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 Amercian Revolution and Merchant Shipping 
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Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2007 10:34 am
Posts: 7
Post Amercian Revolution and Merchant Shipping
Hi :)

I am looking for a good book or other source that details the specific economic effects of the American Revolution on Merchant shipping. I keep pulling up tons of information about privateering and the American Revolution but what about those sea captains who did not chose to become privateers? I have specific interest in Boston, New England area.

Thank you in advance to anyone who can point me in a correct direction on this.

I don't know if this is the right folder for this post, sorry if it is the wrong one.

Fri Feb 22, 2008 1:02 am
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Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:22 pm
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Location: Portknockie, Scotland.
Unfortunately I'm unable to cite specific books, but you might want to look at early editions published by the Navy Records Society in the UK. They publish original documents, usually originating in and from the Royal Navy, and many have covered the RN's involvement in the protection of merchant sail during the American Revolution and the Napoleonic era.

The works covering merchant sail in the 18th Century by the late David R MacGregor might also provide links as his bibliographic and reference sources are thoroughly cited. Also, a trawl through the archives of previous issues of The Mariner's Mirror, the journal of the Society for Nautical Research might provide further sources (though you will need to be a member to access the SNR's online forum).

I believe there was a former Harvard professor who's post doctoral thesis, published in the 1930s, covered North American merchant sail and its economics. Because my books are currently in store, I'm unable to be more specific, but I'm sure the library at Harvard would be able to help.


Tue Jul 14, 2009 11:21 am
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Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:05 pm
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Lady Burgundy --

You will find "A Compliation of Nova Scotia Vessels Seized during the American Revolution and Libelled in the New England Prize Courts" by John D. Faibisy as Appendix G to Naval Documents of the American Revolution, volume 10 (Washington DC: GPO for the Navy History Center, 1996), pp. 1201-1210. This compilation lists 283 Nova Scotian ships and vessels. I know of no similar study for New England ships and vessels but the raw data is available As HCA 32 (High Court of Admiraly, prize papers) are available at TNA, Kew. New England newspapers carry the libel notices for the three Massachusetts Maritime Courts. The various British Commanders-in-Chief periodically submitted their "prize lists" which were published in The London Gazette (searchable on line).

If memory serves, Loyalist Robert Pagan from Falmouth (now Portland Maine), then Boston, then Halifax, then New York, then Penobscot, then a refugee settling in St Andrew New Brunswick, claimed to have had 32 ships and vessels taken by the French or Americans yet at the end of the war he was still a wealthy man.

Key was insurance. The insurance rates fairly accurately established the risk of being taken and the mark up on cargo meant break-even on one to two successful voyage(s).


Mon Aug 31, 2009 10:49 pm
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