About the Young America

young-america_small.jpgThe Young America was a three-masted wooden extreme clipper ship built in 1853 by William H. Webb, New York, for George B. Daniels, New York, at a total cost of $ 140.000. Dimensions 243'×43'2"×26'9" and tonnage: 1961; 1439 tons (old measurement) / 1380 (new measurement).
Originally rigged with three skysails and was later re-rigged with double top-sails. The sail-plan in William Webb's Plans of Wooden Vessels, 1870, also shows a main moonsail.
from: http://www.bruzelius.info/Nautica/Ships/Clippers/Young_America(1853).html

After a thirty year career, the Young America was sold in 1883 to Austman of Buccari, Austria, for USD 13,500. She was renamed Miroslav, and put into the trans-Atlantic case oil trade. In February 1886, she set sail from Philadelphia with 9,700 barrels of crude oil, but was never heard from again. She was officially posted missing in June of that year.

To see a log of all the voyages of the Young America, including travel times and captains, click here: http://www.bruzelius.info/Nautica/Ships/Clippers/Young_America(1853).html

Historical Context

In The Clipper Ship Era, Clark states that "the clipper ship era began in 1843 as a result of the growing demand for a more rapid delivery of tea from China; continued under the stimulating influence of the discovery of gold in California and Australia in 1848 and 1851, and ended with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869."
With the breakup of the East India Company, Britain's commercial monopoly, in 1832, greater trade opportunities in the Far East began to open. In 1849, the worldwide rush to California's gold fields and the concurrent opening of free trade with the British Empire created an unprecedented market for American clipper ship builders and owners.
In the early years of the gold rush, freight rates were so inflated that it was not unusual for a fast clipper ship to net more than its construction cost (about $75,000) on a single voyage to San Francisco!
The frenzy of American shipbuilding peaked in 1855. British and American merchant tonnage were almost equal. The clipper shipbuilding boom elevated the America merchant marine to its historical highpoint and, ironically, played a role in the steady decline of America's leading position in carrying the world's commerce.
As suddenly as it began, a steep drop in freight rates—resulting from supply overwhelming demand—caused a crash. The glut of ships began to depress the shipbuilding industry and the ships themselves lost value. As the Civil War approached, more and more U.S. ships were sold to foreign owners.
from: http://web.mit.edu/museum/exhibitions/clippership2.html

Important People

William_Webb.gifWilliam Webb's record as a shipbuilder shows him to have been extremely versatile in design; turning out fine steamers and small vessels, as well as packets, clippers, and freighters in great number. Apparently his interest in ship designs was not confined to one type...he obtained a range of building contracts each year, and might build two or three clippers, a steamer, a freighter and a bark, and might even build a couple of fishing sloops. Webb resisted building what would be called an "extreme clipper." His stated objective to hold to a compromise among speed, capacity, and strength. Webb clippers were generally characterized by a full, but never bulbous, midsections, as necessary for both capacity and stability.

The pride of the Webb shipyard in 1853 was the clipper Young America, considered William Webb's masterpiece. With long lean lines and tall spars, and with a somewhat more graceful sheer than was typical of earlier Webb ships, Young America represents the epitome of the magnificent American clipper ship. The Young America was the last extreme clipper built by William Webb. Webb was one of the first to sense that the time had ended for the great clippers. The Post reported that one day, after Young America had left Webb's yard and was loading for her maiden voyage to the West, Webb wandered down to have a last look at her. Catching sight of the mate, Webb called up to him, "Take good care of her, Mister, because after she's gone there will be no more like her."
from: http://wotan.liu.edu/~webbie/clippers.html