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tv   Eric Jay Dolin Rebels at Sea  CSPAN  December 29, 2022 6:10am-6:57am EST

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hi. my name is eric dolan. i'm speaking to you from marblehead, massachusetts, which is my home. and i want to thank the national archives for inviting me to give this talk on rebels at sea privateering in the american. just a little more background on me. i've been a full time writer since about 2007. most of my books are in american history, usually have a maritime component. i've spoken at the archives a number of times in the past. of the books include the history of whaling in america for fortune, an empire, a history of fur, trade in america, black flags, blue waters, the epic history of america's notorious
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pirates and my last book, a furious scar on the history of american hurricanes. but today i am here to talk about privateering and american revolution. it was late the day on june 3rd, 1780, when salem captain jonathan harrod and his privateer, the pickering, were heading for the friendly port of bilbao, spain. the british achilles, however, stood in the way nobody would have faulted had he fled in the face of this superior foe. while the pickering had a crew of 38 men and six cannons, the achilles bristled with 130 men and 43 cannons, hardly fair fight. but that's not the way that harridan saw it. he relished the chance to confront enemy and strike a blow for revolutionary cause. turning to the british prisoner who had informed of the achilles might harridan said, i shan't run from her. and he didn't. as the achilles began its
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advance, harridan told his men that though the achilles appeared to be superior to them in force. he had no doubt that they should be here off if they were firm and, steady, and did not throw away their fire. meanwhile, bill battle word spread that there was about to be a major naval battle offshore pitting americans against the british in about a thousand people wandered to the beach to watch the spectacle, booming broadsides and musket fire filled the air. one of harrington's crews said that while shot flew around him, harrington was as calm and steady as amidst the shower of snowflakes. the battle raged for more than 2 hours, then harden his men to fill the cannons with baa shot, which is essentially two cannonballs connected by an iron bar. and when that exits the cannon, it starts spinning wildly and it could destroy rigging sails and even masts. and it did consider damage to the achilles, having had the
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achilles turned and fled with the rebel commander close behind. but even despite but despite its injuries, the achilles was too fast and got away hard and spun about to reclaim the golden eagle, a british merchant ship that he had captured a few days earlier. the achilles had briefly recoiled. all told, one of pickering's pickering's crew had been killed, his head sheared by a cannonball, and men were seriously wounded. the number killed and wounded board the achilles is unknown. i just want to tell you a brief story about this picture looking at right here. this is the top third of the plaque that was placed in salem, mass. chichester, which is right next door to marblehead, where i'm speaking to you from. it was placed there in 1909 to honor howard dean's heroics and his battle against achilles. now, while i was on the book, i read that this was supposed to
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be on the side of, a house where howard and i had lived. and it was in salem. it was right near the witch house. so i hopped on my bike. i rode over there hopefully to get a picture the plaque. i couldn't find it. so i called the local historian and asked her what had happened to the plaque and she laughed a little bit. she goes, well, it's on the inside of a korean barbecue restaurant about a block away from where it initially had hung. so i went this restaurant walked the front door and there was plaque behind the cash register. and i think that that is just emblems of the way that privateering during the american revolution has been treated in history. it's sort shunted off to the side. now, howard zinn remained in bilbao two months before heading back to salem on the return voyage. the pickering three more british prizes. and when the pickering returned
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to salem the owners, rewarded or presented their intrepid, intrepid captain with a silver tankard shown here with the pickering etched into the side as well as his initials, and to mugs to accompany it. now, during his tenure in the massachusetts navy and as a private harrington took many prizes, captured hundreds of cannons and, as many british prisoners. he died of tuberculosis at the age of 59. in 1803. and his obituary in the salem gazette, loudon ten is one of the most able and valiant naval commanders that war produced. the pickering was one of nearly 2000 american privateers. and those are the vessels. and harrington was one of tens of thousands of privateers, men who manned those vessels. the revolution. privateers were armed vessels owned an by private individuals
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that had government permission to attack enemy ships at times of war. that permission came in the form of a letter marked a formal legal document that gave the bearer the right to seize vessels to belligerent nations and claim those vessels in their cargoes or prizes as the spoils of war. the proceeds from the auction of these prizes were, in turn split. the men who crewed the private tiers and the owners of the ship as well as those who had invested in the enterprise. despite the contributions made by harrington and tens of thousands of other privateers, men, many believed the privateering a sideshow in the war. privateer has long been given short shrift in histories of the conflict. general histories as well as maritime and naval histories of the american revolution. rebels at sea fills the void by
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offering a comprehend account of privateering demonstrates that it was critical to winning the war, and that's one of the things that got me interested in writing book is that i felt that this aspect of the american revolution privateering have been overlooked too long. and to really understand the revolution, you have to take into account. privateering american privateer terrorism took the maritime fight to the british and made them bleed in countless daring actions against british merchant ships and a few warships, privateers cause british maritime insurance rates to rise diverted critical british resources to protecting their vessels and attacking privateers, added to british weariness over. the war, which lasted nearly eight years and played a starring in bringing france into the war on the side of the americans, which was a critical turning in the conflict.
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on the domestic front, privateering brought needed goods and military supplies into the nation, provided infusions for the war, boosted coastal economies through the building, outfitting and manning of privateers, and bolster america's confidence that it might actually win in this quixotic attempt to defeat the most powerful nation of the day. thousands books approached the revolution from. virtually every angle. rebels at sea places, privateers, men, most of whom were not famous, even well-known individuals at the very center of the war. it demonstrates that when the united states was only a tenuous idea, they stepped forward and risked their lives to help make it a reality. in fighting against the british the seas, the americans relied four different maritime forces. there were state navies a washington secret navy, which
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only operated for about a year. near the beginning of the conflict. the continental navy and privateers of these four private tiers are by far the most numerous and the most effective, capturing somewhere in the neighborhood of hundred to 1800 british ships worth many millions of pounds. now, massachusetts ran to india from was the first colony to authorize privateering in november 1775. the importance of the massachusetts privateering act and unleashing the privateering in the colonies became even clearer in hindsight. some 40 years later. john, who is a big proponent of privateering as well as the continental, wrote that passage of the massachusetts act is one of the most important documents in history.
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the declaration of independ is a trifle in with it. just consider that the declaration of independence which everybody knows about adams felt that the massachusetts privateer act was much more important. new hampshire and rhode island suit in early 1776 with their own privateering statutes. at the same time, pressure is growing for the continental to come up with an umbrella program for privateering that would apply to all of the colonies. instead of pursuing this piecemeal approach where individual colonies decided on their own schedule, pursue privateering in his letter to the end of and the continental congress went ahead. and on march 23rd, 1776, they established a privateering law and the regulations about.
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privateering were issued. just a couple of weeks later, in his letter to the colonies, aloud announcing law and the regulations, john, president of the continental, said it necessary in conducting the war like operations on the part of america to meet our enemy on every ground and defend ourselves in the manner we can against. all attempts in whatever shape to deprive us of either liberty or property. privateers were to be a major part of the colonial war effort, with their capital tied at the docks. merchants and ship owners eagerly pursued privateering. the prizes brought in provided goods and ships that they could sell, and a last haskett derby shown here out of salem, he owned 39 privateers. he is reportedly the first millionaire in america, i think john jacob astor gives him a run for his money. now, many invested in privateers. indeed, privateering spurred a
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spectacular frenzy across the colonies. it was sort of like a mini stock market where people took out shares in privateers and their expected success. among the more illustrious speculators was general george washington, who invested in at least one privateer. appropriately enough called the general washington generals nathaniel green, henry knox, as well as paul revere, also invested in privateers. now, privateer captains were typically known by the ship owners, and they were contacted directly to take over the privateers. elias senor, shown here character. he was issued the last letter of marque in the entire american revolution in march. of 1783. by the other story i want to tell about elias is i was writing this book. it was during covid and my daughter, who is now a junior literary agent in new york city,
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was home. she was about 22 at the time. and was home. and when i came across this picture, i showed it slowly because i thought he was really handsome. she took a look at it and said, you know, dad, i really could get into privateering. so he's a he's a fascinating guy. do you ever come to the cape town museum or gloucester? his house is attached to the museum and is well worth visiting. now privateer captains they got biggest share of the prizes. the crewmen got smaller shares, but also benefited mightily. now, while crewmen are sometimes by the owners most of the time, they weren't. and they had to be found and enticed. it was common at the time to see advertisement like this one in colonial newspapers where prospective of privateers men would be invited to the local pub in, what was called a hearty welcome. they were plied with liquor, usually enormous quantities of,
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and asked to sign the articles of agreement, which is which established their roles and responsibilities on the privateer. in the book i have the receipts from one of these hearty welcomes and the amount of alcohol that was consumed is a phenomenal and people who know about colonial history you realize that most people were in various states of mild severe inebriation during the day because they didn't trust water. they tended to drink alcohol. now black men served many privateer. some were freemen. one of those was james fortin, shown of philadelphia. at age 14, he signed to the pennsylvania privateer royal louis. and the reason he signed on is because of two documents. when the declaration of independence came out on july eighth of 1776, a few days, it was officially signed. it was read aloud. philadelphia and james fought, heard that reading, and he took
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in the words, the soaring rhetoric of the declaration of independence about men created equal and thought perhaps that would spread to all of his fellow black men and women who were in the colonies and most of whom were treated horrifically in the practice of slavery. then four years later, in 1780, pennsylvania became first state to pass an abolition of slavery law. was only a gradual abolition of slavery. if you were a current enslaved person, you didn't get your freedom. your children freed when they reached age 28. but those two documents helped make james fought and decide that he wanted to throw in his lot with his fellow americans and be a patriot instead of go over to the british side or just sit out the war. so at age 14, he signed on to the pennsylvania privateer royal louis fortin's was to bring gunpowder to one of the cannons
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where the men could prime the cannon and then fire the fire into another ship. now, the cruise was a triumph with the louis capturing seven prizes and bringing them back to philadelphia. there were some mishaps. a cannonball ripped through the hull right where james fought and was, and three of the men manning the cannon were killed but fought and survived and was so excited about the success of the royal louis that he signed on for another cruise. he shouldn't have been so eager in hindsight, because barely a day out of port, the royal louis captured by the hms amphibian, whose captain was a guy named john baisley fortin, as he wrote in his recollections or memoirs. he basically thought that he was in really bad trouble because he said people of his complexion who are captured by the british tended to be sent to the slave marks in the caribbean. and he thought that that was
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going to be his fate. but fortunately for him, captain john had on board a 12 year old son who needed a companion, and he chose fortin to be that companion. and so for a few weeks, fortin developed a strong relationship with baisley son. so when baisley and the hms anthony pulled into new york harbor, where they were going to transfer, all of the crew of the royal to one of the prison ships there, the dreaded jersey, he. fortin, an option. he said, you can go to england and the ward of my son, you'll be free. you'll be and you'll have money like all the good things in life or i can pass you off to the local prison master and you'll placed on the jersey like the rest of the men from your privateer and fortin, and decided that he would not turn on his country. and he told them, i will not go to england. i will have to go to the prison ship. and he did. he lasted for eight months,
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which is amazing, given what i will tell you later about this prison. and he was released. he went back to philadelphia. and after the war. james fought and became one of the premier sail makers in philadelphia. and when he died in the early 1840s, he was worth. $70,000 and he continued to hold on to the hope that his new nation would live up to the soaring rhetoric of the declaration of independence. even loaned william lloyd garrison some money. this found the liberator, the premier, the anti-slavery public of the era. now, other black men were enslaved persons who ran off and joined privateers in a bid to gain their freedom. and many owners also out their enslaved persons as a moneymaking scheme. now this picture, a just fascinating picture. it's contemporary painting an the american revolution and. for many years, it was thought to be the only known painting of a black private men. and as such, it was valued $300,000.
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and it was also in a number of books that talked black men and women's contributions to the revolution. now, francis tavern, new york, wanted to stage an exhibit many years ago that focused on black contributions to the american revolution, and they wanted this painting be the centerpiece of their exhibition. so the owner, the painting sent it out to a local art conservator to get it spruced up. the art conservator used a solvent wipe. the one of the hands and off came the black paint and revealed white hand underneath, sometime most likely in mid-twentieth somebody realizing that a painting of a black private harassment of which there were none known, would be much more valuable than a painting of a white mariner. mariner during the american revolution. he was right, because once this was discovered to be a forgery of a its value sank to $3,000 and francis tavern forced to
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withdraw the invitation for it to be the centerpiece of. its exhibition. now there were also black men who were treated as transient property or privateer or captured british slavers, as they did often off the west coast africa. they in turn became slave traders because they didn't free the slaves they sold them in slave markets, in the colonies, and in caribbean. now, many have argued that privateer were motivated more by greed than patriotism. famed naval officer john paul jones, shown here believed there was nothing but greed. early on in the war, he complained that the common class mankind are actuated by no nobler principle than that of. this and this. alone determines all adventures. and privateers. a less cynical views privateers men as being by a combination of profits and patriotism. and this view is closer to the truth. part of the reason privateering scorned was that many believe
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that the practice undermined the republican ideals of the revolution, which called for the sacrifice of private interests in the pursuit of liberty, according to mercy. otis warren, author one of the earliest histories of the revolution privateering had a tendency to contract the mind and let it just shrink into selfless views and indulgences. totally inconsistent with genuine republicanism. many of the founding fathers, mothers and other elites agreed in principle. i mean, in theory, but in practice, however, many elites had a more complex view of patriotism. one that wasn't based on hewing to republican above all else. the majority of the delegates to congress clearly believed the privateering was a endeavor that served the public good. they made it a major part of america's war effort and strategy, fully aware that it was making some, including a number of them, very rich, had
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congress deemed the privateering work against the public good. or wasn't annette to the war effort. they could have squashed privateering at any moment, recalled all the letters mark. they never considered possibility. and that's because they didn't view patriotism and the pursuit of profit as mutually exclusive. now the argument that privateers were only in it for money implies that others engaged in the fight were not, and that is absolutely not true. while the who rose up after the battle of bunker hill were burning with patriotic, that fire was difficult to maintain for many soldiers by the later years of the war. the only way that congress could keep some semblance of a strong fighting was to use cash bonuses and promises of land to keep men on the front lines. and even that often didn't work because. the money was not forthcoming, nor was the land. now the navy was no different. the mariners had joined washington navy, as well as
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those who signed up for state navies and the continental navy were all partially by money. each of naval services offered officers and crew a cut of the profit in addition to their base salaries. otherwise, they wouldn't have. this recruiting poster was put together by john paul jones and was plastered all over the port of portsmouth, new hampshire, trying to obtain seamen to the continental navy vessel ranger could have just as easily been a recruiting poster for a private here on it or in it. they hold out the opportunity for anybody who signs on to distinguish themselves in the glorious cause of their country and to make their fortunes. who knows? how many privateer owners and privateers men were moved by patriotic impulses, but that percentage was surely in line with the levels of patriotism prevalent in the society at
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large. as man and soldier christopher prince said, looking back on his revolutionary career through the whole course of the war, i've had two motives in view. one was the freedom of my country, and the other was the luxuries of. now privateers, many triumphs and tragedies during the war, the pennsylvanian privateer brig. holker over the span of about 4 to 5 years in 11 different captains brought in 71 prizes in its successful cruise, a captured ten large bridges. british merchant ships which were sold at the docks of philadelphia for £2 million. newburyport merchant nathaniel tracy was the principal owner of 47 privateers, which captured hundred and 2420 british ships and, realized profits of nearly $4 million. now, one of the worst tragedies to befall privateers occurred
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during the penobscot expedition, the largest american maritime force assembled during the revolution. it consisted of 19 warship, 12 of which were privateers. their mission was to dislodge forces that were building a fort on the peninsula, on a peninsula, maine's penobscot bay, where modern day casting is today called fort george. the expedition sailed from boston on july. 19 1779. poor organization and leadership and a critical delay in launching the attack led to a fiasco when the british navy part of it showed up at the mouth of penobscot bay on. august 14th and included among its complement was a 64 gun warship. it was a complete rout in. the end 16 american ships were burned by their own men to keep them from falling into the hands of the enemy and the rest captured or sunk.
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as for the men, soldiers and sailors alike, they bolted into the woods and tried. to find their way back to new hampshire and massachusetts before starving and apparently it was quite an amazing scene because most of the american ships had cannons on board that had been primed, firing against the fort. but instead, when they were lit, the ships were lit. the cannons exploded, adding to the fireworks. how many died during the siege of penobscot? and their precipitous flight is a matter of dispute with estimates ranging from serious 33 to a high of nearly 500. and many have labeled this most devastating naval defeat the united states suffered up until the japanese attack on pearl harbor on december seven of 1941. now, one of the most important things that privateers did to help bring france into the war on the side of the americans. in the early years of the war. france allowed american privateers in the caribbean and in france to use their ports
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pre-provision and sell prizes. all of this was in violation of treaties that france had with great britain and that the damage done by the privateers infuriated the british. the continental congress sent william bingham to the french colony of martinique, where a large part of his job was expand. american privateering efforts. it worked brilliantly. in 1778, it was estimated american privateers had captured 250 british ships in the caribbean and that trade between great britain and its sugar colonies had plummeted by 66%. so alarming were these figures that the earl suffolk urged parliament to keep them from the public, pointing out the impropriety of what ought not to be acknowledged at so critical a period. the weakness the nation. meanwhile, benjamin franklin, who was in france to negotiate a
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formal alliance, was convinced that privateering was helping the american cause with the french while at the same time injuring britain that that which makes the greatest impression in our favor here, franklin wrote, is the prodigious success of our armed ships and privateers. london's public advertisers learned that if france continued to allow american privateers to use their ports, an immediate war between france and this country would be the inevitable consequence. the critical turning point in the war and its critical turning point in getting france to ally the american cause was, of course the american victory over. gentlemen johnny burgoyne and his troops at saratoga on october 17 1777. just last, my son and i visited the battlefields, which was a fascinating now privateering one that causing a sharp turn in american fortunes on its own, helped the situation in which
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this great american victory could could prove decisive and france into the conflict. it did so by greatly increasing the enmity between france and britain and also inflicting serious damage on the british economy. now, arguably the most horrific chapter in, the american revolution, concerning the prisons in england and the british prisons off new york city. in both places, american privateers made up the bulk of the prison population. the two main prisons in britain were known mill and fort and prison, and together they held only about 3000 men during the war and their rates were about 3 to 6%, which is not that bad compared to other prisons of this. now mill and fort prisons were bad enough, however, but by far the worst experience any combatant had to endure was a stay in one of the british prison ships off new york city
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between 15,020 2000 men were held on these. all of the prison ships were horrific, but the jersey was by far the worst. nicknamed hell afloat, the jersey had been a fourth rate 64 gun warship, and it was placed in wall about bay is right near right off brooklyn where the brooklyn navy yard is. you can see the picture of it here. it was this that essentially and permanently wedged into the into the bay right there. the keel went into went into the mud and didn't move. was only a couple hundred feet from the shore. now, at any one time, the jersey held. 850 and 1200 prisoners. between six and 12 men died every day. every as the sun rose, guards would yell, rebels, bring up your. and those dead would. then be rode to shore and buried in shallow graves that were
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uncovered during high, stormy conditions. so the skeletons or what left of the their dead comrade adds, you basically roll into the water sight of the jersey. one inmate left the following -- portrait of his time on the jersey. there are about 1100 prisoners on board. there were no berths or seats to lie down on, not a bench to sit on. many were almost without clothes. the dysentery, fever frenzy and despair prevailed among and filled the place with filth disgust and horror. the scanty of the allowance, the bad quality of the provisions. the brutality of, the guards and the sick pining comforts they could not obtain all together, furnished continually one of the greatest scenes of human distress and misery beheld. let's take a look at this of the jersey. imagine 1200 men being kept on that in such horrible conditions. the number of deaths on the
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jersey is shocking. the estimate points to it being roughly 11,500. the vast majority, which were american privateers. by comparison, in the entire war, somewhere between 4460 800 americans were killed in action. now, one of the biggest criticisms of privateer is they siphoned valuable manpower. then the continental navy, and that is absolutely true. many men chose to join privateers rather than the navy in, the hopes of earning more money. but that doesn't mean that had there been no the continental navy would have been transformed into a fearsome fighting machine. there are roughly 60 continental navy vessels in the atlantic. throughout the revolution building and assembling a navy from scratch would have been a gargantuan for a well-functioning, wealthy government. for the relatively poorly staffed and financially continental congress, it was
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almost insurmountable challenge. the continental navies record in battle is not an enviable one. 28 vessels were captured or destroyed and many others were lost at sea. sole returned to france or burned to keep them from falling into enemy hands. at war's end, just a few navy ships were left. there were, however, some bright spots for the continental navy. raids on caribbean munitions depots brought back much needed gunpowder. navy ships did an excellent job of ferrying correspondents and, diplomats back and forth across atlantic and continental navy ships captured roughly 200 prizes, most of which merchant ships. the same of prizes that privateers brought to port. and even this the battle between navy ship bonhomme richard, john paul jones, captain and hms serapis. while it boogied hopes and pride in the american, it's really a pyrrhic victory because the
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bonhomme richard ended up sinking more than hundred men were killed and. the convoy that jane jones had been in search of got during the battle. now, nevertheless, despite bright spot bright spots of, the continental navy in july of 1780, john, reflecting on the fortunes of the navy wrote in looking over the long list of vessels belonging to the united taken and destroyed and recollecting the whole history of the rise and progress of our navy, it is very difficult. avoid tears. the american revolution was the navy's first hour, but not its finest. if there had been no privateers, there would have been more men for naval ships. there would have been more cannons and more ammunition to go those ships. but the absence privateers would not have a larger or more or significantly more effective navy. congress not somehow have had more money to spend on naval vessels. while many would have preferred
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that send forth a powerful navy that was not a realistic option in the absence of such a force, america relied heavily its privateers under circumstances. that the best strategy available, whatever the critics said on the home front, privateers contributed materially to the american economy. privateering was a great economic boon for coastal towns and cities, keeping many businesses afloat during the war and creating new ones as well as fortunes and the money that went earned helped them provide for their families and thereby give an additional jolt to local economies. each prize auction delivered a new stream of commodity ease into the colonies. in august of 1779, a philadelphian wrote to congress saying that privateers have rendered us the most essential services and brought us many for public and private use, without
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which the work could hardly have been supported. privateering also had a psychological effect on the home front. about 30 newspapers across the states chronicled the revolution. they had thousands articles on privateering and maritime issues. a number of those articles critical of privateering, but most were positive and that that coverage gave people confidence that the larger war might still be won which was particularly important in the first years of the revolution when most of the news for the americans was disaster or depressing. the formal end of the came on september 3rd, 1783, when the treaty of paris was signed, surviving meaning privateers that had been merchant men. the war now reverted to form. while those vessels built for privateering were as merchant men, these ships now played part
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in transporting wares to distant ports. proudly flying the new nations. the men who owned financed privateers as well as those who had chosen to fight for their country on the decks of these vessels looked back on their accomplishments with pride, and wondered, as all americans, what the future would bring for themselves and their new country. now i have my website here, and the reason i listed is because there are a number of things that might be of interest if in fact have any interest in this book or any of my other books. if you go to eric jay dolin dot com, you can read the to all 15 of the books that i have written. so you can get a sense of whether you might be interested reading them. the entire book, it also lists all of places where i am speaking. i got another 30 or so talks this summer and most of them are in person in new england, but as far afield as and mississippi.
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so please take a look at the website. if you want more information on me and my books and, i just want to reiterate that part. one of the main reasons that i wrote this book is i felt that privateering had been neglected for too long by history and historians and we needed a book to pull together the entire story to make it clear, as george washington said, winning the revolution was standing miracle. and there were many elements that went into that success. i am not arguing that privateering was the most important, but it was certainly critical. and i believe without privateering the outcome of the war might been quite different. so with that, thank you for listening to me and hope you get a chance to take a look at the book.
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say, chat. okay, i've got a couple of questions. can you comment on the possible existence of, american pirates who may have fought both american privateers as well as british merchant during the american revolution? a lot of people have called privateering piracy. and that's because for many hundreds of years going back to the century when privateering was first initiated among, european countries, many privateer was many individuals with letters of marque actually acted just like pirates. they did not attack the enemies of the nation that had issued them the mark. they instead either countries that weren't at war with or just other individuals. they basically acted like or francis drake in his example. and during the king william's war in america, the 1600s, a lot american quote unquote american privateers instead of attacking the french they were supposed to
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do went around cape horn into the indian ocean and attacked google ships transiting between india and the red sea ports of jetta and moga, bringing that -- back home to the american colonies. i talk about this extensively in my book black flag's blue waters epic history of america's most notorious. and i also talk about the fact the golden age of piracy the second part of it in the 17th tens was partly because many british privateers who had worked and had been privateers during the war of the spanish succession. when that war concluded in 1713, suddenly they were thrown out of work, basically, britain was going through a depression. so a number of them, possibly even took the skills they had learned being a privateers and applied it to becoming a pirate during. the american revolution, the american privateers, they were not legalized pirates. they had a code of regulation
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that they operated under and didn't just attack. they weren't enemies. of all nations. they didn't attack any afloat. they attacked british ships or ones that were bringing british munitions to the british military. and there was a very formal they had to go through and. they often treated their prisoners quite well. so they were not like pirates, enemies, all mankind. they were fighting for a cause. they had a profit motive. they acted like pirates in the sense that they captured ships. but they also had patriotic motives and they were fighting on behalf of their country, not on behalf of themselves only, which is what pirates typically did. so that is there any privacy ship in existence today? not that i know of. sort of like i wrote a book called, leviathan history of whaling in america. there's only one wooden whale ship that you can still visit. just visited it the other day. when i spoke at mystic seaport. that's the charles w morgan. i am not of any actual privateering during the american revolution that is still around
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today. there are some reproduce versions of privateering vessels from war of 1812 that i know are around, but those are reproductions. let's see. can you comment about french privateering ships? good question. one of the things i learned in writing this book, and i to add that every book i've written, the exception of one, has been on a topic i don't know a lot about before i start working on the book. and that's to keep myself excited about the topic for the 18 months, the nearly two years that it takes me to research and write these books. i had no idea that privateering played a major role in getting the french to join us as allies, but also once joined us as allies. they started issuing their letters of marque and during last years of the war, hundreds french privateers came out of french ports. they often had american captains and some of those american captains perform so well, they were given the highest naval
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awards from the french government after the war. how do i compare them? they were very much american privateers, a lot of them were former merchant ships. a lot of them were fishing vessels. that would be modified to bring on more armaments. they may cut two more holes in the bulwark to put more cannons in or down, but they were quite similar to american privateers and operated in a very similar fashion. so i can't answer that question any more specifically if. there are some signal differences between french privateers and american. other than the fact that a lot of american privateers had mostly on board, but before france joined us as a lot of the american privateer that were operating out of french ports while captains and sometimes first made or second mate would
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be an american. and a lot of the men on board were french and that added to the complaints that the british had about the french essentially getting engaged in the war without, being engaged in the war, and whether they should be attacked by the british. so i see. i can't see. can you comment. i think those are all the question. let's say american pirates. yeah, those are all the questions. so i want thank you again for taking a little bit of time to listen about privateers and privateering. and i hope you get a chance to read the book.
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