Elijah Cobb, 1768-1848; a Cape Cod Skipper

Elijah Cobb, 1768-1848; a Cape Cod Skipper

Elijah Cobb, 1768-1848; a Cape Cod Skipper

Elijah Cobb, 1768-1848; a Cape Cod Skipper

Excerpt

Such memoirs as were left to posterity by Captain Elijah Cobb are fragmentary, a few letters and a narrative of certain voyages, yet they serve to portray with singular fidelity the figure of a New England shipmaster of a century and more ago against the backgrounds of his time. Seafaring has long since ceased to be interwoven with the lives and interests of the American people as a whole. No fact is more difficult to realize than that we were once a maritime nation which, from father to son, earned its bread upon the face of the waters. The abandoned farm with the grassy cellar-hole and the lilac bush surviving by the stone doorstep is the accepted symbol of the Puritan and Pilgrim pioneers. Just as eloquent and significant are the sloping shores of a hundred bays and inlets where the little brigs, sloops, and ketches were built to trade with Virginia, with the West Indies, with the ports of Europe.

At the beginning of the Revolution, in fact, there were more sailors than farmers in the coastwise settlements of Maine and New Hampshire. Shipping was the chief industry of Boston. On Cape Cod, where Elijah Cobb was born and raised, the boys followed the sea instead of the plow, and the dry land was merely a roosting place until they were old enough to sign on in a fore-

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