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in those days. When America entered World War I, he enlisted as an Army private. When he returned from France, he resumed a life of marriage, children, and summer sailing. Then he was asked to write a history of his native Massachusetts. He decided to make chis a m aritime history. Much had been

that drove the clippers. Colcord, for his part, said simply of these ships: "They stood for things the world cannot afford to lose." In The Maritime History of Massachusetts, Morison recognized chat people's dreams and aspirations are vital elements of

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"Never, in these United States, has the brain of man conceived, or the hand of man fashioned, so perfect a thing as the clipper ship. " -Samuel Eliot Morison written on farm ing and politics, but to him the sea was where the action was. Writing The Maritime History ofMassachusetts was for Morison pure joy, and he sang sea chanteys, accompanied by his wife Bessie on the piano, when inspiration ran dry. Of course, there were maritime sites to be visited-naturally, under sai l! The Maritime History of Massachusetts (at least in its hard copy edition) includes a marvelous collection of old pictures, showing Morison's deep immersion in publications of an earlier day. These portraits from the past convey the values of their era, and a sense of the reality of times before our own. His language and descriptions of scenes he knew so well get you, the reader, right into it. A visitor's sketch of Nantucket in 18 10 catches a topsail sloop approaching the harbor, close-hauled against the southwest wind. Morison tells us she's the ferry from Cape Cod, and we learn that the clapboarded houses we see are replacing the shingled homes of colonial times and how the whole community centers on the harbor. Even the cows at rhe water's edge have come "to browse and take in the scene of maritime activity!" The trade that sustains all this is founded on the "smoky glare of whalers' try-works ... never absent from the vast spaces of the Pacific." The stretch from ships half a wo rld away to the harbor on a sandbar that sent out the ships is pure Morison, as are the touches that light up the whole stage. He can be a bit portentous, but we can forgive this when we finally get to read his famous tribute to the American clipper ship at the end of his story. "Never, in these United States, has the brain of man conceived, or the hand of man fashioned, so perfect a thing as the clipper ship. In her, the long-suppressed artistic impulse ofa practical, hard-worked race burst into flower. The Flying C loud was our Rheims, the Sovereign of the Seas our Parthenon, the Lightning our Amiens; but they were monuments carved from snow. For a brief moment oftime they flashed their splendor around the world, then disappeared with the sudden completeness of the wild pigeon. One by one they sailed out of Boston, to return no more. A tragic or mysterious end was the privilege of many ships favored by the gods. Others, with lofty rig cut down to cautious dimensions, with glistening decks and topsides scarred and neglected, limped about the seas under foreign flags, like faded beauties forced upon the street. The master builders, reluctant to raise barnyard fowls where once they reared eagles, dropped offone by one. " Morison learned much from his friend Arthur H. C lark, ship captain and aurhor of the classic Clipper Ship Era. It was from him and from Lincoln Colcord chat he learned the pride and passion

SEA HISTORY 11 3, WINTER 2005 -2006

Samuel Eliot Morison at the helm ofhis beloved yawl, Emily Marshall, named for his mother. their story. W hat people did about these dreams depended largely on economics. This work, and all that followed, he based on strong, deeply-researched economic foundations. The result was a new way of looking at the development of Massachusetts and the United Srates itself, revealing a scene where settlers looked to seafari ng to sustain their precarious hold on existence. Independence brought economic hardship to all ranks of society, as the former colonies were shut out of much British empire trade. This situation was remedied by Yankees who opened new trades outside the British system, as far afield as Ch ina, under a policy of "Try all pons." Morison reveled in this scuff, the "life-scuff'' of a people seeking their own identity and viable society. Like his contemporary J. M . Key nes, he rejected the notion of economics as "the dismal science," seeing it instead as the underpinning of the arts, a just society, and all that makes civi lized life. He deplored scholarship that contented itself with parroting the current wisdom rather

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Sea History 113 - Winter 2005-2006  

10 Dangerous Voyage, by Roger Tilton • 16A French Spoliation Case: Not-Quite Justice after Never-Was War, by Jock Yellott • 26 Samuel Elio...

Sea History 113 - Winter 2005-2006  

10 Dangerous Voyage, by Roger Tilton • 16A French Spoliation Case: Not-Quite Justice after Never-Was War, by Jock Yellott • 26 Samuel Elio...