Preserving History At Salem Maritime National Historic Site

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Creaking on the tides under the weight of its three masts and 55 miles of rigging, the Friendship is a floating reminder of a time when the upstart United States laid a commercial claim to the high seas.

From tiny Salem, Massachusetts, up the coast from another Massachusetts seaport that soon would become known as the whaling capital of the world, ships set out to navigate the globe and return home with spices, water buffalo hides, silks, and porcelains.

The Friendship of Salem, an East Indiaman, joined this seagoing fleet in 1797 for the Salem-based mercantile concern of Waite and Peirce. But the venture was relatively short-lived, as the Friendship made just 15 voyages, to distant ports in Batavia, India, China, South America, the Caribbean, England, Germany, the Mediterranean, and Russia, before she became a prize of war during the War of 1812.

Today, though, via a porthole into the past you can smell her sailcloth, sway with her creaking decks, and view the somewhat cramped crew quarters during a tour of a replica of this grand dame. Though it's uncertain what happened to the original Friendship after the British auctioned her off on March 17, 1813, her spirit resurfaced in 1996 when a reproduction of her keel was laid by Scarano Brothers Shipyard, and in 1998 when her hull was launched....

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