European Mercenaries for Lincoln

Lincoln’s endless levies for troops and dwindling enlistments forced him to scour Europe for mercenaries, sending agents with cash and promises of government land to attract military age immigrants. The editor of the Ulster Observer cited below pointed out that the Southern army was full of Irishmen and “asked on what principle the Irish people could leave their homeland to steep their hands in the blood of those who were their kith and kin.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

European Mercenaries for Lincoln

“[T]here had begun to be opposition to the departure of Irishmen from the country by the thousand, a migration greatly aggravated by the economic distress of the island. As early as January, 1862, the Liverpool Reporter observed that for several months young men loaded with gold watches and large bounties had been leaving Ireland, ostensibly to emigrate to America, but actually to serve in the Federal army, for which they were engaged by Northern agents.

An extract from the Ulster Observer of Belfast is typical of the comments appearing in the opposition press:

“We have more respect for our country and our countrymen than to see them wearing the livery of a foreign state in a cause which involves no principle with which they can be identified . . . [but America] cannot, and should not, expect our countrymen to be her mercenaries in the present fratricidal struggle. Already the battlefields are white with the bones of their brethren.  Thousand of Irishmen have, thanklessly, it would appear, laid down their lives for the North . . . and if President Lincoln still stands in need of human hecatombs, he should look elsewhere than to the decimated home of Ireland for the victims.”

In general, it can be stated that the public journals were loud in denouncing “Federal agents” and clamorous for their prosecution and punishment.

” . . . One might say that [Secretary of State] Seward did everything he could to encourage . . . [foreign enlistments] . . . the Homestead Act of May, 1862, which provided free farms to all aliens who had filed declarations of intention to become citizens of the United States. It further provided that foreign-born residents might become full citizens after one years’ residence on condition of honorable service in the army.

By an act approved July 4th, 1864, the Office of Commissioner of Immigration was created under the Secretary of State; the duties imposed upon him were to gather information as to soil, climate, minerals, agricultural products, wages, transportation, and employment needs. This information was to be disseminated throughout the countries of Europe.”

(Foreigners in the Union Army and Navy, Ella Lonn, LSU Press, 1951, pp. 412-418)

 

 

Sherman's Escaped Fiends from the Lower Regions

After terrorizing the civilian population of Georgia and South Carolina, the enemy entered North Carolina in early March 1865 to bring the same to its women and children living in their path. Houses were ransacked for anything of value, livestock was taken or killed, and the defenseless were left to starve.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Sherman’s Escaped Fiends from the Lower Regions

“General Sherman was traveling with the Fifteenth Corps on March 8 [1865] when it crossed the line into North Carolina, and that evening both the General and the corps went into camp near Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church, a region his soldiers thought looked “Real northern-like. Small farms and nice white, tidy dwellings.”

General Sherman, still riding with the Fifteenth Corps, took refuge on the night of March 9 from a “terrible storm of rain” in a little Presbyterian church called Bethel. Refusing a bit of carpet one of his staff had improvised into a bed on the pulpit platform, the General stretched himself out on one of the wooden pews for the night. Not far from Bethel Church, at the meeting hall of the Richmond Temperance and Literary Society, could be found another reminder of Sherman’s visit. J.M. Johnson, secretary of the society, entering in the minutes, April 22, 1865:

“After a considerable interruption, caused by the unwelcome visit of Sherman’s thieves, the Society meets again. And, of course, when God’s own house is outraged by the Yankee brutes, temples of morality and science will not be respected.  We find the ornaments of our fair little Hall shattered and ruined; our book shelves empty; the grove strewn with fragments of valuable, precious volumes; the speeches and productions of members who are sleeping in their silent graves, torn and trampled in the mire, “as pearls before the swine.”

“Ye illiterate beasts! Ye children of vice! Ye have not yet demoralized us, Today we marshal our little band again; and with three cheers for Temperance and literature, unfurl our triumphant banner to the breeze.”

A resident of the village of Philadelphus [Robeson county], after passing through “the ordeal of brutal, inhuman and merciless Yankeeism,” wrote: “They visited us in torrents,” and acted like “escaped fiends from the lower regions . . . ”

(The Civil War in North Carolina, John G. Barrett, UNC Press, 1963, pp. 301-302)

 

Enticing Substitute Soldiers for New England

The use of slaves as substitute soldiers for New England’s white citizens in the Revolution was duplicated during the War Between the States. As Northern governors feared election disaster should a federal draft be imposed, they gathered captured slaves in the South to be enlisted and counted against State troop quotas demanded by Lincoln. Like the Connecticut bill below, the Confederate Congress passed a bill providing for black soldiers in early 1865, but only after the owners themselves emancipated them.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Enticing Substitute Soldiers for New England

“The exigencies of war had moved both Connecticut and Rhode Island in the direction of emancipation, and both States considered enlisting slaves in order to relieve wartime troop shortages. In Connecticut, although an actual enlistment bill presented in the spring of 1777 failed to be enacted, the legislature passed a bill that fall allowing slave owners to free healthy slaves and indemnifying from financial responsibility.

Slave owners used the provisions of this bill to entice their slaves to serve as substitutes for them in the Continental Army in exchange for their freedom, and several hundred took advantage of the opportunity. In 1778 Rhode Island actually implemented an enlistment act that offered State-financed compensated emancipation: slaves were offered manumission and soldiers’ benefits in exchange for their enlistment, and slave owners were compensated by the State up to 120 [Pounds] for each enlisted slave.

There was considerable opposition to this law; in fact, with fewer than a hundred slaves actually emancipated under its provisions . . . In 1779 and again in 1780, bills for gradual emancipation failed to pass the Connecticut legislature. In 1779, Rhode Island did ban the sale of Rhode Island slaves out of State, but no further efforts to engage the slavery issue were made during the war.

In 1783 a fresh campaign to end slavery and the slave trade was mounted in Rhode Island by Moses Brown, Quaker convert and exasperated brother of wealthy slave traders Nicholas and John Brown. He produced countless anti-slavery articles and pamphlets . . . But with the American slave trade centered in Rhode Island and slavers forming the nucleus of Newport society, in February 1784 the legislature defeated this abolition bill; it passed another that stood silent on the issue of the slave trade but did provide for gradual emancipation.”

(Disowning Slavery, Gradual Emancipation and Race in New England, 1780-1860, Joanne Pope Melish, Cornell University Press, 1998, pp. 67-68)

Enlightened Southern Labor Management

While the older brother of Jefferson Davis, Joseph E. Davis, was conducting enlightened labor management techniques in Mississippi, New England factory and mill owners worked young women, and children under ten, hard sixteen-hour workdays in dimly lit sweat-shops. Their meager pay was usually insufficient to cover living expenses and left nothing health care—Africans in the South enjoyed cradle to grave medical care and security.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Enlightened Southern Labor Management

“ . . . Joseph Davis demonstrated the enlightened methods of slave management that he had developed from modifications of the ideas of Robert Owen, Frances Wright, and other reformers of an earlier era. In the words of a family member, “[The cabinets] were well built, with plastered walls and large fireplaces, two large rooms and two shed rooms behind them.” Each had its own henhouse from which the slaves could sell surplus chickens and eggs and a small garden patch for their own use.

Davis was determined to make his [plantation] enterprise a model of labor management as well. As one of nine Mississippians who owned more than 300 slaves in 1860, Davis was faced with a major administrative task [and had learned] that people worked best when treated well and given incentives rather than when driven by fear of punishment.

He established a court, eventually held every Sunday in a small building called the Hall of Justice, where a slave jury heard complaints of slave misconduct and the testimony the accused in his own defense. No slave was punished except upon conviction by this jury of peers. Sitting as a judge, Davis seldom intervened except to ameliorate the severity of some of the sentences.

Davis insisted that the overseers, too, must bring their complaints before the court, and they could not punish a slave without [their] permission. In addition to self-government, Davis provided more direct incentives for his laborers. Convinced that every human being should be allowed to develop to his full potential, the master encouraged his slaves to acquire skills in areas that interested them.

He provided opportunities for training in current trades and crafts. Moreover, skilled workers were allowed to enjoy the benefits of their more valuable labor; Davis ruled that all slaves might keep anything they earned beyond the value of their labor as field hands.

Davis was sensitive to the needs of his workers and regularly rewarded them for unusual achievements, in addition to providing gifts for a birth or wedding, or in consolation for a death. He expected them to work hard for their own benefit as well as his, and he was quick to commend and encourage those who performed well.

Davis’s benevolent management methods seemed amply vindicated by the example of his most able slave, Benjamin Montgomery, who seized the opportunities Davis provided and became an invaluable assistant as well as confidant and companion to his master. Born in Virginia in 1819, the brilliant Montgomery learned to read and write along with his young master.

With access to the large (plantation] library, Ben improved his literary skills and was soon copying letters and legal briefs as the office clerk. He learned to survey land to plan the construction of levees essential for flood protection on Davis Bend. He drew architectural plans and participated in the construction of several buildings, including the elaborate garden cottage.

(Joseph E. Davis, Pioneer Patriarch, Janet Sharp Hermann, University Press of Mississippi, 1990, pp. 53-58)

England's Slave Trade Guilt

The English colonial system and a need for large labor forces to cultivate land and generate products for the benefit of the British Empire was behind the importation of slaves to North America, and fueling the transatlantic slave trade were the Muslim kings of Africa’s Gulf of Guinea who readily sold their subjects to European traders.  Slavery in Africa was a widespread institution and existed in the Sudan, Senegambia, Upper Gambia and along the Niger River. The New England abolitionists could have adopted Wilberforce’s peaceful campaign to eradicate slavery, and repaid humanity for the sins of their own slave trading fathers.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

England’s Slave Trade Guilt

(Speech in the House of Commons by William Wilberforce, 12 May, 1789)

“When we consider the vastness of the continent of Africa; when we reflect how all other countries have some centuries past been advancing in happiness and civilization; when we think how in this same period all improvement in Africa has been defeated in her intercourse with Britain;

[W]hen we reflect that it is we ourselves that have degraded them to that wretched brutishness and barbarity which we now plead as the justification of our guilt; how the slave trade has enslaved their minds, blackened their character . . . What a mortification must we feel at having so long neglected to think of our guilt, or attempt any reparation!

It seems, indeed, as if we had determined to forbear from all interference [with slavery] until the measure of our folly and wickedness was so full and complete; until the impolicy which eventually belongs to vice was become so plain and glaring that not an individual in the country should refuse to join in the abolition; it seems as if we had waited until the persons most interested should be tired out with the folly and nefariousness of the trade, and should unite in petitioning against it.

Let us then make such amends as we can for the mischiefs we have done to the unhappy continent; let us recollect what Europe itself was no longer ago than three or four centuries.

What if I should be able to show this House [of Commons] that in a civilized part of Europe, in the time of Henry VII, there were people who actually sold their own children?  What if I should tell them that England itself was that country?  What if I should point out to them that the very place where this inhuman traffic was carried on was the city of Bristol?

Ireland at that time used to drive a considerable trade in slaves with these neighboring barbarians; but the great plague having infested the country, the Irish were struck with a panic, suspected (I am sure very properly) that the plague was a punishment sent from heaven for the sin of the slave trade, and therefore abolished it.

All I ask, therefore, of the people of Bristol is, that they would become as civilized now as Irishmen were four hundred years ago.  Let us put an end at once to this inhuman traffic – let us stop this effusion of human blood.”

(The World’s Famous Orations, William Jennings Bryan, editor, Funk and Wagnalls, 1906, pp. 66-68)

England's Half Naked Barbarians

The British colonial system populated North America and the West Indies with African slaves purchased from African kings and tribes; after American independence and the loss of that former colony’s profits, England professed slavery inhumane while emancipating its remaining slaves with compensations to the owners – quite possibly to undermine its French and American commercial competitors.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

England’s Half-Naked Barbarians

“To be sure, the condition of depopulated Ireland is still pitiful to behold. Says a writer on Ireland: “An Irishman has nothing national about him except his rags.” Or another: “Let an Englishman exchange his bread and beer, and beef and mutton, for no breakfast, for a lukewarm lumper at dinner and no supper. With such a diet, how much better is he than an Irishman? – a Celt, as he calls him. No, the truth is, that the misery of Ireland is not from the human nature that grows there – it is from England’s perverse legislation, past and present.” But England is philanthropic, and the Irish are not Negroes, nor are they Slaves!

Or let us turn our eyes away from Ireland across the ocean, toward that happy land of emancipation. Says a recent writer: A short term and cupidity strain the lash over the poor Coolie, and he dies; is secreted if he lives, and advantage taken of his ignorance for extended time when once merged with plantation-service, where investigation can be avoided.” But again, the Coolies are no Slaves; they are but hired servants, and England’s philanthropy is safe!

We are not through with the Testimony of England, who is always loudest in condemning our Slavery. How closely she watches those poor Hindoos! How effectually she keeps them down, whenever they express any dissatisfaction with the happiness she forces upon them! She has instituted among those “half-naked barbarians” an awful solidarite’, by which the province is responsible for the labor of all its men and women. But still, England is philanthropic!

She has carried rails and Bibles, free-schools and steamboats, telegraphs and libraries to India, all for the benefit of those half-naked barbarians. And should telegraphs and Bibles not have the requisite effect of happifying, opium will be administered to them, and to “all the world, and to the rest of mankind” Now this is decided progress! England is the civilizer and Christianizer of the world!”

(The American Question, An Incidental Reply to Mr. H.H. Helper’s Compendium on the Impending Crisis of the South, Elias Peissner, 1861, H.H. Lloyd & Company, pp. 63-65)

Butcher Weyler, Sherman's Understudy

The yellow-journalism American press railed at Spain’s decision to assign “Butcher” Weyler to solve the problem of Cubans seeking independence, though forgetting that it was Lincoln’s own General William T. Sherman who had taught Weyler how to carry total war to an American people seeking independence.  The New York papers in 1864-65 did not describe Sherman as “a butcher, rapist and a Torqemada of torture.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Butcher Weyler, Sherman’s Understudy

“In the circumstances, one can pity General Valeriano Weyler, who had been sent to Cuba by the Queen Regent of Spain with orders to put down the rebellion. He arrived to find himself described by New York newspapers as a butcher, rapist, and a Torquemada of torture.

A fifty-nine-year-old professional soldier, short and broad-shouldered, Weyler as a young officer had been a military attaché at the Spanish legation in Washington during the Civil War, and as an observer had accompanied Sherman on his march through Georgia. He had admired Sherman, but his liking for things American was dwindling.

He read things in the American papers he could scarcely credit. Miss Nellie Bly, the World reporter who had gone around the world in seventy-two days, announced that she planned to recruit a regiment of volunteers, officered by women, to fight for Cuban independence.

“The Cubans are fighting us openly,” Weyler said. “The Americans are fighting us secretly . . . The American newspapers are responsible. They poison everything with falsehood.”

The Spanish government in Cuba had been autocratic, but not oppressive. The rebellion was in large part inspired by revolutionists in New York, encouraged by unrest caused by economic depression and poverty. It had gained strength because of a ruthless rebel decree that all Cubans who did not aid them would be considered allies of Spain and enemies of the “republic,” causing many citizens to help the insurgents out of fear.

Weyler, like the majority of Spaniards, believed that the rebels would long since have been crushed but for the incitement of the New York press, and the arms, men and supplies sent by filibuster ships that slipped into Cuba.

Weyler commanded some 80,000 Spanish soldiers whose presence in Cuba was bleeding Spain white. Yet they could not achieve a finished fight because the rebels invariably dodged them. The rebel strategy was to burn sugar plantations and towns, wreck railroads and flee, always avoiding pitched battles. The hatred between the contending parties had grown so bitter that when men were captured by either side, hangings and disembowelments were common.

Amid such incidents . . . Weyler employed the stern measures expected of him. To neutralize the thousands of Cubans in the interior who were secretly aiding and supplying the rebels while posing as loyal citizens, he issued a “reconcentration” order. This required all citizens . . . to leave their villages and move within Spanish lines.

Spanish forces then proceeded to clear the interior of supplies, applying a “scorched earth” program to starve out the rebels. This brought great suffering and privation to the reconcentrados, or uprooted families, many of whom were near starvation themselves. But the measure, along with renewed Spanish military activity, proved effective and the insurgents for a time lost ground.”

(Citizen Hearst, W.A. Swanberg, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1961, pp. 118-119)

Bismarck Receives Sheridan's Lesson on Total War

Bismarck’s Reich supported Lincoln in his war against the American South as the German consolidator promoted Northern war bonds to his countrymen. Bismarck might have been ruthless while fighting foreigners, but Sherman and Sheridan were fighting ruthlessly to deny Americans self-government.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Bismarck Receives Sheridan’s Lesson on Total War

“The discipline which during the summer had forced the German troops to respect civilian property was gradually relaxed. “At first we were forbidden, with the severest of penalties, to burn vine-posts in bivouacs, and woe to him who used un-threshed corn for his palliasse. Child-like innocence! Now no one asks whether you are using garden fencing or the doors of houses or wagons for fuel . . . no Frenchman can any longer lay claim to property or means of livelihood.”

Thus throughout the autumn and winter of 1870 the terrorism of the [French partisan] francs-tireurs and the reprisals of the Germans spiraled down to new depths of savagery. If the French refused to admit military defeat, then other means must be used to break their will. The same problem had confronted the United States in dealing with the Confederacy six years earlier, and [General] Sherman had solved it by his relentless march through the South.

[Chief of Prussian General Staff] Moltke had believed war to consist in the movement of armies; but General [Philip] Sheridan, who was observing the war from German headquarters, pointed out that this was only the first requirement of victory.

“The proper strategy [he declared after Sedan] consists of inflicting as telling blows as possible on the enemy’s army, and then in causing the inhabitants so much suffering that they must long for peace, and force the government to demand it. The people must be left nothing but their eyes to weep with over the war.”

Bismarck took this advice more seriously than did Moltke. The more Frenchmen who suffered from the war, he pointed out, the greater would be the number who would long for peace at any price. “It will come to this, that we will shoot down every male inhabitant.” Every village, he demanded, in which an act of treachery had been committed, should be burned to the ground and all male inhabitants hanged. To show mercy was “culpable laziness in killing.” [Bismarck’s wife suggested] that all Frenchmen should be “shot and stabbed to death, down to the little babies,” and the German press abounded in similar ideas.

Nor did the French lag behind in urging suitable torments for the invaders. Each nation came to believe that it was upholding civilization against a race of barbarians which could only be bullied into submission by brute force.”

(The Franco-Prussian War, Michael Howard, Routledge Press, 1961, pp. 380-381)

Principles of International Justice Left in Ruins

In his 1944 book, Bombing Vindicated, former Principal Secretary of the Air Ministry J.M. Spaight, revealed that on May 11, 1940 the British government had commenced unrestricted bombing of German cities, known as “The Splendid Decision,” to which the Germans responded in kind. Spaight traces this decision to 1936 when Bomber Command was organized, with “the whole raison d’ etre of Bomber Command was to bomb Germany should she be our enemy.”  Visiting Germany as a military observer during the Franco-Prussian War, General Philip Sheridan, known for his brutal devastation of Americans in the Shenandoah Valley, was surprised that the Germans did not starve and torch their French enemies.  By 1940, they had learned Sheridan’s lesson.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Principles of International Justice Left in Ruins

“Nothing better illustrates how hell may be paved by good intentions which crumble than the war-crimes trials themselves. No doubt many who supported them were motivated by primitive Mongol demands for the massacre of defeated enemies, by “scientific” Marxian precepts which called for the liquidation of elements that could not be assimilated into a proletarian and totalitarian society, and by a purely vindictive desire for revenge.

On the other hand, many sincerely believed that the trial and punishment of men, many of whom had certainly been guilty of ordering or permitting unspeakable and boundless cruelties, would both reduce the prospect of future wars and make any that did take place more humane and restrained. During the Second World war, even Germany and Russia, despite their mass butcheries in the war in the East, refrained from using such lethal weapons, already in plentiful reserve, as poison gas and disease germs, for fear of possible retaliation.

The war-trials, by making it crystal clear that the losers will, henceforth, be subjected to such trials, regarded as aggressors whether they were or not (it was not emphasized at Nurnberg that England and France declared war on Germany), and be hanged or subjected to long prison terms, whether guilty as charged or not, made it inevitable that all the restraints that survived the Second world war would be thrown to the winds in the third – as even the limited war in Korea has demonstrated.

Since nothing worse can happen to a national war leader than to be disgraced, tortured and hanged, if defeated, there is no logical psychological reason for failing to throw in everything which may promise victory, however lethal and barbarous.

By 1952, the only belief of the early post-war years which still survived more or less unshaken was the belief that the Second World War had at least resulted in the establishment of new international standards of justice. As we have seen, as late as March 1951, the then British attorney-general, Sir Hartley Shawcross, was able, without making himself ridiculous, to put forward a moving appeal that what he called the principles of international justice established at Nurnberg should not be undermined for purposes of political expediency.

This comforting belief remained unshaken until it was reported in July 1952, that the Chinese Communists had indicated an intention to subject in due course certain of their prisoners of war captured in the Korean campaign to war-trials carried out “in accordance with the principles established by the international military tribunals of Nurnberg and Tokyo.”

In thousands of homes on both sides of the Atlantic the matter ceased to be an academic problem whether certain more or less worthy or unworthy foreigners had been unjustly condemned a few years before.

The anxious relatives of the British and American soldiers, sailors and airmen serving in Korea – and of those in the armed forces who might later be called upon to serve in Korea – had no difficulty in foreseeing what would be the result of war-trials carried out “in accordance with the Nurnberg principles.” All the illusions on this subject instantly vanished.

What may be regarded as the obituary notice of the Nurnberg war-trials was pronounced by Ex-Lord Chancellor Maugham in a letter to the London Times of July 25, 1952. “The Nurnberg Tribunal,” declared Lord Maugham, “never purported to lay down “principles” for all mankind.”

Perhaps it was always an unreasonable hope that the British Air Ministry’s “Splendid Decision” of May 11, 1940, would result in the establishment of any principles. The eighteen Whitley bombers which left England on that memorable spring night, in what now seems the remote past, did not set forth to establish principles.

The bombs which they dropped in the darkness on the countryside of Westphalia may, indeed, by chance have hit railway installations. Perhaps it is best to regard this historic air raid as a symbolic act, unconnected with corpses or debris, which left behind it in ruins nothing more substantial than the principles of civilized warfare that had been established in Europe for over two hundred years.

Similarly, the war-trials which were the outcome of that perhaps equally splendid decision taken at the Tehran Conference in 1943, did not, as we are now informed, lead to the establishment of any new principles of justice. Perhaps some day it may become generally agreed that, without establishing any new principles of justice, the war-trials actually left in ruins the principles of justice which had been accepted without question by all civilized peoples for many centuries.

Indiscriminate bombing invincibly linked warfare with barbaric military practices and ghastly mortality. All this would be intensified by the extensive use of guided missiles in later wars. The war-crimes trials at Nurnberg, Tokyo and elsewhere linked postwar procedures with juristic barbarism and made mandatory the utilization of the most savage methods of warfare in order to avert defeat and judicial lynching.”

(Advance to Barbarism, F.J.P. Veale, C.C. Nelson Publishing Company, 1953, pp. 293-297)

British Interference with New England Commerce

The American Revolution can be said to have its origins in New England’s evasion of the Britain’s Navigation Acts which were aimed at controlling the former’s illicit sea commerce. By 1750, Providence, Rhode Island had become the slaving capital of North America, and surpassing Liverpool for this dubious distinction, and New England rum was preferred by African tribes for the purchase of their slaves.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

British Interference with New England Commerce

“For the West Indies trade alone proved so logical, so sound for the ambitious Yankee traders that in spite of revival of trade with England it ranked in importance with the thriving coastwise and budding transatlantic commerce. Linked inseparably with the venture south to the Indies was [New England’s] brisk trade in rum . . . For the Indies trade was a three-cornered affair hinging on rum, slaves and molasses.

The British decided that one way to increase revenues [to maintain the North American colonies] would be to put a stop to [New England’s] open evasion of the Navigation Acts. It is hardly surprising, then, that among the first real troublemaker of all the British efforts to raise money was a new Molasses Act, for it was molasses brought in from the French West Indies from which New England’s rum was made.

There had been similar acts on the books as long before as 1733, but the duty of sixpence a gallon was such a prohibitive price for the rum distillers to pay that its only practical effect was to create the first of a caste that was to throw a long shadow indeed—the bootlegger.

To the colonists (especially in New England) it must have seemed that there were more acts than ships at this time, and they were in no mood to abide by any of them. American shipbuilding had reached a point where the Massachusetts colony, in a burst of civic pride that would challenge the lustiest chamber of commerce today, laid dubious claim to enough vessels to float every man, woman and child in its domain. It can be said with truth, however, that there were more sailors than farmers in New England.

In years past there had been frequent cases of corrupt officials of the Crown . . . as exemplified by New York’s governor, Lord Bellamont, and his equally-shady successor, Colonel Benjamin Fletcher, who had been in the habit of wining and dining such notorious pirates of their era as Captain Tew.

But Governor Fletcher was admittedly a political pirate in his own right and was ultimately recalled to London to answer graft charges. Now, however, there was a new generation of more upright gentlemen whose profits gained brazenly through bootlegging and illegal activities were overshadowed . . . by their courageous defiance of the ever-increasing strictures on their commerce.

In fact nine-tenths of the colonial  merchants and skippers had become smugglers as the break with England neared. Such men as John Hancock, a prince of contraband traders, on the eve of Paul Revere’s ride had for counsel before the Admiralty Court in Boston none other than John Adams answering for him a half-million dollar suit in penalties as a smuggler.”

(Yankee Ships: An Informal History of the American Merchant Marine, Reese Wolfe, Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1953, pp. 43-50)