Young Men and the Sea: Yankee Seafarers in the Age of Sail

By Dr. Daniel Vickers with Vince Walsh

Young Men and the Sea: Yankee Seafarers in the Age of Sail

Westward expansion has been the great narrative of the first two centuries of American history. But as Daniel Vickers and Vince Walsh demonstrate in Young Men and the Sea: Yankee Seafarers in the Age of Sail, the horizon extended in all directions. For those who lived along the Atlantic coast, it was the east - and the Atlantic Ocean - that beckoned. While historical and fictional accounts have tended to stress the exceptional circumstances or psychological compulsions that drove men to sea, Dr. Vickers and Mr. Walsh show just how normal a part of life seafaring was for those living near a coast before the mid-19th century.

Drawing on records of several thousand seamen and their voyages from Salem, Massachusetts, Young Men and the Sea offers a social history of seafaring in the colonial and early national period. In what sort of families were sailors raised? When did they go to sea? What were their chances of death? Whom did they marry, and how did their wives operate households in their absence? Answering these and many other questions, Dr. Vickers and Mr. Walsh bring to life a time and place seafaring was not the exceptional activity most of us have taken it to be - but rather “simply what young men did when they grew up by the sea.”

Beautifully written and drawing on a decade of archival work, Young Men and the Sea is destined to become a classic of American social and maritime history, said Christopher Clark of the University of Warwick. He called it “a gripping book. A sound and original contribution.”

Vince Walsh

Vince Walsh is an independent scholar and project co-ordinator at the Maritime History Archive at Memorial.

Dr. Vickers is professor of history at the University of California, San Diego. A Canadian, he received his undergraduate education at the University of Toronto. After receiving his PhD from Princeton University in 1981, he was professor of maritime history and director of the Maritime Studies Research Unit at Memorial University. In 1999, he moved to UC-San Diego where he has been chair of the department of history since 2004.