Nineteenth-century American courage and resourcefulness carried our merchant flag to the world's harbors and our nation to world prominence. The proud affection of a sea-conscious nation is reflected in our portfolio of ships by artists of three continents. Our essay, by C. Bradford Mitchell, former editor of Steamboat Bill and information director of the Merchant Marine Institute, charts the curious historic twists of public attitude and official policy that have alternately fostered and stunted our merchant navy.
On February 6, 1783, nine weeks after the Revolution ended, a new flag flew in the Thames. It flew, said the London Times, from “the ship Bedford, Captain Mooers, belonging to the Massachusetts [sic].” That oil-laden Nantucket whaler was, the report continued, “the first vessel which displayed the thirteen rebellious stripes of America in any British port.” Read more »