 












I 1 ? 55 

















( 1865 








(Cohasset to 
Plymouth, incl.) 












( 1865 












i Dates 

Number of vessels 
annually fitted 
out for 


Gallons of oil brought 



Average per 









* V 








* < 



f ' 


395,640 ? 

677,422 2 

1 Tables for the first two periods are compiled from those in Pitkin, Statistical View 
(1816 ed.), 78-79; for 1803-06, the best years of the Federalist period, from the tables 
in the appendix to W. S. Tower, History of American Whaling Industry. The only Massa- 
chusetts ports fitting out whalers between 1803 and 1806 were Nantucket and New Bed- 
ford, and the only other American whaling ports were Hudson and Sag Harbor, N.Y., 
and New London, Conn., each of which fitted out an average of one whaler annually. 

3 Average for 1805-06 only. 





Vessels from 


New York 



New Orleans 

British East Indies 



Manila, Batavia, etc. 










Buenos Aires 




Porto Rico 







Hayti and St. Domingo 






















British West Indies 












Canada and 

Maritime Provinces 











> Boston Board of Trade, Fourth Annual Report (1858), 85, 
































British East Indies 
Dutch East Indies 

Azores, Cape Verde Islands, 
Gibraltar & Malta 
Spanish Mediterra- 
nean ports 
French Mediterra- 
nean ports 
Naples & SicUy 
Black Sea 

Spain, Atlantic ports 

Norway & Sweden 
England & Scotland 
Belgium & Holland 

Maritime Provinces 
S. Pierre & Miquelon 

Porto Rico 
British W. Indies 
Other W. Indies 
Hayti & San Domingo 

British Honduras 
Mexico & Central America 

New Grenada & Venezuela 
Surinam & Cayenne 
Argentine Republic 

Sandwich Islands 
Returned from Whaling 
















































: i 











1. 124 













1. 194 












1 From Commerce and Navigation Reports of the Secretary of the Treasury, 1857. 
Vessels are entered only once for a voyage in this table, generally from the last port of 
call, or from the port where the principal cargo was taken. 







< -. 


5 KJ 





CO > 



- a 


I 5 



OH >- 











q M 

ICvO O 00 tO^O tO O 00 
N l> O tOOO O-'>-'C< 

i- o 
CO -^t- 

tO O 00 O ^O to t^ 
C< NM t->.lOt>.Tt- 

00* vo" Cf tOOO" O* 

00 Tf (M 


o" < o ioco vo" o o c> o co" co 


O O fO t> -" t> 

00 rO 

rf i 


Tf C^ lOoO O_ >O >-^ ON 

*+ CS C< CO if) tO 

, rO Tf ON 

i to r> >-> 
cf ~ o 

Tf O t^vO 1000 OvCS 
VO" if) ON tO if) if) N~ N" 

tow t^vrjTi- 5 - 

to Nfi 



QM-! M 1-1 
tO -irJ- 

"^ q^ >^ rO t-H_ rO t^. 
O ON fO t^vO^vo" >H"VO" 

vo;o; * 

tO^ l-l Tf 


>-T o^ o*^vo* *ooo* ^T tC 

lO'*^ IO >- 

vO^ fj fO 00^ 

^1^ N 




to -" 

_- t>- 


c'S O 


to O O O 

oo O G O Tf vo to 


111 sill I 5 ! ill i l 





- " .3 




ABBREVIATIONS: E.I. = Essex Institute, Salem; E.I.H.C. = Essex 
Institute Historical Collections. H.C.L. = Harvard College Library. 
M.H.S. = Massachusetts Historical Society; Proc. M.H.S. = Pro- 
ceedings of the same. p.p. = privately printed. Works cited are 
printed at Boston unless otherwise stated. 

I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness for information, pictures, 
and for various facilities and courtesies, to Captain Arthur H. Clark, 
of Newburyport; Mr. Fred W. Tibbets, of Gloucester; Miss Elsie 
Heard, of Ipswich; Mrs. A. P. Loring, Jr., Miss Katherine Loring, 
and Mr. J. A. Marsters, of Beverly; Mrs. George Wheatland and 
Messrs. Henry W. Belknap, Lawrence W. Jenkins, George R. Put- 
nam, John Robinson, and William J. Sullivan, of Salem; Messrs. 
F. B. C. Bradlee, Joseph W. Coates, and Benjamin L. Lindsey, of 
Marblehead; Messrs. Charles K. Bolton, James H. Bowditch, Fred- 
eric Cunningham, Henry R. Dalton, George F. Dow, Frederick C. 
Fletcher, Allan Forbes, Thomas G. Frothingham, Roland Gray, 
Dr. O. T. Howe, William C. Hunneman, Thomas P. Martin, Dr. 
Frederick Merk, J. Grafton Minot, Miss Grace Nute, Charles F. 
Read, Andre C. Reggio, Robert B. Smith, F. W. Sprague, Rev. John 
W. Suter, Charles H. Taylor, Jr., William Ropes Trask, Julius H. 
Tuttle, Perry Walton, and Frederick S. Whitwell, of Boston and 
Cambridge; Mr. Charles Torrey, of Brookline; Mr. Edward Gray, 
of Milton; Mrs. F. W. Sargent, of Wellesley; Mrs. Ellen Trask, of 
Lincoln; Mr. George Shaw, of Concord; Mr. Edmund P. Collier, of 
Cohasset; Messrs. E. W. Bradford and Arthur Lord, of Plymouth; 
Dr. William H. Chapman and Mrs. A. S. Cobb, of Brewster; Mr. 
Everett I. Nye, of Wellfleet; Messrs. George H. Tripp and Frank 
Wood, of New Bedford; Miss Susan E. Brock, of Nantucket; Cap- 
tain John W. Pease, of Edgartown; Mr. Charles Lyon Chandler, of 
Philadelphia; Mr. H. K. Devereux, of Cleveland; Mr. Irving Grin- 
nell, of New Hamburg, New York; and Mr. Samuel Hale Pearson,, 
of Buenos Aires. 




1. MANUSCRIPT SOURCES. The Custom House Records of the old 
customs districts of Massachusetts are invaluable for foreign and 
coastwise commerce, shipping, and the fisheries. For an account of 
the present state and location of these records see Proc. M.H.S. for 
1921. These Customs Records show what trade was carried on; but 
the mercantile and shipping MSS. of individuals and firms, includ- 
ing letter-books, ledgers, account books, log books and sea journals, 
show better how it was carried on. The most important public con- 
lections of this class are in the Beverly Hist. Society, the E.I., the 
H.C.L., the M.H.S. and the New Bedford Public Library. The bulk 
of such material is still in private hands, and much of it is destroyed 
every year by otherwise intelligent people. Although of slight in- 
trinsic value, these MSS. are of immense historic worth; the H.C.L. 
and the M.H.S. are always glad to store such papers without charge, 
or to receive them as gifts. Court Records, especially those of the 
Federal courts in Massachusetts, kept in the Boston Post Office 
building, are an untouched mine of information on maritime mat- 
ters; Spr ague's Reports and the Digest of Federal Cases indicate the 
important cases. 

2. NEWSPAPERS. Those of the smaller seaports, excepting New 
Bedford, afford much less information than do the Customs Records 
of the general course of commerce; but are valuable for their adver- 
tisements and stories of shipwrecks, sea-serpents, etc. But the Bos- 
ton papers are our sole source for Boston entrances and clearances, as 
the Boston Customs Records for this period have been destroyed. 
For the Federalist period the Columbian Centinel, and the Boston 
Price Current, beginning 1795 (for the later titles, and check-list, see 
Proceedings Am. Antiq. Soc., xxv, 278) are best; for the period 1815- 
1842, P. P. F. Degrand's Boston Weekly Report (1819-27, best file in 
Boston Athenaeum), Boston Commercial Gazette and Boston Daily 
Advertiser; for the period 1843-60, the Boston Shipping List and 
Price Current (very full information on commerce, and useful yearly 
summaries, best file at Boston Marine Museum, Old State House) ; 
Boston Atlas and Boston Journal. Hunt's Merchants' Magazine (N.Y., 
1839-60) is a mine of commercial information. 

3. STATISTICS. The Commerce and Navigation Reports, annually 
issued by the Secretary of the Treasury, are to be found in the 
American State Papers, Commerce and Navigation down to 1821; 
thenceforth issued separately, and also in the regular series of Con- 



gressional Documents. For the period 1783-1833, T. Pitkin, Sta- 
tistical View (New Haven, ed. of 1835); Adam Seybert, Statistical 
Annals (Phila. 1818); G. Watterston and N. B. Van Zandt, Tabular 
Statistical Views (Washington, 1828), and Continuation of same 
(1833) will be found more convenient. Many statistics are also 
given in Hunt's Merck. Mag. and in Samuel Hazard (ed.), Hazard's 
U.S. Commercial and Statistical Register (Phila., 1839-42). The State 
Censuses of 1837 (John P. Bigelow, Statistical Tables of Certain 
Branches of Industry, 1838), 1845 (John G. Palfrey, Ibid. 1846), and 
1855 contain statistics on shipbuilding, fisheries and whaling only ; 
that of 1865 gives also the coastwise fleet. The best single compila- 
tion of Mass, commercial statistics will be found in British Parlia- 
mentary Documents, Accounts and Papers, XLIX, Part I, 1846 (part 
XV of John Macgregor's Commercial Tariffs, etc.). 

4. GENERAL SECONDARY WORKS. No history of Massachusetts 
pays the slightest attention to the maritime aspect after the colo- 
nial period; but Edward Channing, History of the U.S., vols. in and 
IV, contains much valuable data on American commerce to 1815. 
Emory R. Johnson et al., History of Domestic and Foreign Commerce 
of the U.S., 2 vols. (Washington, 1915), contains a useful digest of 
federal legislation affecting shipping, fishing, etc. Grace Lee Nute, 
American Foreign Commerce 1825-1850 (Radcliffe doctoral disserta- 
tion in preparation), aims at completeness for that period. John R. 
Spears, The Story of the American Merchant Marine (N.Y., 1910), 
is the most honest book on that subject. 

5. LOCAL HISTORIES of the maritime towns are usually inadequate 
or misleading on all maritime activities save privateering; excep- 
tions will be noted below. The "Topographical Descriptions" of 
various seaport towns in the Collections of the M.H.S. 1st ser., vols. i- 
ix (1792-1804), 2d ser., vols. in, iv, x (1815-23), 3d sen, n (1830), 
are valuable sources. John W. Barber, Historical Collections . . . of 
every Town in Massachusetts (Worcester, 1839), with woodcuts. There 
is a useful class of publications on the maritime aspects of certain 
towns: Leavitt Sprague, Barnstable and Yarmouth Sea Captains 
and Ship Owners (p.p., 1913). Pamphlets prepared by Walton Adv. 
Co. for State St. Trust Co.: Old Shipping Days in Boston (1918), 
Some Merchants and Sea Captains of Old Boston (1919), Other Mer- 
chants and Sea Captains (1920). J. Henry Sears, Brewster Ship 
Masters (Yarmouthport, 1906). Edmund P. Collier, Deep Sea Cap- 
tains of Cohasset, (p.p.), Benj. L. Lindsey, Old Marblehead Sea 
Captains and the Ships in which They Sailed (Marblehead Hist. 



Soc., 1915). Ralph D. Paine, Ships and Sailors of Old Salem (N.Y., 
1908; Chicago, 1912), a topical and comprehensive history of Salem 
commerce and privateering. Old Time Ships of Salem (E. I., Salem, 
1917) reproduces several famous Salem vessels in colors, with his- 
torical data. 

CHANTS, SHIPMASTERS, etc. These often contain letters and other 
source material of great value; many, however, are privately printed 
and scarce. Several good memoirs of Boston, Salem, and Newbury- 
port merchants will be found in the E.I.H.C., Proc. M.H.S., Free- 
man Hunt (ed.), Lives of American Merchants (N.Y., 1856); Hunt's 
Merc. Mag. (esp. vol. xi) ; W. H. Bayley & O. O. Jones, Hist, of the 
Marine Society of Newburyport (Nbpt., 1906) ; J. J. Currier, History 
of Newburyport (Nbpt., 1906) n, chap. xxn. Wm. H. Reed, Reminis- 
cences of Elisha Atkins (p.p., 1890). N. I. Bowditch, Memoir of Na- 
thaniel Bowditch (3d ed., Cambridge, 1884). [Ann Tracy], Reminis- 
cences of John Bromfield (Salem, 1852). H. C. Lodge, Life and Letters 
of George Cabot (1877). Roxana Dabney, Annals of the Dabney Family 
at Fayal (3 vols. p.p., 1892). Wm. T. Davis, Plymouth Memories of 
an Octogenarian (Plymouth, 1906). Anna E. Ticknor, Memoir of 
Samuel Eliot (p.p., 1869). Robert Bennet Forbes, Personal Remi- 
niscences (2d. ed., 1882, with additional material; extra-illustrated 
copy in H.C.L.). Sarah F. Hughes, Letters and Recollections of John 
Murray Forbes (2 vols, 1899). There is also a p.p. 5 vol. edition. 
Nathaniel Goddard, Boston Merchant, 1767-1853 (p.p., 1906). Ed- 
ward Gray, William Gray of Salem, Merchant (1914). T. F. Waters, 
Augustine Heard and his Friends (Publications of the Ipswich His- 
torical Society, xxi, 1916). T. W. Higginson, Life and Times of 
Stephen Higginson (1907). Osborn Howes, Autobiographical Sketch, 
Edited by his children (p.p., 1894). The Autobiography of Capt. Zach- 
ary G. Lamson 1797-1814, with Introduction and Historical Notes 
by 0. T. Howe (1908). Martha Nichols (ed.), George Nichols, Salem 
Shipmaster and Merchant, An Autobiography (Salem, 1913). [Lucy 
W. Peabody], Henry Wayland Peabody, Merchant (West Medford, 
1909). T. G. Cary, Memoir of Thomas Handasyd Perkins (1856). 
Nathaniel Silsbee, "Biographical Notes," E.I.H.C., xxxv (1899). 
Brief Sketch of Capt. Josiah Sturgis (1844). Julian Sturgis, From 
Books and Papers of Russell Sturgis (p.p., Oxford). J. D. Whidden, 
Ocean Life in the old Sailing Ship Days (1908). Family histories and 
genealogies, too numerous to mention here, also afforded much in- 
formation. See also under 5. 





(a) MANUSCRIPTS (chaps, iv-vi and xvi-xvn). Bryant & Stur- 
gis MSS., Josiah Marshall MSS., J. P. Cushing MS. letter-book, 
Horatio A. Lamb, Notes on Trade with the Northwest Coast, 1790- 
1810 (digest of records of J. & T. Lamb), in the H. C. L.; Boit MSS., 
Ship Columbia MSS., and John Hoskins, Narrative of the Columbia's 
Second Voyage, in M.H.S.; Solid Men of Boston in the Northwest, 
copy in M.H.S. from the Bancroft MSS., Berkeley, California. 
Augustine Heard MSS., John Suter MSS., and log of ship Massa- 
chusetts, in private possession. Journals of ships Concord, Margaret, 
Hamilton, and others in E.I., Salem. Reports of Laforet, Barbe- 
Marbois, and De Guigne on early American trade with China in 
Archives des Affaires Etrangeres, Paris, "Memoires et Documents, 
Etats-Unis," vm, 207, xiv, 164-69, 369-80; "Asie," xix, 62, 141, 

(b) PRINTED SOURCES. The Journals of Samuel Shaw, with a life 
of the Author by Josiah Quincy (1847). John Boit, Jr., Remarks on 
the Ship Columbia's [second] Voyage, Proc. M.H.S. , LIII (1920). 
Archibald Cambell, A Voyage round the World from 1805 to 1812 
(N.Y., 1817). Richard J. Cleveland, Narrative of Voyages and Com- 
mercial Enterprises (2 vols., 1842, and I vol., 1850). Amasa Delano, 
Narrative of Voyages and Travels (1817), John D'Wolf, Voyage to 
the North Pacific and Journey through Siberia (Cambridge, 1861). 
Capt. Eliah Grimes, Letters from N.W. Coast (1822), in Washington 
Hist. Quart., xi, 174 (1920). Haswell's Journal of the Columbia's 
first Voyage, in appendix to H. H. Bancroft, Pacific States, xxn. 
John R. Jewitt, Narrative of Adventures (N.Y., 1816). Bernard 
Magee, "Observations on the Islands of Juan Fernandez," etc. in 
Collections of M.H.S., 1st sen, iv, 247. William Moulton, A Con- 
cise Extract from the Sea Journal . . . written on board the Onico 
(Utica, N.Y., 1804). The Narrative of David Woodard and four Sea- 
men (London, 1804). William Sturgis, The Northwest Fur Trade 
(Old South Leaflets, no. 219). W. F. Taylor, Voyage Round the World 
in the U.S. Frigate Columbia (New Haven, 1843). William Tufts, 
"List of American vessels engaged in the Trade of the Northwest 
Coast, 1787-1809" (incomplete), in James G. Swan, Northwest 
Coast (N.Y., 1837), 423. Charles P. Low, Some Recollections, 1847- 

1 The general sources and secondary authorities mentioned above 
have also been drawn upon for these subjects. 



(p-P- 1906). Katherine Hillard, My Mother's Journal (1900). 
William C. Hunter, The Fan Kwae at Canton before Treaty Days 
(London, 1882), and Bits of Old China (London, 1885). Robert B. 
Forbes, Remarks on China and the China Trade (1844). British 
Parliamentary Papers, 1830, vi, pp. 350-93. l Charles Giitzlaff, 
Sketch of Chinese History (London, 1834). John Phipps, Practical 
Treatise on China and the Eastern Trade (Calcutta, 1835). 

(c) SECONDARY. For the Northwest Coast and early California 
trades: H. H. Bancroft, History of the Pacific States, xiv (Cali- 
fornia, n), xxn, and xxm (Northwest Coast, I, II, San Francisco, 
1884). For the China trade: Kenneth S. Latourette, The History 
of Early Relations between the United States and China, 1784-1844 
(Trans, Conn. Acad. Arts Sci., xx, New Haven, 1917). For seal- 
ing: A. Howard Clark, "The Antarctic Fur-Seal and Sea-El- 
ephant Industry," in G, B. Goode, Fisheries of the U.S. (Wash- 
ington, 1887), vii. Edward G. Porter, "The Ship Columbia and the 
Discovery of Oregon " with illustrations made on voyage, N.E. Mag., 
n.s., vi, 472 (1892); reprinted in Old South Leaflets, No. 131. Louis 
Becke and Walter Jeffery, The Tapu of Bander ah (Phila., 1901). 
F. W. Howay, "The Voyage of the Hope, 1790-92," Washington 
Hist. Quart., XI (1920). C. G. Loring, " Memoir of William Sturgis," 
Proc. M.H.S., vii. See also 5 and 6, above. 

8. SALEM COMMERCE (chaps, vii, vm, xiv, and part iv and ix). 
The Diary of William Bentley, D.D., 1784-1819 (4 vols., E.I., Salem, 
1905-14). Numerous logs, and sea journals and other MSS. in E.I.; 
Thorndike MSS., Beverly Hist. Soc.; Cleveland MSS. and miscella- 
neous MSS. in Peabody Museum, Salem; Heard MSS., Silsbee MSS., 
and Howe MSS., in private hands. C. S. Osgood & H. M. Batchelder, 
Historical Sketch of Salem (Salem, 1879) and R. D. Paine, Ships and 
Sailors, are the best secondary accounts; the latter is also a guide to 
the printed material. Biographies of George Nichols, Edward Gray, 
Z. G. Lamson, Nathaniel Silsbee (see 6). Robert E. Peabody, 
Merchant Venturers of Old Salem [the Derbys] (Boston, 1912). Nu- 
merous articles and much source material in the E.I.H.C. John C. 
Brent, "Leaves from an African Journal," in Knickerbocker Mag., 
1848-50; Montgomery Parker, "Sketches in S. Africa," Ibid., 
1850-53. Horatio Bridge, U.S.N., Journal of an African Cruiser . . . 

1 The title page of this volume is Reports from Committees, j, East 
India Company's Affairs (Lord's Report). Session 5 February 23 July 
1830. Vol. VI. It contains testimony by Joshua Bates and others on 
the American trade with China. 



edited by Nathaniel Hawthorne (N.Y., 1845). Narrative of the Cap- 
ture of the brig Mexican by Pirates (1832, reprinted in E.I.H.C., 
XXXIH). [J. Oliver and W. S. Dix], The Wreck of the Glide, wiih 
Recollections of the Fijiis, (N.Y., 1846). J. H. Reynolds, Voyage of 
the U.S. Frigate Potomac (N.Y., 1835). 

9. SHIPS AND SHIPBUILDING (chaps, vni and part of xvi). Henry 
Hall, Report on the Shipbuilding Industry (Washington, 1884) from 
the loth Census, is a most unsatisfactory work, but reproduces the 
lines of some famous vessels. The studies of Ipcal shipbuilding sel- 
dom give more than the tonnage measurement, and cot one dis- 
cusses the changes in design. A. Vernon Briggs, History of Ship- 
building on North River, Plymouth County, Mass. . . . 1640-1872 
(1887), is most comprehensive and valuable. W. H. Summer, His- 
tory of East Boston, 697, gives a list of vessels there built through 
1858. Capt. John Bradford, " Reminiscences of Duxbury Shipbuild- 
ing," in L. Bradford, Hist, of Duxbury. Charles Brooks, History of 
Medford (1855), pp. 366-79, gives a list of vessels there built be- 
tween 1803 and 1854; see also Medford Historical Register, I, 65, xv, 
77. John J. Currier, Historical Sketch of Ship Building on the Merri- 
mac River (Nbpt,, 1877). Wm. Leavitt, " Materials for the History 
of Shipbuilding in Salem," inE.LH.C., vi, VII (1863-65), with full 
dimensions. A. F. Hitchings & Stephen W. Phillips, Ship Registers 
of the District of Salem and Beverly, 1789-1900 (Salem, 1906, re- 
printed from E.I.H.C., XXXIX-XLII) is a most useful work of refer- 
ence; there is great need of a similar one for Boston. H. H. Edes, 
Memorial of Josmh Barker (1891). R. B. Forbes, Notes on Ships of 
the Past (1885), and A New Rig for Ships (1849). R. H. Dana, The 
Seaman's Friend; containing a Treatise on Practical Seamanship, 
with Plates; a Dictionary of Sea Terms, Customs and Usages of the 
Merchant Service; Laws relating to the Practical Duties of Master and 
Mariner (1841), is the most useful work of this sort. 

10. SHIP PORTRAITS AND MODELS. The best public collections are 
in the Peabody Museum, Salem; the Boston Marine Museum, Old 
State House, Boston; the Old Dartmouth Historical Society, New 
Bedford; the Beverly Historical Society; the Marblehead Historical 
Society, and the Historical Society of Old Newbury, Newburyport. 
Private collections to which I have had access, through the kindness 
of the owners, are those of Charles H. Taylor, Jr., Allan Forbes, and 
Dr. O. T. Howe, Boston; Frederick C. Fletcher, Herbert Foster Otis, 
and Charles Torrey, Brookline; F. B. C. Bradlee, Marblehead; and 
Captain Arthur H. Clark, Newburyport. The East India House, 



New York, has a collection of paintings of Massachusetts clipper and 
packet-ships. Little is known of our ship painters. For Robert 
Salmon, see Proceedings Bostonian Society for Jan. 1895, p. 37. There 
is a catalogue of his works in the Boston Public Library. Of Bresay- 
ant's Antoine Roux et ses fils (Marseilles, circ. 1882), I have been 
unable to find a copy. 

IX and xv). Bentley's Diary (see 8); Frank Cousins, The Colonial 
Architecture of Salem {1919) ; F. Cousins and P. M. Riley, The Wood- 
Carver of Salem, Samuel Mclntire and his Work (1916). Mrs. E. Vale 
Smith, History of Newburyport (Nbpt., 1854); Sarah A. Emery, 
Reminiscences of a Nonagenarian (Nbpt., 1879). Albert Hale, Old 
Newburyport Houses (1912). Charles A. Cummings, "Architecture 
in Boston," in Justin Winsor, Memorial History of Boston, iv, chap. 
VIII. Bulletin of the Society for the Preservation of New England 
Antiquities, and Old Time New England, the new monthly magazine 
of the same Society. Ellen S. Bulfinch, Life and Letters of Charles 
Bulfinch (1896); Ashton R. Willard, "Charles Bulfinch the Archi- 
tect," in N.E. Mag., n.s., in, 273 (1890). Henry F. Bond, "Old 
Summer Street, Boston," Ibid., n.s., xix, 333 (1898). Biographies 
of merchants (see 6), esp. of Samuel Eliot and George Nichols. 
Mary H. Northend, Memories of Old Salem (Chicago, 1917). Act of 
Incorporation and By-laws of the East India Marine Society (Salem, 
1899). Catalog of the "Cleopatra's Barge" Exhibition at the Peabody 
Museum (with bibliography, Salem, 1916). 

12. THE FISHERIES (chaps, x and xix). There is no wholly satis- 
factory account of the Massachusetts fisheries, based on original 
research. The best are Raymond McFarland, History of the New 
England Fisheries (Univ. of Penn., 1911); Lorenzo Sabine, Report on 
the Principal Fishermen of the American Seas (Washington, 1853); 
G. Brown Goode, Fisheries . . . of the U.S. (Washington, 1887), vi 
(Section v, "History and Methods of the Fisheries," vol. I.). Of the 
local histories, the following are the most useful: Samuel Roads, 
Jr., History and Traditions of Marblehead (1880), (cf. Whidden's 
Ocean Life, cited above, 6) ; John J. Babson, History of Gloucester 
(Gloucester, 1860); J. R. Pringle, History of Gloucester (Ibid., 1892); 
[Fred W. Tibbets, ed.], Memorial of the 2^oth anniversary of Glou- 
cester (Ibid., 1901); James Thatcher, History of Plymouth (2d ed., 
1835); E. V. Bigelow, History of Cohasset (1898), Waldo Thompson, 
Swampscott (Lynn, 1885); Shebnah Rich, Truro Cape Cod (Bos- 
ton, 1883); S. L. Deyo (ed.), History of Barnstable County (N.Y., 



1890); Everett I. Nye, History of Wellfleet (Hyannis, 1920). Con- 
siderable information and otherwise on the Gloucester fisheries, 
from various octogenarians' reminiscences, can be found in George 
H. Procter (compiler), The Fishermen's Memorial and Record Book 
(Glouc., 1873), The Fisheries of Gloucester, 1623-1876 (Ibid., 1876), 
The Fishermen's Own Book (Ibid., 1882); and Sylvanus Smith, Fish- 
eries of Cape Ann (Ibid., 1915). The best description of the life of 
the fishermen is J. Reynolds, Peter Gott the Cape Ann Fisherman 
(1856). The story of Beverly fisheries is largely in MSS. in the Bev- 
erly Hist. Society. For Cape Cod in the Federalist period, the 
"Topographical Descriptions" in the early volumes of Collections 
of the M.H.S., are most valuable, as are vol. in of Timothy Dwight, 
Travels in New England and New York (New Haven, 1822), vol. in, 
and E. A. Kendall, Travels Through the Northern Parts of the United 
States in 1807-08 (N.Y., 1809), vol. n. Thoreau's Cape Cod is the 
classic description for about 1850. Albert P. Brigham, Cape Cod and 
the Old Colony (N.Y., 1920) is an admirable study in regional geog- 
raphy. On separate branches: George B. Goode et al., Materials for 
a History of the Mackerel Fishery (from Annual Report of U.S. Com- 
missioner of Fish and Fisheries for 1881), Washington, 1883; Sheb- 
nah Rich, The Mackerel Fishery of North America (1879). Ernest 
Ingersoll, The Oyster Industry (Washington, 1881, a reprint from 
Goode's Fisheries). Joseph W. Collins, "Evolution of the American 
Fishing Schooner," N.E. Mag., n.s., xvin, 336 (1898) is a most val- 
uable article. The models illustrated therein are now mostly in the 
E.I. and the Annisquam Yacht Club. Pictures of fishing vessels 
before 1860 are exceedingly rare. 

13. FEDERALISM AND NEUTRAL TRADE (chap. xn). Beverly Ship- 
ping MSS., Bev. Hist. Soc. ; Bait MSS. and William Gray Letter-book 
in private hands. G. R. Putnam, Lighthouses and Lightships of the 
U.S. (1917). Capt. Lawrence Furlong, American Coast Pilot (Nbpt., 
1809). N. Spooner, Gleanings from Records of Boston Marine Society 
(Boston, 1875). Biographies of Bromfield, Forbes, Goddard, Gray, 
Lamson, Higginson, and Perkins cited in 6, and S. E. Morison, 
H. G. Otis (1913). Elijah Cobb, Autobiographical Sketch (written 
about 1845, printed in Yarmouth Register, photostat copy in M.H.S.). 
R. E. Peabody, Merchant Venturers ( 8); R. J. Cleveland, Voyages 
( 7). For South American Trade: Charles Lyon Chandler, ar- 
ticles in Am. Hist. Rev., xxm, 816-26 (1918), Hisp. Am. Hist. Rev., 
n, 26-54 (1919); ni, 159-66 (1920); and Inter-American Acquaint- 
ances (2d ed., Sewanee, Tenn., 1917). 



14. EMBARGO AND WAR OF 1812 (chap. xui). Biographies cited 
above. C. F. Adams (ed.), Memoirs of J. Q. Adams, u (Phila., 1874); 
Worthington C. Ford (ed.), Writings of J. Q. Adams, HI, iv (N.Y., 
1914). Histories of maritime towns, especially L. B. Ellis, History 
of New Bedford (Syracuse, N.Y., 1892); Freeman's Cape Cod and 
Swift's Cape Cod. Wm. Leavitt, "Private Armed Vessels of Salem," 
in E.I.H.C. for 1860. B. B. Crowninshield, "The Private Armed 
Ship America," E.I.H.C., xxxvii. Log of Brutus in Boston Marine 
Society; papers of the Grand Turk in Beverly Hist. Society. Bent- 
ley's Diary. David Porter, Journal of Cruise in U.S. Frigate Essex 
(N.Y., 1822). Autobiography of Elder Joseph Bates (Battle Creek, 
1868); Report of Committee of House of Representatives on Im- 
pressments (1813); account of Salem impressments in E.I.H.C., 
XLIX, 321. 

xvi). Bryant & Sturgis, Josiah Marshall, and James Hunnewell 
MSS., H.C.L.; S. E. Morison, "Boston Traders in Hawaii, 1789- 
1823," Proc. M.H.S,, Liv, 9 (October, 1920), and authorities therein 
cited. For California, see Charles E. Chapman, "The Literature of 
California History," Southwestern Hist. Quar., xxn, 318-52 (1919), 
and add Lieut. Joseph W. Revere, U.S.N., A Tour of Duty in Cali- 
fornia (N.Y., 1849). The classic narrative of this trade is R. H. 
Dana, Two Years before the Mast (N.Y., 1840, and numerous later 
editions). R. B. Forbes, Notes on Navigation (1884). 

16. MARITIME AND COMMERCIAL BOSTON TO 1850 (chap, xv, and 
parts of others) has received much less adequate treatment than 
Salem. Hamilton A. Hill, Trade and Commerce of Boston (Reprinted 
from Professional and Industrial History of Suffolk Co., II, 1894) is a 
mere sketch, but useful as far as it goes. Bostonian Society Publica- 
tions, passim. Bowen's Picture of Boston (3d ed., 1838). State St. 
Trust Co. pamphlets (see 5). Biographies (6). N. Spooner, 
Cleanings ( 13). James H. Lanman, "The Commerce of Boston," 
in Hunt's Merc. Mag., x, 421 (1844) and Charles Hudson "Mass. 
and her Resources," in Ibid., IX, 426. "Shipping of the Port of Bos- 
ton," in Ibid., xiv, 83 (1845). E. J. Howard, "Commercial Review 
of Fifty Years," in Boston Board of Trade, 2?th and 2Qth Annual 
Reports (1880, 1882). The Life of Father Taylor, the Sailor Preacher 
(Boston, 1904), includes an earlier biography by Haven and Rus- 
sell, and several short sketches. Fitz Henry Smith, Jr., Storms and 
Shipwrecks in Boston Bay, and the Record of the Life Savers of 
Hull (p.p., 1918, reprinted from Bostonian Society Publications}. 



R. B. Forbes, A Discursive Sketch on Yachting (1888), and Voyage of 
the Jamestown (1847). 

F. B. C. Bradlee, Steam Navigation in New England (Salem, 1920, 
reprinted from E.I.H.C.) gives a detailed account of the lines north 
of Boston with illustrations. The same author, in a series of articles 
in the International Marine Engineering between 1910 and 1920, 
describes the lines south of Boston. His The Dreadnought of New- 
buryport (Salem, 1920, reprinted with additions from E.I.H.C.), 
contains material on the sailing packets. Samuel Samuels, From the 
Forecastle to the Cabin (N.Y., 1887). Moses W. Mann, "Medford 
Steamboat Days," Medford Historical Register, XVH, 92 (1914). 
Pliny Miles, Advantages of Ocean Steam Navigation (1857) contains 
much data on Southern coasting trade. R. B. Forbes, The Auxiliary 
Screw Ship "Massachusetts" (1853), and Remarks on Ocean Steam 
Navigation (1855). 

1 8. EAST INDIA AND ICE TRADE. Frederic Tudor MSS., in private 
hands, and Tudor's own story, written in 1849, in Proc. M.H.S., HI, 
53-60. Boston Board of Trade, Third Annual Report (1857). 

19. WHALING. There is need of a comprehensive history of this 
industry, paying due attention to the labor and business aspects, 
and using the almost untouched mines of information in the New 
Bedford Whalemen's Shipping List (1843-1916), the New Bedford 
customs records, and the log books and business records at the New 
Bedford Public Library and elsewhere. The standard histories are 
Obed Macy, History of Nantucket (1835); Alexander Starbuck, His- 
tory of the American Whale Fishery (with complete list of whaling 
voyages, Waltham, 1878) ; and Walter S. Tower, History of the Ameri- 
can Whale Fishery (Pub. of the U. of Penn. No. 20, 1907), with bib- 
liography and statistics. Another whaling bibliography which lists 
many periodical articles and titles not found in Tower, is [G. H. 
Tripp], A Collection of Books, Pamphkts, Log Books, Pictures, etc. 
Illustrating Whales and the Whale Fishery contained in the Free 
Public Library, New Bedford, Mass. (26. ed., April, 1920). The 
chapter by James T. Brown in G. B. Goode, Fisheries of the U.S. 
(Washington, 1887), vii, 218-93, gives the most detailed account of 
methods and appliances. Hussey & Robinson, Catalogue of Nan- 
tucket Whalers . . . from 1815 to 1870 (Nantucket, 1876) is a useful 
check-list. John R. Spears, The Story of the New England Whalers 
(N.Y., 1908), with a chapter on the slavers; and A. Hyatt Verrill, 
The Real Story of the Whaler (N.Y., 1916), are the best popular de- 



scriptions and histories. Herman Melville's classic, Moby-Dick, or 
the White Whale (ist ed., 1851), gives the writer's experiences in the 
form of a novel. Other whaling novels by whalemen are Joseph C. 
Hart, Miriam Coffin (2 vols, N.Y., 1835, and later editions), and 
William Hussey Macy, There She Blows! (1877) and C. H. Robbins 
The Gam (New Bedford, 1899), a group of short stories. Among the 
dozens of whaling voyage narratives: J. Ross Browne, Etchings of 
a Whaling Cruise (N.Y., 1846), gives the viewpoint of a green hand; 
Charles Nordhoff, Whaling and Fishing (Cincinnati, 1856) that of 
an able seaman under a decent skipper. J. N. Reynolds's Report on 
Islands discovered by Whalers in the Pacific (1835) is in 23 Cong., 
2d sess., Ho. Exec. Doc. in, No. 105. Charles Wilkes, U.S.N., in his 
Narrative of the U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-42 (London, 1845), 
V., Chap, xn, gives a list of the whaling grounds and describes 
certain practices, which are also exposed by F. M. Ringgold (U.S. 
consul at Puita, P.I.) in an official report summarized in Hunt's 
Merch. Mag., XLI, 391 (1859); and denounced by the Rev. Francis 
Wayland in The Claims of the Whalemen on Christian Benevolence 
(New Bedford, 1843). The Old Dartmouth Historical Sketches (quar- 
terly of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society), especially nos. 14, 
38, 44, and 45, are full of valuable material. 

20. THE CLIPPER-SHIP ERA (chaps, xxi-xxm). Captain Arthur 
H. Clark's incomparable Clipper Ship Era (N.Y., 1911), and Dr. 
Octavius T. Howe's MS. history of the clipper ships and MS. history 
of the '49 movement, are the principal authorities on which I have 
relied. The dimensions of clipper ships given in the footnotes are 
taken for the most part from the Boston ship registry at the Boston 
custom house. Henry Blaney, Journal of Voyage to China and Re- 
turn, 1851-53 (p.p., 1913). Lieut. M. F. Maury, Explanations and 
Sailing Directions (6th ed., Phila., 1854). Percy Chase MSS., H.C.L., 
a compilation of clipper and other ships' records. Description of the 
Largest Ship in the World, the New Clipper Great Republic (1853). 
R. B. Forbes, To Merchants, Underwriters and others Interested (1853), 
and An Appeal to Merchants and Ship Owners on the subject of Seamen 
(1854). For the commerce of the period 1850-60 the Boston Board 
of Trade Reports, beginning 1854, are most important; those of 1880 
and 1882 give additional matter. 


Names of vessels are in italics 

Adams, John, 135, 165, I74~75- 
Adams, John Quincy, 194, 197, 278. 
Africa, trade with, 33, 220-22; see 

Slave Trade, South Africa, Zan- 

Akbar, 329. 

Alaska, see Northwest Coast. 
Albatross, 53, 58. 
Alert (i), 70; (2), 77n., 256. 
Algiers, trade with, 194. 
Allen, Capt. Joseph, 317. 
Alsop, Richard, 269n. 
America, 93, 100, 201. 
American Hero, 203. 
American Revolution, 23, 27-30. 
Ames plow works, 297, 333. 
Amory, Thomas, 21. 
Amory, Thomas Jr. & Co., 55, 57n., 

Amsterdam, trade with, 177-79, 


Andrew Jackson, 233n., 341. 
Anjer, 67, 259. 
Ann Alexander, 180. 
Architecture, chapter ix, 153, 229, 


Argonaut, 338, 348. 
Ariadne, 205. 
Astrea (i), 35, 48, 49, 83, 92, 154; 

(2), 94, 108, 115. 
Atahualpa, 69, 72, 112. 
Atlantic, 48. 
Auction tax, 275. 
Austin, J. L. & B., 5711. 
Australia, 62; clipper ships, 362- 

64; trade with, 367-69. 
Avon, 248. 
Azores, see Western Islands. 

Bacon, Daniel C, 339, 349. 
Bailey, Capt. John, 171. 
Baltic trade, origin, 154; Napo- 
leonic period, 139, 155, 179, iSgn., 

193-95; later, 216, 289, 294-97, 

366; statistics, 377. 
Baltimore, clippers, 100, 201, 292, 

329; shipping statistics, 376. 
Bangor, 236. 

Baring Brothers & Co., 168-69, 274. 
Barnard, Capt. Moses, 94. 
Barnstable, 146, 203, 264^, 301; 

statistics, 378. 
Basey, Capt. Jonathan, 178. 
Batavia, trade with, 48, 52, 91, 

182-83, 275, 377- 
Bates, Joshua, 274. 
Becket, 262. 
Becket, Retire, 80. 
Benjamin, 73. 
Bentley, Rev. William, 92, 122, 

179; quoted, 24, 33, 89, 98, m, 

123, 137, 142, 149, 153, 191- 
Bethel, 20. 
Betsey, brig, 155; brigantine, 59n.; 

ship, 178. 
Beverly, 79n., 141; commerce and 

fishing in 1785-1800, 32, 38, 141- 

42; War of 1812, 208, 210; after 

1815, 294n., 303-304; forty- 

niners, 335; shipping statistics, 


Beverly Farms, 141, 245. 
Black Ball Line, 232. 
Black Prince, 351, 354n. 
Blake, Capt. Charles, 246. 
Blessing of the Bay, 14. 
Bliie Jacket, 345, 362. 
Boit, Capt. John, Jr., 73-76, 171; 

quoted, 50. 

Bombay, trade with, 45, 85-87. 
Boot and Shoe trade, 21, 267, 288, 

298, 366. 
Bordman, William, Jr., 57n., 247, 

261 ; his mercantile ventures, 

Boston, position, 3, 6; colonial, 20; 



in 1783, 35; in 1790, 42-44; 
in Federalist era, 124-32; in 
1840, chap, xv ; in clipper-ship 
era, 350, 366-69; architecture, 
125-28, 238-40; fisheries, 302, 
308; harbor, 3, 6, 97, 124, 163; 
Marine Society, 116, 132, 162- 
63, 357; Old State House, 238; 
Pacific trade, 84, chaps, iv-vi, 
xvii, 368; population, 20, 22, 
124, 137; shipbuilding, 103,237- 
38, chap, xxii passim; shipping, 
189, 215, 225-28, 252, 284, 294- 
95; 347-50, 366-69; society, 
128-32, 239-40; statistics, 376- 
78; wharves, 21, 127, 229-30. 

Boston, 55, I07n. 

Boston Light, 19. 

Boston Light, 345. 

Boundbrook, 3 ion. 

Bourne, Jonathan, 319. 

Bowditch, Nathaniel, 113-16, 163. 

Bradlee, Josiah, 57n., 130, 3i8n. 

Breeze, 247. 

Brewster, 208, 301. 

Brewster, Capt. George, 358. 

Briggs, Enos, 80, 81, 100, 102. 

Briggs, E.&H.O., 344-45- 

Brimmer, Herman, 56. 

Britannia, 234. 

British East India Company, 52, 
65, 276-78. 

Bromfield, John, 112, 189. 

Brown, Capt. Charles H., 35i,354n. 

Brutus, 200. 

Bryant & Sturgis, 69, Il6, 260, 
262-63, 266-68. 

Bucanier, 154. 

Bulfinch, Charles, 42, 46n., 125-30, 

Buoys, 163. 

Burma, 92. 

Cabot, George, merchant, 22, 37, 
154; Senator, 134, 165, 167; 
quoted, 174, 191. 

Cadet, 9 in. 

Calcutta, early trade with, 84, 85- 
89, in, 139, 1 80; during war, 
203; trade from 1815 to 1830, 
218, 223, 288; from beginning of 
ice trade to Civil War, 279-85, 

California, fur trade, 59-60; hide 
trade, 266-69; forty-niners, 331- 
38; clearances from Boston, 333, 
338; trade with, 1850-55, chap- 
ters xxi, xxii passim, 367; grain 
trade, 368. 

Calumet, 194. 

Canada, trade with, 366-68. 

Canoes, 147. 

Canton, description, 64, 65. See 
China trade. 

Canton Packet, 241. 

Cape Ann, 2; fisheries, 142-43, 
149, 302, 308-12, 375; in War 
of 1812, 207. 

Cape Cod, 4, 24; Colonial, 20, 30; 
Federalist, 145-50, 162-64; dur- 
ing war, 198, 203, 206-09; after 
1815, 300-02, 310-13. 

Cape of Good Hope, 44; smuggling 
trade, 68, 73, 86, 87; later trade, 

Cape Horn, 47, 53, 74, 97. 

Cape Verde Islands, 54, 83, 139, 

Caravan, 89, 90. 

Carnes, Capt. Jonathan, 90. 

Carney, Osgood, 281. 

Caroline, 7on. 

Carpenter, Capt. Benjamin, 86, 87. 

Catherine, 194. 

Chariot of Fame, 362. 

Charles Bartlett, 243. 

Charlestown, 103, 233, 237, 283-84. 

Charles W. Morgan, I57n., 315. 

Charmer, 368. 

Chatham, 146, 147-50, 301. 

Chebacco boats, 143, 147, 305. 

China trade, origin, 44-50; of 
Federalist Period, chapter vi, 
I4on., 165-66, 180, 192-93; typi- 
cal cargo, 82; in War of 1812,203- 
05; from 1815 to 1860, 218-220, 
273-79, 358-59; mentioned, 223, 
254, 266, 271, 366. 

Civil War, effect of, 369-70. 

Clapp, Joseph C., 26gn. 

Clark, Capt. Arthur H., 355; 
quoted, I37n., 233n., 34411., 
346n., 348n., 36m. 

Clark, Benjamin C., 247-48, 293. 

Cleopatra's Barge, 262-63. 

Cleveland, George, 183. 



Cleveland, Richard J., 60, 73. 

Cleveland, William, 88. 

Cleveland, Mrs. William, 220, 258. 

Clipper ships, definition, 328, 348n. ; 
origin, 329-30, 339; history of, 
chap, xxii; construction, 349; 
crews, 352-57; cost, 359, 362, 
36sn.; officers, 350-51; owners, 
347-49; races, 345, 356, 358; 
speed, see Record sailing passages. 

Coal trade, 297-98. 

Coasting trade, early, 15, 17, 82, 
154; after 1830, 297-98, 300, 354. 
See Packet lines. 

Cobb, Capt. Elijah, 146, 172-73, 

Codfish, trade in, 13-14, 19, 177, 
309; price, 3O5n.; methods of 
catching, 135, 143, 306, 312. 

Codman, Capt. John, 357. 

Coffee trade, 92-93, 271, 295n. t 366. 

Coffin, Sir Isaac, 159. 

Cogswell, Joseph W., 112. 

Cohasset, 4, 105, 108, 144, 164, 246, 


Collier, Capt. James, 297. 

Collins, Capt. John, 207. 

Columbia, first voyage, 46-49, no, 
125; return, 43, 44, 49; second 
voyage, 49-51; cargoes, 56-57, 
66; mentioned, 73, 74. 

Columbia River, discovery, 50; 
attempt to settle, 58, 261; sal- 
mon, 26in. 

Commerce, 154. 

Constitution, 175, 197-98. 

Cook, Capt. James, 91. 

Corne, Michele, 98. 

Cotton, Solomon, 56. 

Cotton trade, 294, 296-90. 

Cottons, domestic, trade in, 215, 
264-67, 269, 276, 287-88; India, 
trade in, 87-89, 149, 283. 

Coytmore, Capt. Thomas, 16. 

Cressy, Capt. Josiah P., 340-41, 

351, 356 : 

Crowninshield, Capt. Benjamin, 93. 
Crowninshield, Benjamin W., 93, 


Crowninshield, Caspar, 21. 
Crowninshield, George, 85, 93. 
Crowninshield, George, Jr., 123, 

200, 247, 262. 

Crowninshield, Capt. Jacob, 85, 184. 
Cuming, Robert, 33. 
Cunard Line, 234, 252. 
Cunningham, Frederic and Lewis, 

Currier, John, Jr., 330. 
Curtis, J. O., 346-47. 
Curtis, Paul, 344, 346, 365^ 
Gushing, Caleb, 216, 279. 
Gushing, John P., 66, 240, 247, 

Cygnet, 248. 

Dabney family, 193, 293. 

Dalton, Tristram, 164. 

Dana, Richard H., Jr., 227, 245, 

256, 267-68. 
Daniel Webster, 331. 
David Brown, 358. 
Davis, R. &J., 57n. 
Dearborn, H. A. S., i63n., 263. 
Defender, 350. 
Defrees, Henry I., 200. 
Delano, Capt. Amasa, 45, 62. 
Delano family, 21, in, 182. 
Democracy, 23, 24. 
Derby, Charles, 73. 
Derby, Elias Hasket, 47-49; fleet, 

96; mentioned, 80, 83, 121, 166, 

Derby, Capt. E. H., Jr., 113, 175- 


Derby, John, 47n., 57n. 
Derby, Richard, 22, 28. 
Devereux family, 21, 183. 
Dexter, Timothy, 154. 
Doane, Elisha, 25. 
Dominis, Capt. John, 26m. 
Donald McKay, 363-64. 
Dorchester, 13. 
Dories, 148, 248. 
Dorr, Capt. Ebenezer, Jr., 59. 
Dover, 233. 
Dreadnought, 346; records, 2330., 


Dream, 247. 
Dumaresq, Capt. Philip, 340, 351, 


Dun fish, 13, 303. 
Duxbury, shipbuilding, 19, 290; 

fisheries, 144-45. 

East Boston, 237, 350. 



East Dennis, 346. 

East-Indiamen of 1840, 254-56. 

East India trade; prestige, 285; 
see Batavia, Bombay, Calcutta, 
Cape of Good Hope, China, 
Mauritius, Sumatra. 

Ebeling, Professor, 179. 

Eclipse, 60. 

Eldridge, Capt. Asa, 362. 

Eliza, barque, 334; ketch, loo; ship, 
91; of New York, 183. 

Elizabeth Islands, 8, 149. 

Eliza Hardy, brig, 185. 

Embargo, Jefferson's, 140, 186-92; 
Madison's, 206. 

Emerald, 232-33, 283n. 

Emerson, R. W., quoted, 41, 226, 
233n., 257; Mediterranean voy- 
age, 286-87: on whaling, 315. 

Emmons, Nathaniel H., 297. 

Empress of China, 44, 45. 

England, financial relations with, 
168-69, '95; diplomatic rela- 
tions, 173-74, 184, 186, 193, 195, 
213, 279; Navigation Acts, 328; 
rivalry in oriental trade, 276-78, 
358-59; sea-power, 178; trade 
with, 232-35. 

Enterprise, 86. 

Esperanto, 306. 

Essex, 144, 306. 

Essex, frigate, 100, ill, 173, 203; 
ship, 92, 184-86. 

Essex Junto, 167, 175. 

Everett, Edward, 261, 283. 

Express, 306. 

Fairhaven, i9On., 316-17. 

Falkland Islands, 54, 61, 74. 

Fall River, shipping, 378. 

Falmouth, 209, 316. 

Fame, privateer, 200; ship, IOO. 

Faneuil, Peter, 19. 

Fanny, 249n. 

Farming, relation to shipping, 18, 


Federal Constitution, 39. 

Federalism, definition, 160; rela- 
tion to shipping, chap, xii, poli- 
tics, 191-214, passim. 

Fiji Islands, trade with, 94, 219-20. 

Fisheries, origin, 9, 12, 13; after 
the Revolution, 31 ; of federalist 

period, chapter x; 188; after 
1815, chapter xix; bounties, 
134-35, 310-n; statistics, 375. 

Fishermen, 136-37; of Marble- 
head, 20, 136-40; of Beverly, 
141, 303-04; of Cape Ann, 143, 
309; of Cape Cod, 146-47, 310; 
of Swampscott, 303; casualties, 
311; costume, I37n. 

Fishing vessels, 19, 31, 135, 247, 
305-06, 312. 

Flora, 270. 

Flying Cloud, 341-42, 355~56. 

Flying Fish, 355. 

Folger, Capt. B. T., 117. 

Forbes, J. Murray (i), 271; (2), 
241, 246. 

Forbes, Ralph Bennet, 170. 

Forbes, Robert Bennet, 241-47, 
266,271,277,350; quoted, I37n., 


Foreign exchange, 168-69. 

Forrester, Simon, 80, 119. 

Fox, Capt. Philip, 232-33. 

France, trade with, 35, 139, 169- 
72, 185, after 1820, 258, 297, 
299; influence of Revolution and 
wars, 169, 173, 181-84, 195-96; 
spoliations, 175. 

Francis, 98. 

Frank Atwood, 306. 

Franklin, Benjamin, 26. 

Franklin, brig, 219; ship, 183. 

Fur trade, see Northwest Coast. 

Galapagos Islands, 54, 158. 

Gale, William Alden, 266. 

Game-Cock, 339, 349. 

Gardner, Capt. G. W., 316. 

Garrison, W. L., 34, 216, 226. 

General Pickering, 30. 

George, ship, 218-19; snow, 171. 

Georges Bank, 308. 

Gerry, Elbridge, 28, 138. 

Gibaut, Capt. John, 89, 92, 163. 

Glidden & Williams, 347n., 348. 

Glide, 220. 

Glory of the Seas, 342, 365. 

Gloucester, colonial, 8, 9, 14, 142; 
commerce and fishing, 142-44, 
179; 294n., 302, 308-12; popu- 
lation, 302, 312; statistics, 375- 



Goddard, Nathaniel, 129, 205. 

Golden Light, 348. 

Gore, Christopher, 127-28, 132, 

153, 167- 

Grace, 182. 

Grand Turk, privateer brig, 201- 
02; ship (i), 35, 45; (2), 80, 96. 

Gray, Robert, master of Lady 
Washington, 47; of Columbia, 
43-44, 47-57; of James, 181. 

Gray, William, 86, in, 182; fleet, 
83, 96, 119; supports embargo, 
190; Russian trade, 194; on 
impressment, 108, 196; and 
Constitution, 197. 

Great Republic, 361-62. 

Green, Capt. Nathan, 201. 

Greene, Benjamin, Jr., 56. 

Greenfield, 368. 

Griffeths, John W., 329. 

Griffin, 246. 

Grimes, Capt. Eliah, 265. 

Grinnell, Minturn & Co., 341. 

Hale, Samuel B., 270. 

Haley, Lady, 61. 

Hall, Samuel, 237, 339-40; earliest 

vessels, 277, 293n., 306, 329; 

clipper ships, 339-40, 344. 
Hamburg, trade with, 172, 178-79. 
Hamilton, Alexander, 160, and 

shipping, 164, 166, 167, 168, 164- 

68 passim, 175. 
Hammond, Asa, 56. 
Hancock, 49. 

Hancock, John, 28, 39, 44. 
Hanover, 21, 103, 231. 
Harriet, 44. 

Hartford Convention, 210-11. 
Haswell, William, 94. 
Hatch, Crowell, 46n., 171. 
Hawaiian Islands, early trade with, 

44. 59. 75. 78; in War of 1812,204; 

Missionaries, 261 ; later trade, 

262-66, 289; whaling, 262, 264, 

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 57n., 218, 


Hayden & Cudworth, 344, 346. 
Hayti, see West Indies. 
Heard, Augustine, 89-90, 101, 283; 

China trade, 274-77. 
Hemenway, Augustus, 271. 

Henry, 85, 115. 

Herald (i), 87-88; (2), 233. 

Herald of the Morning, 339n., 344. 

Hercules, 86, io7n. 

Heredia, Jose"-Maria de, quoted, 16. 

Hide trade, 222, 266-69. 

Higgins, John, 338. 

Higginson, Stephen, 147, 167, 170. 

Hindu, 101. 

Hingham, 44, 180, 231, 302. 

Holland, trade with, i89n. 

Holmes' Hole, see Vineyard Haven. 

Honduras, trade with, 19, 287. 

Honest Tom, 185. 

Honolulu, in 1830, 264; see Hawaii. 

Hood, J. M. & Co., 346. 

Hoogly River, 88. 

Hooper, Robert, 22, 123, 138. 

Hooper, Robert C., 140, 217. 

Hope, brig, 188; brigantine, 49, 54, 

203; of New York, 45; slaver, 


Hoskins, John, 73. 
Houqua, 65. 

Howe, Capt. Octavius, 365. 
Howe, Dr. O. T., quoted, 333. 
Howe, Capt. Prince, i63n. 
Howes, Osborne, 146, 272, 349. 
Howland, Isaac, Jr., 319. 
Howland, James, 2d., 74. 
Hoyt; Lewis, 57. 
Humane Society, 163-64. 
Hunnewell, James, 262-65. 
Hussey & Macy, 31 8n. 

lasigi, Joseph, 292-93. 

Ice trade, 279-84, 298, 366. 

He de France, see Mauritius. 

Impressment, 108, 196-97. 

Industry, 155. 

Ingraham, Capt. Joseph, 49, 54, 203. 

Inore, 265. 

Insurance, Marine, origin, 20; in 

Revolution, 30; Companies and 

offices, 131, 132, 159, i68n., 301; 

rates, i68n., I75n., 2O2n., 254; 

at Calcutta, 88. 
Ipswich, 2, 14, 144, 378. 
Ireson, Capt. Benjamin, 140-41. 
Irish, immigration, 21, 22, 107, 243, 

249; seamen, 107; famine, 242- 

Irving, Washington, 202. 



Jackson, Capt. Henry, 112. 

Jackson, Patrick T., 112, 214. 

Jackson, Robert E., 345. 

Jacob Jones, 202, 204-05. 

James Baines, 343, 363-64. 

James Ingersoll Day, 249. 

Jamestown, 24243. 

Jane, 172. 

Japan, trade with, 182-83. 

Jasper, 286-87. 

Java Head, 67, 84, 100, 342; record 
runs, 100. 

Jay's Treaty, 174. 

Jeejeebhoy, Jamsetjee, 282. 

Jefferson, ship, 62; yacht, 123, 200. 

Jefferson, Thomas, 134, 167; pol- 
icy, 183-86; embargo, 187-92; 
gunboats, 207. 

Jenkins, Weston, 209. 

Jewitt, John, 55. 

John Bertram, 345, 348. 

John Gilpin, 344. 

Joshua Bates, 330. 

Joy, Benjamin, 57n., 85. 

Kamehameha, I, II, III, 204, 262- 

Kelie'y, H. J., 261. 

Kelley, William and Daniel, 249n. 

Kendrick, Capt. John, 47, 55, 59, 


Kingston, in, 144. 
Knight, Enoch, 219. 

Lady Washington, 47, 59, 182. 

Lagoda, 319. 

Lamb, J. & T., 50, 5in., no. 

Lambert, Jonathan, 94. 

Lamson, Capt. Z. G., 107, 149. 

Larcom, Lucy, quoted, 162, 217. 

Leander, 218. 

Lechmere, Thomas, 85. 

Lee, Henry, 214. 

Lelia Byrd, 60. 

Lewis, Rev. Mr., 149. 

Lidia, 177. 

Light Horse, 48, 83. 

Lighthouses, 161-63. 

Lightning, 343, 363^64- 

Liverpool, packet lines and trade, 

232-35, 288, 299. 
Liverpool Packet, i4On. 
Lloyd, James, 167, 197. 

Lodge, John E., 338, 348. 
Longfellow, quoted, 254. 
Loring Brothers, 181, 269n. 
Loring, George, 180. 
Loring, Harrison, 

Levering, J., 57n 

Lovett, John, 218-19. 

Low, A. A. & Brothers, 217, 339. 

Low, John, 150. 

Lowell, John, 108, 132, 167, 210. 

Lumber trade, colonial, 12, 13, 19; 
with South America, 182, 216, 
269-71; coasting, 231, 298. 

Lydia, 94, 95. 

Lyman, George, 58, 72, J4On. 

Lyman, Theodore, 69. 

Mclntire, Samuel, 120-21. 

Mclntire, Capt. Samuel, 83. 

McKay, Donald, early life, 330-31 ; 
first clippers, 341-44; character, 
342; supremacy, 344n.; later 
clippers, 358-65; death, 371. 

McKay, Capt. Lauchlan, 359-60. 

Mackay, Mungo, 57n. 

Mackerel, 14, 305; methods of 
catching, 306-08, 312. 

McLane, John, 205. 

Madagascar, trade with, 17, 222. 

Madagascar, 281. 

Madeira, trade with, 13, 19, 87; 
famine, 242; wine, 87, 129, 131, 


Madison, James, 194-206, passim. 
Magee, Bernard, 62. 
Magee, Capt. James, 21, 45, 48-50, 

78, 83. 

Magee, Capt. W. T., I40n. 
Magoun, Joshua, 104. 
Magoun, Thatcher, 102-03. 
Maine, 2, 18, fishing, 9, 305; sail- 

ing packets, 231; shipbuilding, 

103, 255, 256n., 293n.; shipping, 

188, 215-16, 271, 370; steam- 

boats, 236. 
Maine, 236. 
Malaga, 181, 287. 
Manchester, 24, 245. 
Manila, trade with, 94, 223, 275. 
Manufacturing, after Revolution, 

37; after War of 1812, 214, 226- 

28, 298, 367. 
Marblehead, settlement, 13, colo- 



nial prosperity, 23; Federal 
period, 48, 109, 136-41, 179, 190; 
War of 1812, 199, 208; period 
1815-40, commerce, 216-17; fish- 
eries, 304; shipping, 378. 

Margaret (i), 50, 10711.; (2), 183. 

Maria, 1570. 

Marion, 316. 

Marquesas Islands, 54, 203, 265. 

Marshall, Chief Justice, 197-98. 

Marshall, Josiah, 129, 260-65. 

Martinique, see West Indies. 

Mary Glover, 328, 347. 

Massachusetts (i), 52, iO7n. f 114; 
(2), 183; steamboat, 235. 

Massachusetts Bay, 6. 

Massachusetts-Bay, Colony of, 10 

Massachusetts-Bay, Province of, 

Mastiff, 342, 349. 

Mattapoisett, 105, 316. 

Mauritius, trade with, 73, 75, 86, 

Maury, Lieut. M. F., 358, 361 n., 


Mayflower, dimensions, I5n.; voy- 
age, 8, 10. 

Mayo, Capt. Jeremiah, 116. 

Mayo, Capt. M. H., 208. 

Medford, shipbuilding, 14, 102-03, 
236, 254-56^, 293n., 296; clip- 
per ships, 344n., 346, 355. 

Mediterranean, trade with, colo- 
nial, 13-14; Federalist period, 
176-77, 194; after 1815, 286-94. 

Melville, Herman, quoted, 227, 
317, 323, 325-26. 

Mentor, 77n., 262. 

Merchant, definition, 24; colonial 
life, 25; of Federalist Salem, 122; 
of Federalist Boston, 128-32; 
of later Boston, 239-41, 244, 285, 

Mermaid, 247. 

Merrill, Orlando B., 102. 

Merrimac River, 2, 151; shipbuild- 
ing, 101-02, 152, 255, 25611. See 

Merrimack, 155. 

Merritt, Dr. Samuel, 337. 

Merry Quaker, 105. 

Mexican, 270. 

Middlesex Canal, 216, 236. 
Minerva, 104. 
Minot's Light, 4, 164, 31 1. 
Mississippi valley, trade with, 252, 


Mitter, Rajkissen, 282. 
Mocha, trade with, 92, 93, 181. 
Morgan, Charles W., 3i8n., 323^ 
Morgan, Junius S., 218. 
Mount Vernon, of Salem, 98, 175- 

77; of New York, 104. 

Nahant, 123, 236, 244-48. 

Nancy, 155. 

Nantucket, description, 5, 15, 159; 
settlement, 155-56; lighthouses, 
i68n.; population, 315; steam- 
boats, 236; forty-niners, 333, 
statistics, 375, 378; War of 1812; 
208; whaling, early, 20, 31, 156, 
of Federalist period, 157-59; 
after 1815, 314-17. 

Nantucket South Shoals, 7, 164. 

Natchez, 100. 

Naushon, 246. 

Nautilus, 24.2. 

Navigation, 113-17; aids to, 161- 

Neptune, 221. 

Neptune's Car, 351. 

New Bedford, 6, 156, 314-16; 
commerce, 179-80, 294n.; dur- 
ing War of 1812, 199, 207; popu- 
lation, 316-17; snipping statis- 
tics, i89n., 377-78; society, 319: 
whaling, 31, 157, chap, xx, 
forty-niners, 333. 

Newburyport, 2, 151-54; fisher- 
ies, 152, 303; commerce, in 
Federalist period, 108, 151-55, 
191, 216, 294n.; population, 151, 
216; shipbuilding, 101-02, 189, 
338, 349; War of 1812, 199, 207; 
after war, statistics, 377-78. 

New Orleans, trade with, 298-99, 
365, 369; statistics, 376. 

New World, 331. 

New York, 44; competition with 
Massachusetts in China trade, 
44, 275-76; in shipping, etc., 
188-89, 215-17, 225-27, 252, 
291, 369; privateering, 199; com- 
parative statistics, 376-78; clip- 



per ships, 329-30, 338, 344-45, 


News Boy, 293. 

Nichols, Capt. George, 120. 

Nichols, Capt. Ichabod, 83, 199. 

Nightingale, 348, 350. 

Nootka Sound, 47, 57. 

North Bend, 258. 

Northern Light, clipper ship, 33911., 
345, 356; yacht, 248. 

North River, 4, 47; shipbuilding, 
103-05, 292n., 295, 305. 

North Shore, denned, 3; summer 
estates, 245-46; fishing, 375. 

Northwest Coast of America, 54; 
origin of fur trade, 46-51 ; meth- 
ods, 52-58, 60; Indians, 55-58, 
75; prestige, 77; conclusion, 

O'Cain, Capt. Joseph, 60, 61. 

Ocean Monarch, 330. 

Olyphant & Co., 277-78. 

Opium trade, 181, 277-79. 

Oregon Colonization Society, 261. 

Orient, 139. 

Orne, Capt. Joseph, 92. 

Osceola, 247. 

Osmanli, 293. 

Otis, H. G., 127, 132, 160, 174. 

Otter, 59, 62. 

Owhyhee, 261 n. 

Packet-lines, sail, 231-35, 300, 330- 


Panic of 1857, 368. 
Parker, Dr. Peter, 273. 
Parkman, Samuel, 56, 87. 
Parsons, Ebenezer, 181, 205. 
Patent, 236. 
Patten, Mrs. Mary (Brown), 351- 


Peabody, Francis, 284. 
Peabody, George, 217-18. 
Peabody, Henry W., 368. 
Peabody, Joseph, 98, 218-20; 

China trade, 223, 274, 277. 
Pearl, 70-72. 
Pepper trade, 90-93, 115, 219, 288- 

Perkins & Co., 66, 202, 261, 273, 

Perkins, Elizabeth, 49. 

Perkins, James, 178. 

Perkins, J. & T. H., 66, 113, 170, 

I74n., 180-81, 183, 2O2n., 205. 
Perkins, T. Handasyd, 49, 83, 129, 

170, 172, 211, 226, 230. 
Pew, Capt. John, 307. 
Phantom, 355. 

Philadelphia, 88, 298, 376. 
Philippine Islands, 94. See Manila. 
Pickering, Timothy, 160, 165, 167, 

174-75, 191. 

Pickman, Benjamin, 25, 87n. 
Pickman, Dudley L., 181. 
Pierce, Jerathmeel, 120. 
Pilgrim (i), 185; (2), 256. 
Pilot-boats, 247-49. 
Pinkies, 305. 

Pirates, 20, 67, 112, 270. 
Plum Island, 2, 151, 156, i6in., 

Plymouth, settlement, 4, 10; fish- 

eries, 144-45, 304; neutral trade, 

185, 188, i89n., 191, in War of 

1812, 203, 208; commerce, 231, 

294n. ; statistics, 378. 
Pomeroy, Samuel, 269n. 
Pook, Samuel H., 293n., 339, 362, 


Porter, Capt. David, 53, 100, 203. 
Portland, Maine, 189, 231. 
Portugal, early trade with, 13; in 

Federalist period, 83, 139, 178, 


Pratt, Southward, 105. 

Pray, Benjamin C., 368. 

Preble, Ebenezer and Henry, 87, 

1 80. 

Prince, Capt. Henry, 94. 
Prince, Capt. Job, 52. 
Privateering, colonial, 20; revo- 

lution, 29, 30; War of 1812, 199- 

Provincetown, 4, 10; saltworks, 

145; population, 146; fishing, 

300-01, 313. 

Quallah-Battoo, 219. 
Quarantine, 248. 
Queen of Clippers, 345. 
Quincy, Josiah, 128, 167, 198, 237, 

Race Horse, 293. 



Radius, 112. 

Railroads, 230, 3040., 308, 312-13, 


Rainbow, 32930. 

Rambler, 204. 

Randolph, Edward, 17. 

Rappahannock, 25611. 

Rasselas, 289. 

Raven, schooner, 139, 177; yacht, 

Rawson, Dr. Franklin, 182. 

Record sailing passages, 100; trans- 
atlantic, 176, 232-33, 235, 362- 
64; Australian, 364; Boston and 
New York to California, 338, 
340, 341, 344-45, 355, 35; Bos- 
ton to equator, 341 n.; Canton 
to Java, 342; San Francisco to 
Honolulu, 34in.; days' runs, 100; 
343, 360-62, 364; knots per 
hour, 100, 101, 343, 364. 

Recovery, 92, in. 

Red Jacket, 343, 362. 

Reggio, Nicholas, 292-93. 

Reindeer, 354n. 

Reporter, 364. 

Rich, Isaac, 302. 

Rich, Capt. Richard, 307. 

Richardson, Nathaniel, 123. 

Rio de Janeiro, trade with, 181, 
269-71, 281, 293. 

Roanoke, 335. 

Robertson, John M., 233. 

Rockport, 143, 302. 

Rogers, Nathaniel L., 219. 

Romance of the Seas, 342, 348, 358. 

Romp, 306. 

Ropes, George, 98. 

Ropes, Capt. Joseph, 92. 

Ropes, William, 295-96. 

Ropes, William H., 296.] 

Rousseau, i7n. 

Roux, Antoine, 98. 

Rowe, John, 134. 

Rubber trade, 222-23. 

Rubicon, 29911. 

Rufus King, 185. 

Rum trade, 19, 154, 221, 263, 287, 

Russell & Co., 242, 273, 277-79, 


Russell, Thomas, 129. 
Russia, trade with, see Baltic. 


Sachem, 266. 

'Sacred Codfish," 134. 

St. Paul, 223. 

St. Paul's Island, 61, 114. 

St. Petersburg, 296. 

Salem, in Revolution, 30; in 1790, 
79; oriental trade to 1812, 45- 
49, 73, chap, vii, decline, 217-24, 
274-78; architecture, 119-22; 
East India Marine Society, 117, 
199; forty-niners, 334; harbor, 
81, 96, 115, 162; ropemakers, 
101; seamen, 109, in, 218; 
shipbuilding, 81, 96-101; ship- 
ping, 82-84, 189, 191, 217, 366, 
statistics, 377-78; society, 122- 


Salem, 177. 

Salisbury, S. & S., 57n. 

Sally, brig, 116; ship, 203. 

Saltmaking, 145, 301. 

Samuels, Capt. Samuel, 346. 

San Francisco, 60, 327, 335-38. 

San Francisco, 335. 

Sandwich, 301. 

Sargent, Capt. H. J., Jr., 355~56. 

Sargent family, 22, 142, 211, 355. 

Scituate, settlement, 4, 13; fisher- 
ies, 144; shipbuilding, see North 

Seafort, 14. 

Sealing, 61, 62. 

Seamen, colonial, 16-17; f Feder- 
alist period, 105-12; in North- 
west trade, 76-78; of 1815-40, 
256-60; of clipper ships, 352-57. 

Sea Mew, 293. 

Sears, Capt. J. Henry, 347. 

Sea Witch, 338, 340. 

Shaw, R. G., 287. 

Shaw, Samuel, 45, 46, 52, 66, 85. 

Shays's Rebellion, 36, 37. 

Shell-fish, 148, 301-02. 

Ship, definition, 328. 

Shipbuilding, colonial, 14, 15, 17, 
19; after war, 37; of Federalist 
period, 80, 96-105, 166, 191; of 
period 1815-40, 254-56, 292-93, 
296; clipper ships, 343, and chap. 
xxii, passim; after 1855, 365; 
size of vessels, 256n., 296, 361. 

Shipmasters, 16, 113-14; in North- 
west trade, 68-72; youthful- 


ness, 73-74; of 1840, 260; of 
clippers, 350-51, 355- 
Shipwrecks, 97, 149-50, 162-64, 

3". 356. 

Shiverick, D. & A., 346. 
Shoemaking, 217, 303-04. 
Silsbee, Nathaniel, 73, 87, 88, 98. 
Silsbee, Stone & Pickman, 217. 
Slave trade, 19, 3 2 ~34, 324- 
Small, Capt. Z. H., 313. 
Smith, Capt. John, 8, 9. 
Smyrna, 181, 222, 277-78, 291- 


Smyrna, 289-90. 
Smyrniote, 293. 
Snow, Capt. Loum, 180. 
Somerset, 346, 368. 
South Africa, trade with, 367-68. 
South America, trade with, origin, 

19, 62; of Napoleonic period, 

181-82; after 1815, 269-72; 

mentioned, 215-16, 222-23, 262, 

283, 287-90, 297, 366; ice trade, 

Southern States, trade with, 17, 32, 

231-32, 252, 280-81, 288, 297- 


South Sea Islands, see Fiji, Hawaii, 
Marquesas, Tahiti. 

South Shore, denned, 3; fisheries, 
144, 302, 304, 375. 

Sovereign of the Seas, 327, 359-62. 

Spain, trade with, colonial, 9, 13; 
Federalist period, 83, 139, 177, 
1 80-8 1, 185, 205; see Mediter- 

Sparrow-Hawk, I5n. 

Sprague, Capt. Caleb, 258. 

Sprague, Peleg, 352, 355. 

Stag-Hound, 341, 348, 361. 

Starbuck, Capt. Charles, 325. 

Starlight, 345, 348. 

Stars and Stripes, 248. 

States, 6 1, 

Steam navigation, 242, 324-36, 369. 

Stephen, William, 14, 15. 

Sturgis, Russell, 274; quoted, 65. 

Sturgis, Capt. William, 69-70; 
as merchant, 211, 247, 260; 
quoted, 57-58. 

Sumatra, trade with, 90, 91, 219, 

Sunda Straits, 68. 

Supercargoes, 45, 112-13. 
Surinam, trade with, 19, 142, 146, 


Surprise, 339-40. 
Suter, Capt. John, 70-73, 7711., 78, 

262, 289. 
Swampscott, 148, 245, 248, 303, 

Sylph, 247. 

Tahiti, 265. 

Tamaamaah, 204. 

Tariff, on tea, i65n.; of 1816, 


Taunton River, 5, 105. 
Taylor, Edward T. (Father), 250- 


Telegraph, 306. 
Telegraph, marine, 163, 229. 
Thaddeus, 261. 
Thomas, George, 362. 
Thomas Russell, 113. 
Thoreau, Henry, quoted, 283-84, 

300, 307. 
Thorndike, Israel, 83, 87n., no, 

119, 179, 211. 
Timor, 220. 
Tonnage, method of computing, 

I4n.; duties on, 166. 
Townsend, Capt. Penn, 114. 
Train, Enoch, 296, 330-31, 341. 
Trask, Capt. Richard, 296. 
Trial, 16. 

Tristan de Cunha, 94. 
Tsar, 265. 

Tucker, Charles R., 325n. 
Tudor, Frederic, 244, 280-83 
Turner, Calvin, 102. 
Turner, Capt. John, 16. 
Tuscany, 282. 

Unicorn, 234. 

Union, 74-76. 

Upton, Capt. Benjamin, 222. 

Upton, George B., 348. 

Valparaiso, trade with, 59n., 62, 

271, 289. 

Vancouver Island, 74. 
Vans, William, gin. 
Vineyard Haven, 7, 162, 163. 

Wages, in China trade, 76, 77; of 



Federalist period, no-n; of 
1830, 257: of clipper period, 


Wagon trade, 206. 

Wales, Thomas B., 295, 297. 

Wallis, Mrs., 220. 

War of 1812, 195-212. 

Ward, Capt. William, 86. 

Wareham, 105, 207. 

Waterman, Capt. Bob, 100, 329, 

Waterman & Ewell, 293n., 296. 

Water Witch, 292-93. 

Wave, 247. 

Webster, Daniel, 214, 246, 264n. 

Weld, Wm. F. & Co., 348. 

Wellfleet, 25, H4n., 148, 149, 301- 
02, 306, 313. 

Wells, 190. 

West, Capt. Ebenezer, 45. 

Western Islands, colonial trade 
with, 13; neutral trade, 176, 179, 
1 80, 193; later trade, 293-94; 
whaling, 321-23. 

West India trade, origin, 12, 17, 19; 
after Revolution, 31, 32, 38; 
Federalist period, 83, 84, in, 
139, 141, 151-55, 181, 185, 188, 
i89n., 280; after 1815, 216, 
280-81; 293-95, 309; statistics, 


Weston, Ezra, 104, 290. 

Westward Ho! 342, 348. 

Whaling, origin, 20; from Cape 
Cod, 146, 305; from Nantucket, 
to 1812, 156-59; statistics, 376; 

after 1815, chap, xx; crews, 158, 
322-24; grounds, 157. 262-64, 
316-17- 'lays,' 158, 319-22; 
length of voyage, 323n.; meth- 
ods, 318-26; prices, 158, 317. 

W 7 hampoa, 64, 205. 

Wheelwright, William, 269n. 

Whipple, Jonathan, 222. 

White, William P., 182. 

Whitman, Walt, quoted, 250-52, 
3J4 363. 

Whittier, J. G., quoted, 2, 3, 140 

Wild Ranger, 328, 347, 348. 

William and Henry, 82. 

Williams family, I76n. 

Winde, Louis, 248n. 

Winged Racer, 345. 

W 7 inship, Jonathan, Jr., 57-59, 204, 

Winship family, 58-60. 

Winsor, Joshua, 145. 

Winthrop, John, n, 12, 16. 

Winthrop and Mary, 142. 

Witchcraft, 339n. 

Woodbury, Peter, 150. 

Wood's Hole, 7, 146, 247, 300. 

Wonson, Capt. Samuel, 308. 

Yachting, 123, 191, 244-49. 
Yankee race, 21, 22. 

Zanzibar, trade with, 222-23. 
Zephyr, brig, 277; ship, 220, 258. 
Zerega & Co., 345n. 
Zotoff, 220. 


P . ft . A 

University of Toronto 








Acme Library Card Pocket 

Under Pat. "Ref. Index File" 


From theNorth River to Narraganset 



r- r\ ^w x / >C 

VTA,.,\ 4^Pv yf 

' 35 \^7 ^piiaiiiiLA Xj y/^ 

/ RarePoinr'C . o*2S^ v tf / ,*,-.. 




HF Mori son, Samuel Eliot 
3161 The maritime history of 

M4M6 Massachusetts, 1783-1860 
cop. 2 

n ''