Pride Of The Seas

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 »

The Unlucky Collins Line

An enterprising Yankee briefy ruled Atlantic sea lanes but a chain of disasters dogged his great steam packets


It was a time when the sea called out to every Yankee lad its promise of adventure and reward. America was still the coastline and the rivers, and both then and thereafter seemed laden with an unmistakable scent of brisk salt air. Mr. Madison’s War of 1812 had ended, the seas beckoned to all who would sail them, and it began to look as if America would not only sail them—but might even inherit them.