American Merchant Ships and Sailors eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 320 pages of information about American Merchant Ships and Sailors.
For a time she was thought to be as much of a “white elephant” as the “Great Eastern” afterwards proved to be.  People flocked to study her lines on the ways and see her launched.  They said only a Rothschild could afford to own her, and indeed when she appeared in the Mississippi—­being built for the cotton trade—­freights to Liverpool instantly fell off.  But thereafter the size of ships—­both packet and clippers—­steadily and rapidly increased.  Glancing down the long table of ships and their records prepared for the United States census, we find such notations as these.

Ship “Flying Cloud,” built 1851; tonnage 1782; 374 miles in one day; from New York to San Francisco in 89 days 18 hours; in one day she made 433-1/2 miles, but reducing this to exactly 24 hours, she made 427-1/2 miles.

Ship “Comet,” built 1851; tonnage 1836; beautiful model and good ship; made 332 knots in 24 hours, and 1512 knots in 120 consecutive hours.

“Sovereign of the Seas,” built 1852; tonnage 2421; ran 6,245 miles in 22 days; 436 miles in one day; for four days her average was 398 miles.

“Lightning,” built 1854; tonnage 2084; ran 436 miles in 24 hours, drawing 22 feet; from England to Calcutta with troops, in 87 days, beating other sailing vessels by from 16 to 40 days; from Boston to Liverpool in 13 days 20 hours.

“James Baines,” built 1854, tonnage 2515; from Boston to Liverpool in 12 days 6 hours.

Three of these ships came from the historic yards of Donald McKay, at New York, one of the most famous of American ship-builders.  The figures show the steady gain in size and speed that characterized the work of American ship-builders in those days.  Then the United States was in truth a maritime nation.  Every boy knew the sizes and records of the great ships, and each magnificent clipper had its eager partisans.  Foreign trade was active.  Merchants made great profit on cargoes from China, and speed was a prime element in the value of a ship.  In 1840 the discovery of gold in California added a new demand for ocean shipping; the voyage around the Horn, already common enough for whalemen and men engaged in Asiatic trade, was taken by tens of thousands of adventurers.  Then came the news of gold in Australia, and again demands were clamorous for more swift American ships.  All nations of Europe were buyers at our shipyards, and our builders began seriously to consider whether the supply of timber would hold out.  The yards of Maine and Massachusetts sent far afield for white oak knees and pine planking.  Southern forests were drawn upon, and even the stately pines of Puget Sound were felled to make masts for a Yankee ship.

**Transcriber’s notes:  Page 4:  Removed extraneous ’ after “Corsairs” Page 41:  changed atempt to attempt

CHAPTER II.

THE TRANSITION FROM SAILS TO STEAM—­THE CHANGE IN MARINE ARCHITECTURE—­THE DEPOPULATION OF THE OCEAN—­CHANGES IN THE SAILOR’S LOT—­FROM WOOD TO STEEL—­THE INVENTION OF THE STEAMBOAT—­THE FATE OF FITCH—­FULTON’S LONG STRUGGLES—­OPPOSITION OF THE SCIENTISTS—­THE “CLERMONT”—­THE STEAMBOAT ON THE OCEAN—­ON WESTERN RIVERS—­THE TRANSATLANTIC PASSAGE—­THE “SAVANNAH” MAKES THE FIRST CROSSING—­ESTABLISHMENT OF BRITISH LINES—­EFFORTS OF UNITED STATES SHIP-OWNERS TO COMPETE—­THE FAMOUS COLLINS LINE—­THE DECADENCE OF OUR MERCHANT MARINE—­SIGNS OF ITS REVIVAL—­OUR GREAT DOMESTIC SHIPPING INTEREST—­AMERICA’S FUTURE ON THE SEA.

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American Merchant Ships and Sailors from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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