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The Black Ball Liner

by Simone Kennedy-Mitton

The Black Ball Liner was the first liner to be run from South Street’s port. It was created by merchants Isaac and William Wright, Francis and Jeremiah Thompson, and Benjamin Marshall and was comprised of four boats: Pacific, Amity, Courier, and James Monroe. In late October 1817, an advertisement emerged in the New York newspapers informing the public that "beginning with the first week of January 1818, the Amity, Courier, Pacific, and James Monroe would sail in regular succession, on a specific day, each month throughout the year from New York and from Liverpool" (Albion, 40). The advertisement stressed that "the regularity of their times of sailing, and the excellent conditions which they deliver their cargoes, will make them very desirable opportunities for the conveyance of goods" (Albion, 40).

The James Monroe, the first of the four vessels to make the transatlantic crossing to Liverpool, England left from the South Street port on the snowy day of January 5, 1818. It left at exactly the hour appointed, despite its insufficient capacity and unfavorable month of the year. This punctuality converted James Monroe from just another regular trader to that of a boat from the South Street’s sublime ocean liners.

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