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Originally built as a merchant marine ship for the East India Trade, the privateer America is best known as a swift commerce destroyer in the War of 1812. Comissioned by the prominent Crowninshield family of Salem, Massachusetts and built by Retire Becket, the America was highly profitable for her shareholders before being reworked as a warship. Armed with twenty guns and 150 crewmembers, the America completed five cruises during the war, capturing twenty-seven British vessels as well as tremendously valuable cargo.

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Privateer America at Marsailles, 1806


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The Privateer "America". The New England magazine. / Volume 17, Issue 3, November 1894 access a pdf facsimile of this article from the Library of Congress American Memory collection. American Merchant Marine and Privateers in War of 1812 This website, maintained by the US Maritime service veterans highlights the central issue over which the war was fought -- protecting free trade and the rights of merchant sailors. Payne, Ralph D. The Ships and Sailors of Old Salem Chicago, A. C. McClurg, 1912. Payne, Ralph D. The Old Merchant Marine. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1919.