City upon the Atlantic Tides: Merchants, Pirates, and the Seafaring Community of Boston

by Steven Pitt

Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Year: 2015
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2074343
Full text PDF: http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/25735/1/Steven_Pitt_City_Upon_the_Atlantic_Tides_Dissertation_Final_1.pdf


This dissertation examines colonial America’s maritime history through the lens of its most developed and powerful port city – Boston – and an Atlantic economic system reliant on ships and sailors. The maritime perspective fills significant gaps in colonial Boston’s historiography, ranging from transformative events such as the 1689 revolution and the town’s dramatic economic rise and decline. The port city perspective, meanwhile, anchors the maritime history in a fixed historical trajectory with familiar actors, vessels, and shipping routes, revealing the centrality of maritime labor, impressment, piracy, and trade in the Atlantic from 1689 to 1748. In pursuit of the elusive sailor and ship, this dissertation draws on merchant accounts and letters, ships’ papers and logbooks, court records and sailor depositions, state papers, newspapers, customs records, sermons, diaries, political and economic tracts, and travel literature. The results of this investigation demonstrate that maritime labor created wealth, stability, and security in colonial Boston, underscoring the profound symbiotic relationship between the port and the ships and seafarers upon which it depended.