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International Harbors

The Golden Age of Piracy

The Golden Age of Piracy.

For almost 300 years, Spain extracted large amounts of gold and silver from its New World possessions. An estimated 447 million pesos were sent to Spain from 1503 to 1660. The Spanish treasury received 20% or 177 million pesos. The balance was paid to the merchants and investors. One peso was equal to one silver eight reale piece. The 'piece of eight,' a Spanish silver dollar, remained legal tender for commerce in the United States until 1857.

In 1535, Spain established a mint in Mexico City to manufacture coins in the New World. All silver coin are denominated as silver reales. Gold coins are called escudos. One gold 8 escudo coin weighs 27 grams - the same weight as the silver 'piece of eight.' Each eight gold escudo coin is worth two silver peso coins. Spain's earliest source of gold and silver treasure came from looting. Cortez's defeated the Aztecs in 1521 and shipped large amounts of gold and silver artifacts to Spain. In 1531, Pizarro defeated the Incas and began shipments gold and silver artifacts valued at over 1 million pesos per year. By 1545, most of Spain's precious metals came from three sources in the New World. Silver was mined in New Spain (Mexico). Crude bullion coins, cut from bars of silver and stamped, were struck at the Mexico City mint and shipped from Vera Cruz to Spain.

The second source of silver was Potosi, and Peru. Cob type bullion coins were produced and shipped to Panama. The bullion was transported over land to Porto Bello and Nombre de Dios awaiting transport to Spain. The third source of precious metals was in Nueva Granada. Gold was panned from riverbeds by native slaves and formed into bullion. The gold was transported to the port of Cartagena for shipment to Spain. These include gold replicas of eight gold cobs (cut from bars of gold.) The collection includes coins from 1713, and 1714 recovered in the wreck of the Spanish Gold Fleet of 1715.

During the 1849 Gold Rush, California's government was tolerant toward all immigrants under the military administration of Richard Barnes Mason. But by 1850, the civilian legislature, comprised of a minority of racist white miners who feared competition with foreign immigrants, influenced the government to abandon laissez-faire.

Mexico. 1847.

Map of Mexico. 1847.

They instituted the Foreign Miners Tax, a $20 monthly fee from every foreign miner was intended to "protect" American miners from foreign competition. It was a disaster and was repealed a year later, as many foreign miners quit their careers and crowded the cities, jobless and penniless. Some did not give up and spread into other fields of business, having thus defended their individual rights against the bigoted government, i.e. Mexicans, who had comprised much of California's population before the Mexican War. Tensions between Mexican miners and racist/nativist interests escalated into the 1850s.


Acapulco has been inhabited since 3000 B.C. Nahua artifacts have been discovered that date back 2,000 years. (The Nahua was the tribe that preceded the Aztecs.) Following the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire in 1521, Hern n Cort s sent his men to locate sites for trading ports. They found Acapulco and it in 1579, King Philip II declared it the official port for trade between Asia and the Americas. Ship loads of slaves and luxury goods such as silks, porcelain, jade, ivory, incense and spices were brought to the port.

Royal Warrants legitimized the mercantile monopoly of Spain with its recently conquered colonies. For this reason, Casas de Contrataci n (a Government Institution in charge of shipping lines and tax collection from the import and export of goods) were installed in New Spain and institutions created as of 1503 that controlled and supervised trade and shipping between Spain and The Indies.

In 1551, the construction of the first harbor was begun in Veracruz and trade with the Orient was initiated when the mercantile route between Acapulco and Manila was established. (The Philippine Islands were also part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain at that time.) In 1593, the Royal Warrant of Felipe II ordered a restriction on the volume of commercial cargo so as to place a limit on the entrance of non-Philippine merchandise, the so called "Products of China," in the hope of reducing the damage caused to Spanish trade.

Because the Port of Manila did not enforce shipping controls at the time, Customs checks were carried out in Acapulco. In the Viceroyalty of New Spain the so called right of "almojarifazgo" (Import tax) was established. The relevance of this tax was of such magnitude that the Spanish Crown pronounced numerous Royal Warrants, decrees and by-laws on this material between 1532 and 1817, which regulated the entrance and exit of merchandise.

French at Acapulco

Due to constant attacks by English and French pirate ships on the ports of Veracruz, Acapulco and Campeche, in 1597, a ruling was announced that the officials in charge of the Contract House be transferred to the Banda de Buitr n. In 1647, an enclosed Customs area in which all products entering the port could be received was designated. In 1702 the first regulation regarding commercial trade between The Philippines and New Spain was elaborated: none of the merchandise that entered the Port of Veracruz could touch soil without the consent of the Justice Official or the Alderman. The penalty for non-compliance was the confiscation of all the goods in question.

The establishment of the Royal Customs Agency of the Port of Acapulco took around 1776 and in 1795, the Consulate of Merchants of Veracruz was established; its members contributed to the improvements made to both the Port and the City.

Henry Morgan, the Welsh Pirate.
Henry Morgan
The Welsh Pirate

The first legal document of independent Mexico was the Arancel General Interno (General Domestic Internal Customs Duty) for the Governors of the Maritime Customs Agencies regarding Free Trade within the Empire, published on December 15, 1821. In this document they designated the ports which were authorized to handle commercial activity, they outlined the work to be undertaken by Customs administrators, the Customs controllers and the Customs officers; moreover, they outlined the basis for all the tax operations, establishing that the types of merchandise, the merchandise which was prohibited from being imported and those free of tax should be decided by the customs administrators.

In 1821, the Customs Department was under the control of the Secretary of State and the Treasury Office. In 1831, Mexico's Treaty of Armistice with the United States of America was one of the first agreements regarding international commerce. On March 1, 1887, a new Ordenanza General de Aduanas Mar timas y Fronterizas (General Ordinance By-law of the Maritime and Border Customs) was issued with two annexes: in the first, the general tariff appeared in separate form, while the second contained the rules for the application of the tariff.

Eventually, the Spanish limited traffic to one arrival a year, which led to the establishment of the Acapulco Fair of the Americas. Traders and merchants from all over New Spain, a vast territory that included modern-day Mexico and parts of the American Southwest, gathered to buy goods.

Like much of Mexico's coastline, the port's thriving economy attracted pirates. The notorious Sir Francis Drake was the first to arrive, only to be followed by a dozen other British pirates, including Thomas Cavendish, William Dampier and Henry Morgan.

In order to defend the city, the Spaniards built Acapulco's first fort, the Castillo de San Diego, in 1616. However, it failed to repel an attack by Dutch pirates in 1624.

Veracruz and
Castle of San Juan de Ula. Mexico.

Acapulco was burned to the ground in 1814 during the War of Independence. The City was all but forgotten until the outbreak of the California gold rush in the 1850s.

At that time, ships began to make regular stops there on their way to Panama. On their return to San Francisco they were loaded up with Mexican textiles.

La Paz

On May 3rd, 1535, Hernan Cort z first arrived at what is now La Paz, naming it Villa de la Santa Cruz. Cort z mounted the first of many attempts to conquer the Peninsula, but after several years of efforts the expeditions failed due to lack of food and water as well as the occasional attacks by natives. Throughout its history, La Paz has endured numerous conquistadors, pirates, missionaries and entrepreneurs.

Lower California Difficulties.

A correspondent of the Bulletin, writing from San Jose Del Cabo, Lower California, September 4th says:

In the first days of July an American steamer put into La Paz. The Governor appointed a certain Rochos to act ad interim, and he sailed for Mazatlan on the steamer, nobody knew why. He said it was to transact some business with the Governor of Sinaloa. He was hardly out of sight, when the corporation of La Paz met, and pronounced against Governor Amador, banishing him from the country, and recommending to the people, in his place, Don Rivera, of Muleje. The Ayuntamiento sent proclamations to all municipalities ofthe Territory, inviting them to share in the movement, and not to cause bloodshed of friends and relatives by opposing it. The municipalties all received with indifference the motion, with the exception of Todos Santos and San Antonio, who both joined the La Paz pronunciamento. San Jose of course pronounced against it, and resolved to support the lawful and constitutional Governor, Amador, at any sacrifice.

Folk scene in Pico de Orizaba, Mexico.

At length the moment arrived, when the Castros thought to revenge their imaginary wrongs against the La Pazians. They commenced to arm the whole surrounding country at once, and dispatched a vessel to Mazatlan, informing Amador ofthe occurrences, and urging him to send arms. The vessel soon returned with an ample supply of good muskets; and then, not to lose time, the San Jose party marched upon La Paz, attacked it, and took it after a two hours' desperate resistance with cannon and bayonet. Eleven men were killed in all, and about twenty-five wounded. Although the La Pazians were much superior, in force of men and arms, the Castros, came so quickly and suddenly upon them, that they could not possibly concentrate their forces from distant municipalities. They, notwithstanding, fought desperately, and without doubt had lost more lives, but for one happy circumstance: When La Paz learned that the Castros were on the march upon them, the foreign residents, under the lead of Captain C. B. Smith, called on the captain of the United States sloop Cyane, anchoring then at Punta Prieta, to enter the harbor, land the marines, and protect foreign (particularly American) property against the attacks of either party. The Cyane very properly complied with the request, entered at once La Paz bay, anchored a few yards in front of the Custom House, and landed one hundred aDd twenty marines with two guns.

On August 19th, the Castro troops arrived near La Paz, making some prisoners ou the road, and took the town as above stated. In the morning of the same day, however, the leading men of LaPaz, considering their cause at present very desperate, asked the Commander of the Cyane for an asylum on board, should they be obliged to fly. The Commander granted at once the request, provided they came on board without arms. The attack on La Paz commenced about five o'clock in the evening, and was captured after dark. The principal men of La Paz had, consequently, a good chance to embark with their families on the Cyane under cover of night, which they promptly did, and two days afterwards sailed to parts unknown. The Castros demanded, of course, the surrender of the fugitives from the Commander of the Cyane, and abused him very much for not complying with their demand; but the gallant Captain did not even notice them.

The Castros took about one hundred and fifty stand of arms, a great quantity of ammunition, and one cannon from the La Pazians, which tbey dispatched a few days ago on board of a schooner lor San Jose, around the Gulf. The prisoners are also on their way towards San Jose, and many in San Francisco will be sorry to hear that Don Salvador Villarino, of Todos Santos, is amongst them, and they say in San Jose they intend to shoot all their prisoners. In La Paz, as well as here, the Castros imposed heavy fines on their enemies, and levied forced loans and taxes on all foreigners; but still they are not able to maintain their forces unless Amador arrives soon, which is very doubtful. There is already a rumor afloat that they have given up La Paz again, and are on their march home.


For thousands of years prior to the first Spanish arrival in 1531, Native Americans migrated through the region following game herds. Its name translates to "land of deer" in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs.

By the 1700s gold and silver shipments from the nearby mines at Rosario and Copala poured through Mazatlan's harbor making it one of Mexico's most important ports.

The port was frequented by pirates, which hampered early development. The pirates allegedly buried their loot in the coves along the coast near Mazatl n. The town remained sparsely populated and was not incorporated until 1806. A municipal government was not established there until 1837. By the 1840's hoards of American settlers were flowing through Mazatlan on their way to the gold fields of California. The port began to slowly grow, attracting the attention attacking troops: The U.S. Navy in 1847, and the French in 1864. The small pueblo of Mazatlan was able to thwart the attacks. It is believed that a group of enterprising Germans is responsible for the majority of Mazatl n's growth. They developed the port in order to import agricultur1al equipment, and by the end of the century, the town supported a lucrative business of international trade.

Following the American civil war, a group of southerners tried unsuccessfully to convert the area into a slave state.

Mazatlan served as the capital of Sinaloa from 1859 to 1873. Late in the 19th century, railroads reached Mazatlan, increasing the shipping importance of the town. This led to a steady growth until the Mexican Revolution.

Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.


Mazatlan, Mexico, January 9, 1850

After passing cape Saint Lucas yesterday morning, we pursued a north by east course directly across the Gulf of California for this port. No sooner, however, had we ventured out to sea than the ship gave evident signs of an unquiet disposition, and the passengers equally strong indications of disappointed stomachs. Hitherto, with the exception of the rollers on the bar at San Francisco, our progress had been over waters equal in placidity to those of the noble Hudson itself, but now a stiff breeze was blowing down the Gulf, and the ship was so often "half seas over" that her larboard wheel was frequently entirely out of water. Of course, I was among the unfortunates who did not care to "sink or swim," and were it not highly probably that most, if not all, your readers are acquainted by actual experience with the horrors of sea-sickness I should be induced to give you a history of my "symptoms."

We arrived off this port before daylight, but were unable to come to anchor in consequence of the fog, until 8 A.M. The appearance of Mazatlan from the sea, with its white walls, its picturesque and pleasant and the main features of the scenery are quite romantic and beautiful. The harbor is formed by two rows of detached rocky islets, which stretch from the main land or neck on which the town is built out into the sea. These islands flank the harbor on either side, forming a safe and tolerably capacious anchorage during three-fourths of the year. The months of July, August and September, are unsafe by reason of the prevalence of terrific gales from the south east. Large vessels are forced to lay some two miles from the town, in consequence of a bar which shuts in the inner harbor, and over which vessels drawing more than nine feet of water can scarcely ever pass.

The cactus growing upon the hillsides, and the cocoa nut and banana trees to be seen in the direction of the town, gave assurances that we might expect to find plenty of fruits which would be especially grateful to our keen California appetites. When, therefore, it became known that the steamer would lay here until 4 P.M. there was a general manifestation of delight and a scramble for boats by the passengers. Arrived on shore, I devoted a few hours to strolling about the town. The streets of the business portion of it are narrow and irregular, but they are well paved and kept clean and free from obstructions. The houses are mostly constructed of brick, plastered on the outside and painted white or white-washed. They are generally two stories in height, having flat roofs, with courts in the centre and corridors around the whole interior. These courts have wells in the centre and are often beautified and cooled by fruit trees, shrubs and flowers. There are several large mercantile establishments here conducted by foreigners. They are principally engaged in exchanging the products of other countries for those of Mexico, but it is not uncommon that large amounts of the previous metal are shipped hence. I have heard it asserted that a large contraband or smuggling trade is carried on here, sub rosa, and from facts which have come to my knowledge I am disposed to believe the assertion true. The mercantile establishments are fitted up with a neatness and taste I never saw equalled in any city, and the attendants are peculiarly bland and amiable in manner.

The whole appearance of the town and its inhabitants is prepossessing. The inhabitants are apparently industrious, some of the mechanic arts appear to flourish, the citizens are well dressed and polite, and altogether, the town wears an aspect of thrift, energy and enterprise, which was the more agreeable as I was not prepared to meet it.

Although a mole was constructed at the principal point of debarkation by the American forces when they had possession of the city, still at low tide even the smallest boats and it is difficult to reach within from twenty to fifty feet of the shore. To remedy this the beach is lined with an hundred persons, who with bare legs are able to wade in and bring the luckless passengers safe to dry land. This is sometimes provocative of much fun and laughter, and the pertinacity with which these "common carriers," urge their superior individual claims to employment would do honor to a New York or Philadelphia cabman.

Mazatlan has a population variously estimated at from five to ten thousand. I should think it would not fall below six thousand souls. The cholera, of which all traces have now left the city, carried off many hundred, principally of the lower classes, but I did not learn that any statistical records of the ravages of the disease were kept.

The British frigate Amphitrite is now laying here, and several ships, barks, brigs and schooners are also in port. I did not learn that any of them are American bottoms.

When our passengers returned to the ship this afternoon they came freighted with substantial evidences of their cruise on shore, in the shape of oranges, lemons, bananas, cocoa nuts, pine apples, sweet potatoes, eggs, chickens, pies, cakes, etc., etc., and I presume a great many people will be better natured for the next few days.

By the overland mails I heard that New Orleans papers had been received of as late a date as the 6th of December last. I saw one of the 24th November, but as you will be in possession of later dates before this reaches you, I forbear quoting from it. I notice, however, that an explosion of the boiler of the steamer Louisiana happened just as she was leaving the wharf at New Orleans, by which 100 persons were killed, and among them Dr. Marsh of the Pulpunes Rancho, San Joaquin District, California. Thus has another of our oldest inhabitants, after acquiring a competence, been suddenly snatched from the enjoyments of life and its blessings.

A New Orleans correspondent of El Siglo Diez y Nueva, (paper printed at the City of Mexico on the 16th of December), writing under date of November 30th, says that a rupture had occurred between Mr. Clayton and President Taylor, growing out of the Cuba questions, and that the office of Secretary of State had been tendered to Mr. Clay, who politely but coolly declined it.

May 14, 1859, Los Angeles Star, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Arrival of the Steamer Santa Cruz.

On Saturday last, the steamer Santa Cruz, on account of the prolonged absence of which considerable interest was felt in this community, arrrived at San Pedro, by the way of San Diego, and having landed passengers, proceeded on her way to San Francisco. The detention of the Santa Cruz was caused by trading on the Mexican coast, between Guaymas, Mazatlan and San Bias.

We beg to return our thanks to our highly esteemed friend, for the following particulars, noted on the spot, for our information.

On the morning of the 3d of April, at 8 o'clock, the forces of Pesquiera were drawn up outside the city of Mazatlan, and an attack commenced on the defences of the city, in the possession of the Miramon party. In two hours, the three forts which commanded the city, were carried, and the victorious besiegers were led into the city by Pesquiera himself, who immediately pronounced in favor of Juarez and the Liberal party, declaring himself Governor of the States of Sinaloa, Sonora and Chihuahua.

Orders were then issued, prohibiting any acts of violence, and a reward of $100 offered for the apprehension of any who might be found plundering. Two soldiers were apprehended, who had disobeyed the orders, and they were immediately taken out and shot. The American flag was displayed from the house of Dr. Bivens, and one of Pesquiera's officers, standing in front of it, saluted the flag, saying aloud, in Spanish " Long may that flag wave, the flag of the only free and independent nation in the world."

Immediately on peace being established, the business of the city, which had been for some time paralysed, begun to improve, and at the departure of the Santa Cruz, the town presented its usual aspect. Great confidence was felt in Pesquiera's Government, which was exhibited by the rapid increase in the business of the city. The most friendly feeling existed between Pesquiera and the Americans at Mazatlan. The Governor, accompanied by his staff; visited the Santa Cruz, and the next day, Capt. Haley entertained his visitors aboard his ship, making a short excursion for their amusement. Afterwards, this courtesy was reciprocated by the citizens, who invited Capt. Haley and his passengers to a ball. The greatest respect was exhibited towards the American people and Government, not alone by Pesquiera and his officers, but by the people of Mazatlan and Guaymas.

On the 28th April, the Santa Cruz left Mazatlan with eighty cabin passengers, and half a million of treasure, for San Francisco. Of the passengers, forty were officers of the defeated party, whose passage was paid by Pesquiera, and thirty-six ounces afterwards distributed amongst them.

The Santa Cruz will return immediately to Mazatlan, as she is under charter to Pesquiera's Government

Capt. Stone's party were still at Guaymas, aMaznd were prosecuting the survey without molestation from the people.


May 3, 1851, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.

From the Correspondence of the Alta

City of Mexico, April 3, 1851.

The interest you take in receiving information of every thing which refers to the Tehuantepec road, has been an object of attention to me, and though little can be said yet, I will detain the present report.

The Mixtecs of Oxaca.

The newly established company had to labor upon its first start, against innumerable adversities. The steamer Alabama could not make her trips with the regularity expected, and promised by her programme, being detained first by the custom house officers at Vera Cruz, and afterwards by a hundred small impeachments: and her successor, the Fanny, was very nearly lost on her last trip by a heavy norther.

The stores and implements of the company were scarcely deposited at Minatillan, on the Guasacoalco, when a conflagration consumed almost the whole of the village.

The landholders on the line begin to know the value of their lands, and change hands often. The commissioners are busy in exploring the land, for the purpose of establishing a practical road. It-appears by the report of the Mexican engineer, Moro, that neither Tehuantepec or Chemolpa will be the channels of communication with the Pacific. A little to the south of said outlets, two small bays have been, discovered, which will probably afford the safest anchorage, and are easy of access.

The political connections of the bordering States of Gajacca and Chiapas are quiet since the submission of Melendes. The people feel the immense importance these States will receive through the settlement of foreigners.

Both States are famous for their cochineal, indigo and cocoa, the quality of which is highly appreciated all over the world. Besides Oajacca is famous for its gold and silver mines. As no mint exists in these States, the gold and silver bars have to be sent to this city, at a considerable expense and risk, because the exportation of ingots is prohibited.

May 26, 1851, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

The Gold Hunter's Expedition to Tehuantepec

Our Mexican correspondent under date of May 1, from the Capital of the Republic, gives the annexed interesting account of the arrival of the Gold Hunter, and her reception by the authorities at Tehuantepec It will be remembered that she left this port sometime in March, as the pioneer of a new line to run in the proposed Tehuantepec route.

The Mexican government is now trying to put every thing in the way of the American settlers on the Quarnalea, to make them relinquish their plans, and the best proof of it, how little they know to appreciate their own interest is the late treatment of the passengers on board the Gold Hunter.

The arrival of this steamer in the bay of Ventosa caused quite an excitement, and it was generally reported in town that a whole fleet and 4,000 adventurers had arrived from California, and taken forcible possession of Tehuantepec, after defeating the government troops. The best informed assured us that the passengers of the Gold Hunter had a fight with the local authorities, and that 50 had been killed. After a couple of days suspense an express arrived from Oajaca, and I received at the same time a letter from my friend the engineer, Mr. Frastoue, giving the following information:

The steamer Gold Hunter, alter having left San Francisco on the 2nd of March, and called at Mazatlan and Acapulco, tried in vain to enter the estero of Tehuantepec and with astounding lead in hand, found the bay of Ventoza to be a good harbor, and cast anchor on the 6th of April. About thirty of her passengers, well armed, paid a visit to the neighboring town of Tehuantepec, where they were received with the greatest hospitality, and the city authorities even went on board the steamer, excusing themselves for not being authorized to enter the vessel, and to forward the passengers, till the return of their express sent to the Governor of Oajaca. On the 11th, the Governor's answer arrived, containing positive orders to force the re-embarkation of the passengers by the Gold Hunter, and in case of resistance being made, to " use the point of the bayonet." Some poor mules were put at the disposal of the Americans, for which they had to pay very dear, and when they returned to Ventoza, they found the Gold Hunter had lifted her anchors and was gone. How these poor Americans will get to Vera Cruz, whither they are ordered, God knows, as the heat is excessive, and no means of conveyance exist in these mountains.

Vera Cruz

March 13, 1847, California Star

The Attack on Vera Cruz

Landing of the American Force at Vera Cruz under General Scott. March 1847.

Landing of the American Forces at Vera Cruz under General Scott. March 1847.

We have copied a paragraph stating that Lt. Berryman had stated an attack was to be made at once on Vera Cruz. The Union suggests that the Lieutenant was misunderstood in the conversation alluded to but it does not contradict the report of an intended attack, nor will it undertake to develop the plan of the campaign. These, it oracularly tells us, "will develop themselves" which we interpret to mean that the attack on Vera Cruz is determined upon. The orders which are known to have been issued for getting several vessels ready for sea, look like such a thing. - Baltimore Post


Zihuatanejo's name is derived from the Nahuatl word "Zihuatlan" which means "land of women," The region was part of the former province of Cuitlatecapan. The Cuitlatecans or Cuitlatecos spread throughout the Costa Grande of Guerrero state and its capital was Zihuatlan.

Zihuatanejo was a port of some importance in the early years of the colony. It highlights the trip between America and the Philippines conducted in 1572 by the fleet and Alvaro de Saavedra Ceron. This expedition, which is said to be the discovery of the Moluccas, was very risky. This was the second sea voyage that reached the Philippines that left America with boats manufactured on the shores of New Spain. During the late 1500s, pirates sailed into Zihuatanejo to use the bay as a refuge from bad weather or to trade for supplies with the town people, or to hide while planning attacks on the Spanish Armada. Among the commanders and privateers that spent time in the Bay were Sir Francis Drake and Admiral George Anson. Between 1890 and 1910, Zihuatanejo was known as a fishing village with all its inhabitants living near or very close to the shore.

June 14, 1890, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

A New Railroad Authorized

City of Mexico, June 13. The Government has authorized the construction of a railroad from this city to Zihuatanejo, on the Pacific Coast. It is planned that the road shall pass through Toluco.

Xoloitzcuintli: Mexico's National Animal

Xoloitzcuintli. Mexican Hairless.

Mexico’s main national animal is the golden eagle—the bird that legend says played a role in the founding of Mexico City and appears on the country’s flag. But the country didn’t stop there: it also selected a national mammal (jaguar), a national arthropod (grasshopper), a national marine mammal (vaquita) and a national dog, xoloitzcuintli. Commonly called a Mexican hairless, the xoloitzcuintli (pronounced “show-low-itz-quint-lee”) descends from an ancient species native to Central America that was prized by the Aztecs, who believed the canine to have healing abilities. ~ SmithsonianSmithsonian Magazine.

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

The Project

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



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping.Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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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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