Join historian, Eric Dolin as he talks about the founding of the U.S. Navy and the often missing maritime histories of the ragtag fleet of private vessels that were, in fact, critical to American victory during the American revolution. In his new book, Rebels at Sea (Liveright Publishing, 2022), Dolin corrects that omission, contending that without the help of privateers, the outcome of the war would likely have been very different.
At a time when the young Continental Navy numbered no more than about sixty vessels, privateers – or privately owned vessels granted permission by the new government to seize British merchantmen and men of war – handily filled in the gaps. Nearly 2,000 set sail over the course of the war, with tens of thousands of Americans capturing more than 1,800 British ships. A truly ragtag fleet ranging from twenty-five-foot-long whaleboats to full-rigged ships more than 100 ft long, privateersmen were not just pirates after a good loot – as too often assumed – but were, instead, crucial instruments in the war.
About the Author: Eric Dolin is the author of fourteen books including, most recently, A Furious Sky: The Five-Hundred-Year History of Hurricanes, which was named a best book of the year by the Washington Post and Kirkus Reviews. Other books include Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America and Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates. Dolin lives and works in Marblehead, Massachusetts.