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"Privateering is about the only hope of the young country without a navy."    

                                                                                                       - President and Fellows of Harvard College

    Privateering is when a private ship is authorized with a letter of marque, by a government to attack foreign or opposing vessels during wartime. In simplified terms, it's legal piracy. The act has been around for centuries but was especially prominent during the 17th and 18th centuries. The Americans weren't always equipped with a Letter of Marque (John Paul Jones) but attacked the British nonetheless. During the American Revolution, the Patriots relied heavily on privateering to acquire ammunition, supplies, and food to support the troops. 

    Privateers were privately funded merchants, sailors, or colonials itching to experience battle. Just as the United States used posters to recruit young men to fight, the colonies used propaganda posters and fliers to gain followers.  Often times, young boys no older than 16 would sneak on to schooners and look to capture enemy ships. Ships were furnished by the owner and used outsides funding to help with their excursions. The amount of money made by each crew member was based on percentages. No matter the value of the prize, crew member agreed to getting a set percentage of the prize. As before with businessman able to acquire a share of the prize, other crews could also buy shares of the prize. In all, this helped the privateer gain enough money to conduct the voyage. 

Important Towns and Ports 
  • Newport, Rhode Island 
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • New York, New York
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Charles Town, Virginia
  • New London, Connecticut 
The Long Island Sound was the most important and active area for fighting because it controlled trade between Long Island and the mainland. Whichever army controlled New York, controlled nearly all of the shipping activities of the colonies.