Sea History 153 - Winter 2015-2016

Page 40

<Trude l95. <oip&mruy: <Tile cproRJ&m ~ tiie CfYeÂŁ cpe9rt ~ <Dwifte tiie~ <Rev~ by Rikard Drakenlordh n 1777, rhe Brirish ambassador ro Sweden, John Lewis Doerfeld, and consul Thomas Erskine accused Swedish digniraries of nor only being fully aware of whar rhey deemed rhe illegal rrade wirh American ships in a major Swedish porr, bur also supporring ir. In orher circumsrances, rhe Royal Navy would have been sent ro pur an end ro rhe rrade, bur, ar rhe rime, Grear Brirain was preoccupied wirh rhe war across rhe Arlantic and did nor make ir a prioriry, despire rhe objecrions of rheir ambassador. As rhe American Revolurion was srill gaining momentum, Swedish officials gambled wirh rheir relarively

good relarions wirh Brirain by nor forcefully preventing American ships from rrading in Swedish porrs. The Brirish considered rhe rrade illegal, based on a century-old rreary signed berween Grear Brirain and Sweden. The Brirish-Swedish Friendship and Trade Treary, signed ar Whirehall in 1661, was designed ro regulare, among orher rhings, neurral shipping and conrraband irems such as gunpowder, muskers and firearms during wartime. Of nore is Article 13 in rhe rreary, which srares rhar ships, vessels, goods, or merchandise raken ar sea or elsewhere by "his enemies or rebels, ro be carried into his ports or dominions," were forbidden. 1 Sweden's King Gustav III This arricle would provide rhe main argument for Doerfeld and Erskine when arguing rhar Sweden was nor abiding by rhe rules agreed upon wirh Brirain. On 15 Augusr 1775, rhe porr of rhe island of Marsrrand (locared abour rhirry kilomerers northwesr of Gorhenburg) acquired srarus as a free port, or porto franco, by decree by rhe Swedish king, Gusrav III. 2 All foreign and domesric goods, carried by eirher foreign or Swedish ships, could be imporred, srored, consumed or exported wirhour discriminarion. To furrher srimulare rhe Swedish economy, foreign cirizens were permirred ro serrle in Marsrrand and become cirizens if rhey boughr or builr real esrare for rhe sum of 1,000 Swedish rixdollars.3 Even if Marstrand gained independence as a free port, it is important ro undersrand rhat it would still be considered a Swedish city and under the jurisdiction of Swedish laws. 4 Marstrand, on the southwestern coast of Sweden, was declared a free port in 1775 by Sweden's King Gustav III (1746--1792). This made the island an autonomous territory, yet still under Swedish rule. Soon Marstrand developed into an active center of commerce, and its status attracted cargo ships from Western Europe and, during the American Revolutionary Wtir, from the newly declared United States.


SEA HISTORY 153 , WINTER2015- 16