BUILDING AN 18 TH
On 8 March 1768, His Majesty’s Royal Navy purchased what would prove to be the smallest schooner ever to see active service in Britain’s history.
At just 52-64/92 tons burthen, the schooner Sultana was the unlikeliest of warships.
Built by American shipwrights at Benjamin Hallowell’s South Boston shipyard, Sultana had been conceived as a coastal merchant schooner.
Destined for a life of hard work in relative obscurity, Sultana’s fate changed fo rever when the British.
Parliament enacted the notorious Townsend Acts or “Tea Taxes” just as Sultana was being framed up in the Hallowell Yard in the summer of 1767.
The burden of enfo rcing the new Townsend Acts fell to a reluctant Royal Navy.
The largest, most professional navy in the world at the time, the Royal Navy did not particularly relish its new role as customs collector.
Nonetheless, the Navy was the only arm of the British Empire that possessed the experience and resources to enforce the wide array of taxes Parliament had levied on its American colonies.
Initially the biggest challenge faci ng the Navy was a total lack of suitable patrol vessels.
Having just vanquished the French in the Seven Years War, the Royal Navy had no shortage of large and powerful warships,
bur it lacked small and nimble vessels that would be required to patrol for colonial merchant.
ships and smugglers in the shallow and constricted waters off the North American coast.
Ironically the solution was found in the upstart yards of their North American cousins.
In 1768 the Royal Navy faced a challenge that had been chronic throughout its existence-a shortage of funding.
This particular shortfall was precipitated by the enormous debts amassed in rhe course of the Seven Years War.
In an effort to fulfill its new customs mission while expending a minimum amount of resources the Navy chose to round out its.
Beet by purchasing existing American vessels rather than by building new.
This approach had several advantages- chief among them being that it was cost effective.
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