Thursday, January 10, 2019

American Clipper Ship #genealogy #virginiapioneersnet

The Great Republic, American Clipper. 1853

The Great RepublicIt was not the wooden sailing-ships which carried trade of Great Britain to America which was destined to eclipse that of all her rivals. About twelve years before the close of the eighteenth century the first really practical experiment was made on Dalswinton Loch, by Messrs. Miller and Symington, on the utilization of steam as a means of propulsion for vessels. The other great revolution was the introduction of iron instead of wood as the material for constructing ships. During the first half of the nineteenth century, good English oak had been becoming scarcer and more expensive. Shortly after the Restoration the price paid for native-grown oak was about #2 15s. a load, this being double its value during the reign of James I. The great consumption at the end of the 18th century had so diminished the supply of oak, that in 1815, the year in which the great Napoleonic wars terminated, the price had risen substantially. During 1833 the price sank a little, then continued to rise until 1850 when it reached #6 18s. per load. In consequence of the scarcity of English oak many foreign timbers, such as Dantzic and Italian oak, Italian larch, fir, pitch pine, teak, and African timbers were used for ship construction, with varying success. However, in America timber was abundant and cheap, and this was one of the causes which led to the extraordinary development of American shipping in the first half of the nineteenth century, and it is probable that iron was also produced abundantly and cheaply in this country. Thus, the use of iron and steel as the materials for construction have enabled sailing ships to be built in modern times of dimensions which could not have been thought of in the olden days. These large vessels are chiefly employed in carrying wheat and nitrate of soda from the west coast of South America. 

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