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  • Mikah Meyer

Salem: More Than Just Witches!

Unit #55 / 413 – Salem Maritime National Historic Site

How does a building nation prove its worth versus the most powerful empire in the world?

It’s a question the early American colonialists had to answer often in their quest for independence and beyond.

One of the ways they did it was by establishing themselves as an economic force to be reckoned with. Through the utilization of America’s vast, undeveloped resources, the colonialists were able to insert themselves into the global conversation with the establishment of shipping ports such as that in Salem, Massachusetts.

This early port began shipping cod in the 1630s and by the 1700s had become one of the leading ports in the new world; receiving ships that earned the federal government the majority of its taxes at the time, including this receipt for $18,376.13 in import taxes from only one vessel.

With that success came a frustration at British taxation of the colony, and thus the merchants of pre-independent America used their private vessels to form a naval force for the Revolutionary War.

After the Revolutionary War, those newly independent boats sailed the world trading their goods, including voyages to Asia, South America, Africa, Russia, and Polynesia.

This gold-leaf covered eagle sat atop the port’s Custom House reminding merchants to pay their share to the government.

However--as this trip is teaching me about nearly every American industry--if a business isn’t growing, it’s dying.

And thus became the fate of Salem’s port, who by 1812 was losing business to larger ports in Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia.

Today, the Salem Maritime National Historic Site serves as an example of an early American port that not only transformed from a small fishing village to a global center of commerce, but also helped establish the United States as an independent nation.

Salem Maritime Highlight

1. Explore Salem

The city offers a rich history of maritime America, but is also famous for the Salem Witch Trails that exemplified America’s early Puritan roots. Take time to stroll the city by foot or boat to discover its other historical highlights.

Upcoming Units (COMMENT with recommendations. What should I do at each park? Local interesting detours? Food stops?)

Massachusetts to Rhode Island to Connecticut

-Frederick Law Olmstead National Historic Site

-John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site

-Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site

​-Adams National Historical Park

-Cape Cod National Seashore

-New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park

-Roger Williams National Memorial

-Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park

-Springfield Armory National Historic Site

-Weir Farm National Historic Site

The journey thus far:

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