Week 7.docx - Pirates and Privateers of Atlantic Canada No...

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Pirates and Privateers of Atlantic Canada No Prey, No Pay: War of 1812 - Nineteenth-century maritime strategy recognized that the best way to undermine an opponent’s will, as well as his ability to fight, was to attack his shipping - War of 1812 was mostly fought to destroy livelihoods, not lives - Goal for both sides was to halt exports and restrict imports - In the absence of a large navy to spearhead the American attack on British commerce, the job fell to privateers, who embraced it heartily - Whether motivated by patriotism or profit, privateering was one way maritime communities could wage war - England issued licenses to American ships to deliver supplies to English troops fighting Napoleon, USA was actually on side with this because it meant Americans were being paid and that the supplies would keep the war going on in Spain rather than focus it on the United States Privateering : - Ship owners who found their regular trade dislocated by war could load on additional guns and larger crews and apply for a letter of marque and reprisal - From July 1812 to February 1815, hundreds of private armed vessels from the United States, the British provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, England, and the Caribbean served as counterweights to the national navies on both sides - These ships turned the shipping lanes from Newfoundland to the West Indies, Norway to West Africa, the South Pacific and even as far as China into their hunting grounds - Many saw the potential in converting empty ships into private predators and idle crews into highly motivated privateers working for prize shares instead of wages, privateering was a win win in that you served your country and yourself - In order to preserve his tiny fleet, U.S. secretary of the navy Paul Hamilton ordered naval captains to focus on attacking enemy commerce and avoid engaging British naval vessels unless they were confident of victory or unable to avoid it - Faced with limited trade prospects, many ship owners, investors, and sailors saw privateering as an economic opportunity with great potential for both risk and reward. Their government-issued letters of marque and reprisal authorized them to “subdue, seize and take” any enemy shipping they could catch and, once adjudicated as a good prize, to keep the proceeds from the sale of ship and cargo Benefits of Privateering in North America: - Building and outfitting privateers created jobs for sailors, suppliers, and shipbuilders who faced certain hardship due to the unavoidable wartime decline in trade - Privateering supplied local markets with necessities and luxury goods that were otherwise unobtainable, at least legally - Inspired maritime communities all along the eastern seaboard with dreams of plump prizes and easy wealth - Regular sailors would receive around 5-10 dollars a month captains 50-60 under a regular shipping voyage, privateering allowed for thousands of dollars to be split between the crew - 2 to 3 month cruises
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