News & Tall Tales. 1800s.


San Francisco Gold Rush 1849.

Nautical Education

January 11, 1863, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Mr. Doll today introduced a bill "to establish a Board of Nautical Education for the port of San Francisco."

It provides that the Board shall have nine members. The Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Underwriters shall each elect three ship-masters or shipping merchants, as members; the Board of Education shall elect two of their number to be members, and the managers o the Industrial School shall elect one of their number to be a member.

Training Ship Wellesley
North Shields, Northumberland

The Board of Nautical Education shall have power to prescribe schedules qualifications and service for masters and other officers (steam engineers excepted,) employed in the merchant service on the high seas; to examine all applicants for certificates of competency or service, and to issue or revoke certificates.

The bill appropriates $25,000 for the purpose of purchasing, fitting out, and maintaining a suitable ship for a nautical training school at the port of San Francisco. The ship must be staunch and seaworthy, not below A 2, with room for 200 pupils between decks; the cost, with provisions for three months and proper furniture, not to exceed $20,000.

All boys over twelve in the Industrial School and the State Reform School shall be put on board, and then the ship shall be open to other boys, without charge, for instruction in the duties of able seamen; but other persons may be taken on board and instructed in navigation, nautical astronomy, etc., for pay.

The Board of Nautical Education is allowed to receive the following commissions: 5 percent for procuring freight or charter; 2-1/2 percent for collecting freight, passage money, or tuition fees; $50 for entering or clearing ship to a domestic port; $200 for entering or clearing ship to a foreign port; 1-2/1 percent for disbursement, except for purchase of ship; $15 for certificate to extra master; $10 to ordinary master, $7.50 to the first officer, $5 to second officer; and $5 for certificate of service.

The bill is accompanied by a memorial in favor of the passage of a bill to establish a school ship. Among the signers are most of the shipping merchants, insurance agents, importers and bankers of bankers of San Francisco. H.F. Teschemacher heads the list; Albert Dibblee adds to his signature that he is "strongly in favor of a school ship;" Ira P. Rankin puts down his name as "knowing the success of similar schools elsewhere," etc.

Mr. Dodge has introduced a bill to provide that in San Francisco the tax shall not be levied until after the assessment of the property, and then we shall know beforehand how much money we are to have.


The Mammoth Book of Life Before the Mast:
Sailors' Eyewitness Stories from the Age of Fighting Ships

Jon E. Lewis, Editor
Firsthand accounts of the real-life naval adventures behind the popular historical sagas of Patrick O'Brian and C. F. Forester. Twenty true-life adventures capture the glory and gore of the great age of naval warfare from the late eighteenth to the early nineteenth century -- the age of the French Revolutionary War, the Napoleonic Wars, and the War of 1812 -- when combat at sea was won by sheer human wit, courage, and endurance. Culled from memoirs, diaries, and letters of celebrated officers as well as sailors, the collection includes accounts of such decisive naval engagements as Admiral Horatio Nelson's on the Battle of the Nile in 1798 or Midshipman Roberts' on the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and also offers glimpses into daily hardships aboard a man-of-war: scurvy, whippings, storms, piracy, press gangs, drudgery, boredom, and cannibalism.

Life of a Sailor (Seafarers' Voices) Life of a Sailor.Life At Sea.Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
Frederick Chamier
Chamier went to sea in 1809 as an officer in the Royal Navy. Like his contemporary, Captain Frederick Marryat, he enjoyed a successful literary career and is remembered for his naval novels. This book, his first, is usually catalogued as fiction, although it is an exact account of his naval experiences, with every individual, ship, and event he described corroborated by his service records. Told with humor and insight, it is considered an authentic account of a young officer's service. From anti-slavery patrols off Africa to punitive raids on the American coast during the War of 1812, Chamier provides details of many lesser-known campaigns. His descriptions of British naval operations in America, which reflected his objection to bringing the war to the civilian population, were highly criticized by his seniors.

The Nagle Journal: A Diary of the Life of Jacob Nagle, Sailor, from the Year 1775 to 1841Stories of the Sea and Ships.
John C. Dann

Great Stories of the Sea & Ships Sea Stories and the history of America.
N. C. Wyeth
Life at Sea.Sea Stories and the History of America.More than 50,000 copies of this collection of high-seas adventures are in print. It showcases the fiction of such classic writers as Daniel Defoe, Jules Verne, and Jack London, and the entries also feature historic first-person narratives including Christopher Columbus’s own account of his voyage in 1492. Vivid tales of heroic naval battles and dangerous journeys of exploration to the stories of castaways and smugglers. The variety of works includes “The Raft of Odysseus,” by Homer; Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Mermaid”; “The Specksioneer,” by Elizabeth Gaskell; Washington Irving’s “The Phantom Island”; and “Rounding Cape Horn,” by Herman Melville. Eighteen extraordinary black and white illustrations by Peter Hurd add to the volume's beauty.

The Rebel Raiders
The Astonishing History of the Confederacy's Secret NavyThe Confederacy's Secret Navy.

James T. deKay
Nautical Education. During its construction in Liverpool, the ship was known as “Number 290.” It was unleashed as the CSS Alabama, the Confederate gunship that triggered the last great military campaign of the Civil War; yet another infamous example of British political treachery, and the largest retribution settlement ever negotiated by an international tribunal: $15,500,000 in gold paid by Britain to the United States.

This true story of the Anglo-Confederate alliance that led to the creation of a Southern navy illuminates the dramatic and crucial global impact of the American Civil War. Like most things in the War between the States, it started over cotton: Lincoln’s naval blockade prevented the South from exporting their prize commodity to England. In response, the Confederacy came up with a plan to divert the North’s vessels and open the waterways–a plan that would mean covertly building a navy in Britain, a strategy that involved a cast of clandestine characters.


The Naval Order of the United States has a history dating from 1890. Membership includes a wide range of individuals, many with highly distinguished career paths.

The San Francisco Commandery meets the first Monday of each month at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club in San Francisco, California and holds two formal dinners each year:

  • Annual Midway Night Celebration -In June at the Marines' Memorial Club, 609 Sutter St, San Francisco.
  • Pearl Harbor Memorial Dinner - In December at the University Club, 800 Powell St, San Francisco. Dinner Dress Blue Jacket uniform or equivalent. 

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Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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