Home Page All contents Copyright 1999 Dan Conlin Revised
Feb. 14, 2000
Here's an example of a Letter of Marque from 1799.
And here's a blank Letter of Marque from 1812.
The South - There were a few Confederate privateers commissioned, however Confederate privateering appears to have been limited by the Union naval blockade and that fact that privateering and steamships do not mix too well. It made more sense just as well to informally commission Confederate warships in a Confederate Navy and simply destroy Northern ships instead of capturing them since it was almost impossible to get captured ships through the Union blockade to homeports in order to reward privateering investors.
The North - Didn't commission privateers because there was so little Southern commerce to prey upon and because the North had a huge navy. The North condemned Southern privateers as pirates and threatened to hang them. From a Non-American perspective, the Union position on privateering seems hypocritical and bizarre, as the US refused to sign the Declaration of Paris, which abolished privateering in 1856 and privateering remained (and still remains) enshrined in the US constitution!
The only Canadian connection I know of is the use of a forged Confederate letter of marque by raiders who seized the steamship Chesapeake and were tried in Halifax in the Civil War. Historian Greg Marquis writes about this in his book on Eastern Canada and the US civil war In Armagedon's Shadow
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All contents Copyright 1999 Dan Conlin Revised Feb. 14, 2000