1st US Revenue Cutter
History of the Massachusetts
The history of the US Coast Guard goes back more than two
centuries. On April 23, 1790, Alexander Hamilton (known as the father
of the Coast Guard) presented Congress with a bill calling for the
establishment of the United States Revenue Marine Service. His bill
requested an initial fleet of ten small cutters to protect the trade
revenue and prevent smuggling.
The ten cutters were to be 36' to 40' long in keel, each having
one captain, one lieutenant and six mariners and armed with swivels.
The ten cutters were to patrol the coast from Massachusetts (which
included Maine at that time) to Georgia. Two for the coast of
Massachusetts and New Hampshire (Massachusetts and
Scammel); one for Long Island Sound (Argus); one for
New York (Viglant); one for the Bay of Deleware (General
Green); two for the Chesapeake (Active and
Virginia); one for North Carolina (Diligence); one for
South Carolina (South Carolina); and one for Georgia
(Eagle). The first revenue cutter to be built was the
The Massachusetts was built by William Searle in Newburyport,
Massachusetts, and launched into the Merrimack River on July 23,
1791. Although Congress only approved $1000 for the cost of each
cutter the Massachusetts final approved cost was $1440.
As completed, she measured 50' on deck, 17' 8" beam, draft of 7'
3". Her armament was 6 light swivel guns. She was a two masted
schooner with deep bulwark, long quarterdeck and a square stern. The
Massachusetts was the largest and most heavily armed cutter compared
to her nine sister cutters.
The Massachusetts hull has been carefully carved from
select basswood based on the lines of the original cutter. The hull
has white and black topsides with a red bottom. The masts and spars
are stained with white trim. The deck has detailed deck house,
hatches, windlass, ships boat and 6 swivel guns. The base is mahogany
with brass finished nameplates on each side of the name block.
Width of main yard
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