[Philadelphia: Printed by Francis Childs and John Swaine, 1793]. Folio. 13, [1 blank] pp, with caption title [as issued]. Disbound, a few margin spots, lightly toned. Signed in type at the end by Jonathan Trumbull, Speaker of the House; Vice President and President of the Senate John Adams; and approved by President Washington, February 18, 1793. Very Good, in a slipcase of quarter morocco and marbled paper.
This Act is a rare, detailed, and important early law protecting the American maritime trade. Until the development of turnpikes, canals, and railroads, coastal vessels were the primary means of transporting goods. Moreover Congress, aware that the cod and whale fisheries were a valuable natural resource, sought to reserve those industries for Americans.
The Act established a licensing system to assure that only American vessels "shall be deemed ships or vessels of the United States, entitled to the privileges of ships or vessels employed in the coasting trade or fisheries." Licensing, for which a fee was levied, was limited to "citizens of the United States." The licensing system protected American whale and cod fisheries from foreign competition; and provided some protection to American shipping, which was increasingly harassed by French and British naval vessels and privateers.
Evans 26307. ESTC W3377, locating copies only at AAS, the Library of Congress, and the John Carter Brown Library. Item #27302