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  • How many black mariners were employed on the East Coast of the US in 1860?
    Fully twenty-five percent of mariners and other members of seagoing trades were African Americans--some free, some enslaved. Their skill sets ranged from new hands taken on board for a voyage all the way to captain and owner of a seagoing vessel. There were many pilots—free and enslaved—working the sounds of the Carolinas, and the fluctuating local laws about where they could and could not sail, drove transiting captains to desparation.
  • What was the legal status of privateering as the Southern states began to secede one by one, and to form a government—all while seizing federal property, particularly armories."
    The Treaty of Paris in 1815 seemed to declare the issuance of letters of marque and the practice of arming merchantmen to take commerce of belligerants at sea by force illegal. However, the devil is always in the details.
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