Salem Maritime National Historic Site

A three-masted sailing ship moored in a village of small brick buildings.
The sailing vessel NPS Friendship, a replica of a 1790s trading ship, docked in Salem.

NPS photo

Quick Facts

Location:
Salem, Massachusetts
Significance:
As a center of international trade, ports like Salem were the center of debate about the War of 1812, and the place where its consequences were immediately felt.
Designation:
National Historic Site
OPEN TO PUBLIC:
No

The War of 1812 was waged in the name of “Free Trade and Sailors’ Rights,” yet many of America’s sailors, shippers, and merchants opposed the war. To the people of New England, who prospered by building ships, transporting goods overseas, and operating banks and insurance companies in support of international trade, war with England - America’s largest trading partner - would mean financial ruin. In busy ports like Salem, Massachusetts, the debate between pro-war Republicans and anti-war Federalists would have immediate consequences.

Salem Maritime National Historic Site preserves and interprets the role of maritime trade in America’s early years, including the spirited debates over whether the potential gains of a War of 1812 were worth the economic consequences.