The Role Of Whaling During The American Revolution

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American whaling came to a disastrous halt during the American Revolution as British naval vessels blockaded American ports and harassed American shipping on the high seas, capturing or destroying many vessels and impressing many American sailors into His Majesty’s Naval service. American whaling ports suffered, but Nantucket in particular was strangled during the war, as whaling was the primary industry there.

After the war, with heavy duties placed on the import of whale products into England, some Nantucket whaling families emigrated to France and England or north to Nova Scotia to continue their occupation and to avoid the heavy taxes. The post-war 1790 's were a short period of regrowth between the American Revolution and the War of 1812 as spermaceti candles and sperm oil for lighthouses was in demand in both the United States and Europe.
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In response, President Thomas Jefferson enacted the Embargo Act that forbade American vessels from embarking on foreign voyages. This loss of foreign markets once again impeded the American whaling industry. The act was repealed in 1809, but three years later the War of 1812 with England again shut down American ports, bringing maritime commerce to a

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