TL;DR -- We have had our attention on the west for a while. That is, the west that is outside of the wilderness limit of the eastern view. So, we had the northwest which is really the midwest. Then, we had that huge affair out west that became so many states. On the other side of that is the left coast and its limits. So, people went along the way via various access methods that were developed (foot, horseback, vehicles of certain types (cart, wagon, flatboat), until there was the iron horse (of course, we will get to the auto and things that fly in other than natural modes). But, stepping back, we have water, other than the river issues out west, being the major influence in the lives of lots of folks. But, prior to that, someone had to build those things. And, the first such event in the area: Maine, 1607.
In considering the colonial condition that became the U.S., we have to keep in mind what people did to survive since they were no longer in their known civilized state. Coping is situation.
For a while, we have been looking at the Frontier Century up close where we determined that St. Louis will be the focus for a whole lot of study, for several reasons. As we go forward, we need to pay attention to several areas in the west and to different players over the more than one hundred years that is of interest to one major theme. For example, one family gave us a surveyor/judge father with a trapper/trader/rancher son.
As well, along with New England, we had New France, New Spain and others, including the American Indian. Those who coped with the immense spaces had to deal with issues related to water as well as those with land, namely waterways as obstacles as well as being modes of travel. So, rivers were (and are) an important factor. There is no end to the themes of the western U.S. (2016) to address.
However, that which is related to the final voyage also used a whole lot of nautical metaphors, for good reason. Stepping back, we will identify parallels that exist today. Say: in the interior, harvesting wildlife almost to extinction; while on the coast, depleting forests in order to build things that float.
This post begins that relook by taking a brief focus on ships, how they come about, and what they do. And, just like the west had its roles, shipwright comes to play on the coast when people get ambitious enough to make a vessel capable of water travel. For now, we will table those shallow bottomed things used out west. We are talking the real deal, say, the type that brought Thomas and Margaret over from the old world.
|Some shipbuilding methods|
We have already have had posts with this theme. Here are a few with the year of the post: Barque (Bostonian) (2018); HMS Resolute (2021); Henry D. Gardiner (2014); Whaleship (Essex) (2015); USS Merrimack (1798) (2012); Two cousins (2012); Whaling Gardners (2011); and others. There will be more.
For starters, here are some articles/papers that are pertinent.
- The Structures of English Wooden Ships: William Sutherland's Ship, Circa 1710 - this was published in The Northern Mariner (1993). There is some discussion of improvements of that time plus diagrams (pseudo-blueprints) that provide a good idea of how things are fabricated and assembled. That is, too, shows the need for raw material plus hugely talented humans.
- Eighteenth-century Colonial American Merchant Ship Construction - this is a thesis that comes out of Texas A&M, Anthropology. Interesting. This is a nice overview for a beginner who is a landlubber.
- Infant boat industry grew along the Merrimack - this is by Melissa Davenport Berry who is quite active in on-line Massachusetts history. Naturally, there are were early and later boat-building activities. Themes in this article are related to Essex County.
- Shipbuilding in the American colonies - of course, we have to reference Wikipedia's ways of being neutral and thorough.
- Maritime Commerce - this is by way of the National Park Service and is, per usual, quite informational about the ways of trade and such through those times.
We will be looking at colonial times and a few generations later. In this sense: the fifth generation bore the brunt of the turmoil; the sixth and seventh were involved with the establishment of the new country and its modes. Of course, we still have 200 more years to cover after those folks.
It goes without saying that most things that we look at come back to Essex County or Massachusetts or New England.