The Maritime History of Massachusetts, 1783-1860

By Samuel Eliot Morison | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XXII
THE CLIPPER SHIP 1850-1854

THE golden sands of California were a quickening force to the shipyards of Massachusetts. For four years they teemed with the noblest fleet of sailing vessels that man has ever seen or is likely to see.

Massachusetts launched her first clipper ships in 1850, from the yard of Samuel Hall; the Surprise1 for the Salem Lows, then of New York; and the Game- Cock2 for Daniel C. Bacon, of Boston.

Samuel Hall, now fifty years old, was the most eminent shipbuilder in the commonwealth. Of an old Marshfield family, he served his apprenticeship on the North River, and at his majority left for Medford with a capital consisting of a broad-axe and twentyfive cents. After pursuing his trade on the Mystic, the Penobscot, and at Duxbury, he became, as we have seen, the pioneer master builder of East Boston. The Game-Cock and Surprise were designed by a twentythree-year-old Bostonian named Samuel H. Pook,3 the first independent architect of merchant vessels in New England.

Well did Sam Hall choose the name of his first

____________________
1
Surprise, 183′ 6" X 38′ 8" X 22′, 1261 tons.
2
Game-Cock, 190′ 6" X 39′ 10" X 22′, 1392 tons.
3
Samuel Hartt Pook ( 1827-1901) designed three of the eighteen California clippers that made a voyage of less than one hundred days from an Atlantic port to San Francisco before 1861--the Surprise, Witchcraft, and Herald of the Morning; and the Northern Light, which has the record from San Francisco to Boston. An early advocate of ironclads, he became, like his father, Samuel Moore Pook ( 1804-78) a naval constructor, U.S.N., and remained in the service until 1889.

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