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Clean bill of health for the crew of the JIREH SWIFT, New Bedford

Date: 1 September 1862
Dimensions:
Overall: 356 x 216 mm, 0.003 kg
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Ephemera
Object Name: Bill of health
Object No: 00028290
Place Manufactured:New Bedford

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    Description
    This clean bill of health was issued for the crew of the barque JIREH SWIFT on 1 September 1862 in New Bedford. The document states that all twenty-eight crew of the barque JIREH SWIFT and its passengers are in good health and there is no contagious disease in the district. The JIREH SWIFT was a Union whaler who sailed during the American Civil War.
    SignificanceThe JIREH SWIFT was one of the last American vessels captured and burned by the CSS SHENANDOAH. Research suggests that the last shots fired by SHENANDOAH were directed at the SWIFT.
    HistoryAfrican American shipwright and former slave John Mashow built the whaler Jireh Swift in 1853 at Dartmouth, Mass. near New Bedford. The vessel measured 122 feet in length and 454 tons. Its first voyage was to the northern Pacific and lasted nearly four years. The ship collected 45 barrels of sperm oil, 2,719 barrels of whale oil and 14,900 lbs of whalebone. Swift’s second voyage, to the same grounds, lasted more than four years and netted much more oil and bone for her owners. Nearly three years into her third voyage, on 22 June 1865 she was captured in the Arctic by the Confederate raider Shenandoah and burned, for a loss of more than $40,000.

    John Mashow was born enslaved in South Carolina. By unknown means he found his way to Dartmouth, Massachusetts, apprenticed to a local shipbuilder, and then set up his own shipyard. Mashow's yard at Padanarum designed more than 100 ships and built about 60, including 14 whaleships. When his yard closed, he received a public testimonial as "a thorough, practical master shipbuilder and a most worthy and respected citizen."

    The Jireh Swift sailed to the northern Pacific on its first voyage, which lasted nearly four years. The crew collected 2,719 barrels of whale oil and 14,900 pounds of bone. During the vessel's third voyage, on June 22, 1865, it was captured by the Confederate raider Shenandoah and burned, for a loss of more than $40,000.

    The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History hold a builder's half model of the Jireh Swift in its collection under ID Number TR*076323.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Clean bill of health for the crew of the barque JIREH SWIFT, at the port of New Bedford

    Web title: Clean bill of health for the crew of the JIREH SWIFT, New Bedford

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