• Salem Maritime National Historic Site

    Salem Maritime

    National Historic Site Massachusetts

Plundering Privateers Brought to Life by Salem Author

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Date: June 14, 2012
Contact: Jonathan Parker, 978-740-1663

SALEM, M.A.- On June 28 at 7 PM at the Salem Visitor Center (2 New Liberty Street) the National Park Service will present a free lecture and book signing about the Salem privateers during the War of 1812. Captain Michael Rutstein of the schooner Fame and local maritime artist Racket Shreve have collaborated on a new book about these privateers and their exploits, titled The Privateering Stroke.

The Privateering Stroke is the first comprehensive look at American privateering in 35 years. The United States authorized privately owned vessels, called privateers, to attack and capture enemy shipping during the War of 1812. The book covers all 43 of the cruisers that sailed from Salem and examines the overall impact of Salem's privateering campaign during the war. Salem's privateers ranged from three-masted ships outfitted by merchant princes to open boats manned by unemployed sailors. They ranged the oceans from New Brunswick to Norway, from the Bay of Biscay to Brazil, taking close to 300 prizes.

Capt. Rutstein will present highlights from the book, while Mr. Shreve will talk about the challenge of creating illustrations for it - in most cases, depicting vessels for which there are scant historical records. They will be signing copies of their book after the presentation, and refreshments will be served.

Captain Rutstein sails a modern replica of the schooner Fame, the first American privateer to bring in a prize during the War of 1812. The schooner conducts public sails, private charters, and a summer camp from her historic home port of Salem. Racket Shreve, of Salem MA, who was trained as an illustrator, is not only a noted maritime artist and longtime sailor but also builds and restores historic boat models.

Did You Know?

Portrait of Nathaniel Hawthorne, circa 1855.

In addition to being a world-famous author, Salem native Nathaniel Hawthorne also held three government positions: Measurer for the Port of Boston, Surveyor of the Port of Salem, and U.S. Consul to Liverpool. The Custom House in Salem where he worked is now part of Salem Maritime NHS. More...