|dc.description.abstract||Privateers — state-sanctioned merchants encouraged to attack enemy shipping — operated as essential commodities traders in the Atlantic rim economy. This dissertation explains the significant role these merchants-turned-privateers played in the Revolution and traces their lives in ports both domestic and abroad. By examining the day-to-day lives of privateers as they crisscrossed the Atlantic Ocean, the scope and impact of the American Revolution expands beyond our current geographical, political and social understandings. “Vigorous & Bold Operations” sheds light on these men and their journeys which took them far beyond the shores of the colonies into an Atlantic World where allies, commerce, patriotism, identity and pride all crossed national boundaries, where the process of revolution itself was international.
Due to their sometimes less-than-savory methods, privateers were often overlooked upon their return home. Engaged in legal proceedings over prizes and prize money, they experienced a post-war United States vastly removed from that of their Continental Army counterparts. Privateers were perceived as greedy or unpatriotic in their efforts to recover money-owed or accolades due. Only when privateers served a specific partisan purpose — for example as supporters for the small naval force during the War of 1812 or as substitutes for the Confederacy’s lack of a traditional navy during the American Civil War — were these men and their patriotic endeavors resurrected; only to be forgotten moments later when their martial stock waned. This dissertation analyzes how and why privateers were written-out of the traditional Revolutionary narrative as their Atlantic World exploitations failed to fill the patriotic mold of the fledgling nation. Utilizing ships’ logbooks, eighteenth-century newspapers, personal correspondence and diaries, account books, memorandum and letter books, and published songs and memoirs, in tandem with the Revolutionary War Prize Cases from the Records of the Supreme Court, “Vigorous & Bold Operations” offers a political, social, economic, legal, and cultural window into the American Revolution through the motivations, actions, and experiences of American privateers.||