GenMassachusetts-L ArchivesArchiver > GenMassachusetts > 2006-12 > 1166044097
Subject: [GENMASSACHUSETTS] Full book online - American Merchant Ships &Sailors
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2006 16:08:17 EST
American Merchant Ships & Sailors
by Willis J. Abbott, New York Dodd, Mead & Co.
The Caxton Press, New York - 1902 (url below)
The first ship built for commercial purposes in New England was "The Blessing
of the Bay," a sturdy little sloop of 60 tons. Fate surely designed to give
a special significance to this venture, for she was owned by John Winthrop,
the first of New England statesmen, and her keel was laid on the Fourth of
July, 1631--a day destined after the lapse of one hundred and forty-five years
to mean much in the world's calendar. Sixty tons is not an awe-inspiring
register. The pleasure yacht of some millionaire stock-jobber to-day will be ten
times that size, while 20,000 tons has come to be an every-day register for an
ocean vessel; but our pleasure-seeking "Corsairs," and our castellated "City
of New York" will never fill so big a place in history as this little sloop,
the size of a river lighter, launched at Mistick, and straightway dispatched
to the trade with the Dutch at New Amsterdam. Long before her time, however,
in 1526, the Spanish adventurer, Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon, losing on the
coast of Florida a brigantine out of the squadron of three ships which formed his
expedition, built a small craft called a gavarra to replace it.
>From that early Fourth of July, for more than two hundred years shipyards
multiplied and prospered along the American coast. The Yankees, with their
racial adaptability, which long made them jacks of all trades and good at all,
combined their shipbuilding with other industries, and to the hurt of neither.
Richmond Island, Coast of Maine
Early in 1632, at Richmond Island, off the coast of Maine, was built what was
probably the first regular packet between England and America. She carried
to the old country lumber, fish, furs, oil, and other colonial products, and
brought back guns, ammunition, and liquor--not a fortunate exchange. Of course
meanwhile English, Dutch, and Spanish ships were trading to the colonies,
and every local essay in shipbuilding meant competition with old and
established ship-yards and ship owners. Yet the industry throve, not only in the
considerable yards established at Boston and other large towns, but in a small way
all along the coast. Special privileges were extended to ship-builders.
They were exempt from military and other public duties. In 1636 the "Desire,"
a vessel of 120 tons, was built at Marblehead, the largest to that time. By
1640 the port records of European ports begin to show the clearings of
_American Merchant Ships and Sailors_