Northshore Harbormasters Association

Salem Maritime

National Historic Site

Background Information

Friendship 1797

The National Park Service with the support of the Salem Partnership is currently building a full size reproduction of the Salem merchant vessel Friendship of 1797. Friendship will be permanently berthed at Derby Wharf at Salem Maritime National Historic Site. Research was conducted to determine the type of documentary evidence available on Salem's historic vessels. By correlating ship models for vessels of the period 1760-1830 with paintings, it was found that the best documented vessel that meets the interpretive criteria for Salem Maritime National Historic Site is the ship Friendship.

Begun in 1796, the three-masted, square-rigged, 342 ton vessel was finished and registered in 1797. She was 102 feet long on deck, 27 feet wide and the depth of the hold was 13 feet, 9 inches. She was constructed by renowned shipbuilder Enos Briggs (known for the second Grand Turk and the frigate Essex ). Briggs' Stage Point yard was diagonally across from the current location of Salem Maritime NHS. Friendship was jointly owned by the merchants Jerathmiel Peirce and Aaron Waite.

Documentation for the vessel consists of a 9-foot-long full model, built by Thomas Russell between 1802 and 1804 while on a 26 month voyage to China, Sumatra and Isle de France. The model, now on display in the Peabody Essex Museum, accurately represents the appearance of the vessel so familiar to Mr. Russell. In addition to the model, three paintings of the vessel exist, in the Museum's collection by Giuseppe Fedi (date unknown), George Ropes (1805), and William Ward (1799).

Friendship reportedly made at least 15 voyages that can be confirmed, to China, Java, Sumatra, Madras, London, Hamburg, Archangel, St. Petersburg, and other European ports. She was captured by the British during the War of 1812. Her story is one of the risk and excitement of international trade and the disruption of commerce by war.

In addition to the paintings and the model of Friendship, the Peabody Essex Museum possesses a wealth of records relating to her career. Ship's logs documenting several of her voyages are available at the Museum, as well as Aaron Waite's shipping papers, which contain a great deal of historical information related to the vessel's accounts. All of these sources combine with the Custom House impost records and manifests, also found at the Museum, to make Friendship one of the best documented ships in Salem's history and a good one from which to learn about our maritime past.


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