Description

    (Privateering in the Napoleonic Wars). A fascinating collection of three manuscript documents, 1803-4, in which the owners of an American ship attempt to recover their cargo that was captured by British privateers, eleven pages total, 8" x 13", London, 1803-4. During the frequent warfare in Europe following the French Revolution between 1792 and 1812, the United States chose to remain neutral while trading in vital supplies with all belligerents. Thus American ships were also vulnerable to French and British privateers and naval vessels who captured American ships, seized cargo, and impressed sailors. Tension caused by these actions nearly drove the United States and France into open warfare in the late 1790s and ultimately led to war with Great Britain in 1812. The documents offered here deal with the cargo aboard the brig Argo commanded by Silvanus Smith, captured during a voyage between Cadiz and Hamburg by "The Private Ship of War the Eliza and... the Private Ship of War Balloon..." The first document, November 4, 1803, concerns the status of the cargo in which the judge "...pronounce the same to belong as claimed, -- and by Interlocutory decreed the same to be restored to the Claimant for he use of the Owners and Proprietors thereof with Freight to be a Charge on the Cargo - and on payment of a proportion of the Captors Expences [sic] of taking the Depositions..." The second document, dated March 13, 1804, details the "Particulars of Freight received of Brig Argo, Captured on her Voyage from Cadiz to Hamburgh and carried into Milford..." The cargo is itemized and valued in mars and shillings and included Wine, Sugar, Hides, Cotton, Indigo, Vinegar and Cochineal (for red dye), valued at 356 pounds. Also included is the "...Bill of Expences [sic] on behalf of Mr. Henry Bromfield of London Merchant the Claimant of the ship on behalf of Nathaniel Cushing, Benj. Cushing and Silvanus Smith the Master respectively citizens of the United States of America..." dated June 2, 1804 from the firm of Bogg & Toller for the incredible sum of pounds 115-14-6, nearly one-third of the value of the entire cargo! An amazing look into the difficulties involved in overseas commerce during the Napoleonic wars. A few minor fold separations, a few archival tape repairs, otherwise fine. Scarce records from an early chapter in our history. From the Henry E. Luhrs Collection. Accompanied by LOA from PSA/DNA.

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    Auction Dates
    February, 2006
    20th-21st Monday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
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