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clipper ships

Nineteenth-century American courage and resourcefulness carried our merchant flag to the world's harbors and our nation to world prominence. The proud affection of a sea-conscious nation is reflected in our portfolio of ships by artists of three continents. Our essay, by C. Bradford Mitchell, former editor of Steamboat Bill and information director of the Merchant Marine Institute, charts the curious historic twists of public attitude and official policy that have alternately fostered and stunted our merchant navy.

Three decades of his life had been devoted to a single passion—a passion that took him to the very pinnacle of success. then the era he had helped to create began to fade, and one could see in his face an awareness of the onrushing winds of change. The year was 1855, and the burst of genius and energy which had made America, for a time, the greatest maritime power in the world was being drowned by forces beyond anyone’s ability to control.

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