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during this period, and Nantucket was unable to maintain the lead. By 1830, New Bedford, with 66 vessels, was far in advance of its nearest rival; by 1840, New Bedford's fleet of 177 vessels was more than twice as large as that of Nantucket; and for the remainder of the period New Bedford, together with the other small towns near by-Fairhaven, Dartmouth, Westport, Mattapoisett, and Seppican-formed the center of the most extensive whaling operations ever carried on from any region in the world. After 1847, Nantucket, New London, Sag Harbor, and other ports began to decline as whaling centers, but New Bedford continued to develop until 1857, at which time its fleet numbered 329 vessels, valued at more than $12,000,000 and employing over 10,000 seamen.1

The closing years of this period marked the beginning of a decline of the whale fishery. Whales were becoming scarcer, the risk and danger involved in expeditions to Arctic latitudes made the chances of profit very uncertain, and the rapidly expanding manufacturing industries of New England offered a more favorable field for investment. Moreover, just as the production of whale oil began to fall off and its price was advancing, a new source of oil was found in the petroleum fields of Pennsylvania. For many years the countless barrels of oil brought home by the New England whalers had furnished light for many homes, streets, and lighthouses in America and Europe; but the whale-oil lamps and the spermaceti candles were soon to give way to illumination by kerosene, and whale-oil lubricants also were eventually to be displaced by other animal oils and by petroleum products. The prosperous days of the whalers ended when oil poured forth from the rocks beneath the surface of the earth at Titusville, Pennsylvania.


In Chapter IX it has been noted that the cod fishery in 1789, though it had partially recovered from the effects of the long suspension of the industry during the Revolutionary War, was by no means as profitable as it had been during colonial days. When the new Government imposed import duties on molasses, rum, hooks and lines, lead, cordage, duck, hemp, twine, and other articles used extensively by the fishermen, the small margin of profit was almost entirely extinguished. Appeals from the members of Congress from New England caused a reduction of the duty originally proposed on molasses and also secured the insertion in the tariff act of a clause allowing, in lieu of a drawback of the duty on salt used in curing fish, a bounty of 5 cents on every quintal of dried fish and a like amount on every barrel of pickled fish exported abroad.2 The relief afforded by these bounties was not adequate to offset the losses occasioned by the increased cost of salt

'Tower, History of the American Whale Fishery, 54.

2U. S. Statutes at Large, I, 27.

and other fishing equipment; moreover, as was pointed out by some Marblehead fishermen, the bounty on exports did not usually afford relief and assistance to the men actually employed in fishing.1 So unprofitable did fishing for cod become that, in 1790, 33 vessels of Marblehead were withdrawn from service.1 The General Court of Massachusetts sent a memorial to Congress calling attention to the low state of the industry and asking further relief. The memorial was referred to Thomas Jefferson, then Secretary of State, who, in 1791, made a report to Congress in which he recited the facts presented in the memorial, enumerated the advantages possessed by American fishermen, and called attention to the disadvantages imposed upon them by the provisions of the tariff law of 1789.2

Congress, realizing the inadequacy of the previous measure for relief from the burden of the salt duty, in February 1792 enacted a law which would afford assistance directly to the fishermen.3 The bounties on the exportation of dried and pickled fish were discontinued, and the drawback of the duty on imported salt was commuted to allowances to the owners and crews of the vessels engaged in the cod fishery. The allowances were proportioned in accordance with the amount of salt likely to be used on the various vessels. Craft of from 5 to 20 tons received each year $1 per ton; those between 20 and 30 tons received $1.50; and those above 30 tons received $2.50, the maximum annual allowance for a single vessel not to exceed $170. To be entitled to the allowance the vessel had to be engaged in the cod fishery at least 4 months during the regular season, which extended from the last of February to the last of November. Three-eighths of the allowance was paid to the owner of the vessel, and the remainder was divided among the crew in proportion to their individual catch of fish.

In May 1792, because of the passage of an act fixing a bushel of salt for the payment of duty at 56 pounds, although a bushel was by measurement usually from 70 to 80 pounds, the allowances were increased 20 per cent, and at the same time a bounty of 8 cents was granted on every barrel of pickled fish exported. When in 1797 the duty on salt was raised from 12 cents to 20 cents a bushel, the bounty on exports of pickled fish was increased to 12 cents a barrel, and the rate of allowances to vessels engaged in the cod fishery was increased one-third, or to amounts ranging from $1.60 to $3.50 per ton per year, with a maximum annual allowance of $272 to a single vessel. In 1807, when the duty on salt was removed, the bounties and allowances were both discontinued, but when in 1813 a duty of 20 cents a bushel was again placed on salt, the system of bounties and allowances was reestablished;" 20 cents was paid on every barrel of pickled fish exported, provided it

1American State Papers, Commerce and Navigation, I, 15. U. S. Statutes at Large, I, 229. Ibid., 260. "Ibid., 533.

2Ibid., 8.
Ibid., II, 436. "Ibid., III, 49.

had been cured with imported salt upon which the duty had been paid, and the scale of allowances fixed by the act of 1797 was restored. The duty on salt and the allowances were to continue for one year after the conclusion of peace with England, but by a subsequent act they were continued without limitation. In 1819 the rate of allowances was again raised, because it was thought the amounts previously paid were not large enough to constitute a drawback of the entire duty on the imported salt used in the cod fishery.2

By the act of 1819 the following rates were established: On vessels measuring from 5 to 30 tons, $3.50 per ton; on vessels measuring more than 30 tons, if employed in the cod fishery at least 4 months during the year, $4 per ton; on vessels measuring more than 30 tons, having a crew of not less than 10 persons and employed at sea exclusively in the cod fishery for 3 months during the year, $3.50 per ton. Vessels on which allowances were paid under this law had to be inspected as to seaworthiness, equipment, and the number and nationality of their crews. The master and three-fourths of the crew must be citizens of the United States. Fishermen on the vessels were to be paid by division of fish or by a share in the proceeds of the sale of the fish caught. A regular log-book had to be kept day by day, arrivals and departures had to be recorded with the proper Government officials; the time the vessel must be employed at sea was 4 months, though it did not have to be in continuous voyage; and if the vessel measured over 30 tons it was entitled to a certain allowance if at sea only 3 months. In 1830 the duty on salt was reduced to 15 cents a bushel;3 it fell to 8 cents a bushel by 1842,4 and was changed to 20 per cent ad valorem in 1846, the duty amounting thereafter to less than 2 cents per bushel.5 Notwithstanding the reduction of the salt duty, the allowances to vessels engaged in the cod fishery were continued. Several attempts were made to secure their repeal or modification, both because of the reduction of the salt duty and because of changes in the fishery which helped further to make the amounts of the allowances proportionately larger than the sums paid as salt duties, but it was not until 1866 that the system was discontinued. The bounty on exports of pickled fish was replaced in 1846 by a drawback of the duty on foreign salt used in preparing fish for export.

The assistance given by the Federal Government and the increased range of foreign markets proved beneficial to the cod fishery. From about 25,000 tons in 17906 the gross tonnage of the New England fleet grew to 42,746 tons in 1798. Trouble with France and England caused a temporary depression from 1799 to 1801, but by 1802 the

2Ibid., 520. Ibid., IX, 42, sec. 3.

1U. S. Statutes at Large, III, 254. 'Ibid., V, 548, sec. 4.

Ibid., IV, 419.


"In 1790, the tonnage of the cod, whale, and mackerel fleets combined was 28,348 tons. figures given for 1798 were for the cod and mackerel fisheries. The mackerel fleet at that time was unimportant. Report of U. S. Commissioner of Navigation, 1910, p. 211.

tonnage was as large as it had been in 1798, and by 1807 it had increased to 70,306 tons. The embargo and non-intercourse acts caused another depression, and though the tonnage figures for 1811 (43,234) indicated a partial recovery of the industry, the war with England intervened, not only putting a stop to further development, but causing the tonnage to shrink to the lowest point ever recorded since the establishment of the Federal Government. After the war recovery was rapid, the gross tonnage rising to 76,078 tons in 1819, the highest point reached up to that time. From 1820 to 1860 the cod fishery was generally prosperous, and though there were occasional periods of slight depression, the industry on the whole showed a gradual and steady development. The highest tonnage ever employed in the cod fishery was for the year 1860, when it reached 136,654 tons, gross tonnage.1

During the war of 1812 the visits of the New England vessels to the northern fishing-grounds were discontinued. After peace was established the British authorities in Canada tried to prevent the resumption of this branch of the fisheries by the vessels of the United States. It was asserted by the British Government that, because of the war of 1812, the citizens of the United States had forfeited the privilege given them by the treaty of 1783 to fish in waters under British jurisdiction. The United States Government, however, claimed that the rights and liberties in regard to the fisheries bestowed by the treaty of 1783 were held by the same tenure as the political independence of the United States, which had been granted by the same treaty, and that the former had not been abrogated by the war of 1812 any more than the latter had been forfeited. In the negotiations leading to the Treaty of Ghent the commissioners of the two countries were unable to come to an agreement respecting the fishing rights each was to retain, and the treaty was eventually concluded without any reference being made to the subject. In 1815, British naval authorities, in pursuance of the policy adopted by their Government, seized several fishing-vessels of the United States and took them to Halifax. The vessels were soon released, and when President Monroe protested vigorously against the seizure the British Government disavowed the act. The affair indicated the need of a definite settlement of the fisheries question and negotiations were opened which led to the convention of 1818. By this convention the United States surrendered the right to participate in some of the inshore fisheries along parts of the coast of British possessions in America, but secured greater facilities for drying and curing fish than had been granted by the Treaty of Paris. However, the con

'Tonnage in the cod fishery by decades, 1820 to 1860:

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Commerce and Navigation of the United States, 1860, p. 670. Statistics for 1820 include cod and mackerel fisheries.

vention, though adjusting the differences between the two countries for a time, did not enter into details sufficiently to afford a basis for settling questions which arose later, and it was not many years before new disputes made necessary the negotiation of another treaty. The convention of 1818 marked the beginning of the history of the "fishery question," which subject will be discussed in a separate chapter.

The cod continued throughout this period to be the most important food-fish taken from American waters. There are no statistics of the quantity caught annually, but the gradual increase of the size of the fishing-fleet indicated that the amount grew constantly. In 1859 the value of the products of the New England cod fishery was about $3,000,000.1 The exports of dried fish reached a maximum of 567,828 quintals in 1804, and though the catch of subsequent years was much larger, the growth of domestic consumption caused a decline in the volume of exports. From 1790 to 1807 the chief foreign markets were Spain, France, Portugal, and the West Indies, but thereafter the exportation of dried codfish to Europe gradually declined until about 1832, after which it practically ceased, leaving the West Indies the only foreign market of any consequence. The exports of fish during the opening year of each decade from 1830 to 1860 are stated in table 63. TABLE 63.-Exports of domestic fish.1

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'Compiled from Commerce and Navigation of the U. S., 1830-1860.

Massachusetts and Maine were the leading States in the cod fishery, though New York and the other three coast States of New England had small cod-fishing fleets. The cod fishery of Maine gradually increased during this period, until in the last decade it passed that of Massachusetts. Many new settlements were planted along the Maine coast after 1789, and from Kittery to Calais there was not a single village or town where a fishing industry of some kind was not vigorously pursued. Portland and Castine became centers for fitting out fishingvessels, as many as 500 being equipped annually at Castine in 1850.2 Massachusetts, though retaining the lead as a fishing State and dominating the whale and mackerel fisheries, fell to second place in the cod fishery. The output of the cod and mackerel fisheries of Massachusetts

1U. S. Census 1860, Miscellaneous Statistics, 550.

'McFarland, History of the New England Fisheries, 180.

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